What is MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that is responsible for a process called methylation, which takes place in every cell of your body. There are two main genetic variants of MTHFR, called C677T and A1298C which can be associated with many health issues. Having a genetic variant with MTHFR means that your enzyme functions at a reduced capacity.
Methylation is an essential central biochemical process in the body affecting several systems:
- Your utilization of vitamin B12 and folate – important in pregnancy and pre-conception (associated with neural tube defects, an miscarriage)
- Neurotransmitter synthesis (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine) – affects mood and addiction (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, all types of addiction)
- Regulation of gene expression – Methylation is a process of effectively turning off or turning genes by adding methyl groups to the DNA strands. In very simple terms, wherever there is a methyl group, that gene will be silent, and when the methyl group is removed, the gene will be expressed. The implications of this are enormous, and having an optimally functioning methylation cycle is key to reducing our susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological diseases and many other conditions.
- Processing of toxic heavy metals
- Hormone activity and hormone detoxification
- Immune system regulation
- Aging in general due to the effect on glutathione production
- Regulation of homocysteine – associated with development of early cardiovascular disease