Supplement maker Source Naturals has introduced a folate supplement which it claims is more readily absorbed by the body. The product is designed for people who are unable to process the essential vitamin folate efficiently.
Metafolin, developed by Merck KgaA subsidiary Merck Eprova, offers the vitamin in the L-methylfolate stage. Folate from food and folic acid supplements go through methylation in the liver and intestines, where they are converted to L-methylfolate, the form of folate that circulates in the blood for use by cells.
However, recent studies have shown that as many as half of all Americans carry genetic mutations that interfere with their ability to metabolize folate, causing folate deficiency. Lack of dietary folate has been linked to greater risk of birth defects and other diseases caused by DNA damage. It is also a marker for increased risk of heart disease.
Marc Wiener, a researcher at Source Naturals , said:"This limited ability to fully methylate folate results in the occurrence of varying amounts of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream, which cannot be used by the cells. Because Metafolin comes pre-methylated, it is readily usable by the cells, and more efficiently crosses the blood-brain barrier, which mediates the uptake of circulating nutrients."
Folate is increasingly added to foods but deficiency of the B vitamin remains one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. It is also thought to be reduced by exposure to cigarette smoke. Metafolin is available in health food stores nationwide.