Firstly, what is methylation and what has it got to do with me?
Methylation is a simple chemical process that involves adding a methyl group to/from a substance. This simple chemical process is involved in thousands of not so simple pathways in the body including your detoxification, neurotransmitter, hormonal & energy production pathways, with millions of reactions happening every second in every cell of the body.
It's not surprising then, that Insufficient methylation can therefore place us at risk of a whole heap of disorders and sub-optimal health. So what can hinder methylation?
· genetic mutations
· poor diet
· the wrong amount of exercise
· poor sleep
· too much artificial folic acid
Let's talk about genetic mutations - MTHFR
One such gene involved in methylation is, the MTHFR gene. This enables us to produce the MTHFR enzyme which we need to 'methylate' the folate in our diet into a form that our body can use - methylfolate. Different mutations on the gene that codes for our MTHFR enzyme can impair the reduce the enzymes' availablility and therefore the amount of folate that we can absorb and utilise within our body. Different subtypes of this gene have been associated with disorders from atherosclerosis, fibromyalgia, breast cancer, high blood pressure, male infertility and recurrent miscarriage, to name just a few (Goodman et al., 2006)(Varga et al., 2005)(Sah et al., 2018)(Lynch, B., Dirty Genes).
Clues to having a MTHFR mutation
- I have high homocystiene levels (above 12 micomoles per litre)
- i have/had a cleft palate
- I have had a child with neural tube defects or I have difficulty maintaining pregnancy
- I have had low or low normal white blood cell count most of my life
- My folate and/or B12 levels are elevated
It may be that you have a MTHR mutation but this doesn't impact you as your diet and lifestyle support your methylation.
Other key nutrients to support methylation are:
B9 or folate - get eating your greens, they contain among other great nutrients & fibre, folate, in an easily metabolised form.
B2 or Riboflavin - found in lamb, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, wild salmon & eggs
B12 or Cobalamin - eggs, red meat, salmon.
Protein - beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, fish, poultry, meat, eggs.
Whether its physical stress on your body, such as over training, or mental stress - your body can't tell the difference - it's all stress, which places extra demands on the body and requires more methylation to happen.
Choose exercise that is calming such as pilates, yoga or walking.
Help yourself to manage your stress, try apps like headspace or Calm, get into nature.
Points to note:
Step away from the folic acid supplements - folic acid is a synthetic version of folate and must pass through several stages before it is in a form usable by the body. Unfortunately it can bung up our pathways and prevent methyl folate from doing its job.
Methyl folate is available in specialist supplements and is worth asking your Nutritional Therapist about to ensure the dosage works for you - this is particularly important if you are planning to get pregnant.
Other common barriers to methylation include
-intestinal yeast overgrowth
-SIBO small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (Lynch, B., Dirty Genes)
Want to get tested?
Testing is a simple cheek swab test that can be done from home and costs around £89.
Contact The Root Cause Clinic to find out more.