MTHFR THE @#$%6 GENE!
This a buzz word you will probably here, in my opinion this is probably the most talked about gene in the functional medicine field, and it’s for good reason.
The primary function of the MTHFR gene is to help initiate the methylation cycle, which is a process that provides methyl groups to at least 200 hundred functions in the body including detoxification . See picture below.
DNA methylation definition: Methylation that is attached to
specific sections of DNA that then regulates the expression of
genes. This is what epigenetics is—that layer that sits ‘on top’
of our genes and determines how they are used. For the most
part, more DNA methylation turns genes OFF, and less methylation turns genes ON.
Methylation is one of those foundational biochemical processes that occurs in every human cell ALL the time. It’s very fundamental and very wide-reaching. Awareness of the importance of methylation has increased for a number of reasons, including:The well-established effects of methylation deficiency on birth defects. That’s why many foods are fortified with folic acid, a synthetic nutrient that increases methylation activity.
The established link between elevated homocysteine levels, an indicator of methylation
insufficiency, and heart disease risk.
The increased use of MTHFR gene testing. The MTHFR gene codes for an enzyme that activates folate and folic acid so that it can be used to support methylation activity. Specific MTHFR gene variations are associated with increased risk for many diseases including autism, depression, fertility issues, insomnia, thyroid disease and much more.
Nutrigenomics refers to the study of the effects of nutrients on the expression of an individual’s genetic makeup.
A great example of diet–SNP interaction involves the common C677T polymorphism of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene. This variant causes MTHFR enzyme activity to slow down more than it would normally. This results in reduced capacity to use folate (or folic acid) to convert homocysteine to methionine
What this means is, having a dysfunctional or dirty MTHFR gene means you will have reduced capacity or genetic weakness with starting and ending the methylation cycle. Proper methylation helps recycle homocysteine into the amino acid methionine.
Elevated homocysteine levels can have huge impacts on your health and performance.
Now while we could go on and on about this subject, I think it’s important to know if you have this gene, and the additional dosage of methylfolate you might require.
There are lots of great resources and providers on this subject. Some that I recommend if would like more information are Dr. Kendall Stewart, Dr. Sharon-Hausemen-Cohen, Dr. Ben Lynch (dirty genes author), Dr. Chris Masterjohn, Dr. Emily Guiterrez, Jana Rosa, and Dr. Kara Fitzgerald.
Have this gene? Have research to share? What products or lifestyle interventions helped you? Post it in the comments.