MTHFR is a gene that provides your body with instructions to create an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Considering your body has approximately 75,000 enzymes, a variant on one doesn’t seem like a major catastrophe. But the MTHFR gene continues to make its presence known globally, as scientists have revealed that it is possible that over half of the population may have a mutation on their MTHFR gene.
What is an “enzyme”? And why is the MTHFR enzyme important?
Enzymes are produced by your body, and they act as a catalyst* to bring about a specific biochemical reaction.
Break it down
- The catalytic converter in a car contains platinum, which serves as a catalyst to change carbon monoxide, which is toxic, into carbon dioxide.
The MTHFR enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids, the building blocks of protein. This process is called methylation.
Methylation is the process of taking a single carbon and three hydrogens, known as a methyl group, and applying it to countless critical functions in your body such as: thinking, repairing DNA, turning on and off genes, fighting infections and getting rid of environmental toxins, just to name a few.
The methylation process:
It begins with methionine (an amino acid found in protein foods we eat). The body “methylates” and turns the methionine into homocysteine (another amino acid.) Homocysteine is linked to a number of health problems, including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Normally, the body converts homocysteine back into methionine and the body functions normally.
But the MTHFR gene mutation diminishes the efficiency of the process.
The MTHFR gene plays an important role by providing the MTHFR enzyme required for the methylation process.
When you have a variant MTHFR gene, there is less enzyme and the body isn’t able to “methylate” fully as needed. Homocysteine levels can build up and this may increase one’s risk of various diseases &/or cause symptoms like memory impairment.
Break it down
- MTHFR – is a gene that gives instructions to an enzyme that gives our bodies the ability to think, heal, and ward off toxins. (That is an oversimplification, but that is the objective here.)
For many people, their MTHFR gene and enzyme system work just fine. However, Up to 50% of people carry a genetic variation or SNP (pronounced “snip”) of the MTHFR gene. This reduces how effective the MTHFR enzyme is and makes it more difficult for the body to perform all of the functions associated to the enzyme (thinking, repairing DNA, detoxifying.)
There’s a decent chance you or someone in your family has a MTHFR gene variant. In order to receive an accurate diagnosis, you would need to consult with your healthcare provider and receive the proper tests. If you receive a positive diagnosis, there are many different variations of the mutation, and it’s important to know which one. But it’s important to know that if you do have “MTHFR”, it is not the end of the world, nor is it a horrendous genetic disease. But it can affect your health and impact your life.
Break it down.
- MTHFR SNP = reduced MTHFR enzyme = reduced methylation
The Risks of MTHFR
Research has shown that MTHFR gene variants can result in an increased risk of:
• heart disease, high blood pressure, preeclampsia
• birth defects
• blood clots
• memory impairment
• weakened immune system
• autoimmune diseases
• heavy metal toxin accumulation
• depression, anxiety, and mood disorders
• fertility issues
Here’s an even more extensive list of conditions associated with MTHFR.
An MTHFR diagnosis is not a guarantee you will end up with one or more of the above issues. But it does increase your risk.
How to Handle an MTHFR Diagnosis.
This is also where folic acid comes in.
If you have MTHFR, it is important to avoid folic acid. Why?
Folic acid is a synthetic form of b-vitamin. In a non-MTHFR-variant-affected person, the body will break folic acid down into methylfolate (5-methytetrahydrofolate). However, people with a varied MTHFR gene, cannot metabolize folate into methylfolate, and therefore, cannot complete the methylation process. The incomplete process can build up unhealthy levels of folic acid in the body, that cannot be discarded in the same way a person without the variant could.
Lifestyle Changes With MTHFR
You can’t change your genes, but there a few things you can do to help your body.
- 1. Supplement with Metafolin* (a biologically active form of folate, and one your body does not have to process) and B-12. It is avaialbe in the RestoreMe brand supplements.
- 2. Eat foods rich in natural folate, like dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, dandelion, mustard, etc.) Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, and eggs are also good sources of natural b-vitamins.
- 3. Avoid folic acid, including folic acid in “fortified” foods.
This combination can help your body get the methylation process back on track.
- 4. Avoid toxins.
Read labels and consider switching to all-natural or high quality products. This includes everything from cleaning supplies, hair care products, make up and cosmetics, fertilizer, laundry detergent, and your daily supplements.
- 5. Eat healthy nutrient rich foods. While it’s not necessary to adopt a completely gluten-free lifestyle, it is important to know that most products on today’s market are “enriched” and folic acid is an additive. Leafy greens, and lean proteins are a better option.