What is undermethylation?
Undermethylation (also called histadelia) is a condition that occurs when too few methyl molecules are available to add to enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters. We receive our methylation status in utero. Undermethylation is not the same condition as histamine intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
Why is it a problem?
Lack of methyl groups (a carbon group with three hydrogen atoms) to support neurotransmitter activity creates depressed levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Suboptimal levels of these important neurotransmitters cause depression, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive and ritualistic behaviors, addictive tendencies, high-achievement and competition, and seasonal allergies. Undermethylators tend to respond well to serotonin-enhancing substances such as Prozac, Zoloft, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe. These individuals are also more at risk to develop certain types of cancers.
Until recently, schizophrenia was seen in our overmethylation population, but we are now seeing quite a few undermethylation cases. According to my personal physician, Dr. Albert Mensah of Mensah Medical, one possible cause could be the liberal use of folic acid before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic acid decreases the presence of methyl in our DNA. This can be of great benefit to overmethylated individuals, but can create significant challenges for those who are undermethylated. Because folic acid is a common component of prenatal vitamins, and because we have no way of knowing the methyl biotype of a fetus while in utero, prolonged use of prenatal vitamins could actually be preselecting undermethylated children for increased risk of developing schizophrenic symptoms at some point in their lives. Please note research is currently under way on this clinical trend we are seeing.
Who can be undermethylated?
I often see high achieving, type A individuals with strong perfectionistic tendencies to be undermethylated. They are calm on the outside with lots of inner tension and often, severe depression. Undermethylation is also an underlying component of autism.
How can we fix it?
Undermethylators have a genetic tendency to be very low in calcium, magnesium, methionine, and vitamin B6, with excessive levels of folate. This condition can be safely corrected and balanced with dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.
Undermethylation Podcast Episodes
“Samantha is the most knowledgeable nutritionist I’ve worked with and has unique knowledge in the area of copper disorders and methylation. Her advice has helped me immensely in dealing with fibromyalgia and treatment-resistant depression.”