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Unlocking the Secrets of Methylation: How this Biochemical Process Works in Our Bodies

Unlocking the Secrets of Methylation: How this Biochemical Process Works in Our Bodies

Our lifestyle and environment can influence our genetic makeup in ways more powerful than we once thought. It's a phenomenon known as epigenetics, the science of how environmental factors interact with gene expression - modifying how genes work without altering their code. In recent years researchers have uncovered startling evidence linking what we eat, physical activity levels, stress levels, and exposure to toxins to these changes at an inheritance level. (1)

Our DNA coding is unchanging, but the environment and our choices can modify its expression. Epigenetics explains how genes manifest through processes like Methylation, which regulate cell protein production to create only necessary proteins. Essentially, it's similar to a computer's hardware-software relationship: epigenetic modifications act as settings or software that govern our genetic code's powerful functionality.

What is Methylation, and How Does it Work in Our Bodies

Methylation is an essential process that helps regulate gene expression. Adding small molecules called methyl groups - consisting of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms- to a gene can act as "on" or "off switches influencing the activity of genes in our bodies. Suppose a methyl group is removed from a specific DNA fragment. In that case, it becomes demethylated, allowing its instructions to be expressed differently. (2)

Methylation is critical in many biological processes, including your stress response.

Methylation is not just limited to DNA - it can also occur in the histones that help keep our chromosomes neat and organized. Histone methylation involves many biological processes, such as gene expression regulation, cell cycle control, and protection from stress factors. Without these modifications on both genetic components, many essential functions would halt! (3)

Why Methylation Is Important To Your Health

Methylation is critical in regulating biochemical reactions that benefit many aspects of health, from cognitive functioning to detoxification and even cardiovascular activity. By exerting an "on/off" switch on specific genes, Methylation may help suppress the expression of those linked to cancer development or other diseases. (4)Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies appear less able to manage this process effectively - potentially explaining why chronic illness is more common among older individuals. (5)(6)Abnormal or low levels of Methylation have been linked to many diseases, including:

  • Alzheimer's disease (7)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)(8)
  • Autism (9)
  • Cancer, especially involving the colon, stomach, cervix, prostate, thyroid, and breast (4)(10)
  • Cardiovascular disease (11)
  • Cognitive decline (12)
  • Depression (13)(14)
  • Parkinson's disease (15)

Now the good news! Instead of a gene's irreversibly mutated state, epigenetic changes are not set in stone. With the right circumstances and proper interventions, restoring genes with defective methylation patterns back to functioning is typically possible, providing renewed hope for those affected by certain genetic diseases. (16)

Healthy Methylation

As we age, the Methylation of our DNA gradually declines. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that this decline is evident from birth - newborns have significantly more methylated DNA than those over 100 years old, and people between 20-25 had levels between these two extremes. (17)

It's important to note that healthy lifestyle choices can help support good levels for one's entire life; replacing smoking or processed food with exercise and nutritious meals is how to keep your body functioning optimally as you age! (18)(19) Below are several things you can do to support your health methylation:

Exercise Regularly

Even modest doses of exercise can remarkably affect gene expression, as demonstrated by an intriguing 2013 study conducted at Lund University. The research followed 23 sedentary and slightly overweight middle-aged men who participated in indoor cycling and aerobics classes twice per week for six months - the results were astounding! Through DNA methylation analysis, researchers uncovered gene changes linked with type 2 diabetes and obesity risk reduction, suggesting that physical activity may be epigenetically associated with health benefits. (20)

Aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of certain diseases by beneficially altering DNA methylation. Did you know being overweight can affect your methylation and increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic diseases? (31)

Eat A Healthy Diet

Eating nutrient-rich foods is an effective way to influence Methylation. Eating more choline-containing foods, such as shellfish, poultry, eggs, and leafy greens, can help modulate this process because of its ability to donate one of the necessary methyl groups that turn certain genes off or on in our DNA. Furthermore, B vitamins are essential for proper Methylation - these include folate, which can be found abundantly in vegetables like potatoes and spinach, but also other common grocery staples such as bananas and oranges along with liver, fish, rice, cheese, milk, lentils, soybeans, and flax seeds. (21)(22)

If you are on a detox or avoiding certain food groups, be sure to research what foods can supply you with the choline and B vitamins.

The food (fuel) you eat is one of the most important lifestyle factors affecting your methylation.

Avoid Tobacco and Second Hand Smoke

Cigarette smoking can have long-term, health-damaging effects on our genetic code - altering its Methylation and expression of genes in fatty tissue. This results in an increased risk for cancer and diabetes that could have a devastating impact on one's life; however, new research out of the University of Edinburgh indicates there is hope as these changes are reversible within two years after quitting. (23)(24)

Consume Alcohol In Moderation

A recent study published in PLOS Genetics provides more evidence for the well-known health benefits of limiting alcohol intake among women. The research, conducted on 162 breast cancer patients, indicated that excessive consumption of alcohol was linked to decreased Methylation. In a surprising twist, however, those who consumed high levels of folate from food sources were found to be positively affected by increased methylation rates - challenging previously held beliefs and highlighting the importance nutritious diets play in our overall wellness. (25)

Support Your Methylation With Nutrients

Studies into nutrition and Methylation reveal that certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients may be essential for properly functioning this biochemical process. B Complex Vitamins (B2, B6, & B12), Folic Acid; Magnesium; and Vitamin D have been identified as critical components to maintain healthy DNA methylation levels in our bodies. Increasing your intake of these nutritional items can help ensure optimal cellular function. (26) If you are on supplements, or plan to begin taking supplements, look for the following to maximize the benefits:

  • 5-MTHF, the active form of folic acid
  • Methylcobalamin, the active form of vitamin B12
  • Pyridoxal 5-Phosphate, the active form of vitamin B6
  • Riboflavin 5’-Phosphate, the active form of vitamin B2 (27)(28)(29)(30)

Always consult a healthcare practitioner for all supplementation suggestions and health changes.Methylation is an essential biochemical process in the body that plays a significant role in many aspects of health and well-being. It has been linked to immune function, detoxification, mood stabilization, and metabolism. Low levels of Methylation can increase risks for certain diseases and health issues. Still, luckily there are various ways to increase your methylation levels through diet and lifestyle changes. Understanding methylation and how it works in our bodies can improve our overall health and well-being.My husband and I use Methylation Activation daily as it is designed to support the MTHFR mutation AND ensure your body gets the specialized folate, B6, and B12 it needs to support your cellular and organ function. We both feel more alert and focused throughout the day, and our mood is more stable and positive.

2 Forms of Bioactive B12 (Methylcobalamin / Hydroxocobalamin), B6 (P-5-P), and Methyl Folate (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate) For Ultimate Methylation Support

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