Some individuals with Hashimotos Thyroid disease have an undiagnosed mutation in the the MTHFR gene causing high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid produced when proteins are broken down. High homocysteine levels cause irritation of the arterial blood vessels and are considered an independent risk factor for blood clots, heart attacks, atrial arrhythmias, strokes and heart failure. Assessing your homocysteine levels is critical piece to protecting you heart, when you have thyroid disease and Autoimmune Thyroid disease.
In today’s video/article, I want to explain the following
(Watch the video for additional information)
- The connection between MTHFR and Heart disease and Hashimotos
- The problem with high Homocysteine
- 7 essential nutrients needed for proper methylation and MTHFR function
- Lifestyle changes when you have an MTHFR variant.
Thyroid disease and Hashimotos are complex health problems with many layers and the genetic information that can be obtain by testing for the MTHFR variant can help your doctor when it comes to treatment. Our bodies are bombarded day in and day out with toxins and a variety of pollutants. Throw in poor dietary choices, daily medications, stress, hormone imbalances, gut problems, gluten sensitivity and we really impact a process known as methylation.
Methylation is like a switch that turns on and off or influences various biological actions within our body- The reason why testing for MTHFR is so important is that it provides information on how to provide nutritional and lifestyle support in the presence of a gene mutation. If you are struggling with Hashimotos Thyroid disease, then knowing If you have an MTHFR variant can be used to offset nutritional deficiencies as well as inflammation.
MTHFR and Why It Is Important If You Have Hashimotos Thyroid Disease?
MTHFR stands for methyl tetrahydrofolate reductase and it is the name given to both the gene and the enzyme that the gene makes. This enzyme converts folic acid and folate into the active form that the body uses called Methyl folate. Often people with Hashimotos Thyroid disease suffer with elevated levels of Homocysteine.
High levels of Homocysteine is an independent risk factor for heart disease and strokes. What that means is that you could go and visit your general practitioner for your yearly physical and blood work up.
Your doctor may tell you that you have excellent cholesterol levels, your (LDL) bad cholesterol is where it should be your (HDL) good cholesterol is exactly where it should be.
Does that mean you are not at risk for heart disease? Not at all!
When we say something is an independent risk factor that means that despite having normal cholesterol, normal HDL and normal LDL levels, if you have high levels of Homocysteine- you are at risk for heart attacks and strokes. And that’s not all, High Homocysteine levels (levels above 10) increases ones risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, heart disease and strokes.
If you look at this picture here, homocysteine is an inflammatory maker inside the blood vessels. It damages the blood vessels in the heart and damages blood vessels in the brain.
MTFHR Variants or Mutations
There are two main variants of the MTHFR gene- (C677t and their is 1298) one is bad and the other is really bad- 1298 Is bad and C677T is really bad.
If you have two copies, that’s the worst scenario because the enzyme involved in methylation will be affected to the greatest degree. If you have 2 copies of the genes, (two abnormal mutant genes) we call this homozygous. Homo meaning the same, if you have one copy of each ( 1 copy of C677t and one copy of 1298) we call this heterozygous.
Now, depending on which variant you have and how many copies you have, can reduce your methylation capacity anywhere from 30-70%. Two copies of a mutation in the gene is worse than having 1 mutation/variant copy of the gene.
That means for some of you watching this video, on a good day your ability to properly methylate is 20-30% and this poses a problem.
Remember, having these genes affects the way your liver detoxifies pollutants in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat and proper methylation is needed to help get rid of toxins and regulate inflammation like Homocysteine.
Testing for MTHFR Genetic SNPS Or Mutations
So how does somebody know if they have a mutation in one or both of these genes involved in methylation? Are there symptoms you should know about?
There is no way of knowing unless you get tested which is very easy to do! I got testing done about a year ago and I did not have a mutation in my methylation genes.
As far as symptoms of poor methylation, the problem is that when you look at these symptoms- these symptoms look like everyday complaints that millions of people tend to brush off on a daily basis because they are so common.
So, rather than thinking that a mutation in this gene will cause X condition, I look at testing for MTHFR as one of the puzzle pieces that could be contributing to the Big picture. I also look at B12, folate levels.
Symptoms Or Problems With Methylation Can Show Up In A Number Of Ways
- Impaired ability to clear out certain toxins such as cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic; Hormonal imbalances such as estrogen dominance.
- Brain fog, Anxiety and depression, Learning difficulties
- Heart problems- (We know that people with thyroid disease have increases rates of heart disease)
- Multiple chemical sensitivities,
- Joint pain
- Autoimmune disease
- Dementia Alzheimer’s disease
So just as a quick review, we talked about what methylation is, we talked about how problems with methylation can lead to high homocysteine levels, we talked about some of the symptoms associated with high homocysteine (Stokes, heart attacks, Depression), what can you do if you are watching this and you have high homocysteine, your B12 levels keep coming back on the low end or you have Hashimotos disease?
Why Do I Do
#1- Get your MTHFR and homocysteine levels tested. If your homocysteine is elevated begin taking nutritional support to help break down high homocysteine levels. Retest levels in 60-90 days. Optimal levels are around 7.
#2- Avoid all packaged foods that contain folic acid- Folic acid is synthetic folate. If you have an MTHFR variant- you will not break down Folic acid well- so in this case-
#3 You need to take methylated vitamins-
The Seven Essential Nutrients Needed For Proper Methylation Include
- Methylated Folate (active B9)
- Methylcobalamin (active vitamin B12)
- Pyridoxal 5’-Phosphate (active vitamin B6)
- Niacinamide (B3)
- Magnesium glycinate
- Betaine with pepsin
- Vitamin D
#1 Get tested Your Functional Medicine Practitioner, can include testing for both Homocysteine and MTHFR as part of your blood work but, if they don’t know about MTHFR chances are they won’t understand the importance in testing. Testing for MTHFR and evaluating for high homocysteine levels can make a huge impact on your health.
#2 While I recommend everybody minimize exposure to chemicals in and around their body, having MTHFR gene SNP puts you at increased risk for high heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary embolism.
#3 Supporting liver detoxification with nutrition and supplements is incredibly important. While I didn’t mention this earlier- 60% of T4 to T3 conversion takes place in the liver and many people diagnosed with Hashimotos have low T3 thyroid levels. High homocysteine levels because of poor methylation may be a potential cause for this.
#4 Start reading ingredients and labels. If you come across an ingredient that says Folic acid- avoid that supplement/food if you have the MTHFR variant. Most of the time these are the same foods that use words like fortified or enriched.
#5 From a dietary standpoint- Eat foods rich in sulfur and Foods with natural folate- vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, peaches, avocado, spinach, garlic, squash, and grapefruit.
#6 If you have high homocysteine levels, I recommend you start with methyl CPG and retest in 60-90 days. Your levels should come down and improve within this period of time.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Hashimoto’s Thyroid disease these high sulfur based foods will help replenish glutathione stores which is the bodies master antioxidant. And one point I want to quickly make, if you are afraid of eating these food because you heard someone on Facebook or a podcast spout out that these foods cause problems to the thyroid,
Then please be sure to check out my video titled the Real cause of Goitrogens and thyroid nodules In a video I did a while back. Optimize gut health. Twenty percent of thyroid hormone conversion occurs, thanks in part to the health of gut microbiota. Gut dysbiosis can be another reason for poor T4-T3 conversion.
Another thing that I think is so important especially if you have 1 or more autoimmune disease is that the Gut plays a pivotal role in the overall development of autoimmune diseases like Thyroid Hashimotos. A big part of the immune system lies in the gut mucosal tissues and supporting the gut will go along way in helping your autoimmune disease.
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