How your Nutrition & Genetics may be affecting your Pregnancies
If you have heard me speak before about genetics you likely have heard the word “Methylation,” this is an important process that can be greatly affected by your genetics.
Methylation is a chemical process that happens in your body that affects over 250 different processes and functions, It is estimated that upwards of 70% of the population may have significant reductions in their efficiency to methylate.
When this happens a process can get greatly slowed down and you can have severe consequences in your health – it can be thought of not having enough gas in your car, your body can not run properly.
In particular, we can speak of Folate, we know this nutrient is absolutely critical to healthy development of babies. Folate is affected by the MTHFr genes in your DNA. There are about 150 different types of this vitamin in foodà known as folate. And then the synthetic man-made version called “folic acid”
Folate is the backbone to numerous processes in the body:
- Making neurotransmitters
- Building DNA
- Blood cells
- Your immune system
it is incredibly far-reaching in its importance in your body, and affects how you think and feel. Your Genetics affect this because it takes 5 different steps in your body to transform folic acid into folate – to be methylated into its active form so that is can be transported into the cells and used. Your Genes set up how you make the enzymes for this transformation to take place (MTHFR is the last step in this process that you often hear about).
What does this have to do with pregnancy?
First off, I can think of hardly anyone that is eating enough dark leafy greens (where folate is naturally active and occurring) to get a high enough intake of the nutrient for living normally – I work with a lot of those people.
But especially, when the demand for folate is even higher when you are pregnant.
So what do people do?
They eat foods that are “enriched” or “fortified” with folic acid, or they take a prenatal or multi vitamin with folic acid.
Remember, folic acid is the inactive form, so your body has to transform it to use it, which many of us do not do well. So you may not only have a small amount of active (methylated) folate available for all for all of those critical functions, you can get a build up of the inactive form in your body when you get it from outside sources because you can not transform it and use it.
This can hurt you by blocking your bodies ability to then even absorb that natural folate from those dark leafy greens.
So can you see how we may develop a problem?
So you are then deficient in this nutrient, and likely other critical B vitamins such as B12, B6, B2 because their systems work in tangent with this folate pathway.
So you can have a multiple B vitamin deficiencies when you are trying to conceive or are pregnant and not getting those important nutrients.
Now I won't go to far into it but guess what also causes deficiencies in these same vitamins? Hormonal birth control, yup, the pill, hormonal iud's, etc… how many women have been on birth control, possibly even for decades?
Guess what this is linked to:
- a high rate of miscarriages
- infertility/ inability to conceive
- gestational diabetes
- post partum depression
And of course issues with the baby while it is in the fetus and after birth:
- if severe enough, neural tube defects
- immune system issues
- possibly autism
- learning disabilities
- downs syndrome
- failure to thrive/ lack of growth
- other developmental issues
Because development then does not stop after you give birth. You may be breastfeeding which means you can also pass that inactive folic acid to your baby, who may also have issues with methylation (inherited so if you do they likely do) and then can not either turn that into the active form, creating the similar issues of deficiency.
Risk of so many diseases and issues goes up.
Folate: occurs naturally in food
Folic Acid: synthetic version - must be transformed in body to be used.
Many people have genetically been set up to not be able to transform and use this well in their body which creates nutritional deficiencies. You may have even experienced some of those issues I mentioned earlier.
Taking Folic acid, whether you have methylation issue or not a good idea. Take the active form. Many Doc’s still are yet to realize all of this information, so even if your doctor recommended a supplement to you, please check it yourself.
Look for words like 5-MTHF, L-Methyltetrahydrofolate, folinic acid. Likely a blend between those.
If you would like to learn more about this, genetics and how it affects your nutrition and health please schedule your free consult now