What is Methylation and Detoxification?? What is the significance in mutations such as MTHFR, MTR and MTRR?

In my previous blog, I talk a lot about Methylation and Detoxification and how my body is adversely affected due to my MTHFR mutation. I wanted to cover what methylation and detoxification mean to the body and how having a mutation can cause problems.

Methylation is the passing of a chemical fragment called a methyl group (a carbon atom linked to three hydrogen atoms) from one molecule to another. It is most easily understood by thinking of methylation as a repair process.
So, after free radicals and toxic elements do damage to the molecules in our cells, the process of methylation repairs that damage by inserting new undamaged methyl groups (modular components) into proteins and especially DNA. Our bodies being carbon-based life-forms, need carbon building blocks (methyl groups) in order to be repaired or maintained in working order.
Methylation is heavily involved in the transfer of DNA information, which is the copying of one DNA strand into another. This occurs during cellular replication.
The bottom line is that if you don’t want to grow old in body or mind, you want methylation occurring at an optimal rate. Methylation is one of the best ways to ensure constant repair work to your DNA as well as constant detoxification of dangerous amino acids homocysteine into the good and mood elevating methionine and SAM-e molecules.
Some Methylation Facts:
  • The amount of homocysteine is a good indicator of how “biologically old” a person is (as opposed to chronological age). High homocysteine levels are especially indicated in:
    • Heart disease and stroke (by encouraging clumping together of platelets
    • Higher levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol
    • Dementia and Alzheimer’s
    • Destruction of telomeres
    • Liver Disease
    • Birth Defects
    • Depression
  • It has been shown in studies where methylation of DNA was limited or prevented that mouse embryos would not develop and the process of life just stops (Li, et al., 1992).
  • Low DNA methylation of blood cells is believed to be a cause of autoimmune disease(Yung et al. 1995).
  • Low methylation in humans is also highly related to Alzheimer’s disease and thedevelopment of cataracts.
  • Low methylation results in liver cancer, vascular disease and shorter life span in animals (Salmon and Copeland -1946).
  • Methylation is essential in the making of melatonin (the "sleep" hormone), adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone), acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter), creatine (for muscle energy metabolism), carnitine (involved in fat burning in mitochondria), and choline (fat mobilization and cell membrane fluidity)

Methylation is a process by which a gene's behavior is altered, but the gene itself isn't changed. This is almost like following all the directions in baking a batch of cookies correctly, except for the oven temperature. Even though all of the ingredients are the same, those cookies won't bake -- or behave -- the same way when baked a couple hundred degrees lower than they should be.
In methylation, though, the wrong oven temperature is actually other factors, such as environmental exposures or different lifestyle choices. These factors have the potential to cause methyl groups, which are groups of one carbon and three hydrogens, to land on top of our genes and change how they are expressed. This, in turn, changes the ability of our genes to share the directions they contain for making our bodies' proteins.
If your body's methylation is not working at an optimal level it will translate into many different health problems and will accelerate your aging process.
In simple terms it is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules.  These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition.
For example, if the antidepressant, ‘feel-good’ brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which in turns leads to depression!  This is just one of the many ‘chemicals’ in the body that need to be methylated and if they are not can lead to serious health consequences.
Probably the most important methylation process is when it is applied to homocysteine!  Homocysteine is a by product of an important amino acid methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA.  Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to methionine.  If this process does not happen your body is in for some serious trauma.

Homocysteine is implicated in:
·         Heart disease and stroke by encouraging the clumping together of platelets
·         Higher levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol from reacting with iron and copper ions to produce free radicals
·         Dementia and Alzheimer’s
·         Liver Disease
·         Depression
·         Aging in general, in that homocysteine is believed to accelerate the destruction of telemores
But all the above is only part of the methylation ‘story’…
Methylation of certain parts of your DNA can switch off unnecessary genes and prevent abnormal DNA division.  This means that these abnormalities are not passed on to future generations of cells…a most important component in successful aging.
As we age the methylation processes in our bodies start getting ‘tired’ and become less efficient with a resulting build up of homocysteine, DNA damage and the development of other flow on effects such as depression.
Therefore, if you don’t take steps to ensure balanced methylation then any hope of a long life free of degenerative diseases is only a remote possibility.
As with everything related to successful aging, methylation must be balanced.  Too much can be as bad as too little.  Fortunately your body will balance your methylation processes providing that you give it the ‘fuel’ to perform the task.
What is the fuel?
There are three groups of compounds that are helpful in methylation with varying levels of efficacy.  They are the B Vitamins, B6, B12 and folic acid, Tri-Methyl-Glycine TMG, (also known as Betaine), and SAMe.
The B Vitamins are important but more in the capacity of co-factors rather than being a solution for methylation in their own right.  This is because as we get older these vitamins tend to become a bit ‘sluggish’ and as such progressively less effective.
By far the most effective methylating agent is SAMe which stands for S-Adenosyl-Methionine and is a natural chemical found in all living cells.  It is formed in the body by combining the amino acid methionine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The science confirming the effectiveness of SAMe as the best methylating agent is indisputable.
It can be taken as a supplement but it is not readily available for two reasons.  One is that it MUST be taken in enteric coated form because SAMe is particularly susceptible to stomach acids and two that it is very expensive.  
The issue with people who have MTHFR, MTR, and MTRR as well as other methylation mutations is that your not giving your body enough fuel, and so the build up of toxic chemicals is causing you to age more quickly... Sounds fun huh?

Detoxification is the process or removing harmful toxins and free radicals from the body. Without methylation and detoxification, you would die in just a few days.

A person’s rate of methylation (high, medium or low) is synonymous with youth, middle age or old age. If there was any one single marker that best describes how fast you are growing old it is your rate of methylation. So, keep your methylation rates high.

So now does it make a little more sense to you how MTHFR, MTR and MTRR Mutations can be dangerous?


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