MTHFR is a lot easier to remember (and say) than Methylene Tetrahydrofolate Reductase!
MTHFR codes for the enzyme which converts folic acid to the form of folate a form that our bodies can actually use!
A person with MTHFR SNPs (genetic variations) is likely to have significantly reduced ability to convert inactive forms of folic acid to the active form of folate.
Adequate folate is central to good health. Imagine…every cell needs folate when it is created (DNA synthesis)!
Folate is also needed for cardiovascular and neural health, as well as neurotransmitter synthesis.
At the molecular level, the main function of folate is to donate methyl groups in many key biochemical reactions. More info about folate.
It depends. Some people ask their doctor for the MTHFR genetic test because they’ve been hearing so much about it. They want this information as it can provide new insights into achieving optimal health.
Other times, people are looking for an underlying (or functional) reason for not feeling well.
Perhaps they may be having digestive issues, constipation or diarrhea, IBS, or food intolerances.
Or, they may be experiencing symptoms like an excessive histamine response, brain fog, sleep difficulties, anxiety, getting sick often (lowered immunity), fatigue, joint pain, or neuropathy.
Knowing whether or not they have SNPs in the MTHFR gene provides a valuable new clue that their doctor or other healthcare provider can use to personalize a plan for improved health.
(In my practice I also use other clues of inadequate folate status such as elevated homocysteine, low red blood cell folate, high urine FIGLU (Formiminoglutamate), signs and symptoms, family history, medications and diet.)
Generally MTHFR testing is done on the best researched (and common) MTHFR genetic mutations: C677T and A1298C.
Here’s why each is important and unique:
If you suspect you have MTHFR, talk with your doctor and he/she will order you a MTHFR test. Some insurance companies cover it, but you’ll have to find out if your specific insurance plan does.
The 23andme at home genetic testing can be ordered directly from their website. It includes raw data for these common MTHFR SNPs as well as thousands of other genes. Currently 23and me costs $199 plus a small charge for shipping.
In my practice I regularly use the 23andme data to determine if you have common SNPs in the MTHFR gene. I also look at other genes in the methylation pathway and create a report for my patients.
My nutrigenomic counseling session includes nutrition strategies for MTHFR and other methylation SNPs with suggested follow-up monitoring of nutritional status.
NOTE: When you supplement with folate, it’s important for your doctor to assess if Vitamin B12 status is adequate. That said, if there is a B12 deficiency, folate can mask it and there can be serious neurological implications.