The MTHFR Gene

We all have one (or more) thorn in our sides. It’s part of life I suppose. Mine is constant health issues. I’ve had “abnormal,” “interesting,” “rare,” (according to doctors) health issues for most of my life. Since moving to Portland I’ve had a couple really great doctors that are beginning to find the source of these issues. I’m so grateful to live in a city where there are resources to help me. I’ve found doctors who do modern and natural medicine together and give me more than a 15 minute slot to talk through all my “interesting” symptoms. They want to get to the bottom of things and I’m forever grateful. It helps that every year there are advances in medical research as well. The answers I’ve been given thanks to blood tests and genetics testing are helping us move forward but unfortunately I’ll forever be stuck with them. I have many (real) food intolerance’s, a blood disorder, and now I know that I can’t have folic acid. What?! Everyone needs folic acid right? WRONG. 30-40% of people now have a genetic mutation that doesn’t allow their bodies to process folic acid and essentially it makes toxins build up in your body and poisons it over time. Yay.

The MTHFR gene (that’s really the abbreviation for it) is a real bummer and that abbreviation seems fitting to me. My sentiments exactly. What I’ve come to find out is that our bodies need folate, not folic acid and there is a real difference between the two. The reason that the food industry started putting folic acid in food is because it’s a more stable, inactive form of folate (but not folate itslef). The human body has to convert that substance into a form of folate that the body can use. But if you have MTHFR defects, your body can’t convert this folic acid and it builds up in your system building toxins that affect your organs and tissues in very harmful ways. I’ve never been told about any of this by any doctor until now. And if 30-40% of people have this, many unknowingly, that’s pretty frightening to me. Especially for pregnant women and women who are trying to get pregnant. We are poisoning our bodies causing more harm that good if you’re one of those people with this genetic abnormality. It may be part of the reason I had unexplained infertility and that my daughter was born so early, lots of arthritis, stomach trouble, racing heart rate, etc. I’m just beginning my journey of finding out about this unfortunate MTHFR defect. I just wish that our food industry would stop “enriching” our foods which is essentially poisoning a lot of the population and let us get the real folate we need from real food sources.

I’ve been pretty lazy about cutting things out of my diet since I found out, but now knowing that Jenna has this gene too means we’re all the more serious. I’m not okay with giving my daughter foods that will harm her body and cause lifelong issues. It will be a hard transition, no more boxed mac-n-cheese, fortified cereals (which is most cereals), normal bread and countless other things. It’s slightly overwhelming, a bit depressing really, but thankfully it’s manageable. And we do live in Portland where people care about where their chicken was raised, if their food is genetically modified and “fortified” so we’ll be in good company. I also know in the long run we’ll be much healthier but it sure takes a lot of work to get there.

I’m sorry if we become the annoying friends to eat with that have so many restrictions but our health actually does depend on it. And if you have been told by many, many doctors that your symptoms are unusual, or in your head, find a doctor that will really listen and do the tests that need to be done. You may be in the percentage of people who can’t process folic acid and it’s wreaking havoc on your body.


****If you want to read more here’s a blog of a woman who has done a lot more research than I have and a medical article that is helpful.

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