Got MTHFR? I got you: here’s what you can do with nutrition to optimize for your genetics.
MTHFR mutations increase your need for choline and glycine. It’s key to get methylfolate in your diet, but high-dose methylfolate supplements are not the solution. You need to boost choline as an alternative supply of methyl groups, and creatine supplementation can help you better conserve your methylfolate by reducing the need to use it. This is important because adequate methylfolate preserves glycine and prevents it from being lost. Too little protein hurts methylation, but too much worsens the loss of glycine, so you need to hit the Goldilocks amount. Finally, you need to get more glycine to make up for whatever you’re losing.
In this episode, I explain how to use food and supplements to make all this work in your favor.
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Read the Transcript
Got MTHFR? Well here are five things that you need to do.
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 here are the five things that you need to do if you have an MTHFR mutation. If you’re not sure if this applies to you watch the previous video in this series.
So number one you need to get more choline and I would put the amount of choline that you need as four to five egg yolk equivalents.
So the simplest way to get that is four to five egg yolks, but if you don’t like eggs or you’re not eating eggs for some health-related reason you can replace one or more of those egg yolks with other foods. You can replace two of those egg yolks with one quarter pound serving of liver. You can replace one of those egg yolks with one tablespoon of sunflower or soy lecithin. It’s really easy to get one or more tablespoons of lecithin granules into a smoothie for example.
You can replace a half of an egg yolk with a hundred grams of cruciferous vegetables or nuts. Now if you’re going to go that route you require a large volume of food. For example you’d have to use 1100 gram servings of cruciferous vegetables and nuts, and I don’t recommend doing that because ten servings of cruciferous vegetables is too much stress on your thyroid gland. I’d limit it to one or two servings, same thing with nuts: there’s anti-nutrients in nuts; nuts are great in small quantities, maybe one or two servings at most, not ten.
Now you can also replace some of those egg yolks with betaine, which is found mostly in spinach, beets, and wheat. So in terms of spinach, 100 grams of spinach can replace one egg yolk. For beets, 100 grams of raw beets or 50 grams of canned beets replaces one egg yolk, and for wheat, wheat germ is the best source and about 25 grams of wheat germ will replace around one egg yolk.
Now you can mix and match these however you want; you can sort of copy and paste these different egg yolk equivalents to just make sure that you get 4 to 5 per day and I would not replace all of the choline with betaine, I would replace up to 1/2 of the choline with betaine.
Okay, now strategy number two: you need to get enough methylfolate. You should focus first on food and not on supplements.To get enough methylfolate from food try to get two to three servings of the Three L’s -liver, legumes and leafy greens. That third L is really just greens. So broccoli, for example, you’re not eating the leaves, but it’s a great source of folate. Kale is really leafy, it’s a great source of folate, but what they have in common is that they’re green.
Now you should not eat more than a couple of servings of liver per week so you’re not getting it all from liver, but two to three servings mostly of legumes and greens and sometimes replacing one of those servings with liver.
You can supercharge your methylfolate if you use sprouted legumes instead of regular legumes. You can also add to your folate a lot if you make sure that your eggs come from pasture-raised chickens so that the chickens are eating grass, which is a leafy green, one of the three L’s.
It’s important also to note that folate is stable in frozen liver, but not in frozen vegetables. So liver in the freezer fine, but don’t trust frozen vegetables even if you use them quickly as a source of folate; only trust fresh vegetables.
Number three is you need to get your Goldilocks amount of protein. I would not consume less than a half a gram of protein per pound of body weight. At the same time if your goal is to optimize your nutrition around your MTHFR mutation and you don’t have a specific body composition goal or athletic performance goal that requires greater protein intakes I would cap your protein at one gram per pound of body weight per day.
The reason is the more meat, protein, and fish, and eggs, and dairy protein you eat, and to some degree even plant protein, the more it worsens one of the principal effects of MTHFR, which is that you need more glycine.
And that brings us to strategy number four: you need to get enough glycine. There’s basically three entry ways to “participate” or “jump on to the glycine bandwagon.”
The first is to utilize the skin and bones of the foods you eat. So instead of skinless boneless chicken breast, eat your chicken breast with the skin and roast the whole chicken and take the bones to make into stock for soups and gravies.
The next level is to actually eat the bones. If you eat the edible bones — if you gnaw off the ends of the smaller bones in a chicken, roast chicken for example, or you eat the edible bones in canned fish, that’s a way of eating bones and gives you a lot more glycine. If you want a supplement, try 3 to 10 grams per day of a free glycine supplement, or try 1 to 3 servings of hydrolyzed collagen. Brands that I like are Great Lakes and Vital Proteins.
The fifth thing that you need to try is creatine. The reason that you use creatine is because a lot of the methylfolate you use is actually to make creatine. If you eat creatine then you can spare your methylfolate and conserve it.
And you could get creatine from food in enough amounts if you ate 1 to 2 pounds of meat per day, but that’s going to overshoot your protein, which is a problem for the reasons I described before. So what I would do is try supplementing with 3 to 5 grams of creatine per day. Just put “creapure” into Amazon and find the cheapest thing that you can, or go to chrismasterjohnphd.com/creatine for recommendations.
Now some of my clients find that initially as they get used to supplementing with creatine it at first causes some insomnia and I believe that that is because insomnia is one of the problems you can get with methylation and if you’re supplementing the creatine your body has to recalibrate how much methylation it needs.
And so it’s going to take a few weeks for everything to stabilize, but I believe in the long-term creatine supplementation can be very helpful. Just give it four to six weeks for the full effects to take root. Now the last thing that I would throw in is a bonus. And I would say be very careful with SAMe supplements.
SAMe supplements are pro-methylation supplements and a lot of people think “I need more methylation because my MTHFR sucks so I’ll take SAMe.” I’m not against taking SAMe, but SAMe, just like getting too much protein, can worsen your need for glycine and so I think you should not use it unless you’ve tried all the strategies that I’ve just given you and you still need the benefit.
And you should not continue with it unless you get noticeable benefits to your energy or to your mood and your mental health or cardiovascular markers or anything else that MTHFR could be related to. So only use SAMe as a last resort and make sure it’s working for you because it’s also really expensive.
All right I hope you found that useful.
In the next video we’ll go into some blood markers that you can look at.
For now signing off.
This is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com.
You’ve been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite.
And I will see you in the next video.
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