There are many chronic conditions exacerbated by methylenetetrahydrofolate and reductase (MTHFR) and methylation, including cardiovascular conditions, infections, depression, and more. Methylation is a complicated process, but I will try to simplify it.
Methylating is a method of adding a carbon molecule (CH3) to DNA. Adding a carbon molecule results in a gene or a particular portion of the DNA to be turned on or off. Much like a stop light at an intersection, we want certain cars to stop and others to proceed. In the world of genetics and genes, this is an extremely important function as we want good genes stimulated and bad ones silenced. There are a number of different environmental reasons such as toxins, hormones, medications or natural substances for your bad genes being turned on and your good genes being turned off.
Methylation happens many different ways within the body, and MTHFR is an important enzyme in all of the different processes. MTHFR works in partnership with two amino acids: homocysteine and methionine. Homocysteine is generally thought of as “bad” and methionine is generally thought as “good.” These two amino acids form a continuum of one feeding the other, much like runners in a relay race. When there are high amounts of the amino acid homocysteine (bad), your body seeks to break it down into methionine (good) via the MTHFR enzyme. Reducing homocysteine allows the methionine to continue turning on/off genes, or in other words, methylating. If there are genetic mutations to the MTHFR gene, the MTHFR enzyme will not be able to perform its job efficiently. This is just like a tire on a car. Its main function is to roll but if that tire is hindered from rolling via a boot, it will be unable to roll. Therefore, we need ways to make sure we don’t get a boot on our genetic tires.
Another important thing to note about MTHFR is that this enzyme makes the active form of folic acid (vitamin B9). If you do not have this enzyme working properly, your body may not be able to utilize vitamin B9. Lack of vitamin B9 can lead to a whole host of problems including strokes, neural tube defects, colon cancer, leukemia, anemia, age-related macular degeneration, depression, hearing loss, heart disease, neurotransmitter deficiencies, detoxification issues, allergies, etc.
Regulating your body’s methylation process and maintaining healthy MTHFR function can all be accomplished with the right meal and supplement plan for your body.