The Link between MTHFR and Depression
Studies dating back to the 1960s have linked folate deficiency to depression2, 3. In fact, one-third of depressed patients were deficient in folate.
Eating a balanced diet rich in folate, also known as vitamin B9, can be effective for some individuals dealing with depression. But this only works if your body is capable of converting folate to its active form, methylfolate. Active forms of B9 can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and alter our mood.
MTHFR Mutation and Our Mood
Up to 70 percent of the general population suffers from a gene mutation in the MTHFR enzyme that hinders their ability to transform vitamin B9 to the methylfolate4. To put it simply, if you suffer from the MTHFR mutation, your body can’t utilize the folate you ingest with food.
Our body needs methylfolate to make proteins and other essential compounds, including neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Our brain uses these chemicals to function properly. If something disrupts the conversion of folate into neurotransmitters, it increases the chance of suffering from mental health issues.
The bottom line is this - without methylfolate our brain doesn't get what it needs to function correctly. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other health complications.
Because of that, MTHFR enzyme plays an important role when it comes to our emotional and physical health.
What Can You Do About It?
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, and other health complications, the first thing you need to do is to get tested for the MTHFR mutation. A simple blood or saliva test will show whether you have mutations present. It's important to do this as certain people live with the mutation for decades without knowing what’s wrong.
The next step is to prepare a battle plan. Because you have a gene mutation, it’s extremely unlikely for antidepressants to work. Antidepressants work by balancing neurotransmitters in your brain5, and as we already explained, methylfolate deficiency robs our brain of the chemicals it needs to function properly. And if there’s nothing to work with, there’s also nothing to balance. Some doctors claim that only about 7 percent of MTHFR deficient individuals with depression react to conventional treatment.
Supplementing with L-Methylfolate can drastically improve your response to antidepressant medications. Studies documented that around 70 percent of patients showed significant improvement when supplementing with L-Methylfolate.