Each year I go to the Naturopath for a full body check up: blood work is ordered to check for any imbalances or deficiencies that may be present, and comprehensive testing is done to check in on my gut health (which has a history of damage over the past 4 years from antibiotic use).
Almost 2 years ago now, my Naturopath at the time ran a test for the MTHFR gene mutation and my results came back positive. “Those with a defective MTHFR gene have an impaired ability to produce the MTHFR enzyme (estimates range from 20%-70% or more). This can make it more difficult to break down and eliminate not only synthetic folic acid, but other substances like heavy metals.
Since folic acid can’t be converted into the usable form, it can build up in the body, which can raise levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with a higher risk in cardiovascular disease. This also affects the conversion to glutathione, which the body needs to remove waste and which is a potent antioxidant.
In short, we are just learning the extent to which this can affect health, but there is strong evidence that because of the affect on methylation, it can increase cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk, risk of fetal development problems and more. It may also contribute to or exacerbate other problems including autoimmune disease and mental issues.” – Sourced from Wellness Mama
Though it isn’t possible to change a gene, there are things that can be done to minimize the potential for problems:
• Take a daily B-complex supplement (in methyl form) with food, ideally in the morning. Two brands I like are Integrative Therapeutics and Thorn Methyl Guard. Note: folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that can’t be utilized by those with a MTHFR defect and can be very toxic. Only take supplements with L-MTHF forms (the methylated forms) that your body can use. Hot tip: taking methyl-B12 can help the body use L-MTHF. Be sure to avoid processed foods “fortified” with folic acid.
• Heal your gut: if your gut is damaged or imbalanced (e.g. from microbial overgrowths), you won’t be able to digest and absorb your food properly, which means you may be deficient in important nutrients, such as folate, which is essential for methylation.
• Avoid environmental toxins, including heavy metals: Those with an MTHFR gene defect have an impaired ability to eliminate toxins. So clean up your beauty and household cleaning products, buy organic food, drink filtered water, and be mindful to steer clear of other contaminants such as mercury laden fish, BPA laden plastic and cans, non-stick pans, and cooking with aluminum foil etc.
• Eat lots of leafy greens: Dark leafy greens contain the methylated forms of folate. Try to have them with each meal, or at the very least lunch and dinner. Consider a green juice or smoothie for an extra boost. There are also green super food powders on the market. And if you consume fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro, or cruciferous leafy greens such as kale, you are getting the added bonus of extra detoxification properties.
• According to Wellness Mama: Certain medications, including hormonal contraceptives can interfere with folate levels, and medicines like antacids can interfere with B-12 absorption.
• Other things you can do: dry body brush, exercise to break into a light sweat, sit in an infrared sauna, drink dandelion tea (Traditional Medicinals does a scientifically formulated organic daily detox tea), cook with spices such as turmeric, flush your system by drinking lemon water, stay well hydrated, ensure you have regular bowel movements etc.
It’s a simple, preventative blood test to order either through your Functional Medical Doctor, Naturopath or online, and if you come back positive too, then it can be a good idea to encourage other members of your family to do the same. By discovering this mutation as early as possible and supplementing accordingly, you can improve your wellbeing for the long term, prevent imbalances in the body, and possibly enhance longevity.
Be sure to sign up for my FREE once a month Wellness Newsletter via my website. Also, take me up on a complimentary 30minute phone consultation to chat about your nutrition + health goals, and how I can best support you in achieving them so that you can live your best, balanced life.