In order to fully consider the topic, we must first understand what methylation is. We can quote here a quotation from commonly available Wikipedia (obviously being aware that Wikipedia articles should be approached with some caution, but that’s enough for us at the moment). DNA methylation is “the process of attaching alkyl (methyl) groups (-CH3) to the nitrogen bases of nucleotides, in particular to cytosine, and less frequently to adenine (in position 6). The cytosine methylation product is usually 5-methylcytosine, sometimes N4-methylcytosine. This process involves enzymes from the group of DNA metylases “. Simple? For some, probably yes, but for many people the above fragment is black magic.
Maybe we can simplify it delicately. Methylation is an important process in which the methyl group (a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms) is transferred between molecules. The methyl group is attached to the appropriate enzyme, which ensures the proper functioning of the body. And more specifically? Methylation is responsible for: detox, gene activation and deactivation, treatment and regeneration, nervous system, energy production, cell wall construction, growth, immune cell formation, neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, melatonin), histamine elimination, DNA and RNA synthesis. You do not need to add how important is the proper methylation for our body. What if something does not work properly? What if there are methylation disorders?
The most common cause of methylation disorders is the mutation of the MTHFR gene, which produces the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. A properly functioning enzyme is responsible for the metabolism of homocysteine and the processing of amino acids. It causes that folic acid and vitamin B12 become much more available to our body. It is assumed that currently this mutation may affect 50% of the population, and in most cases remains undetected. It is worth checking if you are in this group, which unfortunately is not so easy. There are over 50 mutations of this gene, but two of them are the most troublesome – C677T and A1298C. Unfortunately, there are difficulties here. Because the first one will be checked in many laboratories, but the problem is with the second one. In addition, such a study is not covered by public health insurance, so all costs are falling on us.
Is it worth it? Definitely!
The MTHFR mutation and therefore the methylation disorder caused by it may lead to the following symptoms: sleep problems, hormonal imbalance, skin diseases, miscarriage, high blood pressure, allergies, high or low iron, irritable bowel syndrome, high B12 level, genetic diseases , thyroid problems, stress problems, chronic fatigue, learning problems, atherosclerosis, Candida infection. You can also find voices which are indicating the effect of methylation disorder on development of: depression, neurosis, ADHD, manic diseases, schizophrenia and autism. However, full confirmation of the impact of the MTHFR mutation on mental disorders probably requires further research and observation, however, such links have also been noticed. Many of these symptoms are quite extreme, but you must have them in mind.
What’s more? Remember that there are problems with the body’s detoxification. The homocysteine level increases due to poor conversion of folic acid (and higher levels of homocysteine may increase the risk of heart disease!). The body has a problem with the assimilation of products. With methylation disruption, even eating meat can be harmful to us, because the body can not deal with the processing of amino acids and can not clean up from them. The body is unable to use folic acid or vitamin B12. If the studies show their excess, it does not necessarily mean that we have taken too many of them. Rather, it indicates that the body is unable to assimilate or remove them. As a result, he puts them away wherever he can, additionally weighing on the already tired body.
Well, okay. We know that mutation of the MTHFR gene is not a pleasant thing. But basically why? What is it with folic acid and vitamin B12?
Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9, which occurs in supplements and enriched food, while vitamin B9 occurring in nature is called folate. It is an essential component of our diet, which our body is unable to create or store itself. Therefore, we must provide it together with supplements and food. Vitamin B9 is responsible for the proper functioning of our nervous system and brain. Its deficiencies may cause symptoms such as: irritability, dyspnea, cancer, depression, heart disease, memory problems, Alzheimer’s, eyesight weakness, defects about the child. As you can see, folic acid deficiencies can not be underestimated, especially since many factors can cause these deficiencies. We are talking about drinking coffee and alcohol, smoking cigarettes, taking contraception, as well as excessive stress. It is impossible to hide that every day we easily risk losing vitamin B9.
Vitamin B9 can be found in the liver and soya (although here you must keep in mind the ongoing discussion about the beneficial and unfavorable activities of this on our body), as well as eggs, asparagus and spinach. However, it is not possible to replenish the actual needs only in a natural way, which is why necessary supplements are necessary. However, we must remember that our body does not naturally produce vitamin B9 or store it. Which means that it is a bit foreign substance to him, which he has to convert. Large amounts of supplements may limit the body’s ability to absorb folate, which is an easier form of vitamin B9. In turn, folic acid must take part in the methylation process in order to become absorbed. If we suffer from mutation of the MTHFR gene, this process is disturbed, and therefore folic acid does not become accessible to the body.
The second player is vitamin B12, which occurs naturally in dairy, eggs, crustaceans and meat (especially in offals and beef). Unfortunately, it does not have 100% bioavailability, so practically no daily needs can be provided without proper supplements. B12 allows you to absorb vitamin A, activates iron in the body, supports the nervous system and helps in the formation of red blood cells. The liver is a natural storage for this vitamin (in which the body can store it for a long time), and unused residues are excreted in the urine.
As you can see it is a very good thing. Especially when we find out that a deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause problems with concentration, depression, an unpleasant body odor and inflammation of the mouth. In addition, limb numbness and anemia. A lot. It’s really worth taking care of the right diet. Especially if we are vegetarians or vegans. Lack of meat in the diet requires additional supplementation to meet the daily requirement of vitamin B12.
First of all, you should take care of the right diet. It is about products with a high content of iron and vitamin B. Meat will be beef and any offal (in particular liver). Remember to buy meat from a trusted and good butcher. It will give a much better effect than shopping at one of the supermarkets. A good idea is honey (but not the drinking one!) And bee pollen. It is also worth reaching for some fruits, such as: plums, apricots and oranges. And of course vegetables! It is necessary here to introduce brussels sprouts, broccoli, beetroot, kale and parsley into the diet.
Folic acid and B12 supplementation should also be introduced. But necessarily in the methylated form! This will bypass the disorder and be absorbed by the body. However, you need to pay special attention to the form of vitamin B. Popular in our country is cyanocobalamin, which in the case of mutation MTHRF may prove harmful. Look for a vitamin in the form of methylcobalamin.
We must not underestimate the problem of mutation of the MTHRF gene, and hence the disturbance of methylation. Nevertheless, this should not be considered as a disability or sentence. Adequate supplements and a well-chosen diet will help reduce this problem. Where to start when we see symptoms? First of all, from examining whether there is a mutation in us. Then, it would be worth consulting a specialist and dietitian. You can find many things in books and on the internet, but you should always consult a specialist.