What the heck is "methylation"?!
I get asked a lot about methylation by clients and why it is so important. In short, methylation is a vital process for healthy DNA and epigenetic modification.
Having too little or too much methylation can cause issues and cut put you at risk of numerous conditions such as decreased cognitive function, reduced energy levels, fatigue, poor detoxification, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
B vitamins provide building blocks for growing cells, which are constantly being renewed and play a very important role in many bodily processes. They provide some of the chemicals necessary for protecting our genes, so that our DNA does not accumulate damage from the wear and tear in the daily lives of our cells! These vitamins including folate, vitamins B6 and B12 help to make new DNA for cells that are constantly growing and renewing themselves. Folate is also involved in turning many genes on and off, and also helps repair DNA.
Although B vitamins are only needed in small quantities, they are vital for methylation and producing DNA. Insufficient folate can lead to high homocysteine levels and it can also decrease the ability to synthesise and replicate DNA properly. Additionally, insufficient folate has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer and neural tube defects.
Eating a range of B vitamin-rich foods and supplementing with a low dose pre-methylated B complex will help provide support without overstimulating the pathway. Unfortunately, individuals with methylation issues often struggle to metabolise folic acid, which is still the most common form of folate found in supplements. Research now links folic acid use with many harmful effects, from increased cancer risk to autism. Without functional testing, switching folic acid for folate rich foods is the safest way to avoid the risks of folic acid use.
Additionally, we are regularly exposed to dietary and environmental toxins that may alter our epigenetic markers and even incite DNA fragmentation. Eliminating exposure to chemicals and toxins is vital when it comes to promoting gene health. Choosing natural cosmetics, not using plastic and aluminium foil, choosing organic foodstuff and reducing exposure to airborne toxins is paramount to protect DNA and avoid negative modifications from occurring.
Heavy metal toxicity has also been demonstrated to alter genetic expression, therefore, metal toxicity testing may be valuable in certain individuals.
Excellent sources of folate include: offal, such as liver.
Other good sources include: lentils, pinto beans, asparagus and spinach.
Excellent sources of vitamin B2 include: beef liver, lamb, natural yogurt, almonds,
spinach and mushrooms.
Excellent sources of vitamin B6 include: chickpeas, tuna, chicken breast, turkey and pistachio nuts. Other good sources include: potatoes and other starchy vegetables.
Excellent sources of vitamin B12 include: mackerel, shellfish, low fat dairy and eggs.