According to Psychology Today, up to 40% of people may have a specific gene mutation that can wreak havoc on their physical and/or mental health. The gene is called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short. A mutation of this gene is simply called an MTHFR gene mutation, but the results are far from simple. Here's why and where to go for help if you have an MTHFR gene mutation.
What can an MTHFR gene mutation cause?
The MTHFR gene is responsible for the methylation process because the enzyme it produces is what converts folic acid into folate, which in turn converts homocysteine into methionine, which the body then uses to make proteins, neurotransmitters, and other compounds that are essential for a healthy brain and body. The inability for this process to occur due to a gene mutation may increase your risk of physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, migraines, osteoporosis, and some cancers, as well as mental health conditions such as ADHD, autism, bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia.
Also, people with an MTHFR gene mutation may respond to medications differently. They also may have adverse reactions to certain types of anesthesia. If you have one or more of those conditions, it's a good idea for you to get checked to see if you have an MTHFR gene mutation. That way, you can get started on an appropriate treatment plan.
What medical professionals and treatments can help?
Your primary care provider can refer you for testing to see if you have an MTHFR gene mutation if they think it's necessary. If you are found to have an MTHFR gene mutation, treatment for it will not cure it, of course, but it can help you better manage the symptoms of the various ailments and mental health issues that you may have.
You'll want to be referred to a functional medicine practitioner for treatment, which is a medical professional who focuses on the underlying causes of diseases, such as genetic mutations and other reasons. Treatment for MTHFR gene mutation typically involves nutritional support via supplements to compensate for the mutation so your body is able to convert necessary compounds and nutrients, such as folic acid into folate.
Since you'll need to start avoiding digesting folic acid, treatment for this gene mutation may also mean significant lifestyle changes in that you will need to start reading every food's ingredient label carefully before you eat. This can be a bit overwhelming, especially in the beginning, so it's a good idea to also see a nutritionist for help.