Supplements for Depression with MTHFR

MTHFR and depression are intimately linked. We’ve spoken about this before, and if you want to brush up, take a look at Season 1 Episode 8 where we explored the link between the MTHFR mutation and neurotransmitter formation via the BH4 pathway. The quick and dirty version is that when methylation isn’t working optimally, then the pathway that makes many of your major neurotransmitters, including serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine gets stalled out too.

Season 1 Episode 33 was also all about MTHFR and depression, specifically the entirely fixable causes of depression that your doctor will typically overlook. This whole episode was about steps you can take at home to manage depression. Balancing your methylation is obviously a cornerstone, but there are so many other factors involved that are entirely in your hands.

Another great one to review is Season 1 Episode 34, where we talked about the component of depression that is quite simply a mental bad habit. The part that feels like falling into a rut mentally where your brain travels over the same tracks, the same complaints, the same problems without questioning them or without breaking those patterns. Also, Season 1 Episode 35 in which we talk about some great techniques for breaking those bad habits.

The part of depression we haven’t talked about yet is the supplement part and this is something that people ask me about all the time. At the end of the day, sometimes we really do need a pill to take the edge off while we’re making these other changes. Often, the supplement helps us to have the mental and emotional energy TO make other changes. So let’s talk about a few good options that are typically pretty safe for MTHFR folks and typically well-tolerated.

Some Amazing Depression Supplements We Won’t Be Talking About

There are some great supplements for depression that we won’t talk about today, mostly because we’ve talked about them before at great length. One of the best natural treatments for depression is, of course, balancing methylation using a good folate source or SAMe and a good B12 source. Since those are things we talk about pretty much every week, I’m going to assume you’ve got those covered. For most of my clients, balancing methylation – whether it’s through 5-LMTHF, folinic acid, food sources of natural folate, or SAM-e – is the cornerstone of their depression relief. That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they need to do, but it’s certainly the foundation.

Another effective supplement for depression that we’ve talked about before is St. John’s Wort. We dove into that one at some length in Season 1 Episode 46 on the link between MTHFR and serotonin. Also, omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils are extremely well studied for depression and we’ve also talked about those at great length because they boost the effectiveness of B vitamins in MTHFR mutation (Season 1, Episode 42). Just remember that if you’re using fish oils for depression you may need a higher dose than the one listed on the bottle.

Saffron For Depression

Saffron is best known as a spice, adding brilliant yellow color and subtle flavor to Middle Eastern food and haute cuisine. Like most other highly-colored spices it’s absolutely packed with antioxidants, carotenoids, and biologically active compounds. In research and clinical practice, saffron shows major benefits for those with depression and it is thought that this could be through some serotonin-boosting mechanism, possibly similar to SSRI medications in which the saffron keeps serotonin in the synapse longer, basically making the same amount of serotonin do twice the work.

In fact, when compared to the actions of SSRI medications, saffron was found to be just as effective for major depressive disorder as these commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Given that this is thought to directly affect serotonin levels, it is best to talk with your doctor before starting saffron if you are already taking an antidepressant medication because there may be an interaction between them.

Saffron is typically dosed around 30 mg per day in research studies.

NAC for Depression

NAC or N-acetyl cysteine is something that we have talked about before as a precursor to glutathione, which is one of your body’s key antioxidants. It is actually precisely because of this function that it is so useful for depression. People with depression are more likely to have higher levels of oxidative stress, inflammation, and inflammatory cytokines like C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). By helping to moderate the inflammation, NAC actually eases symptoms of depression as well.

It is thought that NAC helps to regulate glutamine and dopamine levels in the brain and demonstrates a great ability to both cross the blood-brain barrier and also to increase levels of glutathione within the brain and central nervous system. NAC also shows promise for use with addiction and substance abuse issues.

NAC is actually an amino acid and so it is best taken on an empty stomach. If it is taken with food, then it competes with other amino acids for absorption. The doses typically used for depression are between 2 and 2.4 g/day. This can be divided into two or three doses depending on what is easiest for you to manage.

Rhodiola for Depression

Rhodiola is well known as a supplement for helping to get core energy back in situations of adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. This is because of its action as an adaptogen, and that adaptogenic ability is also thought to be the reason it helps with depression.

Studies have linked hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation (or HPA axis dysregulation for less of a mouth full), with depression. HPA axis dysregulation is exactly what is happening in clinical cases of adrenal fatigue or exhaustion. It describes a state of over-reactivity and subsequent burn-out of this vital neuro-endocrine system.

In a study that compared the effectiveness of Rhodiola to the common antidepressant Sertraline, the Rhodiola was shown to be effective, but not quite as effective as the antidepressant, but also far better tolerated with fewer side effects.

The typical dose of Rhodiola for depression is around 340 mg per day. There are other adaptogenic herbs as well, all of which may have similar benefits for depression. These include licorice root, ginseng, American ginseng, schizandra, and ashwagandha.

Thank you so much for listening, and if you’re interested in a 6-weeks to health with MTHFR course, make sure to sign up for the mailing list at tohealthwiththat.com and keep listening to the podcast for more info.

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S2E17: Happy Holidays and How To Make A New Years Resolution You Will Actually Keep.

First and foremost I want to say happy holidays this week. Spend time with loved ones if you can, and if you aren’t able to be with the people who matter to you, then make sure they know they matter in some way or another. This is the season when we all need to give and receive as much love and care as possible.

The holidays can be a hard time for a lot of people. If you’re struggling this season as so many people are, please reach out to someone. It could be a friend, a practitioner, family, a shelter, or hotline. Ask for help if you need it – you will be surprised at how much help is available.

This year is coming to a close and that brings with it a measure of self reflection and the almost inevitable decision to make some changes. For many of us those changes will come in the form of a New Years Resolution, and this year I’m proposing something a little bit different. Here’s why.

Saying “I love you” to yourself is surprisingly powerful. It only takes a second – try it right now.

2021 has been a tough year. Partly, because it followed 2020, which was also a tough year. Never-ending the global pandemic, many of us have faced some pretty extreme changes to the way we chose to live, the way we socialize, the way we work, the work we do, and our perceived level of freedom. I want to take a minute to acknowledge how much stress we as a collective are actually under and to honor that.

With MTHFR, it is wise to buffer ourselves from stressors like this one, and for many of us, this pandemic has worsened anxiety, increased depression, or deepened or reactivated addictions. Not only that, there is evidence that Covid affects people with MTHFR who have high levels of homocysteine more strongly than it does other folks. I want you to take just a second, take a deep breath, and say something profound. I want you to look in the mirror, right into your own eyes, and say three simple words. “I love you.”

For some of you, that will be kind of awkward or odd, for some it will trigger a smile and for some it will trigger tears. No matter what happens, this is a powerful thing you can do for yourself in only a second and it matters this year.

Now, back to the issue of New Years Resolutions.

I honestly feel that precisely zero people need more stress or striving right now. What we need is more joy, so I’m proposing a different kind of resolution this year – one you might actually keep beyond January 3rd. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Write a list of things that make you happy that you don’t take the time to do right now.  It could be big things (like travel or vacation or family camping trips) or little things (sketching, hiking, or having fresh flowers in the house). Think of at least 20 things.
  2. Take out the ones that are impossible  for some reason (costs too much, borders are closed, have to stay close to home to take care of elderly parents, etc..)  
  3. Make sure there are at least ten good things on your list and if there aren’t, repeat steps one and two until you’ve got ten or more
  4. Make your resolution, just like the big bold one below.

In 2022 I will do one wonderful thing from my happy list every week.

– Love, me.

How’s that for a resolution you can keep?!?

We all need a little more happy and a little more ease right now and putting pressure on yourself, guilting yourself, or being hard on yourself, or setting yourself up for failure isn’t going to help anybody – especially not you.

This year, make a resolution that will make your life better.

Happy New Year, Everybody! Love, Amy.

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What To Expect When You’re Breaking A Mental Bad Habit

Last week we started our conversation about the “bad habit” component, called neuroplasticity, of depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and obsessive or compulsive thoughts. This is, of course, only part of the picture. Neurotransmitter balance is a factor along with the often overlooked physical contributors to depression and other states.


We discussed three main methods for breaking mental bad habits. Those are:

  1. The Fantasy
  2. The Stop and Drop
  3. The Distraction

When you’re first trying this, it can be really helpful to try all three strategies at different times to see what works the best for you. You’ll know it works when you are able to pop yourself out of your mental bad habit – to feel different in your body and to let go of whatever thought pattern it is that you’re working on.

Stages of Resolution With Mental Bad Habits

  1. Learning. In this phase, you’re actually learning to pay attention to your thoughts and that takes more time than you would think. You may find a particular “warning” signal for you – it could be a behavior (like when I’m starting to feel this way I always log on to Facebook and click links that make me angry or I start craving XYZ food. It could also be a physical feeling – a headache in a particular place, a clenching in your belly, pain in your neck or shoulders. It could also be something more subtle like tuning into your mood more frequently.
  2. Out of Control. This phase feels like you’re moving backward. You’ve started tuning in and now you’re actually noticing how much your brain does this thing and it’s a ton! It will seem like your brain is a wild horse racing ahead of you, and it feels like the bad habit is happening more, not less.  That is a GREAT sign because the reality is that you aren’t doing the bad thing more, you’re just noticing more and that is the first step to actually changing it. This can take a few months of diligent attention, but don’t get discouraged – you’re doing it and you’re making progress.
  3. Quietening. In this phase, you start to make tangible progress and you’ll notice that the mental bad habit becomes softer somehow. Quieter.  The thoughts/feelings are still there and they still affect you, but you’re learning to let them go more quickly and it’s easier not to get pulled in by them. 
  4. Maintenance. This phase is amazing.  One day you’ll notice your mental bad habit pop up and the first thought you’ll have is “Oh! I haven’t seen that for a while.” and you’ll dismiss it and move on. This is the phase where you have the freedom to move on to something else because that bad habit is mostly gone.  It’s a good idea to still take proactive action when it pops up, but it is popping up so much less frequently that it becomes almost a curiosity when it’s there.

Great! So I’ll be mentally healthy by next week, right?

Absolutely not. I would love to say it was easy and took no time or effort, but that would be a bald-faced lie. It’s a challenge and it takes time. You’ve probably had this mental bad habit for years if not for your entire adult life, so it will take some time to break it too. And some time doesn’t mean a couple of weeks, it means months and maybe even a year. This isn’t quick, but it is SO. WORTH. IT.

Does This Work Every Time?

This works every time if you stick with it, and when there isn’t some other major imbalance. If your serotonin is actually so low it’s living in the sub basement, then this will still help fix the habit part of it, but it won’t completely normalize the serotonin (but it will bring it up – research shows these techniques are associated with higher levels of both serotonin and melatonin). Although, every day we’re learning more about what this can actually accomplish.

What IS This Witchcraft? It’s Mindfulness.

Yup. That thing that hippies and new-agey types do. Also, everybody who studies neurology and neuroscience of any sort, because as it turns out the effects are so powerful as to be almost unbelievable.

Among the many documented effects of any form of mindfulness are:

  • Increased wellbeing
  • Reduced cognitive reactivity (so external things don’t affect you so much)
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced reactivity of the autonomic nervous system (you don’t get an adrenaline spike every time something bad happens)
  • Higher serotonin
  • Higher melatonin
  • increased telomerase activity (anti-aging)
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Is Your Depression or Anxiety Just a Mental Bad Habit?

Depression and anxiety are common problems for humans. So common that almost all of us will experience one or the other or both in our lifetimes. In truth, both depression and anxiety are normal and healthy reactions to life stressors, grief, and trauma and they have their uses in terms of survival and adaptation. The problem comes, then, when they linger beyond their useful time.

The Neurotransmitter-Only Myth

In modern medicine we tend to compartmentalize and idealize situations in which we can blame a problem on one concrete and measurable thing. Like serotonin. Serotonin is a great thing to blame in medicine. Not only is it concrete and measurable, but we have drugs to change how it is used and processed and therefore, it’s “fixable.” That is all nice and neat and it would be perfect, if this strategy actually worked. Like, really worked.

I am not at all suggesting that this is a bad route of treatment for depression – it’s actually a pretty good one and lots of people see improvement of their symptoms and sometimes even resolution with a drug that affects serotonin, like an SSRI. But, lots of people don’t, which means we have a ways to go.

Last week, we talked about other factors that can lead to depression, and those are generally physical states. These are typically also pretty straightforward to address and will often bump a person from meh, to good. That is tremendous. But what about what is left?

Mental Bad Habits, Also Known As Neuroplasticity

The factor in troubled mental health that I feel is most overlooked is the bad habit factor. Unfortunately, this is a giant factor in our mental health because there is an important survival-related brain function that prioritizes neural pathways that we use frequently, which we call “neuroplasticity.”

Neuroplasticity is part of the way your brain learns what is important to you. The pathways between neurons that you use most frequently get strengthened and prioritized because they matter to you.

Picture it like a path through tall grass. The first time you walk through the tall grass and weeds you have to push through weedy tangles, the plants pull at your legs and they’re so close together that you can feel resistance as you walk. The fifth time you walk the same path, you notice the plants are trampled in that area, there is a natural space opening up and walking is easier. The five hundredth time, there is a dirt trail there where the plants have stopped growing because the path is traveled so frequently. It’s clear and easy and there is no resistance.

Your brain is exactly the same way – the more you use a certain pathway, the easier it becomes to continue to use that pathway. This principle applies to many mental states that could be considered mental bad habits.

  • Anxiety
  • Catastrophizing
  • Depression
  • Negative self-talk
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Guilty or self-reproaching thoughts.
  • Lack and scarcity

This also applies to many mental states that can be considered mental good habits.

  • Gratitude
  • Mindfulness
  • Acceptance
  • Forgiveness
  • Self acceptance
  • Abundance

Now, does this mean that if you focus on retraining your brain that a lifetime of depression and anxiety can disappear? In all honesty, I think it does, but it also takes a significant amount of work, and sometimes there really are nutritional deficiencies, physical problems, or neurotransmitter imbalances that need to be corrected as well.

Breaking A Mental Bad Habit

There are three techniques that I think are incredibly helpful in breaking a bad habit. The key to all of these is experimenting to see what seems to work best for your particular bad habit, and then repeating the technique over and over again. Mostly, this boils down to practice. So here are the techniques to choose from:

The Fantasy

Say your issue is catastrophizing or anxiety and you get into a place of “what if.” “What if I lose my job and I can’t keep up with the bills and I have to choose between keeping the house or …” We all have these thoughts sometime and they are largely unproductive. This isn’t when most people do effective planning, this is just when they spin out into fear and anxiety. So, here’s what you do.

  1. Notice you’re spinning out. This is actually the hardest part because if you get into this thought frequently, it often runs in the background without you placing any attention on it.
  2. Choose something awesome instead. With the above job-loss fantasy (which is in most cases just a fantasy), replace it with an opposite fantasy. “What if I win the lottery and buy my own jet and …”
  3. Enjoy it for a minute. Really get into the replacement fantasy. Figure out what you would do, imagine how it would feel waking up every day knowing that you can do whatever you want. Think of all the things you could enjoy.
  4. Repeat. Every time you notice anxious thoughts, do this same thing. It takes practice, but you will notice the anxious thoughts coming less frequently, feeling less emotionally compelling, and vanishing more quickly.

The Stop and Drop

This is my personal favorite, just because it’s a nice gap in a crowded mental landscape. Again, the hardest part is noticing your mind.

  1. Notice you’re having a mental bad habit. If you’re doing your mental bad habit – judging yourself, feeling bad about something, obsessing, the first step is always to notice you’re doing it. This means recognizing the thought or feeling in the moment.
  2. Stop. In that moment stop what you’re doing for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and notice your body, your hands, your shoulders, the physical feeling that goes with your mental bad habit. Usually, people notice clenched jaws, fisted hands, bunched-up shoulders, clenched belly, that sort of thing. Let your body relax.
  3. Drop. Take another deep breath and keep your body relaxed and let the thoughts just drop. You don’t really have to do anything with the thought, just let it finish and go away and don’t choose to pick it up right away.
  4. Repeat. Again and again and again. This isn’t quick, but it is so effective. You are literally training your brain and just like training a dog or a horse, it’s all about persistence and repetition.

The Distraction

I learned this technique when my little girl was an early toddler and it applies to adult brains too.

  1. Notice your brain is in a bad place. Again, this first step is the hardest but if you start to pay attention, you will start to catch yourself in places you don’t want to be.
  2. Choose a distraction. Find your own version of a toddler distraction. Something your brain likes to do that isn’t a mental bad habit. It could be a book, a funny youtube video, or a quick game of some kind. Something that is mentally compelling enough to distract you entirely from that thought.
  3. Do your distraction for 1 – 3 minutes. It helps to set a timer so you don’t get lost in your distraction because that isn’t helpful either, but use your distraction as a way to bump your brain out of an unhealthy pattern. I’m not suggesting you binge watch Friends to stop your depression because ultimately, that isn’t the point. Distracting yourself for twelve hours straight really only counts as one episode of distraction. The key is to repeat at short intervals.
  4. Repeat. Every time you notice your bad habit, give yourself a quick distraction. It will happen

A Note About Recognizing How You’re Feeling In the Moment

This is actually the hardest part because at the end of the day, the mind is a wild landscape and it’s not actually under much control. Your mind mostly does it’s own thing and you actually tune in selectively. Tuning in more often means you’ll have to learn the signals your mind gives you. A big part of this process will be noticing the trigger thoughts, feelings and body sensations that actually tell you your mind is in a dark place.

Lots of what goes on in your mind stays in the dark corners, never really coming to your attention except maybe as a sour feeling in your stomach, tense shoulders, or the sinking feeling that you’ve done something wrong and you’ll never be good enough. All of those things start in your mind even if you don’t hear or listen to the thoughts. It’s especially hard to see if you’re in that state almost constantly. Just keep trying. Even if you notice it twice a day, that’s a huge step forward.

If you really don’t ever notice it, then set alarms for yourself to practice one of the above techniques randomly. Take 2-3 minutes out of your day as often as you can – even hourly while you’re awake. It all adds up and stopping any thought and replacing it with something either entirely neutral, like the stop and drop or joyful, like the fantasy, makes a difference in the tracks your brain will follow.

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I Can’t Take Folate – Now What?

We all know that MTHFR mutations are differences in the way your body processes folate, so obviously the answer is to take more or better folate supplements like 5-LMTHF or folinic acid just like every doctor out there talks about. It’s so exciting to have a solution to the health issues that you’ve been struggling with! The problem is, there is a significant chunk of MTHFR folks out there who just don’t tolerate folate and never will. Truly, never. If you’re not sure why not being able to tolerate folate would matter in MTHFR, then read the Start Here Guide to MTHFR.

Who Can’t Take Folate?

Typically these people are in the group of MTHFR folks who tend toward undermethylation. Undermethylators make up about 45% of the population and while some of them do tolerate folate in low doses in foods or even a very tiny dose in a supplement, many of them don’t tolerate any folate at all, not even in food. There are exceptions, of course including low-serotonin overmethylators.

Now How Do I Deal With MTHFR Issues?

You’ll recall that the whole methylation cycle is mostly accomplishing two goals. One is converting homocysteine to methionine (to avoid homocysteine buildup), and the other is making SAMe (a methyl-donor).

the MTHFR lifestyle matters because of the way these cycles all interconnect.

Bypass the Cycle

So, if you can’t convert homocysteine to methionine, and you can’t make SAMe, you can still get the cycle and all related processes going by taking methionine and SAMe. It’s a bit of a cheat, but it helps to solve that one very basic problem and for most people, boosts their mood tremendously.

But Why Is This Happening In The First Place?

For most undermethylators who don’t tolerate folate, it’s happening because their serotonin is just so low. This can happen to overmethylators too, but it’s far less common. The key issue is typically LOW SEROTONIN and folate of any kind makes the depressive symptoms of low serotonin worse.

The basic trouble is that folate, 5-LMTHF, and folinic acid (also folic acid, but I know you don’t allow any of that into your body because of this) have an epigenetic effect on the SERT transporter.

The SERT Transporter

The SERT transporter helps to re-uptake serotonin after it has been released, This is the target for the popular antidepressants called SSRIs – that stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (it’s essentially a SERT inhibitor).

Taking an SSRI or inhibiting SERT doesn’t change the amount of serotonin you have, but it changes how long it stays out there as a signal. The longer it’s out there, the more effect it has and the happier you feel.

Folate boosts serotonin production, but also speeds up reuptake so may actually net decrease the amount of benefit (happiness) you get from that serotonin.

Folate in all of it’s forms actually boosts SERT function so even though folate helps your body manufacture more serotonin through the BH4 pathway, it boosts re-uptake more, so the net effect feels like lower serotonin.

Boosting Serotonin Naturally (Or Less Naturally)

The great news is that often the people who don’t respond well to folate, do typically respond really well to supplements and often drugs that boost serotonin. These include:

  • St. John’s Wort
  • SAMe (so if depression is your primary concern, focus on finding the optimal dose of SAMe before you add other serotonin boosters).
  • Melatonin (which boosts serotonin indirectly by both helping sleep and also reducing serotonin conversion to melatonin.)
  • Tryptophan
  • SSRI Medications (although you may still experience side-effects).

Where Do I Start?

  1. Folic Acid – Like everyone else with MTHFR issues, start at the beginning, which is getting the toxic folic acid out of your diet. If you don’t tolerate high-folate foods or folate supplements, then foods fortified with folic acid are extra harmful to you.
  2. HIgh natural-folate foods – you might find you can tolerate some high-folate foods once the folic acid is gone. If not, that’s fine too, but it’s worth it to try. This gets you out of stage 1 of MTHFR balancing, which is the general stuff that is typically good for all mutants. If you want more detail, check here.
  3. Other B vitamins – a B supplement or multivitamin that doesn’t include folate or B12. The only ones I know of are from Seeking Health and can be purchased from Fullscript using the sidebar link. This is an affiliate link so I will get a small commission on the referral and I will offer you a 10% discount.
  4. Methionine – 500 mg at bedtime can make a world of difference on its own.
  5. SAMe – this can help with depression and energy levels so it’s a good next choice. (Methionine and SAMe can also be purchased from the link on the side, but they are also pretty easy to find in local health food stores.) As with everything else with MTHFR, start at a lower dose, and increase slowly. A good starting dose is 200 mg twice daily.
  6. Move to Stage 3 of MTHFR balancing – this is all working with your own individual symptom picture, so it very much depends on what you are working with right now.

What If Low Serotonin Doesn’t Sound Like Me?

Sometimes, even without low serotonin some MTHFR folks just don’t do well with high-folate foods or supplements like 5-LMTHF. In this scenario, it is still a good idea to try the steps above and if low serotonin (which usually feels like depression) isn’t the issue then you might be able to try a tiny dose of folinic acid, which for some reason is better tolerated in this situation. It still might not be right, but it is worth a try to see if we can get that cycle moving just a little bit. Otherwise, follow the Start Here for MTHFR guide.

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Who Should Care About MTHFR Mutation?

On the internets, it seems like everyone cares about MTHFR right now, but honestly, it isn’t necessarily important for everyone. Not even for everyone with a known mutation.

Just having a polymorphism is not a cause for panic. Having an MTHFR mutation, even one that is considered significant will never have any symptoms, signs, or health risks from the polymorphism. Just having the gene doesn’t mean anything at all in terms of supplements you should take, things you should do, or really anything else. In fact, over supplementing can be as harmful to your health as under supplementing.

This girl thinks you should care about MTHFR mutations.

Two Main Factors Make MTHFR Matter

  1. Your circumstances
  2. Your symptoms

Let’s review what MTHFR might do, and then we’ll talk more about circumstances and symptoms.

Possible Health Consequences of the MTHFR mutations

MTHFR mutations have been implicated in at least one research study in:

  • Midline Abnormalities: neural tube defects, anencephaly, spina bifida, cleft palate, cleft lip, and facial asymmetries.
  • Cancer: including breast, lung, brain, stomach, head and neck, and kidney.
  • Cardiac disease: including thrombosis (increased tendency to clot), deep vein thrombosis, high homocysteine levels, pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in and around pregnancy), vascular dementia.
  • Fertility issues: including miscarriages or multiple pregnancy loss, low sperm count, history of children with birth defects.
  • Neurological issues: including migraines, autism, Alzheimer’s dementia.
  • Mood and Psychological issues: including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive traits or tendencies, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Also, reduced reactions to certain medications like SSRIs for depression, and increased tendency toward addictions.
  • Abnormal Reactions to Medications and Therapies – including methotrexate, FOLFOX (a combination chemotherapeutic agent), SSRI medications for depression, some vitamins including folic acid, methyl-B12, betaine, and others.

When Should You Be Concerned?

This is simple. These are the circumstances that matter:

  • Fertility and Pregnancy – if you suspect you or your partner might have an MTHFR issue and you’re considering having a baby, it matters to know so you can get your health right before you build a baby.
  • Treatments for Depression and Anxiety aren’t Working – this is a strong indicator that there is something underlying the issue that isn’t being addressed, and none of the medications out there manage MTHFR issues.
  • You Have a Strong Family History of Early Cardiac Death – it might not be related to MTHFR, but if it is then knowing your MTHFR status gives you something you can work on, instead of waiting for the ax to fall.
  • You Have Three Known Bad Copies of MTHFR – this is three compromised copies of significant MTHFR SNPs (C677T and A1298C) out of four.

Who Should Care about MTHFR Polymorphisms?

These are the symptoms that matter. If you or your genetically related family members have more than three of the following, then your life might get better by addressing your methylation, whether you know about your MTHFR or not.

  • Anxiety
  • Overachieving tendencies
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Cleft lip or cleft palate
  • Spina bifida
  • Abnormal or unexplained clotting
  • Bad reaction to birth control pills
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Repeat miscarriages
  • Unexplained low sperm count
  • Alzheimer’s dementia
  • Addictions
  • High homocysteine levels
  • Food or chemical sensitivities
  • Intense competitive drive
  • Serum folic acid tests is abnormally high or abnormally low
  • “New car smell” gives you a headache or other symptoms.
  • Taking B vitamins sometimes makes you feel depressed

Who Should Not Be Worried About MTHFR Polymorphisms?

  1. People who know they have no bad copies.
  2. People who know they have one bad copy but have no related symptoms or family histories.
  3. People who don’t know their genetic profile who also don’t have related symptoms or family histories.

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