Are you an undermethylator?
An under what? You might not recognise the term, but undermethylation is linked to a wide range of conditions.
What is methylation?
In simple terms, it’s a biochemical process involving a group of ‘methyl molecules’ – and it’s essential for your body to function normally.
- Every cell needs adequate methylation for its normal growth and repair
- Methylation helps the body to ‘detox’ and eliminate potentially dangerous substances
- Proper methylation is particularly important for the brain and the neurotransmitters that influence moods
When these methyl molecules are in short supply the result is undermethylation and it can have a number of effects.
Consult your medical practitioner to find out more about how this vital process affects your physical and mental health.
What happens if you are undermethylated?
Many undermethylators display ‘Type A’ personality traits. They are highly motivated, competitive, perfectionist, high achieving and frequently have successful careers. They appear to be in good health. On the other hand, undermethylation can also be associated with high inner tension, depression and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Undermethylation reduces the production of serotonin and dopamine.
These are two powerful brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. They help send messages between nerve cells in your brain (all 100 billion of them) and to the rest of the body to regulate your actions, thoughts and moods.
Serotonin is often called the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. It has a calming effect and when undermethylation causes levels to drop, it can result in anxiety or depression.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that motivates and stimulates actions that lead to feelings of ‘reward’ and satisfaction. Undermethylators are often involved in activity that naturally raises dopamine levels. They eventually experience exhaustion and ‘burn-out’ and often turn to substance abuse or become addicted – perhaps to alcohol or coffee – as an alternative way to achieve the ‘reward’ sensation.
There are other significant consequences for undermethylators.
Undermethylation interferes with the production of glutathione.
The liver needs this protein compound to carry out its major role in removing toxins from the body. Glutathione is also important as an antioxidant to prevent cell damage.
Undermethylation affects the body’s access to Methyl-B12.
This a form of Vitamin B12; a deficiency can lead to low energy levels, poor concentration, sluggish thinking and anaemia.
Undermethylation is also associated with a range of physiological and psychiatric disorders such as migraines, allergies, sleep disruption, mood regulation, memory problems, depression, and schizoaffective or bipolar disorders.
How can undermethylation be treated?
There are nutrient-based treatments available. Natural folates, for example, found in leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli can sometimes help maintain the methylation cycle.
The best solution is to speak with your ITH doctor, naturopath or nutritionist, who will advise you on the best course of action in your particular situation.