MTHFR, Methylation, Chronic Disease & Beyond
If the mention of chronic fatigue, Lyme, bipolar struggles, rapid mood swings, depression, anxiety, heart disease, strokes, migraines, macular degeneration, auto-immune disease, chronic infections, fibromyalgia, miscarriages, neurological or behavior symptoms, or developmental delays hit home for you, then keep reading because you probably need to know about MethyleneTetraHydroFolate Reductase – better known by its abbreviation MTHFR.
Statistics show that between 40%-50% of Americans have some sort of MTHFR dysfunction, inhibiting the methylation cycle and causing a countless variety of health conditions. (And worse yet, 98% of Autistic children have a MTHFR genetic mutation.)
So just what is MTHFR?
MTHFR is a gene that acts somewhat like a light switch activating various body processes by either turning them on or off. In this case, MTHFR takes folate (vitamin B9) and methylates (converts) it into methylfolate (5-methylTHF). This is one of the most important functions in the body. If the body is not getting enough of this usable folate at the cellular level, a dangerous cycle begins which can lead to deficiencies and a multitude of health issues.
A person with a MTHFR gene SNP (aka mutation) is far more vulnerable to illness and infection because of its direct tie to glutathione production. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant. So most often those with MTHFR mutations have low levels of glutathione thus increasing their susceptibility to stress and oxidative stress while making them very intolerant to toxins. Over the years as one ages, it gets worse as toxins build up and oxidative stress accumulates taking its toll on the body.
The result: faster aging, and the stage set for a variety of diseases.
Serotonin and dopamine levels, along with our homocysteine, are also tied to the methylation cycle. When a person has a MTHFR mutation, up to 90% of the methylation cycle is impeded, throwing brain chemistry off, and potentially leading to depression and cognitive impairment. But even more serious is the impact it has on glutathione and homocysteine levels. What happens here is that homocysteine isn’t converted into cysteine, which is a key player in glutathione production. As a result, production of glutathione dramatically decreases and cellular damage dramatically increases via oxidation in the body (think of it as internal rusting) lowering the body’s resistance to infection and disease while speeding up the aging process.
Could Methylation Deficiency Be the Reason Your Health Issues And/Or Chronic Pain?
Do you or someone you know suffer from a Neuro-immune Syndrome?
Common ones include:
- Lack of Focus
- Concentration Issues
- Vertigo / Dizziness
- Nervousness / Depression
- Memory Loss
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Chronic Fatigue
- Immune Dysfunction
- Learning Disabilities
- Hormonal Reg. Issues
- Sleep Disturbances
- Issues with Pain
- Stomach Issues
- Anxiety / Depression
- Tics & Seizure Disords
- Neuralgias / Neuropathies
- Fibromyalgia / Chronic Pain
- Alzheimers & Dementias
- ADD / ADHD / Autism
- Food Sensitivities
- Chronic Immune Dysfunction
- Thyroid Disorders
- Asthma & Eczema
Methylation is an extraordinary and quite complex biochemical process unlike any other that contributes to a whole range of vital body functions, such as detoxification, immune function, mood balancing, and more. In fact, it’s so complex that few doctors really understand it.
It can injure and/or completely destroy our health and it also can protect us. So its proper function is essential foundational to good health. This is achieved by optimizing genes through the methylation pathway. If one pathway is hindered, such as in the case of MTHFR mutations, other pathways, which are reliant on it, will also be hindered. This will end up causing a “hindered” ripple effect through the entire body, and many of its processes, resulting in a myriad of chronic diseases.
Understand that there are multiple mutations that have been identified on the MTHFR gene. The two most studied at this point are the C677T and A1298C (view PubMed studies).
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NOTE: Only testing for the MTHFR mutation may lead to recommendations that are totally wrong for you because of the other genes in the methyl group forming pathways that have not been tested.
Mutations or SNPS
A mutation, or SNP, is a change in the structure of the protein configuration which changes the way enzyme functions. If you have a defect it alters the performance of the pathway, thus altering biochemistry in a potentially negative way with this leading to the potential of greater health challenges. Mutations or SNPs alone do not cause disease, but again they may influence a patient’s biochemistry and increase or decrease disease risk. Epigenetic factors, such as diet, nutrition, environment, toxicant exposures and lifestyle also affect disease risk, and may affect gene expression and the influence a mutation might have in an individual.