So many people are without answers to their health problems. Some just don’t feel quite right, experience fatigue, and have random digestive problems. Others are plagued with memory issues, weak immunity, anemia, shortness of breath, achy joints, and random pains. Often these symptoms have an insidious cause and can have wide-ranging effects.
MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) deficiency is one of these issues. MTHFR is an enzyme in the body that converts inactive folic acids to the active or “methylated folate.” Activated folic acid is required in virtually every organ system and major function of the body. Particularly important is the production of our DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid) and amino acids. Also of great concern is MTHFR and folate’s effect on a compound called homocysteine. Homocysteine is a potentially dangerous compound shown to cause damage to our arteries and is an indicator of stress. According to the Harvard Medical School, it is the most correlated compound relating to our chance of having a cardiovascular event, with far greater accuracy than cholesterol levels. MTHFR deficiency is a genetic disorder, with many individuals having one or two “bad” genes. These bad genes can significantly alter the ability to produce methylated folate.
MTHFR is an important genetic change with multiple ramifications in the body. Understanding what genetics really means and the concept of epigenetics may truly help solve this issue. Epigenetics is a new field in functional medicine. As is now more fully understood, our genes may not explain all our “genetic issues.” Epigenetics literally means “above” or “on top of” genetics.
It is that a gene is affected by our lifestyle, environment and our chemistry to create a different trait, or health problem. These traits can actually be passed down from parents to child. Traditionally these are called “environmental factors.” For example, chronic stress may cause changes in our chemistry that actually alters our DNA expression, creating the appearance of a gene causing heart disease. More commonly would be a situation where stress and toxicity (like from our wonderful Long Island water) causes altered expression of our MTHFR genes, causing massive loss of production in our folic acids. In most cases, this is actually the cause. So while it is useful to know if we have one or two MTHFR genetic aberrations, most likely these are epigenetic changes that can be reversed with appropriate care.
Certainly methylated folic acids should be used in the short term to deal with the deficiency. If we have one epigenetic change to our DNA expression, it is likely there are multiple, and just taking methylated folate will not be sufficient. A comprehensive process of rebuilding the body, along with detoxification and stress reduction, would be necessary to reverse the likely widespread epigenetic changes causing our many health imbalances.
Source: Dr. David Pollack, of Pollack Wellness Institute (66 Commack Rd., Ste. 204, Commack). For more information, call 631-462-0801 or visit PollackWellness.com.