01 Oct What is Methylation and Why Should I Care?
First let me tell you why you should care and then we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of methylation:
A breakdown in methylation significantly increases the risk of a huge number of health conditions from osteoporosis and cervical dysplasia to cancer, depression and anxiety, ADHD, birth defects, chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, cancer, cognitive decline, miscarriage, and stroke.
A large percentage of the population carries a genetic predisposition (MTHFR) to reduced methylation. Many other factors can also reduce your ability to methylate. Read on to find out what methylation is, what factors affect it, and how you can assess your own methylation capacity.
Methylation is a chemical process that occurs in every cell and tissue in our bodies. It is the process of adding a methyl group (1 carbon bound to 2 hydrogen molecules) to various “substrate” molecules in the body. These substrates include your genetic material (DNA), RNA, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
Methylation of a substrate changes how that substrate interacts with other chemicals in the body.
It can turn genes on and off- affecting our health either positively or adversely (depending on the gene). Similarly, methylation can activate or inactivate enzymes in the body (turning on and off chemical processes).
Methylation is essential for detoxification in the body. One crucial example is the methylation of a toxic amino acid called homocysteine to a beneficial amino acid (methionine). If the body cannot methylate properly, toxins (such as homocysteine) can build up. Elevation of homocysteine in the blood is a risk factor for a diverse number of health conditions including heart disease and stroke, clot formation, early miscarriage, Alzheimer’s disease, elevated liver enzyme, and osteoporosis. You can see here that the impact of elevated homocysteine is quite broad.