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Folate Deficiency & Hypermobility: A New Link Has Been Discovered

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Folate deficiency may be the reason for hypermobility, according to researchers at Tulane University School of Medicine.

This is reassuring news for scientists and people with hypermobility as, to date, no one has identified the cause of hypermobility. Scientists know that hypermobility is genetic, but the genes responsible have been under investigation for some time.

But now, Tulane University School of Medicine says that a variation of the MTHFR gene causes a folate deficiency which prompts hypermobility.

They’re even saying that popping a methylated folate vitamin tablet daily could help the lives of people with hypermobility.

Folate Deficiency & Hypermobility research findings

The Tulane University Clinical Neuroscience Research Center states that people with the MTHFR gene variation have problems metabolizing folate. Therefore, the folate builds up in their bloodstream and absorption doesn’t occur as it should be.

Doctors looking to diagnose hypermobility and hEDS in patients could, in theory, use these findings to check for a MTHFR gene variant and high folate levels with blood tests. The Beighton Score, which only tests for hypermobility in 9 joints, could then be scrapped.

The researchers responsible for this study have revealed that the participants in their study benefited from taking methylated folate. Dr. Gregory Bix, the director of the Tulane University Clinical Neuroscience Research Center says that  “less pain, less brain fog, fewer allergies, and improved gastrointestinal function,” were reported.

What is methylated folate?

Methylated folate (also known as L-methylfolate and 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid) is the biologically active version of folic acid. It doesn’t need to be converted to be absorbed by the body, which is what makes it a good choice for people with low folate levels. 

OptionsMD reports that methylated folate travels more easily to the brain. This could explain why the participants in Tulane University’s study reported reduced brain fog after taking the vitamin.

Is methylated folate the same as folic acid?

No, they’re not the same. Folic acid is a manufactured type of folate. Methylated folate is more natural and is the active version of folate.

Therefore, if you’re going to take folate to improve your hypermobility symptoms,  methylated folate is the better option.

Is methylated folate safe?

Methylated folate is safe to take as it’s a natural form of folate.

Methylated folate is also given to pregnant women as it can prevent postpartum anemia.

But, you should be aware of the side effects of taking methylated folate. These include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Irritability
  • Achy joints
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Palpitations
  • Sore muscles

Many of these methylated folate side effects are symptoms of hypermobility so it can be tricky to know what’s the cause of them.

As a general rule, if your symptoms get worse after you start taking methylated folate, there’s a good chance it’s the cause. To find out for certain, stop taking it for a short while and re-introduce it at a later date. But, if the same symptoms appear, methylated folate is probably to blame.

Do I need methylated folate?

Could hypermobility symptoms be lessened with a simple daily dose of methylated folate? Hypermobility sufferers, like me, are sure to cross their fingers and hope that this is the answer they’ve been searching for for years.

But is it as simple as that?

Well, we don’t know. Remember, this is just one study’s findings. They’re preliminary findings too.

We also don’t know how many hypermobile people participated in this study or how many benefited from methylated folate. As a result, more studies are needed to back up these findings.

Another concern I’ve seen raised about this study is that if hypermobile people don’t metabolize folate properly, will adding more of it into our bodies cause a further buildup of it in our blood that we can’t make use of?

This is a similar issue to collagen. Hypermobile people have faulty collagen. Adding more into the body in the form of supplements adds to that faulty collagen.

Despite all this, this study’s findings are a step in the right direction and certainly make me consider taking methylated folate.

Find out what happened with my hypermobility symptoms when I took methylated folate for 3 months.

Can you take too much methylated folate?

The recommended dose of methylated folate is 400 mcg per day. If you take more than this, you’re going to feel ill and may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling on high alert
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

What are the signs of a MTHFR mutation?

As previously mentioned, the Tulane University study found that an MTHFR mutation is responsible for a folate deficiency which subsequently causes hypermobility. An MTHFR gene mutation is not uncommon and affects around 40% of the population.

Signs that you have an MTHFR mutation include:

  • Delayed blood clotting
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness/tingling in hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • Coordination issues
  • Developmental delays
  • Anemia
  • Behavior disorders, including ADHD which has links to hypermobility
  • Scoliosis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Neurological complaints
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Remember that these symptoms and illnesses occur for other reasons too and do not confirm a mutation of the MTHFR gene.

A personal note

Both of my children have Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (as have I). One of them has had gene testing done. 105 genes were tested and they all came back normal. The MTHFR gene, however, was not tested in my child. Should this gene have been tested, I wonder whether it would have been noted as having a mutation?

Now there’s a link between folate deficiency and hypermobility, let’s hope there’s more research into this area. After all, wouldn’t it be great if people could get on top of their hypermobility symptoms by popping a vitamin pill?

Sources:

https://optionsmd.com/l-methylfolate/

https://www.mygenefood.com/blog/are-you-taking-too-much-methylfolate/

https://www.swintegrativemedicine.com/blog/can-you-take-too-much-folate

Author

  • Amy

    Amy lives with hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). She spent years not knowing what was wrong with her body, before eventually being diagnosed in her 30s. She has two young children - both of whom are hypermobile.

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