Q&A About Betaine, Choline, and MTHFR

Today we address the questions:

  1. which foods contain betaine, and
  2. what is MTHFR and how does it relate to homocysteine levels

A while ago I posted strategies on facebook to lower homocysteine and why it is beneficial to do so. Two questions were left in the comments that I still need to address: 1) What foods contain betaine + choline, and 2) What is MTHFR.

Betaine:

Betaine is an amino acid that promotes protein synthesis. It aids in liver function, detoxification and cellular functioning as well as helps the body process fats. Betaine is used to convert homocysteine into methionine in the blood which is used for a certain detoxification pathway in the body. Foods that are high in Betaine are basically grains like wheat bran, quinoa, amaranth but also beets and spinach as well as turkey, veal and beef.

Choline:

Is a B-vitamin and if you take a B-complex supplement it contains choline. Choline is needed for liver function (detoxification here again), energy, brain function and optimal metabolism. Foods that contain choline are especially eggs (the yolk) is high in choline and is a good “brain” food – if your kids can tolerate eggs, encourage them to eat organic, pasture-raised eggs for optimal choline and beta-carotene supply.

Also liver, beef, salmon, vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and legumes like chick peas, split peas and navy beans.

What is MTHFR

MTHFR is a gene. We all carry 2 copies of this gene. MTHFR tells our body how to create an enzyme that breaks down homocysteine. There are variations of this gene which is actually not too uncommon. Studies found that women with two variants of this gene are at increased risk of having a child with neural tube defect. If these women also have elevated homocysteine levels, they are also at increased risk for blood clots. This is also true for men btw.

As discussed on my fb page, bringing down homocysteine levels is good for anybody. Nutritional deficiencies, thyroid imbalances, heart conditions and others can all increase homocysteine levels. You can get a blood test at your doctor to test your levels.

In good health, sincerely,
Pamela

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