A discussion on the MTHFR gene mutation. How to get tested for it, how it effects your mental and physical health, what to do if you have this mutation and more!
There is so much we can learn about our individual health needs through genetic testing.
The problem with the medical system as it is today is that genetic testing is not very accessible and not widely promoted by practicing providers.
I was incredibly lucky to be linked up with and a patient of an incredible medical provider a few years back (one I credit with truly saving my life and helping me become the person I am today) that was a HUGE proponent of genetic and DNA testing. He was more of a holistic mental health provider anyway and wanted me to learn as much as I could about myself and my body’s needs.
The test was intended to see what medications work best for my body (turns out I had NEVER been on the right medications my entire life…from anti-anxiety meds to pain relievers), but also it was revealed that I am in the 3% minority of the population that cannot convert Folic Acid….otherwise known as the MTHFR mutation.
What is the MTHFR Gene Mutation?
In a normal body, the MTHFR gene produces enough of the related enzyme to perform its intended bodily functions. One function of the key functions of this gene, and also one that is very important for mental health is the conversion of an essential B-vitamin, folate, into the more usable form, l-methylfolate.
So when you have the the MTHFR mutation your likelihood of experiencing mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or autism increases drastically. MTHFR mutations also increase the risk of several physical health problems, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease and stroke, recurrent early miscarriage, migraine with aura, osteoporosis, and some cancers.
What does this mean for someone with the MTHFR mutation?
Essentially, not being able to convert essential enzymes like Folic Acid causes myriad mental and physical health issues, including depression and anxiety (which I used to struggle with). But after finding out I had this mutation and getting on a daily supplement of L-Methylfolate, I was able to come completely off all anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications.
Taking the test that I did helped me learn that I need to be taking L-Methylfolate for the rest of my life and no longer need to be taking pharmaceutical drugs.
This was absolutely EYE OPENING to find out and for the first time in my life I felt that everything is NOT my fault. It is SO easy to blame yourself when things go wrong with your mental or physical health or you just aren’t feeling like yourself, but now I know there is a real biological basis for everything that I’ve been through. It’s so empowering.
Of course, not all mental and physical health issues are caused by this gene mutation, but it’s SO worth finding out if you fall into this small group of the population because, for me, finding out was life changing.
What to do next?
This is the genetic test I took to find out about my gene mutation.
If you have this mutation, it’s so important not to take regular folate or folic acid.
If you have the gene mutation, you could end up with unmetabolized folic acid and Methylfolate. They would be competing for attention in your body, which is linked to poor immune function, and a host of other health conditions.
Taking L-Methylfolate if you have this mutation, however, can aid your body in repairing DNA, aiding and supporting immune function, the body’s detoxification system, energy production, and much more.
There a ton of supplements out on the market that offer the body different benefits, but in all honesty a lot of people take unnecessary supplements or ones they think will create HUGE changes in terms of their health and wellness. But that’s just not the case. For instance, L-Methylfolate is one of 4 (yes only FOUR!) supplements I take daily. The others are:
Turmeric with Ginger – for inflammation
Cranberry Concentrate – for urinary tract health
Rhodiola Rosea – for healthy brain function and stress/mood support
Most of the key nutrients you need should come from your diet and supplements should only come into play if you have deficiency or gene mutation of some sort.
Advocate for yourself. Try to learn as much about your body’s specific needs as you can. Personally, I think everyone from a young age, especially if they are showing signs of anxiety and depression, should be given a genetic test. It should be a STANDARD of care. Imagine how much money the healthcare system would save as a whole if we could pinpoint mutations, like the MTHFR mutation, early on or even just have the information about what medications people metabolize vs. the ones they don’t. People could be treated properly right off the bat instead of years of trial and error to find what works.
Have you ever heard of the MTHFR gene mutation?
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