If your body’s methylation process is not functioning optimally it will translate into many health problems and eventually accelerate the aging process. Without methylation, your body would cease to function.
Certain chemicals, called methyl groups are combined to a variety of proteins, molecules and your DNA. It is essential that they function optimally. For example, if serotonin, a chemical found in the brain and gut isn’t methylated it will become inactive and in turn can lead to anxiety and depression. Many chemicals in the body need to undergo the methylation process or they can lead to a variety of significant health consequences.
Methylation of 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 back to methionine. If this does not occur serious health consequences will occur.
Homocysteine is implicated in:
- Heart disease and stroke ( clumping together of blood platelets).
- Higher levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol ( reacting with iron and copper ions to produce free radicals).
- Neuro-degnerative disease ( Alzheimer’s and dementia).
- Liver disease.
- Aging ( believed to be involved in the destruction of telemores).
- Methylation of specific parts of your DNA can in fact ” switch off” unnecessary genes and prevent abnormal DNA division. In essence, these abnormalities are not passed on to future generation of cells, which, in turn, is a crucial aspect of successful and healthy aging.
- The methylation process slows down as we age and becomes less efficient and leads to a build up of homocysteine, more DNA damage and the inevitable development of inflammation and neurochemical imbalance that can lead to depression.
- Therefore, it is essential to ensure balanced methylation so as to avoid a variety of degenerative diseases.
- Your body will balance the methylation process if you “fuel ” the process properly.
Fueling the Methylation Process:
- The 3 main compounds needed to fuel proper methylation are: B vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid), Tri-methyl Glycine TMG ( aka Betaine) and SAMe.
- As we age we need more B vitamins and are really co factors in the process
- SAMe is the most important methylating agent, a natural chemical found in all cells. It is formed in the body by combining the amino acid methionine and ATP. It can be taken as supplement ( needs to be taken in an enteric coated form – susceptible to stomach acids).
Besides methylation, the other 4 key components in protecting the DNA, slowing down the aging process and promoting healthy aging are:
- Oxidative stress and free radical formation.
- Glycation ( binding of proteins to glucose molecules in the bloodstream forming AGE’s ( Advanced Glycation End Products). The AGE’s travel through the body and bind to cells causing them to produce toxic by-products. They are also implicated in the formation of amyloid beta plaque ( Alzheimer’s).
- Chronic inflammation.