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S2E44: Natural skincare for chemically sensitive MTHFR folks with Renee Harris

MTHFR Frequently Asked Questions1

Frequently Asked Questions

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MTHFR gene mutation is a small error in the gene that makes the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (mthfr) enzyme, which converts folate or folic acid into its active form. The mthfr mutation makes the enzyme slower and less efficient so people with this mthfr genetic disorder can have health problems related to folate deficiency.

The mthfr genetic mutation can include symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, or medical issues like high homocysteine, multiple pregnancy loss, and fertility troubles.

The mthfr and folic acid toxicity can also increase the risk of more serious illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease if it remains untreated.

MTHFR overmethylation treatment is relatively simple, just follow the steps to make sure your active folate level is high enough.

The MTHFR gene mutation causes many health problems because it makes it harder for your body to activate folate. Active folate, or 5-L-MTHF is used for everything from building healthy babies to making neurotransmitters. The most common symptoms of mthfr are fatigue, depression, anxiety, inflammation, high homocysteine, and mthfr fertility issues.

The MTHR gene mutation variants can also increase your risk of more serious health consequences like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease if it is left untreated.

The mthfr gene mutation can not be changed, but you can avoid the health consequences by following a good MTHFR health plan or quality MTHFR diet.

If you have an MTHFR gene mutation, your body has difficulty detoxifying heavy metals, because metals need to be methylated to be eliminated, and to methylate anything you need good amounts of active folate or 5-LMTHF. The MTHFR gene enzyme is responsible for converting folate into its active form. 

The most important thing you can do to begin to properly detoxify heavy metals is to boost your methylation by taking a 5-LMTHF supplement, avoiding foods fortified with folic acid, a folic acid-free diet like pasta or rice without folic acid, folic acid-free bread, and flour, which makes the MTHFR enzyme even less efficient, and by eating foods high in natural folate like beans, pulses, avocados, and asparagus. 

You can also take supplements like spirulina or cilantro to encourage heavy metal detox, but if your methylation isn’t working well then these supplements will make you feel bad because they will release heavy metals into the blood but you still will not be able to liberate them, so methylation first, supplements second.

Another wonderful way to detoxify heavy metals is by sweating them out in a sauna. Research has shown that small amounts of heavy metals can be released through sweat, and this process does not rely on methylation. The key is to sweat regularly and shower after so that the heavy metals don’t stay on your skin because you might reabsorb them.

Detoxifying heavy metals is a slow process and it is important not to push your body faster than it is able to go.

Testing for the MTHFR gene can be done several ways. It could be ordered by your doctor, which will likely include MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C. This route can be expensive without insurance, but is necessary if your doctor is using that information to change your treatment protocols. The most likely situations that would lead your doctor to order testing are repeat pregnancy loss, abnormal blood clotting, or treatment resistant depression.  Many doctors are unwilling to order the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) mutation test, but there are a number of ways you can get this information yourself.

Home DNA testing options such as 23andme.com and Ancestry.com give you simple options to test MTHFR and a number of other related polymorphisms as well.  These services will not interpret the data for you because they are not medical services, but you can download your raw data and upload it into one of several services to interpret the results.  

My favorite of these is Geneticgenie.org, which offers a methylation panel that includes MTHFR and other relevant gene SNPs like COMT, along with an analysis of those results. They are donation based and ask for a small donation to perform this service.  All in all this is my favorite option because the price is good, the raw data is extremely extensive, and there are so many free or low-cost services you can use to analyze the data for different traits.

If you prefer to have a comprehensive analysis of your methylation related gene SNPS, the Strategene test is targeted toward methylation and includes the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase mutation test along with related gene SNPs. 

MTHFR symptoms vary widely from person to person, but the most common are fatigue, anxiety, depression, perfectionism, allergies and sensitivities, high homocysteine, difficulty sleeping, estrogen dominance, multiple pregnancy loss, and fertility troubles.

Most people with the MTHFR gene will have one or more of these symptoms and may have less common symptoms like abnormal blood clotting, or may experience conditions that are associated with the MTHFR gene mutation like hypothyroid, autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, histamine sensitivity, ADD/ADHD, autism and spectrum disorders, or addictions.

MTHFR treatment varies from one individual to another, but it follows a general framework. The first step is to eliminate folic acid from your diet and supplements because it actually slows the action of the MTHFR enzyme even more than the genetic mutation does. After the harmful folic acid is out of your diet you can add in good food sources of natural folate. This isn’t foods that have been fortified, like grain products, it is things like dark green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses, and avocados that naturally have healthy folate within them.

Aim for 400 mcg of natural folate per day. It is important to get all the B vitamins, not just good folate because all of these vitamins are necessary to make cellular energy, build healthy neurotransmitters, and balance your MTHFR genetic mutation.

Finding the right B12 is important with MTHFR because methylB12 makes some people feel jittery. After this, it is necessary to add something called a methylation driver. Activated folate, or 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate, is the most effective but some people don’t tolerate 5-LMTHF. To give you an idea about your tolerances it can be useful to determine your MTHFR basic state, which could be overmethylator or undermethylator. Your basic state will help you to determine what supplements you will tolerate best. Overmethylation treatment often looks very different from undermethylation treatment even though the basic steps are the same.

Supporting detoxification is another important part of the treatment for MTHFR mutation, as well as eating a diet that gives you lots of antioxidants and reduces inflammation. This is part of the MTHFR lifestyle. For more information on treating the MTHFR mutation, see the Start Here document.

While there is no one-size-fits-all treatment protocol for MTHFR, there are some things that are necessary for all. First, it is important to eliminate folic acid from your diet, in the form of fortified or enriched grains, and also from your supplements and multivitamin. A good MTHFR multivitamin will have methylfolate, or 5-LMTHF, instead of folic acid, which is actually harmful to MTHFR issues.

It is important to get all the B vitamins as a group, not just a good source of folate, because they all work together to make the methylation cycle work and also to do all the things that MTHFR is supposed to do, like help you have healthy cellular energy. Riboflavin is especially important as it is a cofactor for the MTHFR enzyme. B12, in whatever form you tolerate, is also important because taking folate can mask a B12 deficiency.

It is also important to have a methylation driver. The most ideal one is 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5-LMTHF, which is the active form of folate, but not all people with the MTHFR mutation will tolerate that.  If you feel jittery or anxious with 5-LMTHF, then consider trying folinic acid, SAMe, or another alternative.

Antioxidants are another supplement that can really help to repair some of the damage that may have accumulated with an MTHFR mutation.  Especially supplements that boost glutathione, your master antioxidant, like NAC or liposomal glutathione.

L-Methylfolate, while it is the best methylation driver for MTHFR, can be difficult for some people to tolerate.  In general, it is important to try to get 400 – 600 mcg combined of natural folate in your diet and L-methylfolate in your supplements. 600 mcg if you drink alcohol or live in an extremely sunny climate, and 400 mcg as a bare minimum.

Special circumstances like pregnancy, fertility preparation, or nursing will increase the amount of methylfolate you need and in these situations, it is important to work with your doctor or practitioner, but 1,000 mcg of L-methylfolate is a good baseline.

Many people think that a different amount of methylfolate is needed for the MTHFR C677T variant or the MTHFR A1298C variant, but the amount that is best for you is more personal than that, and the best way to optimize is by seeing how you respond to higher doses. The numbers I have given here are the minimum amount of methylfolate you should take.

With MTHFR it is absolutely crucial that you avoid folic acid in supplements and also foods fortified with folic acid. In most developed countries, grain products like wheat or corn flour are enriched with folic acid and should be avoided. Organic grains, or foods without folic acid, are fine.

There are some medications that should be avoided with MTHFR as well. Antifolate agents like methotrexate are more difficult for people with the MTHFR mutation to cope with and so it is important to discuss your genes with your doctor before starting them.

Also, nitric oxide, which is a sedative often used for dental procedures, can cause very bad reactions for people with the MTHFR mutation.

Methylcobalamin, or methyl B12 is the best form for MTHFR mutants generally because it is already active and doesn’t need an added methyl group to be effective.  With MTHFR B12 is extremely important because it helps the active folate to be utilized by your body. For some people, however, the methyl form makes them feel jittery and in these cases, the adenosyl or hydroxy forms can be used as well.

While many supplements give higher amounts, 100 mcg per day is usually enough to normalize B12 levels even if there has been a deficiency.  It is important to use regular blood screening annually to make sure you are not B12 deficient. Also, B12 absorption declines with age so elderly patients may need 500 mcg or even 1000 mcg daily to prevent the B12 deficiency. 

Carrying excess weight can be a problem with any set of genes, but MTHFR weight gain is typically for a combination of specific reasons and if those aren’t addressed it can be very difficult to lose weight. With MTHFR the four most typical causes of weight gain are dietary folic acid, high estrogen, low or low-normal thyroid function, and toxicity. For most people, addressing these issues will allow your weight to normalize easily.

Dietary folic acid, specifically in foods fortified with folic acid like bread, pasta, cereal, and pastries, is harmful to people with the MTHFR mutation and it is crucial that you avoid fortified foods. The simplest way to do this is to eliminate wheat and wheat products. This is the most important step for weight loss and for most people makes a big difference on its own.

Estrogen tends to be high in both women and men with MTHFR mutations because we have a difficult time detoxifying and eliminating estrogen and so it can build up. Also, fat cells make their own estrogen and so this problem compounds as weight increases. Reducing estrogens is most effectively done with foods high in lignans. The highest sources are ground flax seeds and sesame seeds. By adding some of these foods daily you can eliminate extra estrogens and see a weight decrease.

People with the MTHFR mutation, especially with two copies of the C677T gene, are prone to low thyroid function, and supporting your thyroid can go a long way to helping you lose weight. Make sure you work with your doctor to test your thyroid appropriately and get medication if you need it. Otherwise, adding food sources of iodine like seaweed or iodized salt, as well as good protein and minerals like selenium and zinc will help restore your thyroid to optimal functioning.

Toxicity and detox are a big issue for people with MTHFR polymorphism because we need to methylate well in order to eliminate heavy metals and a variety of other toxins. It is important to incorporate gentle detox into your routine regularly, like using a sauna to sweat out toxins, hot Epsom salts baths, and using castor oil to help your lymphatic system drain.

MTHFR polymorphism is a genetic variant in the MTHFR gene. This gene codes for the enzyme that converts folic acid and natural folate into the active form, which is 5-L-methylenetetrahydrofolate, or 5-L-MTHF for short. The MTHFR polymorphism makes this enzyme less efficient and so it is more difficult for people with MTHFR to activate their folate.

When the MTHFR enzyme works slowly or inefficiently, lots of processes get backed up like converting homocysteine, which is an inflammatory particle, back into methionine, making neurotransmitters, making glutathione – your master antioxidant, and making nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels dilate.

The most important thing that happens, however, is that methylation becomes difficult and you don’t make SAMe, which is your major methyl donor, very effectively. This is a crucial process and so optimizing your MTHFR gene will improve your health in a variety of ways. MTHFR can come in a number of forms including a C677T polymorphism, A1298C polymorphism, or a combination of the two.

You will see the advice to cut out gluten entirely with MTHFR all over the internet, but nobody really gives a great reason for it. In truth, gluten isn’t always the problem. With an MTHFR polymorphism, you are intolerant to folic acid, the synthetic crystalline form of folate. It makes the consequences of an MTHFR polymorphism even worse. In most developed countries wheat, wheat flour, and products made with wheat flour are fortified or enriched with folic acid, which makes them harmful for people with the MTHFR mutation. Somewhere along the way, wheat and gluten got confused because there is also so much talk about gluten being bad.

Having said that, many people with MTHFR do develop a gluten sensitivity, possibly due to a reaction with the folic acid that wheat has been enriched with or possibly for the same reasons gluten sensitivities have become so common in general population. In these cases, eliminating all gluten, not just from wheat but from other sources like barley and rye, will help to lower inflammation and control symptoms as well.

With MTHFR it is important to follow a good MTHFR diet plan to optimize your health.

Most doctors either don’t work with or are entirely unaware of MTHFR polymorphisms. Some specialists, including obstetricians, gynecologists, and fertility specialists will test for and consider MTHFR in the context of pregnancy. Some cardiologists or hematologists will test for MTHFR as well – especially after an abnormal blood clotting incident.

The majority of doctors and practitioners who work with the day-to-day symptoms of MTHFR are naturopathic doctors, DABCI chiropractors, integrative doctors, or health care specialists. The best people to work with for MTHFR are people who have MTHFR as an area of focus.

“MTHFR deficiency” is another way of saying that your MTHFR enzyme works more slowly than average. This is the enzyme that converts inactive forms of folate including natural folate, folic acid, and folinic acid, into the active form which is 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate.

This is usually caused by a genetic polymorphism, or variance, in the MTHFR gene but can also be induced nutritionally by an extremely high dose of folic acid over long periods.

The most common variances with this gene are C677T and A1298C. You are born with two copies of each gene and it is possible to have one or two variant copies in one or both genes.

If you have an MTHFR deficiency, it is important to follow the right diet for your variance and to support your body with supplements to avoid health consequences. MTHFR deficiencies are highly linked to anxiety, depression, fatigue, heart disease, and many other consequences.

MTHFR is a common gene variation that affects the enzyme that activates folate. People with the MTHFR polymorphism have a harder time converting inactive forms of folate like folic acid, natural folate, and folinic acid into the active form, which is 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate ) or 5-L MTHF).

Adequate active folate is crucial during pregnancy and so it is important to work with a practitioner who understands the specific needs of people with MTHFR deficiency.

Untreated MTHFR deficiency in pregnancy leads to a higher risk of midline abnormalities in the baby and consequences including spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate. MTHFR deficiency also increases the risk of repeat pregnancy loss. These issues can usually be prevented with adequate active folate and appropriate care for MTHFR.

Some research has shown that folic acid actually impairs the MTHFR enzyme further and so prenatal that include the active form of folate may be a better choice in this population.

Vaccines are an area of much concern for people with the MTHFR mutation for a number of reasons. One, is that with a compromise in MTHFR, it is much more difficult to detoxify heavy metals and many vaccines use heavy metals including aluminum and mercury. Also, vaccines have been controversially implicated in increasing risk of autism and spectrum disorders, and people with the MTHFR mutation have shown to be at greater risk for developing these issues.

Still, there is only one research study showing a correlation between MTHR and adverse vaccine reactions, and it is a study on the smallpox vaccine, which is not routinely given in the US. Largely, this type of research has not been conducted and so we can only hope that the gaps in our knowledge will be corrected. Even in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting Database there are limited entries that include MTHFR because the database relies on self-reported symptoms and information and most people with the MTHFR polymorphism are unaware that they have it.

Having the MTHFR mutation means that your capacity for detoxifying some substances, including heavy metals, hormones, and neurotransmitters, is reduced. It is important for people with MTHFR polymorphisms to detoixify, but difficult to use conventional “detox kits” or programs simply because some detoxification programs or products will push our bodies to release more toxins than we can actually eliminate and so do more harm than good.

Gentle detox strategies that focus on the physical elimination of toxins via the gut or skin will have better long-term effectiveness than more aggressive detox protocols that push the liver or enzyme systems to liberate toxins. These gentle detox strategies can include therapeutic sweating and sauna use, which encourages heavy metal release through the skin, the use of gut binders such as fiber, clay, or zeolites and topical castor oil.

Gentle detoxification strategies are a big part of the MTHFR lifestyle, and must be coupled with toxin avoidance to be effective. Working on eliminating common toxins in your home, food, and water is one of the best steps you can make in your health long-term.

Shockingly, the research indicates that between 48 – 67% of the population in the U.S. has some form of MTHFR polymorphism.  MTHFR prevalence varies between ethnic groups as well. Americans of African descent have the lowest risk of having an MTHFR variant, while those of hispanic or italian heritage have the highest.

MTHFR makes it more difficult for your body to activate the vitamin folate and so it creates a higher than average need for folate. Activation becomes even more difficult with the synthetic form, folic acid. Because of this, it is important to emphasize foods that are high in natural folate, and avoid foods that are fortified with folic acid.

Foods fortified with folic acid include wheat products like pasta, bread, breakfast cereal and even baking flour. Also, manufacturers add folic acid into other foods like orange juice and protein bars to make them look more nutritious to customers. Foods fortified with folic acid should be avoided as much as possible.

Reduced MTHFR activity is another way of saying that you have a genetic variant in the MTHFR gene which makes it work less efficiently. This gene codes for the enzyme that converts folic acid and natural folate into the active form, 5-L-methylenetetrahydrofolate, or 5-L-MTHF for short. With reduced MTHFR activity it is more difficult to activate folate.

When the MTHFR enzyme works slowly or inefficiently, lots of processes get backed up like recycling homocysteine, making neurotransmitters, making glutathione – your master antioxidant, and making nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels dilate. The most important thing that happens, however, is that methylation becomes difficult and you don’t methylate your DNA very effectively, which means that your body is less able to regulate bad or dangerous genes.

This is a crucial process and so optimizing your MTHFR gene will improve your health in a variety of ways. Many people who work with their MTHFR notice improvements in energy, mood, sleep quality, hormone balance, and laboratory markers like high homocysteine.

Like all genetic polymorphisms, MTHFR started as a simple spelling error in the genetic code of a newborn. This means as the genetic material was being copied from parents to child or even within the parents from a stem cell to the sperm or egg, one genetic letter was copied incorrectly. Genetic polymorphisms are part of human diversity and even though they are technically “mistakes” they are also how we evolve and grow as a species. Withought polymorphsims, humans could not change in significant ways.

The MTHFR polymorphism has become so widespread within the population because it confers several survival advantages, including some resistance to malaria, the largest killer of children globally, as well as more efficient processing of vitamin D.

The MTHFR C677T gene mutation is a simple spelling mistake in the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene. This gene codes for an enzyme of the same name and the C677T variant means that at location 677 there is normally a cytosine, or C, in the wild-type genetics but this person has a thiamine, or T.

This polymorphism does change the shape of the MTHFR enzyme that converts inactive folate into the active form and so it makes the enzyme work less efficiently.

Some people have one altered copy of the C677T gene, which is called a heterozygous mutation. This affects the enzyme activity less than a homozygous mutation, which indicates two bad copies of the gene.

The best person to ask about supplements during pregnancy is your obstetrician, gynecologist, midwife, or whomever is supervising your pregnancy and delivery and their advice should supercede anything you read on the internet, here or otherwise. Baby aspirin at a dose of 81mg has been shown to be helpful for women with the MTHFR mutilation for preventing repeat pregnancy loss as well as decreasing the risk of preeclampsia.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that for preeclampsia, 81mg baby aspirin should be taken daily until delivery.

Research has shown that people with the C677T variant have a higher risk of developing low thyroid conditions (hypothyroid), but the reason is unknown. Some research theorizes that it is due to possible higher levels of homocysteine in the blood of people with the C677T variant.

There are around 15 known variants of the MTHFR gene, but only three have been shown in research to have any impact on health. Those are the MTHFR C677T variant, the MTHFR A1298C variant and the MTHFR G1793A variant. Of these three, the G1793A variant is the least well studied and C677T is the most well studied.

While genetic testing is the only way to be sure, it is possible to guess at your MTHFR status.
The easiest way is by looking at your own symptoms and also your family history. If you have a significant number of the following symptoms and traits in your family tree then it is reasonable to suspect MTHFR. There are also some personality traits that can indicate MTHFR polymorphisms.

Personal symptoms include: history of blood clots, anxiety, depression, repeat pregnancy loss without another known reason, midline abnormalities like hair lip, cleft palate, tongue tie, or lip tie, high homocysteine, ADHD, spectrum disorders, low sperm count, chronic fatigue

Family history includes: addictions, Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, hypothyroid, stroke, autism, ADHD, endometriosis, fibroids, breast cancer not related to BrCA genes,

Personality traits include: high ambition/overachiever, empathic activist, obsessive traits, addictive tendencies, in-the-flow artist, perfectionism, rheumination, high sensitivity,

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is used in many supplements as well as food-enrichment programs globally. For people with the MTHFR gene it is the most difficult form of folate to process because it goes through a number of additional enzymes to be converted to the active form.
If you have a choice between folate deficiency and folic acid, then folic acid is better than deficiency. Taking the active form of folate, which is 5-LMTHF, is the best option with MTHFR because it is already active and does not need to go through the MTHFR enzyme. If you have a choice between folic acid and 5-LMTHF, then choose the 5-LMTHF.

Also, there is some research that indicates that folic acid at too high a dose actually makes MTHFR function worse and will induce an MTHFR deficiency even in people with normal genetics so always be careful about getting too much folic acid.

Eating foods high in natural folate, like beans, lentils, and avocados is actually great if you have MTHFR. Eating foods fortified with folic acid is the problem. In the U.S., foods enriched with folic acid include bread, breakfast cereal, pasta, pastries, and baking flour as well as some corn products like tortillas. Folic acid is the most difficult form of folate for your body to activate. Since people with the MTHFR mutation have more difficulty activating folate than average, it is important to eliminate folic acid and focus on getting good natural folate or taking the active form of folate, which is 5-LMTHF. The active form bypasses the MTHFR enzyme completely and so is the best option.

Also, there is some research that indicates that folic acid at too high a dose actually makes MTHFR function worse and will induce an MTHFR deficiency even in people with normal genetics so always be careful about getting too much folic acid.

Checking for MTHFR can be done through your doctor and will be covered by some insurance plans if it is ordered because of blood clots, high homocysteine that isn’t responding to treatment, or fertility issues.

You can also order testing yourself in a variety of ways. I feel the best value for money is by using a genetic analysis tool such as Ancestry.com (starting at $129) or 23andme.com (starting at $99). The genetic testing is comparable on both platforms and the least expensive test will still give you all of the raw genetic data, but access to fewer of their internal health or ancestry trait reports.

Once you get your genetic data from these services, it is possible to download the raw data file and upload it into a variety of different services to see your MTHFR as well as a variety of different other variants. My favorite of these for ease of understanding is the methylation panel from geneticgenie.org, for which they ask a small donation.

If you prefer to order a medical-style test yourself which has targeted genetic information, then I feel the best available is the strategene test. You can upload your raw data from 23andme or ancestry for $95.

The MTHFR mutation is extremely common and in the US it is estimated that more than 50% of the population has at least one compromised copy of the MTHFR gene. This varies by racial group, with Hispanics having the higest incidence and americans of african descent having the lowest.

High homocysteine generally indicates a deficiency in folate, B12, or both.  The best policy to lower homocysteine is to make sure you’re taking a good multivitamin with all of the B vitamins in it plus an additional methylfolate (5-LMTHF) and an additional methylcobalamin

There is no one-size-fits-all with methylfolate because all of us have unique tolerances.  Typically for depression I suggest taking the highest dose your body will tolerate without negative side effects, up to a maximum of 15 mg per day (which is the upper dose of prescription deplin.) 

 

Side effects that can occur with too high a dose of methylfolate include jittery, anxious energy that can interfere with sleep.  Also, in people who have severely low serotonin, methylfolate might make depression worse through the activation of a serotonin transporter (SERT). For these individuals, SAMe will be a better choice.  Always with methylfolate start at a low dose to test your body’s tolerances and increase slowly.

MTHFR C677T can make losing weight more difficult because it has effects on blood sugar and metabolic syndrome, thyroid, toxins, and also estrogen levels. This means that to effectively lose weight you have to be working on a complete plan and not just cutting calories or boosting exercise.

It is extremely important to have your doctor test your thyroid to make sure that you are not struggling against weight gain caused by hypothyroidism. If your thyroid is normal, then it is important to eat a low glycemic index diet with moderate protein, heavy fruits and vegetables, high fiber, very low simple carbs (like sugar and starch), and moderate good fats. Also, to be working on regular gentle exercise, and also gentle detox activities such as regular sweating in a sauna, epsom salt baths, or castor oil packs.  If you have a history of hormone imbalance (PMS, fibroids, heavy periods, endometriosis, PCOS, etc…) then it is absolutely vital that you also work on hormone balancing.

Overmethylation can mean different things to different people. Some people use it to mean acute overmethylation, which can happen when you take too high a dose of methylfolate, SAMe, or TMG and it produces symptoms.  In this situation you can reduce the amount of methylation happening by taking 50 mg niacin (not a derivative of niacin). This will cause a flushing reaction, but will help to burn away excess methylgroups. Also, exercising or having a hot bath or sauna can be beneficial at this time.

Overmethylation can also refer to the MTHFR Basic State Overmethylators, which is one of the ways that MTHFR symptoms can manifest. This state is usually artistic or creative, extremely driven regarding things they’re interested in but not especially in areas that don’t appeal to them, typically have high empathy, high pain tolerance, and atypical allergies.  This basic state generally tolerates methylfolate well and so should follow the To Health WItih THat plan for balancing methylation. This includes eliminating folic acid from diet and supplements, boosting foods high in natural folate, adding a good background of all the B vitamins, and also a methylfolate and some form of B12. Overmethylators generally tolerate methylfolate well.

Hypohomocysteinemia is something that is not frequently discussed in the medical community, but it can have negative health consequences.  Homocysteine is the precursor for glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant, and also for alpha-ketobuterate, which is the root of the krebs cycle and the beginning of all of your cellular energy.

Very little research has been done on low homocysteine, but interestingly, 40% of people with unexplained peripheral neuropathy have low homocysteine, and the theory is that because of the low homocysteine, ther person is also experiencing low glutathione and so free radicals are more able to do nerve damage. 

The terms “homozygous” and “heterozygous” refer to how many altered copies of any gene you have.  Homozygous starts with the greek root homo- which means “same” so this indicates two of the altered copy (both copies are the same). If you were homozygous for C677T, it would mean you have two bad copies of C677T.  Heterozygous starts with the Greek root hetero- which means “different.  Heterozygous mutations have two different copies of the gene – one altered and one typical.  So heterozygous A1298C means you have one altered copy and one normal copy of A1298C.  There is also something called “compound heterozygous,” which means you have one altered copy of two different MTHFR genes. This typically refers to one variant copy of both C677T and A1298C.

Having an MTHFR mutation means that your body’s ability to convert other forms of folate into the active form, which is methylfolate, is impaired relative to normal. Taking methylfolate bypasses the MTHFR gene and can be a good solution, but it is not the only solution – there are options for people who don’t tolerate methylfolate as well. So, taking methylfolate will compensate for MTHFR and is a great solution if you tolerate it, but if you don’t tolerate methylfolate, there are other great options as well.

 

No. Because Dr. Amy is working as a health consultant and visits are conducted remotely, you can not claim your consultation on insurance.

Absolutely yes! Many companies are making supplements with methylfolate and methyl B12 available in both Canada and the U.S.  Some great ones to watch for are Seeking Health, Thorne Research, Integrated Theraputics (or ITI), Pure Encapsulations, Smarty Pants, Jarrow, and others.

MTHFR is a genetic issue and so you will have it for the rest of your life.  If you begin a supplement protocol, you will usually see improvements in mood and energy even within the first month, but those improvements will continue to increase over the first year to two years of your journey.  For the best results, you will at least maintain baseline supplements and healthy lifestyle changes for the rest of your life but it will be totally worth it for the health benefits.

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is not good for people with the MTHFR mutation. It is found most commonly in enriched flour,  enriched corn flour, or enriched rice  products. This includes bread, pasta, pastries, cookies, breakfast cereal, baking flour, tortillas, and enriched rice. Also, be sure to check your energy drinks, meal replacements, and protein powders because folic acid is often added to those products. Another strange one, is orange juice. IF it’s fresh squeezed then it’s high in natural folate, which is great for MTHFR, but if it’s processed then it likely has added folic acid.  

If the nutritional lable says “folate” or “folic acid” anywhere, then it’s always folic acid because it is the form of folate that is shelf-stable.

In people with MTHFR, diet can suffice for some people if you work to eliminate folic acid and add food sources of 400 mcg of natural folate per day or 600 mcg if you regularly drink alcohol. Some people, however, still notice symptoms with this dose of natural folate and find that adding a methylfolate or folinic acid supplement helps to improve those symptoms.  Also, if you are pregnant or nursing, a good prenatal vitamin with methylfolate is strongly recommended.

The best lifestyle for people with the MTHFR polymorphism, which I like to call the “MTHFR Lifestyle” is living mindful of your body.  Moderate exercise and activity, good sleep, emphasis on hydration, low-tox lifestyle, and supporting your body’s detoxification processes with simple steps like sauna, epsom salts baths, and dry skin brushing.

MTHFR doesn’t cause a B12 deficiency, but some research indicates that having an MTHFR polymorphism is highly associated with B12 deficiency for unknown reasons.  Both MTHFR and low B12 contribute to high homocysteine and so they are often examined together.  In addition, having high folate levels can mask a B12 deficiency so B12 and folate of any form should generally be taken together.

Folic acid binds tightly to folate receptors and blocks natural forms of folate from entering.

1. With MTHFR, there is evidence that folic acid makes the problem worse.

2. Unmetabolized folic acid can build up in your blood as UMFA

3. Excessive folic acid intake has been linked to an increased risk of cancer

4. Excessive folic acid in pregnant mothers has been linked to health issues in the unborn babies.

MTHFR is not typically responsible for weight gain, but it can make weight loss more difficult because it impairs the detoxification process and toxins are often stored in your fat tissue. If your body is unable to detoxify and eliminate those toxins, it will only access fat tissue when absolutely necessary.

Yes – MTHFR is highly linked to anxiety, depression, and a variety of other mental illness. It affects the way neurotransmitters are formed and so can have very broad-reaching consequences. In good news, balancing your methylation can help to moderate anxiety.

MTHFR is linked to recurrent pregnancy loss, especially early-term miscarriages.  It is thought to be in part due to functional folate deficiency, which can be helped by supplementing with the active form of folate, which is 5-LMTHF.  It is also thought to have some links to microclotting and research has shown promise using baby aspirin or baby aspirin and heparin during early pregnancy.

MTHFR is linked with hair loss for a number of different reasons. The main reason is that MTHFR is responsible for activating folate and active folate is necessary for the growth and reproduction of cells.  Hair growth requires cells to be able to rapidly divide and in a person with low active folate status, that is not possible. MTHFR is also linked with higher levels of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are problems for the health of your hair follicles.

Five signs of major depression are:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable

  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt

Everyone experiences depression differently, and these symptoms may vary in severity and duration from person to person. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please seek help from a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat your condition.

The causes of depression can be complex and are likely to involve a combination of several factors, including:

  1. Biological factors: Depression may be caused by changes in brain structure, function, or chemistry. Hormonal imbalances, such as changes in levels of sex hormones or thyroid hormones, can also contribute to depression.
  2. Environmental factors: Exposure to stress, trauma, abuse, or neglect can increase the risk of depression. Life events, such as the death of a loved one, financial stress, or job loss, can also trigger depression.
  3. Genetic factors: Depression can run in families and may be partially influenced by genetic factors, including MTHFR polymorphisms, COMT polymorphisms, MAOA polymorphisms, and many others.
  4. Psychological factors: Depression can be caused by negative thought patterns, such as feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and self-blame. Chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can also contribute to depression.

Depression is a treatable condition, and effective treatment options are available. If you’re struggling with depression, seek help from a mental health professional who can help determine the underlying causes of your symptoms and develop an effective treatment plan.

The first signs of depression can vary from person to person, but common early symptoms include:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
  3. Changes in appetite and sleep patterns, such as overeating or difficulty sleeping
  4. Fatigue, decreased energy, or physical slowing
  5. Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  6. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or excessive self-blame
  7. Thoughts of death or suicide

Seek help if you’re experiencing these symptoms, as early treatment can increase the likelihood of a full recovery. If you’re struggling with depression, reach out to a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat your condition.

Depression affects the brain in several ways:

  1. Chemical imbalances: Depression is often associated with changes in brain chemistry, particularly in the levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals play a role in regulating mood, and changes in their levels can contribute to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue.
  2. Brain structure: Depression has been linked to changes in brain structure, including reductions in the size of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory and emotional regulation.
  3. Neural connections: Depression can alter the connections between brain regions that are involved in mood regulation and the processing of emotions.
  4. Brain function: Depression can affect brain function, including the processing of information, decision-making, and the ability to experience pleasure.

Overall, depression can have a significant impact on the brain and alter the way it processes emotions and regulates mood. If you’re struggling with depression, seek help from a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat your condition.

The last stage of depression refers to the final stage of recovery or remission when an individual’s symptoms have significantly improved or resolved. This stage is characterized by a return to normal mood, improved energy and motivation, and the resumption of daily activities that were once enjoyable.

Depression is a chronic condition for some individuals and may require ongoing treatment, even after the symptoms have improved. For others, the symptoms may return and require additional treatment.

If you’re struggling with depression,  seek help from a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat your condition and help you achieve remission. With proper treatment and support, many people with depression can recover and return to a healthy and fulfilling life.

In rare cases, depression can contribute to sudden death. However, it is more commonly associated with an increased risk of suicide, which is a leading cause of death in individuals with depression.

Depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and thoughts of death or self-harm. If these feelings are severe and persistent, they can increase the risk of suicide.

Seek help if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, especially if you have thoughts of suicide. Mental health professionals can provide effective treatment and support to help manage depression and reduce the risk of suicide.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call emergency services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) for help.

Depression can affect cognitive function, including memory, attention, and the processing of information, but it does not necessarily affect intelligence. Intelligence is a complex and multidimensional construct that encompasses a wide range of cognitive abilities and skills, such as reasoning, problem-solving, and verbal ability.

While depression can impair cognitive function and affect the ability to think clearly and make decisions, it does not  cause a decline in intelligence. In fact, with proper treatment and support, many individuals with depression can improve their cognitive function and regain their ability to perform at their best.

However, untreated or poorly managed depression can lead to ongoing cognitive impairment, which can interfere with daily activities and overall quality of life. If you’re struggling with depression,  seek help from a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat your condition and help you regain your cognitive function.

If depression is not treated, it can lead to several negative consequences, including:

  1. Persistent symptoms: Depression symptoms can persist or worsen over time, making it difficult to carry out daily activities and enjoy life.
  2. Chronic health problems: Depression can increase the risk of developing other chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
  3. Substance abuse: Untreated depression can increase the risk of substance abuse and addiction, which can further complicate mental and physical health.
  4. Increased risk of suicide: Depression can increase the risk of suicide, especially if left untreated.
  5. Decreased quality of life: Depression can negatively impact work performance, relationships, and overall quality of life.
  6. Social isolation: Depression can lead to social isolation, making it difficult to connect with others and receive support.

Depression can be a chronic condition, but it does not have to be a lifelong one. With proper treatment and support, many individuals with depression can manage their symptoms and lead a fulfilling life.

The course of depression can vary from person to person, and some people may experience episodes of depression that come and go, while others may have a more persistent and chronic form of the illness.

The treatment of depression typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, and the goal is to alleviate symptoms, prevent relapses, and improve the overall quality of life.

Depression is a treatable condition, and with the right support and treatment, individuals with depression can experience remission of symptoms and lead a fulfilling life. If you are struggling with depression, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional, who can diagnose and treat your condition and help you find the best path to recovery.

Mental health professionals can provide effective treatment and support to help manage depression and reduce the risk of these negative consequences. With proper treatment and support, many individuals with depression can improve their mental and physical health and lead a joyful and fulfilling life.

The most serious form of depression is major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as clinical depression or simply depression. It is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable.

Other symptoms of major depression may include changes in sleep and appetite, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, restlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide.

MDD can significantly impact daily life and quality of life. If left untreated, it can lead to negative consequences, such as an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, and chronic health problems.

It’s important to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms of major depression, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome. Mental health professionals can provide effective treatment and support to help manage depression and improve overall well-being.

Depression is a serious problem for several reasons:

  1. Impacts daily life: Depression can interfere with daily activities such as work, school, and personal relationships, making it difficult to function normally.
  2. Decreased quality of life: Depression can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable, reducing the overall quality of life.
  3. Increased risk of suicide: Depression can increase the risk of suicide, which is a leading cause of death globally.
  4. Physical health problems: Depression has been linked to several physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, headaches, and chronic pain, which can further decrease quality of life.
  5. Substance abuse: Depression can increase the risk of substance abuse, which can have negative impacts on physical and mental health.
  6. Increased healthcare costs: Depression can lead to increased healthcare costs due to frequent doctor visits, hospitalizations, and the need for ongoing treatment.

Seek help for depression, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome and prevent negative consequences. Mental health professionals can provide effective treatment and support to help manage depression and improve overall well-being.

Depression can occur at any age, including childhood and old age. However, the typical onset of depression is in the late teens to early 20s, with a second peak in the late 40s to early 50s. Depression is a common mental health condition and is estimated to affect 1 in 15 adults globally. It’s essential to seek help for depression regardless of age, as early diagnosis and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome.

Here are some things you can try when you are feeling sad:

  1. Connect with others: Reach out to family, friends, or a support group to talk about your feelings.
  2. Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
  3. Get outside: Spending time in nature or simply getting some fresh air can help improve your mood.
  4. Practice self-care: Engage in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to music.
  5. Write it down: Journaling can help you process your feelings and gain a new perspective.
  6. Seek professional help: If your sadness persists or interferes with your daily life, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional.

It’s important to remember that feeling sad is a normal part of life and that it’s okay to take time for yourself to feel better. If you are struggling to manage your emotions, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Here are some ways to improve your mental health:

  1. Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity has been shown to boost mood and reduce stress and anxiety.
  2. Get enough sleep: Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to help maintain good mental health.
  3. Eat a healthy diet: Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can positively impact your mental health.
  4. Connect with others: Spend time with loved ones, join a social group, or participate in activities you enjoy to build positive relationships.
  5. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practices can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  6. Limit alcohol and substance use: Excessive alcohol and substance use can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions.
  7. Seek professional help: If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. By making small changes in your daily life and seeking help when necessary, you can improve your overall mental health and well-being.

Several factors can worsen mental health, including:

  1. Stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing mental health conditions and worsen symptoms of existing conditions.
  2. Substance use: Excessive alcohol or drug use can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions and increase the risk of developing new ones.
  3. Trauma: Exposure to traumatic events can have a negative impact on mental health and increase the risk of developing conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  4. Physical illness: Chronic physical illnesses can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions and increase the risk of developing new ones.
  5. Isolation: Loneliness and social isolation can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions and increase the risk of developing new ones.
  6. Lack of sleep: Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation can worsen symptoms of mental health conditions and increase the risk of developing new ones.
  7. Poor diet: A diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients can negatively impact mental health.

Be aware of these factors and seek help when necessary to prevent worsening of mental health.

Here are some good mental habits that can improve your mental well-being:

  1. Regular exercise: Physical activity has been shown to boost mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall mental health.
  2. Sleep hygiene: Getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night can help improve mental clarity and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  3. Mindful eating: Eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can positively impact your mental health.
  4. Positive self-talk: Practicing positive self-talk and avoiding negative self-criticism can help improve self-esteem and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  5. Gratitude: Practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of your life can improve mood and overall mental well-being.
  6. Relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety.
  7. Social support: Spending time with loved ones and building positive relationships can improve mental well-being.
  8. Challenging negative thoughts: Identifying and challenging negative thoughts can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  9. Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, increase awareness and focus, and improve overall mental well-being.

Remember, mental habits can be formed and changed over time. By adopting healthy mental habits and working to ingrain them in your way of thinking, you can improve your mental well-being.

Depression can have a range of harmful symptoms, and their severity can vary from person to person. Some of the most harmful symptoms of depression include:

  1. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors: Depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide, which can be life-threatening.
  2. Lack of interest in activities: Depression can cause a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  3. Persistent feelings of sadness: Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of pleasure in life, which can be difficult to manage.
  4. Fatigue and low energy: Depression can cause feelings of fatigue and low energy, which can affect daily activities and make it difficult to manage responsibilities.
  5. Changes in appetite and sleep: Depression can cause changes in appetite and sleep patterns, which can have physical and mental health consequences.
  6. Concentration and memory problems: Depression can cause difficulty concentrating and problems with memory, which can affect work and personal relationships.

These symptoms can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and can be harmful if not treated. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

Depression can be treated, but it is not always fully curable. Effective treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve the overall quality of life, but some people may experience recurrences of depression throughout their lives.

A combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes can be effective in treating depression. Some people may find relief from symptoms through medication or therapy alone, while others may benefit from a combination of both. The key is to work with a mental health professional to find a treatment plan that is right for you.

It’s also important to understand that depression is a complex condition and that different people may have different experiences with treatment. Some may experience complete remission of symptoms, while others may experience ongoing symptoms but in a less severe form. With appropriate care and support, however, many people with depression are able to lead fulfilling, productive lives.

Two common physical symptoms of depression are:

  1. Fatigue or low energy: People with depression often feel tired and lack energy, making even simple tasks seem like a burden.
  2. Changes in appetite or weight: Depression can cause changes in appetite and weight, including overeating or loss of appetite. Some people may gain weight, while others may lose weight. These changes can occur due to changes in metabolism or decreased motivation to eat or engage in physical activity.

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of depression, and the causes can vary from person to person. Here are ten of the most common causes of depression:

  1. Biological factors: Depression may be linked to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.
  2. Genetics: Depression can run in families and may be influenced by genetic factors.
  3. Environmental factors: Childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, loss, and other adverse life events can increase the risk of depression.
  4. Substance abuse: Alcohol and drug abuse can contribute to the development of depression.
  5. Chronic illness: Chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, can increase the risk of depression.
  6. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menopause or pregnancy, can trigger depression.
  7. Medications: Some medications, including beta blockers, corticosteroids, and benzodiazepines, can cause depression as a side effect.
  8. Chronic stress: Chronic stress, such as that related to financial or relationship problems, can contribute to depression.
  9. Social isolation: Lack of social support, isolation, and loneliness can increase the risk of depression.
  10. Seasonal factors: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in the fall and winter months and is related to the reduced amount of sunlight exposure.

The main symptoms of anxiety can include:

  1. Excessive worry or fear
  2. Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, or a rapid heartbeat
  3. Sleep difficulties
  4. Avoidance of certain situations or activities
  5. Restlessness or feeling on edge
  6. Irritability
  7. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  8. Muscle tension or muscle aches
  9. Fatigue
  10. Nausea or other digestive problems.

It’s important to note that everyone experiences anxiety differently, and some people may experience different symptoms from others. If you’re experiencing symptoms that are affecting your daily life,  speak with a healthcare professional.

Several strategies can help you manage anxiety:

  1. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
  2. Exercise regularly, as physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.
  3. Seek professional help, such as therapy or counseling, to learn coping skills and develop a treatment plan.
  4. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs, as these can worsen anxiety symptoms.
  5. Get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet to maintain physical health and support mental well-being.
  6. Challenge negative thoughts and reframe them in a positive light.
  7. Make time for activities that bring you joy and reduce stress, such as reading, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing hobbies.
  8. Limit exposure to stressful situations and sources of anxiety, such as the news or social media.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may take time and experimentation to find what strategies work best for you. If you’re struggling to manage your anxiety on your own, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

  1. Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  2. Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
  3. Muscle tension or headaches
  4. Nausea, diarrhea, or upset stomach
  5. Sweating or shaking

These physical symptoms of anxiety can occur in response to stressful or threatening situations and may feel like a “fight or flight” response. It’s important to remember that anxiety is a normal response to stress, but when it becomes chronic or interferes with daily life, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.

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