Folic Acid vs. Folate – What’s the Difference?

Folic Acid vs. Folate – What’s the Difference?

 

Folate and folic acid are different forms of vitamin B9. While there’s a distinct difference between the two, their names are often used interchangeably. In fact, there’s a lot of confusion regarding folic acid and folate, even among professionals. This article explains the difference between folic acid and folate.

The following article was written by Atli Arnason BSc, PhD for the website Healthline. Follow or subscribe to Healthline by clicking on the following link: https://www.healthline.com/

 

Vitamin B9

 

Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that naturally occurs as folate.

It serves many important functions in your body. For example, it plays a crucial role in cell growth and the formation of DNA.

Low levels of vitamin B9 are associated with an increased risk of several health conditions, including:

  • Elevated homocysteine. High homocysteine levels have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
  • Birth defects. Low folate levels in pregnant women have been linked to birth abnormalities, such as neural tube defects (3Trusted Source).
  • Cancer risk. Poor levels of folate are also linked to increased cancer risk (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

For these reasons, supplementing with vitamin B9 is common. Fortifying food with this nutrient is mandatory in many countries, including the United States and Canada.

SUMMARY

Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that’s mainly present as folate and folic acid. It’s commonly taken in supplement form and even added to processed food in North America.

What is folate?

 

Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9.

Its name is derived from the Latin word “folium,” which means leaf. In fact, leafy vegetables are among the best dietary sources of folate.

Folate is a generic name for a group of related compounds with similar nutritional properties.

The active form of vitamin B9 is a folate known as levomefolic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).

In your digestive system, most dietary folate is converted into 5-MTHF before entering your bloodstream (6Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9. Before entering your bloodstream, your digestive system converts it into the biologically active form of vitamin B9 ⁠— 5-MTHF.

What is folic acid?

 

Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, also known as pteroylmonoglutamic acid.

It’s used in supplements and added to processed food products, such as flour and breakfast cereals.

Unlike folate, not all of the folic acid you consume is converted into the active form of vitamin B9 — 5-MTHF — in your digestive system. Instead, it needs to be converted in your liver or other tissues (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Yet, this process is slow and inefficient in some people. After taking a folic acid supplement, it takes time for your body to convert all of it to 5-MTHF (7Trusted Source).

Even a small dose, such as 200–400 mcg per day, may not be completely metabolized until the next dose is taken. This problem may become worse when fortified foods are eaten along with folic acid supplements (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).

As a result, unmetabolized folic acid is commonly detected in people’s bloodstreams, even in the fasted state (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

This is a cause for concern, as high levels of unmetabolized folic acid have been associated with several health problems.

However, one study suggests that taking folic acid along with other B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, makes the conversion more efficient (10Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. Your body does not convert it into active vitamin B9 very well, so unmetabolized folic acid may build up in your bloodstream.

Is unmetabolized folic acid harmful?

 

Several studies indicate that chronically elevated levels of unmetabolized folic acid may have adverse health effects, including:

  • Increased cancer risk. High levels of unmetabolized folic acid have been associated with increased cancer risk. However, no evidence proves that unmetabolized folic acid plays a direct role (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
  • Undetected B12 deficiency. Among elderly people, high folic acid levels can mask vitamin B12 deficiency. Untreated vitamin B12 deficiency may increase your risk of dementia and impair nerve function (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

Even a small, daily dose of 400 mcg may cause unmetabolized folic acid to build up in your bloodstream (9Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Although high folic acid intake is a concern, the health implications are unclear, and further studies are needed.

SUMMARY

Researchers are concerned that high levels of unmetabolized folic acid may negatively affect health, but more studies are needed before any strong conclusions can be reached.

What is the healthiest source of vitamin B9?

 

It’s best to get vitamin B9 from whole foods.

High-folate foods include asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens like spinach and lettuce.

However, for some people, such as pregnant women, supplements are an easy way to ensure adequate vitamin B9 intake.

Folic acid is the most common supplemental form of vitamin B9. It can be purchased at many drug stores, as well as online.

Other supplements contain 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), also known as levomefolate, which is considered an adequate alternative to folic acid (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

Supplemental 5-MTHF is available in the form of levomefolate calcium or levomefolate magnesium. It’s sold under the brand names Metafolin, Deplin, and Enlyte and available online.

SUMMARY

The healthiest dietary sources of vitamin B9 are whole foods, such as leafy green vegetables. If you need to take supplements, methyl folate is a good alternative to folic acid.

The bottom line

 

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 in food, while folic acid is a synthetic form.

High intake of folic acid may lead to increased blood levels of unmetabolized folic acid. Some researchers speculate that this may have adverse health effects over time, but further studies are needed before solid conclusions can be reached.

Alternatives to folic acid supplements include 5-MTHT (levomefolate) or whole foods, such as leafy greens.

 

Oshun Health’s B-Complex contains only natural B-Vitamins – the same as in whole food. Therefore, it poses no risk of unmetabolised folic acid building up in the system. 

Henry Deale, chemist Oshun Health

Probiotics Are Cool and All, but Have You Heard About Postbiotics?

Probiotics Are Cool and All, but Have You Heard About Postbiotics?

At this point, gut health has been the topic of conversation  in the wellness world for a while, and with good reason. We all know about drinking kombucha, the gut-brain connection and the importance of probiotics. However, there is a topic that’s creating an even bigger buzz  than probiotics in the land of gut health at the moment: postbiotics.

Related to prebiotics and probiotics, postbiotics are essentially the endgame goal of all your gut health efforts. You might not realise it, but when you take prebiotics or probiotics, the hope is that, from that, postbiotics will be produced. The entire point is postbiotics,” says gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, author of the book, Fiber Fueled.

So why should we care about the latest and greatest “biotic” compound to come up in the wellness world? 

The following article was adjusted from the original written by Emily Larence for the websit wellandgood.com. Follow wellandgood.com by clicking the following link: https://www.wellandgood.com/food-nutrition/

What are Postbiotics and how are they different from Pre- and Probiotics?

 

Probiotics, Dr. Bulsiewicz says, are live microoraganisms (typically bacteria or yeast) that benefit the body by boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, helping with digestion, and improving mood. They live in your gut, but there are also foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, pickled veggies, and miso. (You can obviously also find them in supplement form.)

Postbiotics are byproducts of the fermentation process carried out by probiotics in the intestine. In other words, as probiotics feed on prebiotics, postbiotics are produced. They are basically the “waste” of probiotics. Additionally, postbiotics can be produced and extracted in laboratories to be used for therapeutic purposes, and delivered through pills and direct application (10).

Waste products don’t sound like they would be of much use to us. Interestingly however, they are responsible for multiple important health-boosting functions in your gut. Some examples of postbiotics include organic acids, bacteriocins, carbonic substances and enzymes. They result naturally from the existence and survival of microorganisms living in our gut, though they can also be added directly through therapeutic processes (10).

Gut health in a nutshell: Postbiotics = Prebiotics + Probiotics

“The thing to know about probiotics is that they don’t stick around. They don’t colonize the gut permanently,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. This is where postbiotics come in. This is a relatively new term (hence why you may not have heard it before!) used to describe “functional bioactive compounds, generated in a matrix during fermentation, which may be used to promote health.” The translation of this International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS) article definition: Postbiotics are essentially the byproducts of probiotics. They eat food, it ferments, and voilà, you have postbiotics.

 

1. Postbiotics can help heal leaky gut

Even if you aren’t familiar with the term leaky gut, you might be familiar with its symptoms. Known in the medical world as “increased intestinal permeability,” leaky gut is when the walls of the digestive tract become permeable, which can trigger inflammation in the body. Dr. Bulsiewicz says one postbiotic, butyrate, can help reverse the effects. “Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid, which is produced when you consume soluble fiber. That soluble fiber gets metabolized and consumed by the healthy bacteria inside of you to produce butyrate. Then, butyrate helps heal your colon,” he says.

2. Postbiotics may help lower inflammation

According to one study published in the journal Clinics in Perinatology, pre- pro- and postbiotics are all connected to lowering inflammation throughout the body by helping to restore the good bacteria population in the gut. (It should be noted that this specific study focused on these compounds for helping prevent or treat an intestinal disease common in prenatal babies, so take these findings with a grain of salt.)

3. They may help boost the immune system

One study found a connection between postbiotics and a stronger immune system, particularly in infants. This is not too surprising as, after all, a direct link between gut health and immunity has long been established.

4. Postbiotics may help prevent type 2 diabetes

Postbiotics (specifically Muramyl dipeptide, a type of peptide created by probiotics) have also been found to be successful in preventing diabetes, at least in mice. Researchers explain that having gut bacteria chronically out of balance can contribute to someone becoming insulin resistance, and pre-diabetic. Postbiotics, meanwhile, appear to help insulin work more effectively, bringing balance and stopping the development of diabetes.

How can I ensure I’m producing or getting enough postbiotics?

Again, maximizing your postbiotics requires feeding your body’s probiotics with a variety of prebiotics. How to do that, you ask? By eating more fiber, aka the best source of prebiotics there is.

You can get prebiotics from both soluble (the kind that absorbs water) and insoluble (the kind that pushes things through your system) fiber. But Dr. Bulsiewicz says you don’t need to stress about hitting a specific quota of each kind into your daily diet. “For simplicity’s sake, fiber is often broken into these two main groups, but the truth is, we don’t have a good estimate on how many [different] types of fiber sources there are,” he says. “The key, from my perspective, is to eat a diverse mix of plants that will bring a unique mix of fiber, both soluble and insoluble,” he says.

In other words: Eat lots of plants and the prebiotic + probiotic = postbiotic formula will start taking place in your body. And when that happens, you’re gearing yourself up to reap loads of potential health benefits. Plus, eating lots of fiber itself is good for more than just postbiotic production—you’re gearing yourself up for a healthier gut, better digestion (and less constipation), potentially lower cholesterol, and other benefits.

 The following foods can also help increase the concentration of postbiotics in your gut:

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso soup
  • Kefir
  • Sourdough bread
  • Buttermilk
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh

Conclusion

You will likely be hearing more and more about postbiotics over the next several months and years and although there is still a lot to learn postbiotics are likely to be the next up-and-coming health-boosting component in your diet and digestive process. But the major takeaway is this: Taking care of your gut is the gift that keeps on giving and is even more beneficial than we may know. As if we needed another reason to eat more plants.

 

At Oshun Health we use fermentation to make a number of our products, e.g. our Phyto Fuel. These products, therefore, contain postbiotics. Microbes are also involved when Fulvic Acid is formed. Our Fulvic B-Complex, except for the organic pomegranate juice used as its base, is made from the metabolytes of B-Vitamin producing microbes and is, therefore, almost nothing but postbiotics. Furthermore, all our whole food supplements contain the soluble fiber (prebiotics) of the food from which it’s extracted. It’s obvious to see how seriously we take gut health in that our whole range, contributes to it.

Henry Deale, chemist Oshun Health

Synthetic vs Natural Nutrients: Does It Matter?

Synthetic vs Natural Nutrients: Does It Matter?

Many people don’t get enough nutrients from the diet alone (1Trusted Source). Currently, over half of the US population takes synthetic nutrients like multivitamins (2Trusted Source). However, there has been much debate over whether synthetic nutrients provide the same benefits as natural nutrients. Some sources even suggest that synthetic nutrients may be dangerous. This article takes an objective look at the science on synthetic and natural nutrients.

The following was written by Mary Jane Brown, PhD, RD (UK) for the website Healthline. Follow Healthline by clicking this link:https://www.healthline.com/about

What Are Synthetic and Natural Nutrients?

Here’s the difference between natural and synthetic nutrients:

  • Natural nutrients: These are obtained from whole food sources in the diet.
  • Synthetic nutrients: Also referred to as isolated nutrients, these are usually made artificially, in an industrial process.

Synthetic nutrients do not include “whole food supplements,” which are made from concentrated, dehydrated whole foods. The majority of supplements available on the market today are made artificially. These include vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids, among others. They can be taken in pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid form, and are made to mimic the way natural nutrients act in our bodies.

To figure out if your supplement is synthetic or natural, check the label. Natural supplements usually list food sources or are labeled as 100% plant or animal-based. Supplements that list nutrients individually, such as vitamin C, or use chemical names like ascorbic acid, are almost certainly synthetic.

Bottom Line

Synthetic nutrients are dietary supplements made artificially in a laboratory setting or industrial process. Natural nutrients are those found in whole foods.

Are Natural and Synthetic Nutrients Different?

 

The accepted view is that synthetic nutrients are almost chemically identical to those found in food. However, the production process of synthetic nutrients is very different to the way plants and animals create them. So despite having a similar structure, your body may react differently to synthetic nutrients. Additionally, it’s unclear how well synthetic nutrients are absorbed and used in the body. Some may be more easily absorbed, not others (3Trusted Source). This is because when you eat real food, you’re not consuming single nutrients, but rather a whole range of vitamins, minerals, co-factors and enzymes that allow for optimal use by the body. Without these additional compounds, synthetic nutrients are unlikely to be used by the body in the same way as their natural counterparts (4Trusted Source). For example, studies show that natural vitamin E is absorbed twice as efficiently as synthetic vitamin E (5Trusted Source).

Bottom Line:

It is unclear how well synthetic nutrients are absorbed and used in the body. Your body will use nutrients best when taken in whole food form, with a wide variety of food compounds.

Nutrients in Whole Foods Have Health Benefits

 

Natural whole foods may help manage and prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death. These benefits have been linked to the wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and fatty acids found in whole foods.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide us with fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, which are thought to be responsible for many health benefits. Observational studies show that higher fruit and vegetable intake is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and some brain disorders (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source). Increased fruit intake is also linked to lower blood pressure, reduced oxidative stress and improved blood sugar control (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). One review found that for each daily portion of fruit or vegetables consumed, the risk of heart disease decreased by 4–7% (11Trusted Source).

Oily Fish

Scientists believe that the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are responsible for improved heart health. Many large observational studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source). One study of more than 40,000 males aged 40–75 found that those who regularly ate one or more servings of fish per week had a 15% lower risk of heart disease (16Trusted Source).

Beans and Legumes

Experts believe that the high soluble fiber content and the wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in beans and legumes may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers (17Trusted Source18Trusted Source19Trusted Source). Eating one serving of legumes like beans, peas and chickpeas each day has been linked to 5% lower LDL cholesterol levels and a 5-6% lower risk of heart disease (20Trusted Source).

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in antioxidants, minerals and healthy fats. They have been associated with a reduced risk of early death, heart disease and diabetes (21Trusted Source22Trusted Source). One review found that 4 weekly servings of nuts was linked to a 28% lower risk of heart disease, and 22% lower risk of diabetes (22Trusted Source).

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain many valuable nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium. Whole grain consumption has also been associated with protection against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity (23Trusted Source).

Bottom Line:

Evidence supports the idea that natural nutrients found in whole foods can prevent against a wide range of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death.

Supplement Studies Have Provided Mixed Results

 

Although it’s clear that natural nutrients are associated with many health benefits, the evidence for synthetic supplements is mixed.

Multivitamins

Some observational studies have found multivitamin use to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer (24Trusted Source25Trusted Source26Trusted Source27Trusted Source28Trusted Source). However, other studies have found no effect (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source). Some even link multivitamin use to increased cancer risk (35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).

One large study looked into the effects of a high-dose multivitamin on heart health. After almost 5 years, the study found that multivitamins had no beneficial effect (39Trusted Source).

However, several other studies have linked multivitamin supplements to improved memory in older adults (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source). Nevertheless, the Physicians’ Health Study II found that 12 years of daily multivitamin use did not affect brain function or memory for men over 65 (44Trusted Source).

Single and Paired Vitamins

One review found no clear evidence that single or paired supplements benefit heart disease (45Trusted Source). However, some previous studies suggest that B vitamins like folic acid may improve brain function (46Trusted Source). Yet other strong studies report that dietary supplements, including B vitamins, do not improve brain function (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source).

Despite knowing that adequate vitamin D levels are critical for good health and disease prevention, vitamin D supplements are also under much scrutiny (49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source). Vitamin D supplements have been linked to numerous benefits related to cancer, bone health and brain function, to name a few. Yet experts agree more evidence is needed (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source). One thing experts generally agree on is that vitamin D supplements, when combined with calcium, can improve bone health in older people (50Trusted Source).

Antioxidants

Several reviews have found no evidence to support antioxidant supplements, including beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, E, and selenium (alone or in combination) for reduced risk of death and cancer (52Trusted Source53Trusted Source). In fact, beta-carotene supplements have been shown to increase the risk of cancer in smokers (54Trusted Source). Nonetheless, antioxidant vitamins and minerals may help slow down the progression of diseases that cause blindness. However, more research is needed (55Trusted Source, 56Trusted Source).

Bottom Line:

Studies about the beneficial health effects of many synthetic nutrients have been inconsistent, weak or shown no effect.

Should You Take Synthetic Nutrients?

There is no clear evidence to suggest that most synthetic nutrients are beneficial for healthy, well-nourished people.

However, there are certain groups who may benefit from supplementing with synthetic nutrients. These include:

  • The elderly: This group tends to be at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and may also need more vitamin B12 and calcium for bone health (57Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source).
  • Vegans and vegetarians: As certain vitamins and minerals are found mainly in animal products, this group is often at a high risk of deficiency for vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, iron and vitamin D (59Trusted Source, 60Trusted Source).
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: These women may have to supplement their diet with extra vitamins and/or minerals (such as vitamin D) and avoid others (such as vitamin A) (61Trusted Source).
  • Women of childbearing age: This group is often encouraged to take a folic acid supplement to reduce the risk of neural tube defects if they do become pregnant. However, taking more than you need may have some risks.
  • People with nutrient deficiencies: Certain dietary supplements may treat nutritional deficiencies, such as iron supplements for treating iron deficiency anaemia (62Trusted Source).

Bottom Line:

For certain groups of people at risk of nutritional deficiencies, certain synthetic supplements can be beneficial.

Synthetic Nutrients May Be Downright Harmful

In general, taking supplements according to the amounts directed on the package is safe for most people. However, the FDATrusted Source does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. Therefore, supplement fraud can occur. This means that supplements can contain more or less nutrients than stated on the label. Others may contain substances not listed on the label.

If you already consume a wide range of nutrients through your diet, taking extra supplements can exceed the recommended daily intake of many nutrients. When taken in excess, water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins are flushed out of the body through your urine. However, fat-soluble vitamins — vitamins A, D, E, and K — may be stored in the body. This means that there is a risk of them accumulating to high levels, leading to hypervitaminosis.

Pregnant women need to be especially careful with their vitamin A intake, as excess amounts have been linked to birth defects (63Trusted Source). Results from many clinical trials show that beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A can increase the risk of premature death (64Trusted Source, 65Trusted Source).

Other studies have linked multivitamin use to increased cancer risk, and iron supplements can be harmful for people who don’t need them (66Trusted Source, 67Trusted Source, 68Trusted Source, 69Trusted Source). There is also some evidence that synthetic folic acid is more harmful than the natural folate in foods. It may build up in the body and raise the risk of cancer (70Trusted Source, 71Trusted Source, 72Trusted Source).

Bottom line:

Taking large amounts of synthetic nutrients can have harmful health effects. Recommended daily doses are safe for most people, but caution is advised.

Take Home Message

Research consistently shows that synthetic nutrients are no replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. Getting natural nutrients from whole foods is always a better option. However, if you are truly lacking in a specific nutrient, then taking a supplement can be beneficial.

The Oshun Health products are natural/non-synthetic supplements extracted from whole food.

Mariëtte Marais

Founder, Oshun Health

Vitamin B12: Can Gut Microbes Synthesize it?

Vitamin B12: Can Gut Microbes Synthesize it?

A Primer on B12

 

Vitamin B12 — also called cobalamin — is a priority for vegans and vegetarians to address because, the human body cannot synthesise B12 and plant foods don’t contain it unless they’re fortified with B12. That’s why vitamin B12 is usually sourced from animal foods such as liver, fish, chicken and eggs.

Vitamin B12 helps the body to synthesise new DNA and maintain healthy red blood cells and neurons. Vitamin B12 deficiency, therefore, leads to a plethora of side effects including tiredness, anaemia, constipation, weight loss, memory problems, depression, tingling in hands and feet and other manifestations of neurological issues.

 

The following article was originally written by Sin Jie Yong (shinjieyong@gmail.com), freelance medical writer and published academic author for medium.com.

B12-Synthesizing Gut Bacteria

 

Vitamin B12, otherwise known as cobalamin, is the biggest and most intricate vitamin,” write Chinese researchers in a peer-reviewed book chapter titled ‘Biosynthesis of Vitamins by Probiotic Bacteria’. Why? Vitamin B12 has the most complex structure out of all vitamins synthesisable by gut bacteria. Vitamin B12 synthesis requires 30 different genes in a bacterial genome to be activated in an intricate order.

In a 2019 review written by Japanese researchers in the Frontiers of Nutrition, they provided a list of gut bacteria that can make vitamin B12:

  • Bacteroidetes: Bacteroides fragilis and Prevotella copri.
  • Firmicutes: Clostridium difficile, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Ruminococcus lactaris, Lactobacillus plantarum, L. coryniformis and L. reuteri.
  • Actinobacteria: Bifidobacterium animalis, B. infantis and B.longum.
  • Fusobacteria: Fusobacterium varium.

But these bacteria all reside in the large intestine or the colon. And receptors that uptake vitamin B12 are only present in the small intestine wherein they absorb dietary B12 after protein digestion in the stomach. The gut microbial B12 is, therefore, not bioavailable to the host.

 

What About Coprophagy?

 

Some mammals such as rabbits, hippos, pandas, elephants and non-human primates practice coprophagy, the act of ingesting faeces, when they have a shortage of vitamin B12.

“These animals receive the benefit of microbial cobalamin [vitamin B12] production in the large intestine by consuming their faeces which localizes microbial cobalamin (and other vitamins) to the upper part of the digestive tract where it can be absorbed,” Andrew Goodman, assistant professor in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale University and colleagues wrote in Cell Metabolism.

However, even animals prefer B12 from foods if given a choice. Experiments with rodents and dogs showed that they tend to engage in coprophagy if their diet were deficient in B12. Provide them meals with B12, and the coprophagy tendency stops.

No credible studies to date have tried administering something like a ‘stool capsule’ to people deficient in vitamin B12 as most  people settle for other nutritional supplements or, for vegans and vegetarians, other non-animal sources of B12 such as algae or B12-fortified plant foods. 

 

What About B12-Synthesizing Small Intestinal Bacteria?

 

“The human small intestine also often harbours a considerable microflora,” stated an old 1980 study which examined healthy Southern Indians. “We now show that at least two groups of organisms in the small bowel, Pseudomonas and Klebsiella species may synthesize significant amounts of the B12 vitamin.”

Yet vitamin B12 deficiency is common in India, probably because of the lack of animal foods in their diets. Indians also typically have a more enriched small intestinal microbiota than other geographical regions for unclear reasons and increased numbers of bacteria in the small intestine — such as during small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) — is known to induce vitamin B12 deficiency because small intestinal microbes outcompete the host for the valuable vitamin B12 required for DNA synthesis, explain researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

The same applies to microbes in the large intestines, especially the butyrate-producing bacteria and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron that have multiple B12 transport genes. Butyrate has systems-wide anti-inflammatory effects crucial for overall health. Whereas B. thetaiotaomicron helps the host to break down antinutrients — phytates and saponins — present in plant foods. In a sense, B12 also nourishes the gut microbiota. And this is also the primary reason why large and small intestinal bacteria synthesize B12 — to support the growth of other microbes, serving their roles as members of the microbial ecosystem. If the host’s diet has sufficient B12, however, the microbes would instead conserve the energy needed to activate 30 genes to produce B12.

“Although cobalamin [vitamin B12] is synthesized by some human gut microbes, it is a precious resource in the gut and is likely not provisioned to the host in significant quantities,” Goodman and colleagues concluded.

Put it simply, gut bacteria can produce vitamin B12. But we shouldn’t rely on them to provide our daily requirement of B12. Because, most of the time, they make B12 for their own needs.

Oshun Health’s Fulvic B-complex is a breakthrough product in that we use the microbes mentioned in the article above to produce B-vitamins outside of the body in a laboratory setting. In this way we’ve managed to achieve a B-Complex that’s a 100% natural and bio-available dietary source of B-Complex without being an animal product. Furthermore, liposomal absorption technology ensures that the Vitamin B is delivered straight to the cells of the body.

Henry Deale, Chemist Oshun Health

Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Vitamin Deficiency Anemia

Overview

When it comes to anemia, iron defiency is often the first culprit that comes to mind. However, there are a number of other nutrients that can also contribute to anemia.

Vitamin deficiency anemia is a lack of healthy red blood cells caused when you have lower than normal amounts of certain vitamins. Vitamins linked to vitamin deficiency anemia include folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin C.

Vitamin deficiency anemia can occur if you don’t eat enough foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 or vitamin C, or it can occur if your body has trouble absorbing or processing these vitamins.

It’s important to have your doctor diagnose and treat your anemia. Vitamin deficiency anemia can usually be corrected with vitamin supplements and changes to your diet.

The following article was originally published by the Mayo Clinic. Follow The Mayo Clinic by clicking the following link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of vitamin deficiency anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Unsteady movements
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

Vitamin deficiency usually develops slowly over several months to years. Vitamin deficiency signs and symptoms may be subtle at first, but they increase as the deficiency worsens.

Causes

Vitamin deficiency anemia develops when your body has a shortage of the vitamins needed to produce enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.

If your diet is lacking in certain vitamins, vitamin deficiency anemia can develop. Or vitamin deficiency anemia may develop because your body can’t properly absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat.

Causes of vitamin deficiency anemias include:

Folate deficiency anemia

Folate, also known as vitamin B-9, is a nutrient found mainly in fruits and leafy green vegetables. A diet consistently lacking in these foods can lead to a deficiency.

Deficiency can also result if your body is unable to absorb folate from food. Most nutrients from food are absorbed in your small intestine. You might have difficulty absorbing folate or folic acid, the synthetic form of folate that’s added to foods and supplements, if:

  • You have a disease of the small intestine, such as celiac disease
  • You’ve had a large part of the small intestine surgically removed or bypassed
  • You drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • You take certain prescription drugs, such as some anti-seizure medications

Pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding have an increased demand for folate, as do people undergoing dialysis for kidney disease. Failure to meet this increased demand can result in a deficiency.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia

Vitamin B-12 deficiency can result from a diet lacking in vitamin B-12, which is found mainly in meat, eggs and milk.

However, the most common cause of vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia is a lack of a substance called intrinsic factor, which can be caused when your immune system mistakenly attacks the stomach cells that produce this substance. This type of anemia is called pernicious anemia.

Intrinsic factor is a protein secreted by the stomach that joins vitamin B-12 in the stomach and moves it through the small intestine to be absorbed by your bloodstream. Without intrinsic factor, vitamin B-12 can’t be absorbed and leaves your body as waste.

People with endocrine-related autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, may have an increased risk of developing pernicious anemia.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia can also occur if your small intestine can’t absorb vitamin B-12 for reasons other than a lack of intrinsic factor. This may happen if:

  • You’ve had surgery to your stomach or small intestine, such as gastric bypass surgery
  • You have abnormal bacterial growth in your small intestine
  • You have an intestinal disease, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, that interferes with absorption of the vitamin
  • You’ve ingested a tapeworm from eating contaminated fish. The tapeworm saps nutrients from your body.

Vitamin C deficiency anemia

Vitamin C deficiency can develop if you don’t get enough vitamin C from the foods you eat. Vitamin C deficiency is also possible if something impairs your ability to absorb vitamin C from food. For instance, smoking impairs your body’s ability to absorb vitamin C.

Certain chronic illnesses, such as cancer or chronic kidney disease, also increase your risk of vitamin C deficiency anemia by affecting the absorption of vitamin C.

Risk factors

A number of factors can affect your body’s vitamin stores. In general, your risk of vitamin deficiency is increased if:

  • Your diet contains little to no natural vitamin food sources, such as meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products and vegans, who don’t eat any foods from animals, may fall into this category.Consistently overcooking your food also can cause vitamin deficiency.
  • You’re pregnant, and you aren’t taking a multivitamin. Folic acid supplements are especially important during pregnancy.
  • You have intestinal problems or other medical conditions that interfere with absorption of vitamins. Abnormal bacterial growth in your stomach or surgery to your intestines or stomach can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B-12.
  • You abuse alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of folate and vitamin C, as well as other vitamins.
  • You take certain prescription medications that can block absorption of vitamins. Anti-seizure drugs can block the absorption of folate. Antacids and some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may interfere with B-12 absorption.

Complications

Being deficient in vitamins increases your risk of many health problems, including:

Pregnancy complications

Pregnant women with folate deficiency may be more likely to experience complications, such as premature birth. A developing fetus that doesn’t get enough folate from its mother can develop birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, ask your doctor whether you should consider taking folic acid supplements so that your body’s stores of folate will be enough to support your baby.

Nervous system disorders

While vitamin B-12 is important for the production of red blood cells, it’s also important for a healthy nervous system.

Untreated, vitamin B-12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems, such as persistent tingling in your hands and feet or problems with balance. It can lead to mental confusion and forgetfulness because vitamin B-12 is necessary for healthy brain function.

Without treatment for vitamin B-12 deficiency, neurological complications can become permanent. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause these and other health problems before it leads to anemia.

Scurvy

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy. Signs and symptoms of this rare disease include bleeding under the skin and around the gums.

Prevention

Choose a healthy diet

You can prevent some forms of vitamin deficiency anemias by choosing a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.

Foods rich in folate include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Enriched grain products, such as bread, cereal, pasta and rice
  • Fruits and fruit juices

Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include:

  • Eggs
  • Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Meat and shellfish

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Strawberries
  • Green peppers
  • Tomatoes

Most adults need these daily dietary amounts of the following vitamins:

Pregnant and breast-feeding women may require more of each vitamin.

Consider a supplement

If you’re concerned about getting enough vitamins from the food you eat, ask your doctor whether a multivitamin may be right for you. Most people get enough vitamins from the foods they eat. But if your diet is restricted, you may wish to take a multivitamin.

Don’t smoke

Smoking interferes with the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin C, so it can raise your risk of a vitamin deficiency.

If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you’ve tried to quit on your own and haven’t been successful, talk with your doctor about strategies to help you quit.

Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all

Alcohol can contribute to vitamin deficiency anemia. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, moderate drinking is generally considered to be:

  • Two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger
  • One drink a day for men older than age 65
  • One drink a day for women of any age

A drink is 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

What is Fulvic Acid and what are its Benefits?

What is Fulvic Acid and what are its Benefits?

Social media, Ayurvedic websites, or health stores may have brought your attention to fulvic acid, a health product that some people take as a supplement. Fulvic acid supplements and shilajit, a natural substance that’s rich in fulvic acid, are popular for a variety of reasons, including potential immune and brain health benefits.

This article explains everything you need to know about fulvic acid, including what it is, its health effects, and its safety. The article was written for the website Healthline by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD on April 24, 2020 and medically reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D. Follow Healthline by clicking on the following link: https://www.healthline.com/

gloved hands in soil with plants

What is fulvic acid?

Fulvic acid is considered a humic substance, meaning it’s a naturally occurring compound found in soils, compost, marine sediments, and sewage (1). Fulvic acid is a product of decomposition and formed through geochemical and biological reactions, such as the breakdown of food in a compost heap. It can be extracted from compost, soil, and other substances to be processed into a supplement (1).

How does it differ from shilajit?

Shilajit, a substance secreted by rocks in certain mountain ranges around the world, including the Himalayas, is particularly high in fulvic acid. Its common names include mineral pitch, mumie, mumijo, and vegetable asphalt (2) Shilajit is blackish brown and comprises 15–20% fulvic acid. It also contains small amounts of minerals and metabolites derived from fungi (34).

Shilajit has been used therapeutically for centuries in traditional healing practices, including Ayurvedic medicine, to treat conditions like diabetes, altitude sickness, asthma, heart ailments, and digestive and nervous disorders (3 5). It has also been used to stimulate the immune system and enhance performance (5.) Fulvic acid is believed to be responsible for many of shilajit’s medicinal properties.

Both fulvic acid and shilajit can be taken as supplements. While fulvic acid is typically produced in liquid or capsule form and combined with other minerals like magnesium and amino acids, shilajit is usually sold as a capsule or fine powder that can be added to beverages.

SUMMARY

Fulvic acid and shilajit, a substance high in fulvic acid, have long been used in traditional medicine. Both are sold in supplement form and said to treat numerous ailments.

Potential benefits of fulvic acid  

Research demonstrates that both fulvic acid and shilajit may boast various health-promoting properties.

May reduce inflammation and boost immunity

Fulvic acid has been well studied for its effects on immune health and inflammation. Research indicates that it may bolster your body’s defense against illnesses.

Test-tube and animal studies show that fulvic acid may improve disease resistance, increase your immune defences, fight inflammation, and enhance antioxidant activity — all of which may bolster immune health (467).

Fulvic acid may be especially useful for reducing inflammation, which negatively affects immune response and is linked to numerous chronic diseases.For example, test-tube studies demonstrate that it may limit the release of inflammatory substances like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) (89).

Plus, a study in 20 people with HIV found that taking shilajit at varying doses of up to 9,000 mg per day, combined with traditional antiretroviral medication, led to health improvements, compared with antiretroviral medication alone. Those who received shilajit experienced fewer symptoms of nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea. Furthermore, the treatment enhanced people’s response to the medication and seemed to protect the liver and kidneys from the medicine’s side effects (10).

However, it’s important to note that results are mixed, with some studies tying fulvic acid to inflammatory effects depending on the dose and type. More research is needed before these substances can be recommended as immune boosters (4). It’s also important to understand that one supplement will not prevent or cure disease. Keeping your immune system healthy with a nutritious diet and other lifestyle factors can help your body defend against viruses, bacteria, pathogens, and toxins.

May protect brain function

Some research suggests that fulvic acid may promote brain health (11).

Animal studies note that shilajit can improve outcomes after traumatic brain injury by reducing swelling and pressure in the brain (12). Additionally, test-tube studies show that fulvic acid strongly interferes with the clumping of certain proteins that accelerate brain ailments like Alzheimer’s disease (13).

What’s more, a preliminary, 24-week study in people with Alzheimer’s determined that supplementing with shilajit and B vitamins led to stabilized brain function, compared with a placebo group (14).

Some animal research also suggests that shilajit may help enhance memory (1516).Overall, more human studies on fulvic acid and brain health are needed.

Other potential benefits

Fulvic acid may offer several other health benefits.

  • May lower cholesterol. Animal studies suggest that fulvic acid may decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol. According to a human study in 30 people, it may also raise HDL (good) cholesterol (1718).
  • May improve muscle strength. In a 12-week study in 60 adults with obesity, 500 mg of shilajit daily helped improve muscle strength. Plus, an 8-week study in 63 active men showed similar results with the same amount of this compound (1920).
  • May relieve altitude sickness. Shilajit has been used for centuries to treat altitude sickness. Fulvic acid may help treat this condition by enhancing immune response, stimulating energy production, and improving oxygen levels (5).
  • May boost cellular function. Animal research demonstrates that shilajit may preserve the function of mitochondria, the energy-producing organelle of cells (21).
  • May have anticancer properties. Some test-tube studies indicate that shilajit may induce cancer cell death and prevent the spread of certain cancer cells. However, more research is needed (22).
  • May boost testosterone. A 3-month study in 96 men found that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day significantly increased testosterone levels, compared with a placebo group (23).
  • May enhance gut health. Ayurvedic medicine has used shilajit for centuries to enhance gut health. Some research suggests that it may positively affect gut bacteria, enhance nutrient absorption, and improve digestive disorders (4).

Although fulvic acid and shilajit are associated with many potential health benefits, human studies are fairly limited.

SUMMARY

Both fulvic acid and shilajit may offer numerous benefits, including reduced inflammation, stronger immunity, and improved brain function. Still, more human research is needed.

Safety, side effects, and dosage

Moderate doses of fulvic acid and shilajit appear safe, though research is ongoing.

A study in 30 men concluded that a daily dose of 0.5 ounces (15 mL) can be used safely without the risk of side effects. Higher doses may induce mild side effects, such as diarrhea, headaches, and sore throat (1).

Additionally, a 3-month study in people with HIV found that prolonged use of shilajit at a dose of 6,000 mg per day was safe and did not cause any significant side effects (10). Other studies note that taking 500 mg of shilajit per day for up to 3 months doesn’t cause significant side effects in healthy adults (1923).

Although fulvic acid and Shilajit are considered relatively safe, insufficient research has been carried out to determine dosage recommendations. You’re generally advised not to exceed the dosage listed on supplement packaging. Furthermore, it’s important to pay special attention to the quality and form of fulvic acid and shilajit supplements. Studies show that raw, unpurified shilajit may contain arsenic, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and other harmful compounds (11).

Since some shilajit products may be contaminated with these toxins, it’s important to purchase supplements from trusted brands that are tested by third-party organizations, such as NSF International or United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (11).

Children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid shilajit and fulvic acid due to a lack of safety information.

Finally, these substances may react with certain medications, so it’s important to consult your healthcare provider before adding either to your routine.

SUMMARY

Shilajit and fulvic acid are considered relatively safe. However, some supplements may be contaminated with harmful substances, and more research is necessary to determine dosage guidelines.

The bottom line

Fulvic acid and shilajit, which is rich in this acid, are natural health products taken to treat numerous conditions.

Although research reveals that they may boost immune and brain health, as well as combat inflammation, more human studies are needed to fully determine their effectiveness, dosage, and long-term safety.

If you’re interested in trying fulvic acid or shilajit, first consult your healthcare provider. Furthermore, always purchase supplements from reputable sources to avoid exposure to toxins.

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