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Hi,

I came across an article about MTHR here on the site, and when I have a glance at this, and some other sites after subsequent Googling, I understand that it means that really a lot of people suffer from an MTHFR mutation.

And maybe I am misunderstanding the articles I've been reading, but I don't really get what MTHFR actually is, what the MTHFR gene is, and how the mutations work, because there are several and you can have one or two copies, or one copy of one and one of another, and I would like to find out how it actually works. And whether MTHFR is as widepespread as we are made to believe.

It sounds like almost half of the world's population is chronically ill. Some places I've read really seem to be oriented towards making money off other people's fears.

And I think that is a very bad approach. But, gene mutations obviously can take place, and they are very hard to understand by a layperson.

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MTHFR is an enzyme that plays an important role in processing amino acids, and the letters stand for methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase. MTHFR is needed to process vitamin B9, also known as folate, specifically.

An MTHFR mutation is a mutation of the MTHFR gene, which gives instructions to the body on how to make that enzyme.

More severe MTHFR mutations have definitively been connected to serious conditions: spina bifida, anencephaly (where a baby has only a rudimentary brain and dies before or shortly after birth), and homocystinuria, in which homocysteine cannot be processed adequately.

Everything else is still up in the air, with some studies finding links and others not.

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And you're right. Some people really do make it sound like half of the world's population is chronically ill. This is particularly apparent if you Google "MTHFR naturopath" :). There is another term for that: "cash cow".

Like anti-vaccination and autism before, MTHFR mutations are now a valuable source of income on which a whole industry is based. This industry is not, unfortunately, based on the best thing we have available to us, and that is science.

You have people going through 23 and me to have the MTFR test done without their doctor's advice and then interpreting those results by themselves.

My advice? Don't get into it unless your doctor also sees the need.

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C677T and A1298C are the most frequently seen MTHFR mutations. These are involved in breaking down homocysteine, and this is an amino acid that needs to be broken down when you take in certain B vitamins. Folate, the active form of folic acid, is not an issue, but folic acid is, along with B6 and B12. You then end up with low levels of these vitamins, which can lead to a bunch of symptoms such as fatigue and low energy, and perhaps also increase your risk of heart disease and other conditions, such as miscarriage. 

Anyone who has any reason to suspect they might have an MTHFR mutation can ask their doctor about an MTHFR test, or go to 23 and me. 

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Hi Pickle, 

It's my understanding that an MTHFR mutation can be a big deal, but not necessarily. MTHFR mutations only cause issues if they lead to low homocysteine levels, which is not always the case. Incidentally, getting your homocysteine levels tested is also a whole lot easier and cheaper than going for an MTHFR test. 

If you look around on the web, you see a whole load of hysteria, usually not provided by medical professionals, and a little slice of sanity, usually provided by medical professionals. Don't get caught up in the wave, and don't worry about MTHFR unless you have serious symptoms potentially associated with it. 

HTH

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Yeah, I gotta admit... I stay up to date on health news because who isn't interested in that, but whenever I read something apocalyptic that suggests nearly everyone (as it were, or actually in some cases) is suffering from X thing, it usually goes in one ear, out the other...

MTHFR mutations may be pertinent to people who have symptoms or illnesses associated with them, as far as I understand it, but it's nowhere near like everyone and their dog and uncle need to go out and get the MTHFR test yesterday. Basically, if you're someone who sees a GP/family doctor and follows that up with referrals if you get them, when something's up with you, you don't need to worry about this. If your doctor thinks you have an MTHFR mutation, they'll advise you to get tested. If not, ignore.... this stuff really, really don't apply to everyone.

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That is not quite true. 

You should get tested for MTHFR mutations if you suffer from depression, repeated miscarriages, insomnia, you have preeclampsia during a pregnancy, you are an alcoholic or other substance abuser, or you are on dialysis. This all relates to conditions that could be caused by, or worsened by, MTHFR mutations. 

Testing is available. It doesn't even have to be very expensive. Why wouldn't you want to know about a genetic mutation you suffer from if knowing you have it could improve your quality of life? MTHFR mutations are a very real medical state, and if you have one, you should know about it. 

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Others would add a lot more to that list! Everything from stroke, migraine, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, etc, etc, is attributed to MTHFR mutations. The thing is, some medical conditions are legitimately related to MTHFR mutations and solvable by making dietary changes.... I'm not denying that.

What I guess I'm saying is... if you do have a doctor you trust (and if you don't you should look for another one) you can ask them whether it's good to do this or be tested for that (including MTHFR mutations) rather than being led up the garden path by the internet! There's no magic pill, folks. That's all I am saying...
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