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Found: The Easy, Inexpensive Fix for the Vitamin Glitch That’s Making Women Tired

It helped one woman recover her energy and vitality when nothing else did!

Frustrated by feeling foggy and fatigued despite doing all the ‘right’ things? You could be suffering from a breakdown in a body process known as methylation. Methylation is essential for the function of almost all our body systems, says Mark Hyman, MD. And though he estimates nearly every woman over 40 is affected by a downturn in methylation, you don’t need to live with the drain. Just ask Kim Baughman. She had a nutrient-processing glitch that left her feeling tired and achy — until she discovered methylated vitamins.

What is methylation?

Methylation is a biochemical process that occurs in the body when CH3, a combination of one carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms, bonds to DNA and other molecules. “Methylation is critical for conducting chemical reactions that produce cellular energy; assist in nerve, muscle and brain function; detoxify the body; repair DNA and keep inflammation in check,” notes Dr. Hyman. Taz Bhatia, MD, adds, methylation is also crucial for nutrient absorption; plus it helps regulate mood and immune function.

But Dr. Hyman estimates that more than 90% of women over 40 suffer from poor methylation to some degree. And draining symptoms are all-too-common result. “When methylation breaks down, body systems go haywire, producing fatigue, brain fog and mood changes, as well as increasing the risk of concerns like cancer,” he explains.

What causes methylation to falter

Methylation declines naturally with age. In fact, findings in the journal Human Genomics show the process decreases sharply in our 50s and continues to drop over time. But women of any age can suffer from poor methylation due to genetic makeup. The reason: A gene known as MTHFR is crucial for making an enzyme that plays a key role in methylation. And according to a study in the journal RBGO Gynecology, at least 49% of us harbor a variation in the MTHFR gene that hinders methylation.

What’s more, modern-day lifestyles can leave women lacking in vitamins that optimize methylation, like vitamin D, vitamin B12 and folate. As experts in the Journal of Internal Medicine note, limiting exposure to the sunlight that helps us produce vitamin D can produce shortfalls in the vitamin. Plus, findings in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal as many as 87% of plant-based eaters are low in B12.

And a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests half of Americans suffer from folate deficits. Complicating matters further: variations of the MTHFR gene can blunt the body’s ability to process these Bs. So unless women opt for taking methylated vitamins such as methylcobalamin and methylfolate, even supplementing with B12 and folate may not deliver methylation benefits.

Is a methylation breakdown triggering your tiredness?

tired woman; methylated vitamins

Doctors can diagnose poor methylation with genetic testing and blood tests. And since methylation problems produce telltale symptoms, suspect impairments in the process if you experience the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Memory lapses
  • Indigestion
  • High blood pressure

How to boost methylation naturally

Though experts say slow methylation is widespread among women, they also have good news to report: It’s easy to enhance methylation and restore health and vitality. Here’s what they advise:

Take methylated vitamins

Supplementing with B12 and folate can enhance methylation. Problem is, poor methylators can’t efficiently convert synthetic forms of the nutrients into their biologically active forms. A better bet: Methylated vitamins such as methylcobalamin and methylfolate, which are already active forms. To boost methylation, Dr. Taz recommends supplementing with 50 mcg of methylcobalamin and 400 to 800 mg of methylfolate daily.

Fill up on these foods

eggs, fish, beef; methylated vitamins

Dr. Taz advises eating 1 to 2 servings of spinach, romaine, kale, cabbage, broccoli, berries, oranges and grapefruit daily, since they’re packed with methylfolate. And to boost B12 as well as folate, Fred Pescatore, MD, advises enjoying beef, fish, shellfish and eggs, which are good sources of both nutrients.

Add a dose of D3

In a PLoS One study, taking 4,000 IU of D3 daily enhanced methylation by 66% within 16 weeks. To get the perks, take your supplement with a meal that contains some fat. Experts at Tufts University found the strategy boosted absorption of D3 vitamin by 32%.

Methylation success story: Kim Baughman

“Let me just lie down on the couch for a minute,” Kim Baughman muttered to herself after returning home from an early morning trip to the market. “Minutes ticked by, then hours…I couldn’t summon the energy to move even though I knew I needed to get up and turn those new groceries into dinner for my family. When my husband got home from work that evening, I was still in the same spot. All I could say was, ‘I’m sorry.’ Another entire day wasted. I just couldn’t make my body do what my heart wanted to do.

“That was a few years ago, when it felt like I was walking through quicksand all day. Extreme fatigue, brain fog and arthritis-like pain made everything a slog. Even simply mustering the energy to take a shower would send me back to the couch to rest. People told me it was stress, but I knew there had to be something else going on.

Doctors couldn’t help Kim

“When I gained 30 unexplained pounds, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor. ‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’ he quipped. ‘You’re just getting older.’ That only made me more frustrated.

“Two more doctors echoed the same thing, telling me to ‘eat better and exercise.’ But I had already cut sugar and dairy out of my diet and hadn’t seen any improvements. For a while I stopped visiting doctors. They weren’t helping, and I feared it would cost a fortune to finally figure out what was wrong with me and fix it. So I suffered for a year and a half. It was scary. I didn’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life. And I wanted to have the strength to help my teenage daughter, who was starting to have the same symptoms as me.

“The situation looked bleak. My husband started to worry that I was going to be sick forever. But I held on to hope. One day a girlfriend, who knew about my runaround with doctors, told me about a local functional medicine office that looked at genes and focused on finding the root causes of symptoms. She had been dealing with some of the same issues as I was, and the doctors discovered her problems were due to a mutation with a gene called MTHFR.

“I’d never heard of this gene, but my friend said it played an important role in energy and wellness. It seemed like a long shot that I’d have the same genetic mutation as she did, but I was so sick that I was willing to try anything. So I made an appointment to get tested.

An answer — at last!

“When the nurse practitioner looked at my test results, she said, ‘Well, of course you’re exhausted!’ and explained that testing confirmed I had the genetic mutation. I learned that when this gene has mutated, the body can’t fully process folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate. As a result, I had folic acid trapped in my system and it was preventing me from feeling energized. The best news from the nurse: It was possible to fix this — fast. I left the doctor’s office in relieved tears.

“To heal, I immediately cut out foods fortified with folic acid, which included processed cereals, pastas and breads. I started making my own bread using organic non-enriched flour so it was folic acid–free. I also learned that my multivitamin was contributing to my health problems since it contained folic acid. I switched to one with methylated folate, a form the body can metabolize even with the genetic mutation.

Today, Kim feels fantastic

“Just five days after making those changes, my husband walked past me and did a double take. ‘Oh my gosh, you look happy,’ he gasped, stunned to see me off the sofa. He was right. It was amazing to have my energy back. Even my arthritis pain eased. And my body started shedding the extra weight.

“Now I tell people to get tested for this genetic mutation — or to just go ahead and eat as if they do have it. I had my family tested and all my kids and my husband also have the mutation. Thankfully, with dietary tweaks, everyone is feeling better. This gene mutation explained everything­—not just with my health but with my daughter’s, as well as with problems the generation before me faced, like my mom’s anxiety. I can’t express how eye-opening and empowering this discovery has been. It’s like I have a new lease on life!”

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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