Having proper Methylation means that your body has the ability to detoxify itself
Methylation is the primary method of removing toxins from the body. This occurs when toxins of all kinds are converted into water-soluble compounds which allows them to be eliminated from the body in an efficient manner. Having properly functioning methylation pathways means that you have a better chance of eliminating these toxins and heavy metals from the body and this can reduce your risk of cancer and other health issues. Some health issues related to methylation disorders can include cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes, behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders, depression, dementia, miscarriage, birth defects including Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and cleft palates, along with cervical dysplasia, and cancers of the cervix, colon, and lung.
Methylation is responsible for:
- Repairing RNA and DNA.
- For regulating the immune system
- For glutathione production. This is the body’s main detoxification enzyme that is responsible for removing various toxins and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, tin, and aluminum.
- Regulating inflammation by controlling homocysteine levels. People who are not methylating properly will have very high homocysteine levels putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular problems.
- Having properly functioning tumor suppressor genes (the switches that turn cancer on or off). These can be deactivated when there is an unaddressed methylation issue.
The MTHFR gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme plays a role in processing amino acids and is important component in a chemical reaction that involves vitamin B9 (folate). Specifically, this enzyme converts 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate into a molecule called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. This reaction is a required step in a process that converts homocysteine (an amino acid) into another amino acid called methionine. Methionine is used by your body to make proteins, utilize antioxidants, and to assist your liver in processing fats.
Having adequate folate levels is important for many bodily functions including the repair of DNA, detoxification, improving mood, controlling homocysteine levels, and keeping inflammation in check. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 and is found in fruits, asparagus, leafy greens, beef liver, and whole grains. Folic acid is its synthetic counterpart and is used to manufacture lower-quality vitamin supplements and is also being added into processed foods with the intention of preventing nutritional deficiencies.
The body absorbs folic acid much faster than it can absorb folate, but it must then be converted into the biologically active form before it can be utilized by the body. Problems can occur when individuals with MTHFR gene mutations are unable to make that conversion. If this process stalls, then the homocysteine levels can become elevated to dangerous levels. Elevated homocysteine levels can contribute to a number of chronic disorders including atherosclerosis, blood clots, stroke, as well as cognitive decline including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
By some estimates, that at least 40% of the population may have some form of MTHFR mutation that can interfere with the methylation process, with more serious versions of the mutation affecting about 21% of the Hispanic population, 6-14% of Caucasians, and 2% of those of African descent, who suffer with mutations affecting 2 or more alleles. Having just one mutated allele is associated with increased risk of health problems. .
What you can do:
- Get tested for mutations of the MTHFR gene to see if your having problems with detoxification.
- Take a look at your supplements and make sure that they contain the bio-available form of vitamin B9. These include folinic acid, or methylfolate, not folic acid.
- Because MTHFR impacts the process of methylation, it is also recommended that you take the methylated form of B12, known as methylcobalamin, rather than the more commonly available cyanocobalamin form. B12 absorption is essential for good mental health and is also compromised by the MTHFR mutation and by other factors listed above. You can find Methylated forms of both folate and b12 supplements online or in health stores.
- Start supplementation slowly so that the body can begin detoxify in a controlled manner.
- Since 1998, the US and Canada have enriched bread flours, cornmeal, pasta, rice, and other grain products with synthetic folic acid. These should be avoided in you have a methylation issue.
- Eat a whole foods diet, preferably organic, with foods that are naturally high in folate, these included: beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, spinach, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, tropical fruits and oranges.
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Work on healing your gut. You can find suggestions on this using this link.
- Avoid toxicity by using natural personal care and cleaning products. You can find some suggestions with this link.
- Use detox therapies regularly, these can include Infrared Sauna System, epsom salt baths, dry skin brushing, regular exercise, juice fasting, and sweating. You can find more info on all of these with this link.
- Manage your stress levels. Read more about ways to do this.
Dr Mark Hyman discusses various ways to help the with methylation process