News and Research: MTHFR and dietary folate

Study: Food Intervention with Folate Reduces TNF-α and Interleukin Levels in Overweight and Obese Women with the MTHFR C677T Polymorphism: A Randomized Trial Nutrients, Feb 2020

Overivew:

This randomized controlled trial investigated the effects of increased dietary folate via vegetable consumption in overweight Brazilian women with the MTHFR C677T variant.  (Check your MTHFR variant here)

The researchers looked at inflammatory levels measured as homocysteine, TNF-α, IL-1B, and IL-6. The study participants were divided into two groups, each consuming 300 g of vegetables per day for 8 weeks. Group I at vegetables containing 95µg of folate, and Group II at vegetables containing 191 µg of folate each day.

In women with two copies of the MTHFR C677T variant (A/A for 23andMe data), the increased dietary folate reduced their homocysteine, TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β levels.   For women with one copy of the variant, the change in those inflammatory markers was not significant.

My take away: 

This study is interesting because it shows that dietary increases in folate are enough to decrease inflammatory markers in women with MTHFR 677TT.  I’ve always thought of this as the “eat your vegetables” variant, and this study bears out that eating more folate-rich vegetables is sufficient for overcoming some of the negatives of the MTHFR variant.

Additionally, the intervention kept the vegetable consumption equal (300 g/day) between both groups, so it is less likely that the fiber or antioxidants in the vegetables was a factor in the changes in inflammatory markers.

Keep in mind that the only thing being changed in the diet was vegetables with folate — it is likely that the women were also getting folate in other foods as well, such as in beans or liver.

Wondering which foods give you more folate? Check out the nutrition data on Self.com



Author Information:   Debbie Moon
Debbie Moon is the founder of Genetic Lifehacks. She holds a Master of Science in Biological Sciences from Clemson University and an undergraduate degree in engineering from Colorado School of Mines. Debbie is a science communicator who is passionate about explaining evidence-based health information. Her goal with Genetic Lifehacks is to bridge the gap between the research hidden in scientific journals and everyone's ability to use that information. To contact Debbie, visit the contact page.