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      Folate, folic acid and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate are not the same thing

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      Xenobiotica

      Informa UK Limited

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          Abstract

          1. Folate, an essential micronutrient, is a critical cofactor in one-carbon metabolism. Mammals cannot synthesize folate and depend on supplementation to maintain normal levels. Low folate status may be caused by low dietary intake, poor absorption of ingested folate and alteration of folate metabolism due to genetic defects or drug interactions. 2. Folate deficiency has been linked with an increased risk of neural tube defects, cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive dysfunction. Most countries have established recommended intakes of folate through folic acid supplements or fortified foods. External supplementation of folate may occur as folic acid, folinic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). 3. Naturally occurring 5-MTHF has important advantages over synthetic folic acid - it is well absorbed even when gastrointestinal pH is altered and its bioavailability is not affected by metabolic defects. Using 5-MTHF instead of folic acid reduces the potential for masking haematological symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, reduces interactions with drugs that inhibit dihydrofolate reductase and overcomes metabolic defects caused by methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase polymorphism. Use of 5-MTHF also prevents the potential negative effects of unconverted folic acid in the peripheral circulation. 4. We review the evidence for the use of 5-MTHF in preventing folate deficiency.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Geographical and ethnic variation of the 677C>T allele of 5,10 methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR): findings from over 7000 newborns from 16 areas world wide.

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            Spina bifida.

            Spina bifida results from failure of fusion of the caudal neural tube, and is one of the most common malformations of human structure. The causes of this disorder are heterogeneous and include chromosome abnormalities, single gene disorders, and teratogenic exposures. However, the cause is not known in most cases. Up to 70% of spina bifida cases can be prevented by maternal, periconceptional folic acid supplementation. The mechanism underlying this protective effect is unknown, but it is likely to include genes that regulate folate transport and metabolism. Individuals with spina bifida need both surgical and medical management. Although surgical closure of the malformation is generally done in the neonatal period, a randomised clinical trial to assess in utero closure of spina bifida has been initiated in the USA. Medical management is a lifelong necessity for individuals with spina bifida, and should be provided by a multidisciplinary team.
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              Is Open Access

              Women’s compliance with nutrition and lifestyle recommendations before pregnancy: general population cohort study

              Objective To examine the extent to which women planning a pregnancy comply with recommendations for nutrition and lifestyle. Design Prospective cohort study. Setting Southampton, United Kingdom. Participants 12 445 non-pregnant women aged 20-34 recruited to the Southampton Women’s Survey through general practices, 238 of whom became pregnant within three months of being interviewed. Main outcome measures Folic acid supplement intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, diet, and physical activity before pregnancy. Results The 238 women who became pregnant within three months of the interview were only marginally more likely to comply with recommendations for those planning a pregnancy than those who did not become pregnant in this period. Among those who became pregnant, 2.9% (95% confidence interval 1.2% to 6.0%) were taking 400 μg or more of folic acid supplements a day and drinking four or fewer units of alcohol a week, compared with 0.66% (0.52% to 0.82%) of those who did not become pregnant. 74% of those who became pregnant were non-smokers compared with 69% of those who did not become pregnant (P=0.08). Women in both groups were equally likely to consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day (53% in each group, P=1.0), but only 57% of those who became pregnant had taken any strenuous exercise in the past three months compared with 64% in those who did not become pregnant (P=0.03). Conclusion Only a small proportion of women planning a pregnancy follow the recommendations for nutrition and lifestyle. Greater publicity for the recommendations is needed, but as many pregnancies are unplanned, improved nutrition and lifestyles of women of childbearing age is also required.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Xenobiotica
                Xenobiotica
                Informa UK Limited
                0049-8254
                1366-5928
                October 31 2013
                February 04 2014
                : 44
                : 5
                : 480-488
                Article
                10.3109/00498254.2013.845705
                24494987
                © 2014

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