Ever heard of MTHFR mutations?
I certainly had not, until a year ago when I found out that I have this genetic mutation. By some accounts, up to 30 % of the US population have two points of MTHFR gene defective, 40% have one part of gene defective. MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) is the name of the gene and the enzyme that plays an essential role in processing the folate we eat into a nutrient our bodies can utilize.
Why am I writing about this here? Well, apparently a lack of MTHFR enzyme can lead to ADD/ADHD, depression, and more serious health risks. One of my children was experiencing anxiety and depression. By a stroke of luck, we went to a counselor who was well enough informed to recommend a blood test to determine if an MTHFR mutation might be a contributing factor. It seems to be a little known fact, and I have to wonder why. Might it be because the solution is so simple?
This genetic mutation, or polymorphism, was first discovered as a result of the human genome project in 1995. "The gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, and people who have this mutation have a reduced ability to process folic acid/folate into something their body can use. People who have MTHFR mutations have an interruption in the “Methylation Pathway." Methylation affects more than 20 different processes in our bodies and when methylation is interrupted, many essential body functions are disrupted.” (Jennifer Walls, http://mthfr.webs.com)
“Impaired MTHFR function has multiple negative impacts on DNA synthesis and repair (read higher cancer risks), embryonic development, neurotransmitter synthesis, and cardiovascular risk factors.” (Dr. Bianca Garilli) Case-controlled comparisons revealed significantly higher frequency rates of MTHFR mutation among autistic versus non-autistic children (Liu X. et al. J. Autism Dev Disord. 2011;41(7):938-44).
Because of the indirect effects of MTHFR on the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; there are increased chances of depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, ADHD or even Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease. One friend of mine found out about her MTHFR gene defect after suffering a mini stroke, and only after months of diagnosis.
So what can we do about this condition? After the blood test, to confirm that I also shared the genetic mutation with my child, the doctor prescribed an over the counter supplement of pre-methylated folate costing about $12 a month. After a few weeks, I did feel I was experiencing less anxiety. There are additional supplementations available, depending on the percentage of reduction of normal enzyme activity in your body. Some people experience negative side effects when taking too much methylfolate; so obviously, get your doctor’s advice before trying anything.
Insights into nurturing the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual wellbeing of our children.