What the MTHFR?! (It's not what it seems..)
No...I was not cursing...MTHFR is the acronym for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. It is a genetic mutation that can cause numerous problems depending on which mutation you have. A few years ago, I went back to my ND following two very painful miscarriages. My OB refused to do any testing to see if there was a reason for my massive hemorrhage during the 2nd miscarriage or reoccurring miscarriages, saying that it was "normal...when would you like to start trying again." My ND suggested I have be tested for the MTHFR mutation which is linked to recurrent miscarriages among other things such as heart disease, strokes, clotting, anxiety, depression. Basically, my body doesn't break down folic acid appropriately, which leads to the build up of homocysteine which is what causes all the dysfunction. Not just in my body, but can also cause neural tube defects in the growing baby. If we can bypass the folic acid and break it down FOR my body, we should be able to skip around the dysfunction and bring my body back into some sort of balance, and protect further pregnancies.
The other issue with MTHFR mutation is that your body doesn't have the building blocks to make neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are responsible for mood, appetite, sleep, and hormone function.
Lo and behold...I was positive for the mutation most linked to recurrent miscarriage, and likely what caused the massive subchorionic hemorrhage in the last pregnancy. (For reference, I passed softball sized clots for almost 6 weeks of the pregnancy before losing the baby.) I was relieved and scared at the same time. Relieved that we had a cause and it wasn't just a "fluke", and scared because I began to wonder if we would ever be able to have more kids again. Having 2 back to back miscarriages had begun to cloud my mind with questions and fears and unknowns.
It is estimated that up to 50% of the population has some variation of this mutation, and it seems to be what might predispose certain people to autoimmune issues, mood disorders, food intolerances, etc.
I am a nerd at heart, and I secretly (or maybe not so secretly) really enjoy the research side of things, so I started researching this supplement and how it was supposed to benefit me. I'd read countless stories of people going from depressed and anxious to feeling "normal" for the first time in their entire life. It turns out, folate when broken down appropriately during the methylation process, is responsible for organizing your neurotransmitters-mainly serotonin and dopamine Who knew?! I however, did not have such pleasant side effects. I got a massive headache, followed by intense anxiety and irritability after just a few days. I stopped the L methylfolate, and started doing some more digging. This is supposed to be good for me, and clearly, based on testing, I need it...right? So, why do I feel like crap???
Folate is technically a B vitamin, and can be stimulating to some people (me!). So I cut way back and still felt foggy, irritable, anxious, and unable to sleep. I cut it out completely for a few days and started researching again. Apparently, long term use of high doses of B12 and other B vitamins, can cause a potassium deficiency. I have been taking large doses of B 12 for over a year due to the pyroluria and subsequent B deficiency. When one starts mehtylfolate, it drastically increases the demand for potassium within the cells causing hypokalemia (low potassium) and about a million different possible side effects. Since I had informed my naturopath that I was still feeling yucky, and had not heard back, I decided to get a potassium supplement and just hope for the best. I started taking it and then started taking the l methylfolate- no side effects! Yay! After 3 years, I am on a dose that feels good for my body, keeping my homocysteine low and happy. Here is the supplement I use!
Another unfortunate issue with the MTHFR mutation is that you are unable to detoxify properly. Meaning that exposure to heavy metals can cause a whole list of nasty side effects, like neurological issues, autoimmune issues and chronic fatigue. For me, this made me susceptible to negative long term effects of vaccines (don't be triggered by this hot word...I'll write more about this in a later post) because I was unable to detoxify the heavy metals in the vaccines and their preservatives.
I am now on a regimen to help gently detoxify, and am excited to see the results! We also will be having our oldest tested for the mutation as well to see if she needs to begin supplementing.
If you feel like you might have some of these issues going on, it is a simple test and very easy to mitigate with proper supplementation! We avoid folic acid at all cost now because it makes my symptoms worse.
To your wellness,