The Queen B: Folate/ B vitamin tied in multiple ways to brain function. Impaired intake is linked to severe mental disorders, including Autism, Schizophreinia and Bi-polar Disorder.


The Queen B:  Folate is a B vitamin tied in multiple ways to brain function. Impaired intake is linked to severe mental disorders, including autism.

What, exactly, does folate do? “Believe it or not, we still don’t fully know why and how it works,” says Rebecca Schmidt, a public health scientist who studies folate at the University of California at Davis. One of the vitamin’s most important jobs is orchestrating the way DNA is read. Folate delivers molecular tags known as methyl groups to genes, thereby regulating the amount of protein the body makes from them. “What makes your ear your ear and your nose your nose—even though they have the exact same genetic code—is DNA methylation,” Schmidt explains.

Scientists are still working to solve many of folate’s molecular mysteries, but here are some insights gleaned from recent studies.

Stamp of Starvation

If nutrient deficiency in utero affects the way DNA is methylated, then people conceived during the Dutch Hunger Winter should have abnormal DNA methylation patterns even as adults. Studying 60 people who were conceived during the Hunger Winter and 60 of their same-sex siblings who were not, researchers analyzed methylation patterns of an oft-methylated gene, insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), which regulates growth. Methylation of the gene indeed averaged 5.2 percent lower among those conceived during the famine.

Minding Methylation

Do people suffering from mental illness have DNA methylation abnormalities? UK and Danish researchers compared DNA methylation patterns in 22 sets of identical twins, one of whom had schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They found significant differences between the healthy twins and those with mental problems. Affected sibs had lower methylation levels in certain genetic regions than healthy sibs. Since folate abets methylation, the findings suggest that prenatal folate deficiency may affect brain development by impairing gene regulation.

Autism Protection

Over 85,000 Norwegian women who took folic acid supplements from four weeks before conception through the first eight weeks of pregnancy were 40 percent less likely to have autistic children than mothers not taking folate. A U.S. study finds that the autism link is strongest among mothers or babies who have common variations in genes that impair folate metabolism. It may be extra important for the nearly 50 percent of women said to have genetic variations in folate metabolism to consume adequate amounts of the vitamin during pregnancy.

Brain Boost-Autism and increased Folate 

Autism has been tied to low prenatal folate exposure, but it also may result from the presence of antibodies that keep folate from doing its job. U.S. researchers recently analyzed the blood of 93 autistic children and found that three-quarters of them had antibodies in their blood blocking folate from crossing the blood-brain barrier and entering brain cells. When the researchers treated the children with a chemical form of folate that the so-called “auto-antibodies” spare, folate could enter the brain cells and autism symptoms diminished.

Depression Cure

Depressed adults often have low folate blood levels. But is folate deficiency causing their symptoms? A group of depressed adults who were not responding to treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) were additionally given 15 mg a day of L-methylfolate, an active form of the nutrient. A similar group was given a placebo. Those who took the folate were more than twice as likely to report improvements in symptoms. Researchers speculate that folate alleviates depression by boosting a chemical precursor of serotonin and dopamine.

Appetite Link

Rodents exposed to low levels of folate in the womb are more likely to become obese later in life. For yet-unknown reasons, the folate-deficient animals consume more fat. The low-folate, high-fat mix does a double whammy on animals’ brains. It lowers levels of DNA-repair enzymes. Folate-deficient rats also suffer more oxidative damage to the brain, which can destroy tissue and set the stage for DNA mutations. The findings suggest that a low-folate diet predisposes animals to poor dietary decisions that ultimately put their brains at multiple risk.

Getting Your Folate Fix

In addition to its contribution to brain function, folate acts as an antioxidant, helping the body eliminate the dangerous byproducts of metabolism known as free radicals, which damage body tissues and degrade DNA, setting the stage for new mutations and disease. The vitamin also helps to synthesize DNA and repair genetic damage, which could reverse disease-causing mutations that arise in the womb.

Adults should aim to consume 400 micrograms of folate every day, but pregnant or breastfeeding women should consume slightly more (600 micrograms and 500 micrograms daily, respectively). So where, exactly, can you get your folate fix?

Dark leafy greens like spinach, collard and turnip greens, brussels sprouts and broccoli are rich with the vitamin—spinach contains a whopping 263 micrograms of folate per cup and asparagus is close behind—because the vitamin is essential for plants’ growth and metabolism, just as it’s important for our own. (But unlike humans, plants can make their own folate.) There’s good reason to eat a folate-rich diet even if you’re not pregnant: Some research suggests that the vitamin reduces cancer risk by facilitating DNA repair.

Beans—garbanzo, black-eyed, pinto, black, and navy—are also packed with folate; beans are plant seeds, where nutrients tend to be concentrated. Doctors frequently recommend beans as a way to boost heart health, and folate could have something to do with their benefits: A 2012 meta-analysis of 14 studies found that for every 200 extra micrograms of folate consumed per day—a cup’s worth of cooked beans—a person’s risk of developing heart disease drops by 12 percent.

On the sweeter side, some fruits—specifically, oranges, papayas, bananas, and cantaloupes—also contain moderate amounts of folate. When European researchers compared the blood levels of folate in more than 5,500 adults with what they ate, they found that those who consumed the most fruit had folate levels twice as high as those who consumed the least.

Since 1996, flour and grains have been fortified with folate. Bran flakes typically provide more than 600 micrograms per cup. Long-grain white rice delivers 716 micrograms per cup.

About Angela Zaffer Soul Essence Intuitive Counseling and Psychotherapy

Angela Zaffer has a Masters of Arts in Counseling. She is a National Board Certified Clinical Counselor through NBCC and a Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor , Intuitive Healer. Akashic Records Healing and Clearing. Angela has provided ndividual counseling and psychotherapy for over 20 years She is the co-owner of Counseling Solutions in Rio Rancho, NM. Angela has integrated Psychotherapy, Spiritually and Energy Healing into one modality. With many years experience as a therapist, and as a graduate of University of New Mexico and Webster University, she is currently serving as the Among her areas of expertise are working as an EMDR therapist, Intellectual Disabilities, working with Adults and teenagers who have Anxiety and or trauma. In addition to being a prominent therapist in the Rio Rancho area, Angela has experibce presenting to general audiences speaking and training on the topics of The Energy of Manifesting. Akashic Records Clearing. Rewriting Akashic Records, Heal Trauma through your Akashic Records. Angela is an interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her therapeutic approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients effectively address personal life challenges. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client. With compassion and understanding, she works with each individual to help them build on their strengths and attain the personal growth they are committed to accomplishing. Education BS Psychology University of New Mexico MA Counseling from Webster University License, Certifications & Awards National Board Certified Counselor Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor Certified Trauma Professional Additional Training EMDR trained by EMDR International Association EMDRIA EMDR for Dissociative Disorders Integrated EMDR for Headaches and Migraines Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Behavioral Therapy Mindfulness Sand Tray and Sand Play Creative Journaling Creative Therapy Play Therapy Professional Activities and Memberships NBCC EMDRIA SWBIPA NMBTA IATP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s