The naturally occurring folate supplement is needed to treat reproductive problems due to MTHFR mutations instead of the traditionally prescribed folic acid
Methylene Tetrahydofolate Reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme that plays an essential role in many biochemical processes, including the absorption of folate, a key vitamin found in many foods. When MTHFR isn’t functioning correctly due to a genetic mutation, it can cause folate deficiency. This can lead to a number of fertility concerns, including habitual miscarriage, premature diminished ovarian reserve, abnormal sperm and failures of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technologies.
Common treatments for folate deficiency often include high doses of folic acid, a synthetic form of vitamin B9 that is easy and inexpensive to produce. An alternative to folic acid supplements is 5-MTHF, also called metafolin or methylfolate, which is a natural, more metabolically complex form of folate.
In his recent study, Dr. Edouard Servy and his co-author Dr. Yves Menezo examined whether high doses of folic acid or 5-MTHF would have a greater impact on pregnancy and birth rates for couples who had experienced multiple miscarriages or implantation failures with donated eggs. They concluded that 5-MTHF may be more effective in treating fertility concerns related to MTHFR gene mutations.
A dose of 5-MTHF, when compared with an equal dose of folic acid, produced a higher concentration of l-methylfolate, the active form of folate that can be used by the brain. Over the course of treatment, the increased l-methylfolate can help address a genetically occurring deficiency and increase the likelihood of pregnancy and birth.
Additionally, Dr. Servy and Dr. Menezo recommend 5-MTHF over folic acid because unmetabolized folic acid can interact with certain medications, including those for arthritis, psoriasis, malaria and some cancers. Since 5-MTHF is a natural form of vitamin B, it does not carry the same intake limits as folic acid, and so is safer to take in larger doses.
Dr. Servy hopes the results from the study will lead to a higher use of 5-MTHF in the treatment of MTHFR mutations. He believes that use of 5-MTHF could lead to higher pregnancy rates and more successful births for those who have struggled to have children because of a MTHFR mutation.