MTHFR Mutation

Attention, pregnant mamas. No, I’m NOT calling out an abbreviation for a naughty word.  MTHFR is a genetic mutation that is affecting kids at an unprecedented rate. It stands for methyltetrahydrofolate.  Yup, that’s why there’s the acronym!

So why should you care?  Well, the folate part of that large word written above is sure to ring a bell.  As we know, making sure we have enough folic acid/folate is crucial to ensuring the health of our unborn children in many ways – preventing spina bifida and other neural tube problems.  A lack of folate also can cause brain fog, miscarriage, and even preeclampsia.  Lastly, the new epidemic of lip and tongue tie in infants is caused mainly by MTHFR.   For those unaffected by lip &/or tongue tie, it can create many feeding problems including trouble with latch or transferring milk, painful nursing, blocked ducts, reflux, speech issues, dental issues, increased sensory disorders, and more.

WHY??  With the MTHFR defect, which some say affects up to 50-60% of the population, it is difficult for your body to convert folic acid (and even folate) into a usable form (called methylation). The two gene mutations most studied and connected with this defect are found at the C677T and A1298C positions on the MTHFR gene.  It’s possible to have one or both mutations.

Simply put, having MTHFR makes it hard for your body to detox. Folic acid can block the usable form of folate from being absorbed. Because folic acid is such a common additive in processed food, and is even in most prenatal vitamins, pregnancy is the most crucial time to address your intake of methyltetrahydrofolate vs. folic acid.

As a carrier of the MTHFR gene mutation (5 of 5 of my siblings and I had a lip tie!), I personally took the correct form of folate but still had a daughter with a severe lip tie, and another with a moderate tongue tie.  As toddlers, I notice a huge improvement in their behavior when they take methyltetrahydrofolate regularly.

Should you be tested?  If you are concerned about lip or tongue tie in previous children, have a history of infertility, or have a child with any neural tube defects, I absolutely recommend being tested.  For myself, my family history was enough to know I needed to switch to the usable form.

Brands of prenatal vitamins that contain the correct form include: Seeking Health, Thorne Research, and Zahler prenatal + DHA.  Dr. Ron’s is another safe form of a vitamin, though lacking Vit A and iron and not specifically a prenatal.

As always, we recommend a food-based source of vitamins.  Dark leafy greens are a great natural source of the usable form of folate.  For those with MTHFR defect, we recommend other natural ways to detox, such as sauna, Epsom salts baths, drinking lots of water, dry brushing, and sweating (exercise).

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    Dr. Sheena grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota and completed her undergraduate studies in Architecture, Chemistry, and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus.