What is MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase. Yes, it is a mouthful, and much easier to say MTHFR!
This is a very important enzyme that is required for the methylation process in the body. And, this may be a little confusing, but it is also the name of some genes that are responsible for the enzyme. The two that are most concerning are your MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C.
Why should I care?
Methylation is one of the processes in the body that is responsible for almost everything, from DNA synthesis to immune function to detoxing toxins out of the body to processing hormones to making important neurotransmitters (the ones responsible for sleep, depression, and anxiety—what millions of people are suffering from every day and have to take medications for just to cope with life!).
To put it in layman’s terms, when your methylation isn’t working properly, you and your health are screwed. And unfortunately, it is estimated that 50% of the population has this gene mutation. No wonder there are millions of people on all these anti-depressants!
This means that 50% of the population also cannot process folic acid properly, which is hugely contributing to the problem! They can, however, process folates.
Folate versus Folic acid
Folate is a naturally occurring B vitamin found in foods like dark green leafy foods, lentils, and beans. Folate includes the forms methyl folate and folinic acid.
Folic acid is the synthetic form that is found in supplements and fortified foods.
What is the problem with folic acid?
A folate deficiency is very important for pregnant woman. If pregnant women are deficient in folate, their babies are often born with low birth weight and spinal cord defects. Because of this, many companies started adding folic acid (the synthetic version) to their food products (breads, cereals, etc.).
Unfortunately for the 50% of the population with the gene mutation, they cannot convert folic acid into the proper forms of methyl folate and folinic acid to be used properly by the body. So what happens if you have a mutation is that your methylation suffers and the folic acid sticks around the body and starts causing damage.
What symptoms and conditions can a MTHFR mutation cause?
Addictions (alcohol, drugs, and smoking)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Congenital heart defects
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
And many more….
A person who has a mutation may not show any symptoms if they are eating a healthy diet and have minimal exposure to toxins in their environment!
How do I know if I have a mutation?
You will need to get a DNA test to get a report of your genes. You can order the test through your doctor or you can start the process by ordering the test online at 23andme.com. They will only give you the raw data for your DNA and you will need to go to another website for the list of mutations.