What is Vitamin Methylation and What Does It Do for You?
Methylation is a crucial biochemical process that takes place every second in your body. A few years ago, it was not a common term to hear. But today, there is increasing awareness around the importance of this process.
What is Vitamin Methylation?
Methylation is a chemical reaction that happens billions of times every day. During methylation, a single carbon and three hydrogen atoms attaches to another molecule. This subtle, daily process is required to keep you healthy and vibrant.
What does methylation do for you?
Methylation controls a number of biological activities, including:
- Repairing genetic material - the DNA and genetic expression
- Keeping inflammation under control
- Managing homocysteine, a compound that can damage blood vessels
- Neutralizing toxic substances
- Producing energy from food
- Regulating and optimizing the immune response
- Balancing mood and brain chemicals
- Repairing cells damaged by oxidation (free radicals)
Overall, you need methylation for a wide range of metabolic functions.
What happens when methylation is interrupted?
Your body relies on a dependable stream of methyl donors from specific foods to support the methylation process. The four important components needed for methylation are methionine (an amino acid) and the B vitamins: methylfolate (B9), B6, and B12.
If you don’t have enough methyl groups, or if there is a lapse or break in the methylation process, your health can suffer. Studies clearly link autoimmune conditions to improper methylation1.
What signs tell that you have poor methylation?
Unfortunately, there are no tell-tale signs for poor methylation.
However, if the following describes you, it is safe to assume you may be at risk of poor methylation:
- You eat a lot of processed foods
- Your menu includes fewer nutrient-rich plants
- You experience chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
What factors affect methylation?
Poor nutrition: To get enough B6, B12, betaine, and folate, you need to eat plenty of leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, beans, and other veggies. If your diet lacks dark leafy greens, and is predominantly meat-based, it may contribute to poor methylation. In addition to this, if you take too much animal protein, sugar, alcohol, coffee, and saturated fat, it may also deplete the B vitamins.
Heavy pollution/ smoking: Exposure to carbon monoxide from smoke and heavy pollutants (automobile, coal, and other industries) can inactivate vitamin B6, which is key for proper methylation. Studies show that other environmental factors, such as UV radiation2 and high temperatures, can also contribute to impaired methylation.
Medications: Certain drugs, such as oral contraceptives, acid blockers, medications used for seizures, can affect the B vitamin levels and proper methylation.
Aging: Aging and other conditions that can reduce stomach acid can interrupt with B12 absorption from food, which has an impact on the methylation process.
Genetics: People with the MTHFR gene mutation have trouble with the methylation process, even If there is adequate folate in their diet. It is estimated that about 40% may have this mutation3. The MTHFR gene instructs your body to make an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which is necessary to convert folic acid (vitamin B9) into methyl folate, the active form of vitamin B9 in the body.
A proper diet that provides enough B vitamins and supplementation with activated folate, B12, and other methyl supportive nutrients can help restore a healthy methylation process.
NATURELO multivitamins and B Complex vitamins provide crucial B vitamins in their active, methylated forms so that they are ready for the body to use without having to go through extra metabolic steps. This includes active methyl folate (5-MTHF), which can be used by the body even if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, as well as active B6 (P-5-P) and B12 (Methylcobalamin) to support the methylation process.
1. DNA methylation and autoimmune disease, 2003 Oct;109(1):72-9
2. DNA methylation dynamics in aging: how far are we from understanding the mechanisms?, September 2018
3. A Genetic Mutation That Can Affect Mental & Physical Health, Sep 05, 2014