Dr. G - Health Column
Methylation and Cardiovascular Health
Introduction to cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular health involves the heart and blood vessels, the importance of which is known to all. The heart pumps blood into our blood vessels, which delivers oxygen to our organs, muscles, and the rest of our body. As we age, there will be changes to our heart and the blood vessels, that will cause restrictions in the way our cardiovascular system works. These changes include:
- The heart will have a more rigid structure, due to the muscles in the heart growing thicker
- Decreased volume of the heart means lesser blood that will empty the heart in one beat, and more effort is needed to pump blood out
- Hardening of the walls of our arteries. The artery itself originally has some elasticity which aids in pumping blood, however as it hardens, this function gradually diminishes
- Blocked or narrowed blood vessels that could cause a heart attack or stroke
- Problems with the heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm
How Methylation relates to cardiovascular health
The methylation cycle involves components that can reflect cardiovascular health. One of these components is homocysteine, as hyperhomocysteinemia (abnormally high levels of homocysteine, an inherited disorder) has been identified as an independent risk factor of cardiovascular disease. Homocysteine can be found in the methylation cycle and is formed from the split of S-adenosyl homocysteine (SAH) into homocysteine and an adenosyl group. Studies have been conducted to cross check the level of homocysteine in blood, and there have been results that report an increased risk for coronary heart disease and stroke in people with higher homocysteine levels. Although there have been studies that show lesser correlation between the two, understanding your homocysteine levels can help guide an adjustment towards healthier living. In addition to homocysteine, high levels of cystathionine (generated from homocysteine in the body) is also associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Acute Myocardial Infarctions or heart attacks.
Methylation and joint health
Introduction to aging and joint health
A human skeleton provides the support for the body and consists of bones connected by joints. Our joints allow us to move different parts of our body from the most basic everyday needs, such as walking, going up and down the stairs, to strenuous actions required in activities like sports. The spaces in between our joints consists of a connective tissue called cartilage. Cartilage serves to protect our bones from directly rubbing against each other as we move.
However, we begin to lose cartilage as we age, and this can cause wear and tear of the joints, leading to discomfort in our joints and an inconvenience to everyday life.
One of the major diseases related to joint health and aging is osteoarthritis. There are usually 3 characteristics associated with osteoarthritis: loss of cartilage, joint pain and inflammation and bone growth. Osteoarthritis is a common condition to most people of the middle or elderly age ranges.
How methylation relates to joint health
S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) plays an important part in the methylation cycle. Recently, there have been studies indicating that SAMe possesses pain-relieving abilities, therefore leading to the suggestion of patients with osteoarthritis to supplement with SAMe.
Methylation and mental health
Introduction to aging and mental health
Methylation relates closely to neurotransmitters and their performance in your body. Neurotransmitters are responsible for delivering messages about your feelings and emotions to and from brain cells. Different types of neurotransmitters will transmit different signals and hence create different moods. Some of the main neurotransmitters that affect mood include serotonin, dopamine, norephinephrine and epinephrine.
To transmit messages from cell to cell, neurotransmitters can be found inside a brain cell, as well as outside the cell, in between the gap of another brain cell. Once the messages are transported to another cell, the neurotransmitter in the gap will be transported back into the original cell by a process called reuptake. A balanced level of neurotransmitters inside the cell as well as in the gap is required for a well-balanced mood.
How methylation relates to mental health
Methylation activity can indirectly control your neurotransmitter levels that are inside the brain cells, as well as those transporting messages in between the cells. Too much and too little methylation activity can cause negative effect on your mood. Methylation affects the way neurotransmitter levels are balanced within and outside the brain cells by affecting the expression of genes that control the neurotransmitter balance. Increased methylation levels can “turn off” certain genes, whereas lowered methylation levels leave genes “turned on”.
Consequences of too little methylation (undermethylation)
The genes responsible for neurotransmitter transporter production are left on, and therefore more transporters are produced which help sweep away the neurotransmitters that are delivering messages to the other brain cells. An example is serotonin, which helps you feel happy.
If the neurotransmitter is brought back to its original cell before it can transmit the message to another cell, and this action is reciprocated in other cells, a person who is under methylating may be more prone to depression or anxiety.
Consequences of too much methylation (overmethylation)
Overmethylation is the opposite of undermethylation, with too few transporters recycling the remaining neurotransmitters in the gaps between cells. Overmethylation has been speculated to be related to having increased norepinephrine in the gaps, which can cause constant feelings of anxiety or unease.
Summary of Methylation
As methylation is a process that applies to so many different substrates in your body, its effects are not restricted to certain parts of your health. As its functions help form the foundations of your body’s health, the extent of their effects can range from a common cold to affecting your heart health. Therefore, it is important to note whether your methylation function is well balanced and what you can do to keep it at a healthy level.
Dr. G’s solutions
How do I know my body’s methylation ability?
MethylDrive examines genes involved in an individual’s methylation cycle. This test can be combined with Methyla to find out about the pathway’s performance.
Methyla examines the individual’s methylation performance according to the components involved in the methylation pathway from a metabolic perspective.
How can I improve my methylation ability?
GMDAI Methylation through a combined analysis of the genetic and metabolic information of the individual’s methylation performance, this panel provides a custom designed plan for intervention of methylation defects.