You may remember I wrote about MTHFR a few months ago? If not, you can get caught up here.
My theory was that this “genetic mutation” in roughly 40% of the population is more of an evolution than an actual mutation. And that it’s probably due to how our diet evolved over thousands of years.
Well, it turns out I was right!
In approximately 40% of people, the MTHFR marker is a genetic allele correlated to higher levels of homocysteine, a non-protein amino acid. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with low B-vitamin diets and these dis-eases: blood clots, miscarriages, atherosclerosis, stroke, kidney disease, and psycho-emotional disorders.
The standard medical practice for those diagnosed with MTHFR has been a prescription-grade methylated B9, “Deplin” or “L-Methylfolate”. In other words, if your body is not properly absorbing folate, we have a pill for that. I try to have an open mind about these things, but I am instantly suspicious when someone says you have to take a pill for the rest of your life.
Contrary to popular belief (and my former belief), the medication to treat MTHFR is actually dangerous.
Too much methylation causes epigenetic changes to your DNA. In other words, it causes things to grow, and because of that, it can promote the growth of cancers. Methylation can shut down tumor suppressor genes like P53. It does this through a complex metabolic process.
There are 2 folate pathways in your body that compete. Biochemists do not even fully understand how all of this works. It is still under laboratory study with mice. One pathway stabilizes your DNA and the other pathway prevents methyl-group biosynthesis to prevent things like cancer and birth defects.
Between 400 mcg and 1200 mcg of folate per day is considered safe. The right balance of folate stabilizes your DNA against changes or mutations like cancer. The Deplin medication is 7.5 – 14 mg (18 x the safe amount). Too much folate stimulates the process of cell division, i.e. cancers getting worse.
Also, supplementing just methyl-folate B9 can mask a B12 deficiency. Other side effects of the medication (aren’t there always) include: irritability, insomnia, rash, anxiety, sore muscles, achy joints, acne, suicide, nausea, headaches, or heart palpitations.
Merck Pharmaceuticals discovered Deplin (5-MTHF) as a treatment for the side-effects of another one of their medications: methotrexate, which is used as a cancer treatment. I have also had patients using methotrexate for severe arthritis. Methotrexate destroys folate pathways (lovely), so 5-MTHF was designated as a follow-up treatment.
All current research considered, folic acid is just as effective as methylfolate.
All the treatment you need is in food or in high-quality food-based supplements.
At the risk of over-simplifying this, you need 2 main groups of foods. I think we do need to simplify this because, seriously, even biochemists don’t fully understand the synthesis of folate!
Folate rich foods include fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooking vegetables depletes most of the folate, so the emphasis is on fresh. Black beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, avocado, broccoli, mango, and oranges all contain high levels of folate.
Methyl group foods usually contain glycine or choline. The best sources for these nutrients include eggs, seaweed, collard greens, bone broth, organ meats, mollusks, and shell fish like crab and lobster.
There are 8 different types of folate found in food, so the best solution to a B9 or B12 deficiency is a wide variety of healthy foods!
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