Understanding MTHFR: Joe Rogan & Gary Brecka Discuss Methylation

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The Pure TheraPro Team

The Pure TheraPro Education Team is comprised of researchers from diverse backgrounds including nutrition, functional medicine, fitness, supplement formulation & food science. All articles have been reviewed for content, accuracy, and compliance by a holistic integrative nutritionist certified by an accredited institution.
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You may have heard of MTHFR, which stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase. It’s an important enzyme in the body, and enzymes are the spark that ignites important processes in your body. Without this enzyme, many important things don’t happen, such as absorbing certain nutrients and detoxifying cells, which are critically important to your health. This is because MTHFR is instrumental in making methylation happen. Methylation is a metabolic process that occurs in your body billions of times a day. It’s the switch that turns genes on and off. It repairs DNA. It’s one of the most important processes in your system. Without proper methylation, you’re likely to get sick.

It is estimated that anywhere between 30-60% of the population has an MTHFR mutation and associated issues with methylation as well as enzyme deficiency. That’s like owning a car that has no gas, no battery, and no way of igniting the engine.

In a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, Gary Brecka, a well-respected figure in health supplementation, stirred significant interest in the critical role of methylation and the importance of methylated supplements. For millions of Americans, this conversation shed light on the Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) enzyme and its fundamental role in bodily processes for the very first time, bringing to the forefront the necessity of understanding methylation and its implications for health, especially for those with MTHFR mutations.

In this article, we'll explain why methylation is key to your overall health and what the difference is between methylated vitamins and regular vitamins.

The Role of Methylation
Most people have never even heard of methylation let alone realize how important it is to them being alive! Methylation detoxes the body, removing chemicals that could potentially cause harm. It synthesizes DNA and RNA, protects your nerves, helps you burn fat, supports your liver, constructs immune cells, metabolizes hormones and regulates them throughout your system. It helps create energy for your cells and neurotransmitters for your brain. Methylation is also responsible for turning genes on or off. It’s that key in the ignition that pretty much makes everything happen.

Some people with MTHFR gene mutations (that’s ~25–40% of American adults) may not initially have any symptoms. However, many with this genetic mutation might notice a culmination of symptoms, which might be different for everyone with this issue. Over time, it can lead to chronic illness. The MTHFR gene mutation is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, autism, and other serious disease states related to inflammation.

Without optimal methylation, toxins build up in the system and create systemic inflammation. Those with the MTHFR gene mutation cannot utilize Folic Acid (vitamin B9) properly, which is instrumental in protecting your DNA and every cell in your body. It is estimated that MTHFR gene mutations result in up to a 70% reduction in methyl-folate compared to those without this genetic mutation, supporting the need to supplement. Those with MTHFR cannot simply take folic acid, which is commonly the form of vitamin B9 on the market today, however, they should consider supplementing with the natural form, methyl folate (methylfolate or 5MTHF), in order to help promote optimal methylation and support regulated homocysteine levels.

Symptoms and Associated Risks of MTHFR Mutation

If you have the MTHFR gene mutation and/or a methylation issue, you might experience these health issues:

1. Cardiovascular Disease:
Elevated homocysteine levels, a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, are often linked with MTHFR mutations due to inadequate methylation. Research indicates that lifestyle factors like smoking, physical inactivity, and a diet rich in processed foods can exacerbate this issue. In the US, heart disease remains the leading cause of death, with dietary and lifestyle choices playing a significant role in its prevalence.

2. Chronic Fatigue:
Do you notice being tired all the time, experiencing brain fog, light-headedness, dizziness, or feeling disoriented? You may have a folate deficiency, which can cause exhaustion and a variety of related symptoms.

A folate deficiency can cause fatigue since the body is lacking in this nutrient, which also promotes more energy. Those with MTHFR may wake up feeling exhausted, experience frequent brain fog, forgetfulness, irritability, and a feeling of never being completely alert and awake. Exercise intolerance is also common.

3. Headache:
Do you experience migraines and light sensitivity? This might be due to an MTHFR genetic mutation and low Vitamin B levels (specifically methylfolate & methyl B12).

Migraines, particularly those with aura, have been associated with MTHFR genetic mutations. Studies suggest a link between these mutations and increased migraine risks, affecting around 12% of the US population (!).

4. Skin and Hair:
B vitamin deficiencies may also be evident in your skin and hair. Those with an MTHFR gene mutation may notice frequent skin rashes, psoriasis, eczema, dry and flaky skin, cracked heels, itchiness, acne and progressive aging. Hair might break or fall out easily due to the inability to metabolize certain vitamins and nutrients essential for healthy skin and hair. Inflammation as a result of high homocysteine levels also play a role in negatively affecting your skin and hair.

5. Chronic Gut Issues:
This is a big one. MTHFR mutations can exacerbate gut health problems, ranging from leaky gut syndrome to IBS (IBD, IBS-C & IBS-D) and Crohn's disease, due to poor methylation affecting nutrient absorption and hormonal balance. In the US, an estimated 10-15% of the population suffers from IBS, highlighting the widespread nature of gut health issues.

Addressing leaky gut is essential for those with chronic gut issues. This involves eliminating processed foods, pesticides, sugar, preservatives, GMOs, and processed grains (especially gluten-containing grains such as wheat flour) which are often enriched with synthetic folic acid and may increase toxicity. Focus on whole foods that are certified-organic and non-GMO.

Certain herbs and nutrients can help rebuild the gut lining and promote an optimal environment for a healthy microbiome. These include Licorice Root Extract (DGL), Glutamine and Arabinogalactan (from North American larch tree bark extract) as well as the inner filet of Aloe Vera leaf.

Taking a quality probiotic can help re-flourish the microbiome and increase gut transit time to further the detoxification process and assist with digestion. Healthy fats, such as avocado, can also help calm gut inflammation and support the body’s healing process.

6. Reproductive Issues:
Women with an MTHFR gene variant face an increased risk of birth defects and miscarriages due to high homocysteine levels. Preeclampsia during pregnancy may also have a link with MTHFR gene variants and may impact fertility.
Similarly, men with this variant may experience fertility issues. Infertility affects about 10% of women aged 15-44 in the US, with genetic factors like MTHFR mutations playing a role. Proper methylation and the folate pathway play an important role in the production of healthy sperm. In multiple studies, men with MTHFR had significantly more fertility issues than men without this gene variant.

7. Autoimmune Disease:
With Leaky Gut Syndrome being a common occurrence for those with the MTHFR gene variant, it’s no surprise that this genetic mutation is associated with increased risk of having an autoimmune disease. Without proper metabolism of homocysteine, levels elevate and can cause systemic inflammation. Inflammation triggers an autoimmune response. Research shows that poor methylation means that toxins have difficulty being properly removed from the body. This puts additional load on your detox pathways and glutathione production, which is your body’s master antioxidant. Low levels of glutathione increase the risk of gut issues and autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome and food sensitivities. In the US, autoimmune diseases affect approximately 8% of the population, with women being at a higher risk.

8. Mental Health Issues:
Since methylation is impaired by the MTHFR mutation, it can influence hormones and neurotransmitters that are vital for mental health. Studies show that people with the MTHFR gene variant are more likely to have mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

High levels of homocysteine as a result of poor methylation decrease the production of SAMe, which then impacts important hormones and neurotransmitters that balance mood and support mental health. These include dopamine and serotonin. The inability to remove toxins that can influence mental health, such as heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemicals, may also affect the brain and contribute to mood disorders.

Mental health conditions such as pyroluria are also connected with MTHFR. Pyroluria is actually a nutrient deficiency caused by pyrolles in the bloodstream binding to essential vitamins and nutrients (specifically Vitamin B6, Zinc and essential fatty acids). This makes it difficult for the body to utilize these nutrients, which affects the brain as well as the digestive system. Pyroluria is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia, manic depression and bipolar disorder.

If you have the MTHFR gene variant, don’t simply assume you’re doomed to be plagued with a variety of diseases and health issues. “Genes load the gun, your environment pulls the trigger.” You have the ability to help your body work to its best ability. By providing it with the key nutrients it needs to methylate properly and working to reduce your toxic load, you have the tools to live a healthier, happier, symptom-free & disease-free life.

What is the difference between Methylated Vitamins and Standard Supplements?
The discussion between Gary Brecka and Joe Rogan brought significant attention to the importance of methylation and methylated supplements for health, especially highlighting the relevance for those with MTHFR mutations.
Methylated vitamins are specifically designed to be more bioavailable and easier for the body to use, especially for individuals with certain genetic mutations. Standard supplements, on the other hand, might require additional internal processes for utilization, which can be less efficient.

The difference between methylated and non-methylated vitamins primarily lies in their form and how the body metabolizes them, which impacts their effectiveness, especially for individuals with certain genetic variations.

Methylated Vitamins:
Bioavailable Form: Methylated vitamins are in a form that the body can immediately use without needing to convert them. This is because they've already undergone a process of methylation, a biochemical transformation that makes vitamins more easily absorbed and utilized by the body.
Ideal for Genetic Variations: They are particularly beneficial for individuals with genetic mutations such as MTHFR, which can impair the body's ability to convert certain vitamins into their active forms. Methylated forms bypass this metabolic step, ensuring that the body receives the nutrients in an active, usable form.

Non-Methylated Vitamins:
Conversion Required: Non-methylated vitamins are in a form that the body must convert into an active form before use. This conversion process is necessary for the vitamins to be effective, but it can be inefficient or insufficient in individuals with specific genetic mutations.
Less Effective for Some: For those with mutations like MTHFR, non-methylated vitamins may not provide the same level of benefit, as their bodies may struggle to convert these vitamins into a usable form.

Why Methylation Supplements Matter?
The conversation between Gary Brecka and Joe Rogan underscored the significance of methylation supplements for those with MTHFR mutations. These supplements are designed to bypass the conversion process required by non-methylated forms, offering direct support for nutrient metabolism and overall health.
Pregnant women, especially those with MTHFR mutations, may benefit from methylated forms of folic acid and other B-vitamins. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the right supplementation during pregnancy.
Methylated B vitamins play a crucial role in various bodily processes:
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Essential for energy production and cellular function, it helps convert homocysteine to methionine, a key process in methylation, vital for cardiovascular and neurological health.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Integral in amino acid metabolism and neurotransmitter synthesis, it assists in converting homocysteine to cysteine, crucial for detoxification and cellular protection.
Folate (as L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate Calcium): This bioactive form of vitamin B9 is essential for DNA synthesis and repair. It supports methylation by providing methyl groups for converting homocysteine into methionine.
Vitamin B12 (as Hydroxycobalamin): Plays a pivotal role in brain and nervous system function, working alongside folate in methylation to support DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation.

You can hear the complete podcast here

Beyond multivitamins, Gary Brecka recommends supplements like Coenzyme Q10, Phosphatidylcholine, Folinic or L-Methylfolate, and Vitamin B-6 and B-12 to support methylation. Recognizing the complexities of methylation and its impact on health has led to the development of supplements for mthfr as well as homocysteine supplements.

Pure Thera’s Methyl B Complete is a cutting-edge formula comprised of 5 key nutrients: Quatrefolic® Folate for maximum MTHFR support, trimethylglycine, a super-bioactive blend of Vitamin B12 (including patented MecobalActive® Methylcobalamin), as well as Vitamin B6 in its coenzyme form and the highest-quality Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). This synergistic formula is responsible for supporting healthy homocysteine levels, vibrant energy production, optimal detoxification, a robust metabolism, and peak cognitive function.

Methyl B Complete™ is formulated with only the highest quality B Vitamins in their most desirable forms, suitable even for the millions of Americans with MTHFR and COMT mutations. At PureTheraPro Rx®, we utilized only the finest patented Quatrefolic® Folate, as well as other B vitamins in their co-enzyme and pre-methylated forms for optimal absorption and bioavailability.

Choosing Methyl B Complete is a proactive step towards addressing specific MTHFR and methylation needs, enhancing overall health and wellness. Whether dealing with cardiovascular issues, chronic fatigue, reproductive concerns, or mental health challenges, these supplements offer the support needed for critical biochemical processes.

In conclusion, understanding the role of MTHFR and methylation is crucial for optimal health, especially for those with genetic mutations affecting these processes. Through targeted supplementation, including methylation supplements, MTHFR supplements, and specifically formulated products like Methyl B12 and MTHFR Multivitamin, individuals can support their body's needs, promoting better health outcomes and a higher quality of life.