There's quite a bit of confusion in the health world about the difference between a few important, uh, "f words." Namely, folate, folic acid, methyl folate and folinic acid. Even if you're not completely sure of what these terms mean, you've likely heard them before. Before we get into what folinic acid is, let's cover the other definitions first (because they're all connected)!
Folate - Folate is the naturally occurring dietary form of Vitamin B9. Common sources include dark leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, oranges, avocados, Brussels sprouts, seeds, nuts, and beans. You really can't go wrong with natural folate, as vitamin B9 is critical for methylation. A diet that is rich in natural folate will always benefit a MTHFR!
Folic Acid - Folic acid is a bit of a dirty word around here. You will often hear that folic acid and folate are interchangeable, but they're not. Folic acid is a man-made, synthetic form of Vitamin B9 that does not share the same molecular structure. Due to this difference in structure, those with the MTHFR mutation have a difficult time processing it correctly. Not only will folic acid not benefit a MTHFR's methylation process, but it can actually block dietary folate and other more bio-available forms of supplemental folate from doing their jobs. It's important to remove folic acid from your supplements and your diet (in the form of enriched foods).
Methyl Folate - Methyl folate is a supplemental form of Vitamin B9 that shares the same molecular structure as dietary folate. For this reason, it's a great alternative to folic acid for someone with the MTHFR mutation. Methyl folate is bioavailable, meaning it is easily absorbed and processed, especially for someone with an MTHFR variant who struggles to methylate efficiently.
Okay, so what the heck is folinic acid then?? Folinic acid, not to be confused with folic acid, is another bioavailable form of supplemental folate that could benefit a MTHFR. While getting adequate Vitamin B9 through diet and/or supplementation is critical for methylation (especially as a MTHFR), some still do not tolerate methylated vitamins well. This is the main reason that someone may turn to folinic acid rather than methyl folate. Folinic acid could be for you if methyl folate causes any of the following symptoms:
Does methyl folate cause you any negative symptoms? What form of Vitamin B9 works best for you? Tell us about it!