Methylfolate Deficiency Disease and Testing

We have established that folic acid was developed in the laboratory in the 1940’s.  It is a man made and not a natural substance – the oxidized form of folate.  It has been fortified in our foods to reduce neural tube defects starting in 1998.  Suggested disease increase from folic acid fortification: – autism, depression, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer (why didn’t our scientist and doctors recognize this as an issue before fortification of our foods?).  A large percentage of the population has genetic mutations which slows the conversion of food folates and folic acid to the needed form of the folate – methylfolate.  The mutation:  MTHFR or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (confused yet? – yes it’s difficult).  Free folic acid circulating in our blood suppresses the immune system.  The free folic acid in combination of not enough methylfolate to complete the methylation cycle for genetic expression can result in many diseases: pulmonary embolisms, addictions, fibromyalgia, miscarriages, schizophrenia, severe depression, cancer, diarrhea and digestive disorders, and autism to name a few.

What should you do?

Avoid foods that have been fortified with folic acid.  Avoid supplements that have folic acid and not methylfolate.  Do not allow your medical professional to confuse folic acid with methylfolate – they are not equals!  If you decide to supplement, the amount required is less than 800 micrograms per day.  I suspect that with your food, 400 micrograms of methylfolate is adequate (other names metafolin or L-methylfolate – do not supplement with other folates they may not be biologically active or worse cause unnatural biology that may be toxic).

In having discussions with your doctor about what you suspect may be the cause of your illness may require you to challenge your doctor for the test of MTHFR mutations.  How do you determine if the test is required?  First your doctor is skeptical.  Second – if you have had chronic disease, particularly the ones listed above, and you have supplemented with the other nutrients in which you are deficient and tried all the prescriptions your doctor has described without relief, this may be the problem.  Third – As much as seventy percent of the population has some form of mutation and it is severe in ten percent of the population.  Remember, the practice of medicine is an art by definition.  Great art is only created after much study, trial, and error.  Of course you could just start supplementing with methylfolate and other methyl donors like betaine (trimethylglycine or TMG ) to see if you find relief.  In my research I have found the price for the test to range from $56 dollars to over $600 dollars.  I suspect the actual cost to the laboratory at $15 dollars – the rest is fully absorbed cost and mark-up for sampling and consultation.  One hundred to two hundred dollars should be the expected price to you.

The test for normal vitamin panels will just say folate.  In discussions with two different laboratory specialists, I could not get a definition of what folate was being tested in the blood.  Was it folic acid, methylfolate, or a total of all forms?  This sounds a lot like the confusion of what to test for with vitamin D and its many forms.  With something as critical as methyl donors for RNA/DNA expression, you would think there would be more clarity – art claiming to be science once again.

Here is a comment from one of my readers, Dr. Ros, and her experience with MTHFR:  “I asked my doctor to test me for MTHFR deficiency, an enzyme responsible for converting food folates to methylfolate, the form the body actually uses. (The body cannot convert folic acid to methylfolate with the mutation either) This enzyme is also required to detoxify the body.  I tested positive for two copies, mutations, homozygous. I am now taking methylfolate and I can tell this is something I needed. As I age, I was noticing that I had trouble healing from a cold and subsequent sinus infection (DNA and RNA replications issues) and even had surgery in an attempt to ameliorate my sinus issues. Vitamins and herbs have most important in my healing. Vitamin D and glycine have been essential. The genome project was responsible for bringing this issue to the light of day but many doctors are not informed. I am lucky I was educated enough to ask for the test. My family history was an indicator there was probable cause to test.”

Again, it is never just one nutrient or vitamin.  It is the combination of all nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that give us health from a food source and environment that has not been compromised by poor science and distasteful art.   Practice life with great love, peace, and joy – do not get this confused with art and science.  – Pandemic Survivor

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Health is an ONOFF Issue

At one point in my career, I had responsibility for many engineers, forty mechanics, and associated support staff in a large industrial plant.  When a major maintenance issue would arrive and there was difficulty in trying to find a solution, I would try to release the tension by saying it was an ONOFF problem.  Of course I would spell out the letters very quickly.  There would be moments of silence as the mechanic raced through his mind trying figure out which control or mechanical part I was referring.  Then a slow smile would cross the face as the knowing became realization.  Every situation with equipment is whether the equipment or some component is on or off – ONOFF – especially true with computers.  This is the case with human biology as medicine turns to gene switches for disease cures.  This has become commonly referred to as epigenetic.

Foods that are available for consumption routinely turn off and on genetic switches.  This is because there are many “parallel” systems in the body for the major biological processes to occur depending on what the environment presents.  This type of robustness in our physiology has allowed us to survive in many different environmental conditions.  Stress, temperature, food, and even how you think, all act to turn on and off our genes.  Modern science is now using this understanding to make drugs to cure disease.  Unfortunately, the focus has been on drugs and not on optimizing nutrients for gene switching to prevent disease.  I guess the old saying, ‘you are what you eat,’ has now been given more significance.

Just in the last decade, the gene map was completed.  It was much smaller than originally thought with less than about 30,000 genes for the human body.  Interestingly enough the rest of the genetic material, about eighty percent, are switches that are use to either express the gene or make it go silent.  The largest question for health professionals at this point should be; what turns the switches on or off?

Methyl groups seem to be the primary players in this epigenetic switching maze.  How simple that a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms grouped together can determine your health and well being.  Of course many methyl groups combined with other compounds is an organic molecule.  What controls the use and availability of the methyl groups is another matter.  We have long known that certain materials are essential to health.  These items have been reduced to the following: water, air, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

First it was the major groups of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates we considered for health.  Think of the 1910 Antarctic expedition by Captain Scott where the food was too low in fat.  The members of the group started to get sick and starved to death because they did not have fat to consume.  The Inuit people know that whale blubber and seal fat are the staples of life in the cold for its energy and nutrients.  The recent emphasis on fats (omega-3 good, trans-fat bad) is critical to health.  I suspect we have made the similar errors in protein and carbohydrates (too many carbs –especially wheat, not enough protein) that are yet to be discovered.  Then throw in genetically modified foods – ouch!

We are now in the trial and error stage of understanding where to use micronutrients versus the use of drugs to heal disease.  The money of course is in the drugs and this is where the focus will continue to be for our large research organizations.  However, all government research funded projects for genetic switching should solve the problem of optimum nutrition (GMO foods, nutrient switching) before any money is spent on drugs for healing, curing, diagnosing, and preventing disease.  After all, it is our money.  Sustaining large organizations without empathy for the individuals it serves is just plain evil.  If the money is first spent on researching micronutrients for epigenetic healing, the need for research of drugs will be significantly diminished because of less disease.  Of course we are where we are; a nation ailing with large amounts of chronic disease.  How ironic that our economy is suffering from so much chronic disease when the major motto of Health and Human Services is ‘markets before mandates’ with the belief of a strong medical economy is more important that the health of the individual.

We know that the sun through the production of vitamin D3 is very significant.  Close to ten percent of the genome is controlled by vitamin D and its co-factors.  I don’t know how large the percentage of the genes is controlled by methyl groups, but I am sure that it is significant and most likely larger than the group for vitamin D.  Since all organic molecules are a combination of methyl groups, then all genes have some switches controlled by methyl groups in combination with cofactors (I never was much for logic, I am more of a links and connections kind of guy).  The complete control of genetic switching is made by all the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, environment (light, temperature, air, and water), and yes your state of mind.  Could it be that methyl folate from spinach and betaine from beets is all we need for the methyl donors for health?  Life in all its complexities is really just a matter of ONOFF.

Don’t worry, be happy, eat your beets and spinach, and spend lots of time in the sun.  – Pandemic Survivor

Folic Acid – the Horror Story

We as the population of the world have suffered through many chronic diseases.  We are no different than people, especially people that claimed to be medical professionals, from two centuries ago.  Medicine is still practiced as an art with some science thrown in end to give credibility to our claims.  Now has the medical industrial complex once again deceived us with the introduction of folic acid to make up for our L-methyl folate deficiency?  A qualified answer to this question is yes.

Folic acid is not a naturally occurring molecule.  It was first processed in the 1940’s in a laboratory.  In 1998, folic acid was added to ‘fortify’ foods, especially grains.  The reasoning was that the population and especially pregnant mothers were deficient.  This was causing neural tubes defects.  It is true that neural tube defects have been reduced and this is a good thing.

Now researchers are saying that folic acid that remains in the blood stream is causing an increased incidence in several cancers including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.  It seems that at least ten percent of the population has the MTHFR polymorphism and keeps folic acid from quickly being converted to methyl folate, the natural occurring substance in foods that our body uses.  Others have said that at least seventy percent of the population has some form of polymorphism that slows the process.  The excess folic acid circulating in the blood causes a reduction in the action of our natural killer cells.  This is believed to be the issue of increased cancer rates.

Also, the methyl folate is the primary contributing nutrient to the genetic switching that occurs from the methyl cycle.  How the methyl cycle is controlled in the body by methyl folate is extremely important and second only to the action of vitamin D.  Genetic switching is what keeps you healthy.  Whether the gene is properly turned on or off is critical to your health.  Dr. Randy Jirtle in his work at Duke University has shown this to be the case with his study on mice and methyl donors.  There is a host of chronic disease that you may review at the MTHFR.net website.

If you consider that fortification begin in 1998, I believe this is about the same time the incidence of autism significantly increased.  The importance of folate to the neural system is that it acts directly in the mitochondrial body in the sulfur cycle.  Here the various sulfate molecules that the body needs are created.  The ones related to the neural system is the molecule that is created for the myelin sheath that covers the nerve pathways.   Without the integrity of this sheath, the neurons cannot appropriately fire because the sodium, potassium, and magnesium are not held closely to the neurons.

Also a study in Italy that was designed to show the effect of folate on heart disease, it was found that there was thickening of the cartilage in patients with higher amounts of folate.  I am sure this effect is caused by genetic switching with cofactors like B6, B12, and vitamin D.

I have not been able to find a vitamin B complex supplement that has methyl folate and not folic acid.  In the practice of medicine, folic acid and folate are considered to be the same compound.  Folic acid is the oxidized form of L-methyl folate NOT A NATURALLY OCCURING COMPOUND.  This is the same error that was made with vitamin D when vitamin D2 was said to be equal to vitamin D3.  In the 1930’s when the substitution was made to vitamin D2 is when the cases of vitamin D toxicity started to occur in the medical literature.

What can you do?  Stop supplementing with all forms of folic acid.  Be careful in how much food you consume that has been fortified with folic acid.  Maybe this is one of the primary issues with wheat.  Dr. William Davis in his book, “Wheat Belly”  says there are many issues with wheat.  Fortification of our cereal with folic acid may have exacerbated the situation and is causing more chronic disease.  Methyl folate is available in many foods, especially dark leafy greens like spinach.  A boiled half cup of spinach has about 134 micrograms of folate.    In the consumption of beans, black-eyed peas are the highest at 105 mcg per one half cup.  Liver has the highest amount in the meats at 215 mcg in one half cup.

There many brands of methyl folate supplements on the market.  Try to get at least 400 mcg per day from your foods, if not supplement.  As I was writing this my wife called to see what I wanted for dinner.  I suggested boiled spinach, black-eyed peas, and liver cook with onions (for the sulfate).  She hung up the phone.  I did actually get turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and steak.  Not the best but close.  Maybe the popular attitude of the 50’s and 60’s was correct.   “I’m strong to the finish ‘cause I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man!”  Sing along! What a medical professional – Popeye!   – Pandemic Survivor