MTHFR is a human gene, which codes for the production of an enzyme of the same name. The MTHFR enzyme is important for chemical reactions in the body involving vitamin B9 (also called "folate"). The enzyme converts the folate in your food (mainly in plant based foods) into the active form of folate which your body can then use.
Folate is important for many purposes - the synthesis of DNA and the production of new cells, for "methylation" reactions (such as turning on and off gene expression), for metabolising amino acids from proteins (for hormone and neurotransmitter production), for the production of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, to turn off inflammation, for energy production, for critical detoxification functions, and many more functions.
The MTHFR gene and enzyme are especially important because mutations of this gene can have significant impacts on your health. Depending on which mutation of this gene you may have, of which there are 34 different ones, there are 2 main variants which can be tested for, because of their importance in your body.
Depending on the type of MTHFR mutation you may have, it can mean a 20% loss of function, or 40% or even up to a 70% loss of function to the MTHFR enzyme activity. This means that all of the uses of folate can be severely compromised. One of the biggest impacts of a MTHFR mutation is regarding detoxification of chemicals from the body. If your body cannot detoxify environmental toxins efficiently, this can cause a lot of chronic physical and mental health issues.
"Folic Acid", which is an artificially synthesised form of folate found in many vitamin and mineral supplements, is not the same thing as the natural folate. It doesn't have the same effects at all. But most importantly, IF you have the a MTHFR genetic mutation, you MUST NOT be taking any supplement with folic acid in it. Because your body cannot metabolise folic acid properly, folate levels in your blood and body can build up and reach toxic levels, and also inhibit the metabolism of natural folate. Some studies and researchers have suggested that even people without any MTHFR mutation should still avoid all supplements with folic acid in them. There are other forms of folate in supplements which are safer and more effective!
MTHFR mutations are common in people who have heart disease, glaucoma, many psychiatric or mental health conditions, some types of cancers, high levels of inflammation, infertility and recurrent miscarriages, autism spectrum disorders, and many other chronic health issues which don't seem to go away no matter what you do for them. If you suspect you may have a MTHFR mutation due to chronic health issues, you can get tested for this.
Testing for the MTHFR mutation can easily be done with a simple blood test. This test costs just $90, but can be very useful in helping you to achieve your health goals! If you have (or someone you know has) health issues which don't seem to be improving, despite being on a good treatment plan, then a MTHFR genetic mutation can often be the cause of this. Testing for the mutation can give peace of mind and the effects of the mutation can be greatly reduced as there are additional steps in a treatment plan which you may need to include. Please contact me or the clinic to arrange a MTHFR test!