Methylation is a process in our bodies that helps us use energy from food, get rid of waste, and influences our emotions due to it's impact on neurotransmitter production. It works by transferring small parts called methyl groups from one molecule to another. If methylation doesn't work properly, we can feel tired, stressed, or even sick. Methylation is also important for making and recycling chemicals in our brains that affect our mood and mental health.

The Basics

Methylation is like a tiny engine in our bodies that helps us with many tasks. Imagine it as a tool that helps us turn our food into energy, cleans up waste, and keeps our emotions in check.

  1. Energy Production: Methylation helps us break down what we eat and turns it into fuel. If it's not working right, we might feel tired, sluggish physically and mentally, or generally unmotivated.
  2. Waste Management: Just like taking out the trash, methylation helps get rid of the things our body doesn't need. If it's not doing its job, harmful stuff can build up. Detoxing from that is important.
  3. Emotional Balance: Methylation helps our brain produce chemicals that affect our mood. If something's off, it can make us feel stressed or down.
  4. Cell Growth: Methylation helps our body decide when to grow new cells and when to make energy. If there are problems, it might prioritize growth over giving us energy.

In more scientific terms, methylation is about moving a piece called a "methyl group" from one molecule to another. This helps us create DNA, repair damage, and control how our genes work. It's like a switch that can turn certain functions on or off. Imbalances in methylation can have real impacts on our physical, emotional, and mental health. When too many switches are on or off, commonly referred to as overmethylation and undermethylation, our brains and bodies have too much or too little of a good thing.

In addition to your genetic baseline—the genetic predisposition for a certain methylation level—your diet, supplementation, medication, activity, stress/illness, and other environmental factors influence your methylation level. That's why we created the Methyl Scale™. It determines where your genetic baseline is based on your DNA, and assigns point values to different supplements, food/drink, and activities to help you understand where you're at and how to get to "methyl-balanced".

The Science

Methylation is a key process in one-carbon metabolism, a biochemical pathway that involves the transfer of one-carbon units between different compounds. One-carbon metabolism is critical for the synthesis of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA, and for the regulation of gene expression. In methylation, a methyl group (-CH3) is transferred from a donor molecule, such as S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), to a target molecule, such as DNA, RNA, proteins, or lipids. This transfer is catalyzed by enzymes called methyltransferases, which are involved in a wide range of cellular processes, including metabolism, DNA repair, gene expression, and protein function.

Methylation is also involved in the recycling of homocysteine, an amino acid that can be harmful to cells if it accumulates in the body. Methylation helps convert homocysteine to methionine, which can be used to produce SAMe, the primary methyl donor in the body.  An imbalance in methylation can have emotional, physical, and mental consequences.

Some of the key roles of methylation include:

  • Metabolism: The methylation pathway uses vitamins and minerals to help convert fats, sugars, and proteins into energy. Issues with methylation can impact the body's ability to use and recycle important B vitamins, leading to lower energy levels.
  • Detoxification: Methylation helps eliminate waste products from metabolism. When methylation is inhibited, toxins can build up in the body, causing inflammation and damage.
  • Neurotransmitter balance: Proper functioning of the methylation pathway is necessary for the production and recycling of neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, norepinepherine), which impact overall mood and mental well-being. Changes in methylation can affect the speed at which neurotransmitters are produced and broken down.
  • Cell growth: When nutrients are scarce, the body prioritizes cell growth over energy production. This means that if methylation issues affect the body's ability to use nutrients, cell growth may be favored over energy production.

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