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Since delving deeper into the field of genomic medicine, I have been revisiting the role of critical nutrients in the human diet. It’s astounding to realize that in North America, in the land of plenty, most of us are nutrient deficient. Today, I’d like to specifically discuss the role of folic acid, or more accurately folate.
One of the many functions of folate is that it allows the body to produce neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry signals from one nerve cell to the next. Of these neurotransmitters, dopamine plays a vital role in numerous cognitive processes, mood regulation, motivation, attention, and reward systems. Imbalances in dopamine levels have been linked to various neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, ADHD, and addiction.
What ‘s fuelling you?
Since the 1990s, all processed grains and flours have been fortified or enriched with folic acid. In fact, folic acid is the most prevalent nutrient in the human diet. Yet, it’s completely synthetic unlike its natural counterpart folate. It’s estimated that somewhere between 44-66% of people are genetically unable to convert folic acid into its more usable form folate.
It doesn’t seem like such a critical issue, until you realize that low folate is correlated to the incidence of not only ADHD, but also manic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar depression, anxiety, poor gut health, and other health disorders. It’s like filling up your gas tank with diesel fuel, when you are designed to run on unleaded gasoline. So naturally, it’s not surprising when symptoms arise.
How can I turn this around?
If you suspect that this may be affecting you or a loved one, here are some steps to you can implement to improve neurological health.
- Eliminate processed grains. If it contains fortified or enriched grains or flours (foods like bread, crackers, cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins), don’t eat it. If you tolerate carbohydrates well, eat only non-enriched organic grains and legumes as part of a whole foods diet containing protein and fats at every meal. Try to start the day with a protein rich meal like good quality Greek yogurt bowl with berries and a sprinkle of homemade granola, eggs, sausages/bacon or even a protein shake, since that not only will balance your blood sugars while simultaneously avoid traditional grain-dominant breakfast foods.
- Supplement for deficiency. You are doing yourself a disservice when you buy and consume inexpensive vitamins containing folic acid. Instead, invest in a good quality multivitamin or B complex that contains methyfolate (not folic acid) and dose a minimum of 800 micrograms/day. Please contact me if you need help finding one, as not all supplements are created equal. I was so surprised to see the range of quality in not only the form, but also the dosage per capsule once I took a closer look as to what’s available on the Canadian market.
For a few hundred dollars:
- Get your genes analyzed and get your individualized plan that not only covers your needs for folate, but other nutrients as well. Unlike other testing, your genes won’t change over time but it will impact your health for the rest of your life. That is why I recognize and recommend the tremendous value in investing in this key information so that we can tailor a plan for you based on the best and most specific information available to you.
Information leads to empowerment. With over twenty years of practice (and counting), I can’t help but notice the significant decline in mental health and resilience, especially during the last few years. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially if you or a family member is already struggling with mental health issues. I share this information with you with the hope that it inspires and empowers you to make better choices for a healthier and better quality of life for you and your loved ones. If you would like more individualized support, please don’t hesitate to contact me.