Why is MTHFR important to Methylation?
To start with let’s go through what these both mean.
MTHFR is an abbreviation of methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase, MTHFR is an enzyme that coverts the folate in your food to the active form called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. There are several steps in the process that folate has to go through to become the active form. MTHFR is responsible for the last step so the activity and genes of MTHFR effect how much active folate you are able to produce.
The process folate goes through is called methylation and methylation happens not only to folate but to other compounds in every cell of our body. It is a vital metabolic process which helps to form the important substances ie enzymes, neurotransmitters etc that make our body work.
If you would like to understand the biochemistry… methylation occurs when one molecule passes a methyl group (a carbon atom linked to 3 hydrogens) to another molecule. It is a bit like clipping and unclipping a paperclip and when you do that it changes the structure and function of the molecule.
There are 2 things that can affect how the body methylates, the first one is environmental factors such as diet, exposure to toxins, stress, digestive health, ageing and medication and the other is, of course, your genes. The full methylation cycle is complex but the most important enzyme in that cycle is MTHFR. The other main genes involved are MTR, MTRR, COMT and CBS.
What effect does this have on your health?
Methylation assists with the following processes:
• Provides you with energy
• Processes hormones
• Supports neurotransmitters for brain and mental health function
• Detoxifies toxins
• Builds immune cells
• Reduces histamine
• Turns the stress response on and off
• Builds and repairs DNA and RNA and protects telomeres (part of ageing process)
• Repairs cell walls and provides myelination of nerves
• Gene expression by adding a methyl group it can turn genes on and off
So you can see that is has many important functions and if you have a decreased capacity to methylate then this can effect your health and some common issues are:
• Elevated homocysteine
• Cardiovascular disease: thromboembolism, atherosclerosis, and myocardial infarction
• Reduced Lean body mass and increased body fat
• Neural tube and other birth defects
• Peripheral neuropathy
• Dementia and memory loss
• Depression and Irritability
By testing your genes that influence methylation, you are able to understand your MTHFR activity, which can have a 70% loss of function plus your other genes which relate to methylation. Our practitioners can guide you through these genes and then recommend the best diet and protocol for you to maximise your methylation.
The methylation genes are tested as part of the Health and Wellbeing Genetic Profile Report