Folate supplements not just for pregnant women

The problem with folate deficiency is that it affects chromosome maintenance
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Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

December 17, 2018. Research reported on December 3, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has revealed more benefits for folate, a member of the B complex of vitamins that is recommended for women during their reproductive years to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in their children.

By studying an area of the genome known as FRAXA in white blood cells obtained from men, associate professor Ying Liu and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen uncovered cell division abnormalities in association with folate deficiency that included faulty chromosome segregation. They also observed instability of the X chromosome (contributed by the mother) during long periods of deficiency.  “In the study, we demonstrate that folate deficiency leads to both higher levels of and more harmful chromosome abnormalities than previously known,” Dr. Liu stated. “This causes the daughter cells to inherit the incorrect amount of DNA following cell division or, in some cases, to even lose an entire chromosome. This could explain why folate deficiency is associated with diseases like infertility, mental health disorders and cancer.”

“The problem with folate deficiency is that it affects chromosome maintenance, and once a cell has lost a chromosome or part of it, it can never be fixed,” Professor Liu warned. “That is, once cell division has gone wrong, you cannot fix it subsequently by consuming a lot of folic acid. Once the damage is done, it is irreversible.”

“Therefore, we need a guide telling us what the level of folate in the blood in the population in general should be,” Dr Liu concluded. “Once we have that knowledge, we can determine whether a person needs folic acid supplements to make sure the level in the blood is high enough for the cells to reproduce the DNA successfully.”

—D Dye

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