Folate, or Vitamin B9, is an essential vitamin for a variety of physiological and psychological functions. Folate and Folic acid (the initial form of this vitamin) can both be found in many of the foods we eat and typically do not require supplementation. Populations that commonly have Folate deficiencies include but are not limited to people who are pregnant, have anemia, abuse alcohol, or have pre-existing kidney conditions.
How do I know if I have low Folate and why does it matter?
This can be genetically tested at home and is seen as "reduced folic acid conversion," meaning that the body is not able to properly break down folic acid found in food to make Folate. This can additionally cause buildup of harmful byproducts by the liver. Low Folate levels and accumulation of these byproducts have been shown to contribute to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.
What can be done about this?
There are both prescription and over the counter supplements available to correct for reduced conversion of folic acid to Folate. This may turn out to be a key aspect of the psychiatric treatment regimen, especially for those people who have tried multiple medications with limited success in symptom resolution.