MTHFR is for life, and you’ll feel best if you are working on making your methylation great for the rest of your life. That doesn’t usually mean finding a dose of whatever you’re taking and sticking with it, it means rolling with the punches and allowing your body to change and evolve as your health changes and evolves. Generally, there are three different dosing strategies that can be used.
I certainly find that in myself and my clients, times of higher stress of any kind usually need more methylfolate. If I get sick I usually need a little more, if I’ve had less sleep than usual, or if I’m starting a new project and my brain is constantly churning I find I need more. Also, at those times I might need more support of different kinds. Likewise, if things are breezy in my life and I have good sleep, time to relax and lower stress then I probably don’t need to take anything – I just keep a good diet.
It gets easier to adjust and listen to your body as you get more familiar with your own red flags – both when you’re low and need support and when you’re a bit too high and need to stop for a bit. By really understanding your signals you can dose in my favorite way, which is intuitive dosing. We’ll also talk about Dr. Ben Lynch’s “Pulse Method,” and a mixed dosing strategy.
Intuitive Dosing – how to dose methylfolate and other supplements.
Intuitive dosing, to me, is the absolute ideal way to dose your supplements because you can check in with your body to see what you actually need that day – you don’t have to have any supplements that you take every day like clockwork, it can all be much more individualized to your own needs in the moment. There are two things you need to understand for this to work and those are:
- Your personal red flags (which are easy to see if you use a symptom tracker) and your energy level.
- What each supplement does for you.
To do this effectively, you need a symptom, and you need an appropriate response. I’ll give you some examples from my own life just to help you understand.
If I get up in the morning feeling sluggish (symptom), I definitely take my multivitamin, 5-LMTHF, and a vitamin E with breakfast because the multi and methylfolate will give me an energy boost and the vitamin E will help to neutralize any oxidative stress that might be happening because I’m tired. I also add electrolytes to my water and really focus on getting enough water for the day because that can also help with energy. (Appropriate response to boost energy and counteract any excess stress on my system). Also on these days I try to support my body more with lifestyle factors. I get to bed earlier in the evening or try to fit a short nap into my schedule, give myself some down time and generally take better care.
If I’m having a bit more joint or muscle pain (symptom) that day, which is my biggest issue, then I am likely to also add a high dose of fish oils for their anti-inflammatory properties and boost the magnesium in my water (appropriate response for inflammation and pain).
There are also some supplements that I take just to maintain good levels in my body, like vitamin D. I don’t take these daily, but I incorporate them when I’m taking other things – so if I’m having a day where I need some supplements, then I’ll throw a vitamin D into the mix just to make sure I’m getting it regularly.
Some supplements need to build up in the bloodstream to certain levels to be effective. For example, I have mold allergies that will typically activate in the fall. If I take my allergy supplement as needed, it is less effective then if I take a higher loading dose for five days then a steady lower dose for the duration of the season. So this one I do take regularly and not on an intuitive basis so that I don’t have to experience any allergy symptoms.
There are some things that must be taken daily. Those include:
- Prenatal vitamins and supplements while you’re trying to conceive, building a baby, or nursing because that is an unusual situation for your body and you do need extra support.
- Prescription drugs from your doctor must be taken as directed – always.
- Support when you’re acutely ill. When you’re actively going through a disease process, sick with a short-term illness, or starting an intensive weight loss program you probably need more consistent support.
Benefits of Intuitive Dosing:
- You get what you need, when you need it.
- You save money on supplements because you’re not taking them every day
- You retain optimal absorption – I believe anything your body gets absolutely every day is easily ignored and gets lower priority, in terms of absorption, than things that show up sometimes but not others.
- Less waste because typically if your body doesn’t need something, it just washes it out in urine or feces, so if you’re’ taking something when you don’t need it, it is essentially just washing through (unless it’s building up to harmful levels, which is actually worse).
- Easier to avoid toxicity reactions – there are things that build up in your system and just because it’s helpful when you need it doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful when you have too much!
- You become more aware of your body’s needs, which also makes it easier to maintain a great MTHFR lifestyle.
Drawbacks of intuitive dosing:
- This can be hard, especially for people who are really out of touch with their bodies or who have had a lot of physical or emotional trauma and tend to dissociate, because they may not notice what their body is feeling. It is beneficial to work on it in the long run because it will help you tune back in to your body and work through some of the trauma, but that can be a process.
- Some people really need a routine to help them remember supplements. For these people, a mixed dosing strategy might be the most appropriate.
- This takes some practice for you to learn to trust your body’s signals and respond appropriately.
- It can be difficult to keep track of what your supplements are doing for you. It is important for everyone to learn, but especially important if you’re dosing intuitively.
Times when you are more likely to need to take higher doses of supplements:
- If you’ve had a bad sleep
- If you’re going through a stressful time at home or work
- At particular times in your menstrual cycle – this varies from woman to woman, but if you have a time in your cycle that tends to be difficult, you may need extra support.
- During cold/flu season or if everyone around you is getting sick
- If you’re actually sick
- If you’re not being as careful with your diet
- If you’ve had alcohol or other substances
- If you’ve had exposure to something toxic (like if you’ve just done some home renovations and had to use solvents or caulk or any other chemical).
Pulse Method of Dosing as Per Dr. Ben Lynch – how to dose methylfolate.
In his book DIrty Genes, Dr. Lynch talks about the Pulse Method of dosing. In this method he says to:
- Stop or reduce a supplement when you feel great.
- “First lower your dose—then keep lowering it, until you’re down to little or no dose at all.”
- “If you feel bad again over time, you can increase the dose gradually.”
- “If you start getting different symptoms, that might mean you’re taking too much.”
In many ways, this is similar to intuitive dosing – you’re still using your own symptoms as a guide and when you feel great, you probably don’t need much, when you feel poorly, you need more. This would also take a little bit of practice to perfect, but works for lots of people.
Mixed Dosing Pattern – How to Dose Methylfolate.
This is the best way to dose methylfolate and other supplements if you feel like the other two are too difficult or if you’re a person who thrives on routine.
Here’s the routine:
- Take a low-dose mutli and low doses of whatever you take routinely every day. This shouldn’t be your maximum tolerated dose, it should be maybe half of that.
- Take weekends off of everything (I still want some days away to optimize absorption)
- If you feel bad, take a little extra of the thing that is most likely to help.
Benefits of Mixed Dosing:
- This type of dosing adds a level of routine and stability that some people really thrive on.
- It still gives you some flexibility to add when you need additional support
- Because you’re taking a lower than your maximum dose daily, we’re minimizing your risk of causing overdose reactions.
- You get a break on weekends
Drawbacks of Mixed Dosing:
- It still helps to know when you need extra support because on those days you can adjust your dose. If you’re not good at knowing that, then you may not be getting optimal dosages on those days.
- You may be taking supplements on days when you could have skipped them entirely.
No matter what, with MTHFR, it is important to know what works best for you. If you’re a routine person, mixed dosing might be best. If you are in good touch with your body and your symptoms, intuitive dosing is just right. If you like being flexible but want simple ground rules, then Dr. Lynch’s Pulse Method could be the best way forward.