October Newsletter

“Beware of your B9”

B9 is essential for proper nervous system growth, energy levels, and to help prevent heart disease. Since the highest concentration of B9 is found in leafy green vegetables, many people are deficient in this crucial vitamin. To counteract this deficiency, folic acid (the synthetic form of B9) is being placed into fortified foods and also given to many people in supplemental form. While the chemical companies tried to make their synthetic form perfect, and they tell us that the two are equal, B9 and folic acid are NOT the same thing. Actually, the small difference between them can cause folic acid to be quite dangerous to your health.

Other names for B9 include folate and methylfolate, and lately, even folic acid is included in this category. For years, health professionals have been telling the wonders of folic acid. While many people associate folic acid with pregnant women, it is also in many fortified foods and supplements that the average person ingests daily. While this was once thought to be a good thing, current research has shown otherwise

However, B9 and folic acid are not the same thing. Folate is the natural, dietary form of vitamin B9, while folic acid is the synthetic form, and is slightly different in its make-up. Due to this difference, an extra step by the body is required to convert folic acid into B9 (folate). This step is performed by the enzyme DHFR and is very slow, and therefore only so much folic acid can be converted at once. The body can process very little folic acid at once and the rest is converted into umetabolized folic acid.

So what’s the big deal? Does it matter if you have excess folic acid in your blood. The answer is yes. Unmetabolized folic acid has been shown to promote certain cancers and to decrease the amount of natural killer cells in the body, which are cells that help protect against cancers and viruses. While excess folic acid can lead to a buildup of unmetabolized folic acid, eating folate naturally doesn’t lead to any negative accumulations.

Therefore, instead of taking folic acid supplements, try eating it naturally by consuming B9 (folate) rich foods which include, lentils, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and avocados. If you do need to take a supplement, make sure that the supplement reads folate or methylfolate and not folic acid. Your body won’t have to do as much work and you won’t have to risk the unhealthy side effects of unmetabolized folic acid!

Key points:

  • B9 (folate) does NOT equal folic acid.
  • Excess folic acid has been shown to cause cancer and decrease natural killer cells.
  • Supplements or foods should contain folate also known as methylfolate, not folic acid.
  • Leafy greens are one of the best sources of dietary B9 (folate), so eat your salads!
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