Written by: Jonine Möller, M.Sc. in Sport Science
MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) is an enzyme that plays a crucial role in the metabolism of folic acid, a B-vitamin important for DNA synthesis, cell division, and red blood cell production. Variants of the MTHFR gene can affect the activity of this enzyme and, as a result, influence a person's dietary needs.
There are two common MTHFR gene variants: C677T and A1298C. The C677T variant decreases the activity of MTHFR by about 70%, while the A1298C variant decreases it by 30-40%. People with one copy of either of these variants are considered heterozygous, while those with two copies (one from each parent) are considered homozygous.
Individuals with MTHFR gene variants may have increased dietary needs for folic acid (vitamin B9) and other B-vitamins, such as B6 and B12. This is because the reduced activity of MTHFR may affect the body's ability to metabolize these vitamins. In addition, some studies have shown that individuals with MTHFR gene variants may also have higher levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can be toxic in high levels, leading to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and neural tube defects.
To meet increased dietary needs for B-vitamins, individuals with certain MTHFR gene variants may benefit from consuming foods rich in these nutrients, such as leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds. In addition, some individuals may also choose to supplement with a high-quality B-complex vitamin, which can help ensure that they get adequate amounts of all the B-vitamins they need.
It is important to note that not all individuals with MTHFR gene variants will necessarily experience health issues or need to modify their diets. However, if you have concerns about your MTHFR gene status, it may be a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider or a genetic counselor, who can help you determine the best course of action based on your individual needs and circumstances.
In conclusion, MTHFR gene variants can impact dietary needs, and individuals with these variants may need to consume more B-vitamins to support their health. By making informed dietary choices, individuals with MTHFR gene variants can help ensure they get all the nutrients they need to support optimal health and well-being.
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