Methylation is a new buzz word in the health world these days. So, let's explore the topic in some detail. Note that there is still ongoing research surrounding methylation.
What exactly is methylation?
In a nutshell methylation and demethylation is a biological process in the human body whereby methyl groups are added to or removed from the DNA. It is in fact 4 atoms consisting of 1 carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms that is moved in or out.
Disruption of methylation in the body can be the result of defects in genes of enzymes that regulate the process.
Optimal methylation in the body regulates:
·Production of hormones, neurotransmitters, DNA, cellular energy
·Fat, estrogen, histamine metabolism
·Aids in detoxification
So besides repairing DNA, methylation supports immunity as well as the nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems.
Methyl groups are supplied by S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). The production of SAMe in the body is reliant on sufficient methyl folate also known as 5- MTHF or active folate, which is a B vitamin.
The body has to convert folic acid consumed through diet to an active form of folate before it can be utilized for methylation.
If insufficient SAMe is produced and methylation does not occur efficiently it will affect forming:
The following nutrients are essential for optimal methylation:
·Active Vitamin B2, B6, B12,
·Active folate (5 – MTHF)
Adhering to a diet that supports methylation is also an important factor.
Eating a diet rich in these foods is helpful:
·Green leafy vegetables
Lifestyle changes like regular exercise, avoiding excessive alcohol and coffee consumption as well as no smoking is also vital.
There are tests available to check how effective methylation is in the body.
There are also DNA tests that can be performed to check for the MTHFR gene mutation.
MTHFR or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase is an enzyme, encoded by the MTHFR gene, that regulates folate and homocysteine metabolism.
A MTHFR mutation which is inherited, increases the amount of homocysteine in the blood. There are two variants of the mutation: one that does not contribute to health problems and another that can potentially cause health issues.
Homocysteine is an amino acid which plays a role in protein synthesis in the body. Usually vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid break down homocysteine in the blood. A high level is most commonly caused by a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency and can contribute to arterial damage and blood clots in the blood vessels.
The following conditions may be associated with MTHFR mutation:
·Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia
·Fatigue, chronic pain, nerve pain
·Cardiovascular and thromboembolic diseases like stroke, blood clots, embolism,
·Neural tube defects and anencephaly in pregnancy
Testing is really important because there may also be other reasons for elevated homocysteine in the blood like hypothyroidism, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and some medications.
People with the mutation should avoid synthetic folate, folic acid.
These days there are also methylated vitamin supplements. What does this actually mean?
Methylated supplements are in their activated form which means they can be absorbed by the body qu