“This may be your first time reading that there are differences when it comes to folic acid, and a question may come to mind: if the methylated form of folate is the best and avoids health complications, why isn’t it the only form used? The answer is the raw material costs.”
The number of children identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increasing. In 1960 ASD was 1 in 2,500, and currently the situation is alarming (1 in 59 children and in boys 1 in 37 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) but the estimated rate for the upcoming decade is even more disturbing (every second child will be born with autism). Identifying the problem is a good start but even more important is to understand the causes and find the solutions to be able to change the predictions.
Unfortunately, most of the studies don’t dig deep enough. The newest one—conducted by the researchers of the University of California—does not address the issue of why parents are having autistic children in the first place either. It is a wide gaping hole as it does nothing for preventing or discovering the cause of autism, only suggests that prenatal supplements should be used for recurrence once the parents have their first autistic child.
Prescribing prenatal formulas is not new to naturopathic doctors since they have been doing it for several decades, pointing out the essential ingredients (folic acid and iron) of prenatal vitamins and the other nutrients necessary for the baby’s development. But is it that simple? For being able to find the solution, we need to take it one step further, so let’s dig a little bit deeper.
As mentioned above, folic acid is especially crucial for those who are pregnant. However, despite folic acid being in many supplements, the form of folic acid is not as widely considered despite the fact that it makes all the difference.
The active form of folate is called 5-MTHF. This is the form that the body can use; it can go into cells, and even cross the blood-brain barrier. Any folic acid that is not 5-MTHF has to undergo a conversion process in the body to be used. Still, up to 40% of people have a mutation in their MTHFR gene, which means they have problems metabolizing folic acid. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme that activates and regulates folate metabolism in the body; it is responsible for converting folic acid into its active 5-MTHF form. 5-MTHF goes on to influence many important bodily processes, such as DNA, RNA, and SAMe production.
While on one hand, folate is recommended for pregnant women as a means to prevent birth defects, on the other hand half of all pregnant women have the MTHFR mutation, which hinders folic acid metabolization. Supplementing with predigested, biologically active forms of folate, like 5-MTHF, can be a positive solution, as well as being healthier overall.
This may be your first time reading that there are differences when it comes to folic acid, and a question may come to mind: if the methylated form of folate is the best and avoids health complications, why isn’t it the only form used? The answer is the raw material costs. Standard folic acid costs $75.00 per kg, whereas 5-MHTF methylated folate costs $4,000 per kg; as they say, you get what you pay for.
To help avoid health complications, read product labels, avoid foods that have been fortified with folic acid, and for food supplements, avoid folic acid sources. Instead, choose directly absorbable methylated forms. Doctor’s Choice® only uses methylated minerals (B6, B12, and folate) 5-MTHF folate in our formulations. If you want to ensure that the folate you are taking is helpful and not harmful, only trust brands that have done their homework on this very important nutrient.
Is Aluminium the Cause?
Compared to non-autistic children, autistic children have the highest levels of aluminum. This is a problem because aluminum in the form of a chemical and this heavy metal is prevalent throughout our society. Our modern lifestyle relies very heavily upon this element as an ingredient in many manufactured items that we use on a daily basis: vaccines, prepared foods, deodorants, treated water, pots and pans, cell phones, televisions, computers etc. In addition to aluminum, there are other heavy metals such as lead and mercury, which have also been linked to this disease by causing harm to the brain.
Acknowledging the reality of a crisis is never enough. To be able to solve a problem, we always need to find why it exists in the first place and proactively look for the best possible solutions. Planning ahead and taking care of ourselves and our loved ones is an excellent starting place while being mindful that your health rests between your own two hands.
References and further readings:
- Dahl, Eldon, DNM. (2018) Synthetic Folic Acid in Fortified Food and Supplements:Why It’s Bad for Our Health, and How It Affects MTHFR Gene Mutation.
· Dahl, Eldon, DNM. (2014) Alzheimer’s And Autism: Is The Common Link Aluminum?
- Puzic, Sonja. (2019) New autism study suggests prenatal vitamins can prevent recurrence in families.
· Stein, Traci Ph.D., MPH. (2014) A Genetic Mutation That Can Affect Mental & Physical Health. MTHFR mutations are linked to depression, ADHD, migraines, miscarriage & more.
 The MTHFR mutation has implications for cardiovascular disease, stroke, recurrent early miscarriages, migraines, osteoporosis, and some cancers. Several mental health conditions have also been linked to the MTHFR mutation, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.
 Dahl, Eldon, 2018.
 Dahl, Eldon, 2014.