The Methylation Cycle is important for over 200 processes in your body, which can lead to an entire host of symptoms. Methylation is a simple biochemical process – it is the transfer of four atoms – one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms (CH3) – from one substance to another.
One of the most important processes this cycle is involved in is gene expression. The methylation cycle can affect chemistry in the brain, immune response, inflammation, and antioxidant production as well. By altering our epigenetics via lifestyle and food changes, we can alter epigenetic expression over time to help you reach peak performance and alleviate symptoms.
A good analogy is to look at the body as a machine, with multiple gears and switches. Methylation is the process that turns these biological switches on and off (via demethylation). This is done with the donation of a methyl group (CH3) from one molecule to another.
How does it happen?
CH3 groups are transferred via a universal methyl donor known as SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). SAMe readily gives away its methyl group to other substances in the body, which enables the cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, and detoxification systems to perform their functions (by turning “switches” on).
This system relies on certain B vitamins to be effective, especially 5-MTHF (also known as active folate or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate). If you do not have enough 5-MTHF the methylation cycle will not work as efficiently as it should. It is estimated approximately 60% of people in the United States have a genetic mutation that makes it harder for our bodies to produce 5-MTHF on its own.
When the methylation cycle is not functioning properly, certain molecules cannot be produced in an efficient manner, including:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Nitric Oxide
These molecules perform a variety of different functions for many different body systems, which means a lack of 5-MTHF can have far-reaching effects.
What disrupts the cycle?
- Low levels of specific B vitamins, including riboflavin (B2), methylfolate (B9), and methylcobalamin (B12).
- Toxic chemical exposure, especially in cities.
- Stress, either psychological or physical.
Key Nutrients to Help:
- Riboflavin (B2): lamb, salmon, green leafy vegetables, beans, mushrooms, almonds, liver, and kidneys.
- Folate (B9): dark leafy green vegetables, animal livers, chicken, peas, squash, lentils, oat bran, lima beans, and kidney beans.
- Cobalamin (B12): animal meats, seafood, dairy, and eggs. It is not found naturally in plant sources unless they are fortified. Therefore, some vegetarians and vegans need properly supplement to incorporate the needed amounts B12 in their diets.
- Protein: Same sources as B12, but also including beans, lentils, peas, broccoli, quinoa, seeds, and nuts as vegan and vegetarian sources.
- Magnesium: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, soybeans and other soy products (organic only), cereal grains, avocado, millet, oatmeal, peas, figs, and okra.
In order to maximize your potential with this, consider adding the following:
Consume a multivitamin with riboflavin and methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF). Both of these compounds are needed for proper methylation. Ideally, you want at least 20 milligrams of riboflavin and 400 micrograms of daily methyltetrahydrofolate. It is possible you may need more MTHF, but begin to add more in slow doses until you begin to feel better. A separate supplement can be added if improvement is not made initially. If you are still having issues when taking up to 5milligrams of MTHF, it is likely your methylation cycle is blocked due to heavy metal toxicity, infections, medications, or free radical damage.
Hope this helps!