Do you or your children suffer from Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, OCD or an Autism Spectrum Disorder … Or could it really be a MTHFR defect?
If you suffer from Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Bi-polar, Fatigue, Brain Fog, OCD type symptoms or unexplained miscarriages then you may actually have a defect in the MTHFR enzyme which is driving these symptoms.
Additionally research indicates that 98% of children with Autism have a MTHFR genetic mutation. Symptoms in children associated to under methylation and a MTHFR genetic mutation include anxiety, seperation anxiety, panic disorders, hyperactivity, increased food and chemical sensitivities, poor pain tolerance, unexplained episodes of anger, obsessive compulsive and fixation to routines.
These symptoms can be found in adults as well as high blood pressure, increased stroke risk and other cardiovascular diseases that can be exacerbated by this mutation.
What is MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It is the enzyme that converts folate (Vitamin B9)
into the active form that the body uses known as 5-Methylenetetrahydrofolate. This may not sound that exciting or that it is very important. In fact this process is one of the most important functions in the body.
To understand this better let us first look at the role of folate in the body.
The Role of Folate in our body
Folate plays a crucial role in cell division and replication. It works like the bodies photocopier and helps cells and DNA to replicate properly. This is why many cancer and arthritis drugs turn off folate to help reduce fast dividing cells.
Folate is required for the production of our brain messengers (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine,. This is why folate deficiency contributes to depression, anxiety, bi-polar and other mental illnesses.
Folate is required for the correct formation of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. It is essential for the detoxification of homocysteine which if not properly cleared can increase cardiovascular disease by 10 times.
Folate is also a critical component of the methylation pathway which is required for a huge range of functions in the body including, but not limited to, turning on / off enzymes, tissue repair, inflammation modulation, stress, antiageing, energy production and detoxification.
If folate and the methylation pathway are not working correctly then chronic disease and mental illness is not too far away.
Back to MTHFR
If you have a mutation to the MTHFR gene then you are not able to convert folate to the bodies active form and therefore you end up with a massive folate deficiency culminating in the many of the signs and symptoms listed above. It is also common that you may have a zinc deficiency, excess copper levels and increased homocysteine levels.
There are two main levels of mutation to the MTHFR enzyme.
Heterozygous meaning one parent has passed on the mutation
Homozygous meaning both parents have passed on the mutation.
If you or your child is tested and it shows a heterozygous defect then you have a 40% loss of function while the homozygous defect conveys a 70% loss of function. Both levels of functional loss can have a significant impact on your bodies health.
How can I get tested for the MTHFR gene mutation?
The main mutations tested are the MTHFR C677T and MTHFR A1298C. The easiest way to test for these mutations is via a finger prick blood collection which is then sent off to a specialized functional pathology lab. Your results will be available within 2 weeks and can be interpretated by your Naturopath. The test is around $80 to perform though is generally not available from your GP. At Capalaba Natural Health we have the necessary forms and test kit to allow this test to be performed quickly and easily.
To support your MTHFR test results you should also obtain results from your GP for your zinc levels, copper levels, red blood cell folate, B6, B12 and your homocysteine levels.
What can be done if I test positive for a MTHFR mutation?
Naturopathically we can help improve your bodies ability to utilize folate and to improve your methylation pathway. Supplementing with high levels of zinc, B6 and the active form of folate 5-MTHF plus supporting gut health can significantly improve your health and reduce a number of the symptoms you have as a consequence of having low folate levels and an underperforming methylation pathway.
In clinical practice I have seen significant health improvements through treating MTHFR mutations such as decreased anxiety, decreased depression levels, elevated mood, increased energy levels, reduced brain fog, less panic attacks, improved childhood behavior, reduced episodic anger and a reduction in hyperactivity. Reduced homocysteine levels in adult clients have also meant a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease.Written by Award Winning Naturopath and Weight Loss Specialist Tony Daniel ND