How to Maximize Your Methylation
Have you ever heard of methylation? It’s time you did. After all, it’s the key to healthy aging, and we are all aging, no matter our age.
Dr. Mark Hyman explains that methylation is “a key biochemical process that is essential for the proper function of almost all of your body’s systems. It occurs billions of times every second; it helps repair your DNA on a daily basis…and…To keep methylation running smoothly you need optimal levels of B vitamins. Without enough B vitamins methylation breaks down, and the results can be catastrophic. In some cases we see birth defects like spina bifida, Down’s syndrome, and miscarriage. [You are also] at higher risk for conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, cervical dysplasia and cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, depression, pediatric cognitive dysfunction, and cardiovascular disease.”
The solution? Maximizing your Methylation
DNA, the code of life, is controlled by the biochemical process of methylation. In order to maintain this process, we must ensure we are avoiding things that break down the process. And according to Dr. Andrew Rostenberg, we need to optimize our genes by optimizing our methylation pathways. This can be done by ensuring we take in the proper nutrients, in this case primarily certain B vitamins.
How is this done?
Essentially, we need to eat plenty of leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and beans. In addition, we need to pay specific attention to our vitamin B6 and B12 intake, ensuring that we take in enough fats – in the form of oily fish, egg yolks, meats, and liver – but not too much animal protein (it can lead to increased homocysteine, which you don’t want).
Minimize things that up the homocysteine levels and lower B vitamin absorption
However, too much of certain things deplete the B vitamins by raising homocysteine levels, such as excess sugar, saturated fat, alcohol, animal protein, as mentioned above, and caffeine. Smoking, of course, must be ceased immediately, as it causes the B6 vitamin to become inactive. Additionally, certain medications should be stopped or limited (consult your physician before stopping any medication) if they are contributing to diminished B vitamin absorption, such as Dilantin, oral contraceptives, acid blockers, and others.
Monitor age-related or other life and bodily changes that can impact the methylation process
As we age, certain processes contribute to the poor absorption of B vitamins, and should be monitored, like a possible reduction in stomach acid, digestive diseases, and allergies to various foods. Other conditions naturally do the same, like hypothyroidism, toxic exposure that limit vitamin production, kidney failure and pregnancy.
Get checked by your doctor!
To find out how your methylation process is doing, consult your doctor for tests on your blood count (anemia and large red blood cells indicate insufficient methylation), serum/urinary methylmalonic acid, homocysteine, and urinary amino acids. Once these are established, it’s time to maximize your methylation!
Get enough of the green stuff!
Eat at least a cup daily of kale, spinach, mustard, collard or beet greens, bok choy, escarole, and others. These are easily the best options to guarantee optimal methylation (and it’s handy because they’re generally on the list of foods needed to optimize just about every other healthy bodily process too!)
Go for the B’s!
Vitamin B6 and12, as well as folate, can be found in dark leafy greens (again!), whole grains, almonds, asparagus, liver, cheese, walnuts, beans, eggs, fish, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds.
Cut the crap!
Limit meats (minimize animal protein of all kinds), decrease all saturated fats, and keep all sugars to a minimum. Kick the caffeine, reduce alcohol consumption (no more than 3 drinks per week, regardless of type), and get rid of the cigarettes entirely – pronto! Knock out as much of the processed foods and snacks as you possibly can and be sure you’re taking probiotics to enhance your gut health. Herbal digestive bitters and HCI supplements are helpful, as well as antioxidant supplements and ensuring you’re taking in sufficient magnesium and zinc.
Make sure you’re getting enough – and ask your doctor what to do if you’re not
Monitor your intake carefully. Folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and betaine should be taken at amounts sufficient for your dietary needs. If you have trouble absorbing B12, see if you can get B12 injections at your doctor’s office.
*Please contact your physician before changing your diet or trying any of the health-related remedies discussed in my articles.