Thursday, July 30, 2009


I happened across an article here that says labels on folate-enriched foods are incorrect, citing they can contain from 90% and 377% more, per what's claimed on the label.

Folate is a vitamin that's good for us and needed in our system, especially women of child-bearing age. Also a factor with those with anemia (good to know: folate and vit. B12 are needed together; in the absense of B12, folate stays unactive thus both becoming deficient causing anemia. One or both of the vitamins are needed to help said anemia, but B12 is especially important due to nerves/nerve damage). But 377%?? That's a lot. Can there ever be a toxic overdose of folate?

Folate is part of the B vitamins. It helps activate vitamin B12, it metabolizes homocysteine* and helps with the synthesization of cell division & new cell growth. As far as "too much", the UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) is 1000 micrograms/day. My studies tell me toxic symptoms are that it masks vitamin B12 deficiency.

The fact that it masks itself as a vitamin B12 deficiency is interesting; when my B12 is low (I'm anemic) and I haven't gone for my shot for a while, I can tell because I get more heart palpitations (among other symptoms). Homocysteine is related to the heart (see * below). Is that why I get more palpitations? When folate and/or B12 levels are low, it raises homocysteine. Hmm. Food for thought.

Anyways, my point being - it's better to eat raw if possible and definitely un-processed foods. It's best to get ones folate needs naturally (avacado, beans, lentils, spinach, oranges, cantaloupe, etc) than through fortified foods, or things like this can happen.

* homocysteine is an amino acid used by the body in cellular metabolism and the manufacture of proteins. Elevated levels are thought to increase risk for heart disease, damaging the lining of blood vessels and increasing the risk of blood clotting. High levels are associated with vitamin deficiencies.


Adam Rossi said...

Hey Jody, this is Adam by the way. I thought you may want to know this is well. It turns out that folate has a role in both preventing and causing cancer. You see folate is involved in a pathway that is responsible for two different things. One is that is generates thymine which is one of the bases for DNA and the other is it causes DNA methylation which acts to regulate the expression of certain genes including those involved in cell growth and division (especially important in regards to cancer). As you know many foods such as flour, cereal and pasta are fortified with folate, sometimes quite large amounts. While it has been well proven that adequate folate can prevent spina bifida in developing fetuses, it also turns out that too much folate, if started after you are 2-5 years of age can promote the development of cancer. Yet if you are getting folate from birth, then it has a cancer preventitive function. Early in life, low levels of folate lead to inadequate amounts of thymine being produced, or more accurately, uracil (which is a base for RNA not DNA) is not converted to thymine and so your body uses the uracil which leads to DNA mutations (contributing factor to precancerous cells), if you then increase your level of folate once these mutations are in place, the DNA methylation role of folate can be "hijacked" so to speak by the cancer cells and they methylate genes needed to control the cell cycle, shutting them down, causing continuous cell division and progression from a precancerous lesion to a full blown cancer. If you have adequate folate throughout your entire life though, you don't run into these problems with DNA mutations or methylation gone wrong, in fact you have a decreased chance of developing DNA mutations and tighter gene control because of the adequate folate. So what does this all mean? Well basically for the generations that were already past 5 years old when folate fortification was made mandatory (namely us), well we pretty much got screwed since the increased levels of folate can increase our risks of cancer. However the generations coming now will recieve the protective effects of the fortification. So while we lose out, our children will be better off. A study actually came out showing an increased risk of breast cancer for pregnant women due to folate supplementation. Makes you think eh? Anyway just thought I would share that.

Perovskia said...

Thanks so much for this, Adam. Sorry I'm late responding. I didn't know folate was so involved!

All of this just boggles my mind. I understood it all, but the complexities.. wow. This makes me worry about how we find the right balance. What works for us? How do we heal ourselves, without hindering ourselves? What if someone was eating right (i.e eating less unprocessed foods), but taking supplements anyways (which also has folate in it) and on top of THAT, eating some folate-enriched foods. That's folate from 3 sources; no wonder we're having an overload! So many questions.

This study about pregnant women and folate supplementation, what became of the results? Should pregnant women take folate supplements to aid the baby? Yet if they do, what about what it does to *them*?


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