Feeling Good in the Sun with Folate, Invite Health Podcast, Episode 651
Please see below for a complete transcript of this episode.
FEELING GOOD IN THE SUN WITH FOLATE, INVITE HEALTH PODCAST, EPISODE 651
Hosted by Amanda Williams, MD, MPH.
InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: [00:00:04] Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed health care professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that Invite health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code podcast at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started. † [00:00:34]
Amanda Williams MD, MPH: [00:00:40] Longer daylight hours, the summer sun and, of course, warmer weather. It makes most people so happy, but did you know that seasonal affective disorder can affect people in the summer months as well? And I want to talk about why that is. I’m Dr. Amanda Williams, scientific director at Invite Health, and when it comes to fun in the sun, most people really look forward to those warmer summer months. But it is a time where many individuals actually can deal with higher levels of anxiety and even mild to moderate depression. So why would that be? We oftentimes think about seasonal affective disorder and how when we don’t have enough daylight, this can affect our melatonin and our overall circadian rhythm and lead to maybe not so great mood, not so great sleep, but we wouldn’t expect to see the same thing happen in the summer. However, we now understand that this is actually quite common seasonal affective disorder in the United States affects roughly about 10% of the U.S. population, and that’s a general estimate. There are some studies where it puts it more around 5% of the population. Other studies that can be well over 10% but in any case, we know that many Americans are dealing with seasonal mood changes. And we always want to try to dive into that in a little bit more detail. I always say that for myself I certainly have felt those effects in the winter when the time changes and we have less daylight, that it definitely affects my mood for the first few days after that initial time change. But in the summer, I’ve never experienced any of those, I know that sense of doom and gloom, but we definitely know that many Americans do, even in the summer, have this problem. So, we have to get to the root of this, and there’s a very interesting correlation between having higher levels of anxiety, maybe feeling slightly depressed in the summer and folate levels. † [00:02:41]
[00:02:41] So folate is a very important B vitamin. And there is something that we definitely know about folic acid and that is that folic acid is easily degraded by UV Exposure. There is a very strong correlation that was linked many years ago and it was published in the Journal of Photochemistry and Phytobiology drawing this association between seasonal serum folate levels and UV Exposure. So, folate levels are more in that normal range in the winter months, but then come summer, those folate levels started to decline. So, how does that affect you? Well, when we start to look at the impact of folic acid and what it is exactly doing in the body, it’s helping to support neurotransmitter release for our mood. It is certainly helping with how the body is detoxifying, helping to regulate cardiovascular function as well as neurological function. And it works synergistically with vitamin B12, so even more, think about energy. And so if we have low levels of folate in the summer, this can definitely impact our general sense of well-being. Now, we know that there are many individuals, about 40% of the global population has a genetic mutation in which your body struggles to properly activate folate. What does that mean? It means any foods that you are eating that are fortified with folic acid, your body doesn’t really know what to do with that. So, it kind of leaves you in a state of either having an actual folate deficiency or always kind of walking around with low levels of folate. So, then we fast forward to UV exposure in the summer, and if we already have a gene mutation which leads us to having lower levels of folate being available, then the U.V. lowers that even more. Now we can start to see the profound impact that that can have on our mood. Hence, our solution is we take Methyl B. Methyl B is the activated B complex, which includes methyl folate. Now the gene mutation is called MTHFR, which we actually offer a genetic test. It’s simple to do, it’s a simple cheek swab. If we find that you have a gene mutation on either of the two MTHFR genes, then this is a clear indication that you always need to be supplementing with activated folate. So, then we kind of bypass the fact that your body struggles to activate folate and we take the activated form right from the get-go. So this is one solution, but this is also a very key takeaway for those who are affected with seasonal affective disorder in the summer, is to make sure you are taking your methyl B one capsule per day throughout those summer months when your folate levels are more prone to being degraded, because of that UV exposure, then you can go out, you can enjoy that fun in the sun and have a little bit better attitude towards that. We know that there are many different reasons outside of just UV exposure and having the MTHFR mutation that can lead to folate deficiencies. † [00:05:49]
[00:05:51] We know that dietary intake is one of the biggest factors that plays into this not getting adequate exposure to folate rich foods, which include things like asparagus, and spinach, and avocado and broccoli. Things that many Americans don’t eat on a regular basis. We know that many medications both prescribed as well as over-the-counter medications, can certainly have a lowering effect to your body’s natural folate stores. So acid reflux medications, certainly any of those over-the-counter antacids that people are utilizing, blood pressure medications or any antibiotic or antiviral medication that you may be prescribed, hormone replacement therapy. So, for women who are taking birth control pills, you always want to make sure that you are taking your methyl B, because we know that folate levels can go down because of those medications. Of course, if you have any type of GI issues, any type of inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, leaky gut, any of those malabsorption reasons, can lead to folate deficiencies. Certainly, different conditions, including being overweight or having inadequate liver function. So nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as carrying around excess weight, can impact your folate levels. So, this on top of knowing that the sunlight itself can damage our folate levels, this is why it’s incredibly advantageous to make sure that we are taking methyl B on that regular basis. We know that there’s a direct link between folate status in the body and depression. And in the Journal of Psychiatry in Neuroscience back in 2007, they look at this as being a major neglected problem so far is that many in the traditional medical world never really looked at the impact or the influence that B vitamins or omega three fatty acids or vitamin D for that matter, had on our mental well-being. Now we know that there’s actually a prescribed medication that is folate. So, a prescription, methyl folate that is now oftentimes given in conjunction with whatever other pharmaceutical routine your doctor has you on. But we know that if we change our diet, we incorporate in folate rich foods. So, we adhere to a Mediterranean style way of eating, we take our Methyl B, especially during the summer months. We can avert a lot of these issues when it comes to the way our body is responding to depletions in folate for whatever cause that may be, and this can help when it comes to stabilization of our mood. † [00:08:32]
[00:08:33] The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, they looked at this as well and seeing that direct correlation between low folate intake and this being an independent risk factor for mood disorders including depression. So, now that we know that the summertime fun is definitely something that we want to partake in, but we want to make sure that we can do it. Not feeling low mood, not feeling anxious. We get our methyl B on board, and we can enjoy those longer days, those warmer days, and of course all of that sunshine and I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can hear all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts or by visiting, invitehealth.com/podcast. Do make sure that you subscribe and that you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we will see you next time for another episode of the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. † [00:08:33]