PEMT is an amazing gene that is a cornerstone of healthy functioning, literally of your whole body. Here’s why.
Your body is made of cells – you have neurons that make up your brain, eyes, spinal cord, and nervous system – they’re cells. You have muscle cells, skin cells, red blood cells, white blood cells, epithelial cells that line your digestive tract, and the cells that make up every organ in your body. In short, you are made up of nothing but cells – 37.2 trillion of them.
Every one of these cells is encased in a membrane, and PEMT helps to build those membranes. That is a really big deal.
PEMT stands for phosphatidylethanolamine N-methyltransferase and makes phosphatidylcholine the building block of every cell membrane in your body. I’m hoping that in the name, you noticed the N-methyltransferase bit. That means this gene is also dependent on healthy methylation to work.
Because building cell membranes is so important to your survival and overall health, PEMT uses 70% of all of the SAMe your methylation cycle produces. That is how important this gene actually is.
PEMT gene SNPs
PEMT is a gene with a lot of variability and many polymorphisms, most of which are unstudied. A quick search on 23andme tells me there are 57 gene SNPs indexed, which is a lot. The best way to determine if there is trouble in this gene is actually in your symptom picture. Still, one gene SNP, in particular, has been identified as clinically relevant. Remember, you don’t have to have a polymorphism for a gene to be compromised – you can also have a nutritional deficiency or some epigenetic factor.
PEMT Val175Met or rs7946
This gene SNP has been identified specifically as reducing the function of PEMT with the T/T allele. The wild type is the C/C allele, and plenty of people have a mixed bag C/T allele. People with the T/T version are more likely to have non-alcoholic fatty liver, memory difficulties, or Alzheimer’s disease, have a higher need for choline, and if they don’t get enough choline, may have a higher risk of breast cancer.
This is not the only PEMT gene SNP, and other factors play into function, so the most important place to look is your symptoms.
Signs of a Struggling PEMT
- Gallbladder pain, gallstones, sludge, or gallbladder had to be removed
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver
- Generalized pain in muscles and joints
- Fatty foods cause problems
- Your memory is weak, or you’ve noticed it getting weaker
- You have pain, fullness, or discomfort in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen, where your liver is.
- Your right upper back or shoulder is always bothering you, right by your shoulder blade
- Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
- Muscle weakness
- You had gallbladder difficulty during a pregnancy
Additional Risk Factors for PEMT Dysfunction
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy is a time of such concentrated growth, cell replication, and hormonal changes that it really does stress this entire system.
- Post-menopausal women and men – estrogen is a promotor for the PEMT gene and so a lot of women with PEMT issues don’t notice them until pregnancy, or after menopause when their estrogens drop. Men don’t ever have the levels of estrogen that women do, so PEMT dysfunction is more likely to show up as symptoms here early on.
- Childhood – let’s face it – kids are essentially a giant hotbed of rapidly dividing cells. All of that cell division for growth tests the limits of PEMT activity.
- Vegan or Carbaholic diet – the best food sources of choline are animal-based. Vegans and people who eat mostly grain-based diets often don’t get enough.
- MTHFR polymorphism – because the PEMT gene is dependent on a steady flow of SAMe, people with MTHFR can have issues if they are folate deficient, B12 deficient, or otherwise not working to balance their methylation.
How To Boost Your PEMT Function
- Balance your methylation – you’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but it’s kind of my schtick. Balancing your methylation will give your PEMT all of the SAMe it needs to function daily. Without that, nothing else will work except taking phosphatidylcholine in vast quantities.
- Choline – Choline is the nutrient that PEMT acts on to create phosphatidylcholine. Boosting your choline intake through nutritional sources like eggs, liver, poultry, or beef will really help. There are some vegetarian sources, but they’re low in percentage relative to the animal sources, so if you are vegetarian or vegan, be careful to keep track of how much choline you’re getting. Regarding vegetarian options, broccoli and other brassica vegetables, soy products, chickpeas, and other beans and pulses are the best choices. Choline is also available as a supplement. If you can only do one thing for your PEMT, this is the thing to do.
- Manage your stress – stress burns through choline and many other nutrients like a house on fire. If you can take some simple steps to control your stress, your choline levels will likely stay adequate.
- Moderate your eating – one of the biggest possible stressors on your liver is excess food intake. That goes for everybody, not just folks with a struggling PEMT. PEMT polymorphisms can easily lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, so it’s really important to make your life easier on your liver all the way around.
- Take care of your liver – your liver is one of your body’s most dependable workhorses, and it can be easy to forget that it is living in a difficult time for livers. Reduce your alcohol intake, clear some chemicals out of your home and life, eat just a little bit cleaner food, and give your liver a break. Also, the majority of methylation reactions happen in the liver.
If you’re struggling with gallbladder issues, it is best to work with a practitioner, but here are some resources to get you started.
One of the most vital organ, liver is responsible for various functions of the body. Liver diseases can be genetic or caused by a variety of factors such as viruses, alcohol use, and obesity.
Your doctor will perform routine liver testing as a part of your annual basic bloodwork, but more complex testing is possible if you suspect liver disease.
Blood Tests: LFT or Liver function tests help to diagnose the condition of the liver. These typically include standard liver enzymes like AST and ALT. However, to detect specific liver problems or genetic conditions, other tests will be necessary.
Imaging Tests: If masses, tumors, or physical damage to the liver is suspected, imaging tests can help your doctor to visualize them. MRI, CT Scan, and ultrasound are all used in different circumstances..
Liver Biopsy: In many cases, a liver biopsy is done to check if you have a moderate fatty liver or choline fatty liver. In this procedure, tissue is extracted from the liver using a long needle that goes through the skin, and the sample is then sent to the lab for testing.
A properly functioning liver has self-healing properties. But, if you are experiencing prolonged liver pain, it might be a sign your liver is struggling. Any disturbance to the liver can result in moderate fatty liver or chronic liver diseases. Some of the warning signs of dying liver can be:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness in the body
- Loss in weight
- Abdominal pain
- Yellow discoloration of the skin, leading to Jaundice
- Loss of appetite
- Skin itching without cause
A blood test or LFT (Liver function test) can help you determine if your liver is healthy or damaged. The results will also help you determine if you need an advanced liver detox or supplements to recover from early signs of liver damage.
The regular check-up of the liver function is beneficial for you, especially if you:
- Consume a lot of alcohol
- Have an excess weight
- Have high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Have haemochromatosis
If the blood tests results are out of range, your doctor will perform further diagnostic testing to see if you have an inflammation of liver, moderate fatty liver, or some other pathology.
Liver diseases and liver failures, both are usually treated by specialists called hepatologists. In the extreme case of liver failure, treatment depends on whether the liver failure is acute or chronic. Ultimately, a liver transplant is often suggested in both the cases.
In cases of inflamed or moderately fatty liver and other common chronic liver diseases, changing your lifestyle can change the course of disease tremendously. Taking just a few of the positive steps below can help to preserve your liver and improve your health:
- Avoid alcohol
- Review your medications with your doctor
- Reduce certain foods like fatty meat and cheese
- Lose weight
- Control blood sugar with a low-carb diet
- Avoid soda
- Reduce your blood pressure
- Cut down your salt intake
MTHFR is a common genetic mutation that can contribute to anxiety, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, infertility, and more serious conditions like breast implant illness, heart attack, stroke, chronic fatigue syndrome, and some types of cancer. If you know or suspect you have an MTHFR variant, schedule a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment with MTHFR expert Dr. Amy today.Book Your Appointment