Understanding MethylationIn detoxification Understanding MethylationMethylation is a critical process that happens trillions of times in every cell each minute. It is one of the most essential metabolic functions of the body and is dependent upon a variety of enzymes. Adapting to stress and the challenges of life is an aspect that methylation provides the body. Without adequate methylation processes the individual cannot adapt effectively and will suffer the delirious effects of accelerated aging (1). Methylation is a controlled transfer of a methyl group (one carbon and three hydrogen atoms) onto proteins, amino acids, enzymes and DNA in every cell and tissue of the body to regulate healing, cell energy, genetic expression of DNA, liver detoxification, immunity and neurology.
Why is Methylation Important for Health?Methylation is involved in almost every bodily biochemical reaction, and occurs billions of times every second in our cells. That’s why figuring out where there are challenges in the cycle and how to help it perform better will significantly improve our health. There are many key functions of methylation, for example methylation is intimately involved in all of the following processes: Turn on and off genes (gene regulation) – this is important in cancer for example (17) Process chemicals and toxins (bio transformation) helping to reduce our toxic load (18) Builds neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine) (19) Processes and metabolizes hormones (estrogen) (20) Build immune cells (T cells and NK cells) (21) Synthesis of DNA and RNA (thymine is formed from uracil) (22) Produce energy (CoQ10, Carnitine and ATP) (23) Produce protective coating on our nerves (via myelination) (24)
What Influences the Methylation Process?Methylation is regulated by key enzymes and cofactors for activation (25). This process is dependent upon certain vitamins and minerals. When we are deficient in the necessary substrates and cofactors it compromises the methylation processes. There are many key nutrients that play a role in methylation. These include zinc, magnesium, B2, B6, folate, B12, niacin and others (26). Many people consume diets that are deficient or deplete their bodies of these key nutrients. Other individuals have genetic polymorphisms that reduce their ability to absorb and utilize these nutrients (27). Medications such as birth control pills, NSAID’s and antacids deplete these nutrients and consume massive quantities of methyl groups for proper detoxification. Heavy metal exposure, chronic infections, alcohol consumption and heavy emotional stress also deplete methyl groups and put us at risk (28, 29).
Testing for Methylation Imbalances:Methylation imbalances are often not considered by most doctors and health coaches. Most health care practitioners and health coaches have little to no education in methylation. Those who are well educated in this subject are the premium when it comes to getting to the underlying cause of your health problems. Specific blood work can evaluate the plasma levels of methionine, cysteine, SAMe, SAH, Homocysteine and cystathione. These tests also give the important “methylation index” (ratio of SAMe to SAH). The results of this test can guide the nutritional support to improve methionine metabolism, reducing homocysteine and the consequences of inadequate methylation and transsulfuration capacity (30).
Genetic Influences and on Methylation:Genetic variations play a very important role in the methylation process. The prescence of SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms) is often a major factor in identifying the underlying cause of imbalanced methylation. A SNP may be present in one or both of the genes. When it is present on one of the genes it is called a heterozygous polymorphism and when it is on both of the genes it is a homozygous polymorphism. Every part of the methylation pathway can be influenced by SNP’s. The most popular and well-studied one is MTHFR or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme converts 5,10 methylene Tetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5 methyl THF). 5-methyl THF then passes its methyl group to hydroxyl-B12. Hydroxy-B12 then becomes methyl B12 by methylating homocysteine. This process converts a potentially dangerous substance (homocysteine) into a very important molecule called SAMe.
MTHFR Polymorphisms:There are two key MTHFR polymorphisms – A1298C and C677T. The effect these have on the methylation cycle and overall health are different between the two. C677T SNP’s are associated with elevated homocysteine levels (31). Elevated homocysteine is a major risk factor for heart disease and neurodegenerative states such as Alzheimer’s disease (32, 33). A1298C SNP’s do not lead to elevated homocysteine but instead play an important role in neurotransmitter function. The 1298C is important in the conversion of BH2 to BH4 which plays a huge role in mood regulation and addictive behavior (34).
Nutrigenomics and 21st Century HealthThe field of Nutrigenomics or the science of how nutrition interacts with our genes is revolutionizing our understanding of how to apply specific supplementation to meet an individual’s needs. As we continue to develop our understanding of these SNP’s and the methylation cycle we will be even better at addressing the underlying cause of variant health issues. Epigenetics is a term that is used to identify how the environment interacts with our genes. Epigenetic research has shown that our environment can change our genetic structure far beyond what we inherited from our parents. Our lifestyle habits, environmental conditions and toxic exposure can change our genes to the point where those changes are passed onto our offspring (35). One supplement that I use for special cases in need of methylation is Methyl Power. Check it out here
WHO IS AT RISK FOR B VITAMIN DEFICIENCIESCertain lifestyle factors increase the risk of B vitamin deficiencies. These include:
SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH B VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES
VITAMIN B1: THIAMINEThis vitamin is called thiamine which helps support adrenal function and calms and maintains a healthy nervous system. Thiamin is a cofactor for the metabolism of carbohydrates into energy and plays a key role in nerve transmission. The best food sources include sunflower seeds, flax seeds, navy and black beans. Soaking and sprouting these sources makes the B1 more bioavailable to the body. The most bioactive form of supplemental thiamine is benfotiamine (S-benzoylthiamine O-monophosphate), a safe, fat-soluble analog of thiamine. One study showed that it not only raised blood and tissue levels of thiamine at least five times higher than the water-soluble salt, but it also remained bioavailable after oral administration up to 3.6 times longer than thiamine salt. B Strong provides 20 mg of thiamine HCL and 20 mg of benfotiamine.
VITAMIN B2: RIBOFLAVINThis is riboflavin which is a key part of many metabolic functions in the body. It is one of many nutrients required to recycle glutathione, which is one of the most important antioxidants in the human body. From a chemical standpoint, what B2 does is facilitate the conversion of oxidized glutathione into reduced glutathione. The best food sources include grass-fed raw cheese, almonds, grass-fed beef & lamb, oily fish such as salmon and pasture-raised eggs. The best form of riboflavin is riboflavin 5’-phosphate sodium (R5P) which is the activated form that has the highest utilization rate in the body.
VITAMIN B3: NIACINThis is niacin which is important in energy production. Two unique forms of vitamin B3 (called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate, or NADP) are essential for conversion of dietary proteins, fats and carbohydrates into usable energy. Niacin is also used to synthesize starch that can be stored in muscles and liver for eventual use as an energy source. The richest food sources are tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon and grass-fed beef..
VITAMIN B5: PANTOTHENIC ACIDThe most studied role of pantothenic acid in health support is its incorporation into a molecule called Coenzyme A (CoA). This molecule is arguably on the short list of the most important chemicals needed to sustain life. CoA occupies a central place in energy metabolism, acting to allow carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to be burned as fuel sources. B5 is also responsible for the production of sex and stress-related hormones includingtestosterone.Studiesshow B5 also promotes healthy skin with the ability to reduce signs of skin aging such as redness and skin spots. The best food sources include mushrooms, oily fish like salmon & trout and grass-fed raw cheese. The most common way this is supplemented is a form called pyridoxine HCl. The best supplemental form is pyridoxal-5’phosphate (P5P). In patients receiving pyridoxine HCl, only 33 percent responded with an increase in plasma pyridoxal-5’-phosphate (P5P); however, the level increased in all of the patients receiving P5P (2). ***B Strong Contains the BioActive P5P
VITAMIN B6:Vitamin B6assists in the balancing of sodium and potassium as well as promoting red blood cell production.It is linked to cardiovascular health by decreasing the formation ofhomocysteine. Pyridoxine helps balance hormonal changes in women and aids the immune system. Lack of pyridoxine may cause anemia, nerve damage, seizures, skin problems, and sores in the mouth. It is required for the production of major neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. This is why it is implicated in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
VITAMIN B7: BIOTINVitamin B7, more commonly known as biotin, helps support adrenal function, help calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and are necessary for key metabolic processes. Biotin is nicknamed “the beauty vitamin,” because of its association with healthy hair, skin and nails. It may help people with diabetes control highblood glucose levels, too. This B vitamin is especially importantduring pregnancybecause it’s vital for normal growth of the baby.
VITAMIN B9: FOLATEBioactive forms include folinic acid, calcium folinate and methyl-folate. Never purchase folic acid! Synthetic folic acid supplements are not natural forms and can be very toxic for certain individuals. 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) is the most active form of folate and is especially important for individuals with MTHFR gene mutations. Folate deficiency is believed to be the most common vitamin deficiency in the world due to food processing, food selection, genetic polymorphisms (MTHFR) and intestinal disorders. In this formula, 5-MTHF is provided as Quatrefolic—the glucosamine salt of 5-MTHF. In vitro and in vivo studies have proven that Quatrefolic has greater stability, solubility, and bioavailability over calcium salt forms of 5-MTHF. Folate is stored in small amounts in red blood cells (RBC), and RBC folate has been shown to be higher after supplementation with 5-MTHF compared to folic acid and placebo. Likewise, patients given 5 mg of 5-MTHF experienced plasma levels of 5-MTHF 700% greater than patients given folic acid (3). In B Strong, folate is provided as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), which bypasses metabolic steps to folate bioactivity. This is the safest and most effective form. B Strong provides 400 mcg per serving.
VITAMIN B12:Always choose methyl-cobalamin and not cyanocobalamin. Methyl-Cobalamin is the most bioactive form of B12 that the body needs. This is essential for recycling homocysteine and the formation of methyl donors involved in cardiovascular function, sleep, blood cell formation, and nerve function. Most vitamin B12 supplements contain cyanocobalamin; however, the liver must first "detoxify" the cyanide molecule and attach a methyl group to form methylcobalamin from the cyanocobalamin. Methylcobalamin is already in the biologically active, tissue-ready form. Human urinary excretion of methylcobalamin is about one-third that of a similar dose of cyanocobalamin, indicating substantially greater tissue retention. B Strong contains 400 mcg of methylcobalamin
CHOLINE:Choline is utilized by the body in a variety of ways including aiding nerve signaling, maintenance of cell membranes, transporting triglycerides from the liver, and as a constituent of nervous system tissues in early brain development. Choline is also a precursor of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter vital to nerve and muscle function, and a component of lecithin, which is critical to normal liver metabolism. Without adequate dietary intake of choline, there is a higher-than-normal risk of chronic liver damage and eventual liver failure. Choline is vital in forming very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) in the liver, which helps transport fat from that organ to cells throughout the body. Although VLDL is considered a "bad" form of cholesterol because high levels indicate an abundance of circulating triglycerides, if VLDL levels fall too low, fat will begin to accumulate in the liver. B Strong contains 30 mg of choline