by Marco Torres

May 18, 2016

from PreventDisease website

Spanish version



You read the headline correctly and it's another strike for the systematic study of health and nutrition, bound by bias and self-interest, promoting misinformation to make people believe anything...


Johns Hopkins, which by the way is the largest school of public health in the world, recently released a study finding that consuming too much folate, found in practically all plant foods, causes autism.


But there is a very big problem with the research that attempts to compare this natural nutrient to a study based on its artificial counterpart.



  • "Take this vaccine to prevent that..."

  • "Avoid that vitamin to reduce this..."

  • "Stop eating these otherwise your baby will be neurologically impaired..."

Whether it's Ebola, the Zika virus or salads, the fear engine will never stop until it has your attention...


The latest pseudoscience coming out of one of the most respected public health institutions in the world is attempting to do just that--make you scared of consuming too many plant based foods, especially while women are pregnant.

The research published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH) suggests there could be serious risks in having too much folate, an essential B-vitamin found in high levels in many foods from dark leafy greens to beans and lentils.


Low levels of the nutrient may be involved in several disease processes including birth defects and even cancer.

However, the metabolic effects of folate are very different from folic acid:

  • folate is the bioavailable, natural form of vitamin B9

  • folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin found in supplements and fortified foods

A number of studies have flagged potential problems with excess folic acid, including compromising the immune system, masking vitamin B deficiency and increasing the risk of some forms of cancer.

For decades, we've known that folate plays a critical role in formation of the spine of a fetus.


When a pregnant woman doesn't take in enough folate, the fetus has a much greater risk of being born with a splayed vertebral column (spina bifida), or a similar abnormality on the spectrum neural tube defects.

That's the primary reason we've seen fortification in breads and cereals of folic acid which is not the same.

"Let's fortify all foods with artificial vitamins even though we have no idea of their long-term effects," has been the thought process of governments worldwide.


A Study Based On False Definitions

The findings presented May 13 at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research in Baltimore, found that if a new mother has a very high level of folate right after giving birth - more than four times what is considered adequate - the risk that her child will develop an autism spectrum disorder doubles.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,391 mother-child pairs in the Boston Birth Cohort, a predominantly low-income minority population.

The mothers were recruited at the time of their child's birth between 1998 and 2013 and followed for several years.


A large majority of the mothers in the study reported having taken multivitamins - which would include folic acid and vitamin B12 - throughout pregnancy.


But the researchers say they don't know exactly why some of the women had such high levels in their blood, and it was most likely due to the consumption of

  • too many folic acid-fortified foods

  • or took too many supplements



Is Folate The Real Problem or Is It Folic Acid?

If folate was the real issue,

  • Where are all the autistic gorillas, rabbits and hundreds of other animals that only consume plants?

  • Or is it that us humans are special?

Five countries recommend folic acid consumption around conception above and beyond World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, while five others dismiss supplementation as unnecessary.

Researchers from the Institute of Food Research and Newcastle University have confirmed that the body processes synthetically-produced folic acid differently to the natural counterpart found in vegetables.


This leads to unmetabolized folic acid circulating in the bloodstream which is eventually metabolized by the liver, but the process is slow, inefficient and possibly toxic.


Researchers have reported that 86% of folic acid in the hepatic portal vein (which carries blood from the gut to the liver) remains unmetabolized, while almost all of the natural folate was converted correctly.

"Where fortification does happen, we'd suggest the forms of methyltetrahydrofolic acid (the natural form of the vitamin in food and main circulating form in the body) could be considered as an alternate fortificant to folic acid now that more stable synthetic forms have been made available commercially," stated researcher Paul Finglas.

You would hope that future decisions and studies about fortification with folic acid would take into account that we don't metabolize folic acid in the same way as natural folates.


But contrary to the advice of many 'experts', studies such as this at JHBSPH will continue to influence the public into the false pretenses of avoiding plant based foods and folate in an effort to prevent autism, a disease now largely correlated to vaccination and pesticides.