Methylation - What Is It?

What is Methylation?

Simply put, Methylation is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules to transform or "recycle" in our body. One of the most important methylation process is homocysteine!

Homocysteine is a byproduct of an important amino acid methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate proteins (and our DNA). Homocysteine needs to be "methylated" to convert back to methionine.  

What is it responsible for?

RNA and DNA methylation are added to DNA. "Methylation" modifies the function of the DNA, which is essential for normal development and is associated with a number of key processes such as:

  • Regulating inflammation.
  • Immune system regulation.
  • Production and function of proteins at various levels
  • Detoxification of heavy metals and other harmful substances.
  • Extremely important in making GLUTATHIONE (the body’s main detoxification enzyme responsible for removing mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, tin, aluminum and antimony).

So why do certain vitamins such as B12 connect to methylation, and Autism Spectrum Disorder?

A sad fact is that children with ASD have 80% less glutathione in their cells and that 90% have defects in their methylation. This means that children with Autism cannot effectively activate processes in the brain and detoxify heavy metals (as well as other harmful substances) from their system. Studies strongly suggest that the brain is the only part of the body that depends entirely on B12 to detoxify.  As the brain is over-burdened with toxic substances, the “wheels” of methylation slow down, which severely impact development.

Dr. S. Jill James has shown that "children with ASD have impaired methylation and decreased levels of glutathione" . According to Dr. James, providing an outside support for the deficiency translates into increased social, cognitive and language development. At BrainChild Nutritionals over the last 15 years, we agree with this position. We have seen that an increase in Gluthatione and the ability of the body to methylate help children in many fields.BrainChild Nutritionals supplements help that process by using a Vitamin B12 in a form that has completely been methylated, to add extra methyl donors when digested. A university of Arizona study done on our supplement further confirms this theory.

Not withstanding the above paragraph, It is very important to put things in proportion. While this might increase social, cognitive and language development, dietary supplements are not a cure. It only forces and allows the body to use specific nutrients needed to methylate.What we have seen at BrainChild is that certain sub-type of Autism had more success with this approach while other had an indifferent response. The main reason for the difference might be that the impaired processes of methylation found in Autism could be cross dimensional across multiple areas of the body system. More specifically, it means that each child’s Autism is unique in its impairment and form.  

B12, Folic acid and folate

Vitamin B12 as mentioned earlier works tremendously in the brain methylation process amongst many other form of methylation it partake. It works very closely with folic acid. A precursor folic acid molecule must interact with the enzyme MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolic acid) to become 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid (5-MTHF). This is particularly problematic since a high amount of the Autism community has a deficiency in this exact gene that has the role of releasing the MTHFR enzyme. This makes every single fortified staple food folic acid, stay much longer and less used in the body of an Autistic child. BrainChild Nutritionals form of Folic acid used is what commonly is referred as the “Folate”  or the 5-mthf, the "already" digested and useable form of folic acid.

5-MTHF and Methylation - how do they work together?

So the 5-MTHF donates the methyl group (the “M” part) to B12 so it can become methyl-B12.  Unfortunately, many children have a defect in this enzyme. In an optimal condition, children would absorb vitamin b12 from food and folic acid from food as well. Break down the folic acid to the 5-MTHF, and the 5-MTHF will give it’s “M” to the Vitamin B-12. That does not happen efficiently in most children on the spectrum…

By providing your child with extra methyl donors together with the vitamin B12, the predigested folic acid and other vitamins or/and phytonutrients contributing to methylation, you are essentially forcing the wheels of methylation to turn faster to adapt to the higher flow of nutrients. BrainChild Nutritionals vitamin formula does exactly that. “Coincidently”, this is what **may** makes the children improve in many area as:

  • Better Awareness
  • Improved Cognition
  • Appropriateness and relation thereof
  • Eye contact and looking out to the world
  • Responsiveness to interaction with adults or other children
  • Normalized behavior and increased interaction
  • Promotion of speech and language:
  • >>> Spontaneous gaga language
  • >>> More complex sentences formation
  • >>> Increased memory of vocabulary
    • Improvements in socialization, understanding and expressing emotion:
    • >>> Initiation and interactive play
    • >>> Understanding and feeling emotions
    • >>> Affection and tolerance to touch

    **All the above have not been reviewed by the FDA and the FDA has not issued a specific relationship or causality effect between the nutrient and the improvement described above. The source of information is internal, from BrainChild Nutritionals last 15 years of operation and through the Autism Research Institute survey of over 25,000 parents across a period of 10 years.

    Undesired effects too much vitamin B12 which are not uncommon and include: 

    • Hyperactivity
    • Self Stimulating Behavior
    • Increased mouthing of objects
    • Sleep disturbances – which can be managed with other treatments
    • Aggression, hitting and biting – caused by frustration due to increased awareness

    Parents should understand that the maximum results from added Methyl Vitamin B12 occur over years, not months, not weeks. Initial results will be obvious within the first 3-5 week period of time; but Methyl Vitamin B12 power is in continued use.

    The above statements are not a medical advice. Please consult a certified health care professional before changing your childs diet.