Microbiota, bifidobacteria, folate, and nutrient absorption

 “microbiota produces large quantities of epigenetically active metabolites, such as folate and short chain fatty acids (butyrate and acetate). The spectrum of these produced metabolites depends on the composition of the gut microbiota.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 

“Rats fed a probiotic formulation of folate-producing bifidobacteria exhibited increased plasma folate level, confirming that the vitamin is produced in vivo and absorbed” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 

“Colonic bacteria produce enzymes that the host lacks, which are involved in breakdown of complex molecules, such as plant polysaccharides. The fermentation of the dietary components that escape digestion and absorption in the upper intestinal tract, and of endogenous products such as mucin, results in production of organic acids (e.g., acetic, lactic, propionic, and butyric acids), branched chain fatty acids (e.g., isobutyric, isovaleric, and 2-methylbutyric acids), H2, CO2, ammonia, amines and several other end-products. These fermentation products affect the gut environment and the host health, acting as energy sources, regulators of gene expression and cell differentiation, and anti-inflammatory agents. In fact, host-microbe interactions are essential for the resistance to pathogenic infections, gut development, and epithelial homeostasis [8,9].” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 

The microbiota of the human colon is known to produce vitamin K (menaquinones) and most of the water-soluble vitamins of group Bincluding biotin, nicotinic acid, folatesriboflavin, thiamine, pyridoxine, panthotenic acid, and cobalamin [11]. In fact, the whole genetic information of the microbial community (microbiome) of the human distal gut revealed a variety of COGs (Clustered Orthologous Groups) which are involved in the synthesis of several essential vitamins [12]. Unlike dietary vitamins, which are mainly absorbed in the proximal part of the small intestine, the uptake of microbial vitamins predominantly occurs in the colon [13]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 

Even though absorption occurs primarily in the duodenum and upper jejunum, the colon represents a major depot of folate and the vitamin produced by the colonic bacteria exceeds dietary intake and affects the folate status of the host. It is produced in large quantities by the colonic microbiota, mainly as monoglutamylated folate, the form that is absorbed at the highest rate [17], …Recently, direct evidence of absorption of folate across the colon has been irrefutably provided [25].http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ …

L. plantarumL. sakeiL. delbrueckiiL. reuteriL. helveticus, and L. fermentum are expected to produce DHPPP and may be considered as potential folate producers if they are cultured in the presence of pABA…In L. casei and L. salivarius, the latter being another folate-auxotrophic species, the uptake proceeds via an abundant high affinity membrane-associated binding protein which facilitates the passage of folate across the membrane as an electroneutral complex with cations, with an influx that is half-maximal at folate concentrations in the nanomolar range…The strains of Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus were demonstrated to produce folate, to accumulate the vitamin within the cells, and excrete it into the medium. The extent of vitamin production, the partitioning between accumulation and excretion, and the form in which the vitamin occurred (e.g., the number of glutamate residues, and the association to formyl or methenyl groups) mostly depended on the strain and, in some cases, were influenced by culture conditions, such as the pH, the growth rate and the presence of pABA….On the contrary, the strains of Lactobacillus consumed folate with the exception of L. plantarum.”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 

…several folate-producing Bifidobacterium strains have been selected, but the release of high amounts of vitamin does not seem to be widespread within the genus. Animal trials confirmed that the administration of folate-producing bifidobacteria positively affected the plasmatic folate level, indicating that the vitamin is produced in vivo by the probiotic strains, and absorbed. The highest extracellular folate levels (between 41 and 82 ng mL−1) were produced by four strains of B. adolescentis and two of B. pseudocatenulatum.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ …

mean serum folate concentration in rats consuming both the probiotic and synbiotic diet was significantly higher than in controls. However, the simultaneous consumption of probiotics and prebiotic carbohydrates further increased the level of the probiotic strains in the intestine and resulted in the highest level of serum folate, confirming that the availability of a preferred indigestible carbon source is advantageous for the growth and the metabolic activity of probiotic bacteria http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ …

Moreover, the supply of folate by bifidobacteria may also contribute to lower hyperhomocysteinemia, since the administration of folate-producingB. longum exerted beneficial effects on the homocysteine levels of hemodialysis patients [73]…Moreover, mixed culture fermentations of reconstituted skim milk were successfully carried out using folate-producing strains of Bifidobacterium in conjunction with strains of Streptococcus thermophilus and/or Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp.bulgaricus from conventional yogurt, demonstrating that it is possible to increase folate levels in fermented milk products through appropriate selection of bacterial strains. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257725/ 


  • So, fermentation occurs only with the proper gut bacteria.
  • Maybe the person with gluten sensitivity is missing the right gut-bacteria-produced fermentation enzymes for gluten.
  • Maybe vitamin levels are low because when a person is missing the gut bacteria to make those vitamins.
  • And maybe folate is low for the same reason…the gut is missing the right bacteria to create it from folic acid.


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