Gnosis launches chart to explain folic acid doses to consumers

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: Gnosis S.p.A.
Photo: Gnosis S.p.A.

Related tags Folic acid

To address increasing consumer concern on folic acid supplementation, Gnosis released a flow chart that shows the folate metabolic pathway.

According to Gnosis, the chart “[explains] in the right way the importance of the right folate supplementation​.”

The company explained that they noticed rising consumer concern about the potential implications and adverse effects of folic acid​ in high doses, especially those coming from fortified foods such as pasta and baked goods, when the consumer isn’t aware of the amount of folic acid he or she is taking in.

“The target audience [for our chart] are both end-users and end-manufacturers,”​ Lorena Carboni, Product Support Specialist at Gnosis S.p.A.​, told NutraIngredients-USA. “The debate about folic acid supplementation and its food fortification is central for both groups because of the increasing awareness about potential toxic effects and the related perception of the producers of finished products that would like to meet the new needs of people and to answer to existing concerns.”

Folate and folic acid aren’t the same

Gnosis developed the flowchart as part of its campaign to educate consumers and manufacturers about its Quatrefolic​ product, which the company said is a “biologically active form of folate.” ​The water-soluble B vitamin is popularly taken to prevent and treat low blood levels of folate.

“While folic acid is often considered to be a supplemental form of folate, there is an important distinction between these two different compounds,”​ Carboni said. She added that if most of an individual’s folate consumption is coming from folic acid supplements rather than from food, “people may still be gravely folate deficient because of the big variations in how efficiently folic acid is converted to the bioactive form in different people.”

Consumer concerns

At the moment, potential “overdosing” of unmetabolized folic acid (UMFA) due to fortification is under strict evaluation by the scientific community, the spokesperson said.

Recent studies have confirmed that UMFA is associated with the reduction of the immune system’s capacity to kill off malignant or pre-malignant cells, as well as the acceleration of cognitive decline and anemia in the elderly with low levels of vitamin B12.

“[This is a] possible overdose due to uncontrolled folic acid intake. The threshold of ingestion of folic acid that leads to the direct appearance of UMFA in the plasma, results to be highest than 200-300 μg/daily intake,”​ the spokesperson said. “The consumption of [the] highest dosage of synthetic folic acid results in absorption of unreduced folic acid, which may interfere with folate metabolism for a period of years.”

Thus, by releasing an easy-to-read flowchart containing the metabolic pathway of folate, the company hopes misconceptions and misunderstandings about folic acid can be straightened out. “The understanding of the folate world by physicians, end-users and producers of dietary supplements is one of our first target, to provide a tangible benefit for consumers,” ​she said.

Too simple, but touches key points

According to Dr. Robert Verkerk, Executive and Scientific Director of the Alliance for Natural Health, there are some over-simplifications in the Gnosis chart, especially when it comes to the complex trafficking that occurs between different folate pools, such as those in the dihydrofolate and tetrahydrofolate forms," ​he said.

But he added that the chart's key point is entirely valid: "If a person takes too much folic acid, which might result from consumption of high dose folic acid supplements as well as fortified foods, they are at potential risk of suffering the effects of excessive levels of unmetabolised folic acid - or UMFA - in their bodies and tissues."

He also added that, though the science still isn't conclusive, some studies have observed a link between excessive levels of circulating folic acid to an increased rate of some cancers. "While we all benefit from getting folate in dark green-leaved veg like kale and spinach, as well as from other foods like French beans and oranges, natural folate is not very stable and typically only around half of the amount ingested is absorbed. This is where reduced folate supplements that deliver folate in the bioactive form, 5-MTHF, can be very useful,"​ Verkerk said.

To view the chart in PDF form, click below:

Folate Metabolic Pathway by Gnosis S.p.A.

Folate_metabolic_pathway (2).pdf 0.08 MB

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UMFA, autism, and ADHD-I

Posted by C T,

A friend and I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in which we pointed out the coincidence of the rises in ASD and ADHD in the USA with the mandated fortification of enriched food with folic acid. We cited recent research that indicates possible causative links between excessive folic acid and both ASD and ADHD. The big problem appears to be that excessive folic acid inhibits the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase. You can access the letter to the editor here:

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Posted by Michael Taylor,

When will humans learn? you ask, Aileen?
The answer is, 'never'.
Because 95% of humans are stupid and lazy.
They'll always be looking for something for nothing, for a shortcut, for an easy quick solution, without putting in any effort.
Just look at all the fad diets promoted.. The Paleo Diet, The Atkins Diet, The Protein Diet, etc., etc.
You would think that sooner or later it will dawn on stupid humans that the 'Balanced Diet' is the best of all.
But a balanced diet is too much work for stupid lazy humans, so don't hope for that either.
Give up wondering why and when, and just be thankful for human stupidity and laziness and the sheep-like cannon fodder, for it/they keeps the wheels of capitalism turning.

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Why unmetabolized folic acid is a problem

Posted by Aileen Burford Mason, PhD,

Folic acid requires B12 to be metabolized to its active form, so what high levels of unmetabolized folic acid may be telling us is that large sections of the population are B12 deficient.Recent research also suggests that folic acid and B12 need to be balanced, and too much folic acid and too little B12 affects health at both ends of the lifespan. For example, during pregnancy, babies exposed to this non-physiological balance are shorter, weigh less, and have smaller head circumferences at birth [Gadgil M et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68(6):726-9] and increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease [Morris MS et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:193–200]. When will we learn that fixing one nutrient deficiency at the population level just doesn't work, and only creates new problems.
Aileen Burford Mason, author "Eat Well Age Better"

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