Anxiety, Depression and the MTHFR Connection!

Recently there has been a lot of press around mood issues such as anxiety and depression and the possibility, that the cause is connected to a genetic mutation, of the MTHFR gene (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase). This gene is responsible for making an enzyme known as, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (same name as the gene!). This enzyme takes the folate (vitamin B9) from your diet and converts it to an active form that the body can use, known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF). If a problem with the gene exists, this effects the enzyme, which in turn, effects the production of 5MTHF. This results in problems with a cycle, known as, the methylation.

Just about every single cell in our body relies on methylation, making it an extremely important process, faults in methylation are more far reaching than mood alone. This is why testing for MTHFR mutations is important for many people.

 

MTHFR and Mood

Studies show an association between the MTHFR C677T mutation and depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder! Whilst you can’t change your genes, you can support your body with lifestyle, diet and specific nutrients to allow the methylation cycle to work more efficently.

When the MTHFR mutations exist, homocysteine (an amino acid produced in the methylation cycle) levels can increase in the blood (which as a side note, is a cardiovascular risk). This may occur because the cycle doesn’t have the nutrients  (5MTHF being one of these), it requires to reduce homocysteine and allow for effective production of certain compounds, such as SAMe (s adenosylmethionine) which plays a role in mood regulation.

 

Methylation 

Its important to understand that the MTHFR gene is not the only reason why methylation might be compromised and homocysteine levels elevated. Vitamins B12 and B6, must also be considered in the methylation equation, although its important to note, there are also some other key nutrients involved. As discussed earlier, mood is not the only aspect of health effected when methylation is not working efficiently, it effects the bodies ability to detoxify heavy metals and chemicals, it can effect the immune system, hormones, energy, histamine levels, controls inflammation and can be responsible for imbalances in the liver, thyroid, adrenal, digestion and hormonal systems.

Any one or more of these imbalances can be effecting your mood!

 

How do I test for MTHFR

There are two MTHFR SNP’s that can be tested, if your doctor believe’s it is warranted, the cost is covered through medicare, if not, it is an out of pocket expense of approximately $50. Currently testing is available for the: C677T and A1298C, you will be provided with a result for each of either – no mutation, one mutation (heterozygous) or two mutations (homozygous). A homozygous result on the C677T is considered the highest loss of function (at up to 70{ad0958e2cc4f7ce1b8a4a11258b282f3c28808b1a53d76a4b670a19fad40adab}).

To be better able to understand the impact that a positive MTHFR has on any one person, it is worth also testing for homocysteine (fasted), folate (red blood cell) and B12. A qualified practitioner will include other testing to obtain a good overview of exactly how your body is being effected.  Homocysteine is often used as a marker in determining how your methylation is doing. Unfortunately many practitioners are not regularly testing.

 

Treatment

Treatment is not always straightforward, as there is much to consider, whilst some people with the mutation will do well on folinic acid (please note this is different to folic acid) or 5MTHF, others will not, and others still may find symptoms worsen, this will require work to be done in other components of the cycle and body systems first. Some detective work will be needed to determine, if and how the MTHFR mutation is being expressed and how this may be influencing your health. Short term and long term treatment will need to be considered. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables such as baby spinach, kale, spinach, lettuces etc so increasing these in the diet is a good start.

 

Who should be tested? 

You should be tested if you have a parent with the mutation, if you have a long history of mood problems or addictions, if you have a high homocysteine levels (which is not related to a B12 deficiency), if you suffer any chronic illness or fatigue (with an unknown origin) or if you plan to conceive (both prospective parents should be tested, ideally at least 3 months prior to conception).

 

Conclusion 

MTHFR is a very important discovery, and can have a major impact not only on mood but overall health. Understanding its impact and relationship within everything going on in the body is critical if you are to benefit from this knowledge.

Regards,

Maria

 References

CIRC-Relation Between Folate

AJE-Genetic Polymorphisms and Psychiatric Disorders

AJP-Homocysteine Hypothesis of Depression

CEBP-MTHFR & Polymorphisms

CLINCHEM-Effect of Riboflavin

Science direct-METHYLATION AND MOOD

WILEY-S-adenosylmethionine blood levels

Jama network-Polymorphism in Anxiety and Depression

NHM-https://naturalhealthmedicine.com.au/elevated-homocysteine-heart-health-risk-levels-checked/#sthash.wB6qT85L.dpuf

 

 

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