Methylation is one of the most important series of chemical reactions in the body. It is involved in repairing our DNA and protecting it against toxic damage. It helps control hormones and reduces homocysteine levels, a compound that damages blood vessels. Methylation supports detoxification, aids the nervous system, helps keep inflammation low and aids many other important body reactions.
The methylation cycle starts with the amino acid Methionine, derived from dietary protein and is found in foods such as meats, dark leafy greens, turnips, sesame seeds and asparagus. Methionine is converted to S- Adenosyl Methionine, (SAMe) with the help of magnesium. SAMe is an anti inflammatory amino acid which helps support the immune system by allowing the body to produce three important hormones, dopamine, serotonin and melatonin. Dopamine is important for focus, concentration, short term memory, emotional stability, organization, vestibulo-visual interaction, and coordination. It affects the levels of the stress hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Serotonin, your “happy hormone” is responsible for maintaining mood and also regulates the contractions of the gut. Melatonin is important for sleep.
SAMe in the methylation cycle produces homocysteine using vitamin B6. If levels of homocysteine (a protein that is damaging to our body) become too high, it is converted back to methionine which requires vitamin B9 or folate to be broken down to 5-methyl-THF controlled by the MTHFR gene and involves vitamin B12. If the MTHFR gene is defective, conversion of folate to 5-methyl-THF will not occur and methylation will be impaired leading to high homocysteine levels in the blood system and increased damage from free radicals and toxins. This is why homocysteine is used as a biomarker for methylation deficiency.
It is estimated that approximately 40% of Americans have a defective MTHFR gene (heterozygous meaning 1 copy of the mutation or homozygous meaning 2 copies of the mutation). This number climbs to 80% among people with autism. This mutation can be either inherited or the result of toxic damage or epigenetic changes to the MTHFR gene causing it to switch off.
The good news is that this gene may be switched back on with appropriate nutrient interventions including vitamin B9 or folate as 5–methyl-THF, vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin), Magnesium and betaine as TriMethylGlycine (TMG). It is also important to remember that in order to produce glutathione, homocysteine must go through a series of reactions known as transulfuration. The transulfuration process is commonly impaired in individuals with autism, ADHD and ADD and may require additional vitamin B6 (as P5P), Betaine (as TMG), the amino acids cysteine, glutamine and glycine plus magnesium and potassium.
12 Tips to Optimize Your Methylation Process
Just as there are many causes of poor methylation, there are lots of things that support its proper functioning. Here’s how to maximize methylation — and repair the chemical pathways that are compromised in so many of those affected by autism.
- Eat more dark, leafy greens – You want to eat l cup a day of vegetables like bok choy, escarole, Swiss chard, kale, watercress, spinach, or dandelion, mustard, collard, or beet greens. These are among the most abundant sources of the nutrients needed for optimal methylation
- Get more Bs in your diet – Good food sources include sunflower seeds and rice bran (vitamin B6); fish and eggs (vitamin B6 and B12); clams and mackerel (B12); beans and walnuts (vitamin B6 and folate); leafy dark green vegetables; asparagus, almonds, and whole grains (folate); and liver (all three)
- Minimize animal protein, sugar, and saturated fat – Animal protein directly increases homocysteine. Sugar and saturated fat deplete your body’s vitamin stores
- Avoid processed foods and canned foods – These are depleted in vitamins
- Avoid caffeine – Excess amounts can deplete your B vitamin levels
- Limit alcohol to 3 drinks a week – More than this can deplete your B vitamin levels
- Don’t smoke – Smoking inactivates vitamin B6
- Avoid medications that interfere with methylation – Drugs like acid blockers, methotrexate (for cancer and arthritis and other autoimmune diseases), oral contraceptives, HCTZ (for high blood pressure), and Dilantin (for seizures) can all affect levels of B vitamins
- Keep the bacteria in your gut healthy – Take probiotic supplements and use other measures to make sure the bacteria in your gut are healthy so you can properly absorb the vitamins you do get
- Improve stomach acid – Use herbal digestives (bitters) or taking supplemental HCl
- Take supplements that prevent damage from homocysteine – Antioxidants protect you from homocysteine damage. Also make sure you support methylation with supplements like magnesium and zinc
- Supplement to help support proper homocysteine metabolism – Talk to your doctor to determine the best doses and forms for you. Here are a few suggestions:
Folate (folic acid): Amounts can vary based on individual needs from 200 mcg to 1 mg. Remember, those with MTHFR mutations cannot convert folic acid, impairing the methylation process. It’s best to use a preformed 5-methyl-THF to bypass some of the steps in activating folic acid
Vitamin B6: Take 2 to 5 mg a day. Some people may need up to 250 mg or even special “active” B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) to achieve the greatest effect. Doses higher than 500 mg may cause nerve injury
Vitamin B12: Doses of 500 mcg may be needed to protect against heart disease. Oral vitamin B12 isn’t well absorbed; you may need up to 1 or 2 mg daily. Many doctors will prescribe B12 shots or a topical cream for transdermal delivery.
Betaine: This amino acid derivative is needed in doses from 500 to 3,000 mg a day, depending on the person
There is one product in particular that we recommend which covers all the key requirements for methylation support. Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Topical Cream from Neurobiologix provides ultimate methylation support: 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), Hydroxycobalamin (Hydroxy B 12), Methylcobalamin (Methyl B 12), 1.75mg Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate (B 6) and Approximately 1,000 IU Natural Vitamin D Per Pump, which are delivered transdermally, meaning you avoid any malabsorption problems of the gastrointestinal tract. This is especially common in individuals with autism who typically have existing toxicity and gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to assisting in detoxification and neuro-immune support, this topical cream is designed to work with the body to assist with oxidative stress, auto-immune diseases and sensory overload.
This unique topical delivery system assures that this pharmaceutical grade Neuro-Immune Stabilizer Cream promotes and enhances the methylation processes needed to improve the production of glutathione, increase Vitamin D levels and allow maximum B12, B6 and vitamin delivery to the nervous and immune systems. This potent nutrient-rich cream may help maximize and aid in:
- Mood Improvement & Stabilization
- Mental Focus & Concentration
- Organization Skills
- 5 MTHR Mutation
- Short Term Memory Loss
- Cerebral Folate Deficiency
- Hormonal Regulation
- Sleep Patterns
- Immune Function
Such nutrients as Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate (B6) and Vitamin B12 in a methylated form called methylcobalamin (Methyl B12) and hydroxycobalamin (Hydroxy B12) and natural Vitamin D assist the body neurologically and physically.
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You should always consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking any nutritional supplements. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.