Kirkman, a nutritional supplement company in Portland (OR, USA), has introduced a new supplement that provides folate in its most bioavailable form.
Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) is a nutrient present in leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, peas and nuts. Additionally, enriched breads and cereals are fortified with folic acid. Still, it is very difficult to get enough solely from one's diet.
Often, nutritional supplements are made from a synthetic form of folic acid that is not biologically active until the body converts it into 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate (folinic acid). This conversion is effected by an enzyme know as methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR).
However, 10–25% of the general population have one of several variants of the MTHFR gene. In such cases, the enzyme needed to complete the conversion is absent.
Those who have a MTHFR gene mutation require 5-MTHF to meet their folic acid requirements. Those who have not been tested for this genetic variation, and therefore do not know their MTHFR gene status, can ensure they are getting sufficient folate by taking 5-MTHF. For those who have no problem converting folic acid, 5-MTHF will be just as effective as a synthetic form.
Although everyone needs folic acid, this nutrient is especially important during pregnancy. Doctors almost universally recommend supplementation for women intending to get pregnant. Inadequate levels of folic acid before and during pregnancy can lead to severe complications.