What’s the big deal about Methylation?, you might want to start by familiarizing yourself with this common genetic mutation that can affect everything from depression and anxiety to risk of heart attack or stroke.
In light of the amount of questions and comments I’ve gotten, it’s about time I write a follow-up blog giving you some helpful hints in dealing with this common genetic SNP that can affect your health in so many various ways.
A little background to bring you up to speed on methylation…
Let’s define methylation. Methylation is the act of a carbon and three hydrogens (namely a methyl group) attaching itself to an enzyme in your body. When this methyl group attaches to an enzyme, the enzyme performs a specific action. One thing you might not realize is that methylation is responsible for is the breakdown of histamine. A methyl group is made and then floats around until it finds a specific binding site. In this case, the methyl group binds to histamine. When a methyl group binds to histamine, histamine breaks apart and goes away. Many patients who have one or more methylation SNPs, like MTHFR have a hard time breaking down histamine, which can wreak havoc on the body in many ways!
If you haven’t been tested and want to find out if you have this common genetic mutation, you can ask your doctor to order MTHFR gene mutation testing through most labs.
Key functions these donated methyl group are:
- Protecting DNA and RNA. If DNA is not protected it is susceptible to damage by viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, solvents and other environmental toxins. Over time if this damage becomes significant and could even result in cancer.
- Reducing histamine levels (see this article) Sometimes the common methyl-donor, SAMe can help reduce histamine levels.
- Protecting cell membranes. The methyl group donated by SAMe helps build phosphatidylcholine which then gets incorporated into the walls of all your cells. If these cell membranes become damaged and weak, the cells become fragile and harmful things may enter the cell. If they are unable to carry in useful nutrients, they will die. Excessive cell membrane damage can lead to serious medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis.
What are some things I can do if I have the MTHFR gene mutation?
Here’s ten tips for you!
- Avoid taking folic acid blocking or depleting drugs, such as birth control pills or Methyltrexate
- Avoid taking proton pump inhibitors, like Prilosec or Prevacid or antacids, like Tums, which may block essential Vitamin B12 absorption
- Have your homocysteine measured, which if elevated may indicate a problem with methylation or a deficiency of B12 or folate. If your homocysteine is elevated, limit your intake of methionine-rich foods
- Avoid eating processed foods, many of which have added synthetic folic acid. Instead eat whole foods with no added chemicals or preservatives.
- Get your daily intake of leafy greens, like spinach, kale, swiss chard or arugula, which are loaded with natural levels of folate that your body can more easily process.
- Eat hormone-free, grass-fed beef, organic pastured butter or ghee, and eggs from free-range, non-GMO fed chickens.
- Remove any mercury amalgams with a trained biologic dentist. Avoid aluminum exposure in antiperspirants or cookware. Avoiding heavy metal or other toxic exposure is important.
- Make sure you supplementing with essential nutrients, like methyl-B12, methyl-folate, TMG, N-acetylcysteine, riboflavin, curcumin, fish oil, Vitamins C, D, E, and probiotics. If you are double homozygous for MTHFR mutations, you should proceed very cautiously with methyl-B12 and methyl-folate supplementation as some people do not tolerate high doses. Introduce nutrients one by one and watching for any adverse reactions. Use extreme caution when supplementing with niacin, which can dampen methylation.
- Make time for gentle detox regimens several times per week. These could include infrared sauna, epsom salt baths, dry skin brushing, and regular exercise or sweating.
- If you have a known genetic mutation, share the information with parents, children and other family members and encourage them to be tested, too!