As a type of vitamin B, folate is commonly found in many foods and supplements. It is broken down by the body into an active form, known as L-methylfolate. This active form of folate and folic acid is an important substance for the body, as it helps create DNA and prevent DNA damage. Potential side effects include gas, nausea, and overactivity.
What Is L-Methylfolate?Folate (vitamin B9) is a type of B vitamin found in a variety of foods, including cereals, green leafy vegetables, and citrus fruits. Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. Both folic acid and folate are broken down by the body into L-methylfolate, which is the active form of folate. L-methylfolate is sometimes called levomefolate, (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid, or 5-MTHF.
L-methylfolate is the main active ingredient in several vitamins, including Metafolin®, Deplin®, and Metanx®. It is also found in birth control pills (as levomefolate calcium in Beyaz®) and some prenatal vitamins, including:
(Click L-Methylfolate Benefits for more information about possible uses for this product.)
How Does It Work?Folate has many effects in the body. However, the body must break it down to its active form before it can be used. As mentioned, L-methylfolate is the active form of folate and folic acid.
L-methylfolate is important for the body to create DNA, the genetic material in cells. It helps prevent errors when DNA is copied during cell division and prevents DNA damage. These actions are especially important during pregnancy to reduce the risk for neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. In addition, low folate levels can cause anemia by interfering with the normal division and maturation of red blood cells.
L-methylfolate also helps the body make certain neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, specifically serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Antidepressant medications work by increasing one or more of these neurotransmitters. If folate levels are low, the antidepressant may not be able to work as well. L-methylfolate may, therefore, help improve the effectiveness of antidepressants.
Finally, L-methylfolate helps the body break down homocysteine, an amino acid produced by the body. High homocysteine levels may contribute to cardiovascular disease, blood clots, and some persistent symptoms of schizophrenia.