Updated: Mar 5, 2019
EDUCATION EQUALS EMPOWERMENT
During pregnancy, women who test positive for a mutated MTHFR gene may have a higher risk for miscarriages, preeclampsia, or a baby born with birth defects, such as spina bifida.
Thankfully, more professionals and practitioners—and especially fertility specialists—are becoming aware of MTHFR and the role it plays in early pregnancy. We’ve heard for decades that it is important for women to take folic acid, but that was either downright wrong or only partially helpful. All along it was methylfolate that was the missing piece of the puzzle.
But ever since the words Synthetic Folic Acid and Natural Methylfolate became interchangeably used by medical professionals- people stopped questioning the difference or impact the difference has on their individual body makeup and babies.
WE HAVE QUESTIONED IT AND WE HAVE THE ANSWERS FOR YOU.
Variants of the MTHFR mutation
People can have either one or two mutations (or neither) on the MTHFR gene. These mutations are often called variants. A variant is a part of the DNA of a gene that is commonly different (or varies) from person to person.
Having one variant (heterozygous) is unlikely to contribute to health issues. Some people believe having two mutations (homozygous) may lead to more serious problems. There are two variants (forms) of mutations that can occur on the MTHFR gene.
Specific variants are:
C677T. Some 30 to 40 percent of the American population may have a mutation at gene position C677T. Some 25 percent of people of Hispanic descent, and 10 to 15 percent of Caucasian descent are homozygous (have two mutations) for this variant. A1298C. Around 20 percent of the American population may have a homozygous mutation at gene position A1298C. It’s also possible to acquire both C677T and A1298C mutations (one copy of each).
Gene mutations are inherited, which means you acquire them from your parents. At conception, you receive one copy of the MTHFR gene from each parent. If both have mutations, your risk is higher of having a homozygous mutation.
More than likely, unless you have problems or have testing done, you’ll never become aware of your MTHFR mutation status.
Conditions that have been proposed to be associated with MTHFR include:
cardiovascular and thromboembolic diseases (specifically blood clots, stroke, embolism, and heart attacks)depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, colon cancer, acute leukemia, chronic pain and fatigue, nerve pain migraines, recurrent miscarriages in women of child-bearing age, pregnancies with neural tube defects, like spina bifida and anencephaly.
The risk is possibly increased if a person has two gene variants or is homozygous for the MTHFR mutation.
What does the MTHFR gene do?
MTHFR handles the breakdown of the vitamin folate (b9). This breakdown leads to elevated levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a chemical produced from an amino acid in our bodies when folic acid breaks down. If folic acid isn’t broken down, it will block the body’s ability to have enough folate.
Hyperhomocysteinemia is a condition where the homocysteine levels are elevated. Hyperhomocysteinemia is often seen in people with a positive MTHFR mutation gene test. High homocysteine levels, especially with low folic acid levels, can lead to pregnancy complications that include:
miscarriage, preeclampsia, birth defects
Folate is responsible for:
Making DNA repairing DNA producing red blood cells (RBCs)
When the MTHFR gene malfunctions, synthetic folic acid isn’t broken down. This is known as a mutated MTHFR gene. It’s not uncommon to have a mutated gene. In the United States, it’s estimated that around 25 percent of people who are Hispanic and up to 15 percent of people who are Caucasian have this mutation, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.
Risk factors for positive MTHFR gene
The positive MTHFR gene is passed from the parents to the child. Nothing causes you to have a mutated MTHFR gene. It’s simply passed onto you from your mother and father.
You may be at risk if you’ve had:
Recurrent pregnancy losses
A history of preeclampsia
MethylFolate (technically methyltetrahydrofolate) is the body’s most active form of folate. ALL our cells need MF to drive specialized enzymes that make the DNA, genes, and chromosomes and create a HEALTHY baby. All our cells also need MF to repair damage to their DNA (which is occurring all the time, even in healthy cells). Methyl coming mainly from folate is also very important for epigenetics — turning genes on and off using methyl — as well as to enable cells to grow, maintain their structure and make new cells.
Many foods, supplements and prenatal vitamins are being “fortified” with synthetic folic acid to help consumers maintain good nutritional folate status.
MethylFolate is the folate form most naturally preferred by the body, so much so that the intestinal lining has “transport proteins” that bind to it and selectively absorb it into the blood. Similar proteins also move MF from the circulation into the brain tissue. But MF utilization can be blocked by the FA coming from fortified foods or poorly formulated dietary supplements. Folic acid is not just poorly effective — it actually interferes with the enzymes that are tasked with using MF and the other folates coming from our foods. Synthetic Folic acid consumption is a serious health issue.
Also, dietary supplements that include folate typically provide it as FA. Obstetricians often lack the info on the detrimental difference. This substance is a manufactured folate that is known to be poorly utilized by the body’s folate enzyme system. The body has to use an enzyme to make Folic acid usable, and this enzyme’s conversion capacity is limited. Consequently, many people have unconverted FA in their bloodstream, which studies have linked to negative health effects such as repeated miscarriages.
WHAT DOES FOLATE DO?
Folate is extremely important for the creation of new cells so it makes all the sense in the world that you need extra in early pregnancy when you consider that babies are 100% new cells.
Folate is especially important for the development of a baby’s nervous system, which occurs within the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows they are pregnant. If they do not have enough folate available to help support this crucial stage in their baby’s development, by the time they get to the 6th or 7th week of pregnancy (2 or 3 weeks after missing a period), a miscarriage can occur.
When this happens, many women are left feeling as if it is all their fault. They feel ashamed, embarrassed, isolated, and confused, wondering why their body is not able to maintain a pregnancy. But it’s not their fault. The problem is that many doctors are not trained to even look for MTHFR mutations never mind treat them.
This is exactly why The Positive Pregnancy Journey Organization focuses and specializes in MTHFR and helping women conceive through fertility cleansing and mindful preparation with the BEST empowered prenatal, diet and lifestyle.
Empowerment, education and preparation prior to conceiving is CRUCIAL- We have a certified staff of WombMothers available to walk with you from fertility Prep, every step of your pregnancy/birth through 6 months Postpartum.
Mood can be greatly affected by MTHFR mutations, and many women would prefer to avoid prescription medication for anxiety and depression while trying to conceive and while pregnant and breastfeeding. All of this is possible by understanding your genetic mutations, cortisol, and neurotransmitter levels, and supporting your body with nutrients that are not only safe during pregnancy, but essential. As our GABA transmitters go dormant during those sacred 9 months; it is important you know which tools are safe and the BEST for helping you feel and experience your best pregnancy. Our top recommended Prenatal has everything you NEED.
You lay out the map for pregnancy before you conceive by building the foundation of incarnation- you can create a mindful and enjoyable journey, regardless of traffic ;)
Your body influences the health of your baby for the rest of their life. So it’s not just about avoiding a miscarriage. It’s about helping moms be as healthy as they can be so their children, and their children’s children, can be healthier no matter what comes their way in life. We are rewriting the DNA of a species here folks, it is sacred work and we should applaud our own efforts. We are SO proud of you for questioning, seeking the answers and empowering yourself through reading this article!
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
If you know that you have an MTHFR mutation, what you need to know when choosing a practitioner is whether they are familiar with and have experience helping patients with the mutation. Even if your prenatal care provider (whether an OB or midwife) does not have experience, if you choose a naturopathic doctor to support you alongside your prenatal care with the right amount of the right nutrients, you’re more likely to be successful in your quest to become pregnant.
To read more about how to SUPPORT MTHFR AND YOUR METHYLATION CYCLE, CLICK HERE.
If you don’t know whether you have an MTHFR mutation, but you suspect that perhaps you do, then your next step is to do a test and find out. You can either request that your practitioner test for it in a blood test; just know going into it that insurance often does not cover this test, so be prepared to pay out of pocket. Or—and this is often the next step anyway—you can do a genetic panel, such as through 23ANDME, and run your genetic data through a reporting system that can tell you whether you have MTHFR mutations and/or any other significant SNPs. Read all about the TESTING PROCESS here.
We encourage you to be your own health advocate and use your ability to know better do better. It can definitely be worth your while to find a practitioner to help walk you through this process, you deserve one on one mindful support whether you are testing for MTHFR mutations or if you know already you have one and are looking to address it.
We have helped over 100 mothers conceive and successfully reach full term to birth healthy babies- in the last 3 years who were suffering from infertility without knowledge of their MTHFR status prior.
Starting the right Prenatal, removing the wrong medications/foods/toxins from your diet and balancing your lifestyle in alignment with what your body truly needs in the first step to conceiving and creating a positive pregnancy journey for yourself.
In the 1990s, a fair number of pregnant women were giving birth to children who had hearing loss and other neural tube defects affecting the spine and brain of the baby. A large percentage of these women had low vitamin levels, more specifically low folate levels.
Folate is a B vitamin and is essential for many reasons. Folate is critical in supporting the energy cycle, and the energy cycle makes detoxifiers and methyl groups. Scientists and researchers discovered that these neural tube defects could be avoided with the simple addition of folate into the diet.
However, the problem was that folate is largely in leafy green vegetables which don’t have much of a shelf life. Meaning that if you are living in a place without many fruits and vegetables, such as a food desert, you won’t have access to those essential vitamins. In addition, if you are fortunate enough to live by a grocery store and can shop routinely for vegetables, they tend to be costly and they don’t last very long. Vegetables are hard to stock up on. Many local chain stores do not have a large selection of organic goods either.
Folic acid was added into certain foods and Prenatal vitamins.
Vegetables were going bad quickly, people weren’t consuming enough vitamins, and the idea of supplementing vitamins in food came about. This sparked a government regulation that went into effect in the late 1990s to add folic acid to many of the foods pregnant women consumed.
Folate is the actual B vitamin. Folic acid is the synthetic version of a vitamin. If you have an MTHFR mutation, you cannot properly break down man made folic acid. Many MTHFR related symptoms result from toxicity caused by an overload of unmetabolized folic acid. When a body has more folic acid than folate, and if they have MTHFR then they will become symptomatic. This unmetabolized folic acid, creates toxicity and commonly creates symptoms of brain fog, poor focus, poor concentration, mood swings, and disrupted sleep. Deeper more agonizing events in life can also occur such as repeating miscarriage, cancer, dis-ease.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN FOLIC ACID?
Most foods that would be eaten by a mom or by a young child is likely going to be enriched with folic acid. Common examples include cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat), rice, bread, and pasta. If the package says enriched, it most likely contains folic acid.
PREPARE AND EMPOWER YOURSELF
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO GET RID OF BUILT-UP FOLIC ACID AND TOXINS DURING PREGNANCY IF YOU JUST REALIZED YOU HAVE BEEN TAKING POTENTIALLY HARMFUL VITAMINS UNTIL NOW?
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Start taking our TOP recommended Prenatal Vitamin
Clean those toxins out with a liver detox. MTHFR mutations cause an inability to make adequate methylation. Methylation is essential for detoxification resulting in the inability to clear toxins from the body leading to an overload of toxicity. Detoxification is critical to being healthy with MTHFR mutations because it helps get out chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, folic acid, and all the bad things that we put into our bodies. A toxic body creates many of the symptoms associated with MTHFR mutations such as migraines, hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue, skin problems, anxiety, nausea, and inflammation. Add Methyl Folate, Methyl B12, and B6 into your supplement regimen. Remember it’s necessary to take/eat an active form of folate. Methyl folate helps the body create methyl groups which are used for detoxification. The BEST way to get these detrimental nutrients is to take the BEST prenatal vitamin
What is your experience with MTHFR and miscarriage? Have you or someone you know been affected by not knowing you needed methylfolate? Please share your comments below.
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