MethyleneTetraHydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) – What’s Up


Kathleen wants “a quick overview of MTHFR gene and what it means for those who need to take iron in terms of the best kind.”

MethyleneTetraHydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR) is a big, big topic nowadays. Medical poobahs tell us it comes from a genetic defect and causes a wide array of ills nobody wants. Up to 50% of us are said to have the defective gene.

The result of this defect, they say, is an inability to handle folic acid, otherwise known as vitamin B9.

B9 is important as a methyl donor. Without getting into an encyclopedia’s worth of explanation, let me just say that methyl donors help create energy, slow down aging, keep dementia at bay, and on, and on.


Poobahs started chanting that folic acid is useless. Instead, they say, we should take folate, a newer, better form of B9.

And they’re working to entice enough bureaucrats to write regulations banning the sale of anything, including supplements, containing “evil” folic acid.

Why? Hardworking folic acid is very forgiving, dumping any excess into your urine so it goes away. All three forms of folate have more rigid standards, and since overdosing is possible, folate “needs” to be regulated. As in, say, a pre$cription with regular te$ting.

At the same time, pharmaceutical companies are trying to convince the government to overlook the law and allow them to patent the natural substance, folate. Patents bring in big money.

But why folate? As one of its many wonders, folic acid lowers homocysteine (homo SISS teen) levels, a good thing since high levels lead to heart attacks.

Satin drugs

Cholesterol has never been a problem, but as long as statin drugs were raking in the dough, that’s all we heard about. But bit-by-bit, statins are losing their appeal, what with causing a mountain of side effects whilst not preventing heart attack deaths. In fact, statins can cause heart trouble.

So, with the statin gravy train showing signs of slowing, a new heart disease cash cow had to be found. Voila! Folate! That’s the ticket!

Unlike all the statin claims, the folate push offers some truth: High homocysteine levels actually do point to an increased heart attack risk. And lowering homocysteine levels can, in fact, prevent heart problems.

Here’s the big however: Any inability to fight homocysteine doesn’t come from a genetic defect, but from years of inadequate nutrition that leaves our bodies defenseless. And since what’s described to us as good nutrition is actually bad nutrition, high homocysteine (among many other problems) besets us. It’s not that the gene can’t work, but that it’s out of gas.


People diagnosed with MTHFR are low in zinc, molybdenum, the B vitamins-most vitamins, in fact. Switching to a good diet and boosting your nutrition with a solid, customized-to-your-specific-needs vitamin/mineral/etc. program is the way to go, and I cover how to do this in my Moving to Health program.

Or you can research it on your own. Please notice the word “research.” Randomly popping supplements of unknown quality may help-after all a MTHFR diagnosis means your body’s starving-no matter what the scale says-so even a little help is good news. But healing starts with understanding what your body needs.

Determining your needs and building a program to meet those needs doesn’t happen overnight, though. For one thing, the body can’t handle a tsunami of good news all at once; you have to step it out, allowing your body get used to new normals as you go.

I realize you don’t want to hear any one-step-at-a-time talk. You want to feel hale, hearty and on-top-of-the-world no later than, say, yesterday. All I can tell you is it won’t take nearly as long to get out of your mess as it did to get into it-once you get started.

Homocysteine blood test

In the meantime, get a homocysteine blood test. You want to be in the low-normal range-or even lower.

If you test high, you might consider trimethylglycine (TMG), which is a combination of three methyl groups (each if which is a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms-CH3) and the amino acid, glycine.

It lowers homocysteine levels pretty quickly, and when you’re too malnourished for folic acid to do its thing, TMG could be the ticket you need.

It’s best to take TMG away from food, with water no warmer than room temperature.

If your body doesn’t like it, stop taking it. You may be too nutritionally depleted even for TMG, so keep on with the vitamin/mineral program and try TMG (and/or folic acid) again down the road. (I write about folic acid and TMG in Moving to Health.)

As to Kathleen’s question about taking iron, just say no. Iron rockets out of control way too easily and rusts out body parts. Rusty parts don’t work well.

If you are hypothyroid, tests will say you need iron, but you don’t; you need thyroid hormone.

If your molybdenum is low, as it is for many MTHFR people, tests will say you need iron, but what you really need is a solid vitamin/mineral program.

A healthy body takes care of MTHFR.

A final note: When I take folic acid, my homocysteine level is excellent. When I take folate, my homocysteine level pushes higher-into dangerous territory. I come from a family with heart problems as far as the eye can see, so I notice these things.

God is good,

Bette Dowdell   
Too Pooped to Participate

Copyright by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved

P.S. Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how things work-or don’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free e-zine at Information is power.

Bette Dowdell

Bette Dowdell writes about taking control of your own health because that's the only choice life gave her.

Bette Dowdell

Bette Dowdell writes about taking control of your own health because that's the only choice life gave her.

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