Vitamin B9 (folate) has many important roles. Two of the most important are linked to how your DNA makes copies of itself and removing excess homocysteine from your blood. Folate is important for your development, to maintain nervous system health, repair tissues, build muscle and blood cells and during pregnancy.
One byproduct from these processes is homocysteine, an amino acid homologue that can damage your cardiovascular and nervous systems when levels are elevated (a medical condition called homocysteinemia). Fortunately, adequate folate levels can prevent a buildup of homocysteine.
Folate-rich foods include legumes, leafy greens, chicken and products made with fortified flour. Unfortunately, folate deficiency is not uncommon and women preparing for or who are already pregnant are at the greatest risk.
Because of these risks, many countries fortify flour with folic acid, the supplemental version of folate. Signs of folate deficiency include anemia, weight loss, sores in and around the mouth and complications during pregnancy.
The MTHFR gene plays an important role in the building of proteins and cell development, two processes that increase during exercise. The product of this gene helps regulate homocysteine levels by converting homocysteine to another amino acid, methionine, which is used to make proteins. Folate is required for this process to function efficiently. This process may be reduced by certain variants of this gene, resulting in higher levels of homocysteine.
Find out which variant of the MTHFR gene you have and learn how it affects your risk of higher homocysteine levels with Athletigen's Nutrition Report.