Methylfolate vs. Folinic Acid


You know folic acid is bad, but what’s the difference between folinic acid and methylfolate?

Should you use one over the other?

Get a practical understanding of how to support methylation effectively!


Confused between methylfolate and folinic acid? Get a practical understanding of how to support #methylation effectively.




Full Transcript:

Hello, Dr. Ben Lynch. What’s the difference between methylfolate and folinic acid? There’s a big difference. What you need to understand is what they do. And what they do are two different things. The beautiful thing is your body is able to transform methylfolate back into folinic acid and folinic acid into methylfolate, but it’s not easy. There’s enzymes for that.

Now, let’s talk about methylfolate first. Methylfolate is the new big dog on the block and what methylfolate does is support methylation. Methylfolate, methylation. So if you take your methylfolate,you’re going to support your patients’ methylation. Now, methylfolate has to work in tandem with methylcobalamin in order for that to happen, remember that. If you just support methylation with methylfolate, it might not work. Methylcobalamin is needed. Now, methylfolate supporting methylation is really important because methylation supports over 200 some odd enzymatic reactions. Wow, that’s impressive.

Now, folinic acid. What does it do? Folinic acid supports DNA-based production. That’s pretty important. Everything on us from hair to skin to toes to eyes to the lining of our intestines, all this requires DNA-based production. Folinic acid is in high, high demand. Your gut lining is repairing itself, hopefully, every seven days. Your entire gut lining shedding, replenishing folinic acid, DNA basis, methylfolate methylation.

Let’s give you a little example and scenario on what the difference is here. If patients are undergoing chemotherapy, there’s many of them that are taking methyltrexate. Methyltrexate is a known inhibitor of dihydropholic reductase. This is the enzyme which blocks folic acid from getting into the folic pathway. Beautiful thing. Methyltrexate has done wonders for a lot of people. But, there are issues with methyltrexate as with other drugs.

So what happens,when undergoing chemotherapy? Patients’ hair falls out.This doctor asked me, “Dr. Lynch, you were mentioning that we shouldn’t use folic acid anymore. We should use methylfolate. I had a patient come in undergoing chemo. Their hair fell out. What do I do? I gave methylfolate, and their hair didn’t grow back.” And I wrote back and said, “Methylfolate supports methylation and patients undergoing chemotherapy are probably deficient in methylcobalamin and other things. Methylation is probably inhibited. So, you might want to use folinic acid.” The doctor started prescribing folinic acid to the patient, hair grew back. Why? Hair has a lot of DNA, tons of DNA. So I wiped my brow on that one. So you need to understand function and what type. Folinic acid, DNA basis, methylfolate, methylation. Hope that helps you.

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Comments 45

  1. I have been taking a number of your products Magnesium Malate powder and just started your Magnesium Glycinate but noticed on the Glycinate you have Citric acid and silicon dioxide in that.. Why did you add those ingredients as I now do not want to take the Glycinate as I do not want synthetic Vitamin C or the silicon dioxide in anything I take. I was also taking Homocystex Plus and notice it has HPMC capsule and ascorbyl palmitate, silica & medium chain triglycerides. I was taking your PS as well all per my MD’s advice but see that too has cellulose veg. capsule as hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, L -leucine again silicon dioxide. I have noticed a change in my digestion getting worse causing stomach bloating and pain since being on the above. I thought the PS I was also taking was the cause of my stomach issue and stopped taking that, but now still have the problem. I used to take your liposomal B 12 until someone pointed out to me that the potassium sorbate was harmful to DNA. So why are you adding these synthetic agents that can cause harm to the body to your products when I though could improve my overall health when tests showed I was low in these B vitamins and magnesium?

    1. Post

      Catherine –

      I’ve seen no evidence of these causing or contributing to ill health.

      Silicone dioxide = sand

      “The composition of sand varies, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal settings is silica (silicon dioxide, or SiO2)” – Wikipedia

      Potassium sorbate is needed to prevent mold – and we use a tiny amount. Mold is way more harmful than potassium sorbate.

      We always continue to identify if we can use other compounds to prevent mold reliably and if we can – we will.

      You may take the B12 lozenges if you want to avoid the potassium sorbate.

      In order to make capsules or stabilize them, one needs to have these other ingredients. I work very hard on limiting what ‘other ingredients’ are needed in supplement manufacturing.

    1. Post

      If you need both – yes you can. I commonly have both folinic acid and methylfolate in our formulas together – as in Optimal Prenatal for example and our other multivitamins

  2. Hi Dr Lynch, I have a question for you- I recently tested heterozygous for both C677T and A1298C after a period of being unwell. I am planning to try and conceive in the next couple of months and saw my obstetrician today to discuss what this means in terms of my health and my baby. She was of the opinion that I should still take folic acid, not methyl folate. When I asked why she said it was simply because my body needs a higher dose of folic acid than people without the mutation and prescribed 500mcg per day. I emailed my naturopath after the appointment and she strongly disagreed. She suggested an activated multi b supplement which includes methyl folate and methyl form of B12. I am pretty confused and would be interested to know your opinion. I also have antiphospholipid syndrome with a previous DVT and am currently on aspirin and will require clexane throughout pregnancy. Thanks in advance, Lia

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  3. Hi,

    I have a single copy of C677T. How do I know if I should be on methylfolate or folinic acid? If I just take folinic acide, can I supplement that with something else to make sure that my body is able to go through mythylation?

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      1. Dr Ben,
        Thank you for your great work! I love following you.
        The link to this article did not work. Would you be able to republish the proper link?

  4. Dear Dr Lynch,
    since im on methylfoliate b complex (6 months) my hair is falling out madly. Is there any connection? Would changing to folinic acid instead if methylfolate help?
    thank you

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      Hello Vera –

      Not sure of all history here and cannot prescribe – but I do know that folinic acid does assist with hair growth quite well.

      Need to check hormone and nutritional status with your health care professional.

      1. Thank you for your answer Dr Lynch. Have you had a patient before who had the same issue? I take the b complex seeking health and plus 400 mg Thorne folate. We discovered my mutation through private check up as we trying for a baby. I have the homozygous c677t mutation.with the general practice here is a struggle to get checked i always have to beg to check things i just don’t want to go back. Unfortunately they haven’t got the knowledge about mthfr and its almost impossibleto find someone who has. Before supplementing thyroid was ok. Nutrition not known. I have a very healthy diet. Today i just stopped all the methyl bs because my hair is stressing me out. I don’t know what to do. I need the methyls as trying to conceive im just feeling hopeless. I try folinic acid if that makes any tldifference.thank you for your time.all the best.

  5. Hi Dr lynch,
    I am homozygous for A1297c, should I take folinic acid or methylfolate?
    Do you have a page for the basic protocol for homozygous A1297c? I have been told by my doctor who is not an expert on MTHFR that I don’t need to worry because I don’t have the c677t mutation but I’m sure I have undermethylation due to my symptoms.

    1. Post

      Hi Tanya –

      MTHFR, regardless of 1298 v 677, can contribute to a methylfolate deficiency.

      Please read this article – and proceed with the lifestyle, environment and dietary recommendations – of course with your doctor’s approval.

      If you have undermethylation symptoms, then following those recommendations should help a fair bit.

      It’s not that easy though – so I do recommend finding a doc who gets this.

      Many have implemented the above recommendations and have dramatic results. Again, talk with your doc as well.

  6. Hi Dr Lynch,

    I am Hetero for c677t and have elevated homocysteine levels. I am trying to figure out which supplement to take. I read the link that you provided above but it did not mention supplement only dietary changes and things like that. I have spoken to two doctors who claim to know about MTHFR mutations but neither one seemed to know much. They said that it didn’t matter what supplement I took (methyl folate or folinic acid. Can you offer any advise? I am eager to start taking something and lower my homocysteine levels.
    Thank you.

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      1. Hello Dr Lynch,
        My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety. After lack of any results on several SSRI’s, we have genetic testing done. We discovered she has the MTHFR gene mutation C677T and an Ultra Rapid Metabolizing gene. From this we were given a list of antidepressants that most likely would not work for her and then another list of potential drugs that should work. After trying many SSRI’s and SNRI’s, we decided to take her off of all medications because she they gave her no relief and increased her suicidal thoughts. We were told that the SNRI’s would be a challenge to come off because of the withdrawal symptoms. My daughter was fortunate and didn’t have any side effects because her Ultra Rapid Metabolizing gene put them in and out of her system so quickly.
        She is currently taking your ACTIVE B12 WITH L-5-MTHF and I am wondering if you recommend any other supplements? FYI, she is also seeing a therapist Who is using cognitive therapy.

  7. Hi Dr Lynch,

    Can you confirm that there is no place for folic acid but maybe folinic acid in its place would work the same for this situation? I have to avoid methyls and prescribed Folic acid and Hydroxo B12. I’m +- mthfr but expressing a constant cycle of methionine. We’re trying to mop up extra methyls as whenever I take my protocol I’m up all night with the sensation of my heart racing and pounding. Trying to follow a protocol has aged and exhausted me…wpuld folinic acid avoid the methyl side and work the same as folic acid without blocking the receptors?

    1. Post

      Hi Niki –

      Folinic acid is useful to support the folate pathway without directly affecting methylation. Methylfolate directly affects methylation.

      I highly recommend working with a health professional here who is knowledgeable in this area. Mopping up ‘extra methyl groups’ is not solving the problem – it’s simply demonstrating that there is something underlying that must be evaluated. Commonly it can be infections – viral, bacterial, mold – but not always.

      There is no protocol. A great doc knows this! 🙂 Please check our Directory.

      I wish you the best and look forward to a follow up comment as you improve!

  8. Hi I am curious to what my blood test for folate should be as it doesn’t separate folic acid from folate. I have >24 which is considered normal but I also thought I read people with mthfr don’t want over >20? Can’t find this info anywhere and since doctors say it’s normal they don’t think it’s an issue but I’m concerned since I’m trying to conceive.

  9. I’m really confused about what I need to be doing. Hetero c677t and trying to conceive. I take a raw prenatal because that’s all my stomach can handle and it has active b12 and folate however not methyl folate. So I am taking methyl folate in addition but now I’m reading maybe I should be taking folinic acid too which doesn’t make sense to me. I of course am experimenting with the methyl because if I take too much I get headaches. But doctors here in NYC don’t seem to think this is really that big of a deal and can’t find a doctor in the directory who knows about this. Any advice appreciated as I want to have a healthy pregnancy.

  10. I have MTHFR C677T homozygous. I was prescribed folinic acid with other B vitamins and felt much better for 18 months. Then another doctor changed the folinic acid to methytetrahydrofolate at about same amount 500 mcg and within 2 months I was so irritable and shaky etc. Now I don’t know whether to go back to folinic acid or introduce the methyltetrahydrofolate more slowly.
    Even though I listened to audio I didn’t understand when and why methyltetrahydrofolate is preferable to folinic acid and vice versa except with chemo.
    A difficult choice it seems.

  11. Hello, I have heterozygous for both c677t and 1297c. I have been supplementing with active b complex with methylfolate and have now switched to an active b complex with Folinic acid instead. Is this still good? Better? Or can I expect to have side effects from this?

    Any guidance is appreciated

    – Fran

  12. Dear Doctor Lynch,

    I read that methyl cobalamin is not to be taken if you have amalgam fillings because it could readily methylate mercury in the body turning it to its more harmful form of methyl mercury. Please use the search terms of methyl cobalamin and amalgam. At on the first page, it mentions sources of Heavy Metal Bulletin from 1999 and Doctor Hal Huggins. Would you please address this concern of mine. Please contact my email to let me know when you have a reply to me. Thank you very much.


  13. Hi Dr Lynch,

    I have the Heterozygous A1298C gene mutation. I believe I’ve been lucky for the most part but I frequently get debilitating migraines that my doctor believes are secondary to my mutation. These aren’t caused by lesions, as confirmed by MRI. I currently take 800micrograms of folinic acid daily. Reading information here, I’m wondering if changing my supplementation to a b complex with methylfolate may be more appropriate. I’m in Australia and have found many GPs are very limited in their knowledge surrounding MTHFR, so would greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks very much.

    1. Post

      Hi Tess –

      I disagree that your migraines are associated with your MTHFR.

      I would consider trying 400 mg of riboflavin – vitamin B2.

      A B complex would definitely be more appropriate.

      Do look at histamine containing foods – and reduce those as well. Testing with a Benadryl at the first sign of a migraine coming on may be helpful – but do need to talk with your doctor about that.

  14. Dr. Ben,
    I am compound heterozygous for MTHFR. I have a homocysteine level that hangs out around 10-10.5. I have started trying to treat methylation. I am currently taking a supplement with 800mcg of Quatrefolic (and 1000mcg of methylcobalamin) in it. I am confused if I should also add your Folinic Acid supplement or a Methlyfolate supplement like your Optimal Liposomal Folate?
    Thank you for your thoughts.

  15. Hi. I am hetero MTHFR c677t and 1297c. Since finding this out, I stopped my prenatal with folic acid, have given up gluten, and fortified foods. I have also been taking a prenatal with 400mcg methylfolate and methylcobalamin. It’s been 3 months since this regimen and my serum folate levels are still very high. Why hasn’t it gone down? Should I take a prenatal with folinic acid as well? Thank you!

  16. Dear Dr. Lunch
    I am a heterozygous 1298 and have been tested as having an over methylation issue. I am a 66 year old with a lot of depression and anxiety. Should I be taking folinic acid or methyltetrahydrofolate as a supplement? Thank you!

    1. Post

      Hi Marie –

      Sorry to hear you struggle with anxiety and depression. It is not that simple – wondering which one to take. It depends on a lot of factors. At the heart of depression is inflammation – so seeing what is causing your inflammation is step one.

      I highly recommend this course – it’s easy to understand, videos are short, sequential and provides a lot of great information for you – 7 Steps to Happiness

  17. Hi … My 25 year old daughter has battled anxiety and depression since childhood. She has been taking folinic for 1 year and 3 months along with 20 mg lexapro. The folinic helped wonderfully. No more anxiety. Recently she developed depression after a cortisone shot in the knee…she was tested and has the hetro c677T mutation. Dr put her on 15 deplin…should she stop the folinic? She also takes b12.

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  18. Hi Dr. Lynch!

    Our 2.5 year old son is about to start the Tri-methylb12 injections with Folinic acid and NAC added to the Mb12. What is your opinion on this combo? Should we add b6 or Methylfolate to aid them? Thank you so much!

  19. Hi Dr Lynch, I hope you see this.

    I am trying to find data about companies that label “folate” in their products. What happens to natural folate when it goes into pill form? I’ve read it converts to folic acid. I can’t find any articles about this topic. Thank you for your help.

    1. Post

      Hi Matt –

      There are no rules yet – FDA is working on it. Natural folate does not convert to folic acid – that is not possible. Many times a company will say ‘added folate’ but it can be folic acid still. You have to ask the manufacturer.

  20. Hi Dr Lynch.. I am Compound Heterozygous C677T & A1298C and also hetero COMT V158M. I have also been diagnosed with Pyroluria and currently following the Zinc and B6 etc protocol. My homocysteine levels are low and my Histamine levels are quite low too. I tried Methyl Folate together with Methylcobalamin but had very bad side effects…do you think it would be wise to try Folinic acid together with Hydroxycobalamin?

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  21. Dr Lynch,

    i have depression for 10 years and i am hetero to A1298C , my folic acid level is 16.2 which is high, is it possible that this high folic acid is just in my blood but not in cells ?

    Naveed Z

    1. Post

      Absolutely –

      It is also not ‘folic acid’ it is folate. Well – should be folate. Stop taking folic acid and use natural forms like L-methylfolate and folinic acid. You may also need vitamin B12 and liposomal glutathione to help the folate and B12 get into your cells. We have these available at

  22. Hello Dr. Lynch.

    I am compound heterozygous for the following:
    MTHFR C677T
    MTHFR A1298C
    MTHFD1 G1958A
    MTRR A66G
    MTRR C524T
    COMT V158M
    COMT H62H
    CBS C699T.

    I also have 2 heterozygous HFE mutations (C282Y, H63D) and am a carrier for hemochromatosis, but do not exhibit any blood parameters confirming relationship with my symptoms. (TIBC, ferritin, serum Iron are all in the middle of normal, while
    transferrin was lower [1.8g/L]

    I have constant fatigue, and my leg muscles are always “tired/sore” and I have intermittent brain fog.

    At night my heart starts to feel as if it’s “racing” when I try to go to bed, and typically at night I find it gets harder to breath for short periods of time (tightness sensation around my trachea).

    I’ve had my thyroid physically inspected to rule out any abnormalities as well as my Free T3/T4/TSH, all came back normal *phew*.

    Next I had my MMA and Homocysteine levels checked (as well as serum B12) and everything came back smack dab in the centre of the “Normal” range.

    I am getting a UAA test done to check ammonia and taurine levels because of a hunch I have about my CBS mutation.

    I have not started any supplements yet because I’m not exactly sure where to begin. I have read that CBS mutants should stay away from Methyl donors (I remember you talking about CBS at one point), so I’ve been looking at Hydroxycobalamin and Folinic Acid as a possible starting point. Does this sound appropriate? I appreciate everything you’ve done to help us out, and I plan on taking my Strategene report to a SHEI doc as soon as I can find one that’s available.

    1. Post

      Hello –

      One cannot base supplements on SNPs. If I said CBS mutants should avoid methyl donors – that was a LONG time ago. I would highly consider Optimal Electrolyte and Optimal Liposomal Glutathione as your two starting points. Start low – few drops of the glutathione. These two should make a solid impact. Then I would also evaluate what is going on at night which triggers your racing heart. That needs to be sussed out by your doctor. It could be as simple as electrolyte deficiency but there are many reasons.

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