I recently received an excellent pair of questions from a client of mine and wanted to share the dialogue with you.
To bring you up to speed, I urged caution in providing 800 mcg of methylfolate to younger children or immediately starting at a higher dose as it can cause side effects. Instead, I mentioned that he should start with a small amount and work up gradually in order to avoid side effects.
This caused some concern among his family members making them not want to take methylfolate at all – yet they all suffer from the MTHFR mutation.
Here is his question to me:
I am enjoying this tablet. It makes me feel grounded and secure. I have most of my relatives taking it now. I have two more questions that will help specific relatives:
1) Is the Metafolin portion of this supplement absorbed sublingually, like the B-12 component is? Or does the Metafolin portion mainly get absorbed by the stomach when it is swollowed?
2) You say that getting too much methylfolate can be “too much of a good thing”, or as bad as not getting enough. This worries people. So we want to know, how dangerous is this? Is the resultant agitation and irritability just a feeling of discomfort? Or is the body suffering from an imbalance as much as it would be harmed by a deficiency? I have not been able to find where you clarify this disturbing concern anywhere on your site.
Hi Dave -
Let me quickly say that the population that I work with is very ill and highly sensitive so I am extra careful in my recommendations. The general population is not likely to experience any ill effects from taking methylfolate in higher amounts.
According to the Alt Med Review:
Side Effects and Toxicity of Methylfolate: In doses typically administered for therapeutic purposes, 5-MTHF is considered non-toxic. At doses of up to 50 mg daily, gastrointestinal complaints, insomnia, irritability, and fatigue have been mentioned as occasional side effects. Folic acid and 5-MTHF are considered safe during pregnancy, with a recommended intake of 800 mcg daily.
To answer your questions:
1) The metafolin is going to be directly absorbed just like the methylfolate – sublingually.
2) Taking too much of anything is not good. Is taking too much methylfolate dangerous? In most people, no. It is not going to cause long term issues or death or a serious health concern – and not even any side effects.
People take upwards of 50 mg of methylfolate daily for their depression or other mental dysfunctions.
I am very conservative when it comes to dose suggestions as I don’t like people being ‘macho’ and thinking that if they take 10 mg of methylfolate, that will be better than 1 mg. Sometimes yes it will and sometimes it won’t.
What could you experience if you do take too much methylfolate?
Will these symptoms go away upon reducing the levels of methylfolate or stopping it?
Will these symptoms go away quickly?
- In most people – yes – these symptoms will stop within 24 hours if not earlier.
Can you ‘neutralize’ these side effects faster if they occur?
- Many times, yes.
- By taking niacin as niacin binds methyl groups and also increases the breakdown of glutamte – which is the excitatory neurtransmitter.
- By taking vitamin B6 – for many people – as B6 converts glutamate to GABA and GABA is the inhibitory neurotransmitter.
As a physician, it is my job to:
- Do no harm
That said – I encourage people to start low and work up carefully to avoid these side effects.
If I have ‘scared’ you – in a way, that is good – because you – and others – will take my recommendations to go slowly seriously.
Methylfolate in high doses appears to be much safer than taking folic acid in high doses.
As of now, research does not show any long term ill effects of excessive methylfolate – except in those who are bipolar.
Those with bipolar already have issues breaking down glutamate which is why they do so well on high doses of vitamin B3 (niacin) and I bet they’d also do very well on vitamin B6 and magnesium.
I hope this has been informative and has reduced the anxiety of your relatives. My apologies for making your desire to help your family more difficult. I admire your kindness and desire to help them.
PS – the ‘tablet’ that Dave is enjoying is Sublingual Active B12 with Methylfolate.