Methylation 101: What, How, and Why?

What is Methylation

Methylation is the addition or removal of methyl groups to various molecules and compounds in the body. These methyl groups are made up of one carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms (CH3). Hundreds of reactions in the body involve methylation since it regulates crucial functions like energy production, detoxification, brain health, and more.

How does Methylation Work

Methylation acts as an on/off switch for various reactions in the body. By adding or tagging a methyl group to a molecule, a reaction will start and removing or un-tagging the methyl group will stop it. The key to the methylation pathway relies on an important enzyme called MTHFR. It converts folate, from its inactive form, into methylfolate (5-MTHF). Methyl folate, now in an active form, can readily donate methyl groups to fuel all the methylation reactions throughout the body.

Why is Methylation Important

Proper methylation impacts nearly every system and bodily process. It plays critical roles in:
  • Detoxification: tags toxins to make them water-soluble for elimination
  • Brain Health: produces neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine
  • Energy: helps synthesize coenzyme Q10 for cellular energy production
  • Cardiovascular Health: prevents buildup of homocysteine linked to heart issues

What Causes Poor Methylation

Poor methylation often stems from gene mutations, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, or health conditions:
  • Nutrient deficiencies in folate, B vitamins, choline, betaine
  • Toxins like heavy metals accumulating
  • Diseases impairing enzymatic activity
  • Gene mutations affecting enzyme function
It is estimated that 40 percent of the population may have some sort of variation to their MTHFR gene! This gene is responsible for the MTHFR enzyme, and depending on the variant (C677T or A1298C) the enzyme's efficiency could be reduced by 40-70 percent!

The biggest issue is that individuals with mutations can't convert enough folate into active methyl folate to meet methylation demands and without adequate methylation, the risk of chronic disease rises considerably. Unfortunately, MTHFR mutation symptoms vary widely and are so general, that many live their whole lives not knowing they had it.

Improving Methylation Function

Supporting healthy methylation is critical. The key is to provide the body with adequate methyl folate to meet the demands of methylation reactions. One of the most convenient ways is to take a high-quality methylated multivitamin.

These specialized formulas contain the active, methylated forms of key nutrients like folate (methylfolate), B12 (methylcobalamin), and B6 (P5P). This allows the body to bypass folate conversion and immediately supply the body with the fuel it needs to run methylation reactions. Additionally, methylated multivitamins feature a balanced formula of other nutrients that support full body health, saving the hassle of needing separate supplements.

Improving intake from diet is still encouraged, but those with impaired methylation need more targeted nutritional support. Methylated multivitamins therefore provide an effective solution to improving methylation capacity and the hundreds of reactions dependent on it. This then translates to better health outcomes overall.

While methylation is complex, understanding the basics of what it is, how it works, why it’s important, and how to improve it puts more control of your health into your own hands. Always consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to find out if methylation deficiencies may be impacting your wellbeing.