The Importance of 5-MTHF: Methylation and Your Body

Methylation is a hot topic lately, but it’s not necessarily easy to understand.

To simplify, methylation is a biochemical process that involves the transfer of four atoms—one carbon and three hydrogen atoms (CH3)—from one substance to another. This seemingly simple process plays a crucial role in DNA and neurotransmitter production, detoxification, histamine and estrogen metabolism, energy production, and more.

5-MTHF is the most active form of folate or vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9, also known as pteroylmonoglutamic acid, which must be converted to 5-MTHF by several vital enzymes. A vast majority of people cannot convert folic acid into 5-MTHF effectively, and unmetabolized folic acid is linked to severe health problems.

What is Methylation?

You can think of methylation as the evolution of how we understand longevity, long-term health, and wellness in the body. It is essential to properly function in almost all body systems, including the cardiovascular, reproductive, neurological, hormonal, and detoxification systems. This complex biochemical process is the on or off switch for many crucial functions.

To function effectively and efficiently, methylation requires optimal levels of certain nutrients and compounds, including B vitamins. The body is provided with CH3 via a universal methyl donor called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). The system responsible for producing SAMe relies on 5-MTHF; without it, methylation can go awry.

Without sufficient SAMe and effective methylation, a domino effect occurs: the body cannot produce adequate amounts of vital molecules like glutathione, melatonin, serotonin, coenzyme Q10, norepinephrine, epinephrine, taurine, L-Carnitine, and cysteine.

What role does 5-MTHF play in Methylation?

Since the production of SAMe directly relies on 5-MTHF, methylation depends on sufficient levels of active folate to carry out its many functions. In conjunction with vitamin B12, 5-MTHF functions as a methyl group donor, facilitating the conversion of the amino acid homocysteine to methionine. Elevated homocysteine is a risk factor for several health complications.

5-MTHF is particularly well-known and essential for the developing fetus, as it allows the spinal cord and brain to develop more rapidly and efficiently. Women with inadequate levels of 5-MTHF have been shown to give birth to children with a higher risk for attention or behavioral issues, gastrointestinal problems, and other complications.

Many people have trouble converting folic acid to folate, leading to low levels of 5-MTHF. This insufficiency can be due to an ill-functioning liver, intestinal issues, or a genetic problem that inhibits the conversion of folic acid to 5-MTHF.

5-MTHFR Gene

The 5-MTHFR gene regulates methylation and can cause the body to over or under-methylate. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme that catalyzes various biochemical reactions, including converting folate into 5-MTHF. The MTHFR gene can be considered an instruction manual for producing the MTHFR enzyme.

Four different mutations or variations commonly occur in the MTHFR gene. They are referred to as SNPs or single nucleotide polymorphisms. Each SNP is essentially a variation of a building block of DNA. Some have no ill effect on human health, while others can impact a gene’s function for the worse.

MTHFR SNPs are pretty standard, and their different variations impact

the effectiveness of the MTHFR enzyme and the body’s methylation function. Signs of possible MTHFR gene mutations vary widely, including cardiovascular problems, mood imbalances, fatigue, etc.

Genetic testing to evaluate potential gene variations is the first step, followed by metabolic testing and an organic acid panel to understand possible signs of poor methylation. With this information, you can determine whether or not supplementation with 5-MTHF is appropriate and what dosage will work best.

Who should supplement with 5-MTHF?

After speaking with their integrative doctor, certain people are highly likely to benefit from 5-MTHF supplementation. In particular, pregnant and breastfeeding women who want to avoid a folate deficiency during pregnancy, those with various medical issues, those dealing with high-stress levels, and anyone interested in longevity might find 5-MTHF supplementation advantageous.

Supplementing with 5-MTHF to support DNA methylation might also support a healthy gut microbiome and neurological health, particularly after antibiotic use.

Methylation is vital in almost every body system, relying on 5-MTHF to function correctly. If you or your doctor suspect poor methylation, it can be helpful to undergo genetic and metabolic testing and supplement with 5-MTHF, the active form of folate.

To learn more about 5-MTHF, get a FREE Consultation with one of our doctors (D.C) here

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