Methylation part I
So what is methylation? It is a biochemical process which takes place continuously in every cell of the body. It is not one reaction but over one hundred reactions that occur in every cell of the body all the time. Imagine methylation cycles as wheel spinning with the help of methyl groups to drive the cycles. These methyl groups are being transferred (donated) from one chemical to another. Each of the cycles you see in this picture has a specific function which can be performed by methyl groups.
Are three hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom bonded together. Methyl groups are vital for gene expression, and normal cell replication dictated by the DNA. When sufficient methyl groups are being present, the genes can work perfectly, passing on their DNA code to the RNA in order to ensure the cells work properly.
What are the functions of Methylation?
- Regulating genetic expression, e.g. turn genes on or off
- Producing neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine
- Muscle and neuron health
- Detoxification with the production of glutathione, produced in the liver.
- DNA & RNA synthesis and repair.
- Creating immune cells, such as natural killer cells and T- cells
- Myelination for the protection of nerves
- Health of the cardiovascular system
- Production of mitochondrial energy.
As you can see those functions are all very important in keeping the body healthy. If the methylation processes don’t work properly we develop symptoms and diseases.
As an example, we can take a look at the immune system which under normal circumstances protects us. When methylation problems are expressed, the immune system may not be able to perform it’s function. Say you are infected with a virus, the immune system would start an attack on it. But with certain mechanisms not working properly, the virus can stay active for a very long time, and we end up with a chronic virus infection. Epstein Barr virus is a very common infection which can result in extreme fatigue and a low grade fever. It can also cause leaky gut, and this in turn causes food intolerances. Another problem is a high homocysteine level which can cause heart disease.
The development of chronic conditions can be explained by the list of functions of methylation. If our body can’t detoxify environmental toxins, degrade excess hormones such as estrogen, can’t repair DNA, can’t protect the nerves with a healthy outer myelin sheath, a person can develop conditions such as:
Autism, Depression, Diabetes, Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Atherosclerosis, ADD, Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Alcoholism, Insomnia, Down Syndrome, Chronic Viral Infection, Neuropathy, Recurrent miscarriage, Infertility, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, and Allergies
Now to the good news as we learn about the factors that help methylation cycles work properly.
- Nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12 or magnesium are needed. For example: Magnesium is involved in about 300 enzyme functions.
- Healing the gut. We must have a healthy gut in order to absorb the nutrients from the food we eat.
- Clean Water without fluoride and chlorine.
- Organic food without herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers.
- Stress reduction through meditation, avoiding excessive exposure to EMF (Electric Magnetic Fields) while working on the computer or using a cell phone.
- Healthy sleep habits help the body to rest and repair.
As you can see there are a lot of lifestyle factors you could try to implement on your own.
If you want to know exactly where you have methylation issues, you need to consider a gene test, such as the 23andme, as well as specific blood and urine tests.
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The information provided on this website is not meant to substitute professional medical advice. Consult your health care provider in regard to supplementation, especially if you are on any kind of medication.