Supporting MTHFR with Nutrition During Pregnancy
What is MTHFR?
MTHFR and pregnancy is a hot topic lately, especially in those who have struggled with infertility. So what is MTHFR and how does it play a role in pregnancy?
MTHFR is a gene in the body helps to provide the body with sufficient methylfolate (also known as B9, which is super important for many of our body’s functions) by converting folic acid into folate’s active form, methylfolate. The MTHFR genetic mutation that affects approximately 1 in 2 people and can be very detrimental to the body since it prevents proper methylation. If the body does not have enough methylfolate, then homocysteine levels will naturally rise. Homocysteine is an amino acid naturally found in the body, but high levels are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular issues and B vitamin deficiency.
This is why knowing your genetic status is extremely important prior to, and during, pregnancy. Getting tested is a simple blood test that your healthcare provider should be able to order for you. You can also test yourself through companies like 23 and Me or Any Lab Test Now.
How to Work With a MTHFR Mutation
Once you have your results, supporting MTHFR through pregnancy requires a few key steps. Eliminating folic acid from your diet and supplements is crucial. Folic acid is a synthetic form and can be very difficult for the body to process, especially if you lack the genetic makeup to convert it from its synthetic form into a usable form.
Folic acid can be found in a wide variety of supplements, especially certain prenatals and B complex supplements. Replace your supplements containing folic acid with methylfolate instead. Reading labels is key when it comes to picking the correct supplement. Dosage is important when it comes to supplementing methylfolate: for pregnant or breastfeeding women, at least 2mg (2000mcg) daily is necessary. If you are homozygous for MTHFR (you have two copies of the genetic mutation), then at least 3mg (3000mcg) per day is necessary. An ideal option would be Thorne Methyl Guard Plus in addition to your prenatal vitamin, as most prenatals contain less than 1mg of methylfolate.
Folic acid is also added into food products, mainly grain products. Any products made with wheat will automatically have added folic acid into them. By avoiding wheat products (bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) and other processed foods, you will reduce your intake of folic acid as well. Instead, focus on eating more leafy greens, which naturally contain methylfolate to support your pregnancy. It is best to try to eat these in raw form (salads or smoothies) rather than cooking them over a higher heat. If the thought of raw greens make you nauseous during pregnancy, try adding a green food powder in a smoothie.
For more information and research on MTHFR look into the work of Dr. Ben Lynch or reach out to your local BIRTHFIT Regional Director or BIRTHFIT Professional!
Morgan Ihrig, DC
BIRTHFIT South Austinwww.birthfitsouthaustin.com www.instagram.com/birthfitsouthaustin