What is MTHFR?
Recently the health world has been buzzing with talk about a genetic mutation and specifically regarding a gene known as MTHFR. What exactly is MTHFR and how do you know if you are one of the 40% that is affected by this genetic mutation?
MTHFR or Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase is a gene which produces an enzyme known as MTHFR. This enzyme is needed for processing amino acids, converting certain nutrients such as folate into a useable form, regulating homocysteine levels, and for methylation.
Do you have an MTHFR mutation?
The two variants or polymorphisms that are most commonly discussed are known as MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C. You can have a mutation in one of these variants (heterozygous), two mutations (homozygous), or a mutation in each (compound heterozygous). Gene mutations are passed down from our parents, so if MTHFR mutations run in the family, you have a high likelihood of having at least one mutation. Click here to read more about MTHFR C677T.
These mutations point towards a metabolic issue, meaning your body can’t create enough energy to send to various parts of the body which is why symptoms such as foggy brain and chronic fatigue are highly common in the MTHFR community. Click here to read more about MTHFR A1298C.
One process that is extremely disadvantaged in individuals with MTHFR is the detoxification system. Toxins that would normally be discarded from the body aren’t being eliminated from the body quickly enough, resulting in built up toxins and eventually inflammation.
The methylation system is also slowed down by MTHFR mutations, and certain mutations such as having two copies of MTHFR C677T, are very slow. The methylation system is a process that switches genes on and off and repairs DNA. It is tied to many processes such as converting amino acids into proteins, converting homocysteine, and producing neurotransmitters. Without the methylation system working properly, certain processes become neglected. The body has to choose where to send its energy and decide whether regulating blood pressure is important or if it should produce neurotransmitters.
You might have an MTHFR mutation if you are displaying any of these symptoms:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Skin problems: eczema, rashes, irritation
- Cognitive problems: memory loss, confusion
- Anxiety/Panic attacks
- Family history of heart problems
- Autoimmune disorders
- Thyroid issues
- Joint pain
- Weight gain/can’t lose weight
- Fertility problems/Hormonal problems
Symptoms can vary and may differ depending on the MTHFR mutation, the amount of mutations, and the individual.
The First Step
If you are experiencing these symptoms and are wondering if a MTHFR mutation could be playing a role in your health, there are genetic tests available. Each mutation requires different levels of nutritional support which is why it can be helpful to find out your MTHFR status. We offer an at home genetic test, that tests for the MTHFR mutations C677T and A1298C. The test uses a buccal swab for maximum effectiveness and requires a simple swab of the cheek. Our results clearly explain which form of the MTHFR mutation you have along with the vitamins and supplements you need. Our MTHFR test kit can be found here.
Treating MTHFR symptoms
Different MTHFR mutations typically require different dosage when it comes to supplementation. For example, homozygous C677T mutations, usually need higher doses of methylfolate than heterozygous C677T mutations. Click here for supplement recommendations and dosage for specific MTHFR mutations.
Additionally, certain lifestyle changes can help reduce MTHFR symptoms such as reducing exposure to environmental toxins (processed food, folic acid, pesticides, chemicals, heavy metals). Other changes can be made such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and quitting smoking.
MTHFR mutations have been associated with neural tube defects and recurrent miscarriages. If you’ve experienced several miscarriages or gave birth to a child with neural tube defects then consider testing for an MTHFR mutation. Test for an MTHFR mutation here.
MTHFR Friendly Supplements
MTHFR gene mutations make it more difficult for the body to process folic acid and other essential B vitamins. Supplementing with a methylated B complex is one way to get the nutrition your body needs to reduce MTHFR related symptoms. Click here for an MTHFR friendly B Vitamin Complex.
Folic acid should be avoided, it is synthetic and not processed properly in individuals with MTHFR mutations. Methylated folate is readily absorbed into the body, due to its bioavailability.
Increasing your intake of foods high in folate may help you support methylation naturally. However, supplementation may still be necessary.
A few MTHFR Friendly Food choices:
- Leafy green veggies: spinach, bok choy, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, and beets
- Beans, peas, lentils
- Bananas, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, apples
- Peanut Butter
Avoid foods that contain folic acid. Checking labels on products is one easy way to spot folic acid. Common folic acid food sources include: enriched grains, cereals, pastas, breads, and processed foods.
Interested in learning more about MTHFR and how to live a healthier lifestyle? Click here to check out our website
Want to find out what your specific MTHFR mutation means for you? Take our survey