“Take your vitamins” is something we’ve been told since we were kids. And for good reason.
Vitamins contain methyl groups, which affect a wide range of bodily functions from energy levels to hormone pathways and the immune system.
B-vitamins like folate provide a large portion of methyl groups, as does methionine. All these nutrients share the need to be broken down and processed by the body at the chemical level through a process called methylation, which adds three hydrogen and one carbon atom to the compound and prepares it to be utilized in a number of systems. Patients of functional medicine practitioners can experience benefits to a number of bodily systems through a vitamin regimen.
Systemwide Benefits and Absorption
The hormone system, metabolism, and the circulatory system are impacted by methylation.
Methyl-related nutrients are tied to stress, detoxification, inflammation response, energy production, and homocysteine production. This is why a methyl B vitamin complex is a regular part of many people’s daily supplement routine.
Additionally, vitamins in these groups act as facilitators and help most other systems in the body perform their duties efficiently. Since methyl-related vitamins have a direct impact on the metabolism as well as the detoxification of hormonal pathways, they also aid with the absorption and impact of any nutrient that is taken alongside it, even beyond methyl groups.
Yet, there’s more to absorbing nutrients than just popping a pill or chewing a gummy and digesting. When these vitamins are ingested through the food we eat, they’re not ready to be absorbed. They are in an inactive state.
The body needs to prepare them through the methylation process. This process changes vitamins into their methylated, or active, state, and that’s when the body can then use them to keep all its systems running properly.
However, around 30% of the population has what’s called a MTHFR mutation, which causes the body to struggle with the methylation process. In these cases, taking an unmethylated vitamin won’t do much good.
Fortunately, medical technology has progressed far enough to offer methylated vitamins. In fact, for most professional level supplement providers, methylated vitamins have been the standard for some time, and the retail space has caught up. This is good news, and not only for those with the MTHFR mutation. Everyone can benefit from the active state of methylated vitamins.
The Power of Active Vitamins
Think of methylated vitamins like buying a new bike.
You have two options: either you purchase the pieces and put it together yourself, or you can buy a pre-assembled bike that’s ready-to-ride. If want to go on a bike ride right now, then you want the pre-assembled bike that you can use today.
Patients with the MTHFR mutation need the ready-to-ride bike, as they are unable to assemble one themselves. The ready-to-ride option will put everybody else on the road faster, as well.
Methylated vitamins work in a similar fashion. They are already in their active state, so the rate at which they can be absorbed by the body is much greater than unmethylated vitamins, which means the body can utilize those nutrients faster.
It’s important to remember that vitamins are not energy drinks though. They shouldn’t be taken with the same energy-boost-then-crash expectations. As with all supplements, there are some caveats to the benefits of methylated vitamins. These should be taken into consideration before adding them to a patient’s regimen.
The Limits of Methylated Vitamins
They help provide energy, balance hormones, limit homocysteine levels, and even help alleviate a cloudy mind and depression. Yet, any supplement can only be so effective when it’s not paired with a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Eating dark green vegetables like brussel sprouts and broccoli is a great way to get natural folate. Influencing the microbiome with healthy flora will improve the absorption of B vitamins and methylated folic acid. The more you eat, the better your body gets at absorption.
Controlling your environment also goes a long way to help the effectiveness of supplements. This means reducing overall stress, controlling alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, and eliminating other toxins in the patient’s environment. Maintaining a healthy amount of proteins and amino acids in the body will support the methyl groups as well.
Without enough sleep or exercise, every system in the body is affected, and the absorption of methyl-related nutrients is no exception. It won’t provide a solution to feeling energy deprived on its own. That’s why taking an overall holistic approach when considering the impact of supplements is vital.
Methylated Vitamins Can Help You, and You Can Help Them
Methyl groups have a hand in nearly every bodily function, from brain chemistry to the nervous system.
When taken as a dietary supplement in their active, methylated state, the body can fortify its functions without having to methylate on its own. For these reasons, a methyl b complex supplement can give anyone a health boost. But like all supplements, a methylated vitamin is no match for an unhealthy diet and poor environment, which is why a 360 degree approach must be taken for patients to feel their best.