In my days before my “nutritional breakthrough”, I thought vitamins were useless. I had read somewhere that vitamins were a waste of money that just resulted in expensive urine. Even once I delved into the nutrition world, I figured good quality meat, veggies, and oil would do the trick. But, this journey has in fact led me to a “magic pill”. For some members in our family, B Complex with Folate (Not Folic Acid) and B 12 has been miraculous. I must back up a bit and say that we have been on the GAPS diet for 3.8 years. The GAPS diet has been HUGE in our gut healing. It’s been the foundations of healing many health problems for our children. But, for a few of our family members, there was a missing puzzle piece.
This leads me to the topic of MTHFR gene mutation. This is a fairly complex topic. But I will tell you my very simplified understanding of what it means. About 40 percent of our population has this mutation. If you have this mutation, you are unable to convert folic acid to folate. Folate is essential for the proper function of every single cell in our body. It is involved in a process called methylation. Depending on the severity of your particular mutation, your ability to methylate can be impaired by up to 70 percent. The following is a list from methyl-nation.com. It lists the systems that depend on proper methylation. Also listed are conditions that can result from poor methylation.
The Methylation Cycle is a biochemical pathway that manages or contributes to a wide range of crucial bodily functions.
- Immune function
- Maintaining DNA
- Energy production
- Mood balancing
- Controlling inflammation
- Mitochondrial Function
Due to environmental factors, nutritional deficiencies, and genetic factors this pathway can become out of balance contributing to a wide variety of conditions:
- Fibromyalgia/Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Oxidative Stress
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Addictive Behavior, even alcoholism
- Insomnia or other Sleep Disorders
- Autism or Down’s Syndrome
- Frequent miscarriages
- Bipolar or Manic Depression
- Thyroid Disorders
- Allergies or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
- Spina Bifida/Cleft Palate/Heart Defect/Neural Tube Defects
- Multiple Sclerosis and other Autoimmune Disorders
- Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism
- ADD or ADHD
- Lyme Disease (susceptibility)
- Chronic Viral Infections
- Blood Disorders/Enemia
- Vascular Disease
- Connective Tissue Disorders
- Heart Conditions
- Elevated Homocysteine/Homocystinuria
- Histamine Intolerance/Mast Cell Activation Disorder
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
- Sulfur Intolerance
- Leaky Gut/Dysbiosis
- Vitamin/Mineral Imbalances
- Heavy Metal Accumulation/Toxicity
This all brings me to my son Caleb. Caleb has a tongue tie, which is a midline defect, which results from lack of folate in utero. I had read this in the blog: loving our guts.com. But, I really did not take the info to heart. Mainly because I had this belief that there was no magic pill that was going to cure my child. I figured that if he was going to act “normal” it would be through hard work (the GAPS diet). But also, in all honesty, raising eleven kids on the GAPS diet has taken an enormous amount of energy and I just didn’t have the gumption to do one more research experiment.
I have mentioned previously in my blog that my son Caleb has been the catalyst for our family. He was the reason we completely changed everything about our diet. And once again, he led us to folate.
At this point (about four months ago) Caleb was doing so much better then he had when we started GAPS. But I could NOT advance his diet. The whole point of the GAPS diet is to heal the gut, then ever so slowly transition back onto more foods. But every time Caleb added in almonds, honey, peanuts, he would get very mean and hard to live with. So basically, that meant Caleb could have very little for treats. I had basically held our whole family up on the diet because Caleb could not advance. With my large family, it was really hard to bring things into the house that certain people couldn’t eat. I wasn’t willing to fight that battle, consequently we never advanced too far off of GAPS. But, it wasn’t just the lack of advancing that lead me to search out more answers. Caleb was getting mean again to his siblings. He was also extremely argumentative with me. He would argue with me about things that we agreed upon! I would say that 85% of my exchanges with Caleb involved him being argumentative. So, I was getting frustrated and desperate to consider something outside my GAPS repertoire. I must make a note for all you tired health seekers out there. It takes a lot of gumption to heal one self and ones children. Already, I felt stretched so thin with our diet, raising a large family and homeschooling, etc that the thought of learning about one more thing was very daunting. But, God, as he very often does, sent me a little angel. This angel was my cousin Jeannie (Read Jeannie’s blog at: Methyl-nation.com). She kept telling me, “Teresa, I think Caleb needs Folate!” But, I didn’t believe in magic pills, so I had to be really desperate to give such “quackery” a chance. But one day Caleb and I had a VERY bad moment and I gave up. I mentally gave up the idea that I had any inkling how to help him. So, I went to our supplement cupboard and pulled out the bottle of B Complex Plus (Jeannie had even given me a bottle to try) and threatened Caleb that if he didn’t take them, life was going to get ugly. Of course, Caleb will take a pill, after all that is EASY. (So of course that means it won’t work. Nothing in life is easy. Or so I thought) After three days, Caleb’s attitude was completely changed. He was pleasant, and not argumentative. Which maybe doesn’t sound that profound. But trust me. For me, it was profound. I had fear that maybe I was seeing what I wanted to, so I kept asking my husband, “Do you think Caleb is acting better, or is it just me?” He too thought he saw a significant change in Caleb. But, I sill had fear, “what if it doesn’t last”. I had to just walk through this fear and wait it out. It has been 4 months, and still Caleb rarely argues with me. And his siblings definitely notice a difference. Amazingly, in the last four months we have introduced many non gaps food. We have probably introduced foods way, way to fast. So, I wouldn’t recommend doing this quite so quickly. But, 3.5 years is a long time and we were ready to move on. We have added white potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and popcorn, and soaked oatmeal. Caleb has had no reactions to these foods. (Just as a side note though, some of my other kids have had reactions to some of these foods, so we have had to limit these foods accordingly. Keep in mind that we are adopting children who have not been on the GAPS diet as long as the rest of us. I think they probably need more gut healing before these foods can be introduced).
Upon first giving Caleb the B complex, I had him fill out a short questionnaire to help me assess his response. After reading about the MTHFR gene mutation, I knew dosing was going to be important, so I wanted to keep track of Caleb’s symptoms so I could give him the right dose for optimal results.
On a scale of 1-10, I had him rate the following:
On the rating scale 1 (one) was considered “least” irritable and 10 “very” irritable, etc.
Before the folate he rated himself as follows:
Within three weeks:
Currently, they are as follows:
My husband Van has had very similar results to Caleb. Van’s irritability, anxiety, and fatigue were through the roof as well. But with B Complex, he is only slightly registering theses symptoms on a 1-10 scale.
If you are interested in learning more about MTHFR gene mutations, I have found Dr. Ben Lynch’s site at mthfr.net to be very helpful. He runs a company called Seeking Health that sells the supplements we use. We have used B complex and B 12 supplements from various health foods stores, but his supplements seem to us to be more effective and they are also more cost effective.