L-Methylfolate is a remarkable nutrient yet it can create significant side effects.
Those who have MTHFR mutations (especially the C677T MTHFR mutation) learn that methylfolate is critical to take – and that folic acid is critical to avoid. The issue is methylfolate can cause more harm than good if not started at the right time or tapered up slowly in amount.
UPDATE: June 25, 2019: I’ve gone through this article and thoroughly updated it. Surprisingly, it has held the test of time so not much has been added.
UPDATE December 7, 2014: Please read this article on how to prevent methylfolate side effects in addition to this one. I’ve since learned how to reduce the incidence of side effects even more.
There appear to be three types of responses to methylfolate:
FIRST: A person who can jump on methylfolate and feel absolutely wonderful. The only down side they experience is why didn’t they know about methylfolate before?!
SECOND: A person starts methylfolate has an amazingly incredible week where they are happy, interacting and alert. Then the second week comes and they switch to wanting to hide in a room by themselves or literally throw dishes across the room out of anger. Or they may become bed ridden from muscle aches, intense headaches or joint pain.
THIRD: A person takes a small amount of methylfolate and feels all the methylfolate side effects right out the gate.
Surprisingly, years later, this still holds true.
Methylfolate Side Effects:
- sore muscles
- achy joints
- severe anxiety
- nerves burning, stinging
- runny nose
If you experience any of the above methylfolate side effects, I highly recommend you discuss it with your physician and get your dose of methylfolate reduced significantly or stopped for a week or two before reintroducing it.
Some people just don’t do well with methylfolate at all – and it may be you – so don’t force it.
Gain a deeper understanding about L-Methylfolate:
Why does methylfolate create such an amazing week and then create such severe side effects so soon after?
It has to do with methylation, pre-existing inflammation, overall nutrient status and other genetic mutations which exist yet you’ve no idea they do.
This gets complicated quickly so I am going to keep it simple.
two three four 7 things you can do to quickly quench most of the methylfolate side effects:
- Exercise mentally or physically (new)- be using your brain or your muscles, you’ll burn through methyl donors. When I’m on stage presenting, researching or learning something for the first time, I notice I have to take more methylfolate. While the opposite is true as well: When I’m on vacation or just doing something that’s easy, I do not burn through much methylfolate. Exercise increases the utilization of methyl donors so get after it. Go for a run or lift some weights or play some sports – just don’t bulldoze anyone 😉 If your child is going nuts on methylfolate, get him or her outside and kicking a ball around or chasing butterflies. Seriously. Run ’em.
- Consider 50 to 100 mg of niacin as nicotinic acid. Why? Niacin is broken down by SAMe. This means that excessive SAM is quenched by taking niacin. Niacin also helps transform folates – especially unreduced folates. There are many other things niacin does as well – beyond my understanding. I continue to look for them and will update this as I learn more.
- NOTE: You may experience flushing for 20 to 30 minutes. This is not harmful. It simply makes you feel ‘warm’ everywhere.
- Consider liposomal curcumin to help quench inflammation. If one takes methylfolate before inflammation is controlled, the methylfolate will worsen it. One may consider taking 2 capsules of Optimal Turmeric three times a day during times of inflammation.
- Consider Hydroxocobalamin as it is an excellent sponge for reducing nitric oxide levels. Methylfolate increases nitric oxide levels – which is why it is so effective in reducing headaches, pain, cardiovascular disease risk, thrombosis, preeclampsia, periodontal disease, etc – but at the same time, excessive nitric oxide levels are harmful as they end up producing serious radical damage via peroxynitrite. Hydroxocobalamin quenches nitric oxide quite effectively. Hydroxocobalamin also works to reduce hydrogen sulfide levels (great for those with high sulfate-reducing bacteria or sulfur-smelling stools/diarrhea).
- Limit intake of leafy greens until side effects go away. This is because leafy green also contain methylfolate and nitrates.
- Electrolytes – as methylfolate increases, so does cell division and when that happens, electrolyte deficiency can occur. Taking Optimal Electrolyte helps knock out some of these side effects. There is also some niacin in the electrolyte blend. The added potassium and magnesium in active amounts are very supportive of reducing side effects. Given that folates may increase neuroexcitation in the brain, magnesium and potassium are key to help calm this down.
- Glutathione – as cells divide with more methylfolate, glutathione levels get further depleted. Restoring levels can help significantly. Do it SLOWLY though – a few drops. Consider Optimal Liposomal Glutathione.
“If I cannot tolerate methylfolate or methylcobalamin, what forms of each could I tolerate?”
I get this question a ton.
If this is the case, perhaps you need to just stop taking any form of folate and B12 for a while. You’ll need to evaluate with your healthcare professional.
The other option is to take other active forms of folate and vitamin B12 which are not methylated.
Since you are not tolerating methylfolate or methylcobalamin, then perhaps you’d do well without the methylated forms.
This is possible.
Folinic acid is an active form of folate that is not methylated.
Hydroxocobalamin is a recognized natural form of vitamin B12 that is not methylated.
You can get them separately or in a combination Hydroxocobalamin and Folinic acid lozenge.
The lozenge allows you to cut it into smaller pieces, easier to use as you don’t have to swallow a pill and more importantly, it allows you to dissolve the nutrients slowly which has the benefit of getting into your system better.
Another benefit? It allows you to remove the lozenge from your mouth if you’re not getting desirable effects – ie side effects. If you swallow a pill – that’s it. You cannot take it out. A lozenge you can.
As with any nutritional supplement, you need to talk with your healthcare professional. Some are more educated in nutritional biochemistry than others.
Long Term Solution for your MTHFR Mutation
Now that you realize that methylfolate may be actually causing you side effects, I’d really like to see you get on a full program vs just supplementing.
Reading my book, Dirty Genes, will help you immensely.
You’ll learn about MTHFR and how to use methylfolate in depth, yes, but you’ll learn WAY more than that.
Empower yourself and take action the right way.
Dirty Genes is the guide you’ve been looking for.
It continues to be a bestseller month after month for good reason.
You’ll see why once you pick it up and start reading 😉
Don’t like reading books? Want to get more in depth and see how it all ties together?
Get access to the Dirty Genes Course where I discuss how food, lifestyle, environment, mindset and genetics are influencing how you’re feeling – and how to deal with it all.
The Dirty Genes Course is where I bring in a lot of published research, translate it and make it actionable for you. It’s an extension of the book, Dirty Genes. There is a lot of science, biochemistry and actual examples of how to use this stuff in your daily life.
Is it going to be over your head in terms of difficulty?
You’ll learn a ton and you’ll be amazed how easy it is to implement what you learn.