Dylan was officially diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at 5 weeks old. We left our appointment with 2 prescriptions, one for Folic Acid. The doctor explained that Folic Acid will assist in red blood cell formation, which is crucial for sicklers whose red blood cells die faster than normal red blood cells. I didn’t do much research on it at first because I thought, like everyone else, that it is a vitamin and harmless. However, after doing some research on Sickle Cell Anemia, the potential harm of Folic Acid started surfacing. The risks increase especially in high doses over a long period of time. Sickle Cell patients take 1,000 mcg of Folic Acid daily for their entire lives.
1. Folic Acid and Folate are NOT the same
Folic acid is the synthetic form of Folate. Its manufactured to mimic Folate. Folate is a water soluble B9 vitamin that is naturally present in leafy green vegetables, beets and citrus fruits to name a few Folate rich foods. Folic acid is added to foods like cereal, bread and rice. Folic Acid and Folate are used interchangeably by the medical community. You will hear doctors and nutritionists talk about Folic Acid and Folate as if they are exactly the same. I recently read one article where the author uses both Folic Acid and Folate with noting any differences.
2. Folic Acid is Metabolized in the Liver
Why is this important? The MTHF enzyme required to metabolize Folic Acid has a low capacity, leaving unmetabolized Folic Acid in the blood stream to wreak havoc. Some people do not even produce the MTHF enzyme at all. Folate is metabolized in the mucosal lining of the small intestine.
3. Folic Acid Increases your Appetite
Folic Acid is often given to increase your appetite. This may actually explain why pregnant women have insatiable appetites as they are directed to supplement with Folic Acid to prevent NTD ( Neural Tube Defects) in their growing fetus. During my 1st pregnancy I gained 70lbs. I incessantly ate fast foods and supplemented with Folic acid as directed by my physician. During my last 2 pregnancies I gained less weight due to me being more health conscious. My <a href="http://Prenatal Vitamins” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>prenatal vitamins also included Folate and not Folic acid. Who knows if this is the reason for the difference but its definitely something I consider. This doctor certainly thinks there is a link between over eating and folic acid fortification in foods.
4. Folic Acid may cause Cancer
Data from two Norwegian studies that included almost 7,000 heart patients treated with B vitamin supplements or placebo for an average of three and one-half years between 1998 and 2005.
During treatment, blood folate levels among patients who took 0.8 milligrams a day of folic acid plus 0.4 milligrams a day of vitamin B12 increased more than sixfold.
Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes. (1)
a) Increased risk in lung cancer
5. Folic Acid may cause Seizures
This has not been definitively proven, but what they know is there is a link between Folic Acid and Seizures. One school of thought is that the risk is only for patients who have a history of seizures. But WebMD lists seizures as a general side effect when taking doses greater than 1,000mcg daily. Please consider if you take 400mcg in addition to eating cereals, rice and bread fortified with Folic Acid you may easily creep past the 1,000mcg mark daily. Sickle Cell patients start at 1,000mcg and are presumably well above if eating fortified foods.
After weighing the long term risks of Dylan taking 1,000 mcg of Folic Acid daily, We decided to switch him to this brand of <a href="http://Folate” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Folate .
We also are relentless about checking for Folic Acid in any multi vitamin, and foods we consume as a family. Reading food packages have become a way of life for us. We realize that it is impossible to remove all toxins from our environment and foods, but we make the best effort to reduce the amount we consume. Especially for Dylan because Sickle Cell Anemia compromises his immune system making bacterial infections potentially lethal. His liver is also overworked removing dead red blood cells and other toxins from his blood. Our goal is to minimize the impact of foods and supplements on his body even if it requires me to spend all my days and nights researching.