Key takeaways

If you are into health, then you may have heard about MTHFR, and if you’ve dared to dig into it, you are probably thoroughly confused.

Let’s break it down simplistically.

What is MTHFR?

To understand about MTHFR, we first need to understand about folate (vitamin B9), which is an umbrella term, encompassing: folic acid, folinic acid, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, and unmetabolized folate. The form that is usable in your body is methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF), which henceforth we’ll call ‘methyl-folate’.

MTHFR stands for methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (you can see why we use an acronym!), and it is an enzyme, that is responsible for the conversion of inactive folic acid, into its bioactive usable methyl-folate form, the first step of a process called methylation.

Methylation is absolutely vital to not just surviving, but thriving. At the most basic level, methylation involves the transference of a methyl group from once substrate (usually methyl-folate) to another. The newly methylated compound is then able to complete a series of critical tasks in the body (including detoxification, DNA and RNA synthesis and repair, neurotransmitter regulation, fat metabolism, immune function, red blood cell production and more).

Methylation is required for proper functioning in almost every cell in the body and can be severely impeded if the MTHFR enzyme isn’t working efficiently.

Process of MTHFR

Just a few of the processes requiring methylation:

  • Tell your various genes when to turn on and when to turn off: AKA Epigenetics. Autoimmunity comes in here!
  • Stress response regulation. Stressed much?
  • Feeling off?
  • Neurotransmitter control. Mood disturbed?
  • Energy production. Feeling tired?
  • Antioxidant production. Looking tired?
  • Tissue damage repair. Chronic injuries?
  • Inflammation control. Chronic pain?
  • … and many many more that impact on your health and well-being

Decreased MTHFR activity will potentially result in all of the above processes being compromised to some extent. Kind of a big deal!

Symptoms are many and varied, and when it comes to MTHFR, we don’t need to guess; for the cost of around $100 with a home saliva test, we can know your status exactly.

Don’t think this will apply to you? … it turns out about 50% of people have some kind of MTHFR SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism – AKA mutation!), sometimes reducing enzyme activity by 70%! This single SNP can have a massive impact on your health and is so easy to find out that we recommend you do.

Clinically there is a series of supporting supplements that may help to overcome the effects of MTHFR. Still, vitally each and every patient must be viewed uniquely and always treated for lifestyle factors that may contribute to, or exacerbate the way the MTHFR expression impacts on your health.

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jabe brown functional medicine practitioner wearing blue shirt standing smiling
Jabe Brown
Jabe holds a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) and a Masters in Science, Human Nutrition, and Functional Medicine. As the founder of Melbourne Functional Medicine, Jabe's focus in on delivering clinical excellence as well as growth for the business.
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something? Join the conversation in the comments below and we'd be delighted to chat.
{ "datePublished": "Jul 15, 2023" }