Living With MTHFR Deficiency
MTHFR deficiency is a condition which an estimated 50-60% of people all over the world may be suffering from and which can lead to major complications such as cancer and mental health conditions. Despite this, many people simply don’t know that they have it. Read on to find out exactly what MTHFR deficiency is and the impact it can have on the body.
What is MTHFR deficiency?
MTHFR (methylenetetrahydropfolate reductase) deficiency is mutation of a gene which reduces the body’s ability to use and break down key enzymes and vitamins. To properly explain how the condition effects the body, we must first describe what healthy MTHFR looks like:
– The body’s MTHFR gene produces a MTHFR enzyme which works with folate vitamin B9 to produce 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.
– 5-methyltetrahydrofolate converts homocysteine, an amino acid, into methionine, which the body uses to produce proteins, use antioxidants and process fats.
– Methionine is converted into SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine), which has a host of functions including supporting the immune system, producing brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and melatonin, and helping to grow, repair and maintain cells.
With a defective MTHFR gene, the body produces a defective MTHFR enzyme which is less effective in breaking down folate vitamins. This leads to an increase of homocysteine in the body, and a reduction of SAM-e. All of this can:
– Lead to high levels of copper, lead or mercury in the body
– Increase the risk of coronary heart disease and related vascular conditions
– Increase the risk of dementia
– Make you susceptible to toxin buildup and stress
– Increase the risk of fatty liver and arteriosclerosis
– Make you more susceptible to depression or mood changes
– Increase your risk of certain cancers and stroke
– Make you more likely to experience IBS, migraines and miscarriage
– Make you more sensitive to chemicals
There is no ‘cure’ for a defective MTHFR gene, but we can help patients to manage their symptoms and adapt their lifestyles to ensure that they are able to remain as healthy as possible.
If folic acid levels are high, we recommend avoiding processed foods and supplements which contain folic acid. Instead, we advise eating foods that are naturally high in folate like spinach, broccoli, asparagus and beans.
Store bought multivitamins are often not very helpful for people with MTHFR deficiency, but some supplements can be useful – it all depends on the type of defect you have and the severity of your condition. Your doctor will recommend supplements based on your blood tests to ensure your body is getting the right vitamins and minerals.
Avoiding exposure to toxins
Since the body has a harder time breaking down toxins, it is advised that MTHFR-deficient patients avoid exposure to toxins as much as possible. For example, you may want to switch out your cleaning products for natural alternatives, or avoid using glues or other DIY products which contain toxic ingredients.
Balancing copper and zinc levels
It’s common for MTHFR deficiency to cause high copper levels which in turn leads to low zinc levels. This can cause a variety of problems including depression, migraines, acne, low immunity and more. Vitamin C can help to detox high levels of copper, as can zinc, so supplements may be explored for this instance. Alternatively, to reduce high copper levels you can avoid foods which contain large amounts of the metal, such as chocolate, avocados and seeds.
Ask your doctor about MTHFR
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above and think that MTHFR deficiency may be to blame, visit your doctor. After a full examination and blood tests, they will be able to make a diagnosis help you to adapt your lifestyle and diet in order to better manage the condition.