Methylation, MTHFR & The Silent Problem No One Is Talking About
Here at mindbodygreen, we believe in holistic well-being backed by science, the power of mindful movement, eating plant-based, breathing, connecting to others, and the importance of purpose. We also believe that sometimes these things aren't enough—and that's where supplementation comes in.
Supplements are important tools in our well-being tool kit, but it wasn't until my own experience that I realized just how powerful they could be.
How I discovered I have the MTHFR gene variant.
Cardiovascular issues run in my family, and at age 43 after my first daughter was born, I decided it was time to get more sophisticated around clinical testing. I asked my doctor, Frank Lipman, M.D., what we could do. He tested my homocysteine levels and found they were high—in fact, he thought my labs were a mistake. (No, really!)
High homocysteine is defined as anything higher than 15 umol/L, and mine was 63.3 umol/L! These shocking test results helped Lipman determine that I have a specific variant of the MTHFR gene that affects my body's methylation cycle. Translation: My MTHFR enzyme (which my MTHFR gene codes for) doesn't convert folate and folic acid into the active 5-MTHF form as efficiently as those without an MTHFR variant. (We cover the methylation cycle and its impact on whole-body health more here.)
From my family history, I knew homocysteine had major implications for my own cardiovascular health. I asked Lipman what I could do to support healthy homocysteine levels, and he recommended a specific set of supplements that provided me with a key combination of bioactive B vitamins and betaine daily.*
Suboptimal methylation is one of the biggest, most silent issues when it comes to our health and longevity, yet very few even know it exists.
The silent issue affecting our nation.
Through this part of my health journey, I discovered that more than 50% of the U.S. population1 struggles with the same issue I do: individual genetic variation in the MTHFR gene that can result in varying degrees of suboptimal methylation. As it turns out, the MTHFR gene codes for the MTHFR enzyme, which is critical for activating folate (vitamin B9). In turn, active folate (5-MTHF) drives essential biochemical pathways forward in the body, enabling healthy homocysteine levels and also fueling methylation.*
Essentially, this means that the body's methylation cycle cannot skip along at the speed it should due to an MTHFR gene variant that over 150 million Americans have but few are aware of. This widespread issue has massive implications given that methylation can affect everything from cardiovascular and neurological health to detoxification, oxidative stress balance, energy, protein balance, longevity, and more.
The most surprising part of this story? Physically, I felt totally fine when I discovered my homocysteine results. I had no obvious signs whatsoever. That's why I can say firsthand that suboptimal methylation is one of the biggest, most silent issues when it comes to our health and longevity, yet very few even know it exists.
Within months of proper supplementation with an array of bioactive B vitamins and betaine, my homocysteine dropped from 63.3 umol/L to 12.2 umol/L.* (To put this in perspective: The gold standard range for homocysteine is less than 15 umol/L, so this 12.2 result was life-changing for me).
After witnessing the power of science-backed supplements and personalized, precision nutrition approaches firsthand, there was no going back—for the sake of my and my family's health, I became devoted to learning more about homocysteine, its pivotal role in methylation, and the daily tools that maintain healthy homocysteine levels.*
Creating a supplement for healthy methylation function.
Personally, it feels like this specific combination of B vitamins and bioactives saved my life—my homocysteine levels are stellar!* I am beyond grateful that I'm here to tell this story and bring you the product I'm most proud of: methylation support+.
Our gene-focused methylation support formula provides all of the benefits of optimal methylation in just three capsules per day.* This is thanks to its nutrigenomics-inspired array of fully bioactive ingredients that support MTHFR gene variants and whole-body methylation health and function: Quatrefolic® methylfolate (aka activated folate or vitamin B9), riboflavin (aka vitamin B2), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and betaine.*
Statistically speaking, there's a pretty good chance you or someone you know has suboptimal methylation and doesn’t realize it. Methylation occurs in every single cell of the body and has massive, whole-body health implications, so you definitely want to make sure your methylation cycle is running as it should!
You can support daily methylation function and overall health with a focused precision nutrition solution like mbg's methylation support+. It's expertly designed to optimize methylation pathways and efficiency for all (but especially those with MTHFR gene variants).*
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
Jason Wachob is the Founder and Co-CEO of mindbodygreen and the author of Wellth. He has been featured in the New York Times, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Vogue, and has a B.A. in history from Columbia University, where he played varsity basketball for four years.