Methylation

Monday, 29 March 2021

Methylation is a highly important process occurring billions of times every second in our cells. Methylation is a continuous cycle that is all about creating the ultimate “prize” - “methyl groups” - which is 1 carbon + 3 hydrogen atom.

Think about methylation as a game of pass the parcel, a methyl group being the parcel and specific genes (that code for enzymes of the same name) are the players. As the parcel is passed, methyl groups are created or donated, and the players (genes/enzymes) are the facilitators, keeping the continuous loop moving. When the “parcel” aka methyl group is added to something in the body - a hormone, enzyme, vitamin, we say it’s been “methylated” and results in a new structure and function. The functions of the newly formed structures can be broadly divided into either using or expelling for the benefit of optimal health. Examples are:  

Compounds methylated to use:

  phosphatidylcholine: when choline is methylated = phosphatidylcholine. Used to make cell membranes- protecting mitochondria, transports fats out of the liver, & helps bile to flow smoothly out of the gallbladder to aid in fat digestion AND as bile is antimicrobial - preventing SIBO. 

Making Hormones and Neurotransmitters: methyl groups are required to make serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline melatonin - directly affecting our mood

Building DNA & RNA - enough said! 

Compounds methylated to expel:

  • Detoxification of hormones like oestrogen once they have been used -  preventing oestrogen dominance
  • Removal of histamine and other neurotransmitters; methyl groups bind to a receptor site that causes it to rapidly break down and be taken out of the body. 

How these genes (players) can be impacted …...

There are many genes - that code for enzymes - at play in this game of pass the parcel,  & genetic variants - SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphism) can cause the parcel to skip a player, be dropped or be forced to turn tail.

Ten million SNPs have been identified in the human genome & we ALL have about a million each! Most don’t impact our health at all, but some can, if the environment is ripe, make a huge difference. 

Eg: SNPs on the COMT gene (MT=methyl group!) can, if the environment is ripe, lead to sleep issues, PMS, oestrogen dominance, anxiety & super focus (it's never all bad). 

What do I mean - “if the environment is ripe”? All genes need nutrients; the smooth running of methylation requires B2, methylfolate, Vitamin B12, betaine (TMG) & choline. Insufficiency or deficiency of any of these cofactors will hinder methylation - SNP or no 

Factors such as diet, chemicals, drugs & stress play a role in supporting or hampering methylation. Medications such as Ritalin & drugs like cocaine work on the Dopamine & noradrenaline pathway. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that affects pleasure, drive & attention span but too much & we experience mania, aggression & lack of concentration.  SNPs in the methylation cycle exists on the creation, transport, receptor & elimination of Dopamine & can have an additive or reducing effect. 

The entire methylation cycle is about SOOO much more than MTHFR. Some SNPs: 

  • FUT2 reduces B12 absorption from the diet
  • TCN reduces binding & transport of b12 into RBC
  • MTR destabilises the gene, making it less reliable in the methylation of B12 
  • MAOA affects your relationship with dopamine, serotonin & noradrenaline: governing mood, energy, cravings & sleep

Ask your practitioner about working with LifecodeGx nutrigenomics to assess where your vulnerabilities are. It will truly help to personalise your health journey.