5-MTHF - A Form of Folic Acid

A Form of Folic Acid to help Mental Health & Other Body Functions 


Folate is a B vitamin, also known as vitamin B9. In the body it is used for the health of hair, skin, nails, and helps to make new cells. Folate is important in the body for a process called methylation. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate used in dietary supplements and in foods such as pasta, bread, breakfast cereals and rice to fortify them. Folic acid is not fully absorbed in the body. Folate’s active metabolite in the body is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). 

It has been shown in research that 5-MTHF in blood circulation may have a positive effect on endothelial tissue found in blood vessels to provide support to the cardiovascular system. Providing 5-MTHF from an outside source in animal research has been shown to prevent the oxidation of endothelium within blood vessels and improve nitric oxide bioavailability (Antoniades C et al, 2006). 

5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) 

5-MTHF is a form of folate in supplement form that appears to be more bioavailable than folic acid and has a greater effect in the body (Willems FF et al, 2004; Scaglione F, Panzavolta G, 2014). 

Folic Acid, Mood and Cognitive Function 

Folic acid deficiencies have been associated with cognitive function problems. Consuming folic acid from the diet has been considered to help individuals with mood and reduce depression. Folate is essential for the manufacturing of the 3 monoamine neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine. 

5-MTHF is active in re-methylation of the amino acid metabolite homocysteine, which makes methionine. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a metabolite of methionine and functions in various chemical reactions donating methyl groups, including those reactions that develop monoamine neurotransmitters. If 5-MTHF wasn’t available, SAMe and the brain neurotransmitter levels would be reduced within cerebrospinal fluid, and this is involved in causing depression (Miller A, 2009). 

5-MTHF was used in a study in individuals who had normal or low folate levels. It was shown to reduce depression symptoms (Fava M, Mischoulon D, 2009). Also, it demonstrated to help older individuals with cognitive function and improving their mood. 

One 12-month, human study providing an oral supplement of folic acid demonstrated that individuals with mild cognitive function problems had significant improvements in the following: 

Levels of folate, homocysteine, inflammatory markers such as peripheral IL-6 and TNF-α compared to the control group. 

The folic acid group had improved Full Scale Intelligence Quotient, Information and Digit Span scores at 12 months compared with control group. 

The results show that folic acid helps to improve cognitive function and helps to control peripheral inflammatory cytokine levels. (Ma F et al, 2016). 

Individuals with a health condition and/or are on prescription medication should check with their health care provider prior to adding supplements. 

In summary, folate is a B vitamin has different functions in the body including to help hair, skin, and nail health. Folic acid is found in foods that have been fortified such as pasta, bread, and cereals. When consumed from an outside source it is not fully absorbed. Folate’s active metabolite in the body is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In research it has been shown to provide support to cognitive function because of its role in active re-methylation.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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