Science has only recently identified a common gene mutation that’s a silent driver of many common ailments of which, the public is mostly unaware. Many physicians are still not aware or testing for this importance enzyme’s presence in our body. The MTHFR gene mutation was once thought to effect 3 – 5% of the population. As as a result of improved testing methods we now find the MTHFR mutation is currently estimated to impact 30-50% people depending on ethnicity. This enzyme has a profound influence over everything from hormone regulation to body toxin removal and numerous nutritional deficiencies.1
We have combed the latest research to provide you, the reader, with the most comprehensive and easy to understand summary of what is necessary to know concerning the MTHFR gene.
MTHFR is an acronym for the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, often referred to as “the detox gene.” The actual scope of this enzyme is much wider than the term detox gene would suggest. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down folic acid into a usable form called 5-L-methyltetrahydrofolate, and is coded primarily in the two genes C677T and A1298C. 2
When this enzyme can’t be produced or is diminished because of this mutation or a partial mutation, then lots of important downstream physiology is disrupted. One big impact is hindering methylation in the body. Methylation is required for health by every cell in our body and occurs billions of times per second.
Areas negatively impacted include DNA repair, immune function, detoxification, neurotransmitter production, hormone regulation, mood balancing, energy production and more.3
More specifically these two genes when mutated are associated with the following:
C677T – This mutation is most commonly associated with heart disease, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, miscarriages, congenital birth defects, and more.
A1298C – This mutation is most commonly associated with chronic illnesses such as; depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), memory loss, Alzheimer’s and dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD,) bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. 3
Depending on how many of the four locations are mutated will determine methylation reduction from 25% – 80% and beyond.
There are many health consequences of MTHFR that when not addressed through diet and supplements interfere with methylate and contribute to serious diseases. As was noted previously, there are a number of genes that code for MTHFR; the genetic code that produces he enzyme impacting methylation efficiency. Sensitivity to medications, high homocysteine levels, low tolerance for alcohol and pain are some of the symptoms of the gene’s effects on health.3
More severe symptoms can be broken down into the three categories; psychological, autoimmune/toxic
and cardiovascular as listed here:
Autism and other spectrum disorders
Adult neurological conditions
Mood and psychiatric disorders
Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Autism – 98% of autistic children have the C677T and A1298C anomaly. Kids with autism are often low in homocysteine & glutathione. 5
Allergies or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
Spina bifida, cleft palate or neural tube defects
Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism (The Thyroid Summit)
ADD or ADHD
Chronic Viral Infections, Low T cells or reduced NK cells
Miscarriages, fertility, and problems during pregnancy
Allergies, immune system, and digestive problems
Problems associated with aging
High blood pressure
Neuropathy – methylation is important to nerves (myelin sheath).
* Many of those listed are not directly implicated a result of MTHFR, i.e Lyme and cancer. Clearly Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, but because the immune system is dependent on methylation in order to function these and other opportunistic diseases are more likely to flourish. As an example, a reduction in natural killer cells, T cells and a more susceptible intestinal tract will lead to a body more prone to disease. Similarly with other listed, MTHFR is a contributing factor among many variables.
Supplements and/or adjusting to diets high in the following compounds will offset the methylation issues MTHFR produces.
Production of glutathione is particularly vulnerable to becoming ineffective when the body is depleted. As a critical compound used in the liver for detoxification its absence places stress on the liver as the toxins and heavy metals accumulate. Getting this into the liver directly can’t be done because it will be used by other cells first. The best way is by secondary precursors like SAMe, MSM, NAC and milk thistle.
Betaine (trimethylglycine – TMG)
Betaine is a natural derivative caused by the breakdown of choline in the body. Betaine is found in beets, although spinach and quinoa contain twice the amount of betaine. For a Methyl donor, the body derives more benefits from SAMe and MSM.
Critical compound needed for methylation and when in combination with milk thistle multiples its effectiveness. Always choose a milk thistle supplement that includes choline for best results; we choose phosphatidylcholine for its added benefit to intestinal support.
B Vitamins; B2, B6, B9, and B12, B9 (Methyl-folate)
Critical for hormones, red and white blood cells (WBC) and glutathione production; B9, folate and folic acid are almost interchangeable. When the body requires methyl-folate the MTHFR gene mutation will not convert B9 into the methyl-folate enzyme. While folic acid is synthetic and very stable making it the favorite of vitamin companies, it’s not the best choice and is useless in the presence of the MTHFR gene mutation. Folic acid also requires many vitamins and cofactors to transition to its useable methyl-folate form. You are much better off just finding a good formula with this already present as in Hepatiben.
B6 & Magnesium
This combination lowers homocysteine levels, which improves relaxation and the ability to handle stress. Gluten free diets will need a B6 supplement.
Deficiencies in Methylcobalamin will stop the cycle of methyl-folate from continuing proactively forward after about a week. 8
Important: In the case of over methylation with any supplement, use niacin.
Liver Medic formulated Hepatiben with MTHFR in mind. It contains SAMe, MSM, NAC, and Choline (Phosphatidylcholine). The missing B vitamins in their methylated forms can be found in Zen Calm, which also has the Mg that most people require when they are deficient in healthy adrenal support. This protocol is followed by physicians and patients alike.*
It’s important to recognize that Hepatiben is not designed to treat, cure or prevent MTHFR or any other disease. The MTHFR gene mutation reduces methylation in the body and Hepatiben is formulated to promote methylation and is therefore helpful in supporting those with the mutation.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and our products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
We have discussed what the MTHFR gene mutation is and its importance to health and contribution to common diseases. If you have yet to read this article, it can be found here: MTHFR Overview
In this article we list drugs, vitamins and compounds you should avoid and medications to consider, as they make the symptoms of MTHFR much worse. We do want to make sure to please consult your physician before making any changes to existing prescription protocols.
Acid blockers and Antacids (over-the-counter or prescription). These will deplete your body of probiotics, and suppress your ability to make methylcobalamin. They reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients needed to drive the methylation pathway.
Cholesterol binding drugs such as Cholestyramine or Colestipol; drugs that not only rob your body of vitamins A, D, E and K, but also reduce absorption of folate and cobalamin from your food. This increases the methylation problem and allows more toxins to build up.
Nitrous oxide. When administered by the dentist or in a supplement nitrous oxide inactivates the enzyme methionine synthetase. The body depends on this enzyme to produce a usable form of B12 (methylcobalamin). 1
Niacin; high doses will deplete SAMe and reduce B6. It’s a good thing to remember if you are over-methylating! You can put the brakes on with niacin.
Anti-seizure drugs; don’t stop taking these drugs without first discussing this with yourphysician! You need to ask your doctor what to do if you want to wean off any medications and which drug you CAN take if you can’t take the drugs. The worst offenders for people with methylation defects include carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin and valproic acid. These drugs are folate antagonists and rob the body of folate–that is how they are designed to work. They deplete folate, but that’s not a good thing if you have the MTHFR mutation that reduces your ability to methylate.
Estrogen drugs for birth control and menopause medication rob the body of folate.
Sulfa-containing drugs like Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (brand name Septra or Bactrim) or sulfasalazine, or triamterene (found in Dyazide). These inhibit the enzyme Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR). This enzyme is important in the building of DNA among other processes.
Methotrexate is a popular rheumatoid arthritis drug that robs the body of folate.
Metformin robs the body of methyl B12 (methylcobalamin). This makes the situation worse because you need methyl B12 to drive the methylation pathway forward.
Niacin, heavy metals, copper, mercury, arsenic, smoking, stress, acetaldehyde–commonly referred to as the “hangover chemical”.