Our brains become inflamed for many reasons, most of which are related to toxic diets, lack of exercise and sleep and a lifestyle which leads to chronic stress. Many of us respond to this inflammation with a depressed mood. It turns out that a frequent common factor in those with inflammation and depression is an elevated homocysteine level and a lack of methylated folate. Let me explain:
1. Folate in the diet or as a supplement (folic acid) must be converted into L-merhylfolate in order to become useful in our bodies.
2. An enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, (MTHFR) is required for this conversion)
3. 70% of our population has a defective gene coding for MTHFR which leads to a less effective enzyme and thus less conversion of folate to L-methylfolate.
4. Methylfolate is important in the production of neurotransmitters, the repair of DNA, the protection of our arteries and the reduction of homocysteine which can cause oxidative stress.
5. Lack of adequate methylfolate in those with obesity and inflammation often leads to depression.
6. We can now easily test for the MTHFR gene to see if one is at risk for reduced methylfolate and it’s consequences.
7. We can also prescribe a supplement of methylfolate (a “medical food”) which has been shown to help alleviate depression in susceptible patients.
This kind of knowledge leads us to increasingly effective therapies with which we can serve hurting people. Also exciting is a deeper understanding of how lifestyle change leads to the prevention and cure all manner of disease. VitalSigns specializes in the prevention and reversal of disease by teaching and coaching the required behavior changes. Further reflection about the causes and cures of depression on Friday.