Methylation is a biochemical process involved in a wide range of functions in the body.
A molecule called a methyl group needs to be added to another substance, such as DNA or a protein, to allow the receiving substance to be able to function optimally. In people with genetic variations, the enzyme production involved in the conversion and utilisation of B vitamins is compromised. This means that they would absorb a lower percentage of the vitamin than a person without the variation should it be in an unmethylated form. If a person knows that they have this genetic variation, it would be advisable for them to supplement with activated or methylated B vitamins.
Apart from healthy immune, nervous and cardiovascular system activity, methylation is important for the detoxification of heavy metals and for hormonal balance.
Methylation is an example of an epigenetic process that is essential for the maintenance and function of our DNA and thereby our heath.
Signs that methylation may need to be supported are:
- Prolonged fatigue
- High homocysteine levels
- Family history of cardiovascular disease, anxiety or depression
- Low serum B12 and / or folate
- Raised liver enzymes
- Chronic constipation
- Poor mood
- Genetic SNP’s including MTHFR
When someone has a problem with methylation they usually have a genetic variation in one or more genetic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and should then ideally look to supplement with B vitamins or folic acid in an activated form, i.e methylcobalamin (B12) or 5 methyl tetrahydrofolate (folic acid)
B vitamins are important for a healthy methylation cycle. Vitamins B2, B6 and B12 are needed for the activity of enzymes used in the methylation cycle, whereas B9 (folate) helps to produce the necessary methyl groups.
Vitamins B5 and B6 are important for supporting the nervous system, cognitive function, mood and cortisol balance.
Since B vitamins are supportive of the nervous system, our requirements may be higher during times of stress.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 17 September to learn more.
Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am