Public health experts have long recognized that Hispanic women in this country have higher rates of folate insufficiency and neural tube defects than whites or African Americans. One reason is the U.S. does not allow fortification of corn masa flour, used to make tortillas, tamales, and other staples of the Hispanic diet.
Folic Acid has been a good thing for thousands, probably even millions of people. However, let’s remember that we are all individuals, we are all different, and what is good for one may not be a good thing for another.
If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, then your body does not readily process folic acid. If you are homozygous for this mutation, like I am, then you received one mutated gene from each of your parents. People with this mutation are recommended to practice a gluten-free lifestyle in order to avoid the folic acid that is added to most wheat products.
If you are scratching your head and thinking that you’ve never heard of such a phenomenon, don’t feel like you are out of the loop. Most people, even doctors, have not heard of it either.
After learning what I could about my condition, I visited my MD to see what he might know about it. My appointment was in the afternoon, and he said he had just heard about it that very morning from another patient. After telling him what I knew, he said that short of sending me to a hematologist, he thought I knew as much about it as any doctor in the city. I think we were both in shock.
Women that are trying to conceive or that are pregnant are advised to take folic acid. Why can’t we advise hispanic women to do the same?