Assessing and Supporting Methylation Pathways

The topic of methylation has become more and more popular over the past decade. Methylation is a crucial biochemical process that is essential for the normal function of almost all of our body’s systems. It helps repair our DNA on a daily basis and regulates homocysteine metabolism. In addition, methylation is needed for detoxification and keep inflammation under control.

Methylation is a chemical process that happens billions of times per second in every cell of the body. Methyl groups are transferred and donated between many different molecules which change their structure and function. Methyl groups act like billions of switches which turn genes on or off, help regulate mood, detoxify hormones, produce energy, and promote healthy aging.

Vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from the diet are needed to keep this process running smoothly. There are also genetic factors and oxidative stressors which can affect how well this pathway works. Any roadblock in this pathway can cause homocysteine levels to elevate. When we intricately study the biochemistry of the homocysteine pathway we can see that it involves a series of conversions that require enzymes. Several nutrients, especially B vitamins, are needed for these conversions to occur. When we are deficient in certain nutrients, methylation breaks down, and the results can be catastrophic. In addition, stress can deplete B vitamins as well as many medications.

Reduced ability to methylate has been associated with:

  • Elevated homocysteine levels
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • Autism
  • Mental disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pregnancy-related disorders

Assessing methylation pathways can uncover needs for nutritional support such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Knowing this can help guide dietary and nutraceutical treatment plans. Additionally, knowing genetic predispositions can help focus supplementation to override potential methylation defects.

Who can benefit from methylation testing?

Although I assess methylation function in all my patinets, testing can offer insight in patients with:

  • Questionable detoxification
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Psychiatric and mood disorders
  • Neurologic disorders
  • Chronic fatigue

What Systems Depend on Methylation?

  • Creatine production: skeletal muscle contraction
  • DNA and RNA synthesis
  • Epigenetic gene regulation
  • Hormone regulation and detoxification
  • Energy production
  • Cell membrane repair
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter production
  • Nitric oxide production: vascular endothelial function
  • Immune function
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