MTHFR And Your Health
It can be hard enough to pitch a tent under normal conditions. Yes, some people can do it with ease. But what if one of the poles was missing? When the body tries to perform necessary chemical processes with missing or altered components, it can cause problems. As medical researchers work to better understand certain diseases and conditions, they have come to see a relationship of mutaltations in the MTHFR gene with many health problems. MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It’s easier to pronounce when it’s broken down: methylene-tetra-hydro-folate reductase. And we notice it has something to do with folate.
The Folate ConnectionFolate, one of the B vitamins, is water soluble and naturally occurring in lots of foods. It is available in synthetic form as the supplement known as folic acid. The terms folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably. In this blog post a distinction is made between synthetic folate, known as folic acid, and naturally occurring folate. Many foods are “fortified,” or “enriched” with the chemical form. All these forms are metabolized in the small intestine, but folic acid metabolizes differently than natural folate. More than 150 forms of folate are found in foods, some of which are:
- Dark leafy greens
- Lima beans
- Split peas
- Brussels sprouts
- Many other vegetable
- Eggs and poultry
- The list goes on...
MTHFR Gene MutationsEstimates of how many people are affected by MTHFR mutations range anywhere from 20% to at least 60% of the population. As additional data is gathered, the range of estimates will narrow and become more reliable. More than 400 types of mutations to the MTHFR gene have been identified. Other contributing biological factors have also been identified, but it is still unclear how those factors interact with a mutated MTHFR gene to cause the health problems.
The Known and the Unknown
- Why do some people have a mutated MTHFR that leads to disease, while others have the same mutation but no disease?
- What activates the gene?
- What is the relationship between the genetic mutation and the other factors that lead to the medical issue?
- What are the most effective treatments to combat effects of mutated MTHFR genes?
Related Health IssuesThe list of known related health issues is long and diverse. It includes:
- Pulmonary embolisms (blood clots, fat globules, etc)
- Mental health issues (such as severe depression and schizophrenia)
- Spina bifida
- Developmental delay
What You Can Do
- Get tested. A simple blood draw test is available for a relatively low cost at places such as a genetics laboratory at a college of medicine.
- Reduce stress.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Include foods high in folates. Eliminate junk foods.
- Take good quality, responsibly sourced nutritional supplements (i.e., without chemicals).
- Avoid environmental toxins.
- Drink purified water. Tap water may contain impurities and chemicals (even arsenic and lead in some areas) that are known to be hazardous to health.
- Do what you can and don’t worry. (Refer to #2.)