Everyone has heard of folate, but what does it mean to be deficient in folate, and what can anyone do about it?
Some sources estimate that up to 50% of the Australian population have a gene that renders folic acid un-useable by the body. Folic acid is the artificial source by which the population at large acquires their folate requirements.
Folic acid: Is a fully oxidised synthetic compound which is not formed naturally. It is commonly used in dietary supplementation and in food fortification.
Folinic acid (5-Formyl Tetrahydrofolate): Is formed when folic acid is reduced by the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). It is an active form of folate that is involved in nucleic acid biosynthesis
5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF): Is formed when folinic acid is reduced by methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). It is the active form of folate which is responsible for homocysteine metabolism, DNA methylation, and neurotransmitter synthesis.
Folic acid is not actually used by the body. It must first be converted to folate (e.g., folinic acid) and then to 5-MTHF.
The process by which folic acid is metabolised to 5-MTHF is long and complex. This process occurs in the liver and intestines and requires several bodily enzymes. This can be a problem for folic acid supplementation for a few reasons.
Firstly, if the liver or intestines are not working optimally (for reasons such as taking certain medications or anatomical anomalies or fast intestinal transit time), this process cannot occur sufficiently enough to meet the body’s needs.
Secondly, the DHFR enzyme which initially converts folic acid to folate, is not as active in everybody. This means that some people are able to ‘activate’ folic acid quickly while others very slowly. If the activation of folic acid happens slowly, it could potentially accumulate in the blood stream as well as not providing adequate conversion into a usable product. Furthermore, some drugs are designed to inhibit this enzyme, rendering folic acid supplementation near useless.
Thirdly, even if all the folic acid has been converted to the folate (folinic acid) form, it still requires activation by a final enzyme MTHFR. It is estimated that up to 50% of the population have a faulty gene that prevents MTHFR being made effectively by the body.
For those individuals displaying any of the symptoms of low folate status mentioned above, a pathology test for folate along with an MTHFR gene test can be conducted. If supplementation is required, then 5-MTHF should be looked at in preference to folic acid or folinic acid. Read more about our Nutrigenomic and neutraceutical services.
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It definitely is a historic time. With all the fear and uncertainty in the world at the moment, we are experiencing things not seen since the mid 20th Century. Shortages on basic manufactured necessities such as toilet paper, foodstuffs and even medicines.
Pharmacists have the skills and expertise to prepare medicines themselves and have done so for hundreds of years. A modern compounding pharmacist has the equipment, resources and access to a wide range of raw materials to make replacement products in many situations. Should you be unable to find a medicine for yourself or your family, speak to your Border Compounding pharmacist immediately.
Washing your hands is a powerful weapon.
In the current environment where people are rushing out to buy sanitisers and washes to kill off COVID-19 and prevent its transmission, there has been a raft of misinformation on what to use and what works. This hasn’t been helped by shortages and people trying to find alternatives in the face of sold out sanitisers.
BCP Moisturising Hand Sanitiser - Medical grade, 80% ethanol, pharmacist formulated.
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