- Are you suffering with diabetes, multiple chemical sensitivities, hypertension, fibromyalgia, insomnia, frequent miscarriages, thyroid dysfunctions, fatigue, anxiety, chronic viral infections, ADD, Lyme’s, cancer, or other issues that don’t seem to resolve? It could be that you have a methylation deficiency and methylation defects, or traits, reduce a person’s ability from properly detoxifying, repairing damage, and from fighting infections due to the deficiency of glutathione and CoQ10.Knowing a little about the liver and its Liver process of detoxification helps in understanding the importance of methylation. The liver converts toxic chemicals into less harmful ones through reactions of oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis during Phase 1 detoxification. During this process however, free radicals are produced. This is okay unless there is an excess which can damage the liver. Fortunately, we have foods and nutrients that contain powerful antioxidants that reduce the damage caused by the free radicals.On the other hand, many toxic chemicals such as pesticides can interrupt the liver enzymes if consumed in excessive amounts. If the toxins are not further broken down by Phase 2 “conjugation,” they may cause damage to proteins, RNA and DNA within the cell. Medications, heavy metals, sugars, trans-fats, and toxic compounds from the gut also inhibit Phase 1 detoxification. In Phase 2 of liver detoxification, the conjugation process attaches compounds to the toxin to neutralize the toxin and makes it more bioavailable for ease in excretion through the bile or kidneys during Phase 3 process. Six enzymes are needed for this to take place in Phase 2. One of these is methylation.What is methylation? – This is a chemical reaction that occurs in every cell and tissue in our body. It is the process of taking a single carbon and three hydrogens, known as a methyl group, and applying it to countless functions in the body. Enzymes, hormones, and genes are proteins. Adding methyl groups to a protein, for example, changes how that protein reacts to other substances in the body. This affects how the protein behaves and is also important in the detoxification process.Methylation is responsible for thinking, repairing DNA, turning on and off genes, fighting infections and getting rid of environmental toxins. It is also important to help enzymes, hormones, and vitamins work efficiently. For example, if a person can’t break down estrogen and get the excess out of the body, all sorts of disorders follow such as weight gain, and breast cancer. Folate and choline are considered methyl donors. How well our body can methylate is important to our overall health.Other factors that interfere with Methylation pathways:
- Poor diet, poor probiotic status, digestive issues, medical conditions like Crohn’s or Celiac
- Xenobiotics which are chemicals found in air, water, food, home, work, schools, parks, beds, cosmetics and many more
- Medication, which steal methylation nutrients, such as methotrexate, metformin, antacids, acid blockers, proton pump inhibitors, corticosteroids, estrogen-containing drugs
- Alcohol. Yes, alcohol will pretty much shut down your methylation and wipe out your glutathione stores, says Suzy Cohen, M.D.
- Green Coffee Bean Extract. Yes, all those glorified weight loss supplements promising you quick weight loss has a dangerous side effect. This extract is high in catechols and these use up your methylation pathway nutrients quickly. So while losing those unwanted pounds your methyl groups are losing too.
- Lyme disease germ uses up magnesium. Magnesium is one nutrient that busts up biofilms. With low magnesium status, the germs hide out in biofilms and reduces one’s ability to methylate.
- Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic
- Anxiety or high stressWhat is folate?Folate is a very important brain food and is needed for energy production and the formation of red blood cells. It strengthens immunity by aiding in the proper formation and functioning of white blood cells. It is important for healthy cell division and replication, which is needed during fetal development to avoid neural tube defects.How would I know if I have a folate deficiency?If you lack zinc, B2/riboflavin, magnesium, B6, B12, due to dietary intake or gut disorders such as Celiac, the body’s ability to drive the methylation pathway is limited. It is these nutrients that are needed to help make the most active form of folate in body known as methylfolate. Some signs of end stage folate deficiency are sore red tongue, insomnia, memory loss, anemia, fatigue, premature gray hair. Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables or lack of fresh food due to overcooking or microwaving food, oral contraceptives, or alcohol use are some other causes of folate deficiency and are the prime justification a person needs to engage in a detoxification and folate support program. Additionally, increasing consumption of folate rich foods will be helpful.What sources have folate?I don’t recommend taking Folic Acid supplementation. The body uses methylfolate, not folic acid. Consume natural folate from foods. Folate is a water soluble nutrient found in pinto beans, navy beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, okra, Brussels sprouts, beef, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, lamb, legumes, lentils, liver, mushrooms, oranges, split peas, pork, tuna, and whole unrefined grains.What are some solutions?Have you ever heard of MTHFR? Chances are most have not. I am sure you might be familiar with Genotyping, however. Gene testing has become quite popular. Most people think that this has to do with genes and the common thought is that genes can’t be changed. New research is now showing that we can change or turn off “bad” genes. We can also turn off “good” genes as well. A common excuse, “It’s in my genes to live a long life,” or “It’s in my genes to be a diabetic,” or any other disease process, ignores the fact that we all have a responsibility with our own health regardless of our ancestry.MTHFR is an enzyme that converts folic acid into a usable form of folate that our bodies need. It is a key enzyme in the detoxification process. It converts homocysteine to methionine. If detoxification is impaired it can lead to high homocysteine levels damaging arteries and blood vessels leading to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If the MTHFR gene is impaired, other methylation reactions are compromised as well affecting neurotransmitters, migraines, fertility, birth defects, and possibly cancer. The MTHFR gene controls how well this enzyme works.
How do you know if you have the MTHFR gene or a gene mutation? Why is it important to know?
Gene typing is one important way to determine if the enzyme is efficient or not. If it is not, then your body will not methylate efficiently. Adding more specific B vitamins or other nutrients will compensate as well as changing dietary habits. But, determining what genes you have gives you the ability to compensate accordingly and correctly. Blood chemistry to test homocysteine levels is another test available, especially if you have risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, have been on oral contraceptives, cancer therapy, or have any other signs of folate deficiency.
MTHFR gene testing is not generally done in a doctor’s office. It is a simple low cost test, covered under insurance, and done in the privacy of your own home.
Another solution is to support the methylation pathway deficiency with detoxification using specific nutritional compounds in supplement form. If you have any questions about the assessment tool available or wish to get started on a detoxification program, call us at 707-451-4058.
Phillips, Theresa, PhD. (2008) The role of methylation in gene expression. Nature Education 1(1) DNA Methylation. Premier Biosoft
Cohen, Suzy, M.D. Methylation Problems Lead to 100s of Diseases. www.dearpharmacist. com/2013/08/08
By: Christine Andrew, CNC