Our bodies are always sending us messages. Our symptoms are usually signs that something bigger is happening. The Functional Medicine model always asks “why” when addressing the issues and symptoms of our patients.
WHY have you had multiple miscarriages? WHY do you struggle with chronic headaches? WHY has depression plagued your family tree? When traditional testing comes back with little to no answers, we continue to dig deeper. This can sometimes lead us to a genetic mutation called methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase, or MTHFR.
Within our bodies’ cells, segments of our DNA form our genes. Each of our genes give our body a certain set of instructions to carry out. The MTHFR enzyme aids our body in metabolizing folate and homocysteine.
When the MTHFR gene is mutated, our bodies do not break down folate and homocysteine properly. This can lead to low levels of folate and high levels of homocysteine, which can be quite dangerous for our bodies to endure for any extended period of time.
Methylation is the process of adding a methyl group to a compound. Methyl-folate is a key player in this process. Almost all our body’s systems require methylation for proper functioning.
The methylation process is responsible for repairing and regenerating cells, detoxification, neurotransmitter production which influence moods and sleep, controlling homocysteine, appropriate stress response, regulating inflammation, aiding the liver in processing fats, antioxidant production, and healthy immune system function.
When our body chemistry becomes unbalanced, it can wreak havoc on one or more of the complex systems our bodies use to function. More often than not, this reaction is slowly and silently occurring within us, and doing damage to our bodies before we know the damage is done. Methylation is very important.
There are currently more than 50 known MTHFR gene mutations. Each unique mutation has a different impact on how the MTHFR enzyme performs within our body. The two most researched mutations are C677T and A1298C. Everyone has two copies of each of these genes (one from each parent).
A MTHFR mutation can be heterozygous (1 abnormal gene) or homozygous (2 abnormal genes). Decreased enzyme function will result depending on whether there are one or two copies of the MTHFR gene mutation present.
If you are heterozygous (677C/T or 1298A/C) your enzyme efficiency will be 60-70%%. If you are homozygous (677T/T or 1298C/C) your enzyme efficiency can drop as low as 20% of normal. If you are compound heterozygous (677C/T and 1298A/C) your enzyme efficiency will be 30-50%.
Anyone with known MTHFR mutations would benefit from the following:
- Check your supplements for added folic acid. If your supplements contain folic acid you should stop taking them and switch to a different product with folate. Your body will not process folic acid appropriately and it can build up in your body. We do not carry products with folic acid in our office.
- Supplement with methylcobalamin, B2, B6 and methyl folate.
- Avoid processed foods that have added synthetic folic acid in them.
- Increase your intake of green leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and swiss chard.
- Avoid exposure to toxins in laundry detergents, chemical cleaning products, and herbicides/pesticides.
- Assist your body in detoxing by taking Epsom salt baths, exercising, and doing regular infrared sauna sessions.
- Repair your gut by treating infections such as candida – which inhibits methylation due to the toxins it releases.
Health problems that research has shown to be associated with the MTHFR genetic mutation include:
- Colon Cancer
- Blood clots
- Thyroid issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal issues
- Digestive disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neural tube defects in pregnancy
If you have one or more of the issues listed above, you should consider working with a functional medicine provider who can help you peel back the layers of your health to identify the root cause. Kare Health & Wellness offers advanced diagnostic testing for the MTHFR genetic mutations.
If we discover that you have one or more of the MTHFR gene mutations, we will create a personalized plan that will help you overcome the health challenges that are associated. We would consider supplements such as methyl-folate and methyl B12, the active forms of B vitamins.
The MTHFR gene mutation can challenge your immune system by lowering your ability to make glutathione (the body’s main antioxidant and detoxifier).
The connection here is: Positive MTHFR = Lower glutathione levels = poor detoxification = increased stress and faster aging.
In most MTHFR positive patients, we suggest supplementing with glutathione. Glutathione can be challenging for some bodies to absorb but we carry various forms such as reduced l-glutathione, the liposomal form or the precursor, called n-acetylcysteine (NAC).
For even better absorption and larger dosing you can also receive glutathione intravenously as an individual treatment or it can be paired with a therapeutic IV or Lifestyle Drip. Check out our menu here.
Every individual is unique in the way our genes are designed. This means that every patient (with or without MTHFR) should have a unique treatment plan to navigate them back to optimal health and wellness. Give us a call to schedule an appointment for advanced diagnostic testing, such as the MTHFR genetic mutation today.