The primary role of folate and its active derivatives in the body is related to its capacity to act as a methyl donor in multiple biochemical pathways. In this way, it is involved in a variety of reactions important for the metabolism of amino acids and nucleic acids.

DNA and RNA synthesis Folate plays an essential part in the production of purines and pyrimidines that make up DNA, making it a critical nutrient in relation to cell division and repair of genetic material, and is generally required for genomic stability. Subsequently, folate plays an indirect role in the synthesis of transfer RNA. Production of the active form of B12 Folate and B12 are closely interwoven; for example, the conversion of B12 into methylcobalamin is dependent upon the presence of a THF coenzyme.

Reduction of homocysteine levels Folate, in the presence of B12, primes the homocysteine molecule for methylation by an activated B12. With the additional assistance of B6, together they effectively lower homocysteine levels in the blood through regeneration of methionine.

Synthesis of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) A THF derivative is critical for the regeneration of methionine from homocysteine. The methyl group donated in this process is taken up by SAMe, which provides it with the ability to become a carbon donor in multiple transmethylation reactions throughout the body including the synthesis of adrenaline, melatonin and creatine (Hendler & Rorvik 2001). Amino acid metabolism Folate is involved in the synthesis of some of the nonessential amino acids such as serine and glycine. It is also required for the conversion of histidine into glutamate (Gropper et al 2005).

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