One of the body's most critical metabolic processes is methylation. Without adequate methylation not only do our brain and mood suffer, but we are much more prone to develop arterial blockage, we can't process hormones properly, our ability to detoxify is impaired, and we are much more likely to develop arthritis and even cancer.
It's actually somewhat surprising that roles so diverse and important could be accomplished with something as simple as an atom of carbon joined to 3 hydrogen....yet likewise, paper clips and bottle caps are simple, but can play huge roles in keeping things organized and contained.
Proper methylation is vital to forming neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. Hence, if you are not methylating normally you are likely to be depressed, and/or have ongoing challenges with mood.
Inadequate methylation also leads to a build-up of homocysteine, which increases risk of arterial blockage and cardiovascular disease.
For those that deal with hormonal imbalances, it is very useful to know that methylation plays important roles in enzymes which metabolize estrogen, (specifically, an enzyme called COMT (catechol-o-methyl transferase). And since COMT also plays major roles in the brain and in detoxification, proper methylation can again be a key determinant of well-being.
Glutathione production is also an important outcome of properly functioning methylation cycles, and this also has a major impact upon detoxification, energy, and immunity.
Futher, because methylation is necessary for formation and maintenance of bones joints, collagen and connective tissues, skeletal problems, including both osteoarthritis, and/or rheumatoid arthritis, (due to autoimmunity) can result from improper function.
And, if you are concerned about developing cancer, it is very important to know that proper methylation can act like a paperclip on certain oncogenes, i.e. if you are methylating properly, these "cancer" genes have a far smaller chance of being expressed, and your risk of developing cancer drops accordingly.
So as you can see, if you are not getting the nutrients you need to methylate properly, or are genetically predisposed, a myriad of health problems can result. Yet the solution can be very simple.
In general, methylation is accomplished by certain B-vitamins namely folate, vitamins B12, B-6, a substance called trimethylglycine, and something you may have heard of called SAMe. Vitamin B2 is also part of the picture. The catch is that in order to actually participate in methylation cycles these nutrients have to be converted to their active "coenzyme" forms.
Folate, for example, needs to be converted to TMHF (tetramethylhydrofolate). But because of genetic variation in the enzyme that makes this conversion, many people do not perform it adequately. Therefore superior supplements will provide folate in its active TMHF form, as opposed to just providing folic acid. Vitamin B12 in the methylcobalamin form can participate directly in these cycles, and Vitamin B6 needs to be present in its active P5P form. Thyroid hormones, specifically T4, are needed for conversion of Riboflavin (Vit B2) to its active form (called riboflavin-5-phosphate) to form FAD. In turn, FAD is required by the enzyme that turns folate into its active TMHF form. So if you have low thyroid status, poor methylation can result.
As with so many body processes healthy methylation relies on several nutrients, whose functions are all interdependent. Yet, the good thing is that if you get the right supplement you can discover very quickly whether you are in need of extra methylation support. In my experience, for those who need them introducing proper methylating factors can be like turning on a switch. It can produce results practically immediately, yielding more energy, better mood, and overall improved wellness.
Hence, taking the activated forms of these nutrients, such as are found in Optimum Health's Optimized Methylation Factors, (and/or experimenting with SAMe...more on this to come in a future article), can alert you very quickly as to whether methylation is an issue for you. If you deal with any of the above conditions, giving such supplements a try can be potentially life changing... and you don't have to wait months to find out.
Until next time,
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.