MTHFR and Pregnancy - what you need to know
What is the importance of MTHFR in pregnancy?
MTHFR is an important enzyme in your body, and is crucial for a successful pregnancy.
MTHFR converts the folate, (a B Vitamin), you eat from your food into the active form of folate your body can use.
And your body needs active folate for a process called methylation, which is vital for just about everything your body does, (including having a baby!)
Like other enzymes in your body, MTHFR is influenced by your genetics.
That means for some people, because of their genetics MTHFR doesn't work properly.
This means there is less active folate available for your body to use.
And that's bad news especially in pregnancy!
Well, you're making a little human inside of you during pregnancy.
Little cells inside your body are dividing and growing super fast.
In order for your cells to divide and grow normally, they need active folate from your MTHFR.
During pregnancy, there's an added HUGE amount of dividing and growing.
And that means a HUGE amount of active folate is needed during pregnancy from your MTHFR.
Without enough active folate, the new baby’s cells don’t grow properly.
This can lead to serious complications, like neural tube defects.
So if your MTHFR doesn't work well, you need extra help.
How do I know if I have an MTHFR problem?
That’s a very important question.
There are certain conditions and symptoms linked to this issue which may give you a clue that you’ve got a problem.
The two most pertinent ones when talking about MTHFR and pregnancy are;
· Having a miscarriage
But there are others also, which can include;
· Anxiousness or depression
· IBS symptoms
· An autoimmune disease
· High homocysteine levels
· Deficiencies in folate, B6 and B12
· Detoxification problems
· Lack of vitality
These things are common for a lot of people, and maybe you’ve got a few of those.
Don’t stress about it though, take action instead.
Find yourself a practitioner who understands what MTHFR is, and how to test for it.
Luckily these days, there is an easy and cheap blood test which they can get for you to find out if you have an MTHFR genetic issue.
So get yourself some help, and get tested.
What do I do if I have an MTHFR problem for Pregnancy?
Your best weapon to tackle this issue, and avoid problems with MTHFR in pregnancy is to boost folate in your diet.
Folate rich foods include;
· leafy green vegetables
· brussel sprouts
· raw nuts & seeds
What about Folic Acid and MTHFR during Pregnancy?
If you have an MTHFR gene variation, then you should avoid folic acid.
That’s a very controversial thing to say, because the current health guidelines recommend supplementing with folic acid during pregnancy.
But there’s something the health guidelines didn’t take into account when they were written.
Can you guess what that is?
That’s right - MTHFR genetic variations!!
Folic acid is a man made form of folate, which blocks active folate production in people with MTHFR gene variants.
It's contained in a lot of fortified breads, baked goods, and cereal products in Australia.
Avoid folic acid fortified foods, and eat plenty of rich natural folate foods if you have MTHFR gene variants.
What supplement do I need for my MTHFR during Pregnancy?
Find out if you’ve got a gene variant first.
If you do need to supplement, (and you should during pregnancy), then make sure you take active folate.
There’s a few different types, such as folinic acid and 5-MTHF.
But there’s also a few variables which need to be assessed first before picking the right type for you.
Best thing to do is get advice from your practitioner on which form of active folate is best for you.
And dose up on leafy green veges!
For more information about MTHFR, methylation, foods and health issues click here.
If you would like even more info about MTHFR, check our Dr Ben Lynch’s website here.
Author: Melissa Aytan, Nutritionist, 2019.
Would you like a consultation with our MTHFR specialist, Melissa Aytan?