What The MTHFR? (No It’s Not What Your Thinking)
MTHFR is short for “Methylenetetrahydrofolatereductase” and is an enzyme you really need to know all about.
This enzyme is produced by a gene called the MTHFR Gene,which is often mutated or slightly damaged in most people-which can result in a mutated/ineffective MTHFR enzyme-the result of which has profound effects on your health and longevity.
There are 4 types of MTHFR profiles, each based on the type of mutation present on the MTHFR gene:
NORMAL/NO MUTATION: Both MTHFR genes are unmated and the MTHFR enzyme isworking properly producing positive health effects.
HOMOZYGOUS MUTATION: The same gene passed on from both parents-can occur ifboth parents pass on the “677 mutation,” or the ”298 mutation.”
HETEROZYGOUS MUTATION: One parent passed on the “677 mutation” or the “1298mutation”but the other parent passed on a normal gene.
COMPOUND HETEROZYGOUS MUTATION: One parent passed on the “677 mutation”and the other parent passed on the “1298 mutation.”
The two most problematic mutations that can occur are known as C677T and A1298C,which denote the placement of the mutation on the gene. The most common forms of MTHFR mutation involve various combinations of these genes being passed on from each parent as described above.
What Happens When the MTHFR Gene Is Defective?
Individuals who carry a defective MTHFR gene have an impaired ability to produce a fully functional MTHFR enzyme (note: estimates range from a 40%-70% probability that you have one of the above mutations). This can make it more difficult to break down and eliminate toxins, protect DNA from oxidative damage but also eliminate synthetic folic acid and other toxic elements like bio-toxins (mold/mildew) and heavy metals.
Synthetic folic acid (found in inexpensive vitamins and processed food) cannot be converted into the usable form when MTHFR mutation is present. As a result it builds up in the body, which can raise levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with a higher risk in cardiovascular disease. This also affects the conversion to glutathione,which the body needs to remove waste and which is a potent antioxidant.
The research produced in the last 5 years suggests having a MTHFR mutation can increase cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk, risk of fetal development problems and more. It can also possibly contribute to or exacerbate other problems like autoimmune disease, mental issues and more.
Having a MTHFR mutation doesn’t guarantee that you will have any of the negative symptoms or develop the conditions previously mentioned. MTHFR has more than 50 variants, so it depends on what variants you have, and whether the mutations affect one or both of your MTHFR genes (homozygous vs heterozygous). It’s in our interests as a society to build a world knows about MTHFR and assumes people have these variants, because people without MTHFR changes do fine on MTHFR-safe foods, but not the other way around.
The first step is to get tested to see if you have this marker and which variations affectyou. The labs will provide you with what is called your“raw data,” a number/letterlisting of your genes. There are websites (listed below) that can help you compare yourresults to a typical normal human genome and identify where you differ, thus showingyou the exact type of MTHFR mutation you have. Once you have your raw data, upload it to the following sites for methylation interpretation: GeneticGenie, LiveWello or MTHFR Support.
What To Do No Matter If You Know Or Don’t Know Your MTHFR Status
- Eat more dark, leafy greens-ideally 1 cup a day of vegetables like bok choy, escarole,Swiss chard, kale, watercress,spinach, or dandelion, mustard, collard, or beet greens.These are among the most abundant sources of the nutrients needed for optimal methylation.
- Increase B vitamins in your diet–Good food sources include sunflower seeds and wheatgerm (vitamin B6);fish and eggs (vitamin B6 and B12); cheese (B12); beans and walnuts (vitamin B6 and folate); leafy dark green vegetables; asparagus, almonds, and whole grains (folate); and liver (all three).
- Minimize animal protein, sugar, and animal saturated fat–Animal protein directly increases homocysteine. Sugar and saturated fat deplete your body’s vitamin storage.
- Avoid processed foods and canned foods–These are depleted in vitamins and full oftoxins Avoid caffeine–Daily and excess amounts of caffeine candeplete your Bvitamin levels.
- Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a week–More than this can deplete your B vitamin levels.
- Keep the bacteria in your gut healthy: Take prebiotic (ION) and probiotic support (MBC) and use other measures to make sure the bacteria in your gut are healthy so you can properly absorb the vitamins you do get. (Remove grains and diary from your diet,implement intermittent and full day fasting and incorporate bone broth into your daily routine).
- Increase your stomach acid–Use herbalbdigestives (bitters) or taking supplemental HClbwith a digestive enzyme (DigestZyme) or simply increase your Himalayan salt intake to 2 tsp daily.
- Take supplements that prevent damage from homocysteine/inflammation–Antioxidants protect you from homocysteine damage. Also make sure you directlysupport the MTHFR enzyme with supplements like MORS (methylation support), vitaminC, E, D, Zinc and Selenium.