What To Eat To Keep Your Methylation Cycle Balanced, From An ND
Methylation is as innate to the body as breathing air—it's just not as commonly talked about or understood. This biochemical process helps support cardiovascular1, neurological2, and reproductive3 health, to name a few. Though it occurs naturally, there are certain nutrients that can keep methylation functioning properly.
Wait, what's methylation, again?
The methylation cycle is a biochemical process. It occurs when a methyl group (one carbon and three hydrogen molecules) converts the amino acid, methionine, into S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e).
SAM-e then travels throughout the body, transferring methyl groups to other compounds, which supports various bodily systems. Finally, SAM-e converts to the amino acid homocysteine, which creates the antioxidant glutathione.
What to eat to keep it balanced.
Without enough folate and B12, the final step in the methylation cycle can be disrupted. Instead of SAM-e being recycled back into methionine, it may stay as homocysteine and lead to an excess of the amino acid. Too much homocysteine4 in the body is a risk factor for heart disease and blood clots.
To support healthy methylation, Fitzgerald recommends incorporating these foods into the diet:
- Cruciferous veggies: including broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and more. These greens are folate-rich and packed with healthy nutrients, Fitzgerald says.
- Beets: "We want to lean on beets," Fitzgerald says. One cup of beets5 contains 148 micrograms of folate, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That's about 37% of the daily recommended intake for adults6.
- Protein: Certain proteins can be a good source of the amino acid methionine, which is necessary for healthy methylation. If you're eating animal-based protein, Fitzgerald recommends chicken, lean beef, and eggs. For plant-based eaters, beans and protein powders can provide adequate levels of methionine as well.
- Methylation adaptogens: curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the flavonoids in blueberries, rosmarinic acid from rosemary, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
- Methylation superfoods: green tea, salmon, curcumin, eggs, cruciferous veggies, rosemary, blueberries, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and genistein (if you can tolerate soy).
For those who worry their methylation levels might be off, adding these healthy vitamins and minerals into the diet may help. Since proper methylation is critical for overall health, consulting a health care professional is also a good call.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.