Should you care about your MTHFR?
Here’s how to find out your MTHFR genetic status and know how it affects you.
MTHFR is an enzyme that allows folate, or vitamin B9, to support a process known as methylation. Methylation is important to mental health, cardiovascular health, sports performance, and preventing cancer, just to name a few. In this episode, I show you how to find your MTHFR genetic status. I also discuss how the various different genetic combinations impact you and how you can leverage that information to determine how strictly you should follow the dietary recommendations I’ll outline in the next episode.
To order a StrateGene report while kicking a small commission my way at no extra cost to you, use this link: chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene I appreciate the support!
The audio of this episode was generously enhanced and post-processed by Bob Davodian of Taurean mixing. You can find more of his work at taureanonlinemixing.com.
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Read the Transcript
Do you have a problem with your MTHFR?
If you don’t know or if you’re not even sure what that means then this video is for you because this is “How to know if I need to care about my MTHFR.”
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. And you are watching Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we’re going to talk about whether you need to care about MTHFR.
MTHFR or the mother *beep* gene as it’s so affectionately called on the internet, but which we’re not going to call it here, is a gene that codes for an enzyme by the same name that enables you to utilize folate or vitamin B9 in a process called methylation.
Now this is “details shmeetails” so we’re not going to go into all the “details details” about methylation, but let’s just say that methylation is really important to your mental health, it’s really important to your cardiovascular health, it’s really important to protecting against cancer and many other things going on in your body, fatigue, energy etc. So now let’s figure out if this applies to you.
There are a number of different ways to find out if you have an MTHFR mutation, I’m just giving you my recommended way. I would start by going to 23andme.com. If you scroll down you’ll see that you have a choice between only getting an ancestry kit or a health and ancestry kit. You can do what I’m going to show you with either of these and so you can save money by getting just ancestry.
Nevertheless I recommend getting the health and ancestry service because the health reports that 23andme gives are really interesting, they’re really well put together, and they keep doing more research to give you more health reports over time so you can learn more and more about your health traits and your health risks. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving. So get either, but I would recommend health and ancestry. Once you order this tube to them and it’s going to take six to eight weeks to get your data.
What I’ll show you next is what you do after you’ve gotten your data. Once you’re signed in to 23andMe you go to tools and then you select browse raw data, then you go to the download screen and you submit your password and you click download raw data. Now they’re giving me this right away, they’re probably going to send you a link in your email that you’ll have to to pick a location on your computer and you want to give it a name that’ll allow you to easily recognize this one to two minutes later when you’ll need to access it.
Once you’ve downloaded your raw data you’re going to submit it to StrateGene. Now you can get to Strategene in two ways. You can go to strategene.org or you can go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/strategene.
If you use that second link, which I’ll put in the description of this video as a live link, then that will be a way that you can kick me back a little commission on this as a tip for all the free content that I produce to help support it at no extra cost to you.
Either way once you get to StrateGene it’s going to be really simple from there. You simply hit “Add to Cart” you pay $45 and then you follow their instructions to upload the raw data file that you just downloaded. After you do that it’ll only be a minute or two before you have your StrateGene Report.
On the second page of the StrateGene Report look at the third and fourth lines where you see MTHFR listed. You’ll see that there’s two possible mutations A1298C and C677T.
You’ll have one of three possible formulations to the box to the right side of each mutation. If you don’t have that mutation at all you’ll see a white box with a green -/- . If you have one mutation remember every gene you have, you have one version of the gene from your mother and another from your father.
So there’s –two possible– two possible genes–there’s two possibilities for every gene. If you have one of those mutations you’ll have a black plus minus (+/-)in a yellow box and if you have two of that mutation you’ll have a white plus plus (+/+) in a red box.
Now once you know what your boxes look like for each of these MTHFR mutations it’s time to figure out what does that actually do for your MTHFR enzyme. The table that’s on the screen shows you each of the six possible combinations that you can have for MTHFR and it tells you two things about them.
On the bottom is how prevalent is this combination in the population and on the top is what does this do to my MTHFR activity? If you look at the prevalence you can see that between 10 or technically between 9 and 26% is the number for all of these. That means that they’re all every single combination is really common in the population. They’re almost evenly distributed.
The second thing you’ll see is that as you go up through here –we see–we start with full MTHFR activity and we go in decreasing percentages, that means that your MTHFR takes more and more of a hit as you go up to the right across the table.
So if we have a -/ – for both mutations we have full MTHFR activity it’s only 15% of the population that has that, the other 85% have one or more of these MTHFR mutations. So this isn’t a genetic defect it’s just a difference in your nutritional emphasis that you need to place. As you go to the single A1298C mutation that decreases it by 17%.
A single C677T mutation decreases it by a third, having two A1298C mutations which means that you’re “homozygous” for that mutation decreases it by almost 40%. Having one of each which makes you “compound heterozygous” decreases this by over 50%, and having two of the C677T decreases it by a whopping 75%. I’m going to give you nutritional recommendations in the next video that are centered around this 75% decrease.
If you’re more towards the left side you don’t need to care as much and you don’t need to follow it as strictly, but if you’re more towards the right side you need to care more and you need to follow it more strictly.
One last thing to note is that your MTHFR could be compromised even further by other genes in the same pathway. Principle among them is the first gene listed, SLC19a1, that’s gobbledygook for the folate transporter.
If you have mutations in the folate transporter that decrease its activity it could be harder to get folate inside your cells and if there’s less folate in your cells then MTHFR has less to work with.
The second gene is MTHFD1. That’s another less well recognized enzyme that helps MTHFR fulfill its function. And so if you have mutations in MTHFD1 then that also aggravates the degree to which your MTHFR is compromised. And unfortunately I can’t show you a table that shows you exactly what this does to your ability to use MTHFR when you have these other combinations because no one studied the exact combinations and how they play out.
All I can say is that when you have mutations here it makes any mutations here worse. So if you see buildup in mutations of any of these on your StrateGene Report it becomes more and more important to follow the recommendations I’m going to give you in the next video.
All right. I hope you found this useful.
This is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com.
You’ve been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite and I will see you in the next video.