Folate is the natural version found in foods, Folic acid is the man-made version in supplements. There are 15 foods that are high in folate, which might interest some readers. Further, excess amounts of Folate in the body is safely excreted though the kidneys (water-soluble) making this a very safe nutrient because of its lack of excess uptake in organs and tissues, which could lead to collateral disorders.
Breakdown In The Folate Cycle
A large percentage of autistic children (75.3%) have folate receptor autoantibodies (FRAs) (Frye et al., 2013). This interrupts the transfer of Folate through the blood brain barrier where it then can ultimately be converted into MTHFR. FRAs cause cerebral folate deficiency (CFD) syndrome, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Frye et al treated the autistic children in his study with leucovorin (folinic acid) (max 50 mg per day) and documented improvements within a 4 month period, with very little adverse side effects. Folinic acid should not be confused with folic acid, which is part of prenatal supplementation.
Postnatal Folate Enhancement
The folic acid rich womb due to prenatal supplements enhanced with the nutrient could be creating the need for further methylation support post delivery during the period of critical neurodevelopment. Decreased support of folate during this time is the hypothicized cause of MTHFR genetic variants, which is highly prevalent in this population (98%). It has been suggested that part of the newborn screening process should look for C677T polymorphism, and other methionine cycle enzymes to determine whether or not those newborns should be monitored, and maintained on dietary and/or supplemental protocols (Rogers, E., 2008).
MTHFR Genetic Mutations
Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) genetic mutations in autism inhibit the ability to turn folate (B9) into methylfolate efficiently (Liu et al., 2011, Mohammad et al., 2009). This disrupts the methylation cycle and facilitates greater risk toward environmental toxins due to the decreased ability to detoxify. 98% of individuals on the autistic spectrum have at least one MTHFR gene mutation (Goin-Kochel et al., 2009). This very well could be the genetic susceptibility that leads to the diagnosis of autism. MTHFR mutations are also seen in other neurological disorders. There are recommendations of administration of 5-Methyl-Tetra-Hydro-Folate (Methyl-folate or 5MTHF) for individuals with lab confirmed MTHFR genetic mutations (Dach, J., n.d.). SpectraCell Laboratories offers a test kit for those interested in pre-screening individuals who may be at higher risk for vaccine adverse events. Specifically, those with 677TT genotypes do not detoxify effectively leading to increased risk in vaccination. This variant occurs in 30% of the population and in my opinion should be part of the pre-screening work-up prior to any vaccine administration. 23andMe also offers a DNA test for $99 that readers might be interested in.
MTHFR And Folic Acid Supplementation
Individuals with the MTHFR genetic mutation do not effectively convert folic acid into active folate (L-MTHF or 5-MTHF) (Methyl Life, 2014). Because of this, supplementation of folic acid in this subgroup could be ineffective in supporting the methylation cycle.
Breakdown In The Methionine Cycle
When heavy metals (mercury, aluminum, lead, ect), and other toxins enter the body the methionine pathway is inhibited decreasing normal neurological development (Waly et al., 2004). It is also interesting to note that autistic children when compared with their neurotypical peers have high levels of toxic heavy metals (Adams et al., 2012). Further, the degree in autism severity directly correlated in the amount of metals measured via toxicology. Autism providers use chelation protocols to help rid the body of these metals in the hopes to reestablish methionine synthetase, thus decreasing autistic symptoms and increasing optimal health. Chelation therapy is an FDA approved treatment to clear heavy metals from the body but is often criticized when used in individuals with autism, even though those patients show high levels of toxic heavy metals in their system. These treatments are neither paid for by insurance companies, or accepted by the mainstream medical establishment showing an unwillingness for these groups to provide standard medical care to this population in need.
Presentation by Dr. Lynch on Methylation
Be My Guest... Additional Commentary
Brogan, K. (2013). Methylwho? Why you should know about methylation. GreenMedInfo. Retrieved from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/methylwho-why-you-should-know-about-methylation
More Information: Videos, Glutathione....
VacFacts.Info. (n.d.). MethylTetraHydroFolate Reductase Deficiency MTHFR. Retrieved from http://www.vacfacts.info/mthfr-genetics-autism-and-disease.html
Folic Acid Dangers
Comini, C. (2014). How folic acid is making us sick. Home Economist. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/folic-acid-making-us-sick/
Dach, J. (n.d.). Important breakthrough folate in autism. Jeffery Dach MD. Retrieved from http://jeffreydachmd.com/folate-autism-jeffrey-dach/
Frye et al. (2013). Cerebral folate receptor autoantibodies in autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578948/
Goin-Kochel et al. (2009). The MTHFR 677C-->T polymorphism and behaviors in children with autism: exploratory genotype-phenotype correlations. Autism Res. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19455642
Liu et al. (2011). Population-and family-based studies associate the MTHFR gene with idiopathic autism in simplex families. J Autism Dev Disord. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21069446
Methyl Life. (2014). MTHFR and Methylation. Restoring Cellular Vitality. Retrieved from http://www.methyl-life.com/mthfr-and-methylation.html
Mohammad et al. (2009). Aberrations in folate metabolic pathway and altered susceptibility to autism. Psychiatr Genet. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19440165
Rogers, E. (2008). Has enhanced folate status during pregnancy altered natural selection and possibly Autism prevalence? A closer look at a possible link. Medical Hypotheses. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987708001631
Schmidt et al. (2011). Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism. Epidemiology. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21610500
Waly et al. (2004). Activation of methionine synthase by insulin-like growth factor-1 and dopamine: a target for neurodevelopmental toxins and thimerosal. Mol Psychiatry. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14745455