MTHFR Gene Mutations and the Importance of Methylation
Jul 29, 2016 10:01PM
MTHFR, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folic acid or folate (vitamin B-9) to make it usable by the body. Folic acid, essential for human growth and development, encourages normal nerve and proper brain functioning and helps reduce blood levels of the amino acid, homocysteine. It is given to women who are pregnant or as a part of a prenatal vitamin to help prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord like Spina Bifida.
Homocysteine is a breakdown product of protein metabolism. Elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with inflammation and heart disease, strokes, increased risk of plaque formation, birth defects, difficult pregnancies, and potentially an impaired ability to detoxify.
The MTHFR enzyme is important for converting homocysteine into methionine, which the body needs for proper metabolism, protein synthesis, muscle growth and glutathione creation. Glutathione is the most important master antioxidant and detoxifier of every cell in your body. It is the antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and prevents cellular damage. Regular glutathione intravenous therapy is a terrific idea for boosting your body’s ability to detoxify.
The process of methylation also involves the MTHFR enzyme, so those with a mutation may have trouble effectively eliminating all toxins from the body—environmental, internal, heavy metals and alcohol. With the persistent growth of environmental toxins surrounding us, keeping our methylation optimally functioning is vital for health. Research estimates that as much as half of the population may have an MTHFR gene mutation, which leads to a highly reduced ability to convert folic acid or folate into its usable form 5-MTHF. This can cause folic acid to build up in the body and raise homocysteine levels.
Methylation is a vital metabolic process that happens in every cell and every organ of our body. It is the process of taking a methyl group from the activated form of folate 5MTHF, and applying it to countless critical functions in your body that include thinking, repairing DNA, turning genes on and off, fighting infections and getting rid of toxins. 5MTHF is also used in the process of creating neurotransmitters, creating immune cells and process hormones like estrogen.
Lingering fatigue, fogginess, anxiety, sleep issues and inability to effectively deal with alcohol and other toxins can be a result of an underlying gene mutation like the MTHFR mutation. Stress in all forms inhibits methylation. For example, when you drink alcohol, it is your liver’s job to process it using methylation and if you are deficient in nutrients or are stressed, you will experience hangover symptoms because your liver is unable to complete the methylation process effectively.
The right healthcare practitioner can take your 23andMe saliva test and evaluate the raw data by developing a report and creating an individualized supplementation protocol based on your genetic variants and conditions. The 23andMe report discusses genetic variants based on the 5 methylation pathway cycles: the Urea Cycle, Neurotransmitter Cycle, Folate Cycle, Methionine Cycle and the Transulfuration Cycle.