PARSIPPANY, N.J. — DSM will distribute and market L-MTHF Metafolin folate to the dietary supplement and food industries through a partnership with Merck, which manufactures the ingredient.

Companies have used folic acid, known for its ability to prevent birth defects, in supplements and to fortify foods because it is more stable compared to natural folates, which are water-soluble B vitamins. The Food and Drug Administration in 1998 mandated the folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grains such as bread. Once ingested, however, folic acid must go through a series of enzymatic processes before it becomes a biologically active and useful form for human health, according to DSM.

“Metafolin directly enters the metabolic process and could be an effective and safe alternative to folic acid supplementation,” said Jacob Bauly, global marketing manager for DSM, which has a U.S. office in Parsippany. “Metafolin allows these people to consume folates and take advantage of the many health benefits they can bring without having to change their lifestyle.”

Metafolin (L-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid, calcium salt) is suitable for use in supplements, beverages and fortified foods.

“Merck actively seeks strategic partnerships to complement and enhance our portfolio,” said Rudolf Moser, managing director at Merck & Cie, based in Switzerland. “Working with DSM to distribute our innovative L-MTHF product allows us to widen our target markets and bring this innovative product to a larger number of people than ever before.”