Doc Block and I discussed folic acid vs. folate on his radio show. I had flown to Florida to speak with the American College of Nutrition’s keynote, the world expert on the potential nasty side effects of the synthetic form of folate—folic acid— Dr. Joel Mason. He was kind and generous enough to speak to me personally at length about this.

I shared his amazing research with Doc Block. Dr. Mason is hired by countries around the world who are “pondering” if by fortifying food with folic acid (synthetic form remember) as all are doing, is this a huge contributing factor in the huge bump up of cancers worldwide.

Doc Block wrote this so I am sharing it with you.

PS. Birth control pills are the most folate unfriendly meds and “rinse” folate as well as many other essential nutrients out of the body. Prenatal folic acid pills don’t help much, some, but you can see they cause issues. Babies born to mom’s long term on BCPs are often born folate deficient and folic acid in formula does not help. Yeeeeech!


Folate IS NOT folic acid! Medical professionals, nutrition experts, and health practitioners frequently mix up the two, simply because the terms are often used interchangeably. While folic acid is often considered to be a supplemental form of folate, there is an important distinction between these two different compounds. For women past childbearing age, and for men in general, excessive doses of the synthetic form of this nutrient are not necessary, and may even be harmful.

Folate is a general term for a group of water-soluble b-vitamins, and is also known as B9. Folic acid refers to the oxidized synthetic compound used in dietary supplements and food fortification, whereas folate refers to the various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally found in food.

The form of folate that can enter the metabolic cycle is tetrahydrofolate (THF). Unlike natural folates, which are metabolized to THF in the mucosa of the small intestine, folic acid undergoes initial reduction and methylation in the liver if it can. The conversion to the THF form requires dihydrofolate reductase (THFR). The low activity of this enzyme in the human liver, combined with a high intake of folic acid, may result in unnatural levels of unmetabolized folic acid entering the systemic circulation. I can detail in spades the methylation of the C677T or the A1298C or worse – both the homo or heterozygous form and give the percentage of each, but will not bore you. For more info, Benjamin Lynch, ND President and CEO at Docere, Inc. Bellingham, Washington Area Health, Wellness and Fitness will give a wonderful tutorial on the subject and offer to sell fantastic supplements. I am not that smart but want to state that 2/3 s of humans have less than ideal amounts of this essential activated micronutrient.

Many studies have reported the presence of unmetabolized folic acid in the blood following the consumption of folic acid supplements or fortified foods. Human exposure to folic acid was non-existent until its chemical synthesis in 1943, and was introduced as a mandatory food fortification in 1998. Food fortification was deemed mandatory due to overwhelming evidence for the protective effect of folic acid supplementation before conception and during early pregnancy on the development of neural tube defects (NTD) in newborns. While the incidence of NTDs in the United States been reduced since folic acid fortification began, there has been concern about the safety of chronic intake of high levels of folic acid from fortified foods, beverages and dietary supplements. One of the major risks associated with excessive intake of folic acid is the development of cancers. The presence of unmetabolized folic acid in the blood is associated with decreased natural killer cytotoxicity. Since natural killer cells play a role in tumor cell destruction, this would suggest another way in which excess folic acid might promote existing premalignant and malignant lesions. As noted 45 years ago, high intake of folic acid masks detection of vitamin B12 deficiency and lead to a deterioration of central nervous system function to include not only dementia, but also neuropathy.

Excellent sources of dietary folate include vegetables such as romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils. The best food sources of folate are calf’s liver and chicken liver. One can supplement with folate if dietary intake is inadequate or if there is MTHFR deficiency. Look for products that contain the MTHF, the Metfolin brand, “5- methyltetrahydrofolate” or “5-MTHF” on the label. Avoid products that say “folic acid”. Women planning on becoming pregnant should consume between 800 and 1200 mcg of folate per day for several months before the start of pregnancy. Unless you’re consuming chicken or calf’s liver and substantial amounts of leafy greens on a regular basis, it’s difficult to obtain this amount from diet alone.

With lots of help from others, particularly Dr. Lindsey Berkson J E BLOCK MD FACP