Methylation

Figure 1: A methyl group
consists of one carbon and
three hydrogen atoms.
Testing for common genetic variations enables practitioners to more effectively treat patients and their individual needs. Over half of the population carries genetic variations that affect the methylation pathway.

Methylation is a biochemical reaction in which a methyl group (CH3) is attached to a molecule, converting it to a different molecule (Figure 1).

Methylation requires a variety of nutrients and plays dozens of indispensable roles, including neurotransmission, hormone detoxification, amino acid metabolism, vitamin assimilation, homocysteine clearance, cell membrane structure and gene regulation.

These functions maintain cardiovascular health, detoxification, neuroprotection, cognition, emotional wellness and cellular protection.

The balance of methylation is maintained by a series of enzymes encoded by genes.

Figure 2:

  1. The enzyme MTHFR (Methylene Tetrahydrofolate Reductase) converts folic acid and THF into 5-MTHF, a key methyl donor, using riboflavin (vitamin B2) as a cofactor.
  2. MTR (Methionine Synthase), using vitamin B12 as a cofactor, transfers the methyl group from 5-MTHF and methylates homocysteine to form methionine.
  3. B12 can be used efficiently by virtue of MTRR (MTR Reductase), which regenerates methylcobalamin.
  4. COMT (Catechol O-Methyltransferase) is an enzyme that detoxifies stimulant neurotransmitters and estrogens.
  5. The enzyme CBS (Cystathionine Beta-Synthase), a decisive step in this process, requires vitamin B6.
  6. TCN2 delivers dietary B12 to cells.
  7. FUT2 is a major predictor of B12 status in human studies.