If you have brain fog and feel tired no matter how much sleep you get, you might be dealing with a vitamin B9 deficiency.
A deficiency in vitamin B9, also called folate, is more common than you might think. An estimated 10% of the United States population has chronically low folate levels.
Luckily, folate in the form of folic acid and methyl folate are widely available as supplements. This article dives into the benefits of taking a methyl folate supplement and the best methyl folate supplements on the market.
Methyl folate, often abbreviated as 5-MTHF, is an active form of folate. This means its nutrients do not have to be converted by the liver before being used by the body. As a result, the body absorbs more nutrients from methyl folate than from folate.
Folate or vitamin B9 is important because it helps the body create and maintain healthy cells, acts as an enzyme cofactor, and supports women during pregnancy. Folate also helps the body break down homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cardiovascular disease. Low folate levels have been linked to anemia, poor cognitive function, depression, pregnancy complications, and birth defects.
Various factors can cause a folate deficiency, from lifestyle choices such as poor diet and alcohol consumption to an MTHFR gene mutation. Taking a methyl folate supplement or multivitamin can help you meet your folate needs and prevent complications caused by deficiency.
The recommended intake for folate is listed in DFEs, short for Dietary Folate Equivalents. DFEs account for the way folate is absorbed from food versus how it is absorbed from supplements.
The CDC recommends that adults consume 400 mcg of DFE of folate each day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need around 600 mcg DFE per day.
Methyl folate is a great way to meet your folate needs. It also goes by 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or L-methylfolate.
The biggest reason to take a methyl folate supplement is to prevent a folate deficiency. However, this dietary supplement also comes with other potential health benefits.
It is well-documented that low folate levels can contribute to a range of birth defects and pregnancy complications.
Taking a folate supplement can help expecting women meet their folate needs and have a healthy pregnancy. It may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in newborns and prevent pregnancy complications like preeclampsia.
Multiple studies suggest that low folate levels may increase the risk of impaired mental function and dementia. Due to this, some researchers believe that folate supplementation may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
For example, a 2019 study showed that adults with cognitive impairment who took a 400 mcg folic acid supplement had improved mental function and fewer proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease after two years.
Because folate plays a role in neurotransmitter production, low levels may contribute to mental health conditions such as depression and schizophrenia. For example, studies have noted lower-than-average folate levels in people with depression.
Due to this, folate may have an antidepressant effect and improve overall mental well-being. A 2022 review of studies highlights that folate supplementation may help treat symptoms of depression, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine may play a role in heart disease.
Because folate breaks down homocysteine, taking a folate supplement may keep homocysteine levels within a healthy range and prevent heart disease.
One review of 30 studies determined that folate supplementation reduced the risk of heart disease by four percent.
Another 2017 study suggested that taking a folate supplement with an antihypertensive medication can reduce blood pressure more than taking an antihypertensive medication on its own.
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Price: From $6.38
Jarrow Formulas Methylfolate takes our top spot because it offers, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck. Every serving provides 400 to 1000 mcg of 5-MTHF (depending on which bottle you choose) in a vegetarian capsule. While not as potent as other options on our list, it provides just enough methyl folate to meet your folate needs. Plus, it is vegan-friendly and comes in a 60 or 100-count bottle.
Price: From $11.55
Now Foods Methyl Folate offers a potent product with 1700 mcg of methyl folate per serving. It specifically uses Quatrefolic, a patented form of Methylfolate known for its high bioavailability.
Family-owned since 1968, Now Foods Methyl Folate is third-party tested, gluten-free, and safe for vegan and vegetarian diets. Each bottle comes with 90 servings if you take one tablet per day.
Price: From $11.25
Life Extension Optimized Folate is another potent option on our list. It delivers 1700 mcg of 5-MTHF per serving, which is over 400 percent of your daily value. It is gluten-free and safe for vegetarian diets. Every bottle contains 100 servings if you take one tablet a day.
Price: From $17.24
Jarrow Formulas offers another folate option with its Methyl B-12 & Methyl Folate supplement. This one delivers 1000 mcg of methyl B-12 (methylcobalamin) in addition to 400 mcg of methyl folate. Methylfolate and methyl B-12 both work to keep cells healthy and prevent vitamin B deficiencies. Taking a methyl folate supplement with methyl B-12 may enhance its effects.
Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12 & Methyl Folate is gluten-free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. It comes with 100 chewable tablets in a lemon flavor.
Price: From $17.39
With Country Life Methylfolate, you get the folate you need and nothing else. Every serving contains 800 mcg of methyl folate that is free from artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. It is also Certified gluten-free and Certified vegan. Every bottle contains 60 servings.
Price: From $10.81
Solgar Folate is great for people who want options. Each bottle contains 400, 800, or 1000 mcg of Metafolin per serving, a patented form of L-methylfolate with high bioavailability. It is also dairy-free and Certified gluten-free. Every bottle comes with 100 tablets.
Price: From $21.99
Solaray Methyl B-12 Methyl Folate is great for helping you meet all of your vitamin B needs. Every lozenge contains 2000 mcg of methyl B-12 (methylcobalamin) in addition to 800 mcg of methyl folate. Together, these ingredients can keep the cells healthy and prevent vitamin B deficiency.
Solaray Methyl B-12 Methyl Folate is third-party tested and vegan-friendly. Every bottle contains 60 cherry-flavored lozenges.
Price: From $5.82
NaturesPlus Folic Acid keeps it simple with 800 mcg of L-Methylfolate per serving. It is vegetarian-friendly and free from gluten, artificial colors, and preservatives. Every bottle contains 90 servings if you take one tablet per day.
Although we ranked these supplements, we want you to decide on the best product for you.
Here’s what we took into consideration when ranking these products.
The supplement industry isn’t FDA-regulated, making finding a reputable supplement difficult.
That’s why we only select companies that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations and have their products third-party tested.
Finding a folate supplement that contains active forms of folate can be challenging. That’s why we looked for products that contained folic acid in the form of L-methylfolate, Quatrefolic, or Metafolin. We also looked for additional ingredients that could elevate the product’s effectiveness, like vitamin B-12 or a b complex.
Living our healthiest lives can get expensive. That’s why we selected high-quality products that won’t hurt your wallet.
Still have questions? We got you covered.
Most people can safely take methyl folate. Mild side effects may include nausea, bloating, gas, and feeling overstimulated. It may also cause weight loss in some people. Talking to a healthcare professional before trying this supplement is best.
Both folic acid and methyl folate are active folates. Folic acid can be found in supplements or added to fortified foods. Methyl folate is primarily found in supplements and tends to have a higher bioavailability.
Both folic acid and methyl folate provide health benefits and work to prevent folate deficiency. However, because methyl folate is the most active form of folate, it may be the better option for meeting your folate needs.
While methyl folate is safe in most cases, it is not for everyone. People who are allergic to folate, take medication, or have a pre existing medical condition should consult a healthcare professional before trying L-methylfolate supplements.
Disclaimer: We are strangers on the internet. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement.