Folic acid plays a crucial role during pregnancy. According to several studies, a genetic mutation would not allow this vitamin to play its role for some people; to avoid this risk, the use of metabolically active folic acid is a solution.
Folic acid and cell division
The fundamental role of folic acid (also called vitamin B9 or folate) in the process of cell division has been known for decades. This vitamin is essential for the synthesis of DNA, the function of DNA is to preserve genetic information and transmit it to future generations.
The importance of vitamin B9 in embryonic development
Vitamin B9 is very important in periods of high cell proliferation such as embryo development. Low folate intake may cause cell division to stop or slow down.
An abnormality of the cell division process during the development of the embryo can lead to miscarriage, congenital heart disease, cleft lip and palate, and especially neural tube defects (primary nervous system of the embryo which will eventually brain and spinal cord). An abnormality of the neural tube can itself lead to serious consequences: anencephaly, encephalocele, spina bifida …
Serious malformations endanger the survival of the child. The neural tube is formed during the first month of pregnancy; It is therefore important to have a good level of folate from the start of procreation, without waiting for confirmation of the pregnancy.
Simple folic acid is not operational without enzymatic modification
However, to bring all its benefits, folic acid must be transformed in the body by a set of enzymes; the last transformation is carried out by the enzyme 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR. With this modification, folic acid becomes metabolically active and usable by the body.
Enzymatic mutations involved in vitamin B9 deficiency: high associated risks
More than 70% of the population carries at least one mutation of the MTHFR gene; in some cases this results in a decrease in the efficiency of the process of transformation of folic acid into its metabolically active form. This leads to a lack of operational vitamin B9 even though folic acid intake is important. As a result, the risk of folate deficiency in people with a MTHFR mutation is higher.
Essential for a normal procreation, vitamin B9 must accompany all projects of pregnancy. The use of folic acid in its metabolically active form would cover the risks associated with its inadequate intake in everyone, including people with mutations of MTHFR.
- MTHFR isoform carriers. 5-MTHF (5-methyl tetrahydrofolate) vs folic acid: a key to pregnancy outcome:a case series.
- Acid folic and pregnancy: A mandatory supplementation
- Association of the maternal MTHFR C677T polymorphism with susceptibility to neural tube defects in offsprings: evidence from 25 case-control studies
- Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T and A1298C polymorphism and changes in homocysteine concentrations in women with idiopathic recurrent pregnancy losses