The MTHFR Gene Mutation stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase genetic mutation. While this may sound like it is something crazy and exotic that no one need ever know about, the truth is that this common genetic mutation affects up to 33% of the population, and cause lead to serious health problems.
This gene is responsible for a body process called methylation. In fact, methylation occurs up to ONE BILLION times per SECOND in the body, which is one of the reasons the gene mutation is so important, and why it causes so much harm.
Unfortunately, these signs of B12 deficiency are often mistaken for other problems- sometimes even devastating debilitating problems such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
People with MTHFR issues are more likely to have serious chronic viral issues when they are under stress. Remember that while the subject of methylation is complicated, you can how to use it to improve your life.
One of the big things to remember with MTHFR-related issues is that people with these genes are slower at producing the active form of Vitamin B9. If there is one single thing to pound into your brain about methylation this is it – people with MTHFR issues are SLOW at producing the activated folate molecule ‘methylfolate’ (5-MTHF). This is the whole reason why supplements which support MTHFR should provide the active form of folate – 5-MTHF.
As long as people with MTHFR issues take vitamins or eat foods with activated folate they can bypass the genetic problem. Pretty simple.
The lab test to determine which MTHFR mutations are present using saliva is only £104.00 from 23andme which is very little to get the answers needed. The interpretation of the results is available as a downloadable report at Dr Ben Lynch’s Strategene for only £34.00.
The MTHFR Gene is Responsible For Detoxification and More
While many people are aware of methylation in terms of detoxification of the body, it’s responsible for dozens of body processes, such as:
- Turning on and off genes
- Processing toxins
- Processing hormones
- DNA and RNA Synthesis
- Infertility might be caused by the MTHFR Gene
- Produces myelin (a part of the brain and spinal cord)
- Is part of the immune system.
- Converting nutrients into their ‘active’ forms in the blood
So, with all of these functions, can you see why having this gene working properly is important, and it’s malfunction with the MTHFR genetic mutation might be making millions of people sick?
For reasons we are still trying to understand, viral DNA becomes permanently part of our own DNA. This process is called horizontal or lateral gene transfer when one organism’s DNA is transferred into the DNA of a separate organism. Because this horizontal gene transfer is so common, scientists have determined that about 40% of our DNA doesn’t actually belong to us.
There is so much residue from viruses (and other microorganisms too) that it occupies a large part of our genetic code. It is from this point of view that we can now start to look at the big issue with methylation problems and chronic viral infections.
Even if you don’t have MTHFR genes, a bad diet or a stressful lifestyle can produce the same results: low methyl groups available inside the cell. If this happens over a long period of time (weeks, months and years) the chance of having a virus reactivate goes up. When the methyl groups are unavailable, the DNA is stripped naked of it’s methyl group, and the virus’s time bomb inside your cells can reactivate.
Even worse, these problems can occur in the presence of normal or even increased Vitamin B12 Levels due to a genetic defect called the MTHFR Gene that can also lead to Vitamin B6 Toxicity, even when not taking B6 Supplements. This is due often to synthetic Folic Acid (B9) in breads and processed foods not being cleared from the body due to MTHFR, so they linger and convert to Vitamin B6.
Chronic Stress & Methylation Issues Activate Viruses
Old viruses reactivate because of two things: chronic stress and a deficiency of methyl groups. These latent viruses which are hiding in our DNA, cannot just spontaneously cause a new infection. They need an opportunity. First, the viruses need a chronic stressor in the person’s life. Chronic stress harms our immune system and makes changes in our white blood cells.
When cortisol levels are high for extended periods of time, our body doesn’t make the same number of Natural Killer (NK) cells which are responsible for killing viral- and cancer-infected cells. This is why people get sick when they go through a divorce, start a new job, get fired from an old job, finish running a marathon, etc.
The Role of Methyl Folate (5-MTHF)
Folic acid is the fully oxidized form of folate used in most dietary supplements and fortified foods because of its proven stability.
However, It must be reduced and methylated to folate’s metabolically active form, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (often referred to as 5-MTHF or L-methylfolate or (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate) by the liver after absorption via the intestine in order to be transported to and utilised by the body’s tissues. This is where things can go wrong if under stress or if the MTHFR gene polymorphism is present, the methylfolate just doesn’t appear, resulting in insufficient methyl groups and homocysteine becomes high, which drives inflammation, heart disease and other issues.
While supplementing the diet with extra sources of methylation support (folate from green leafy veg, Choline, B12, TMG, Beetroot etc.) is a good strategy to optimize methylation, sometimes stress makes the picture more complicated. When we are stressed our bodies burn through resources at an accelerated rate.
This means people will become vitamin deficient regardless of their gene SNPs when under stress. If the stress is brief and short-lived then the effect on your vitamin pathways and your methylation status is small. However when stress is chronic, the impact on your methylation pathways becomes severe. Whilst extremely important to optimise MethylFolate levels, it can be easy to go too high, as explained,
Once folic acid has been reduced to L-methylfolate, it functions as a methyl group donor for three metabolically interrelated cycles and is vital for:
• Growth and maintenance of all cells because it is essential for DNA and RNA synthesis
• Supporting cardiovascular and cognitive health by reducing the cytotoxic effects of elevated homocysteine levels
• Elevating mood by increasing the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which may help regulate mood and sleep
• Reproductive health by improving folate status in pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus
• Generating energy and endurance by providing oxygenated red blood cells throughout the body
• Neurological health by circumventing the risk of masking vitamin B12 deficiency, as is seen with regular folic acid supplementation.
Folate deficiency is usually a result of inadequate dietary intake, but it can also be attributed to dietary malabsorption or alcoholism. The tell-tale sign for deficiency is megaloblastic anemia, a blood disorder characterized by unbalanced DNA synthesis resulting in larger than normal red blood cells.
Other symptoms and signs of folate deficiency include: weakness, fatigue, irritability, headache, difficulty concentrating, cramps, palpitations, shortness of breath and elevated homocysteine. Those who would benefit from folate supplementation include:
• Seniors over 60
• Individuals taking certain meds (e.g., methotrexate and fosphenytoin [Cerebyx] treatment)
• Sufferers of cognitive conditions (i.e., memory loss, depression)
• Individuals with heart conditions (i.e., elevated homocysteine levels)
• Pregnant/lactating women to reduce the chance of neural tube defects