P/S/A: There's a treatable genetic mutation that half the population has which has more or less recently begun to be treated called MTHFR that causes several vitamin deficiencies (due to you not processing them into the usable forms - and it's treatable because you can take the usable form as a supplement) and homocysteine issues, and it's symptoms can range between none to raging horrible problems with depression, anxiety, IBS, fatigue, and a list of other things.


It reduces the body's ability to convert folic acid into the usable form, methyl folate and reduces the body's ability to convert vitamin B12 into the usable form (called methylcobalamin). This same mutation also tends to cause homocysteine levels to be too high or too low.


Knowledge about this is kind of new, because we only mapped the genome so long ago (and figured out what this gene does, and figured out how to treat it, and began producing the supplements to treat it, etc). It can be tricky to treat. If you pursue this, you should seek a medical professional who has significant experience treating people with MTHFR.

What are the symptoms:

"Research is still pending on which medical conditions are caused by, or at least partially attributed to, the MTHFR gene mutations. From the partial list I recently went through on Medline, these are the current symptoms, syndromes and medical conditions relating to the MTHFR gene mutations" - www.mthfr.net This site lists 64 different conditions and symptoms ranging from miscarriages to schizophrenia. See Also: Disclaimer.


There's a reason I chose the symptom link above, but you should know that it is not a perfect list of symptoms. For an alternative list and an explanation about why I chose this symptom list, please see my response to Yvain about that under "the guy you're linking to".

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Presumably it's called that because it's a complete MTHFR to live with.

15Scott Alexander7yThis is okay science, and unlike most times people link to these kinds of things on here I'm not going to throw a fit. But a few caveats: First of all, my totally unfounded opinion is that the guy you're linking to seems sketchy as hell. His site implies he is a doctor a bunch of times, including his biography [http://mthfr.net/about/dr-ben/] talking about when he entered medical school, but the only degree listed is one from a college of "naturopathic medicine". He founded a sketchy online pharmacy [http://healthygoods.com/about_us/] that sells (among other things) homeopathic solutions. He believes that [http://mthfr.net/question-about-mthfr-mutations-ask-here/2011/11/09/#comment-617] vaccinations cause autism, at least in MTHFR babies (aka 1/4 of the population). And he fits a very worrying stereotype of the doctor who prescribes the same cure for almost every disease, and recommends that if it doesn't work you just need to "optimize" his cure a little more carefully, as opposed to consider that other factors may be involved. I don't actually know anything about the research on this subject, but because of the red flags raised above I've tried to investigate it very briefly and see what it looks like. You should probably ignore everything below, but just out of curiosity: Dr. Lynch seems to think that if you have MTHFR, taking more folic acid will be harmful to you. The way I've heard it is that taking more folic acid compensates for the lowered activity of MTHFR (see for example Linus Pauling Institute [http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/fa/]. Studies have also shown that low blood folate raises homocysteine levels. If that's correct, then supplementing with MTHF would have similar effects to supplementing with normal folate - ie a mixed bag that seems to include higher risk of many cancers. And although conventional wisdom is that homocysteine is a harmful amino acid that causes cardiovascular disease, this has been confirmed in correlationa
1RomeoStevens7yWHOAH, this is amazing! Thank you for the summary and link. I'm curious why you say caution is warranted given that supplemental B12 and folate are highly innocuous with doses 10x the RDA still not showing any toxicity.

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by Eliezer Yudkowsky 1 min read27th Jun 2013330 comments


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