Homocysteine & MTHFR
Are you MTHFR? Have you checked your Homocysteine levels?
Note: Good homocysteine should be between 7 – 8 umol
Homocysteine is the chemical that is released into the body as a result from a process called methylation, it’s a normal process as long as the homocysteine your body produces is broken down into other useful, health giving chemicals. Those with MTHFR gene problems often have homocysteine imbalances either high or low.
When homocysteine becomes elevated this is a warning sign that can result in any of the following:
- Alzheimers disease
- Cardiovascular disease mortality
- Chronic heart failure
- Heart attack
- Cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular disease
Knowing your homocysteine levels can mean the difference between life and death literally. It’s also important to understand that by simply keeping your homocysteine in check you can dramatically decrease your risk of many of the above health problems by as much as 50%. This is especially important for those that have MTHFR gene mutations becuase they are often more susceptible to homocysteine imbalances due to their reduced ability to convert folate that is required to make methyltransferase which creates MTHFR that converts to SAMe.
What Causes High Or Elevated Homocysteine?
Homocysteine in the body is produced from processing methionine a natural amino acid, from here normally homocysteine is broken down in two healthy beneficial chemicals called SAMe and glutathione which solves the problem of having high or elevated homocysteine.
Several factors can cause elevated homocysteine, these include:
- Having the MTHFR gene mutation
- Poor diet
- Nutritional problems
- Genetic inheritance. e.g. Family history of any of the above diseases
- Folate deficiency
- Male sex (increased risk)
- Oestrogen deficiency
- Excessive alcohol, coffee or tea intake
- Lack of exercise
- Hostility and repressed anger
- Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, Chron’s disease)
- Being vegetarian or vegan
- High salt intake
- Hat fat diet with excessive red meat, high fat dairy intake
How Homocysteine Works
In the below diagram you can see the processes that breaks down homocysteine into SAMe and glutathione, any problems with either pathway leads to elevated or high levels of homocysteine…
As you can see there are several nutrients that work together to make homocysteine work properly.
MTHFR & homocysteine
Those with MTHFR gene variants can have trouble making this process work properly, the obvious problem is that folate is needed to work with vitamin B12, B2 and zinc. People with MTHFR gene problems have reduced ability to to convert folate making it much harder for this process to work properly. Further those with MTHFR often have other nutritional problems that use up extra nutrients through over methylation, they run out of resources allowing homocysteine to build up putting themselves at higher risk of those diseases associated of high homocysteine.
But its not all bad news for those with MTHFR gene disorders, the right treatments for MTHFR can improve folate conversion to raise methyltransferase to then produce more MTHFR to convert more SAMe.