Folic Acid and Fertility
Nutrition research is generally ahead of the general medical community in clinical practice. The basis for many diseases are nutritionally related. The intervention can play a vital role in the prevention of disease. One of such nutritionally related topics of interest is folic acid and its associated with fertility.
Folic acid is a B vitamin also known as folate or vitamin B9. Like all B vitamins, it is essential to many metabolic functions in the body. Folic acid or folate is not biologically active and must be converted to the active form to become biologically active in the body and properly utilized.
It is estimated that up to 50% of the population lack the gene that provides instructions for making the enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). MTHFR converts inactive folate or folic acid to biologically active methylenetetrahydrofolate (MTHF). Several variations (polymorphisms) in the MTHFR gene have been associated with an increased in neural tube defects. Polymorphisms in the MTHFR gene have also been studied as possible risk factors for a variety of common conditions including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia), glaucoma depression, certain types of cancer and infertility.
According to one study in Fertility and Sterility 2010 June edition titled “Variations in folate pathway genes are associated with unexplained female infertility” concluded that Polymorphisms in folate pathway genes could be one reason for fertility complications in some women with unexplained infertility. In addition, multiple studies have linked MTHFR defects to male infertility and reduced production of spermatozoa and low sperm count.
Based on what we know about fertility, it is vital to be taking the active folate form (MTHF) during pre-conception and during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many clinicians in practice do not inform their patients of this important fact. So if you know someone who is trying to conceive or is pregnant, let them know the importance of taking MTHF daily.