M-T-H-F-R is not a swear word and it’s not a disease! MTHFR gene provides instructions to an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Enzymes are chemicals that help to break down amino acids to make proteins and other compounds our body needs. This enzyme helps to convert the vitamin B9 (also called folate) from the foods and dietary supplements we consume into a usable form to be used immediately by the body. MTHFR enzyme breaks down an amino acid called homocysteine (pronounced ho-mow-sis-teen) so it can be converted into other amino acids that are used to build proteins and other vital compounds. This chemical breakdown is done through a process called methylation and it happens in every cell of our body. Methylation is like an “on-off” light switch that the cells use for creating enzymes, repairing tissues, and determining how proteins get synthesized according to the MTHFR genetic instructions. Why MTHFR is important? If there is a deficiency or low levels of vitamin B9 in the blood, then the cells cannot perform methylation as efficiently as it should. Methylation issues and variations in the MTHFR gene can elevate homocysteine levels when the enzyme is not functioning to normal capacity to convert vitamin B9 to its useable form. Such low levels of folate and high levels of homocysteine can lead to various health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. Who is affected? MTHFR genetic variations are common and it affects 40-50% of the population because we share a similar genetic profile with many others. There are over thirty variants of the MTHFR gene, but two common variants are C677T and A1298C. You may have one of the following possibilities: · Heterozygous – having one copy of the C677T variation and one normal copy · Homozygous – having two copies of the C677T variation. Your genetic blueprint, diet , and lifestyle choices are important factors that determine how the MTHFR gene will get turned on or off. Kathleen Gooden Functional Nutritionist
When you think of vitamin D, you probably think about enjoying being outside in the sun because it makes sense since our bodies create vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s well known for helping the body absorb calcium and build strong, healthy bones. But did you know that it has another important function? Vitamin D also plays a key role in fighting disease. It’s one of the building blocks of a healthy, strong immune system. Studies show that vitamin D is particularly adept at helping our bodies fight off respiratory viruses, such as seasonal flu and even COVID-19. Where exactly do humans get vitamin D? The best (and most well-known) source of vitamin D is the sun. When our skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, a chain of reactions occurs within the skin’s cells that cause the body to manufacture vitamin D. It’s one of only two vitamins that our bodies create (vitamin K is the other). While the sun is not the only way to get vitamin D, it is certainly the most convenient. Vitamin D can also be found in foods, but relatively few foods contain vitamin D naturally. Fatty fish like tuna, salmon , and mackerel are good sources of vitamin D, and some foods like cheese, egg yolks , and beef liver contain smaller amounts. But natural food sources of vitamin D are limited. That’s one reason many food manufacturers fortify their products with this essential vitamin. Milk, orange juice , and certain cereals often contain added vitamin D. Supplements are another source of vitamin D and they may be particularly important for those who are unable to get enough sunlight to produce adequate amounts for optimal immune function. What are the different types of vitamin D? Not all supplements are the same, and that is especially true when it comes to vitamin D. There are two commonly available forms of vitamin D supplements – vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. The main difference is that D2 comes mainly from plants and fortified foods , while D3 is found in animal-sourced foods. D2 is produced when plants are exposed to sunlight whereas D3 is the natural form our bodies create from sunlight. When it comes to supplements, it is typically cheaper to produce the D2 form and this is commonly found in multivitamin supplements, however , D3 is thought to more effective at raising vitamin D levels in your blood. Why are so many of us vitamin D deficient? It is estimated that a significant portion of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient. Sunscreen is thought to be a contributing factor. While sunscreen helps protect our skin from sun damage and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, it also blocks our ability to create vitamin D, which requires some UVB exposure Of course, there are other reasons that humans don’t get enough sunlight exposure. Winter is an obvious one, but air pollution and high altitudes can also keep us from getting the sunshine our bodies need. Additionally, people with darker skin types require longer sun exposure than people with lighter skin to create vitamin D. How does vitamin D affect the immune system? Several studies have concluded that vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system. In fact, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk for several immune-related diseases including psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, sepsis, respiratory infection , and COVID-19. What role does vitamin D play exactly? Vitamin D reduces concentrations of cell secretions that produce inflammation and injure the lining of the lungs, which can lead to pneumonia. At the same time, vitamin D increases concentrations of anti-inflammatory secretions. It also lowers a virus’s ability to replicate and even helps to form certain proteins that protect the lungs and heart. Some preliminary studies show possible improvement in COVID-19 patients when given high doses of vitamin D. But what is known for sure, though, is that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is important to many of the body’s functions and a healthy immune system is How much vitamin D do you need? For most people, 10-30 minutes of the midday sun on thin-skinned areas, a few times a week (without sunscreen) is probably sufficient. People with darker skin may need more exposure. But depending on your lifestyle and where you live, it may be difficult to get enough sunlight, especially in the winter months. That’s when supplementation may be beneficial. While experts disagree on the exact daily vitamin D requirement, most recommend between 1,500 – 5,000 IUs when only minimal sunlight exposure is possible. If deficient, higher levels may be required for a short period of time (up to 8 weeks) before switching to a maintenance dose. It’s important to consult with your doctor before taking supplements, including vitamin D.
Research is looking beyond CBD and focusing on other non-psychoactive compounds in the hemp plant such as minor cannabinoids, CBC, CBG , and CBN . CBC, CBG, and CBN are all being isolated and purified by formulators so they can reintroduce them into new product formulations, with or without CBD. CBC can reduce edema (swelling) as well as inflammation of the intestinal tract. CBC appears to fight inflammation without activating cannabinoid receptors, and produces a stronger effect when combined with other cannabinoids. As a analgesic it reduces pain , but is not as strong as THC. CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid typically most abundant in low-THC and high-CBD cannabis strains, including hemp . Like THC, CBG reacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and it works to fight inflammation, pain, nausea and can slow the proliferation of cancer cells. CBN works as an antibacterial, anti -inflammatory, pain relief , anti -insomnia and anti -convulsive agent. It can also increase appetite like THC, without psychotropic effects. This cannabinol also seems to exert healthy synergistic effects with THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. Farmers, too, are banking on a rise in interest in CBD oil alternatives. One example: a network of hemp growers just closed a $23 million funding round earlier this year, and is planning to double its acreage in 2020 with a focus on high- CBG hemp strains. Before you buy into products that promote their high minor cannabinoid content, however, know there are a few caveats. For one thing, hemp research is still in its infancy, and there isn’t yet a substantial body of evidence surrounding any of its individual cannabinoids. It’s true that the minor cannabinoids have shown some interesting and promising effects in animal studies, everything from anti-cancer to anti-inflammatory effects. So clearly, this is an area scientists are very curious about. We know next to nothing about what these minor cannabinoids actually do in humans, and the research is going to take years. So in the meantime, consumers really need to do their research, and speak with their Naturopathic Doctor to make the best decision for them. The hemp products industry is still unregulated, which makes it even more important to examine any breathless buzz with a critical eye.