Avatar universal

Can you have both high folate and high homocysteine levels?

I suffer from chronic depression and my psychiatrist recently recommended a medication called EnLyte that is now allowed by the FDA to treat the condition. From my research, I've discovered that the medication was originally used as a prenatal vitamin and was observed to help women battle postpartum depression. The main 'gimmick', if you will, of EnLyte is enhancing low folate(B9) blood levels which they attribute to a condition called MTHFR Polymorphism; claiming it affects over 60% of the U.S. population.

Now, my psychiatrist had my folate levels checked about 3 years ago when I first started working with him to rule out any obvious physical causes for my mental illness and it was within a normal range. But with this new information I'm wondering if it would be prudent also to check my homocysteine levels. Do normal folic acid blood levels automatically mean my homocysteine levels should be within a normal range? Or should I see if they're high due to a MTHFR mutation?

Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
1 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
I think that 60% figure is very misleading.  While many have mutations, few have any visible effects from it.  One initial test for it is if you have high homocysteine levels.  The problem isn't always folate, though, it's can also be B12 or just B12.  Homocysteine is controlled by having the right balance of folate, B6, and B12, not just folate.  High homocysteine is thought to be a risk factor for heart disease.  If you have too much of any one of these, it can alter the balance of the others, so it's possible that working on just folate might end up with higher homocysteine levels, not lower, as it might adversely affect B12 and B6.  So you have to look at these three nutrients in concert kind of like you have to do with the electrolytes.  A lot of this is being pushed by one popular naturopath on the internet, but docs don't believe the mutations actually affect very many people.  You would know you were one of them in one way by not having a lot of energy, as the effect, as I understand it, is mostly on the methylation process of these vitamins, which is a process the body engages in to produce energy to fuel our cells.  So you might well pursue this by doing some homework but if your methyl folate and methyl B12 are checking out okay docs aren't going to diagnose it as a problem.  It's always your choice if you want to experiment, of course, but be alert to the interconnection between these three nutrients.  I hope it goes well.
Helpful - 0
I should add, the fact docs don't consider this that much of a problem but others do doesn't imply the docs are right.  I don't know who is right and I also don't know how easy it is to get a good reading of your methylated B levels since usually these kinds of things vary and you need to test over a period of time to get a good reading -- one low day doesn't mean a low every day reading.  
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Nutrition Community

Top Healthy Living Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
14 super-healthy foods that are worth the hype
Small changes make a big impact with these easy ways to cut hundreds of calories a day.
Forget the fountain of youth – try flossing instead! Here are 11 surprising ways to live longer.
From STD tests to mammograms, find out which screening tests you need - and when to get them.
Tips and moves to ease backaches
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.