Can H. pylori lead to folate deficiency and fertility problems?
This article is taken from my e-book, How H. pylori Causes Fertility and Pregnancy Problems, which you can download here for free.
Unfortunately, only a limited number of studies have assessed the associations between H. pylori and folate levels.
This is a shame because folate metabolism and methylation are critically important in reproduction and fertility, especially when we consider things like MTHFR gene mutations.
People with MTHFR mutations carry a greater risk of developing fertility problems related to the folate and methylation cycles, including infertility (male and female), recurrent miscarriages and neural tube defects.
H. pylori infections also increase the risk of certain fertility-related disorders by inducing nutrient deficiencies such as iron, vitamin B12 and possibly folate.
MTHFR, the folate and methalytion cycles require vitamin B12, folate and other nutrients to function optimally, potentially suggesting that H. pylori can disrupt these cycles through its ability to cause nutritional depletion.
It’s therefore very important to consider the relationship between H. pylori and folate levels.
Studies seem to suggest that as H. pylori goes up, blood folate or folic acid levels go down. As such, H. pylori seems capable of contributing to folate depletion.
In 2014, the World Journal of Gastroenterology released a paper on H. pylori, nutrients and metabolism. The authors state:
“Few studies have investigated the relationship between folates and H. pylori infection. Some authors reported a negative relationship between H. pylori infection and folate metabolism in adults. A decrease in folate absorption may take place as a consequence of decreased concentration of vitamin C in gastric juice and/or an increased level of intragastric pH, as frequently occurs in H. pylori infection.”
World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Sep 28; 20(36): 12809–12817.
Since 2014, hardly any papers have been published on H. pylori and folate, which is disappointing. A 2018 paper attempted to link H. pylori, folate and cognitive function and concluded:
“The interaction between Helicobacter pylori seropositivity and reduced folate-cycle factor 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (“active” folate) might impair aspects of cognitive function.”
PLoS One. 2018 Jan 24;13(1):e0190475. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190475. eCollection 2018.
A 2015 paper in an Iranian journal suggested that H. pylori infections lead to reductions in blood folate:
“In this study, the authors showed that a negative association presents between HP infection and serum folate concentrations…”
Acta Med Iran. 2015;53(3):162-7.
I think it’s important to emphasise the point that changes in nutritional status will have different consequences for different people.
MTHFR mutations reduce the capacity of folate and methylation metabolism, particularly when the body is under stress or nutritionally depleted.
I believe that H. pylori will generally cause more problems for MTHFR mutated people such as myself.
A person with an MTHFR gene mutation may need more folate for optimal funciton than someone without the mutation.
Such an individual might also need more vitamin B2, B6 and B12 than someone without the mutation.
It’s going to cause problems if nutrient requirements are higher in these people, yet nutrient levels are lower due to H. pylori’s ability to reduce nutrient absorption.
An individual starting with low or borderline-low B12, folate or iron levels is at higher risk of developing problems if their levels drop even lower.
Fertility and pregnancy rely heavily on methylation and folate metabolism.
Therefore, fertility, pregnancy and birth complications can result from MTHFR mutations combined with H. pylori and nutrient deficiencies.
Further reading to assist understanding
This is a really complex topic and it’s hard to explain without walking you through some diagrams.
Please read How H. pylori Causes Fertility and Pregnancy Problems, which you can download here for free.
It contains a more detailed explanation of these principles.
I do not recommend you rely on studies to explain what is happening in your body.
You are unique individual and it’s very wise to perform your own investigations.