Getting your folate fix the RIGHT way
The UK Government has decided that flour in the UK is to be fortified with folic acid after ministers were convinced by their health advisers that it would reduce the risk of babies developing spina bifida and other conditions that involve severe disability or death.
Well, sadly this is NOT good news – at least not for 40-60% of women.
We need vitamin B9 – folate – for growth and especially during pregnancy, where it prevents neural tube defects in newborns. But folic acid and natural folate are not the same things.
Folates and folic acid – NOT the same thing
Folic acid is a very different substance to the natural vitamin folate, and there’s a lot of confusion on this issue. Folic acid is a synthetically manufactured form of this important vitamin, but it cannot be broken down and utilised by the body in a whopping 40-60% of the population (male and female) who have a mutation on their MTHFR gene.
And that’s a big problem:
- If you’re among the 40-60% (about half the population!), taking folic acid may NOT be improving your B9 status – it will simply not convert to the active form that your body can use, and so will fail to do the job it was meant to during pregnancy.
- And if it’s not converted, it builds up in the body and can cause a host of unwanted side effects, not only for Mum and baby (for example, it puts women at risk for infertility, miscarriages and babies born with defects and tongue tie) but for us all.
For women past childbearing age, and for men in general, excessive doses of the synthetic form of this nutrient are not necessary and may even be harmful. Research suggests that the excessive consumption of folic acid in fortified foods may be directly related to increases in cancer rates, mask vitamin 12 deficiencies, causing serious cognitive consequences.
Image credit: Dr Jockers
So how do I get folate?
The best way to get folate is the way that Mother Nature intended – by eating plenty of organic eggs, liver, leafy greens, avocado, beetroot, sprouts and broccoli.
The whole issue of food fortification of flour products and the impact on our health is very worrying – I write about it in my book Once Upon a Cook – Food Wisdom, Better Living, available in January 2019:
In the meantime, natural folate supplements are available online – do your research, get advice and always check the label.
I strongly urge you to find out more here: