MTHFR positive means that there is a deficiency of an enzyme (called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) that breaks down homocysteine and folates.
With this MTHFR genetic mutation (heterozygous or homozygous), as determined common genetic test with 23andMe, one may also have undermethylation. But treating depression with folic acids, inlcuding methylated folate B vitamins, should not be recommended for depression.
The MTHFR genetic mutation could potentially result in high homocysteine and low folates which may be problematic if not properly addressed. The understanding of this genetic SNP is very ambiguous.
Yes, high homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular inflammation and yes, folates are one mechanism to lower homocysteine. But they are only one mechanism.
Other B-vitamins and dietary changes can be taken to lower this amino acid and simultaneously improve methylation.
However, folates should not be given to anyone with undermethylation depression unless it is determined that they are low in folates. The reason is that folates lower lower serotonin activity, and most people with depression have low serotonin and dopamine levels and function.
Folic acid for methylation and MTHFR postive gene mutations can be a difficult subject to grasp. Before taking B Vitamins for depression one should know how folates affect serotonin. Dr Walsh, who trains physicians on this subject, explains it well.
Dr William Walsh, PhD, discussing MTHFR, methylation,
folates and mood disorders.
Walsh heads the non-profit Walsh Research Institute in Chicago. Thanks to his educational workshops on the topic of epigenetics, depression and methylation, physicians have better grasp on the impact of folic acid and depression.
Before ever taking B vitamins for depression it is important to know that most persons with mood disorders are low in serotonin.
Folic acid may help with MTHFR positive gene mutations, but it dramatically reduces serotonin activity.
Folates may help with homocysteine and methylation. But it lowers serotonin activity.
- Methylation status is not determined by the MTHFR positive genetic mutations.
- High homocysteine does not mean someone is low in folates.
- Folates (methylated or not - including folinic acid and folic acid) may all improve methylation, yet persons who are undermethylated do not usually have low folic acid levels.
- Folates lower serotonin acvitity by increasing SERT or serotonin reuptake transport proteins.
- Folates can be taken to lower serotonin in overemethylators but should not be given to to undermethylators. While they may slightly increase serotonin PRODUCTION they will greatly lower ACTIVITY of serotonin.
- If people are genuinely experiencing undermethylation then they are likely suffering from mood disorders due to low serotonin activity.
Most common mood and behavior manifestations attributed to methylation imblance.
Low serotonin, normal folate depression
- Chronic depression
- Oppositional Defiance
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
- Psychosis prior to the onset of depression or other conditions.
- Strong willed
- Seasonal allergies
- High libido
- Competitive in sports
- Overachiever prior to the onset
- Protein deficiency and vegetarian diets
- Tends to do better on SSRI medications
- Responds well to antihistamines
High serotonin, low folate depression
- Acute depression
- Panic disorders
- High anxiety
- Schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations
- Dry eyes
- Highly artistic, sociable and empathetic
- Poor response to SSRI medications
- Poor response to antihistamines
- Food and chemical sensitivities
- Not typically competitive
- Builds muscle mass easily
Tests and consultation options to determine methylation status and manage mood disorders.
- A whole blood histamine and homocysteine test, may be ordered here to be drawn at Lab Corp. It is, according to Walsh's research, the go-to test to determine one's true methylation status. That's because of the methyl dependent enzyme which maintains whole blood histamine levels. This is an excellent indicator of methylation status vs a genetic predictor such as MTHFR.
- A Walsh Approach takes this different approach to increasing serotonin activity in undermethylators, while carefully avoiding folates.
- A history of symptoms and medicines helps your Walsh trained doctor prepare the best supplement regimen for your unique biochemical levels.