When there is an MTHFR gene mutation, the body’s processes may be interrupted or limited, thus not providing the necessary building blocks to grow, repair, and detox cells. Could this mutation be causing your health issues?
By Danielle, Contributing writer
No, this isn’t a primer in cursing. MTHFR stands for a real genetic mutation that affects many humans alive today.
What is MTHFR?
Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (shortened to MTHFR) is a gene that control the processing of the MTHFR enzyme. MTHFR is required to process the B vitamin B9 – also called folate (or its synthetic form – folic acid) in the body by adding a methyl group to folate. It also converts homocysteine to methionine. Homocysteine is important for metabolism and blood health, and methione is an important methyl group for many reactions. A methyl group contains and one carbon and three hydrogen atoms, and when combined with other substances, renders them useful to the body. These are protein building blocks needed to build many cells in the body. It also aids in the process of methlyation – which turns genes on and off to repair, destroy or build cells.
When there is a mutation at this gene, the body’s processes may be interrupted or limited, thus not providing the necessary building blocks to grow, repair, and detox cells.
There are two main mutations of the MTHFR gene – C677T (estimated 30-40% o of population) and A1298T (estimated 20% of population). Each DNA junction has two genes, therefore a person can have one “good” gene, and one with either of the mutations. Likewise, they could have two “good” genes, or two “bad” genes. There are a number of other MTHFR gene mutations, but they are not as popular nor well known.
Two bad genes is called being “homozygous” for a gene mutation, while one bad gene and one good gene is called being “heterozygous” for a gene mutation. You can also have one C677T gene and one A1298C gene.
Generally, a homozygous gene mutation is more serious than a heterozygous mutation.
How can you be tested for MTHFR?
If you have certain health issues, your doctor may be able to order testing which may be covered by insurance.
There are a number of online tests available, such as this one. These are simple cheek swabs and cost about $100. Your DNA will be analyzed, and typically uploaded to a web site or emailed to you.
I personally have used 23andme, and have been happy with the results. This testing also sends you a report of ancestry and other gene mutations.
What does it mean if you have MTHFR?
Those with MTHFR gene mutations generally have a harder time detoxifying toxins, as well as high homocysteine levels (tampering with metabolism and the blood system), and low glutathione (helps detox the body). There is a great variance in the number of enzymes someone with MTHFR produces. Anywhere from 10 to 90 percent of the enzymes produced for normal cell function may be missing in an individual with one or two MTHFR mutations.
As toxins build up in our bodies, our digestive system, circulatory system, lymph system, and immune system work hard to detoxify the toxins while using the vitamins and minerals to build up and repair good cells. If toxins build up to high amounts, and the body cannot detoxify them properly or quickly, toxemia may result. Depending on the toxins, state of health, and genes of the person, this may show in a number of ways as ill health effects and symptoms.
A number of diseases have shown a connection with the MTHFR mutation, including: autism, digestive disorders, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome, bipolar, depression and anxiety, heart issues, ADHD, miscarriage, and other genetic disorders.
The field of nutrigenomics shows that what we put into our bodies can affect our genetics. A healthy body can suppress negative gene mutations, while an unhealthy body can activate and even degenerate healthy genes. The main elements that impact us in our daily lives, including: air, water, sun, food and rest – can greatly affect your health for the good or bad. In fact, real, whole food can activate your good genes and suppress the bad, mutated ones.
Medications and Treatment to Avoid if MTHFR Positive
A number of medications have shown to deplete folate, which is very serious for those with MTHFR. Any other substances that deplete glutathione also cause further harm for MTHFR sufferers. Toxins, including heavy metals and pesticides, are more difficult for those with MTHFR to detoxify.
- Folic acid. The natural form of the vitamin B9 is folate. Most manufactured foods contain the synthetic version of this vitamin called folic acid. Numerous studies have proven that folic acid blocks the natural folate receptors, keeping the usable folate away from the cells which need it to function. Folic acid then becomes a toxin to the body. Read more about the difference between folate and folic acid here.
- Birth control
- Nitrous oxide
- Synthetic hormones
How can you Heal from MTHFR Damage
You cannot change your genetics, but the field of epigenetics says that what you put into your body does matter. These tips can help keep your symptoms to a minimum.
Avoid antibiotics, vaccines, treatments, and medications
Antibiotics, vaccines, and certain medications may cause an issue by depleting folate, glutathione and be impossible for those with MTHFR to detoxify.
Find a naturopath or biomedical doctor
A naturopath or biomedical doctor can perform more testing and learn what treatments may benefit you particularly, and to monitor or improve your detoxification.
Those with MTHFR have a hard time detoxifying even normal levels of daily toxins. Put a date on the calendar, either monthly or quarterly, and spend a few hours in detoxification. Some ideas are detox teas and tinctures, consuming clay or activated charcoal, epsom salt baths or foot baths, doing a juice or intermittent fast, dry brushing, or even enemas.
Improve your home’s exposure to toxins
EMF’s, laundry detergents, paraben-laden soaps and shampoos, dirty light, and poor air circulation all help toxins build up in your body. Combat this by:
- switching to natural health and beauty products.
- switching from CFL to LED or incandescent light bulbs.
- purchasing or making natural laundry detergent.
- opening your windows periodically to circulate the air in your home.
- turning off the WiFi and appliances when not in use.
Limit your exposure to heavy metals and other toxins
Pharmaceuticals, some fish, and vaccines contain high levels of heavy metals. One flu shot contains over 250 times the amount of mercury that the EPA labels as hazardous waste. Skip vaccines and read up on any pharmaceutical before using.
Lower your stress
Stress has a huge impact on your body’s ability to assimilate good vitamins and minerals and detoxifying toxins. Meditate, pray, exercise, laugh and spend more time with those you love. Structure your life in such a way that it is low stress whenever possible.
Boost your liver daily
Supplement in capsule form or tea milk thistle and dandelion root to keep your liver in top shape to detoxify the most it can.
Take a natural form of folate
Remember, do not take folic acid. Though there are a number of forms of folate, methylfolate is the most bioavailable. You can also consume more beans and legumes, asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, and oranges, which are high in natural folate.
Remember, Your Lifestyle Affects Your Genes
Recent research is showing that our lifestyle has a huge impact on our genes.
Understanding our genes and how they are expressed can help alleviate symptoms, prevent major health complications, and improve our everyday health. With access to healthcare, information, and health testing at our fingertips, we now more than ever have the ability to learn about and treat our health with knowledge that many doctors to not have.