Walloped by folate

[I] got my ass kicked yesterday by folate. Every Friday for the last few weeks I’ve increased folate by (my standard) one quarter tablet which amounts to 200 mcg. Normally, I feel a little fatigued until evening when I get some serious muggy headedness. But yesterday, it hit me early around 10 AM and lasted until I went to bed. It feels a bit like having the flu with a headache – tired, slow thinking, pressure in the head. Just wanted to curl up on the couch, but I had to get through a busy day including a visit with my attorney.

In the evening, I was feeling exceptionally warm even for a folate day, especially in the face. Fortunately, I slept well and feel much better today. In December, I slept poorly every time I increased folate. Eventually I realized the poor sleep was because I had stopped taking 1 g of no-flush niacin (inositol hexanicotinate) at bedtime. Although I’m feeling much better, I still budget three days to recover from a folate increase.

There are two reasons for the walloping. First, the folate pills are difficult to cut evenly and I think my one quarter tablet increase may have been closer to a one third increase. There are no good reasonably inexpensive tablet cutters on the market and I actually started working on designing one — until I cut my finger badly and gave up. One of these days, I may purchase this one.

Second, I’ve increased my choline intake significantly using sunflower lecithin. Choline is a methyl donor and I think it’s possible that I’m more sensitive to folate now because of that. However, the science is way over my head and I haven’t taken the time to look at it carefully. Here’s what I read that made me think about the choline folate connection – from NIH:

 Humans ingest approximately 50 mmol of methyl groups per day; 60% of them are derived from choline. Transmethylation metabolic pathways closely interconnect choline, methionine, methyltetrahydrofolate (methyl-THF) and vitamins B-6 and B-12.

I’m still ramping up methylation on faith and intuition more than obvious, clear results. My body seems to react to folate almost the same way it does to chelators. I experience some unpleasant reactions as I titrate up but they fade. So I keep going up, hoping my body is detoxing and repairing. My guess is that I have accumulated such a backlog of repair over the past 20 or 30 years, that the slow pace of healing makes it difficult for me to sense the improvements on a day-to-day basis, or even week to week, month-to-month.

It’s like moving a truckload of sand one cup at a time. Would you notice that one cup of sand is missing from the dump truck?

Anyhow, I’m now up to 3.8 mg of folate per day. Fred says that healing takes anywhere from 1.6 to 30 mg. Next up, I need to chelate again after taking four weeks off to rebuild my strength after the failed hydrocortisone taper…

UPDATE I:  after reading this, Fred PM’d me asking if I was exceeding his recommendations on B1, B2 and B3 doses (max of 30-40 mg for b1 and b2, 100mg max for b3). My answer: yes – I have been exceeding those doses significantly so I’m going to reduce them for three days to see if I feel better. At higher doses, Fred’s need for potassium was insatiable (so is mine). After cutting back on B1, B2 and B3, his potassium demand became manageable and his need for Metafolin dropped from 30+ mg  to 4-8 mg being fully sufficient. 

UPDATE II:  after reducing B1 B2 and B3 doses I feel a little more relaxed with a little less cramping. It isn’t a dramatic change so I can’t be certain. But, I did another folate increase (same 200 mcg increase) and this time it went smoothly. Can’t say for sure whether or not the change in B1 B2 and B3 is responsible – I also was very careful to pace out my B12 sublinguals whereas on the day I had all the trouble, I believe I took them too quickly…

38 thoughts to “Walloped by folate”

  1. Eric, thank you so much again for your help. I have started a topic at PR hoping that there is someone there who has been through a similar situation.

      1. I found lot of answers re-reading Potassium Nutrition while waiting for my blood results this morning at the ER…  It is really scary reading the chapter about beriberi! I could not sleep the whole night with shortness of breath, dry tongue, frequent urination and extreme anxiety. The coconut water I was drinking the whole week has hidden sulfites for sure, causing me a drop in B1. Eating sauerkraut lately certainly didn’t help. My sodium was at the upper range but normal for the doctors at the ER. Potassium was in the middle range. I have only been using transdermal Mg, and when I came back home from the hospital I took a Mg cap orally and then finally calmed down and slept well for a couple of hours. In short, I need Mg, potassium and B1. I ordered chelated potassium from the compounding pharmacy for Monday. It’s the only form available without iodide. I hope it helps with my insatiable thirst if I put a few grains of it in my drinking water. I will have to wait a little longer for my iHerb delivery of potassium.

  2. Yes, I know about the resistant starch (not doing it). I am on a catch 22 here, eating high potassium foods which are also high folate…

  3. This Na-K imbalance messes up the hormone production, esp. by adrenals.
    I asked about the niacin b/c I think I have to shut methylation down.
    I will try the breathing exercise, thank you so much!

      1. After acupressure on the adrenals points and a ginger tea, I feel relieved and will be able to sleep. But I can’t go like this any longer. Do you think silymarin would help? I have it at home but never took it before though. I am afraid of taking B1, B2 and B3 due t increased potassium need. Does inositol also demands potassium?

        1. I don’t know of any connection between inositol and potassium. Have you got a hold of any niacin yet? It’s hard for me to believe it could be so difficult to find. I don’t think Silymarin would help – I take four capsules a day.

          1. Thank you so much for your patience, Eric. Writing it all down here has helped me a lot to figure things out. And things are complicated!
            I don’t think I could take B3 other than niacinamide. I have fast phase I and slow phase II. With this in mind, I don’t think I should take silymarin either.
            The supplement stores around here sell mostly low quality multivitamins, so I have to order stuff from compounding pharmacies but then for most everything I need a prescription. I had to stop the KCl after 2 days b/c all salt sold here in supermarkets is iodized by law and this one especially has a very high iodide content and I got chills and extremely cold feet and hands from it! I have been using imported unrefined sea salt for cooking for over 2 years now. Now it still is hard for me to tolerate low Na bottled water, so I am only drinking coconut water since Sunday.
            Now you will not believe what I am gonna tell you (I hardly believe it myself). It could be that just avoiding salt and eating high potassium foods for almost 10 days now did the trick. But on Monday night I started taking the homeopathy my dr. prescribed and this seems to have made a huge difference. I know homeopathy isn’t supposed to work overnight. But I think I was having a serious electromagnetic imbalance (like when one is EMF sensitive) and the right homeopathic remedy has the power to correct it. Actually it was olny after I read the materia medica of my homeopatic medicine that I was able to put the pieces together. If you want to read it for yourself, my prescription is “Causticum”.
            Another thing that helped was the foot acupressure for adrenals. I highly recommend it. One can make it by himself, but I ask DH to make it for me for about 5 minutes.
            Sorry for having a panick attack here on your blog.
            Stay in good health!

            1. I’m glad you’re feeling better Izzy!! If it were me, I would still keep some niacin around for emergencies even if it was a cheap brand and even if I was fast phase 1 and slow phase 2.

              1. I am not feeling well again. In the supp stores only B complex is available. I will have to coax someone in a compounding pharmacy to make me one “test dose” 100mg niacin and 1g no flush niacin. Is one dose enough? The problem is that my potassium is high in iodide. if I need it again, will have to drink coconut water again.

                1. if you’re going to all the trouble to have something made, seems like it would be worthwhile having a few… Coconut water is delicious but very sweet. I make Kefir from mine and that takes out all the sugar. feel better!

                  1. My fermented coconut water was tasting sulfury, had to throw it away… could it be it has hidden preservatives (EDTA!) in it? OR – I wonder if water kefir actually has some sulfur content… I had to buy packaged coconut water and picked the one saying “no preservatives or other additives”. DH don’t have time to open coconuts everyday LOL

              2. Went to ER again. White blood cells are raising fast when compared to 10 days ago. At this point I don’t know if I should take niacin (no flush niacin was of no help) or restart methylation. Any thoughts?

          2. About the silymarin, I found out it IS good for my case since it will accelerate phase 2.

              1. Thank you so much, Viking! That is really useful. Orders from iHerb take 4-6 weeks to arrive here where I live, so I decided to try everything from a local compounding pharmacy first before wasting time and dollars + 100% import duties…
                I am waiting for a delivery of 10 caps of niacin 100mg and 10 caps no-flush niacin 500mg YAY
                Now this is something I just figured out today: I am having severe symptoms of  low copper. Low RBC copper [66 (63-89)] and low in hair test [10 (11-37)].
                “Manganese and iron act to displace copper from the liver; vitamin B6 and niacin promote reversal of copper overload; molybdenum and sulfur, which act in the intestines, facilitate its excretion; and vitamin C, very importantly, chelates copper in the blood to facilitate its removal.”
                So I think that is why I feel so bad when I try to supplemnt vitamin C. Niacin is a strong copper antagonist NAY
                Now to take it or not to take it?

  4. I think people are getting lots of symptoms due to wasted K and not recognizing it. For instance fermented foods (in addition to the its salt content) increase folate production by your gut flora, raising sodium and causing high histamine symptoms, bruxism, anxiety etc. Just now I realize that my high histamine response to dairy (including yogurt) is b/c dairy is high sodium.

    1. oh that is really interesting – I’ve been using potato starch (if you followed the resistant starch thing) to ramp up my gut flora and that might explain the headache that many people get when they start this. It happened to me also and I was just writing about the migraine I got last week during my first try with DMPS. However, I also added a new probiotic on the day that I got the migraine. Could’ve been a burst of folate…

      1. Eric, I got a migraine the morning after my first dose of resistant starch too.  I didn’t continue taking it, and instead waited a few weeks and am now taking teeny tiny amounts only, instead of the teaspoon size dose that had seemed to give me a migraine.  Wish I had some useful info about why some people get this reaction, but I don’t.

        1. I think Izzy’s explanation that the potato starch causes your gut to make more folate corresponds with my experience – a bit of fatigue and headache on the first days would be very similar to how extra folate would affect me…

          1. Guys, I think you should re-read the book Potassium Nutrition. Fatty and starchy cells from your food contain no potassium. For this reason, I think such foods largely contribute to an unbalanced raise in sodium (why people with adrenal problems can’t tolerate carbs/starches?). Then add to the potion lots of folate generated by the gut flora… One ends up with high sodium, low potassium and adrenal fatigue.

    2. Izzy, be careful jumping to conclusions (I know I’ve done that and regretted it in the past).  For example some fermented foods are high in sodium, true, but not all are – and the statement that “dairy is high in sodium” just isn’t correct.  
      Histamine can go up for a number of reasons that don’t have anything to do with sodium too.  

      1. Thanks, Mary. With all the events and readings since that comment of mine, I think I run into paradoxical folate defficiency.

  5. Thanks for the response. I will have to ask for a prescription and then order it from a compounding pharmacy. Will try to do it tomorrow morning. I really don’t know if this  will be the solution… Last week I tested my serum Na [144 (137-145)] and K [4.2 (3.5-5.3)]. I am afraid to overdo the intake of KCl in water and then I won’t be able to tell if I am getting worse due to too much K. I am almost going to the ER right now. Any advice? Yoga breathing exercise, foot Do-In for adrenals?

    1. hang on, and try this breathing exercise a lot. it calms me quickly after a few minutes. If you do it right, you’re going to feel like you are suffocating a bit, that you need air…

      the executive summary:

      Inhale in 4 segments or “sniffs,” during which, the mantra “Sa, Ta, Na, Ma” is mentally recited.
      Hold your breath for 16 counts (mantra is mentally repeated four times).
      Exhale in 2 segments, during which the mantra “Wahe Guru” is mentally recited.

    2. some other things that helped when I had anxiety include glycine and GABA, the latter especially..

  6. BTW, lecithin is a fatty substance and as such causes potassium waste. By increasing your intake of it, you also increased your K need. K is lipophobic. I was on a moderately high fat diet, which probably contributed to my present state…

    1. that’s very interesting, I didn’t know a high-fat diet causes potassium waste – that would surely contribute to my cramping problem as I eat a lot of animal fat and fish oil. The lecithin strongly increases my methylation out of proportion to the amount of fat it contains. I think I’m almost as sensitive to it as I am to folate.

  7. Hi Eric, I am looking for some advice… I have been walopped by folate too. On March 15 I took by mistake two halves (800mcg) instead of two quarters (400mcg) of folate. From March 16 on I had to increase my intake of high potassium foods – ginger, coconut water, bananas, romaine lettuce, asparagus etc – to reduce breath shortness, racing heart and cramps. On March 22 I finally found 99% KCl to buy w/o prescription and put some grains of it in bottled water to sip from along the day and to salt my food. I diluted some Mg glycinate in water to spray in my cramping legs since I don’t tolerate oral Mg very well. I kept taking 1000mcg mB12 until March 20 though, and still don’t feel well with anxiety attacks during the day (racing heart and breath shortness right now). Then I stopped all supps (Zn, Se, fish oil) except for vit E. I know I can get no flush niacin locally if I get a prescription. Do you think one dose would solve my problem? What would be a reasonably low dose?

    1. sorry to hear about your accident! why do you want no flush niacin? I would use whatever you can get a hold of. i take 100 mg regular niacin at bedtime or 1 g of no-flush. can’t predict how it will help you but at times when I was very uncomfortable from methylation, i got quick relief from 100 mg of regular niacin…

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