Methylation

Methylation is responsible for:

Metabolism-The methylation pathway uses vitamins and minerals to help process fats, sugars and protein into energy.  Problems with methylation affect the body’s ability to use and recycle key B vitamins resulting in less energy.

Detox– Methylation uses chemicals in the body to get rid of waste products from metabolism.  When this process is is inhibited, toxins build up in the body, causing damage and inflammation.

Neurotransmitter balance– Neurotransmitters are made and recycled when the methylation pathway functions properly.  Genetic changes in methylation can alter the speed at which neurotransmitters are made as well as broken down.  This affects overall mood and mental well-being.

Cell Growth-When there are not enough nutrients, the body prioritizes cell growth over energy production.

Folate vs. Folic Acid

Folate is necessary for every step in the methylation pathway to work properly.  Folate is found naturally in foods such as vegetables, leafy greens, wheat, corn, and beans. In its natural form, it is readily available for use in the body in the many processes of methylation.

Folic Acid can be converted into the useable form of folate, but many gene mutations can slow down the process of converting it into folate. Even when there are no mutations present, folic acid competes with the chemical processes involved in balancing brain chemistry. Folic acid actually competes with folate for absorption in the body.  So just eating lots of folate rich foods will not necessarily mitigate the problem. Folic acid should be eliminated from the diet and replaced with natural folate or methylfolate (the methylated version). Folic acid slows down methylation processes for everyone, but is even worse for those with methylation mutations such as MTHFR, MTR, MTHFD1, SHMT1, and DHFR to name a few.

Even though it is the most thoroughly studied, the MTHFR gene is only one of about 12 genes involved in the methylation pathway.   

Imagine you are going to make bread in a mixer, but you have to assemble that mixer every time you want to make that bread.  The entire process is slowed down until that mixer can be assembled. This is like taking in folic acid. No one would buy that mixer if there were a more efficient mixer that could be stored completely assembled and used over and over again very quickly.  Folate is comparable to the pre-assembled mixer that is readily available for use.

Folic acid is pervasive in our American diet because the FDA requires that white flour be enriched in order to restore vitamins lost in the refining process of making white flour from wheat. Folic acid is preferred by manufacturers because of its longer shelf life without considering the long term effects of folic acid actually competing with folate for absorption in the body.

Balancing Methylation

Because methylation affects the entire body, your Somaticode report focuses on bringing the body into balance through methylation balance..  If, for example your report suggests you eliminate dairy products from your diet, it is because you may have a gene mutation that may make it difficult for you to break down certain proteins in dairy, which then results in a greater need to detox, which slows down energy production in the body.  When the body has a greater need in one area, it uses resources or slows down processes in another.

Our goal is to address all the genetic mutations underlying any distress or deficit causing imbalance to the body.  We compare it to fixing a hose. First, you would want to eliminate any obstructions in the hose. We do this by addressing foods difficult to break down leading to loss of nutrients needed for other functions.  The next step is to address any holes in the hose that would leak water along the length of the tube. This is the essential step of supporting the body in nutrients that may be deficient due to genetic mutations.  For example, a person with a mutation in the gene responsible for recycling vitamin B12 will need to supplement with vitamin B12 every day. Otherwise they will become deficient and very tired. Third, we would adjust the nozzle controlling the flow of water needed for the job at hand.  This is compared to balancing methylation. This step is more complicated to understand, but is easy to implement if the first two steps have been implemented.

Methylation Scale

We are able to calculate a number on the Somaticode Methylation Scale indicating where you land before any environmental factors are introduced.  We then list those factors that may be causing you to move up or down the scale to inform you what steps you can take to balance yourself. Balance in this step is indicated by mental state, so only you can determine whether or not you are balanced.  Balanced mood is not only the indicator, but also the goal of this step. Multiple genetic factors are taken into account to calculate your SoMS (Somaticode Methylation Scale number). These factors are hormones, inflammation, detox, methylation pathway, speed of neurotransmitter breakdown, quantity of neurotransmitter receptors, and metabolism of hormones.

Printable Methylation Scale

Overmethylation

We have multiple neurotransmitters in the brain that need to stay in balance. When someone is overmethylating, they produce certain neurotransmitters (dopamine for example) faster than they can break them down.  When there are excess neurotransmitters in the brain, symptoms tend to include depression, worry, and oversensitivity. Fortunately there are multiple natural supplements that work to decrease methylation, such as vitamin B6, Niacin and even Vitamin C.  We have one customer that claims her “antidepressant” is vitamin C. But, this simple step to balancing mood is only possible because the first two steps have already been implemented. There are also many foods that can reduce methylation. These are histamine foods and histamine releasing foods.  

Common Symptoms

Weepiness                                               Food and chemical sensitivity

Self-mutilation                                         Depression

Paranoia                                                   Panic attacks

Super-sensitivity (emotional)                Confusion

Mental rumination about past hurts     Autoimmune diseases

Possible Causes

PMS

Heavy Metals

Metformin

Estrogen

Increase in exercise

Pregnancy

What to do when overmethylating:

If significantly higher on the scale, regularly supplement with B6, Vit. C, Niacin*, Progesterone (if female) and include methylation decreasing foods into your diet.

If lower on the scale, include histamine foods into your diet and the above supplements once in a while.

Histamine foods: These foods add more histamine to the body

  • The following vegetables: tomato, eggplant, spinach
  • Fermented Vegetables: such as sauerkraut and kimchi
  • Avocado
  • Pickles or pickled veggies
  • Kombucha
  • Dates
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, raisins and dried apricots
  • Cured or fermented meats, such as sausages, salami, and fermented ham
  • Wine, beer, alcohol, and champagne
  • Fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, soy sauce, and natto
  • Fermented grains, such as sourdough bread
  • Frozen, salted, or canned fish, such as sardines and tuna
  • Vinegar
  • Fermented Dairy: such as cheese (especially aged), yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, kefir

Histamine releasing foods: These release histamine into the bloodstream

  • The following fruits: pineapples, bananas, strawberries, papaya
  • All Citrus: such as oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruit
  • Nuts
  • Spices
  • Legumes
  • Cocoa
  • Alcohol
  • Seafood
  • Egg whites
  • Food additives (in processed foods and drinks), such as colorants, preservatives, stabilizers, and flavorings

Printable Food List

If very low (still on overmethylation side) eat a banana (or other foods listed) or supplement when needed.

*Niacin is an essential part of methylation as it helps regulate methyl groups.  Overmethylators benefit from regular doses. However, if you have a “Niacin Flush”, then you have taken too much.  The flush feels and looks like an intense sunburn that lasts about 30 minutes (this is harmless). This can be a good meter for your optimal supplementation amount.  We recommend starting with a low dose and increasing each day until you flush. Then take a little smaller dose (or less frequently) than the flush amount. Depending on the BMS number or amount of methyl reducing foods in the diet, one overmethylator may take niacin only once every 3 days, while another may need to take one capsule, twice each day.

We do not recommend the no-flush niacin, but slow release is fine.

Undermethylation

When a person is undermethylating, they either break down neurotransmitter to quickly or don’t produce enough neurotransmitter to begin with.  The resulting symptoms are anxiety, OCD, depression, aggression, and indifference. This is easily balanced by supplementing SAMe. One of the main purposes of methylation as far as brain balance goes is in creating SAMe.  SAMe is a methyl donor (product of methylation) which is the hub to all other chemical reactions requiring methyl donors. So in taking SAMe a person can jump to the end product of the methylation pathway and support the detox, metabolism, and neurotransmitter balance.  Betaine (or TMG) is actually a precursor to SAMe, but it uses an alternate pathway to the same end without using folate. Either of these supplements can be very effective in balancing a person who is undermethylating. DAO is an enzyme that breaks down histamine in the gut before it can be absorbed.  This supplement is helpful when someone who tends to undermethylate eats histamine foods mentioned in in the above paragraph. So it addresses the issues before it can affect the body, whereas SAMe and TMG will use up histamine that has been absorbed, increasing methylation.

Common Symptoms

Perfectionism                     Social Isolation

Aggression                         Phobias

OCD                                     Very Strong Willed

Anxiety                                Super Competitive

Agitation                             Addictive Tendencies

Possible Causes

Folic acid

Sugar

Blood Disorders

Alcohol

Stress

Fighting off illness

Menopause

Testosterone

Removal of ovaries

Estrogen insensitivity

Histamine and histamine releasing foods

Cured meats: Pepperoni, Hot dogs, Pastrami

What to do when undermethylating:

Exercise

Reduce Stress

Take TMG* (Betaine)- this is perfect for slight undermethylation, also recommended when intaking histamine foods.

Take SAMe**- this is for greater undermethylation. If consistently undermethylating, regularly supplement with SAMe.

 

*TMG (Betaine)- this is a natural amino acid and a precursor to making SAMe

**SAMe is a supplement that you cannot get in foods. Do not skimp on quality here as it may make you very sick.  SAMe is very different from other supplements as you need to start low and possibly take it every other day to see how much you will need to achieve balance.  If at any time you feel worse (depressed, anxious, foggy headed) on a higher dose of SAMe, take a B6 and resume (the next day) with a lower dose at which you previously felt good. You may find that you need an extra dose on particularly stressful days.

MTR Gene Mutation

The MTR gene mutation is less common and makes it difficult to balance methylation.  This gene is responsible for recycling used SAMe. This mutation causes the methylation pathway to speed up, depleting resources rapidly. When resources are depleted, undermethylation occurs. But, when proper support or supplementation is introduced, the system kick-starts and rapidly overshoots the goal of  producing methyl groups, leading to overmethylation. This causes a rapid fluctuation above and below your genetic predisposition on the methylation scale. If you are genetically close to zero on the methylation scale, this fluctuation can lead to symptoms similar to bipolar disorder. Fortunately there is natural supplementation effective in reducing rapid swings. Methionine is a sulfur based amino acid, a reactant of methylation.  When you add more of a product (in chemistry), the process slows down. Therefore, supplementing with methionine helps those with the MTR mutation to stabilize close to your methylation scale number (then further adjustments can be made to bring you closer to zero). CBD oil has also shown promise in stabilizing fluctuations in methylation. We can only guess that it is due to its effect in slowing down the release of dopamine. We do not yet know if it effects the release of serotonin.