MTHFR: What about my kids?
Whether you have kids or are planning to have kids, what should you do if you have an MTHFR Gene Mutation? Remember the MTHFR mutation can cause issues in utilizing folate/folic acid and can cause infertility, mid-line defects, developmental issues, difficulties producing neurotransmitters, depression, anxiety, irritability, learning difficulties, detoxification issues, and other complications. If you are planning to have children methylation status, mineral status, adrenal health, thyroid health, toxic exposure and environmental factors all should be evaluated to ensure a full term healthy pregnancy(Read more on Preconception Planning). But what about your children now? Should you test them or not? What should you be aware of?
First off, it’s normally a good idea to have a nutritionally/MTHFR trained consultant on your side! And remember, I do offer a free 15 min. phone consult to everyone. If someone has MTHFR mutations, It can be been passed on to their offspring. It all depends on homozygous/heterozygous mutations in the parents. Every person has two sets of chromosomes, and only one set gets passed on to their children. So there ends up being four possible combinations of MTHFR 677t and another four for MTHFR 1298. So if a parent is homozygous, has two copies, for 677t we know the child is at least heterozygous, having one copy. If both parents are homozygous from 677t, we know the child will be homozygous as well. If you remember how eye color gets passed down from high school biology, it’s the exact same thing.
Should you test your children? This is completely up to the parents. Would it be nice to know, absolutely! There is more to this than just having the mutation, so there may be things you may want to do first. (Safely Test Your Child For MTHFR). There are many ways to be tested for MTHFR, but you really want to test more than just MTHFR and with a private company that destroys your samples. Maximized Genetics is a perfect place to get tested and is what I recommend to everyone.
What’s the difference in a child with MTHFR and one without? Well, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. There is more to methylation and being optimal than just MTHFR and just because someone has a mutation doesn’t mean it is expressing, or causing a problem at the moment. Your goal will be to limit its ability to express/cause problems. And there are more than just MTHFR SNPs to be aware of. For instance, COMT ++ children and adults tend to have higher IQs but melt under pressure and commonly suffer from anxiety. VDR and GAD SNPS play a role here as well. But just know there is more to the story than just MTHFR. BUT, having MTHFR can cause one to have trouble detoxing from metals (Immune upregulation), trouble producing SAMe and subsequent Neurotransmitters (Depression, anxiety, trouble focusing, fatigue, hyperactivity, etc), trouble breaking down histamine(bad bug bites, irritability, headaches, excessive energy, trouble sleeping, migraines, etc), trouble with antioxidant systems, and increased risk of arteriosclerosis and inflammation. Then there is MTR and MTRR enzymes that are just downstream from MTHFR and I’ve seen many kids do very well on methylcobalamin to support those. We even had a child in the clinic I worked at for a while start talking after he started methylcobalamin. Don’t get lost, the point here is to reinforce the idea that there are other enzymes that are just as important as MTHFR or even more important depending on symptoms. The list goes on and on and continues to grow every month. So don’t get lost or confused, there are things you can do to minimize any of these genes from acting up and causing a problem.
So what do you do?
Making sure the MTHFR enzyme you have has everything it needs to function, would be a great first step. Minerals are important for enzyme activity and production and are the low hanging fruit. Minerals seem to do really well with children, especially zinc, magnesium and balancing copper. RBC analysis and NutrEvals can be extremely helpful in these situations. I’ve seen many hyperactive kids just need a little zinc, iodine, and magnesium and they perform much better in school. Thyroid function is huge in a growing brain and iodine is key to that growth! The thyroid hormone, thyroxine, is also required to activate vitamins(B2) necessary for an optimal MTHFR enzyme as well. Some children do need methyl folate and methylcobalamin (Methyl B12), but the dosages have to be played with till you find a good balance and sometimes that’s not where we need to begin! Not everyone is the same so be careful reading Facebook groups and recommendations from other parents because their child is different than yours. And a multivitamin every day may not cut it. But then again, it might. Confused yet? The point I’m trying to make is there are a lot of things you can do, but it’s going to take some experimenting and watching for changes. ALWAYS, let me repeat, ALWAYS start slow. I’ve seen recommended dosages posted on Facebook, recommended by well-respected physicians and the internet blogs that are WAY too high to start with. It never hurts to half or even quarter a mineral or vitamin recommendation and work your way up.
Reducing metabolic strain on the body can help lower the overall stress on the methylation system as a whole, is a great place to start on your own! like I said, MTHFR and these other SNPs have been around for a long time and only now are we really seeing issues due to our toxic environment. I’ve worked with kids who’s sugar intake was absolutely insane and the parents just couldn’t figure out why the child was acting the way they were. And I mean this kid would come in with jolly ranchers falling out of his pockets, I kid you not. Sugar is neurotoxic and insulin will screw up fatty acid metabolism. None of which needs to be going on in a child with a growing brain, so really pay attention to hidden sugars like soda, cookies, crackers, chips, cereals, drinks, etc. I knew a chiropractor who’s child didn’t know what a cupcake was or an ice cream cone. The child’s teacher actually thought she had a learning disability because she didn’t know what they were on a class test. Kind of funny, but it makes you think. Take a child to the grocery store, what happens? The bakery guys give them free cookies, the cashier gives them a sucker, and the whole time in the store all the children’s products are packed full of sugars. We are doing this to ourselves here! Ok off my soapbox.
Gastrointestinal issues must be addressed as well. Disrupted digestion can hinder nutrient absorption and unbalanced gut flora can cause all sorts of toxic issues. All of which will strain the methylation system. Belly pains, gas, constipation, excessively smelly bowel movements, and diarrhea are all signs of an upset/unbalanced bowel. Your pediatrician may say it ok, it will go away (that was me as a child). But remember, for the most part, they are trained to spot sickness, not to optimize health. If your mommy radar is going off, it’s probably for a reason. That radar is evolutionarily built into you, so listen to it. Many times an Organic Acid Test is a good idea to see what’s going on with the metabolism, vitamins and inside the gut! Gluten and Casein free diets work great for many children. Sometimes even food sensitivity testing can make a huge difference. I had a whole family of autism spectrum children who were sensitive to eggs. Simply removing eggs from the diet changed the whole family for the better. (read more on Food Sensitivities) Green leafy vegetables are a great source of naturally occurring folate and should be a daily dietary item. This is natures methyl folate and your body knows what to do with it as long as synthetic folic acid isn’t being consumed. Gut infections may be more of an issue and a Comprehensive stool test may be required to get a better grip on things. Many issues here can be helped using enzymes, herbals, citrus seed extracts, amino acids, and lifestyle changes but the occasional serious bug might need a referral or something stronger. The more we learn about our gut bacteria, the more we see they have more control over our emotions and thoughts than we ever would have expected.
And remember there is no one size fits all protocol for anyone or any child. That’s my point in the article. Not all supplements should be taken every day and with children, it’s going to take a lot of work from the parents in determining the dosages and timing. As a child becomes whiny and hard to manage, maybe they need some methylated Bs and amino acids. Or maybe they are complete terrors and are over-methylated and need a little niacin to help calm them down a bit. And haphazardly trying to “treat” a SNP, you can cause anxiety, irritability, and other issues. But never rule out just a simple mineral such as zinc.
When it comes to methylated B’s to bypass MTHFR, you must start slow. Like I have said, not all kids need them. There are some multivitamins (Maximized Genetics) that are great for some kids. But not all kids can tolerate them. Oat testing is a great place to start with kids. As well we have methylation panels to see what’s going on there. (The Two Tests For Anyone With MTHFR)
And one last thing, as I’ve said before, MTHFR mutations have been around for a LONG time. So a lot of this is environmental/Epigenetic and you need to watch environmental factors. When the sun is down, its bedtime and when the sun is up, it’s time to play. Processed foods, excessive sugar, excessive antibiotics, unfiltered water, excessive toxic exposures, excessive vaccines, not enough whole foods (Especially raw leafy greens), synthetic vitamin intake, etc all are where you may want to spend your time and money. If a child is symptomatic get them to a nutritionally trained practitioner. But genes are not the complete story. And many of these SNPS don’t start expressing till later in life or from a chemical exposure or emotional trauma. Let kids be kids, play in the dirt, get sick, and support their amazing bodies with a healthy diet as they grow. It’s easy to take the shortcut for dinner and swing through a fast food joint but that’s a step in backward every time you do it. We can limit the bad genetic expression utilizing common sense and knowledge of our environments interplays with our own genes. Being a parent isn’t easy, and I applaud you.