Methylation and MTHFR gene defect

Knowing about Methlyation could save your life

If you have allergies, fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivity, then you may have a "methylation" difficulty.

Methylation is the process of taking a single carbon and three hydrogens, known as a methyl group, and applying them to countless critical functions in the body. Methylation is catalyzed by enzymes. This process involves such things as modifying heavy metals, mental performance, DNA repair, RNA processing, regulating protein function, fighting infections and the ability to process toxins and hormones, just to name a few.

Methylation has the ability to affect epigenetics or gene expression; the turning on and off of genes in your DNA or genetic code. For example, your body makes estrogen, but you also get it from chemicals (xenobiotics) in shampoos, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, cosmetics, air, water, food, home, school, parks and work environmental exposures. You can develop a variety of health problems, if you can't break down estrogen and remove it efficiently from your body.

A Candida, Lyme or other infection causes ammonia, quinolinic acid, acetylalhyde and many other toxins to build up in the body, and methylation defects reduce a person's ability to properly detoxify, repair damaged tissue and fight infection/co-infections. This explains the severe symptoms that come and go in some people, and why people herx so badly, while other's don't.

Methylation is involved in making and breaking down neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine (produces energy) and melatonin (induces sleep). Failure of the body to break down neurotransmitters creates excess, which can cause seizures, insomnia, panic attacks, fits of rage, apathy, brain fog, poor memory and other similar problems in the brain.

A variety of medical conditions are common among people (45%) who have problems in the Methylation pathway, which are thought to be caused by "defects" in their genetics. So, about half of people have one copy of the C677T MTHFR gene. I am not totally convinced that this is so much about genetics, but that it is the result of altered microbiome, which interact very closely with our genes. Toxins are created by chronic yeast infections and other toxins from food and the environment, which enter the body through a Leaky Gut. This overload of toxins builds up in the bloodstream and tissues.

Disturbances in the Methylation pathway can occur for other reasons as well. When probiotic bacteria populations are damaged and the gut becomes leaky, deficiencies ensue. Vitamins and minerals are needed to drive the methylation pathway. Zinc, vitamin B2, B12, magnesium and folate from food or folic acid are necessary to make the most active form of folate in your body, known as methylfolate. When you can't get these nutrients into your body, methylation cannot occur as it should.

Poor diet, lack of probiotic bacteria in the gut, digestive problems, medications, conditions like Celiac and Crohn's, and other causes of nutrient deficiencies predispose to Methylation pathway limitations. Environmental exposures of toxic chemicals and estrogens contribute to this dilemma. Taking medications depletes nutrients, but the worst offenders include Methotrexate (Rheumatoid arthritis drug), Metformin (Diabetes medication), antacids, acid blockers, proton pump inhibitors, corticosteroids, estrogen-containing drugs, sulfa drugs, anti-seizure medications, cholesterol lowering drugs, niacin, and nitrous oxide. Alcohol consumption will cripple your methylation and deplete glutathione reserves.

If you have gone gluten-free or limited your intake of grains to avoid feeding Candida, you may be low in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is needed to drive the transulfuration cycle, which results in you being low in glutathione. Glutathione is your master antioxidant. Low levels appear as chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, hyper immunity, MCS, ALS, MS and Parkinson's.

People often reach for caffeine in the form of coffee or even green tea for an energy boost, but don't. This will only make matters worse. Green coffee bean extract is incredibly high in catechols, which uses up your methylation pathway nutrients quickly. The Lyme bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, uses up magnesium to make biofilms and hide. Low magnesium reduces your ability to methylate. Supplementation with high dose niacin or prescription Slo-Niacin and Niaspan also deplete methyl groups.

Heavy metals like the mercury from your dental fillings, lead from your plumbing or cadmium from smoke, high copper or arsenic will negatively affect methylation pathways. Unnecessarily high stress, anxiety or a pessimistic negative attitude makes things worse, because such mental states cause the body to excrete minerals and water soluble vitamins.

Acetylaldehyde, created by Candida yeast, inhibits the enzyme methionine synthase, which catalyzes the final step in the regulation of methionine from homocysteine, which converts 5-MTHF (mehtyl folic acid) to tetrahydrofolate, which is required to make other forms of folate needed to make and repair your DNA. If you have a methylation problem, you don't make enough 5-MTHF and you get elevated homocysteine, plus what goes along with that.

If you can't methylate properly, your body can't produce CoQ10, carnitine, creatinine or ATP (energy). You will have nerve pain or neuropathy, because the methylation process helps make the protective wrapping around your nerves; myelin.

The inability to properly methylate explains why some people with Systemic Candidiasis or Lyme disease have bad reactions to antibiotic or other treatment. The dead Candida yeast or Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria floating around in your body, as well as ammonia produced during die off, can't be removed easily, and it backs up in your system.

Chronic infection and Leaky Gut is the beginning of disease, which is known to predispose to the following health conditions.
Diabetes
Fibromyalgia
Chronic Fatigue
Cancer
Pulmonary Embolism
Addictive Behaviors including alcoholism
Insomnia
Autism
Frequent miscarriages
Bipolar Disorder
Manic Depression
Allergies
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Atherosclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis
Arthritis
Autoimmune Disorders
Hashimoto's or Hypothyroidism
ADD/ADHD
Dementia / Alzheimer's
Schizophrenia
Anxiety
Lyme Disease-Methylation defects does not cause Lyme.
Chromic Viral Infections
Seizures
Chronic infections
Low T cells
Reduced NK cells
Fertility issues
Cardiovascular disease
Psychiatric illness

All of these disease conditions are reversible, I believe. What is missing here is fat soluble vitamins A and D, Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and others, which are needed to construct cell membranes and hormone production. B vitamins, which are major players in the Methylation process, and other cofactors needed in the production of neurochemicals, in gene expression or suppression and in detox.

Health and disease begins in the gut. When you restore Candida to its proper form, function and station, it stops making and pumping acetylaldehyde into your body. The symptoms of acetylaldehyde toxicity include, migraine or headaches, brain fog, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, irritability, weakness, fatigue, soreness and joint pain. When you repair your Leaky Gut, toxins from food and the environment will stop leaking into your body.

The MTHFR a gene mutation

Dr. Ben Lynch, a naturopathic physician from Bastyr University, has devoted years to researching the Methylation pathway. Methylenetetrahydropholate reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme that adds a methyl group to folic acid, making it usable by the body. It provides instructions for making the enzyme methylenetetrahydropholate reductase, which plays a role in processing amino acids (tissue building nutrients that build proteins). Methylenetetrahydropholate reductase is important for a chemical reaction involved in properly using forms of vitamin B9; folate. Methylenetetrahydropholate reductase converts a molecule called 5,10-methylenetrahydrofolate to a molecule called 5-methyletetrahydrofolate. This reaction is required for a multistep process that converts the amino acid homocysteine into methionine; another amino acid. The body uses methionine for proper metabolism, to make proteins for building muscle and other important compounds like glutatione. This gene is also required for the process of methylation, so those with the mutation may have trouble effectively eliminating toxins from the body. Doctors suspect it produces chronic fatigue, fogginess, anxiety, sleep issues and an inability to deal with alcohol and other toxins effectively, aches and pains, but Systemic Candida Yeast Overgrowth is also responsible for all of those symptoms. Perhaps they are blaming MTHFR for what Candida actually does? Most of the clients I have with final stage Systemic Candidiasis have this mutation and all these symptoms. They are also the younger generation. I am finding that fewer people over 50 have this than those under 50. I believe we are looking at the damage that has been done as a result of 3 generations of babies who didn’t receive the beneficial bacteria to establish their immune systems and Candida wreaking havoc in their bodies. The micro biome wasn’t set up properly, and it’s the microbiome that communicates with and directly interacts with genes. It is estimated that about half of the population may have an MTHFR gene mutation, though there are many variations of the mutation, depending on how the gene was passed down from the parents.

So they are misdiagnosed with and medicated for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and/or an autoimmune condition, when the undiagnosed and treatable underlying cause of the entire problem is overlooked. The damage to genes is perhaps done, but epigenetics can change a lot of things just by making some lifelong adaptations. We can prevent this condition before it occurs in the next generation too. Emotional and physical stress, including poor diet and toxic exposure, affects the way our genes express themselves. Stress inhibits methylation, the transfer of methyl from 5MTHF to other substances.

It is important to avoid the oxidized synthetic compound called folic acid in cheap supplements and foods fortified with vitamin B9. Folate (tetrahydrofolate) is the natural form of this nutrient in food. The natural form can enter the main folate metabolic cycle. Folate is metabolized to THF in the mucosa of the small intestine. What I see here is that folic acid needs a healthy small intestinal mucosal lining to be absorbed, so a leaky gut can’t get the job done and that causes deficiency of folate and the symptoms that go along with it. It’s not surprising that folate has been reported to be the most common vitamin deficiency in the US. This is mostly due to food processing, poor food selection, and intestinal disorders. Numerous drugs are known to inhibit the body's ability to utilize folate, including aspirin, cholesterol lowering drugs, oral birth control, antacids and methotrexate used for rheumatoid arthritis. Folic acid undergoes initial reduction and methylation in the liver, where conversion to the THF form requires dihydrofolate reductase. The liver is a major processing system, involving numerous enzyme pathways, including methylation, which turn one nutrient into another and toxins into non-toxic substances, preparing them all to be used or expelled by the body. If your nutrients are depleted, the liver is unable to complete this process effectively. Additionally, if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, this further lowers your ability to methylate and you will have more difficulty detoxifying substances like alcohol and other toxins. This increases your susceptibility to chemical sensitivities and allergic reactions, but also blood clots, strokes, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, cancer, thyroid issues, headaches, insomnia and many other conditions. The low activity of this enzyme in the human liver, combined with a high intake of folic acid, may result in unnatural levels of unmetabolized folic acid entering the systemic circulation. Human exposure to folic acid didn’t occur until it was synthesized chemically in 1943 and introduced as a mandatory food fortification in 1998. It was sold to the public as important before conception and during early pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects in newborns, but perhaps the fetus developed the MTHFR malfunction as a result of receiving folic acid? Plus, folic acid may not be as effective for preventing neural tube defects as was once thought.

Folate coenzymes, including Folinic Acid and L-5-MTHF, are responsible for many important metabolic functions. Folate is required for the creation of every cell in the body, do if it isn’t activated properly, every cell in the body is negatively affected.
1) Formation of purines and pyrimidines, which in turn are needed for synthesis of the nucleic acids - DNA and RNA. This is especially important during fetal development in the first trimester in preventing birth defects, such as neural tube defects. During pregnancy, the need is twice as high. The minimal amount of folate required during pregnancy to prevent birth defects is 600 mcg. 800-1200 mcg of folate may be required.
2) Formation of heme, the iron-containing protein in Folinic Acidhemoglobin.
3) Interconversion of the 3-carbon amino acid serine from the 2-carbon amino acid glycine.
4) Formation of the amino acids tyrosine from phenylalanine and glutamic acid from histidine.
5) Formation of the amino acid methionine from homocysteine (Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin also is needed for this conversion). In the reconversion of homocysteine to methionine the body uses the methionine to make the important amino acid s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is known to be helpful for maintaining a sense of emotional wellbeing, achieving quality sleep and in cases of depression.
6) Synthesis of choline from ethanolamine.
7) Formation and maturation of red and white blood cells.
8) Conversion of nicotinamide to N’-methylnicotinamide.
9) Folate gives its methyl group to other nutrients and substances - a process called “methylation”.
10) Activated folate (5MTHF), and other nutrients, are needed to create and process neurotransmitters (messengers in the nervous system like serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine), to create immune cells and process hormones, as well as to produce energy and detoxify chemicals.
11) It is required during rapid cell division and growth.

Deficiency is associated with spinal cord defects, anemia, elevated homocysteine, cardiovascular disease, stroke and increased risk of certain cancers.

The simple remedy is to take folate in an activated form orally. It is recommended that while taking folate, that you also take vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin. Make sure your B12 is the pure methylcobalamin form and/or pure adenosylcobalamin form. Not the cheap cyanocobalamin product found in many supplements. Note that folate supplementation with interfere with anticonvulsant drugs.

Some doctors think the way to deal with this problems is to force the pathway into making glutathione, by taking high dose folic acid. I disagree! It won't work for the long haul, because folic acid is not what your body uses, and it can cause more problems. Your body needs natural folate (methylfolate or 5-MTHF) from food, which is not the same as folic acid supplements.

Detoxing

Opening up the flood gates and releasing stored toxins, that have been burdening your body for years, too quickly can create problems for your physiology. It makes sense, I think, to do a kidney cleanse and then a liver cleanse, to open the exits. Then begin supplementing to assist your Methylation pathway, before you begin any kind of detox or parasite killing program. When I did this, I was very careful to proceed slowly.
This can be accomplished in one of two ways, but I recommend that a doctor assist you in this process.

1) Before I even knew what Methylation was, I instinctively listened to my body wisdom, which told me to take a high dose, food based vitamin B complex, TMG (Trimethylglycine) which donates a methyl group for methylation, Betaine HCI used for increasing acidity in the stomach and reducing homocysteine, 5-MTHF (methylated folic acid) and Molybdenum.

Molybdenum helps your liver expel the 80+ toxins that are produced by Candida and when they are killed, but Acetaldehyde doesn't get excreted like other toxins and stays in your body. Molybdenum converts Acetaldehyde into Acetic acid, which can be excreted. But, what's even better is that Acetic acid can be converted into an enzyme called Acetyl coenzyme, which is important for your metabolism. So it converts something that is poisonous to you, into something that is beneficial. Excess Molybdenum is excreted by the kidneys, so overdose is unlikely. But you don't want to waste it either.

2) These nutrients are also found in the following products. You only need to choose one of these.
Methyl Guard by Thorne
Methyl Protect by Xymogen
HomocysteX Plus by Seeking Health, developed by Dr. Lynch

I didn't go for testing, because I just listened to my body, but in case you are curious and want lab tests to diagnose if you have a methylation defect, there are two common gene snps for MTHFR; C677T (associated with cardiovascular problems) and A1298C (associated with neurological/cognitive problems). You may be homozygous (one gene from mom and one gene from dad = you need added support) or heterozygous (one gene from either parent = better). A simple lab test through Quest or Labcorp will determine this. Or, you could do a broad comprehensive genetic blood test, which will help you identify other areas of concern, but costs over $2,000. Or, you could do the 23andMe genetic saliva test that is sold directly to the customer and costs $99. This test will tell you if you have any of 40 inherited conditions and tests for more than 923,000 genetic snps.

Folic acid is allowed to be labeled as folate or folicin, but these are not the active form of folate, which the body prefers, known as L-Methylfolate. It takes 4 separate chemical reactions for the body to convert folic acid (synthetic form) into active folate (Folic Acid > dihydrofolate > tetrahydrofolate > 5, 10 methylene THF > L-Methylfolate. The simple remedy is to take folate in an activated form orally. For some people taking methylfolate (Metafolin, L-5-MTHF - http://www.bioactivhealth.com/methylfolate.htm) causes symptoms and for others it helps them feel better. Calcium foliate can be made by your body from folic acid. Folinic acid, also known as 5-Formyl Tetrahydrofolate, is one active form in a group of vitamins known as folate and the natural form found in foods. It is converted into any of the other active forms of folate. 5-Formyl Tetrahydrofolate from calcium foliate is a natural, active, coenzyme form of folate - https://www.integratedhealth.com/hpdspec/folinic.html. The MTHFR enzyme doesn't inhibit that step. If for example, if you have one copy of C677T, you are able to make methylfolate, but not as easily as if you didn't have the defect. Other genetic defects can reduce the body's ability to eliminate neurotransmitters - MAO A and COMT, so if this is the case, taking methylfolate should help, but in some people, not so much. Polyvite is a whole food multivitamin containing folate (calcium foliate) http://www.4yourtype.com/search.php?search_query=polyvite. Niacin is brilliant for anxiety and helps to diminish the symptoms of anxiety and the 'heavy' feeling - almost like central nervous system suppression, that people feel who have this issue. It usually leads to a panic attack. Avoiding gluten and dairy helps because they form excitatory neurotransmitters.

We all have gene snps, so don't freak out about your results, because your genetics come with no guarantees, good or bad. What affects gene expression has much more to do with your environment, health choices, food quality, lifestyle, exercise, emotional outlook and stress level. Genes are just switches that can be turned on or off, depending on the choices you make. This gives you the power over your health and the health of future generations who will come from your body.

It would also be a good idea to have your doctor evaluate your liver function, both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
I took CoQ10 to help support my mitochondria (energy producing organelle in cells) and repair cell membranes. A low sulfur diet was needed to help eliminate sulfur sensitivities, but now that I am healed, I can enjoy broccoli, onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts, garlic, kale, collards and turnips again. Sulfur is needed by every cell in the body, so try not to eliminate sulfur veggies for longer than is absolutely necessary.

If you have questions, email johnna@wholefamilyhealthandnutrition.com to schedule your free introductory consultation. I look forward to serving you. JVW