Folic Acid (folate) Supplements, Vitamins, Effects, Deficiency by Life Extension - Dose

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Fabulous Folate:  Folic Acid in Health - Page 1
by A.S. Gissen - reprinted by permission

Folic Acid (folate) -- 200 vegetable capsules by Life Extension

Folate and the Fetus
Folates have a fundamental role in cell replication through their necessity for nucleotide synthesis and amino acid interconversions.  In 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) released a recommendation that, all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consider consuming at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day.

Unfortunately, the entire story is more complex than it appears.  Published data are available from randomized controlled trials, non-randomized intervention trials, and observational studies.  While this is certainly true, the supporting evidence presented by the CDCP includes numerous studies that utilized high doses of folic acid (5 mg/day) or a lower dose (400 mcg) together with a multivitamin.  It seems a strange coincidence that these recommendations that were made in 1993 identically match the new 1989 US RDA recommendation of 400 mcg/day.  Prior to 1989 the US RDA recommendation was 800 mcg/day, which is more in line with the higher doses of folic acid.  They also recommend this high dose of folic acid be taken under a physicians supervision.

Sadly, the entire debate over how much folate is necessary has missed an important point:  that, research in humans and other animals has shown other nutrient deficiencies.  One of these other nutrient deficiencies involves vitamin B12.  Folate and vitamin B12 affect similar biosynthetic pathways in the body, and supplements of folic acid can overcome some clinical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.  It is entirely possible that some or all of the positive effects of folic acid supplementation may simply be due to partially overcoming a subclinical vitamin B12 deficiency.  Hopefully, we won't have to wait another 30 years for the potential of vitamin B12 to be recognized.

Supplement Facts:  Serving Size - 1 Capsule.  Servings/Container - 200

  Amount/Serving % Daily Value
Folic Acid (as L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate calcium salt) 400mcg 100%
Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin) 300mcg 5000%
Other ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose, vegetable cellulose (capsule), dicalcium phosphate.

In 1931, the treatment for a major health problem consisted of the yeast extract called marmite.  It contains an active ingredient subsequently isolated from spinach ten years later.  This active component is today known as folate, a member of the vitamin B complex.  A deficiency of folate results in the development of a condition which is morphologically indistinguishable from that associated with a deficiency of vitamin B-12.  Research in the last few decades has firmly established folic acid's role in many physiological functions essential for health.

Folate Chemistry and Functions
Folate is a generic term that refers to different forms of pteroyl (poly) - glutamate(s) conjugates.  In 1945 folic acid was synthesized, and this synthetic material was found to have therapeutic activity similar to the natural vitamin.  Pteroylglutamic acid, today known as folic acid, is a naturally occurring pteridine derivative comprising three basic parts -- a pteridine, para-aminobenzoic acid, and glutamic acid.  Folic acid is a monoglutamate, containing one glutamic acid residue.  This form does not occur in nature where folates are always present as polyglutamates with up to eleven glutamic acid residues.  In most mammals, including humans, the transport form of the vitamin is a monoglutamate, and this is the form found in blood plasma and extracellular fluids.  The active coenzyme forms of the vitamin, however, are polyglutamates with between four and six glutamic acid residues.

Folic acid is an essential dietary component and has a role in a number of reactions involved in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism.  Different coenzyme forms exist as a result of variations in the reduction state of the pteridine ring, the C1 group attached to pteroic acid, and the number of glutamic acid residues.

Folate Intake and Absorption
Humans are totally dependent on food as a source of folate.  Although there are folate producing bacteria in the human digestive tract, they contribute little to folate status.  Despite over fifty years of research, the actual folate requirement for optimum health is undecided.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that adults require 400 micrograms per day, and pregnant women should receive at least 800 micrograms per day.  This twenty-five year old recommendation coincided with the United States Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) until 1989, when the RDA was lowered to 200 micrograms per day for adults and 400 micrograms per day for pregnant women.  Using data from a large population survey of dietary intake, it was found that in the United States folate intake ranges from 8 micrograms to 5 milligrams per day.  The mean folate intake was 242 micrograms per day, and half of all individuals were consuming less than 200 micrograms of folate daily.

Because food folates are present as polyglutamates of varying chain lengths in food, whereas folates that circulate in the plasma exist in the form of monoglutamates, deconjugation to monoglutamates is required before absorption.  Thus, in the process of assimilation, folates in the diet as polyglutamates must be hydrolyzed to the monoglutamate form.  The hydrolysis, or digestion, of folates into their utilizable monoglutamate form occurs predominantly in the small intestine.  Because digestion of folates to folic acid is required for utilization, the bioavailability of folates in food varies.  It is low for some foods that contain nutritionally important amounts of folate, such as legumes, orange juice, and tomatoes.  Extracts of these foods significantly inhibit activity of the intestinal enzyme that converts dietary polyglutamyl folates into the monoglutamyl form prior to absorption.  A review of studies on folate bioavailability from numerous food sources showed that estimates of folate bioavailability varied widely.  Folic acid in dietary supplements, as opposed to the folates found in food, requires no digestion prior to absorption and demonstrates excellent bioavailability.

Folic Acid (folate) Supplements - Page 2 | Drinkers Cut canc Risk With Folate, Study Finds

Pricing Information:  Folic Acid (folate) Supplements | Vitamin B12 methylcobalamin | Vitamin K1, K2 | Vitamin C |
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