Methylation: Why all the hype?
For entire companies to be based on methylation and products that specifically are marketed as being methylated, it must be a big deal. For such a simple process--just the transfer of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms (CH3) from one substance to another--methylation influences a whole host of bodily activities. From cardiovascular function to eye health, the body’s ability to methylate is far more important than most people realize; in fact, until it’s not going well, methylation is a mostly unknown phenomena.
So many systems, so many processes; the human body is a complicated machine, indeed. A lot needs to go right in order for you to FEEL like it’s going right. Like the Tin Man needs a little oil to move freely, your body’s gears and switches need methylation for its systems to work properly.
So how does this work?
CH3 is provided to the body through a universal methyl donor known as SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). SAMe readily gives away its methyl group to other substances in the body, which enables the cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, and detox systems to function best when they receive the CH3 mentioned above from a donor called SAMe. SAMe is like O negative blood types--a universal donor. It can give away its CH3, no problem.
The catch? If SAMe isn’t around to donate the CH3, it doesn’t get transferred, and the systems don’t work. And just like the body has a system for everything else, there’s a system for making SAMe. THAT system depends on the B vitamin called 5-MTHF (or methylfolate). Not enough MTHF equals not enough SAMe. Not enough SAMe equals not enough CH3 transfer, or methylation. Not enough methylation equals stuck gears in the body’s main systems (specifically cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive and detoxification).
These are just a few of the enzymes not efficiently produced as a result:
Are there really enough people dealing with genetic mutations for this to be important?
More than you’d think. Studies indicate that over half of the people in the world (of course many are likely undiagnosed) have a genetic mutation that makes it challenging for their bodies to produce MTHFR in the quantities it needs (so it can make SAMe). Mutations sound like they should be rare, like having X-Men superpowers, but that’s not really the case. First, there is more than one type of variation of the MTHFR mutation. Second, genetic mutations are inherited, so every time one person has it, the chance of passing it on to someone else increases.
So it’s a problem, lots of people deal with it, and lots more don’t know they’re dealing with it? What now?
People experiencing health problems that could point to the genetic mutation that disturbs 5-MTHF production can get diagnosed with genetic testing. Some conditions that could be linked to an MTHFR mutation:
- People experiencing health problems that could point to the genetic mutation that disturbs 5-MTHF production can get diagnosed with genetic testing. Some conditions that could be linked to an MTHFR mutation:
- ataxia, a neurological condition that affects coordination
- peripheral neuropathy, a neurological condition that damages the nerves
- microcephaly, a condition present at birth in which the head is smaller than usual
- scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine
- anemia, which means that a person has a lack of healthy red blood cells
- cardiovascular diseases, such as blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks
- mental health and behavior disorders, like depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
However, a diagnosis of an MTHFR mutation comes with hope. There are now advanced supplements designed specifically with these individuals in mind. The vitamins and nutrients present in them have already been converted into usable, absorbable forms by the body; it’s an expertly crafted workaround for the lack of SAMe, so your body can easily get what’s needed.
While taking methylated vitamin supplements is one of the best ways to keep your body on track if you have an MTHFR mutation, it’s important to follow some general healthy living guidelines, too, like consuming these foods and nutrients that can assist with methylation:
- Brussels sprouts
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Legumes (peas, beans, lentils)
- L-5-MTHF (active methylfolate)
- Active vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin)
- Active vitamin B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate)
- Active vitamin B2 (Riboflavin 5-Phosphate)
- Vitamin D