What Does Methylated Mean for Your Health?
“Methylated” is a chemistry term which refers to a molecule or compound that contains an added methyl group. But what does methylated mean for your health? Methylation is a chemical reaction that occurs in every cell and tissue of the body. It is the process by which a methyl group is added to a protein (such as enzymes, hormones, and even genes), changing how that protein reacts to other substances in the body. Proper methylation helps the body use antioxidants, metabolize hormones, efficiently make proteins, detoxify toxins and heavy metals, dampen inflammation, and balance brain chemistry.
What Does Methylation Mean for My Health?
Methylation plays a role in:
- Building brain neurotransmitters
- Building immune cells
- Burning fat
- Creating cellular energy
- Detoxifying chemicals and toxins from the body
- Metabolizing histamine
- Metabolizing hormones to maintain hormonal balance
- Producing a protective coating that sheathes the nerves
- Regulating mood and sleep
- Supporting bile production needed for digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, A and K)
- Supporting eye health
- Supporting liver health
- Synthesizing DNA and RNA
- Turning genes on and off
This vital function is dependant on folate (methylfolate) and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), as well as other nutrients, such as choline, magnesium, zinc, B2 and B6. Deficiencies in these nutrients can reduce the body’s ability to perform methylation and cause breakdowns in different body systems.
Methylation also impacts another vital process: the production of glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant. When we become deficient in glutathione, we lose our natural defenses and are at higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, and chemical sensitivities.
What Affects Methylation?
Methylation is fueled by folate, but most people are not getting balanced nutrition through what they eat. For example, vegetarians can be deficient in B12, zinc, and choline, while people who don’t eat enough green leafy vegetables can be deficient in folate and magnesium. Then there are physical factors that can impact nutrient absorption, such as IBS or celiac disease. Without sufficient fuel for the process, methylation won’t occur.
There are also certain lifestyle and environmental factors that can put a strain on methylation. A high sugar diet and high exposure to environmental toxins (heavy metals, tobacco, cleaning products) are top causes for methylate depletion. Stress, both psychological and physiological (frequent infections, excessive exercise, an injury), create a big draw on methylation.
Your genetic make-up can also predispose you to poor methylation. The MTHFR gene (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) produces an enzyme involved in processing folate, or vitamin B9, into a usable form the body can assimilate. This enzyme is also necessary to metabolize folic acid, a synthetic form of folate used in supplements. There are several, relatively common, defects of the MTHFR gene that can significantly reduce your ability to process folate.
How Can I Support Methylation?
Talk to your doctor about your diet and support your methylation pathways with methylfolate and methylcobalamin (methyl B12). Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, limit your intake of sugar and carbs, avoid supplements with folic acid, and minimize your exposure to toxins. To learn more about methylation and what it means for your health, call Anchor Wellness Center today at (832) 246-8437 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Malhotra, MD, FAARM, ABAARM. Board Certified in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra can help you optimize your health.