MTHFR is an acronym for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, and this topic is as big as the name suggests! It’s best taken in small bites and I promise I’ll expand on this–where to get tested, what your results mean, and most important…what to do about it. So here is a briefing on just the guts of the thing.
MTHF-reductase is responsible for activating folic acid so your cells can make molecules of energy, detoxify waste products, make red blood cells and many other important functions of the body. This enzyme not only influences folic acid, but B12 as well. While folic acid, folate and folacin are all names for the same B vitamin, they are molecularly different and not equal in their actions. If you have an MTHFR gene trait that limits your ability to use certain forms of these vitamins, it becomes important to know which form of B vitamins are right for you.
The MTHFR gene codes for, or produces, an enzyme that activates B vitamins. B vitamins must be activated to be used in the body. If you have an impaired MTHFR, your inability to put B vitamins in their active form can be impacted by as much as 70%. This can affect your energy or moods and even raise your risk of blood clots. There are two variants of the MTHFR gene, outlined below. You may have none, one or two of these variants. Getting tested requires a blood draw or saliva test. Most doctors can order these, but if you need help getting tested, just drop me a line.
C677T: correlates with energy and detoxification, ability to maintain healthy HDL, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and homocysteine levels.
Possible mutations: C/C (wild or no impairment) C/T (modest impairment T/T (significant impairment)
A1298C: correlates with moods, ability to maintain adequate serotonin, depression, nerve pain, and nitric oxide production.
Possible mutations: A/A (wild or no impairment) A/C (modest impairment) C/C (significant impairment)
If you have a mutation, it may be best to take supplemental B vitamins in the bioactive (activated) form and avoid taking synthetic folic acid. Folate found in food is in a form that is relatively easy for the body to activate, and we always want to consider getting our nutrients from food first, supplements second. Below are the names of the active forms of B12, B6, and folic acid. Supplements that list folate or folinic acid may not be bioactive.
B6: pyridoxine-5-phosphate or P-5-P
Folic acid: L-methylfolate, Metafolin, NatureFolate
Important food sources of folate
- leafy green vegetables: romaine, kale, spinach, asparagus, broccoli
- fruits: oranges, tomatoes, orange juice and tomato juice
- legumes: lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans