Methylation and MTHFR Mutation: Myth or Missing Link?
It’s estimated more than 40 percent of the world’s population has at least one MTHFR gene mutation, but what does that mean for your health?
Much like your fingerprints, you have a unique set of genes that make up your biochemical identity. And in each person’s genetic code, there are mutations – some are normal, while some are a sign of a potential problem.
The MTHFR gene mutations have been studied for more than 20 years now and are linked to some of the most troubling diseases we face. At the same time, some researchers pass it off as a mere vitamin deficiency and dismiss it as simply a myth.
So why is there so much confusion? The answer may surprise you as much as it surprised the researchers. Our whole understanding of genetics has been turned upside down in recent years, thanks to an emerging science known as epigenetics.
We used to think whatever genetic hand we were dealt we were destined to express, but it turns out our genes are not our destiny – they can be turned on and off by factors we can control in our environment.
Much Ado About Methylation
Methylation is a big deal – every cell in your body uses it. It’s how we repair our damaged cells, process toxins and hormones, keep our DNA healthy, break down and use B vitamins, help the liver to process fats, activate and regulate our immune systems, reduce inflammation, and balance our neurotransmitter levels – which are the chemicals that control everything from mental health to sleep and even digestion.
Methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase – or MTHFR for short – is an enzyme that is critical for proper methylation. The MTHFR gene tells MTHFR how to do its job.
When the MTHFR gene is mutated and switched on, it affects how well every cell in your body is able to get rid of toxins, repair itself, and whether or not each cell is able to fight off disease. The more MTHFR mutations you have, the less the MTHFR enzyme is able to do its job, and the more this can negatively impact your health.
Depending on how many MTHFR gene mutations you have, your body’s ability to detoxify can be impaired by as much as 90%.
This means, for example, if a person with no MTHFR gene mutations could detoxify and remove 10 molecules of a toxin from their cells, you could only detoxify and remove one, leaving 9 behind to cause inflammation and even disease within your cells.
We know MTHFR methylation gene defects impair the body’s ability to detoxify itself, but they also have been linked to more than 60 different chronic health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimers, depression, blood clotting disorders, birth defects, thyroid diseases, and certain cancers.
In the past 2 decades, the MTHFR gene mutations have been studied for their role in more than 600 medical disorders. But, jut because you’ve been tested and found to have these gene mutations, it doesn’t mean you’ll get these diseases.
Genes Don’t Determine Your Destiny
When we have a disease that “runs in the family” we tend to assume it’s genetic, based on our past understanding of how genetics work. But did you know only 10 percent of cancers have a genetic component?
It turns out that your environment plays a far bigger role in your health than genetics ever will. So even if you have multiple MTHFR gene mutations, your health may never show it.
Genes aren’t always switched on, or expressing themselves. Much like you need a switch to turn a light off and on, you also need a switch to activate or deactivate your genes. If you’ve heard the phrase, “Genes load the gun but Environment pulls the trigger,” then you know the switch for your genes is the environment they’re in.
What you surround yourself and your cells with is what determines your overall health. The air you breathe (in your home, your car, and outdoors), the water you drink and bathe in, and the food you eat are the outside environmental factors that affect your gene health.
The environment your cells are in is affected by your total toxin load, nutrient deficiencies, cellular pH, how much you exercise, how negative or positive your thoughts are, how much stress you are under (and for how long), how much sugar is circulating, how much you sleep, how much inflammation you have, your digestion, and your mental health.
There’s No Methylation “Magic Pill”
Simply having the gene doesn’t mean you’re in hot water with your health. However, just supplementing with missing vitamins used in methylation doesn’t keep you from having the MTHFR gene mutations switched on, and by themselves they don’t necessarily switch those genes off. There’s no magic pill for gene expression, it’s more complicated than that.
As MTHFR knowledge has grown, so has misinformation. Countless articles have been published saying it’s just folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, or riboflavin deficiency (vitamin B2), and getting your levels of these vitamins back to normal will solve the whole problem.
While it’s true methylation defects are associated with deficiencies in these vitamins, it doesn’t address the underlying reasons for those deficiencies.
If your diet is the reason for the vitamin deficiencies, then you’ll also be low in zinc, magnesium, and other minerals essential for proper methylation, not to mention the essential fats needed to rebuild healthy cells.
You may also have a high enough toxic load from not being able to detoxify that a cleanse is needed to relieve the toxic burden from your liver and your cells before methylation can take place normally. And you may have a low-grade infection like candida that releases toxins that impair methylation.
Healthy Methylation Hacks
When you consider all the factors that go into building and maintaining healthy cells, it can seem overwhelming, especially with all the science being discovered around methylation and MTHFR genes.
We’ve broken it down into 5 easy hacks you can use to restore your health and get your methylation back on track:
- Avoid processed foods that contain synthetic folic acid. When MTHFR is switched on, your body won’t process it well and it can build up just like a toxin.
- Get your B vitamins from natural sources. Dark, leafy greens are rich in folate; grassfed dairy products are rich in riboflavin; and grassfed meats are a good source of vitamins B6 and B12.
- Make sure your multivitamin supports methylation. Our Female and Male Multiples both contain the methylated forms of the B vitamins your body needs for proper methylation and energy production. Start slowly and work your way up – if methylation has been impaired, too many B vitamins at once may not be tolerated.
- Consider a colon cleanse. Cleansing your digestive system of the harmful bugs that release toxins that impair methylation is important to correct methylation issues. You also need to repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria that support healthy methylation. My Colon Cleansing Kit contains gentle herbs that cleanse your colon and our Flora-Key probiotic that helps restore healthy intestinal flora.
- Become a toxin detective and remove as many as you can from your environment. From personal care products to household cleansers – not to mention the chemicals in your food, air and water – you are being bombarded daily with toxins your body may not be able to eliminate.
- Ann Louise Gittleman’s Radical Metabolism is a lifestyle that helps you eliminate toxins from your diet, your kitchen, and so much more. In addition, gentle daily detox through infrared sauna, deep breathing exercises, walking, and detox baths will all help lower your toxin load and give your methylation a chance to get back on track.
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