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The Importance of Active Folate
5-MTHF, also known as L-methylfolate, is the active form of folate in the body. Unlike the inactive folic acid used in supplementation and food fortification, 5-MTHF is the type of folate our tissues use.* However, approximately 60% of the U.S. population has a genetic polymorphism in the enzyme responsible for converting inactive folic acid into active L-methylfolate, which makes 5-MTHF the preferred form of folate supplementation.* One study showed a 600% greater blood level of 5-MTHF after supplementation with 5-MTHF compared to folic acid dosing, regardless of genetic polymorphism status.*
The Role of 5-MTHF in Neurotransmitter and Cardiovascular Function
5-MTHF is involved in two main biochemical processes that can have profound effects on the body and mind. 5-MTHF is tied to the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Working with tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), 5-MTHF promotes activity of the first enzyme in the serotonin pathway and the first two enzymes in the catecholamine pathway.* Therefore, an adequate amount of 5-MTHF is essential for the production of these neurotransmitters, which are vitally important for brain function and mood.*
Cardiovascular function is also closely linked with folate status.* Donation of a "methyl group" (CH3
) to the amino acid homocysteine facilitates further methyl donation by S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) to numerous other biochemical pathways.* Sufficient metabolism of homocysteine also offers reduced risk of adverse cardiovascular events.* 5-MTHF also works with BH4 in the cardiovascular system, as both are necessary for the proper activity of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), the enzyme responsible for producing nitric oxide in blood vessels.* Efficient nitric oxide production results in healthy blood vessel elasticity, dilation, and optimal blood flow.*
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