In the clinic I am finding an increasing number of women with fertility problems who haven’t been tested for an MTHFR mutation, and it needs to be known that folic acid (synthetic folate) is definitely not the answer for every woman, and in fact, can be quite harmful.
MTHFR is a huge topic, but I’ve chosen to keep it brief to start the education process and cover what is relevant from a prioritisation point of view. Let’s take a closer look.
- An MTHFR gene mutation creates a defective MTHFR enzyme, which is critical for the role of methylation in the body.
- Commonly, high blood levels of homocysteine are found.
- An important conversion limitation is folic acid to the active form folinic acid. Those with an MTHFR mutation should not take folic acid as with poor methylation, dangerously high levels can build up in their red blood cells.
- MTHFR mutation can be managed with adequate nutrition and appropriate supplementation.
- Methylation is required for:
– Efficient toxin and heavy metal elimination which decreases inflammation and cancer risk.
– Efficient conversion of homocysteine to methionine to be used by your body to utilise antioxidants, assist fat breakdown, produce protein and produce SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine), nature’s anti-depressant.
- An MTHFR mutation can contribute to:
– Increased inflammation and free radical damage
– Fatty liver
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
– Poor stress response
– Chemical sensitives
- There are two MTHFR genes, C677T and A1298C.
- 40% of the population have a variant expression in one of the genes.
- The most common mutation is C677T.
- One copy of the C677T mutation creates a 35% decrease in methylation.
- One copy of the C677T and the A1298C (compound heterozygous) creates a 50% decrease in methylation.
- Two copies of the C677T mutation creates a 70% decrease in methylation. 10% of the population have this variant in the expression of both genes, which may be a severe problem but only if left unmanaged.
The Answer is Not Folic Acid
- Folic acid is a synthetic form than must be converted to the active L-methylfolate form.
- As all women are recommended folic acid pre-conception, my advice is that an MTHFR test be conducted first.
- In the presence of MTHFR mutation, supplement with one of the following active B vitamins:
* Foilinic acid: bypasses some of the conversion steps and supports healthy methylation and homocysteine metabolism.
* L-methylfolate: well utilized and best for those with an MTHFR mutation.
- Other considerations:
– The enzymes that code for folate production are zinc dependent, so zinc deficiency can contribute.
– Chemicals or metals such as copper or mercury can block the action of zinc, and further interfere with this process.
– Treatment is easy with a good dietary intake of folate (read: green leafy vegetables) and supplements such as L-methyfolate and activated B vitamins. Please work with your Nutritionist or Naturopath here to determine your personalised protocol.
What You Need to Do
- Get tested. We offer full DNA testing, as well as specific blood and swab testing, so please book your Initial Consultation here to become a client of TNN.
The topic of methylation is complex so please refer to the resource list below to learn more.