Folic Acid: Useful or Benign?

First off, congratulations if you understood my pun.  Folic acid or Folate is also known as vitamin B9. ...

First off, congratulations if you understood my pun.  Folic acid or Folate is also known as vitamin B9.  The name Folate derived from foliage refers to the common source of B9, green leafy vegetables.  Folic acid is one of those vitamins that is really valued in the nutritional and medical worlds. 

The one thing every nutritionist in the world will agree on is that people need to eat more green vegetables.  In terms of the medical world, folic acid is a major nutrient required for healthy pregnancy (especially decreasing birth defects), lowering homocysteine,  combatting depression, reducing risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and increasing reproductive health.  In the functional medicine world, this list is much much longer.

That being said Folic Acid is generally regarded as a staple nutrient by all and incorporated in every major multi-vitamin, as well as being a very popular supplement on its own.  Prenatal vitamins usually are recognized by their higher dosage of Folic Acid.


What is less common knowledge is that Folic Acid is not a biologically active molecule.  The liver must convert Folic Acid into tetrahydrofolate for your body to reap any of the positive benefits.  This requires specific enzymes in the liver to function optimally.  It’s estimated that nearly half of the caucasians in the US have genetic phenotypes of this enzyme that are very inefficient.

What does that mean for them?  It means that no matter how many green veggies or vitamins they take, they could still not be getting enough of the Folic Acid converted into the biologically active tetrahydrofolate.  So, despite having a diet high in Folic Acid, they could experience some or many of the effects of Folic Acid deficiency.

  • Anemia
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Feeling light headed
  • Feeling grouchy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor female hormone regulation
  • Depression
  • Poor detoxification leading to chronic fatigue and weight gain
  • Mood disorders
  • Low libido
  • Bone fractures
  • Skin irritations
  • as well as many indirect health risks

Quality & Bioavailability

There is a solution though.  In this case your genetics can be overcome by modern science.  Supplementation of Folic Acid in its biological form is possible.  This supplement is called L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate,  (L-Methylfolate, or branded as Metafolin).

By taking this supplement, the enzymatic reaction is bypassed and you get all the benefits of Folic Acid.  If you’re not sure if you have this genetic limitation, there is still no reason not to use this superior form of vitamin B9.  With all the benefits from Folic Acid, using tetrahydrofolate which is more bioavailable, will be more effective.

This product will not be found in cheap multivitamins, but any multi worth taking will now be using this version of Folic Acid.  If you know you have poor enzyme function, it is usually a good idea to supplement with an individual tetrahydrofolate supplement.  Most vitamins will have between 400-800 mg per serving.  Taking in an extra serving each day will benefit those with poor conversion.

Our Recommendations

Two products that contain this more bioavailable form of B9, and activated forms of the other B vitamins, are

Total Defense by ATP Lab (code N1TEN = 10% off)

Essential Multi by NutriDyn.

You can get 10% off Essential Multi if you are an N1 member by signing in through your complimentary NutriDyn account HERE.




More Articles

More Videos

Back to Blog