The MTHFR gene plays an essential role in processing amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Throughout history, not much was known about this gene and whether or not we should be concerned about it.
It was just a few decades ago that the first MTHFR variants were discovered (also referred to as mutations or defects), which led to an increase in research surrounding the gene. Ever since then, we’ve learned a lot about the potential dangers associated with complications to your MTHFR gene.
Every human will have two variants of over 60+ SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) of the gene, one variant status (+/+, -/-, +/-, -/+) from their father and one from their mother. It’s possible to have one (+/-), both (+/+), or none (-/-) of the variants. Testing for these mutations can explain a variety of health complications in some patients.
Despite the growing amount of research, many people are still left asking the same question:
Do we REALLY need to test for MTHFR variants?
Technically, no, but there are a variety of signs and symptoms that could suggest otherwise. We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
When Is It Time to Test for MTHFR Variants?
While nearly half of the population could be suffering from at least one variant, many of those cases may have a minimal effect on your body. Because of this, testing for MTHFR variants will only be necessary if certain symptoms are being experienced by the patient.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t order a test if you’re curious. In fact, that’s one of the more common reasons people choose to get tested for MTHFR variants.
In regards to receiving a doctor’s recommendation, there will be several signs and symptoms you or your doctor should be looking for. The most common sign will be high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is broken down by the MTHFR gene and methylfolate.
If it’s not getting broken down properly, it could mean you have a mutation in your MTHFR gene -- which you would need a test to confirm. High levels of homocysteine can cause heart disease, stroke, blood clotting, high blood pressure, and homocystinuria. It can also cause birth defects, which could call for screening the newborn for a mutation. Fertility and healthy pregnancy, neuropathy, depression and/or dementia might all be reasons a doctor might consider testing you for MTHFR genetic mutations.
What Is the Testing Process Like?
If you’ve ever had blood taken before, then you’re already familiar with one way the process of testing for MTHFR variants can happen. A professional will draw a blood sample with a small needle, then they will process the sample for testing.
As far as a newborn screening goes, the professional will draw the sample from the baby’s heel. This will typically be done within the first few days of the baby being born.
It’s worth noting that a finger poke to get 3 drops of blood for a blood smear is one way the test can be done, also, another way is a saliva capture (though these are typically more alternative methods used by a third party and not a doctor’s office).
It is important to note if a variant is found in either an adult or newborn, it won’t always be a cause for concern. In most cases, supplementation can help your body get the necessary amounts of folate or methylfolate, resulting in the reduction of the levels of homocysteine in the blood.
If your doctor has instructed you to seek a supplement, Methyl-Life has you covered with a variety of options to choose from. For methylfolate beginners, we offer a bundle with everything you need, like co-factors -- including a Non-Methylated Multivitamin, Hydroxocobalamin, L-Methylfolate, and even Magnesium capsules so you can dose the specific nutrients at your body’s particular need level.
Contact us today if you have any questions about our products! We can completely guarantee our L-Methylfolate is the absolute purest on the planet. We know that if you’re going to put it into your body, you want to know it’s the very best!
Moll, Stephan, and Elizabeth A. Varga. “Homocysteine and MTHFR Mutations.” Circulation, 7 July 2015, www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.013311.