Methylation is a biochemical process that occurs in every cell in our bodies countless times throughout the day. It is the addition of a methyl group (a single carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms) to a compound. Its proper functioning is absolutely essential for optimal health.
Functions of Methylation:
Because it is so essential to health, when methylation is impaired it can affect almost any organ or system of the body.
Here are some ways methylation can be disrupted:
Thus, in order for a healthy individual without a genetic predisposition to have proper functioning methylation, they need to have the right amount of nutrients and cofactors. In addition to this, exposure to toxins, chemicals, medications and stress all negatively effect the methylation process. It is fair to say that having a well functioning methylation system can be hard to achieve given the toxic and stressful environment that we live in today. Faulty methylation seems to affect certain systems more than others and it is the brain and the production of neurotransmitters that takes the hit. Hence, with methylation defects you will see autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other cognitive and behavioral issues including depression and anxiety.
Many Children inherit methylation defects from their parents.
Find out if your child needs methylation support.
The two fundamental vitamins needed for proper methylation are folate and B12. The lack of folate and excess of folic acid in our modern diet is a big factor affecting the prevalence of methylation issues today. It is very important to know the difference between folate and folic acid—they are not the same thing!
Folate is a general term describing over 150 different forms of folate, a water-soluble B-vitamin that generally comes from food (but it can include synthetic folic acid). It is found mostly in uncooked leafy green vegetables.
Folic acid is completely synthetic and did not exist before it was created in a lab. Biochemically, it does not metabolize the same way as the natural folates derived from food, and actually makes it more difficult for us to absorb natural folates.
Folic acid is found in all manner of processed foods—cereals, breads, pasta, and tons of multi-vitamins and supplements. Recently, research has shown that a high intake of folic acid is problematic—studies have shown increases of autism with excessive doses in pregnant women.
Since folate is an incredibly important nutrient to proper methylation, we need to ensure that we are getting the right kind of folate—that which is found in real food! Raw leafy greens are an excellent source of folate, and supporting methylation is a reason why you should include them in your diet every day.
Vitamin B12 is also important to the methylation process—without it our bodies cannot use folate properly. A difficulty arises in those with deficient hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) as B12 needs it for absorption.
There are several laboratories that do test for methylation defects. Please contact me to discuss your child's needs and to determine if methylation testing is right for your child.
Zinc deficiency is far too common today, especially in our children. This may be due to a poor diet, a genetic disorder called pyroluria (25% of kids with ADHD have this) or just plain malabsorption. Low zinc levels have been linked to behavioral disorders such as ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder and aggression in children/teens. Before putting your child on Ritalin or a stimulant drug with countless side effects, just do a simple blood test to determine your child's zinc levels. Along with this you should test copper levels. Elevated copper is related to lower levels of dopamine and higher levels of nor-epinephrine (the stress hormone). These fluctuations in neurotransmitters lead to cognitive/behavioral issues and learning disorders.