You may have heard of MTHFR, but have you heard about MTRR? If you care about your vitamin B12 status, watch this video to learn about it.
MTRR is an enzyme that helps you repair your vitamin B12 once it’s been damaged. You don’t need to use it a lot most of the time, so some of us, including me, have genetic variations that make it not work very well, yet we’re fine most of the time. But when you are exposed to new health challenges that increase the damage done to your B12, suddenly you may need to use the enzyme more than usual, and if you have genetic impairments in the enzyme you may suddenly become vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency.
I don’t recommend making a specific nutritional strategy around MTRR, but I do recommend you monitor your B12 status more proactively if you have genes that lower your MTRR activity.
I recommend testing your MTRR with StrateGene, which you can get here:
For more information on how to get the StrateGene report, watch this video:
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Read the Transcript
Well you’ve heard of MTHFR, but have you heard of MTRR, and should you care about it? It could impact your vitamin B12 status so watch this video to learn all about it.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com and you’re watching Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And here we’re going to talk about MTRR and vitamin B12. In the video “How to know if you should care about your MTHFR” I taught you how to get a StrateGene report using your 23andme data. I’ll put that link in the description so that you can refer to it if you don’t know how to get a StrateGene report, but here I’ll assume that you have a StrateGene report.
Here is my StrateGene report shown on the screen. And you can see if you look under the genes that we’ve talked about before related to folate metabolism right under MTHFR you see another enzyme called MTRR and there’s two different variations you can have. For either of those you can be wild-type, meaning -/-; or you can be heterozygous, meaning you have one gene from one of your parents, +/ -; or you can be homozygous, meaning you have two genes one from each parent, and you’re +/+. You can see that I’m homozygous for one of the variations and I’m heterozygous for the other. Each of these two mutations by itself when homozygous will decrease the activity of that enzyme by three to fourfold; I don’t know how it combines for me, but I’m guessing it’s somewhere around a five-fold reduction in the activity of that enzyme. So does it matter? And what does this enzyme do?
MTRR is an enzyme that repairs vitamin B12 when it’s been damaged. Normally in the methylation process you take a methyl group from folate, pass it on to B12, pass it from B12 onto homocysteine to make methionine and that vitamin B12 if it gets exposed to harmful products of metabolism can get damaged, but it doesn’t get damaged as a normal part of the methylation process. So the rate of methylation that you’re engaging with, and your level of folate and all these other things, aren’t what’s driving the need to use MTRR.
What’s driving the need to use MTRR is stuff that has nothing to do directly with methylation and is the byproducts of energy metabolism, especially accumulating in metabolic dysfunction or exposure to toxins where you get things that can damage the B12 molecule, and that is where you need MTRR. So probably the reason that we can have these really big reductions in MTRR that are very common in the population is because most of the time you don’t actually need to use MTRR that much.
You only need to use MTRR to a greater degree when the degree of oxidative stress, meaning the accumulation of these harmful chemicals, becomes so great that you need to use MTRR at maximal capacity — that’s when it matters. And if you don’t have access to that MTRR you could get B12 deficient from all the damage. MTRR is kind of like the janitor. If your janitor is not able to be constantly working 12 hours a day it doesn’t matter if you only need the janitor to clean the floor at the end of the night, but if you had a party with a lot of little kids in the cafeteria and they’re spilling things on the floor every 10 minutes then whether the janitor can come in to mop up the floor behind them can be the big thing that drives how bad the floor gets, it’s the same thing here.
Only when you’re subject to these conditions of a lot of oxidative damage does it matter whether your MTRR is working. And so how would it matter? Well the way that I interpret this is you do not need to do any specific special nutrition protocol for MTRR, but what you do need to do is be more conscious and proactive about the fact that your B12 could run low and that it could run low even when it looked fine before because things about your risk of oxidative damage changed. So what I say is measure your B12 status now and then whenever symptoms arise — or whenever your life stage changes, for example you become an adult, you get retirement age, you go from premenopausal to postmenopausal, you become pregnant, you start lactating — whenever these things change look at your B12 status again to see if it has also changed.
Now when measuring B12 status I recommend looking at three things. Number 1: homocysteine. You want your homocysteine to be 7 to 9 maybe as low as 5, but you don’t want it higher than 9. Number 2: Serum B12. You want your B12 in the normal range probably towards the middle or higher end of it. And then Number 3: You want a functional marker of B12 status that tells you whether the B12 is getting into the cells and doing its job and that is methylmalonic acid or MMA.It’s better to measure it in both blood and urine, but if it rises in blood or in urine that suggests that you’re vitamin B12 deficient. If all of these markers look good then you probably do not have a problem with B12 deficiency and you do not need to worry about doing anything special for your MTRR.
Incidentally I have these MTRR mutations. I’ve looked at those 3 markers, they’re all fine in me, so I’m not worrying about my MTRR, but you bet your bottom dollar that if my health changes in the future I’m going to measure my B12 status again.
All right I hope you found this useful. Signing off, this is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. You’ve been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite, and I will see you in the next episode.