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Autism Coach

Folic Acid- A Synthetic Imitation of Folate - Can Cause Food Allergies, Cancer and Other Health Problems

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Take a cheap, over-the-counter pregancy vitamin containing folic acid and consume foods adulterated with folic acid (flour, bread, pasta and baked goods, packaged cereals) and you may be at more risk for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, and your child may be more at risk for developing food allergies, autoimmune conditions, and autism.  What EVERY pregnant mother should consume to prevent birth defects is a form of natural folate (methylfolate) and avoid any food products containing folic acid. In 1996, the FDA mandated folic acid to be put in flour, grains, pasta, baked goods and cereals.  There is no such thing as a folic acid deficiency because folic acid does not occur in nature and is not manufactured in our bodies.

Research being presented at the 2018 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and World Allergy Organization (WAO) Joint Congress suggests that folic acid exposure in utero could cause children to develop food allergies.  In a study performed in the Boston Birth Cohort, scientists found that higher levels of unmetabolized folic acid measured in infants at birth was associated with the development of food allergy. 

Diet, clinical history and specific-IgE to common food allergens were also assessed in early life. Out of the 1,394 children included in this study, 507 had a food sensitization and 78 had a food allergy. “The ... folate levels at birth were lower among the children that developed a food allergy, while the ... levels of the synthetic folic acid derivative, unmetabolized folic acid, were higher,” said author Emily McGowan, MD. (1)

Folic acid is a synthetic chemical that mimics natural methylfolate.  Folic acid is also known to chemists as pteroylmonoglutamic acid (PteGlu). 

Folic acid is cheap to make, has a longer shelf life than methylfolate, and is stable in liquid supplements.  FDA regulations concerning folic acid food are based on purely on profit of the companies that make folic acid and use folic acid in products.  The FDA and the special interests who profit from folic acid use deceptive propaganda to misrepresent folic acid as being the same as natural folate which it is not.  Unfortunately folic acid is still widely recommended by physicians to pregnant women to prevent birth defects.

Natural folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate), is what the body naturally manufacturers and uses.  Natural folate can prevent birth neural tube defects in ALL pregnant women.  For a substantial percentage of pregnant women and their unborn children,consumption of folic acid in vitamins and in food products can actually increase the risk of birth defects and other health problems in their children and in themselves.

For People with an MTHFR Gene Mutation, Folic Acid is a Toxin

40% of the world's population has an MTHFR gene mutation and over 50% of individuals diagnosed within the autism spectrum have an MTHFR gene mutation.  MTHFR is the gene used to make the enzyme, methyltransferase.  Methyltransferase is used over and over in several critical metabolic processes, including those used to make neurotransmitters, detoxify, to signal growth and development of the brain and body in early childhood, and turn genes on and off.  People with the MTHFR gene mutation are not able to convert artificial folic acid to natural methylfolate, or have an impaired ability to do so. 

In individuals with the MTHFR gene mutation, it is theorized that when folic acid not broken down, folic acid builds up in the blood and tissues and plugs up the receptor sites in cells with folic acid - which the body cannot use, disrupting the function of several critical metabolic pathways.  In addition, folic acid is likely to create a negative feedback loop that signals the body to make even less of the desperately needed methylfolate.

The findings from the Boston Birth Cohort study indicating folic acid levels were high and methylfolate levels were low in children who developed food allergies would seem to corroborate this.

Here is a diagram of key metabolic pathways that with proper levels of methylfolate (in red):

Here is the same pathways are disrupted by artificial folic acid.  Everything grayed out is the chain reaction of metabolic pathways disrupted by folic acid:

Folic Acid Requires Extra Steps to Convert it to Natural Folate, Disregulates Folate Metabolism and Increases Risks of Miscarriages and Cancer

High intake of folic acid from supplements and fortified foods put a burden on the body's DHFR and MTHFR enzymes  to convert folic acid to methylfolate:

Folic Acid is absorbed through the cell membrane as is natural folate.  However because folic acid is not natural, it requires the DHFR enzyme (dihydrofolate reductase) and MTHFR enzymes to convert it to natural folate. 

When folic acid is introduced into the body, the DHFR enzyme is not only responsible for continuous circulation of natural folate in the body but is now has the additional burden of metabolizing synthetic folic acid, using up MTHFR enzymes for unnecessary the task of breaking down folic acid. (4)

On top of this, researchers theorize that folic acid metabolism creates a negative feedback loop that inhibits the activation of MTHFR gene, which is the key gene for folate metabolism.  This negative feedback loop is likely to result in reduced amounts of the MTHFR enzyme available for folate metabolism, impairing the body's ability to manufacture natural folate:

  • The DHFR enzyme when activated to break down folic acid also modulates the activity of the MTHFR enzyme
  • When folic acid converts to Dihydrofolate, the Dihyrdofolate molecule also modulates the activity of the MTHFR gene.  

It also turns out the DHFR enzyme in humans is not very good at processing folic acid.  DHFR gene mutations have been associated with spina bifida, megaloblastic anemia, and neurological disorders.  So both people with the DHFR and MTHFR gene mutations should avoid folic acid. (4)

Unmetabolized folic acid is unusable by the body but because it mimics natural folate, it can bind to receptor sites and imbed itself in molecules throughout the body, disrupting metabolic function throughout the body.

In fact, research is indicating folic acid is actually not metabolized well by most people. A study that was carried out before fortification with folic acid indicated that no unmetabolized folic acid occurred in fasting blood.(5)   However a study conducted after implementation of mandatory folic acid fortification reported that unmetabolized folic acid (also known as PteGlu) was detected in 78% of subjects (6).

It also appears as if folic acid disrupts folate metabolism on a cellular level, expression of folate transporters in the epithelial cells of the intestinal tract and kidneys, and is likely to disregulate several other genes. (7, 8, 19, 10). So folic acid also interferes with the body absorbing methylfolate into the intestinal tract as well, further depleting it.

Prenatal and postnatal supplementation of folic acid in mothers on a standard diet resulted in the occurrence of higher numbers of cancer tumors. The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening trial linked folic acid intake with 20% to 32% increased risk of breast cancer in women consuming more than 400 microg/d supplemental folic acid.  Other studies have linked supplemental folate to heart problems, leukemia, and ectopic pregnancy. An inability to absorb synthetic folate has even been linked to miscarriage.

Foods Fortified with Folic Acid as Required by the FDA

In one of the biggest scams perpetratd by the FDA colluding with Big Pharma:  real folate has been stolen from the marketplace and replaced with their counterfeit: folic acid. Known to chemists as pteroylglutamic acid monoglutamate, the drug folic acid is one of the best-selling counterfeits infiltrating nutritional supplement products such as multi-vitamins and prenatals. In addition FDA mandated that grain-based foods such as bread and cereal, be fortified with it in 1996.

The list of foods required by the FDA to be fortified with folic acid include (3):

  • Wheat flour
  • Baked Goods (Bread, etc.)
  • Cornmeal
  • Rice
  • Pasta

Read the labels of any food products you obtain.  Avoid processed foods with grains in them as they can hide the folic acid supplementation in the ingredient list.

In Conclusion

The extent of metabolic disruption caused by folic acid, has yet to be completely researched and understood but folic acid is clearly a toxic artificial mimic of natural folate that should be banned and removed from our food supply and supplements.  If folate deficiency is a truly national or international concern for pregnant women and developing children, then the our government's regulatory agencies should instead mandate using the natural form of folate, 5-methtyltetrahydrofolate. 


1.  Folid Acid Exposure in Utero Associated with Development of Food Allergy

2.  Folic acid - vitamin and panacea or genetic time bomb?

3.  Foods fortified with folic acid -

4. Contemporary Issues Surrounding Folic Acid Fortification Initiatives -

5.  Kelly P, McPartlin J, Goggins M, Weir DG, Scott JM. 1997. Unmetabolized folic acid in serum: acute studies in subjects consuming fortified food and supplements. Am J Clin Nutr. 65:1790–1795. PMID: 9174474.

6.  Troen AM, Mitchell B, Sorensen B, Wener MH, Johnston A, Wood B, Selhub J, McTiernan A, Yasui Y, Oral E, Potter JD, Ulrich CM. 2006. Unmetabolized folic acid in plasma is associated with reduced natural killer cell cytotoxicity among postmenopausal women. J Nutr. 136:189–194.

7. Tam C, O’Connor D, Koren G. 2012. Circulating unmetabolized folic Acid: relationship to folate status and effect of supplementation. Obstet Gynecol Int. 2012:485179. DOI: 10.1155/2012/485179. PMID: 22529856. PMCID: 3317000.

8. Kao TT, Wang KC, Chang WN, Lin CY, Chen BH, Wu HL, Shi GY, Tsai JN, Fu TF. 2008. Characterization and comparative studies of zebrafish and human recombinant dihydrofolate reductases–inhibition by folic acid and polyphenols. Drug Metab Dispos. 36:508–516. DOI: 10.1124/dmd.107.019299.

9. Ashokkumar B, Mohammed ZM, Vaziri ND, Said HM. 2007. Effect of folate oversupplementation on folate uptake by human intestinal and renal epithelial cells. Am J Clin Nutr. 86:159–166. PMID: 17616776.

10. Junaid MA, Kuizon S, Cardona J, Azher T, Murakami N, Pullarkat RK, Brown WT. 2011. Folic acid supplementation dysregulates gene expression in lymphoblastoid cells–implications in nutrition. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 412:688–692. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.08.027. PMID: 21867686.


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