Methylation is one of the body’s most important and most common chemical processes. It is a vital metabolic process that happens in every cell and every organ of our body. Life would simply not exist without this process. It takes place more than a billion times per second in the body.
Methylation is the passing of a chemical fragment called a methyl group (a carbon atom linked to three hydrogen atoms) from one molecule to another. To facilitate the attachment of a methyl group to a toxin or other molecule, methyl groups or CH3 can take the form of an anion with 7 or 8 free electrons, or a cation with 6 free electrons. The words anion and cation have to do with the electrical charge of the molecule and nothing more. The correct electrical charge is required for the methyl group to attach to a variety of toxins and other molecules in the body. It is most easily understood by thinking of methylation as a repair process.
Methylation is involved in many functions of the body:
- Modulation of gene expression, affects DNA (genetic coding)
- Process chemical toxins and xenobiotics (chemicals in shampoos, pesticides, herbicides, plastic and more)
- Process hormones, estrogen
- Produces energy or ATP. creatine, CoQ10, carnitine
- Builds immune cells (T cells, NK cells)
- Builds and maintains cell membranes
- Involved in the process of myelination (the protective insulation layer surrounding neurons)
- Builds neurotransmitters (norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, melatonin)
- Metabolizes neurotransmitters such as dopamine and epinephrine
What processes are affected by methylation:
- Detoxification: Methylation is a primary method of removing toxins in the phase 2 liver detoxification system of the body. More precisely, methylation converts toxins of all kinds from insoluble, less soluble or fat-soluble compounds into water-soluble compounds. This, in turn, allows the body to eliminate them more easily. Methylation, in this sense, is somewhat like first tagging toxic substances and then altering them in a way that allows the body to identify them as toxins, and then to eliminate them rapidly and simply. Larger molecules are then able to be eliminated through the bile, while smaller ones pass into the bloodstream and are removed by the kidneys in the urine.
- Neurotransmitter Synthesis and Utilization: Methylation is part of the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin. It also plays a role in breaking down various neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, an energy producing neurotransmitter, and melatonin, which aids in sleep. When these neurotransmitters are in excess insomnia, seizures, panic attacks, rage can be seen.
- Protein synthesis or Genetic Replication: Methylation is a key step in the formation of our enzymes and proteins. This process is called genetic transcription. It involves first making a copy of a section of DNA, which is a strand of RNA. This is the blueprint, as it were, for our proteins. Then the body uses this blueprint to put together the exact proteins that are needed.
- Telomeres Preservation: Methylation is involved in the preservation of the body’s “tails” on its DNA and chromosomes that are called telomeres. Degradation of telomeres is a marker for how fast the body is aging.
- Homocysteine Conversion Into Methionine: Methylation is involved in converting homocysteine, which is a dangerous amino acid when in excess, back into the essential amino acid, methionine. This, in turn, is converted to other amino acids in various biochemical pathways. Approximately fifty percent of the earth population appear to have genetic variants of the MTHFR enzyme causing them to have some difficulty resynthesizing methionine from homocysteine. This can be a factor in cardiovascular disease, depression, fatigue and exhaustion. Relative nutritional deficiencies and toxic metals such as copper and mercury may be interfering with the genetic transcription of the RNA from the DNA. The DNA is not defective and therefore can be corrected.
- Hormonal Regulation: By assisting the liver and for other reasons, methylation is involved in balancing hormones, such as restoring the proper balance of estrogens, for example. This helps reduce the tendency for cancer and for many other health conditions related to a hormone imbalance.
- Inflammation Reduction: Methylation reduces inflammation by toxin removal, hormone balancing, neurotransmitter synthesis, and many others.
- Assists in Protecting the Mitochondria: Methylation assists adaptive energy production significantly. Without adequate methylation, one becomes fatigued and exhausted.
- Restoration of SAMe in the Spinal Fluid and Elsewhere in the Body: SAMe or S-adensylmethionine is a common chemical found in the body. It functions as a methyl donor once it has been restored to functioning by the action of methyl groups. It helps prevent depression, and it has other mental and physical effects on the body.
- Required to Synthesize Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 is necessary for energy production or ATP within the mitochondria therefore it resides in every cell in the body. It is also vital for heart health.
- Increases Muscle Mass: Muscle atrophy is commonly seen in debilitating diseases such as cancer, therefore methylation is important in halting this process.
Methylation reactions are very common in the body and involved in most body functions, to some degree. This is why compromised methylation can cause or contribute to almost all health conditions. Most people today have inadequate methylation. This body system is critical in restoring optimal performance. Many people have tried "detox programs" but methylation is a far more complex biochemical system utilizing sulfur amino acids and the cofactors that drive this pathway.
Methylation defects are tied to a wide variety of conditions:
Addictive Behavior, even alcoholism
Autism or down’s syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis, ALS and other Autoimmune Disorders
Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism
Allergies or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Sensitivity to medications
Low T cells or reduced NK cells
Chronic Viral Infections
Suppressed immune system
ADD or ADHD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Bipolar or manic depression
Restless Leg Syndrome
Frequent miscarriages, infertility