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Methylation- Big Name with Big Functions

MethylationMethylation- Big Name with Big Functions

The human body has a near infinite number of cellular reactions occurring at any given time. These reaction are controlled by special proteins called enzymes which speed the rate of these changes, turning product A into product B.

Methylation is the process of adding a CH3 methyl group (1 carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms) to a molecule such as an amino acid, neurotransmitter, or DNA to name but a few.

Methylating molecules is like changing regular typeface to bold. It makes it really pop out.

Methylation is performed by enzymes and depends on many different vitamins and minerals.

Heavy metals and other environmental toxins can inhibit the methylation pathway. The biochemical “wheels” get gummed up and cannot do their job.

It’s in the Genes

Genetics play a role in that many people have abnormalities leading to suboptimal methylation. Everyone should have their methylation genetics tested. Best of all, dysfunction is very easy to treat.

As a cardiologist, methylation is critical in the processing of homocysteine. High levels of this amino acid (building block for proteins) are associated with an increased risk in coronary disease, stroke, and blood clots.

Elevated homocysteine is also a risk factor for cancer and dementia.

Suboptimal methylation of lipids leads to oxidized (dangerous) LDL and dysfunctional HDL. You can have all the HDL in the world, but if it is not functional, it doesn’t help.

There is strong evidence that a homozygous defect in the MTHFR 677 gene is associated with hypertension.

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which keeps blood vessels open. It is produced by endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) which is methylation dependent.

Vitamin B2, riboflavin lowers blood pressure in MTHFR patients with the TT defect.

The methylation cascade is also involved in:

  • Diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder etc.
  • Production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine
  • Cell division and the production of many proteins
  • Immune function and allergies
  • Inflammatory mediation
  • Hormonal production and function
  • DNA can be transcribed inappropriately along with defective cellular repair both of which are associated with cancer initiation.

Enter Glutathione

Glutathione is an antioxidant and preserves the activity of other antioxidants. In an interesting co-dependent nature, methylation is necessary for glutathione production and glutathione supports methylation.

Glutathione breaks down environmental chemicals, including carcinogens and estrogen mimics (xenobiotics), and escorts toxic metals (mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium etc.) out of the body.

The MTHFR gene has 2 different areas that can be affected. Methylfolate (as opposed to folic acid) is the B vitamin that is critical in bypassing this gene defect. Simply, it is the end-product of the MTHFR enzyme.

Many nutraceutical companies are using methylfolate along with methyl B12 (as opposed to cyanocobalamin) in their products. Levels of methyl folate are up to 6x greater after supplementation compared to folic acid dosing.

Autism, ADD, and ADHD are influenced by defective methylation. Once these children are placed on the appropriate supplements, marked improvement in symptoms is often noted.

Don’t settle for the cheap folic acid

Unfortunately, refined foods such as cereal and rice have the inferior quality folic acid added. The folic acid interferes with methylfolate supplements as a competitor the MTHFR enzyme binding site. Avoid these “fortified” foods, especially if you have the genetic abnormality.

Methylfolate and methylcobalamin are not the only nutrients that are critical to methylation. Other B vitamins such as B2, B3, and B6 are necessary as are zinc, selenium, magnesium and copper. Vitamin C is a cofactor for methylating enzymes. Choline and the amino acid serine also play a role.

MTHFR, homocysteine, and vitamin/mineral analysis are available from many lab companies.

In Health,

The Drs. Wolfson


© 2024 Dr. Jack Wolfson DO, FACC | Wolfson Integrative Cardiology | All Rights Reserved.6560 N. Scottsdale Rd Suite 125 Scottsdale, AZ 85253