Beating MTHFR: The “Migraine Gene”

If one of your parents has migraines, you are 40% more likely to have them too. Furthermore, if both of your parents have migraines, that number jumps to 90%. There is a genetic connection, and therefore migraines could be considered hereditary.  However there is something you can do to correct the migraine gene.

MTHFR mutation is the migraine gene. 

“The MTHFR gene instructs the body to make an enzyme necessary to convert vitamin B9 into a usable form. This enzyme is also important in the process of converting homocysteine into methionine — an amino acid the body needs for growth and metabolism. Methylation, a process involving a methyl group activating an enzyme, is also associated with the MTHFR gene. Proper methylation enables the body to detoxify toxic metals, toxins, and other wastes more efficiently.” – Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

The lower the methylfolate level, the more migraine symptoms you will experience.

There are a few reasons why methylfolate cannot reach adequate levels. Among them include:

  1. Supplements that are fake or have fillers;
  2. Folic acid a, synthetic version of folate, must go through an extensive conversion process;
  3. The methylation cycle, which is affected by headache triggers, causes the systems to speed up and the MTHFR gene to “break;”
  4. Vitamin deficiency.

mthfr-the-migraine-geneFake Supplements
A number of supplements found at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, and GNC are fake and loaded with fillers.  In 2015, the New York State Attorney General’s office found that most supplements did not contain the ingredients that were listed on the label.  Therefore, taking over-the-counter supplements to increase folate may not be doing you any good.

Folate and Folic Acid

Folic acid is a cheap and synthetic form of folate. It has to be converted by DHFR enzymes, and unnaturally depleting these is dangerous since they are needed to recycle folate in the brain and prevent neurological damage.  Additionally, high folic acid levels could prevent methylfolatefrom reaching the brain.  It is also linked to increased risk of some cancers like breast, lung, prostate, and colon.

Folic acid is usually added to processed foods, which can lead to migraine triggers.  Additionally, the FDA has proposed stopping “folate” from being added to labels, so you would never know how much you are eating.

The Methylation Cycle

The MTHFR gene is affected by many headache triggers in the methylation cycle.  If any part of the system speeds up (like stress or digestion triggers), the whole system will speed up until a weak link breaks, which is usually the MTHFR gene. This will produce migraine symptoms.

A system functioning too quickly could be damaging even to healthy individuals without MTHFR mutation, limiting their body’s ability to create methylfolate.  For example, hypothyroidism speeds up the cycle by increasing stress and decreasing vitamin B levels. As you know, migraineurs are likely to have hypothyroidism.

Methylation is responsible for:

  • Cell regeneration
  • Energy production
  • Serotonin production
  • Dopamine production
  • Regulation of DAO hormones
  • Stress hormone regulation

It may also control:

  • Stress levels
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Glutamate production
  • Weight gain
  • Detoxification

The goal is to reduce the triggers that make this cycle speed up.

Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin deficiencies play a huge role in migraines and are very common in those with the MTHFR mutation.  The methylation cycle requires the use of B vitamins, especially B9 and B12. Taking one (B9) without the other (B12) can lead to problems.

Beating the Migraine Gene

Low functioning MTHFR genes can lead to:

  • Migraines
  • Poor digestion
  • Vitamin deficiency

In order for this gene to function properly, we need both methylfolate (B9) and methylcobalamin (B12).  Taking both, or a B complex vitamin, would be beneficial to migraineurs. This will not simply mask symptoms, but eliminate the underlying cause of migraines.

Essentially, this is a “cure” for migraines, if indeed you have the mutation.

The elimination diet will go a long way to helping you as well, because it will remove processed foods (excess folic acid) and other sensitivities.  This will lead to higher methylfolate conversion and reduce headache risk.

Foods that will help in this process include:

  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Beans and lentils
  • Avocados
  • Seafood and poultry

While there is a genetic link to migraines, that does not mean you are without hope of treatment.  You can use natural ways to increase methylfolate conversion. Remove processed foods from your diet and add good supplements without added fillers. As with all health suggestions, check with your doctor first before starting any supplements or diet changes.


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