MTHFR variant and folic acid: What you need to know

July 8, 2020

stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It’s an enzyme (protein) that
helps your body break down and use folate. One MTHFR variant (called MTHFRTT or
CT genotype) is a change in your body’s MTHFR gene that makes you use folate
more slowly than usual. MTHFR variants are inherited (passed from parents to
children) through genes.

Folate is the natural form of folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin. Every cell in your body needs it for healthy growth and development. Folic acid is the manmade form of folate that is in fortified foods and vitamin supplements. Fortified means a food has folic acid added to it.

you have an MTHFR variant, taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day before and
during early pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) in your
baby. NTDs are birth defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord.

much folic acid do I need?

sure you have enough folate in your blood to help prevent an NTD depends on:

  • The amount of folic acid you get each day from foods, vitamins or supplements fortified with folic acid
  • How long you get folic acid before becoming pregnant

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called CDC) recommends that
all women take 400 mcg of folic acid every day before and during early

may have heard you should take other types of folate, like 5-MTHF, if you have
an MTHFR variant. However, folic acid is the only type of folate shown to help prevent
NTDs.  Getting 400 mcg of folic acid each
day before and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk of having a baby with
NTDs by up to 85 percent.  Do not take a
vitamin supplement with more than 400 mcg of folic acid each day, unless it is recommended
by your provider. A provider may recommend you to take more than 400 mcg if you
have other health conditions, or if you already had a baby with a neural tube

you know you have an MTHFR variant or you think it runs in your family, talk to
your provider.