What is Nutrigenomics?
What is MTHFR?
Folate is an essential B-vitamin required for DNA and RNA synthesis of cells for replication and general cellular function. Naturally occurring folate should comprise 80% of folate in circulation, folic acid (synthetic) should comprise 0%. Folic acid entered the American diet in the 1960’s when folate deficiency was found to play a significant role in neural tube defects of the developing fetus, a serious and significant finding. This pioneered a movement to add synthetic folic acid to foods, labeling them “enriched” or “fortified”.
It has been postulated that 40% of the population has at least 1 copy of an altered MTHFR gene. Being a carrier of the polymorphism (altered gene) could mean that the folic acid consumed in your diet or in some supplements is binding to your folate receptor, preventing you from absorbing natural folate that you can utilize from food (leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes). The result is a deficiency in folate. In more recent years, research has found significant correlations between folate deficiency and recurrent miscarriages, ADHD, addiction, allergies, cardiovascular disease, Down’s syndrome, diabetes, mental health conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar, Alzheimers, etc.), autoimmunity, and thyroid disease.
The good news is, folate deficiency and MTHFR gene SNPs are easily treatable with proper guidance by a trained professional. Acknowledging genetic SNPs or genes that are functioning sub-optimally is, in our eyes, a large foundation of preventative medicine.
SNP (pronounced “snip”) stands for single nucleotide polymorphism and represents a type of gene mutation causing small errors in DNA replication. SNPs occur in humans naturally, about every 300 DNA replications. The significance of identifying an individual's SNPs can be critical to understanding their health patterns and disease risk. While SNPs occur in each one of us, when they happen in a significant part of the DNA strand, we can better understand how particular symptoms or health in general is influenced. For example, if it is identified that someone has a SNP on the gene that codes for an enzyme called GST, which detoxifies arsenic and mercury, then living in an environment high in those metals can cause an array of dis-ease. With the knowledge of where in a person’s individual genome a SNP is located can inform a trained physician on how to optimize biochemical, neurotransmitter and hormonal pathways.
Understanding genetic SNPs is a complex story. There is not a clear and dry treatment for each determined SNP, it requires trained medical professionals with a clear biochemical background to help optimize your health. Genetic optimization includes dietary changes, lifestyle, supplements, exercise and perspective to reach a more optimal health.