- The MTHFR gene produces an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.
- MTHFR helps converts folate into the active form — methyfolate — that the body can use.
- 50% of people have a polymorphism - a defect - in the MTHFR gene, that lowers methylfolate levels.
- When methylfolate levels are low, so are neurotransmitters.
- Methylfolate also helps make s-adenosylmethionine — SAMe. SAMe helps regulate 200+ enzymes.
- MTHFR defects and low methylfolate levels — and the resulting low neurotransmitters and enzymes — can cause overloads of toxic heavy metals, higher inflammation, buildup of other toxins, increase risk of various cancers, and many other health risks and conditions.
- Additionally, Vitamin B2 is converted into flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) for use in the body. The MTHFR enzyme must have enough FAD to function. Hypothyroidism can impair FAD production, which then slows MTHFR production.
Sound confusing? How do you know if you are affected? And what are you supposed to do about this MTHFR business?
First, your doctor can run the MTHFR serum (blood) test to determine if you have any defects in the gene.
If any defects are found, your doctor will give you specific advice.
But here is some smart advice from MTHFR expert Dr. Ben Lynch:
- Stop taking synthetic folic acid supplements and folic acid enriched foods
- Eat foods rich in natural folic acid, including: Black Eyed Peas, Lentils, Asparagus, Avocado, Cooked Broccoli, Mango, Oranges, Seeds and Nuts. (see a detailed list here)
- Use only methylfolate supplements. (The Holtraceuticals Methyl B-12 methylfolate supplement is an option)
- Eat whole, organic, non-GMO, free range, wild foods
- Eat foods containing natural folates such as uncooked leafy greens, i.e. daily salads
- Drink filtered tap water, avoid bottled water in plastic that contains bisphenol A (BPA)
- Avoid gluten and dairy products
- Limit exposure to chemicals in the environment (i.e. formaldehyde in new clothing, carpets, furniture and new home construction, and fire retardants in clothing, bedding, couches, carpets)
- Practice deep belly breathing
- Use positive thinking, laugh
- Get out in nature, exercise enjoyably, not excessively
- Love your occupation, if you don't love it, switch
- Relationship - cultivate a happy marriage or positive relationship
- Family and friends: participate with your loved ones and enjoy them
- Take vacations
(Frankly, most of his advice is a formula for good health in general, whether or not you have an MTHFR defect!)
For more information on the MTHFR gene and health, see Dr. Ben Lynch's MTHFR.net site. Dr. Lynch is one of the top experts on the issue of MTHFR gene polymorphism. He has a video presentation regarding MTHFR and thyroid disorders online and was also interviewed by About.com's Mary Shomon, in "The Link Between MTHFR Gene Mutations and Disease, Including Thyroid Health."