Wanting to Fall Pregnant? My Top 5 Reasons Why MTHFR and Folate are SO Important.
If you are soon planning to fall pregnant, or have perhaps already started trying, I want you to be aware of the incredible importance of your MTHFR gene mutation and folate levels when it comes to fertility and a healthy pregnancy?
You know, so many couples around the world have multiple miscarriages, and they have children born with Spina Bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate, tongue tie and ADD/ADHD and I believe a lot of these shouldn’t have happened. Many of my patients come to see me for the first time and I’m astounded at the number of miscarriages some of them have before they’ve been checked for the MTHFR gene. Quite frankly this is the FIRST thing that anyone thinking of pregnancy should be checking for. Because if you know you have the gene, you can take steps to ensure that your folate levels are good before you try. That’s the great thing about genetics. We can’t do anything about the genes we’ve been given by our parents, but we can change the way they act.
The MTHFR gene affects your active folate levels. And this active folate controls your DNA basically. So if your DNA isn’t great then you will have issues with falling pregnant.
Below are my top 5 reasons why MTHFR and healthy folate levels are just SO important in preconception care and pregnancy.
1. The MTHRF gene can negatively affects your folate levels:
MTHFR stands for methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase.
It’s an enzyme in your body that converts the folate you eat (like in leafy greens and legumes) into the active form called 5-MTHF, or, 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate.
The MTHFR enzyme is the last step in the conversion of your active folate. This means, that if you have a mutation in your MTHFR gene, the ability for your body to create healthy levels of active folate will be affected or decreased. This will result in less active folate available for your body to use in several very important processes.
There are two main MTHFR gene variants:
You have two copies of each gene. One you got from your mum and one from dad. If you have one copy that has a mutation, we call that heterozygous. If you have both copies with a mutation (so you got it from both mum and dad), we call that homozygous. Generally 2 copies of the mutation is going to affect you more than 1.
1 mutated copy of the MTHFR C677T gene would be a heterozygous mutation
2 mutated copies of the MTHFR A1298C gene would be a homozygous mutation
You can read more about this on our ‘What is MTHFR?’ page.
But why are active folate levels so important?
2. You need good folate levels for healthy DNA production:
This is where the main link between MTHFR, folate and preconception arises, as active folate is directly involved in the synthesis of new DNA.
And while we have a constant demand for the production of new and healthy DNA, you can imagine that demand for this is great during pregnancy, when you are growing a new life! If your DNA is not replicating properly, the chances of survival of the baby are slim. Low folate can result in the loss of the baby, problems with the growth of the baby and issues in the child like ADD/ADHD/autism/allergies etc.
3. The great news is the the scientific community is researching this extensively and every day there is more and more research being released that support the importance of the MTHFR gene in your ability to fall pregnant and have a health pregnancy.
So far we know that the research links the MTHFR gene and low folate levels with the following:
• Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)
• Blot clots/ thrombophilia (resulting in RPL) – especially combined with other clotting gene mutations e.g. Factor V Leiden)
• Congential Heart Defects
• Cleft lip/ Palate
• Neural tube defects
• Childhood asthma
• Autism (new emerging link)
• Downs syndrome
4. You need healthy levels of active folate to create ‘methyl groups’:
Active folate plays a key role in the ‘methylation cycle’ – a biochemical pathway that creates molecules called ‘methyl groups’. These methyl groups act as instruction manuals for your DNA and cells, telling them the correct way to ‘behave’, so they do not do anything unwanted (e.g. cause disease or dysfunction within the body). We need healthy levels of these methyl groups to methylate/instruct your DNA, and without it cells are uncontrolled and can start to cause problems.
5. You need healthy levels of active folate to create red and white blood cells:
Red blood cells, white bloods cells and platelets are all vital for both the health of the mother during pregnancy, and also for the health of the child during pregnancy and after birth as they begin to rapidly grow and require lots of energy and nutrients to be carried around the body, and come into contact with bacteria and pathogens that require a capable and strong immune system.
So that you know just how important MTHFR and healthy active folate levels are, here are my top 5 action steps to support them:
1. Get tested!
If you haven’t already, find a doctor or a health practitioner who will give you a referral to uncover both you and your partners MTHFR gene result. Like all things preconception, both partners MTHFR genes play a 50/50 role in the health and development of your new child – so men aren’t immune!
2. Forget the Folic Acid
Work with an MTHFR trained practitioner for at least 3 months before attempting to conceive, to ensure folate levels are at healthy levels.
If you have an MTHFR mutation cease folic acid supplementation, and begin supplementing with active folate. This will bypass your MTHFR mutation, and ensure your levels of active folate increase.
If you uncover that you do not have a MTHFR mutation, active folate is still the far superior form of folate supplementation when compared to folic acid.
The reason is that folic acid is synthetic and man made. It does not occur naturally in the body. It also puts pressure on the gene that pulls your folate into the cell and overloads it, potentially causing a decrease in your active folate.
3. Eat Green Leafy’s and Pulses
While you may be supplementing, it is incredibly important for you to support good folate levels via your diet as well. So consume a bounty of folate rich whole foods in your diet.
• These foods are: Lentils (e.g. green, brown or red)
• Beans (e.g. kidney, pinto or black)
• Green Leafy Vegetables (e.g. spinach, kale and broccoli)
4. Manage your stress
In a world of full schedules and high demands, we are as stressed as we’ve ever been. However, there is almost nothing that chews through our methyl groups the way stress does!
While it can be impossible to eliminate stress, placing some great stress management tools and practices in place is a fantastic step to support your MTHFR gene and body in the lead up to falling pregnant.
5. Have a clean and green lifestyle
Stress, plastics, certain medications, inflammatory and processed foods, synthetic make up and skin care, chemical-based cleaning products and environmental pollutants all place a stress on your MTHFR gene and folate levels. People with the MTHFR gene need to really support liver function as they tend to have a lower level of glutathione (our major antioxidant) . So Clean up your diet, lifestyle and home in preparation for conceiving, in order to support your MTHFR gene and work towards a healthy and thriving pregnancy!
So I’d like to invite you to do my FREE course on the top 10 tips for preconception if you have the MTHFR gene.
https://mthfrsupport.leadpages.co/10-days-healthy-pregnancy-mthf/ (Claire you might want to put the link on the words FREE course.)
You might also like to join one of our FREE webinars on MTHFR and preconception, where you can ask all the questions you like .
And of course if you do have the gene then you definitely need to consider doing a preconception course so you prepare the right way. I have spent 6 months preparing this special course for couples who have the MTHFR gene and want to know the best way to prepare.