Folate vs Folic Acid – WTF is MTHFR

Folate, folic acid, pretty much the same thing right? 

Wrong, oh so wrong.

Luckily for you, we have a video lasting all of 2 minutes and 40 seconds, to explain it all. This is also on the IN Health supplements educational page.


And if you want to know how to use the METHYL B HERO product which is based around METHYLATION which needs active folate, active B12 and B6.

6 minutes and you got it:


If you don’t want to watch, you can read:

Did you know that folic acid and folate are different things?

Folic acid is a synthetic, inactive product not found in nature.

The term “folate” has a few different meanings but in general, it means the natural forms found in foods (not fortified, that is folic acid again) and the active form known as METHYL-folate (or more technically correct, 5-Methyl tetra-hydro folate, 5-MTHF to her friends).

The issue is the enzyme that converts folic acid to the next form (called DHF) is saturated at 200 mcg-ish in most people.


Bear in mind most supplements are 400 mcg.

So, with folic acid, may come as real issue of un-metabolised folic acid (UMFA).

How do we know this for sure?

A study gave 5000 mcg folic acid to patients, then measured the levels:


Thus, if we go looking, we can find high levels of UMFA in many people.

So why is the issue ?

Well, if unmetabolised folic acid is still hanging around, it may interfere with active folate from the receptor, lowering the cellular activity level of active folate.

Folate plays a central role in many things, but especially new cells/DNA (think anameia, spinal bifida etc).



All this together leads us to the surprising finding that folic acid supplements seem to be associated with higher levels of cancer.


Is folic acid all bad?

No, clearly not.

We know folic acid can prevent neural tube defects, and this is because while we do get elevated UMFA once the enzyme has been saturated, we do get more active form folate (5MTHF) from the folic acid that does make it down the line.


Back in the day, we had no choice about what to take, but then good old big pharma came to the rescue, specifically Merck, those lovely benevolent people who only care about our health.


The one good thing about big pharma is they employ vast numbers of PhD biochemists to plot pathways. They need to know exactly how enzymes work and which co-factors are needed to then be able to manipulate them with drugs.

Thus, a lot of our biochemical knowledge is thanks to big pharma.

So, Merck worked out how to make the active form and patented it as Metafolin, which they sold as Deplin for depression.


They even helpfully explained how poor folic acid was:


Thus, we can now give the active form 5MTHF in supplements.

There simply is no need to risk high levels of UMFA in order to push up your active folate/5MTHF.

Hence, we use the active form is our best selling one a day multi:



Or you get double that in the methylation specific formula Methyl B Hero