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MTHFR and What it Affects

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

We are going to be talking about the M T H F R gene. If you've done labs with us before, you know, this is something we test for in the office. And if you haven't done labs with us before, you might want to think about getting this marker tested, and we're going to find out why.

Also, if you've been following us on our Wellness Wednesdays, you know, Dr. McNamara is going to be running in the Chicago marathon and he is raising money for research on Spina Bifida. We're going to talk about that a little bit more because Spina Bifida is associated with this marker.

So when we talk about this gene, we're going to talk about folic acid, folate things that affect the brain, heart, and spine. So some patients were saying "MTHFR that looks like a swear word". I'm telling you, it's not a swear word it's, Methy Tetra Hydro Folate Reductase. Now you don't have to remember that long word, just remember M T H F R and it's a methylation problem.

So what that means is that if you have this gene and we're going to talk about it more in a second, you're not efficiently converting folic acid into folate even if you take it or if you eat it because you don't have the enzyme genetically to do that. So this is the way it works. Our genes are very unique from person to person.

With this type of gene, you get one copy from your mom and one from your dad. And these two genes help determine how our bodies are going to interact with food and vitamins that we consume and diseases and conditions we may be predisposed to. Just because we have this gene doesn't mean we're going to get that condition or have that problem, but it definitely helps us know what we're going to treat.

So when we look at it, who's at risk? 70% of the population has this gene. 30% has two of these genes, and that would be considered homozygous. That would be considered that the symptoms or disease conditions could be expressed to their full extent, right? 40% have one gene. This MTHFR is linked to 40 different types of diseases.

You're like, oh my gosh, don't sign me up for this, I don't want this, but there's a really good chance if you're in that 70% that you may have this. The good news is there are things that we can do to prevent it and turn it off. The biggest thing is just knowing about it and knowing if you have it and what to do about it.

So these are some diseases that are associated with this gene like alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease where we lose big patches of hair. Anencephaly is also called a neural tube defect. That is when a baby is born missing part of their brain or part of their skull because their spinal cord and their brain is either just missing or is on the outside of the skull.

Homocystinuria that's when your homocysteine is high and we're going to talk more about homocysteine. It's a substance that can cause a heart attack, but it's not linked to cholesterol, it's linked to this MTHFR and folic acid. Presbycusis is an age-related hearing loss. And with certain combinations of this MTHFR, you can get hearing loss.

So wait a minute, we can correct these with some supplements? If we know specifically where your markers are, we can definitely turn these off and prevent them. Spina Bifida is the big one that we're going to be talking about for the next months to come. It is a birth defect where the bones and the spinal column or the spinal cord don't close completely around the nerves and sometimes the spinal cord can be on the outside of the body. So some babies don't survive this and the ones who do can definitely be severely impaired.

It can also cause heart disease, strokes, hypertension, preeclampsia in pregnancy, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy, glaucoma, babies with cleft lip and palate. It can also cause miscarriages and difficulty getting pregnant. So there are so many things that can cause blood clotting. But I'm here to tell you if you know about it, you can turn it off. So when we look at B12 folic acid, these are two water-soluble vitamins.

So what's one thing we know that moms do when they first get pregnant, or even when they're planning to get pregnant, they take prenatal vitamins. Why? Because they're really super high in B12 folic acid, which helps prevent cleft lip and palate, Spina Bifida, neural tube defect. So this is one of the leading deficiencies in the world and in many other parts of the world it's more severe than it is here.

So our government has fortified our food with B12 folic acid, which is great. But if you have two of these genes, even when you take that B12 folic acid either in an over-the-counter supplement or in your food, you can't convert it so you can't utilize it. So folic acid is also known as B9 and is essential for other vitamins to work for your nervous system, your brain, your immune function, and the conversion of folic acid.

So let's see what we can do. So when we measure these genes, it's a one-time test because your genes don't change. But we monitor how it's working by measuring your B12 and folic acid. So when we use the supplements, we use pharmaceutical grade, and we want to activate that enzyme pathway. So you can't just take regular old B12 Folic acid because it's not going to have the enzyme. So this one specifically has the enzyme. You need to convert it because your body doesn't make it.

So if you were interested in getting this, if you know you have MTHFR, you're worried about getting MTHFR. You can get it at, which is also a whole scripts. The passcode is going to be gethealthy and when they ask for your doctor's name you can put McLaughlin and you'll be able to order those. So we usually do one to two of those. They're water-soluble and they will make your urine really fluorescent yellow, but there are no side effects of it.

So like I said, Dr. McNamara is going to be running in the Chicago marathon this year, and he is raising money. He's hoping to raise $2,500 in the support of Spina Bifida research. So as a chiropractor, he knows the significance of spinal disorders and how they impact people's lives.

So if you're interested in helping him help support Spina Bifida there is a QR code you can scan in the video and we also have a link on our website. He's going to be doing training videos for the marathon for all you runners every week and we're going to have a lot more information about Spina Bifida as we're linked with the Illinois Spina Bifida Association and raising money for their efforts.

So what can you do at home? You can do a lot of lifestyle things. So I'm going to go over these, but I also have some handouts for you if you're interested in avoiding this darn MTHFR. So these are common recommendations that you can do. The first one is going to be limit folic acid, fortified foods. Remember I told you the government fortifies it because you can't process it very well. You want to avoid or limit over-the-counter supplements with it in it.

It can actually make you sick because you're taking something that your body can't utilize. Avoid folic acid blocking drugs, birth control pills, or methotrexate will block the folic acid. Avoid drugs that increase your homocysteine. Remember homocysteine is a substance that can cause a heart attack not linked to lipids. Nitrous Oxide is the laughing gas that you get at the dentist and that can cause a problem.

Avoid antacids, they block the absorption of B12 and other nutrients in your body. So other things you can do is you can take an infrared sauna. We have an infrared sauna here in the office. You want to get a good sweat going on a regular basis. Epsom salt baths, sports, and yoga are great ways to sweat, especially if you do hot yoga.

If you can do that at least once to three times a week, that'd be really good because one of the things with the MTHFR mutation is you don't detoxify very well. So we want to do things to help your body detoxify. You want to limit the intake of processed foods because you don't want to have to detoxify all those chemicals.

You want to drink at least two liters of filtered water a day or half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Avoid cooking, drinking, or storing anything and heating it in plastic containers because that can leach into your food or your water and your body has to detoxify it. Use air purifiers in your home and office to keep that air clean.

The other thing is you want to understand which of your symptoms may be related to the MTHFR mutations, because this is just a quick little video. I'm not going deep into the different alleles, but there are two, a 677 which affects the heart and your cardiovascular system, and 1298, which affects the brain. So some people can get blood clots from this. Some people can get Alzheimer's, dementia, heart attack, all of those other things that we talked about.

The way that we know, if you're not going to be affected by this again, is measuring that B12 folic acid and measuring your homocysteine in your blood. Inform your family members if you have it because we know your parents who would have given it to you or your siblings may have it as well.

Eliminate gluten from your diet, especially wheat gluten, because it affects our immune system. Also, limit or reduce your dairy, if you're going to have dairy, maybe try goat's milk because the dairy is inflammatory and it's going to help you overall with reducing symptoms associated with this condition. So that is it. That is our Functional Medicine Friday on our MTHFR gene.

If you have any questions, let us know. We'll see you next week.

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