MTHF Reductase & Methylation

What is methylation?

This is an important chemical reaction that happens in every cell and tissue in our body. It’s the process of adding a methyl group to a protein which will change how that protein works in the body. Enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune cells and even genes are proteins. In fact, methylating genes will either turn them on or off, having very far reaching health implications in our bodies. 

Methylation will also help us detoxify. It removed harmful homocysteine from the blood stream which is highly implicated with cardiovascular disease.

Many factors will affect our bodies ability to methylate including genetic mutation, environmental toxins, certain prescription medications such as methotrexate and over the counter medications such as antacids. Nutrients such as B12 will aid with this methylation process by donating the methyl group for the methylation of proteins.

What is MTHFR and why is it important to methylation?

MTHFR is the enzymes responsible for the metabolism of folate and homocysteine. Reduction in this enzymes will reduce your ability to methylate which affects all cells in your body including the expression of your DNA!

This enzymes can be tested for with a saliva sample. Your DNA will be sequenced and any small mutations in the gene that codes for the MTHFR enzymes and other genes involved in methylation will be discovered. If your genes predispose you to poor methylation it can be addressed with proper diet and supplementation counselling.

Mutations in MTHFR are quite common. 20-40% have one copy of the mutation while 4-14% will have 2 copies. However even if someone have 2 copies of the mutated gene this does not mean they will express illness. Our environment plays a large role in gene mutation as do other genes

How to test for genetic mutations in your methylation pathway?

At Dartmouth Naturopathic Health Centre patients are encouraged to test their DNA through an ancestry company called 23andme. Through this we get the raw DNA data to look for genetic mutations such as MTHFR among many others. 23andme also provides ancestry information which is fascinating for patients to learn about the origins of their DNA and connect with distant cousins if they choose to do so… you can even find out how much neanderthal DNA is in your genome!

What are symptoms of MTHFR insufficiency?

  • insomnia
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • ulcers
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • hypertension
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • memory loss
  • brain fog
  • muscle pain
  • delayed speech
  • hand tremor
  • pre-eclampsia
  • recurrent miscarriages
  • decreased neurotransmitters such as dopamine and seotonin
  • autism
  • depression
  • erectile dysfunction
  • cancer
  • alzheimers
  • parkinsons
  • raynauds
  • and many more…

How to treat insufficient methylation and MTHFR genetic mutations?

Nutrition and supplements are extremely important if you discover your methylation pathway is compromised. Getting more of following nutrients, among many others, via diet or supplement at varying doses may be considered by your health care provider:

  • Vitamin B12 in the methylcobalamine form
  • Folate in the 5-methyltetrahydrafolate form
  • Choline and Serine
  • Glutathione
  • Vitamin C
  • Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium and Copper
  • Vitamin B2, B3 and B6

-Dr. Tara