Genetic Influences on Vitamin B9 Levels

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Genetic Influences on Vitamin B9 Levels

Date of Content: February 7, 2024
Written by: Harvey Talento
Reviewed by: Maarit Tiirikainen, PhD


An Overview of Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9, also known as folate, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in many bodily functions. It is naturally present in various foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement.

Vitamin B9 is essential for healthy cell growth and function. It is crucial during early pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine. It is also important in red blood cell formation.

As for its sources, Vitamin B9 is found mainly in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts. Fruits rich in Vitamin B9 include oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries. Its synthetic form is folic acid, an essential component of prenatal vitamins found in many fortified foods such as cereals and pasta.

Not eating enough food items with Vitamin B9 can cause a deficiency of this nutrient. People with conditions such as celiac disease, which makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, can also end up with low folate levels.

Vitamin B9

Importance of Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is a vital nutrient that plays a significant role in various bodily functions. The following is a breakdown of its critical functions.

  • Cellular Functions and Blood Health

Vitamin B9 is essential for DNA synthesis, repair, and the production of red blood cells. A deficiency can lead to anemia, characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

  • Pregnancy and Neural Development

During pregnancy, Vitamin B9 is crucial for forming the neural tube, which becomes the baby’s brain and spine. Adequate intake helps prevent major birth defects.

  • Cardiovascular Health

Working with other B vitamins, Vitamin B9 regulates homocysteine levels in the blood, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Mental Health Impacts

Ongoing research explores the potential benefits of Vitamin B9 in treating depression, but a comprehensive understanding requires further exploration.

Genetics of Vitamin B9 Levels

Understanding the genetic factors that influence vitamin B9 levels is crucial for unraveling the complexities of folate metabolism and its implications for human health. Genetic polymorphisms play a significant role in determining individual variations in folate status biomarkers, impacting processes such as DNA synthesis, methylation, and the regulation of homocysteine levels.

In this section, we dive into the intricate interplay between genes and folate metabolism, exploring key genetic modifiers and their contributions to the regulation of vitamin B9 levels.


The 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, specifically the 677C→T variant (rs1801133), has emerged as a major genetic modifier impacting folate status as also demonstrated by a 2018 study involving 2232 young, healthy Irish subjects. This variant reached genome-wide significance for red blood cell folate, serum folate, as well as plasma total homocysteine concentrations. It played a pivotal role in influencing all three of these critical folate-related indicators.

A second polymorphism within the MTHFR gene, rs3753584, exhibited a significant independent effect on red blood cell folate concentrations. This variant, alongside the primary 677C→T variant, contributed to the complex genetic landscape influencing folate levels in the studied population.

CLCN6 Gene

In 2021, a genome-wide association study with 45 clinically relevant traits from the population of Qatar was performed using a whole genome sequencing (WGS) approach in a discovery set of 6218 individuals with a replication of the findings in 7768 subjects. The study found that the heritability of these traits was similar between Qatari and European populations (r = 0.81). Furthermore, a new gene variant, rs17350396 in CLCN6 (Chloride channel 6), an MTHFR neighbor gene, was found to be significantly associated with serum folate levels. Interestingly, CLCN6 has been associated with neurodegeneration. 

These findings underscore the intricate genetic interplay that contributes to variations in folate-related biomarkers and highlight potential novel pathways involved in Vitamin B9 metabolism.

While our understanding of the genetic determinants of vitamin B9 levels continues to evolve, these insights underscore the importance of personalized approaches to nutrition and healthcare, considering individual genetic profiles to optimize folate status and promote overall well-being.

Non-Genetic Factors Influencing Vitamin B9 Levels

Aside from genetics, various other factors can affect the levels of vitamin B9 in the body. Environmental factors, lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and more play pivotal roles in influencing the amount of vitamin B9 available to our system.

Dietary Intake

Vitamin B9 primarily originates from individuals’ dietary choices. It is predominantly present in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts, as well as fruits such as oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries. A folate deficiency can result from a diet lacking these essential foods.

Absorption Issues

Various health conditions, including celiac disease and other disorders affecting nutrient absorption in the small intestine, can hinder the absorption of folate from food. This can lead to a deficiency in folate levels within the body.

Age and Life Stage

Individuals in specific life stages, such as pregnant women and those of childbearing age, face a risk of inadequate folate intake. Despite incorporating folic acid supplements, a significant proportion of women do not meet the recommended folate intake levels, placing them at risk of deficiencies.


Certain medications, such as specific antiseizure drugs, have the potential to disrupt how the body utilizes folate. This interference can result in reduced folate levels, underscoring the importance of awareness and proper management when individuals are prescribed such medications.

These external factors provide a broader perspective on the dynamic nature of vitamin B9 levels. A holistic approach, considering both genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices, is essential for maintaining optimal vitamin B9 status and supporting overall wellness.

Maintaining Adequate Vitamin B9 Levels

Ensuring a proper balance of vitamin B9 is essential for overall health and well-being. Here are practical steps to maintain adequate levels:

  • Diverse and Balanced Diet

Incorporate a variety of foods rich in vitamin B9 into your diet. Dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, and fortified cereals are excellent sources. A diverse and balanced diet helps cover your folate needs.

  • Consider Supplements

For certain individuals, especially pregnant women or those with specific health conditions, vitamin B9 supplements (folic acid supplements) may be recommended. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your routine.

  • Limit Alcohol Intake

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption and utilization of vitamin B9. Limiting alcohol intake contributes to maintaining optimal folate levels.

  • Be Mindful of Cooking Methods

Employ cooking methods that help preserve folate in foods. Steaming or microwaving vegetables instead of boiling can retain more of this essential vitamin.

  • Manage Health Conditions

If you have health conditions like celiac disease or malabsorptive disorders affecting nutrient absorption, work closely with healthcare professionals to manage these conditions effectively. Proper management can help prevent folate deficiency.

  • Periodic Health Check-ups

Include vitamin B9 levels in your regular health check-ups. Periodic monitoring ensures early detection of any deficiencies, allowing timely intervention and adjustment of dietary or supplemental strategies as needed.

  • Stay Informed About Medications

If you are on medications that might impact folate levels, stay informed about potential interactions. Discuss with your healthcare provider to understand how medications may influence your vitamin B9 status and if adjustments are necessary.

  • Tailor Nutrition to Life Stages

Recognize that vitamin B9 needs may vary during different life stages. For instance, pregnant women and those planning pregnancies require increased folate intake. Tailoring nutritional choices to specific life stages ensures adequate vitamin B9 levels.

By adopting these practical measures, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain sufficient vitamin B9 levels, promoting overall health and preventing potential deficiencies. As with any health-related decisions, consulting with healthcare professionals ensures personalized and well-informed choices.

About the LifeDNA Vitamins and Supplements Report

For a more precise approach to your wellness, consider obtaining the LifeDNA Vitamins and Supplements Report today. This report provides specific insights into the Vitamin B9 Levels trait, helping you understand how your body processes and utilizes this essential nutrient. By learning about the genetic factors affecting your vitamin B9 metabolism, you can make more informed decisions about your supplementation needs.

Take this opportunity to gain detailed information about your genetic predispositions now!


  • Vitamin B9, also known as folate, is a vital water-soluble nutrient naturally present in various foods and available as a supplement, and is crucial for healthy cell growth, and function, and vital during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin B9 is essential for DNA synthesis, and red blood cell production, and plays a crucial role in cardiovascular health, mental well-being, and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.
  • Genetic factors significantly impact vitamin B9 levels, with key genes like MTHFR and CLCN6 influencing folate levels.
  • Besides genetics, factors such as dietary choices, absorption issues, life stage, and medications can affect vitamin B9 levels, emphasizing a holistic approach to well-being.
  • Practical steps, including a balanced diet, supplements, limiting alcohol, mindful cooking methods, managing health conditions, regular check-ups, staying informed about medications, and tailoring nutrition to life stages, help maintain optimal vitamin B9 levels.


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*Understanding your genetics can offer valuable insights into your well-being, but it is not deterministic. Your traits can be influenced by the complex interplay involving nature, lifestyle, family history, and others.

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