What is Methylation?
Methylation is a biochemical procedure that involves a wide range of bodily functions and is essential for our overall well-being. When it is out of balance, it can be helpful in many health problems; however, some vitamins can help make this process work better.
Methylation is where a molecule called a ‘methyl group’ is attached to another substance, such as DNA or a protein, so implications that receive the methyl group are able to function. ‘It contains various molecules found in the body, including S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), homocysteine, and methane, and depends on specific nutrients.
What does Methylation do in the body?
The Methylation cycle helps us to function physically and mentally, so it is not surprising that many different functions in the body use this process.
Such functions include the activity of the cardiovascular and immune systems, nervous as well as energy production, hormonal balance and heavy metal detoxification. Another essential function of the body that Methylation is linked to is DNA.
Methylation helps regulate your response to stress, your brain’s chemistry, immune function, ability to resist viruses (including latent viruses we harbour but suppress), the activity and expression of your genes, and your ability to detoxify. In the liver, the Methylation of the toxin will convert it into a safe form that can be processed and excreted.
Methylation also regulates environmental factors and the response of food-related genes. As you age, your ability to methylate may change.
Methylation and our genes
Epigenetics refers to chemical processes that affect how our genes actually function without altering our DNA. Methylation is an example of an epigenetic process that is essential for the proper functioning of our DNA and maybe the link between our environment, nutrition, and disease.
What happens if Methylation is balanced?
Some of the conditions that can be affected by an imbalance in Methylation include mood and nervous system disorders, allergies, and the process of ageing.
Environment, lifestyle, and Methylation
Many factors are known to affect healthy Methylation, including:
• Heavy metals, pollution, and radiation
• The presence of natural genetic ‘mistakes.’
Why is Methylation Important?
It helps the body develop the baby in the womb
Methylation is a switch that helps the body develop the baby in the womb so that the organs and tissues are formed at the right time.
Lasting, lifelong changes
Methylation is so essential that its actions in her womb or early life can cause lasting, lifelong changes that can be passed on to the next generation.
Hormonal imbalances: PCOS, PMS, fibroids, endometriosis, etc
Methylation is necessary to metabolize and detoxify estrogen, and so if it is a little slow, it can cause the above symptoms. Also, if your periods are too heavy, you may need more iron, folate, and B12 to make new blood.
Infertility, history of miscarriage, or complications related to pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia
It is absolutely essential for the development of new tissues, so it is helpful in maintaining fertility, healthy pregnancy, and fetal development. Your nutrient requirements (especially folate to folic acid) increase rapidly during pregnancy. Also, if you have any of the above problems, your needs may be much higher than the person who did not, so food alone will not be enough.
Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation
If you are not methylating in a proper manner, you may end up with high levels of homocysteine. Too much homocysteine can cause inflammation and free radical damage, especially in your blood vessels.
It is essential for the maintenance of immune regulation and repair. Many studies have linked high homocysteine and genetic factors affecting Methylation generally to autoimmune conditions.
Chronic fatigue, ME, low energy
Energy production, healthy thyroids, adrenal and nervous function all depend on Methylation and a good supply of vitamins B12, B6, folate, zinc, and magnesium, all of which run the Methylation cycle.
Mood and mental health issues: mood swings, depression, anxiety, bipolar, OCD
It is required for the preparation and metabolism of several critical mode-modulating neurotransmitters, Dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenaline. Therefore, if it is disturbed, it can negatively affect our mood and stress res, leading to low, high or fluctuating levels.
Memory problems, insomnia, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease
Just as high homocysteine can damage our blood vessels, it can also damage our neurons in the brain and cause inflammation. Numerous studies have linked poor Methylation to cognitive problems. To sleep well, we need to produce the sleep hormones melatonin from serotonin, and this process is also done through Methylation.
Allergies and histamine intolerance: eczema, high fever, headaches, congestion, hives
Increased histamine production causes allergic reactions. It is a chemical that causes all of the symptoms we are associated with allergies: sneezing, itching, runny nose, or closing the eyes. Excess histamine in the cells is cleared by adding the ‘methyl group’. It prepares to deactivate and exit.
Insufficient bile production due to digestive problems, fat loss, and gallbladder problems such as gallstones.
Bile is a thick, yellowish-green fluid produced by your liver and is stored in the gallbladder. It plays an important role. When secreted in the intestines, it has antimicrobial properties, cleanses the intestines, and prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria /yeast. It also helps absorb fats and fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, and K) and helps your body eliminate toxins and excess cholesterol. You can see how important it is for our health! However, if your Methylation is disrupted, you may not be able to produce enough phosphatidylcholine – a vital component of the bile.
You have an inflammatory condition, e.g., arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Permanent inflammation is usually great stress on the body, and it can drain your ‘methyl pool’ – the availability of methylated molecules in the body that are ready to donate in necessary actions. If the pond is permanently ‘dried up’ by inflammation, other essential processes, such as tissue repair or neurotransmitter production, may be affected. If you have a chronic digestive disorder such as IBD or pernicious anaemia, your absorption of essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12, may also be significantly reduced.
Nutrients that help the Methylation cycle
It depends on the presence of certain nutrients that act as cofactors to facilitate the process. These Methylation nutrients include choline, betaine, methane, folate, vitamins B12 and B6, as well as some minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and sulfur.
Vitamins consist of methyl groups, affecting a wide range of bodily functions, from energy levels to hormonal pathways and the immune system. B vitamins such as folate provide a large portion of methyl groups, as does methionine. An adequate supply of specific B vitamins is essential for a healthy Methylation cycle. Vitamins B2, B6, and B12 are required for the activity of particular enzymes used by this cycle. Folate (vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient that helps in the formation of methyl groups which in turn leads to Methylation. Deficiency of these B vitamins can lead to impairment of the working methods of the Methylation cycle.
Foods to Support Methylation
Naturally high doses of methylated foods can be used to aid Methylation with or without any supplements. In addition to the vitamins and minerals in food, some phytonutrients have an epigenetic activity that supports Methylation balance.
Supercharged Methylation foods include Dark leafy greens, Cruciferous vegetables, Liver, Beets, Beans and legumes, Okra, Mushrooms, Seeds, Turmeric, Rosemary, Berries, Tea, etc.
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