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Folate plays an essential role in cell division and DNA synthesis and is involved in human growth and development. Humans need to maintain an adequate dietary intake of folate during various stages of their lives.
Folates contained in foods are unstable and susceptible to oxidation and they lose activity during food processing, manufacturing and storage.
Bioavailability range of 25-50%, depending on the kind of food, Room temperature storage may lose up to 70% of their folate activity within three days, Cooking process in water can increase the loss to 95%.
Structurally-related compounds (as polyglutamated forms)
Naturally found in foods
Must be hydrolyzed Unstable (food processing and storage)
Synthetic oxidized form of folate
First synthetized in 1945
More stable than natural form of folate
No active – Needs to be metabolized
Added in supplements and fortified foods
The concentration of 5-MTHF in cord serum is approximately 2 times higher than in maternal serum (mean 35.8 vs. 15.6 nmol/L), suggesting that 5-MTHF during pregnancy can provide an immediate source of folate to be transported to the fetus
(6S)-5-MTHF is the main folate form in cord blood (means 89.4% of total folate)
It must be converted from folic acid to methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) before it can be used by the body.
The big variations in how efficiently folic acid reaches the target organs depend from 2 different points:
1. Gut absorption
2. Liver conversion of FA in the active form
Unmetabolized Folic Acid (UMFA) may be found in the circulation at doses of supplementation of FA > 200μg in normal subjects.
The human gut appears to have a very efficient capacity to convert reduced dietary folates to 5-MTHF but limited ability to reduce folic acid.
Rate-limiting enzyme that catalyzes the irreversible conversion to 5-MTHF in the methyl cycle
10% of the world’s population is affected by homozygous (TT) MTHFR polymorphism
Particularly common in some ethnic groups, northern China (20%), southern Italy (26%), and Mexico (32%)
Neural-tube Defects Irritable bowel disease
Male and female infertility Cognitive impairment in elderly
Lifestyle putting people at risk of low folate levels:
excess Eating disorders
Low vegetables intake
Coronary heart disease
Elevated homocysteine levels