There is emerging science on how methylation and gene expression are critical to good health and disease prevention. Now before we dive into this subject let’s define these words:
Methylation – this is a biological process where your body adds a “methyl group” or molecule to another substance to enable it to function properly.
Gene Expression – is the process the body uses to take the information encoded in a gene and use it to direct the assembly of a protein molecule.
Optimal methylation enables gene expression to properly occur. If gene expression is properly used, then the correct protein molecules are created to help people stay healthy.
Another way to state this relationship between methylation and gene expression comes from Life Extension:
“Methylation controls genes that must precisely turn “on” and “off” in order to maintain cellular health.”
This means that proper methylation is essential to maintaining your health and all the biochemical reactions that need to take place. Here’s one example how this works:
Methylation and Gene Expression – Excess Homocysteine
Homocysteine is an amino acid that causes inflammation of the endothelium, which lines all of your cardiovascular system. This inflammation has been associated with both circulatory and neurological concerns.
Proper methylation is used to detoxify homocysteine. This helps to keep its level in check.
As we age, the methylation process can be disrupted.
One of the reasons for this is the inability to convert dietary folate or folic acid into the biologically active formed called methylated folate or 5-MTHF.
Why is this called 5-MTHF? Because there are at least 5 steps the body uses to convert folate to this final form. Here’s the process:
Folate or Folic Acid
(the active form of folate)
The last two steps in the process require a properly functioning methylation process. Not only does 5-MTHF help protect you from homocysteine, but it’s also key to the creation of S-Adenosyl-Methionine, which is commonly called SAMe.
SAMe is needed to properly methylate genetic material.
If your genetic material in not properly methylated, then there is an increased potential for errors in gene expression. These errors can then increase the risk for several types of diseases like:
Which brings us to the question of supplementation in helping to address methylation and gene expression.
There is much that still needs to be discovered in this area. But if you’re getting older, then the use of supplementation can be beneficial. And you have two choices:
Choice #1 – Supplement with 5-MTHF
Choice #2 – Supplement with SAMe
Both types of supplements are available. However, my suggestion would be to opt for 5-MTHF since it is needed for your body to create SAMe. This way your body can utilize 5-MTHF as it needs.
If your body needs more help in addressing homocysteine issues, then it can move 5-MTHF for this concern. If it needs more SAMe to help with gene expression, then it can move 5-MTHF down this pathway.
Finally, here are two links to more information about this area of methylation and gene expression:
https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-role-of-methylation-in-gene-expression-1070/ This link provides information about the importance of methylation in gene expression
https://www.dietvsdisease.org/l-methylfolate-5-mthf/ This link provides information about using 5-MTHF as a dietary supplement.
This is a complex biological issue. But hopefully this article has shed some light on the importance of methylation and gene expression for improved health.
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