MTHFR, children and the right kind of folate for healthy development

MTHFR, children and the right kind of folate for healthy development

THE BEST TYPE OF FOLATE FOR CHILDREN especially those with the inherited MTHFR, MTHFS or FOL2 receptor gene mutations

Children grow so fast and are quick to respond to the right kind of nutrition. Knowing this we can help our little ones reach their full potential by helping them get the right nutrition whilst young. Treating whilst young has a strong influence on healthy adulthood and mature years.

As bio-available folate flows on to all aspects of our children’s health, it is important to get it right! Bioavailable folate occurs when our body breaks down food and has a role in hundreds of pathways including mood, ability to detox, immunity and growth.

Children who are low in or unable to absorb this vital nutrient may be underweight, suffer ongoing health complaints such as infections, palpitations, histamine or fructose reactions or tummy aches. It is also linked to autism and neurotransmitter changes.

The main genes involved in breakdown of folate and absorption are the folate receptors FOL1 FOL2 FOL3.

DHFR, MTHFS (creates folinic acid) and MTHFR

Many parents don’t realise that the folate receptors may be far more important than the MTHFR gene. This is because even if you have excellent break down of folate (DHFR, MTHFS and MTHFR) IT MAY NOT ENTER THE CELLS if receptors are blocked or not functioning well. If you have both breakdown and receptor issues then bioavailable folate may be quite low indeed within cells.

SO, HOW BEST TO ASSIST THIS?

FIRST PRIORITY

If you have or suspect your child has an MTHFR defect the first thing to do is to remove substances that block folate breakdown and entry into our tissues. This is MORE important than taking methylfolate because unmetabolised folate looks like bioavailable folate, but isn’t, so it is taken up into our receptors and blocks them. Unmetabolised folate is labelled as FOLATE or FOLIC ACID and is added to most breads and cereals. It is the type used in most mainstream, over the counter, multivitamins prescribed and advertised on TV.

GLUTEN also looks like folate to the body and will be taken up into folate receptors, thereby blocking bioavailable folate from entering. This is a main reason why many people feel unwell on gluten, yet do not have coeliac disease. Beware as many gluten free products have folate/folic acid added.

SECOND – IMPROVE THE FUNCTION OF THE MTHFR GENE ENZYME

VITAMIN C improves the MTHFR enzyme and has been shown to help concentrate methylfolate within the central nervous system (CNS). Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (niacin /nicotinamide) also improve the MTHFR function. These nutrients combined with plenty of leafy greens in the diet will improve uptake and making of bioavailable folate.

THE RIGHT FOLATE is found in leafy green vegetables, sprouts and lettuces. Barley grass is an excellent source of naturally occurring folate and makes the ideal supplement. I give all my family members who are homozygous MTHFR on a daily basis and keep them gluten free.

THIRDLY – supplement if needed only and with the right type.

Methylfolate is fully broken down folate and may be necessary for some children. It can cause rapid methylation in some people, resulting in aggravations (especially those with COMT gene mutations). Some children may be intolerant also of FOLINIC ACID (often referred to as active folate), if they have mutations on the MTHFS genes and are unable to break down folinic acid.

If in doubt stick with the above first and second recommendations.

So, you can see how useful it is to know the full folate picture not just the MTHFR gene. At the Blossom clinic (blossomclinic.com.au ) we use the full genome when establishing which diet, lifestyle and nutrients will suit each child.

All the best in health and happiness to you and your family Karen Chipperton

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