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B Vitamins are NOT Created Equal 

May 10, 2022

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You’ve likely heard about the importance of B vitamins. Very simply put, they are essential for the body to function properly. They help create new blood cells, convert food into energy (metabolism), and maintain healthy brain cells, skin cells, and other tissues. They are a group of 8 individual B vitamins that function together but also each have their own roles in the body. 

Okay so you can just take a B Complex and call it good right? Wrong. 

There is this thing called “methylation” and it is incredibly important. Sadly, it is NOT talked about enough considering at least 68% of the population has a genetic mutation impacting this process. 
Methylation is a vital biochemical process in our body. It helps to turn physiologic functions off and on and helps regulate our metabolic, cardiovascular, neurologic, detoxification, and reproductive systems, among many others. Methylation affects nearly every essential process in the body and takes place approximately one billion times per second! Methylation converts folate (B9) into its bioactive form called methylfolate or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). Now that folate is fully activated and can work as a methyl donor for those widespread health functions mentioned earlier. 

But, if you are one of the 68% that has a genetic defect in your MTHFR gene, you will have some serious issues with this methylation process. (We can check this with a simple blood test at our office.) Some signs of this include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mental illness
  • Cancers 
  • ADHD / Adolescent behavior issues
  • Addiction 
  • Chronic pain and fatigue
  • Cardiovascular and thromboembolic disorders
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Brain fog

But you just said it’s a genetic mutation, so what can I do about that? Aren’t I stuck with those defective genes? No! In fact, optimizing methylation even when you are born with a MTHFR mutation is not as complex as you may imagine. 

What to avoid if you have a MTHFR mutation: 

Fortified foods and supplements that contain “folic acid” (the fake form of folate). Protein bars, shakes, cereals, packaged foods like grains, rice, pastas, and drinks, etc. 

Because if you have a MTHFR mutation, your body is not able to properly convert folic acid into the active 5-MTHF form, and in fact, it actually leads to slowing down the pathways and contributing to the negative symptoms listed above. 

But don’t they tell you to take large amounts of folic acid when trying to conceive or while on medications like methotrexate? Yes, they do. And we can’t express to you how maddening this is! Large doses of folic acid if you have a MTHFR mutation are actually going to make your chances of a healthy pregnancy or avoidance of medication side effects WORSE! 

This is also true for the other B vitamins like B12. Consuming or injecting the non-methylated form (cyanocobalamin) will likely result in a worsening of symptoms, versus the increase in energy you were hoping for. This is why our B12 injections, IVs, and supplements are the methylcobalamin form. And patients will tell you they definitely feel the difference! 


What to do if you have a MTHFR mutation: 

Make sure your B vitamins are all in their active forms–5-MTHF (folate), methylcobalamin (B12), pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (B6), and riboflavin 5′-phosphate (B2), as examples. 

Consume foods rich in natural, activated B vitamins like asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green leafy vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, organ meats. 

Engage in regular exercise/movement. Avoid toxic exposures that negatively impact our methylation pathways. 

If you made it this far, congrats! Methylation is a lot to wrap your mind around, but so incredibly important. Contact us if you want more information or to find out if a MTHFR mutation could be negatively impacting your health. 

  • Keri is the owner and one of our specialized practitioners at Nebraska Functional Medicine. You'll find her continually researching the latest science and connecting with renowned physicians to guide her care. Outside of the clinic, she is soaking up time as a momma to her littles and fulfilling her wanderlust.