Everyone knows the undeniable significance of vitamins to the body. To achieve proper growth and development, vitamins and minerals are essential dietary ingredients of everyday life.
There are 13 vitamins needed by the body to maintain health. These vitamins have different jobs to execute. They protect the nerve cells, promote growth, and boosts immunity. This is the reason why a deficiency in one of these said 13 vitamins can lead to illness.
Vitamins are organic substances that you can get from food and supplements. Dietary supplements are as important as actual food. The body does not synthesize some of the essential vitamins that it needs. Luckily, modern sciences gave rise to food supplements.
One example is methylfolate and folic acid. These two vitamins originated from folate. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin. It is also known as vitamin B9. Folate is naturally present in several foods. It is also available as food supplement in its synthetic form. Increased intake of this vitamin is needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The best sources of this vitamin are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and legumes.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate present in enriched food and as supplements. But, it is an inactive form of folate. It needs to undergo chemical enzyme conversions to become usable in the body.
Folic acid has long been known to reduce congenital birth defects like neural tube defect and preterm birth. It also prevents anemia and congenital heart disease.
Methylfolate (chemically L-methylfolate) is the fully reduced and most active form of folate. It bypasses several enzyme conversion, unlike folic acid. Thus, it has no need for the MTHFR enzyme. The human body readily absorbs methylfolate as it is.
Active folate has a higher bioavailability than folic acid. It means that it is quickly absorbed by the body, producing a fast activity effect.
Methyfolate is the only form of folate that can cross the blood-brain barrier. It helps in the production of the hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for mood regulation.
Doctors prescribe methylfolate as dietary supplements to individuals with genetic conditions. Specifically, the lack of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme or MTHFR.
Conversion of folic acid to its active form (L-methylfolate) requires the action of the MTHFR enzyme. Some individuals do not have this specific enzyme, causing them to develop folate deficiencies. They are also unable to use folic acid in their bodies.
Which is better?
For a healthy person, both folic acid and methylfolate can supply them with their daily nutritional needs of folate. Both forms can perform vitamin B9 or folates duties to our body.
For a person with MTHFR enzyme deficiency, doctors will prescribe methylfolate rather than folic acid. Methylfolate supplementation also reduces the risk of depression. Clinical trials showed that L-methylfolate enhances the action of antidepressant medications.
It is still important to discuss everything with your health care provider to ensure safety and efficacy.