Tag Archives: folic acid

Don’t take folic acid and methylfolate at the same time

Someone on a B12 deficiency discussion group mentioned that he’d found that if he took folic acid (the synthetic version of the naturally-occurring folate) at the same time as methylfolate (a much more bioavailable supplement of folate; AKA Metafolin), he would start to get folate deficiency symptoms, even though he was supplementing it like a crazy person. I experimented myself and found the same thing — the folic acid cancels out the methylfolate. Folinic acid will do the same.

Because nothing can be easy.

I swear to you I found a PubMed article confirming that folic acid deactivates methylfolate if taken AT THE SAME TIME, but of course I lost it. But if you Google “folic acid blocks” you’ll find all sorts of discussions about it.

This is a separate issue from the problem some people have wherein folic acid will inactivate any folate in their bodies, as well as in all domestic pets within a five-block area, and wreak all kinds of deficiency havoc. We’re just talking supplement interactions here.

What’s annoying is that almost all vitamin B-complex preparations use folic acid, so if you’re taking those you have to schedule accordingly — 1.5 hours in between doses worked for me.

You might note that some experts feel that past a certain amount of supplementation (maybe 800 mcg), folic acid interferes with folate status in everyone to some extent. Here’s a description of why folic acid was marketed even thought it doesn’t work as well — it was patentable, whereas naturally-occurring folate isn’t.

A list of supplements that don’t work very well in the versions sold in the US

This past year I’ve learned that some of the nutrient supplements on the shelves in the US don’t work very well, either because a significant part of the population can’t process them, or because the version used is poorly absorbed by the body, or because they are so cheaply formulated that the filler would make you sick before you could get enough of the active ingredient to resolve your deficiency.

Here’s everything I know so far. Needless to say, the better versions are more expensive and harder to find.

Folic acid: Processing this synthetic vitamin into its active form requires methyl groups and those of us who are methyl-challenged (low methylators) need to use the methylfolate version. Some sources say that the folic acid formulation is pointlessly inefficient for anyone. Using methylfolate instead certainly can’t hurt.

Calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate requires stomach acid to work, and is hard on the stomach for some people. Calcium citrate absorption doesn’t require stomach acid. (This issue isn’t as big a concern as the others listed here.)

Magnesium oxide: This is not as bioavailable as other options, such as magnesium citrate. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, magnesium lactate and magnesium chloride are even better options, but they are harder to find in pill form. You can also absorb magnesium through the skin in the form of epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and magnesium chloride, which can be found in a spray oil.

Vitamin B1 – thiamine hydrochloride. This is poorly absorbed by the body. If you are only mildly deficient, it might be all you need, but I needed a fairly large dose and couldn’t stomach it at all. When I switched to the more efficient benfotiamine, I had no trouble and noticed results much faster. Another version is thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide (TTFD), which is what I use.

Vitamin B2 – riboflavin. This is also poorly absorbed. Riboflavin phosphate AKA riboflavin-5′-phosphate AKA flavin mononucleotide (FMN) is a better formulation.

Vitamin B6 – pyridoxine. Some people have trouble converting pyridoxine to its active form, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P). You can buy the active version in supplement form, usually referred to as P5P. Some experts say you just have to use a part of your dose in that form; the rest can be pyridoxine.

Vitamin B12 – cobalamin or cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin (used in injections).
Like folic acid, it requires a methyl group to convert to its active form. I’ve followed a discussion group on B12 whose members are adamant that these types are pathetically inefficient and that methylcobalamin should be used. (There is also adenosylcobalamin AKA dibencozide AKA coenzyme B12, but I was never clear what the difference is.) If you are having injections, you might have to search a bit to find a compounding pharmacy that can prepare the methylcobalamin shots, which is less stable than the other versions and has to be carefully shipped and stored.

The reason B12 tablets come in doses with such large numbers — 1,000 mcg., 5,000 mcg. — is because the body can only absorb about 1% of it at a time.

Vitamin D2 – ergocalciferol. Depending on what you read, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is either three or five times more bioavailable than vitamin D2.

Vitamin K1 – phylloquinone. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is the preferred version, but I don’t know a lot about it. Vitamin K3 (menadione) has been banned so you shouldn’t have to worry about that one.

The heartbreak of stupid fingernails

February 7, 2013: I later had some success with vitamin D3.

Updated February 6, 2012

Growing up I’d watch movies set in the heyday of the manicure, the 1930s to the 1950s, and then I’d look down at my own bendy, shallow, round nails and I’d think, whyyyyy? When I got my first full-time job I splurged on French-manicured, squoval artificial nails and enjoyed them thoroughly despite being laughed at by the guy giving me riding lessons. Eventually the cost of filling them every three weeks got to be too much, so I abandoned the habit. I’d bet those nail salon chemicals are still in my system, plotting their oncological revenge.

Going gluten-free brought me no nail improvement. Over the years I did notice some of the classic nutritional correlations: vertical ridges when iron levels are low and hangnails when zinc is low. I can’t comment on the whole white-spots-is-a-zinc-deficiency thing, though. I just don’t remember.

As for strength and length, all the following helped a little, but nothing major:
sufficient protein intake
horsetail (silica)

My fingernails were actually pretty healthy, all things considered, until about two years ago when they started peeling from the top, shredding, and then ripping horizontally under the quick. Betaine hydrochloride took care of the first two and a ton of calcium the last.

I recently had a huge transformation but unfortunately it didn’t last. I was trying two things at the same time: Nailtiques “2 plus” nail strengthener polish from the drugstore, and methylfolate.

I was taking 8 mg of methylfolate — yes, that’s 10 800 mcg tablets. As in, a lot. When I first heard that some people might have more luck with this newish type of folate I tried it, and when 4 mg improved my concentration I just kept going. At 8 mg my concentration was amazingly better. Then I looked down at my nails and they were like another person’s. Unfortunately after several days my histamine rose to zombie levels, a tendency of folate I was hitherto unaware of, and that was the end of that. (Note 2/6/12: I’m not sure that last bit is right. In theory the methylfolate shouldn’t do that, so perhaps the zombieism was caused by something else — an induced deficiency of a folate cofactor, maybe. Not sure. Note 9/20/12: Best guess is that all that folate lowered my vitamin C levels, which for me raises histamine.)

I kept going with the Nailtiques. My nails didn’t look quite as good after the folate ended but it was still a lot better than the usual. Sadly, eventually my nails turned yellow enough to show through the pale polishes I wear. (The stupidity of stupid fingernails is only accentuated by dark polish.) It looked creepy so I quit. In theory a toluene/DBP/formaldehyde-free product would avoid this, but I’ve tried a lot of them and they didn’t do much. Nailtiques is definitely NOT carcinogen-free.

It has been pointed out to me that no matter how strong fingernails are, if they are too shallow and too wide they just won’t have the structural integrity to shoot out very far past the fingertip in Rihanna-like talons. So what I really have is a nail BED problem. Maybe there’s an unethical Brazilian plastic surgeon out there who can help me.