Methylation is a vital biochemical process that happens in every cell and every organ of our body. It is the passing of a chemical fragment called a methyl group (a carbon atom linked to three hydrogens) from one molecule to another.
Some of the functions methylation are involved in include:
- energy production
- inflammatory control and other immune functions, including autoimmunity
- detoxification, including removing toxins and the production of glutathione (the body’s main antioxidant)
- neurotransmitter synthesis
- hormone metabolism
- histamine clearance
- cardiovascular processes, including reducing homocysteine
- nerve health such as myelination of peripheral nerves
- cell division, DNA and RNA synthesis
- aging and longevity
- plus more
The enzymes that the methylation cycle is mediated by include methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), and cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS). Each person’s genetic fingerprint in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) influences how well these enzymes work. Methylation also requires certain nutrients such as choline, betaine, methionine, folate, vitamins B12 and B6, as well as minerals including magnesium and zinc. We either make too much or too little methylation.
In addition to genetics and nutrition, infections, poor digestive health, smoking, alcohol, medication, food sensitivities, environmental toxins, stress of any form (emotional and physical), poor sleep and improper breathing can all effect methylation.
Conditions linked to methylation dysfunction include:
- anxiety, depression, bipolar and other mood disorders
- addiction, OCD, ADHD, and other behaviour disorders
- infertility and miscarriages
- allergies, increased chemical sensitivity, high histamine
- impaired detoxification
- accelerated aging
- dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, autism
- nerve pain
- immune dysfunction
- autoimmune disorders
To determine whether a gene and methylation are compromised, proper testing is required. In doing this a nutrition plan unique to you can be put together. Amongst other assessment tools that may be recommended, if needed, is a DNA test. This test looks for genetic SNPs that may be affecting healthy methylation. If you have any SNPs nutrition can play a key role in improving proper methylation. Nutrition has a profound effect on epigenetics. A modifiable gene which has been affected can be corrected through nutrition and/or other lifestyle changes. Your genes are not your destiny.
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