The Caues of Impaired Methylation

Methylation can become impaired for many reasons and your diet, genes and digestive health can play a big role in this. Here are the main causes.

Low intake of folate rich foods


A diet lacking in folate rich foods is becoming more common. Many people just do not eat enough uncooked leafy green vegetables in their daily diet. Folate is crucial for the methylation cycle to work properly. For individuals with the MTHFR gene, polymorphism it is important to avoid large doses of synthetic folic acid found in nutritional supplements and commercially-baked products that use folic acid fortified foods. These individuals struggle to convert folic acid to the active form of folate that gets the methylation cycle working efficiently.

Low vitamin B2 intake


Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is a co-factor for the MTHFR enzyme to help with the conversion to active folate. Vitamin B2 is also a co-factor for methionine synthase reductase (MTRR) enzyme which is catalysed by methionine synthase (MTR) and important for the generation of methyl donors, methionine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).

Vitamin B2 also plays a role in the function of an enzyme called glutathione reductase which regenerates the boy’s most abundant antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione is also produced as a part of the methylation cycle. People that follow a long term dairy-free diet are at risk of deficiency in riboflavin.

Inadequate intake of vitamin B12


We need good levels of vitamin B12 to methylate properly. When we don’t eat enough red meat or are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet we are at risk of slowing down methylation. Some people can eat adequate amounts of vitamin B12 containing foods and still have trouble with utilising the vitamin B12 they eat because they have gene polymorphisms for the MTR and MTRR genes. This means they are slow to take vitamin B12 out of the blood and up into cells where it can be used for methylation to occur.


Low intake of B6 rich foods


Vitamin B6 deficiency comes about mostly because of inadequate intake of whole grains. It is becoming more common to see this with the popularity of grain-free diets like the Paleo and GAPS diet. Vitamin B6 is involved in the conversion of folic acid to active folate and is also involved in the conversion of homocysteine to cysteine via the transulfiuration pathway, a CBS gene dependent process.


High Homocysteine blood levels

Homocysteine is an amino acid and high levels in the body increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. High levels can damage arterial walls and cause clot formation. Homocysteine is important in the methylation cycle to help with regenerating methionine, another amino acid that is important for donating a methyl group so cellular reactions can happen. Being a smoker, drinking caffeine and consuming too much alcohol all increase homocysteine levels.

Having the MTHFR genetic polymorphism