Methylation is a biochemical process that occurs in every cell, in every organ, billions of times every second!
This chemical process occurs when any molecule passes a methyl group (one Carbon linked to three Hydrogens) to another molecule.
It is central to our physical health and our mental well-being. Methylation repairs your DNA, keeps inflammation in check, helps maintain a stable mood and most importantly it replenishes the compounds needed for detoxification.
Methylation controls energy production in the cell, it affects the production of neurotransmitters, it’s required for glutathione production (see my writings on ‘Glutathione’) so it’s essential for anti-oxidant recycling.
Very importantly Methylation regulates gene expression; it controls the turning on and off of genes! When a methyl group binds to a gene it changes the way it expresses itself. (See my writings on Epigenetics – the modification of genes by alterating environmental influences).
Many things affect how well we methylate – Our genetics and our diet and lifestyle/environment.
Lets begin with our genetics. One of the most common and most important genetic mutations/polymorphisms in the Australian population affects several enzymes crucial to methylation. The most commonly affected enzyme is called MTHFR*1. Less commonly the MTR*2 and MTRR*3 enzymes are affected (and there are more). If we are unlucky enough to inherit the damaged MTHFR gene from both our parents, we reduce our ability to methylate by 70%! If we inherit only one defective gene we have a 30% reduction in our ability to methylate. Ask Dr Alice if you would like to find out if you have a genetic methylation problem.
Our diet and lifestyle also has a profound affect on our ability to methylate as well. Our stress levels, gut health, our diet, our exposure to chemical toxins and heavy metals (especially Mercury for those with the genetic mutation).
Symptoms of Methylation problems include :
muscle and joint pain,
Autism spectrum disorders,
increased chemical sensitivity,
Irritable Bowel Syndrome,
cramping pain in the belly,
and many more.
People with Methylation problems are at a much higher risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular disease including stroke.
The good news about Methylation is that Dr Alice can assess you for the likelihood of Methylation pathway dysfunction, (even without the genetic tests), and provide you with nutritional supplementation to minimise the risk of these biochemical problems becoming the pathological problems we see with chronic illness and disease.
This is a very simple description of the concept of Methylation. You can find more about Methylation and MTHFR on my website by reading ‘More on Methylation’.
*1 MTHFR 5,10-Methylenetetrahydro-folate Reductase enzyme
*2 MTR Methionine Synthase
*3 MTRR Methionine Synthase Reductase