Methylation - A Simple Explanation
"Without methylation you would die in just a few days!"
If your body's methylation is not working at an optimal level it will translate into many different health problems and will accelerate your aging process.
What is methylation?
In simple terms it is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition.
For example, if the antidepressant, ‘feel-good’ brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which in turns leads to depression! This is just one of the many ‘chemicals’ in the body that need to be methylated and if they are not can lead to serious health consequences.
Probably the most important methylation process is when it is applied to homocysteine! Homocysteine is a by product of an important amino acid methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA. Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to methionine. If this process does not happen your body is in for some serious trauma.
Homocysteine is implicated in:
- Heart disease and stroke by encouraging the clumping together of platelets
- Higher levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol from reacting with iron and copper ions to produce free radicals
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Liver Disease
- Aging in general, in that homocysteine is believed to accelerate the destruction of telemores
But all the above is only part of the methylation ‘story’…
Methylation of certain parts of your DNA can switch off unnecessary genes and prevent abnormal DNA division. This means that these abnormalities are not passed on to future generations of cells…a most important component in successful aging.
As we age the methylation processes in our bodies start getting ‘tired’ and become less efficient with a resulting build up of homocysteine, DNA damage and the development of other flow on effects such as depression.
Therefore, if you don’t take steps to ensure balanced methylation then any hope of a long life free of degenerative diseases is only a remote possibility.
As with everything related to successful aging, methylation must be balanced. Too much can be as bad as too little. Fortunately your body will balance your methylation processes providing that you give it the ‘fuel’ to perform the task.
What is the fuel?
There are three groups of compounds that are helpful in methylation with varying levels of efficacy. They are the B Vitamins, B6, B12 and folic acid, Tri-Methyl-Glycine TMG, (also known as Betaine), and SAMe.
The B Vitamins are important but more in the capacity of co-factors rather than being a solution for methylation in their own right. This is because as we get older these vitamins tend to become a bit ‘sluggish’ and as such progressively less effective.
By far the most effective methylating agent is SAMe which stands for S-Adenosyl-Methionine and is a natural chemical found in all living cells. It is formed in the body by combining the amino acid methionine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The science confirming the effectiveness of SAMe as the best methylating agent is indisputable.
It can be taken as a supplement but it is not readily available for two reasons. One is that it MUST be taken in enteric coated form because SAMe is particularly susceptible to stomach acids and two that it is very expensive. We use it in our Neuro-Natural and Total Balance supplements which are enteric coated.
Do not forget that Methylation is only one important component. There are four key components in protecting DNA and aging successfully, free from degenerative disease.
The others are:
About the author
Warren Matthews is the co-founder and Chairman of Xtend-Life Natural Products, a family-owned, integrated manufacturer and distributor of natural supplements and skin care products.
Xtend-Life has since become one of New Zealand's business success stories, renowned for the purity of its ingredients, its innovative formulations and its competitive pricing. The company now sells its expanding range of natural supplements, omega-3 and skin care products each month to thousands of customers in over 40 countries.
You can read his blog at http://blog.xtend-life.com/