Skip to content

What To Eat For MTHFR Mutants

We’ve been talking a lot about natural folate and its food sources vs. synthetic folic acid (which is toxic in high doses.). So in theory, we’ve got it. But in reality, what does this actually look like? Let’s dive in right now.

How Much Folate Are We Talking? Do I Have To Bathe In The Stuff?

Not at all. Although MTHFR folks might need to adjust based on their own responses, generally we’re aiming for the same targets as everyone else. The units are in “dietary folate equivalents” because absorption of folate and folic acid are different. Natural folate is about 50% absorbed and folic acid about 85%. If you want to geek out on it:

1 mcg DFE = 1 mcg natural folate = 0.6 mcg artificial folic acid.

According to Harvard University School of Public Health, daily folate needs are:

  • Adults: 400 mcg
  • Pregnant women: 600 mcg
  • Lactating women: 500 mcg
  • People who regularly drink alcohol: 600 mcg (because alcohol impairs absorption).
  • Children – from 65 mcg up to 400 mcg at 14 years old.
Assuming 1 whole avocado and 1 cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice (juice from about three oranges) this breakfast has approximately 300 mcg of natural folate. BOOM. Photo by Ba Tik from pexels.

Food Sources of Natural Folate

Naturally occurring folate is present in lots of the foods you might already eat, and also in some that might be new to you. Here are the 10 foods highest in natural folate according to USDA nutrition data:

FoodFolate per 100g (3.5 oz)Folate per cupRelated foods?
Edamame311 mcg482mcgPeas, soybean sprouts
Lentils (cooked)181 mcg358 mcgRoman beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, chickpeas, black beans
Asparagus
(cooked)
149 mcg268 mcgArtichokes, beets, okra
Spinach146 mcg263mcgTurnip greens, pak choi, collard greens
Broccoli
(cooked)
108 mcg168 mcgBrussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower
Marmite (yeast extract)100 mcg per 8 g servingUnhelpfully, the makers of Marmite have listed the folate as “folic acid” because the terms are used interchangeably. It is actually natural folate.
Avocados81 mcg163 mcg
Mangos43 mcg71 mcgGuavas, pomegranate, papaya, kiwi, durian
Romaine lettuce136 mcg64 mcgEndive, butterhead lettuce, garden cress
Sweet corn42 mcg61 mcg
Oranges54 mcg30 mcgStrawberries, cantaloupe, blackberries, honeydew, pineapple
So many yummy choices…

With MTHFR Mutation, If You Can Eat Your 400 mcg and Avoid Folic Acid, You’ve Pretty Much Nailed It.

Of course, there are lots of times when it isn’t quite so simple, but this is a nice easy benchmark to strive for. So – What to eat for MTHFR? Lots of beans, veg, and fruit. No problem. The much harder part is what not to eat.

Don’t make getting your natural folate harder than it has to be! Photo by alleksana from Pexels

With MTHFR mutation, if you can eat your 400 mcg of natural folate and avoid folic acid, you’ve pretty much nailed it.

– Amy Neuzil

What Not To Eat For MTHFR Folks

There is a small list of fortified foods that have added synthetic folic acid that should be avoided (also, all vitamins and supplements with folic acid). The list is short but impactful. Here it is:

  • Enriched wheat flour
  • Enriched corn flour

There – That wasn’t so hard, was it? Except it turns out it is hard because here are all the foods that are made with those two things.

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Crackers
  • Cookies
  • Corn chips
  • Tortillas
  • Baked goods
  • Baking mixes for cakes, cookies, brownies and whatnot.

This is very much where the wheels fall off the cart because, in the West, most people don’t really know how to eat without hefty doses of bread, pasta, crackers, and cereal. It is just how we are used to eating.

What to eat for MTHFR is NOT doughnuts.
What to eat for MTHFR? Yeah. It’s not doughnuts. Lovely photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

What to Eat for MTHFR – Substitutions

With every substitution, be sure to read the label. If folic acid is listed in the ingredients (or fortified or enriched flour), then it’s a no-go. Also, remember that if you’re just buying flour and making it yourself (go you!), then you still have to make sure you get un-enriched flour – usually, this is gluten-free, organic, or specialty.

Fortified FoodMTHFR-Safe Substitution (usually. Read your labels.)
BreadOrganic bread, 100% rye bread, gluten-free bread, sprouted bread, rice cakes
CerealOrganic cereals (sometimes), oatmeal (sometimes – usually not the instant ones),
PastaRice noodles, gluten-free noodles, organic pasta (don’t forget, rice and potatoes are still on the menu!)
CrackersRice crackers, rice cakes, Some rye crackers, most organic crackers
CookiesGluten-free cookies, organic cookies.
Corn chipsOrganic corn chips, bean chips,
TortillasOrganic tortillas or sprouted tortillas.
Baking flourOrganic flour, brown rice flour, gluten-free baking mix, wheat alternative flours like buckwheat or sorghum.
You’ve got options!

This Sounds Like a Big Change

It is a big change from the typical Western diet, but it’s a very doable change – especially now when there are so many products designed for people with gluten sensitivities or people looking for organics. Still, it takes some commitment, especially at first, while you’re getting used to your new normal.

Why Do This?

The payoff from this one change can be really significant. Many people report better energy, more stability in moods, reduced brain fog, increased attention, and even better hormone balance. Also, if you’re trying to get pregnant, this sets you up for a healthier pregnancy. That still doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it worth it.

This is The Foundation For a Healthy Life With MTHFR Issues

Many of us MTHFR folks can reduce or resolve any MTHFR related issues just by following this diet. There are a few exceptions.

  1. MTHFR folks with very low serotonin – sometimes these folks can’t tolerate any folate intake and have to avoid folate-rich foods along with fortified foods (although cutting out the fortified foods will make a huge positive difference). We’ll talk about this in detail next week.
  2. Some overmethylators – MTHFR folks with symptoms usually fall into one of two categories. Overmethylators or undermethylators. Undermethylators are more common and usually need higher doses of folate to manage symptoms. Overmethylators are less common and sometimes need very low doses of folate to manage their symptoms. I happen to be an overmethylator but I still eat a very high-folate diet and occasionally supplement so it’s very individual. We will talk more about over- and under- methylators in September.

Share with friends:

Order Professional Supplements 10% OFF

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.

Sign up for great deals!

Google Ads

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *