MTHFR Gene and Fibromyalgia
What do amino acids, enzymes, the MTHFR gene and fibromyalgia have in common? More than you might think! The MTHFR gene is something to seriously consider if you have been living with fibromyalgia.
The Role of Amino Acids
Bodybuilders and athletes take various types of amino acids to improve performance, burn body fat, or accomplish other desirable goals. We also address this need for certain amino acids in treating various symptoms within fibromyalgia here in the website. Amino acids are powerful components of the body that do much more than help you build muscle or work a little harder during an exercise session.
It is therefore important that we distinguish the good from the bad so we don’t miss out on the benefits of certain amino acids. We use amino acids to correct deficiencies, increase lean body weight, reduce insomnia, and more. The good guy amino acids have very important jobs in the body, and yet some of the bad guy amino acids can cause dysfunction that leads to illness and injury when a deficiency is sustained.
Two of the amino acids that find their way into the human body are known as Homocysteine and Methionine. When the body is overrun with too much Homocysteine, the result is abnormal blood clotting, cognitive deficiencies, and heightened risk of heart problems.
The MTHFR gene is responsible for producing an enzyme that blends with Homocysteine amino acids to transform them into the more helpful Methionine enzyme. This is the form of folate that the body can actively use in positive ways.
A potentially dangerous deficiency by a MTHFR Gene Malfunction
The enzyme produced by the MTHFR gene is known as Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. When this gene malfunctions, a deficiency in that enzyme can develop. This allows a harmful amino acid, homocysteine, to accumulate inside the body. According to Mayo Clinic, patients with severe MTHFR deficiency (enzyme activity less than 20% of normal) develop homocysteinuria.
This is a severe disorder with a wide range of outcomes including developmental delay, mental retardation, and premature vascular disease. There are seven MTHFR mutations that can cause this disorder.
A Much More Common Mutation Associated with Fibromyalgia
Enzyme activity of 50% of normal is associated with a milder deficiency of MTHFR. The MTHFR gene mutation in this case has been given a name: MTHFR C677T. Patients having this mutation may develop hyperhomocysteinemia. This is especially likely if the patient is deficient in vitamin B12, B6, or folate.
In fact, this disorder can manifest itself even without the MTHFR C677T mutation. However, the mutation is very common as about one-third of the general population has it. And, as stated earlier, this results in less Methionine (folate) which is used by the body to produce proteins and other functions.
You may know folate as vitamin B9 or folic acid. You may also know that it’s important for pregnant women to consume adequate amounts of this vitamin in order to protect their growing babies from serious birth defects.
There are many other uses for folate, and a deficiency can lead to serious symptoms that often mimic those of fibromyalgia even if you aren’t expecting a new addition to the family. As we note below on supplementation, it is important to know the difference between folate and folic acid when you are choosing supplements. Folate is going to be the best choice.
Can the MTHFR Gene Dysfunction cause Fibromyalgia?
It is possible that many of the symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia sufferers are potentially caused by a mutation in the MTHFR gene. Mutations in this gene have been linked to hardening of the arteries and other serious medical conditions, but they’re more likely to lead to chronic fatigue and physical weakness.
Since fatigue is one of the primary symptoms experienced by fibromyalgia patients, it’s worth considering a mutation of this gene. If you think this might be a potential issue for you, ask your doctor for a blood test.
Mayo Clinic recommends that if hyperhomocysteinemia is suspected, a basal plasma homocysteine level be measured. Vitamin B12, B6, and folic acid levels should also be measured.
Could Vitamin Supplementation help Fibromyalgia Patients?
Mutation of the MTHFR gene is often treated through vitamin supplementation. And, just like we want the proper amino acids in our body, we also want the proper forms of certain B vitamins. On our supplement article page of the website, we offer not only a safe, additive-free, multi vitamin, but a B complex with the right forms of B6 (P-5-P) and B12 (Hydroxy or methylcobalamin) to help counteract this mutation. For additional insurance, you might consider taking Optimized Folate from Life Extension.
This has also proven effective for many fibromyalgia patients suffering from extreme fatigue, physical weakness and cognitive decline such as memory loss and inability to focus. A therapeutic dosage is anywhere from 400mcg. to 1,000mcg. Speak with your doctor or attending health specialist regarding dosage.
Since there is some overlap in the symptoms of both of these conditions, it makes sense that treatment for the gene mutation may also help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia even if the two conditions aren’t connected by a cause-effect relationship.
Fibromyalgia and the ability to Detox
If you are living with fibromyalgia, it is important to avoid using toxic body products and chemical cleaning agents in the home. This also means avoiding synthetic fragrances, candles and anything that permeates toxins into your breathing space. The point is to support your body in detoxing properly.
Get the formaldehyde out as we often talk about. This can be in everything from new carpets to new cars. Also, in clothing. Always wash your clothes before wearing and be sure to use nontoxic detergents that are fragrance free.
This is yet another reason that we say to avoid using toxic medications often prescribed for fibromyalgia. They do not work and they are more dangerous than ever if your body is not able to properly detox them, leaving you feeling even worse over time. This can put a greater strain on your liver and detoxification pathways. Working as a colon therapist, I support people in gentle detoxing, and I have often seen the effects of either medications or environments in regards to toxicity levels.
Like most theories about what causes fibromyalgia and how it is best treated, more research needs to be conducted into the connection between MTHFR gene mutation, Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase deficiency, and fibromyalgia. The more researchers understand these conditions, the more prepared they will become when handling patients suffering from those overlapping symptoms.
It’s important to talk to your medical professional with knowledge of your medical history before supplementing with additional vitamins. Yet again, when there is a deficiency in one crucial area due to a defect or malabsorption issue, it can make a big difference when correcting it. I personally find that taking the B complex we recommend along with extra Folate has made a difference in how I feel.
We are never loyal to one supplement company as there is not one company that can provide the best in every supplemental need. We always use trial and error and work to find the safest and most effective brands before recommending any supplement or nutrients for the needs of those living with the complexity of fibromyalgia and its primary co-conditions. And as I always say, that complexity really demands that you keep your healthcare professional in the loop.
Some Foods Can Help
Methionine is an “essential” amino acid, meaning that our bodies don’t produce it. It must be metabolized from the food we eat or taken as a supplement.
Eating a whole foods diet with less processed foods is ideal. Check out the above link for foods that are higher in methionine. That link can more easily be used by checking out the categories listed at the top of the web page first. For instance, you might click on the link for vegetables and you will see spirulina and seaweed. For animal proteins, you will see egg whites and red meats and some sources of fish.
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