Those who have searched online for ways to improve their hypothyroid or brain condition have most likely come across suggestions to test MTHFR. 60 percent of people have a genetic defect in the MTHFR gene which can affect their ability to successfully manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or brain-based symptoms.
MTHFR is the acronym for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme involved in processing folate, or vitamin B9, into a form the body can use. It’s also necessary to metabolize folic acid, a synthetic form of folate used in supplements.
Through modern gene testing, it’s now possible for people to learn whether they have a mutation in the MTHFR gene. If so, it means their methylation pathways are being impacted, contributing to their health challenges. Methylation pathways govern detoxification and many important metabolic processes in the body, which may be a good reason to test for a MTHFR defect – especially if you are struggling to manage symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, or depression.
Methylation is a process of adding a methyl group to a molecule and has several jobs including:
- Turning genes on and off
- Detoxifying chemicals and toxins from the body
- Building brain neurotransmitters
- Metabolizing hormones to maintain hormonal balance
- Building immune cells
- Synthesizing DNA and RNA
- Creating cellular energy
- Producing a protective coating that sheathes the nerves
- Metabolizing histamine
- Supporting eye health
- Burning fat
- Supporting liver health
When methylation works properly, one can efficiently make proteins, use antioxidants, metabolize hormones, enjoy more balanced brain chemistry, detoxify toxins and heavy metals, and dampen inflammation – all factors vital to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and brain-based symptoms.
However, the 60 percent of people with an MTHFR genetic defect may not be able to properly break down folate in foods or folic acid in supplements. This can raise levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid in the bloodstream that can be dangerous when levels are too high. High homocysteine is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Poor methylation impacts the production of the body’s main antioxidant: glutathione. When we become deficient in glutathione, we lose our natural defenses which increases the risk of developing autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, and chemical sensitivities.
An MTHFR defect can also impair the body’s ability to synthesize important brain neurotransmitters. This can cause brain-based disorders to arise such as depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia.
Because methylation is involved in so many important processes in the body, an MTHFR gene defect has been associated with many health conditions, including:
- Heart attack
- Venous thrombosis
- Birth defects
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Mental and mood disorders
- Autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
It is critical to reduce inflammation and raise glutathione levels if you are trying to manage a condition like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or improve brain-based symptoms. While an MTHFR defect can work against you, it can also be easy to address.
More than 50 MTHFR genetic mutations exist, but the two considered the most problematic are C677T and A1298C (written as just 677 and 1298).
Keep in mind gene defects don’t always become activated. If your test results show those genes, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have been expressed and are causing your symptoms.
To address a MTHFR enzyme defect, support your methylation pathways with methylfolate and methylcobalamin (methyl B12). Avoid supplements with folic acid, boost your glutathione levels with high quality oral liposomal glutathione, and minimize your exposure to toxins. In general, these strategies are highly beneficial in managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and brain-based symptoms.