DNA Methylation: What to Know About This Biological Process
We get it: methylation is a seriously scientific term that might be causing you to scratch your head a little. But little did you know that this biological process impacts your health in many, many ways – all without you even realizing what’s going on.
Buckle up. Here’s what DNA methylation is and why it’s important.
What is DNA methylation?
DNA methylation is the process of transferring four atoms into various substances in your body. Or, to break it down even further, methylation is the process your body uses to add methyl groups to the DNA molecule, thereby changing the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequence. Our bodies require methylation for normal development, plus things like:
- Turning gene expression on and off
- Detoxification of free radicals
- Building neurotransmitters
- Processing hormones
- Building immunity
- DNA and RNA repair
- Producing energy at the cellular level
- Producing the protective coating of nerve cells
What’s really astounding about methylation is how often it’s happening within your body – to the tune of 30 trillion times per second. Yes, that’s right: once per second, methylation happens in every single cell in your body.
What affects methylation?
In a perfect world, DNA methylation happens perfectly, and we have nothing to worry about. But hey, life happens. Methylation is affected by numerous factors, including:
- Heavy metals
- Nitric oxide
- Gut Health
In order to support the methylation process, some people need a little extra help. Methylation needs co-factors like zinc, magnesium, B2, B6, B12, Lithium, and choline to function properly. People with certain SNPs of the MTHFR gene or those with poor nutrition may need to modify their diet and/or possibly supplement these vitamins and minerals to improve methylation. Other genes that impact methylation include MTHFD and PEMT.
How can I optimize my body’s methylation?
While this is barely scratching the surface of what methylation is, here are a few tips on how to optimize your methylation:
- Get plenty of B vitamins in your diet. Eat plenty of leafy vegetables. You can also try to add in some SMASH fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and organ meat.
- Increase choline intake. Foods high in choline include organ meats, eggs, fish, nuts, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. Be careful with these foods if you have high Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).
- Skip out on processed foods. They lack nutrient density and are harmful to overall health.
- Take it easy on the alcohol and caffeine. Consume caffeine and alcohol in moderation as overconsumption tends to have a very negative impact on your vitamin B levels.
- Break a sweat. Research has shown that exercise can have a significant impact on methylation.
As you can tell, methylation is a complex process with a lot of variables at play. But with our advanced testing processes, we can get a bird's eye perspective of your methylation by looking at your genetics and your labs. For example, your homocysteine levels along with the number of B vitamins in your blood help us know how your body is actually methylating. Your SNPS will show us if you’re naturally prone to poor methylation. Together, we get a good picture of how everything is going, and we can develop a plan to improve and maintain our methylation.
Want to learn more about how you’re methylating and what we can do to optimize your methylation? Reach out to us today.