Should you take the MTHFR gene mutation test? Many people have a mutation which can lead to several chronic diseases. So, it’s good to know if you have it.
As if there wasn’t enough negative news out there to worry you senseless, there’s now a trending health topic related to gene mutation. Specifically, a mutated MTHFR gene may affect up to 50% of the population.
Why should you be concerned? If you do have this genetic trait, you may be at risk for depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders. And, the MTHFR gene mutation may result in you developing heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Are you freaked out yet? Don’t be. Even if you have this mutation, you may not be a slave to it. You see, there’s genetics and there’s epigenetics. And, for those who do end up with irritable bowl syndrome, there’s some essential oils for IBS.
Genetics are the inherited traits in your DNA. Your hair color and a possible MTHFR gene mutation are two examples.
But there are certain factors that can determine how–or if–some of your genes will express themselves. This is called ‘epigenetics.’ And one simple way to control whether or how certain genes are expressed is through diet.
Here’s an example. If you inherit the gene(s) responsible for Celiac Disease, you aren’t necessarily going to suffer from the disease. It’s only if that gene is “turned on” or expressed by triggers.
But if you eat a ton of bagels and other products with highly-processed white flour and gluten, you may be at greater risk for having the Celiac gene switched on. It’s a similar thing if you have one of the mutated MTHFR genes.
If you’re concerned about having a MTHFR gene mutation, don’t worry. Just having the mutation itself is not necessarily a life sentence of chronic disease and suffering. It just lets you know if you are more susceptible to certain conditions.
First, though, let’s take a step back and look at some basic MTHFR facts….
What is MTHFR?
You have roughly 20,000 genes. One of those is MTHFR. You’ll likely forget what MTHFR stands for, but if you really want to know, here’s MTHFR spelled out:
Here’s the important thing MTHFR does. It converts vitamin B9, aka the pregnancy vitamin, aka folic acid, into methylfolate.
This is the active form of folate. You can swallow all the folate pills you can handle, but unless it’s natural and not synthetic, it’s not active folate. Synthetic vitamin B9 is known as folic acid.
In fact, folic acid can put you in more danger of having your MTHFR gene mutation express itself in nasty ways. Here’s why methylfolate, the active form of vitamin B9, is super important: it plays a several roles in virtually everything your body does.
And, if you’re looking for something else to blame your parents, your a mutation of the MTHFR gene (if you have one) was passed on from them. As a result, your body may have trouble converting folic acid into its usable form.
There’s more than one type of MTHFR gene mutation. Some mutations are worse than others to have. More on how you can find out if you have this mutation and, if so, what type.
What does MTHFR do?
Besides making the enzyme that converts vitamin B9 into an active, usable form, MTHFR does quite a few other things. Perhaps the most important, MTHFR helps detoxify your body. It does this through a process called methylation.
While you may be aware about detox in general, methylation is a process that your body undergoes all day every day. Methylation helps remove toxins from your gut.
Methylation also plays a role in epigenetics. If you have normal-functioning methylation, your genes will be switching on and off like they’re supposed to.
And here’s something else methylation helps with: it repairs your DNA. And, it helps you get the benefits of the food you eat by triggering enzyme reactions. Methylation also helps produce the feel-good chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin.
If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, you may be at risk for depression. That’s because your body has a deficiency in folate and your neurotransmitters can’t get the chemical message to produce the feel-good chemicals that affect your mood. Because of this, people with the mutation may experience low sex drive, lethargy and mood disorders.
MTHFR and Methionine and Glutamine: important for detoxing the body!
One more major thing that the MTHFR gene plays a role in: in converting vitamin B9 into an active form. And, it plays a role in creating the amino acid called ‘methionine.’ Methionine is made from its precursor, homocysteine.
Methionine helps keep your cholesterol levels normalized. People with the MTHFR gene mutation may have difficulty making methionine from homocysteine. And if you have too much homocysteine, that can be bad for your health.
Researchers have established a link between high homocysteine levels and heart attacks and strokes. Here’s another reason why having normal methionine production is so important: it leads to the creation of glutathione.
Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant. It helps recycle all the other antioxidants.
So if you have the MTHFR gene mutation, you may be at risk for having low levels of available glutathione. This means your body is more at risk at aging.
There is more than one type of mutated MTHFR gene. The mutations that are tied to significant health risks include “C677T” and “A1298C.”
It’s possible you may have more than one mutation. People with elevated levels of homocysteine typically have more than one MTHFR gene mutation.
Remember, if you have high homocysteine, you’re not efficiently making methionine, which means you don’t have sufficient levels of glutathione.
In short, this means you can’t effectively neutralize free radicals. These free radicals are responsible for the aging process.
MTHFR Gene Mutation test
There are several tests you can take to determine if and what (or which) MTHFR gene mutations you may have.
Virtually any lab testing company will be able to test you to see if you have the mutation. Some lab tests are more thorough than others.
The MTHFR test should detect at least the two most common mutations. Those are the ones mentioned above: “C677T” and “A1298C.”
Again, the purpose of the test is to determine if you have the mutation. And if you do, to be aware that you may be at risk of having elevated levels of homocysteine. If you do have high homocysteine, you’re not able to effectively detox your body.
The MTHFR gene mutation test is not a common blood test.
You may have to call your doctor or other health professional in advance to determine if they offer the testing. If they don’t there are online test services that offer the gene test.
If you have a family history of heart disease, you can tell your doctor you’d like to get the MTHFR gene test. First, though, your doctor may want to test your homocysteine levels.
MTHFR related deficiency
If it’s proven that you have a deficiency in folate because of the MTHFR gene mutation, you need to eat a lot of foods that have folate.
So eat your broccoli. Eat your spinach. Eat your asparagus. Beans and chickpeas (which is used to make delicious hummus) also are high in folate.
You can also do safe, gentle detox cleanses. And if you do have the MTHFR gene mutation, if you supplement with methylfolate, your body may make up for the lack of available folate.
Remember, just because you have a gene mutation doesn’t mean you’re doomed to die early. You can eat a healthy, low-sugar diet.
You can also stop taking supplements that have folic acid. Since your body doesn’t turn folic acid well into the active form, a build-up of folic acid can cause problems.
And if you’re going to pay good money for an MTHFR mutation test, you may as well spring for another test that determines whether or not you have yeast overgrowth in your system. An overgrowth of yeast, such as candida albicans, can lead to more difficulty in detoxing the body.
But nutrition will be your greatest weapon in keeping a mutated MTHFR gene from manifesting as a killer condition. Eat a ton of dark leafy greens! And no matter how much you love your perfume, get rid of it if it’s not all-natural. Synthetic beauty products will only add to the backlog of toxins in your system.