MTHFR, Niacin and Methylation 





Niacin, Methylation, and Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR)

by Andrew W. Saul

Question: "I have heard that niacin is not good for people with the MTHFR mutation. This is supposedly because niacin acts soaks up methyl groups, potentially exacerbating methylation issues. Would you still recommend the usage of niacin for those impacted by the mutation? It seems poor methylation is often blamed for depression and anxiety issues and niacin helps both of those issues, yet niacin inhibits methylation. It all seems very contradictory and confusing."

While niacin is a methyl scavenger, niacin researcher and psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, said it is not an issue clinically. Dr. Hoffer had 55 years’ experience as a physician, prescribing high doses of niacin to thousands of patients.

People that have reason or even vague suspicion to think that they are MTHFR should be tested and work personally with a physician well versed in the area.

From the Cleveland Clinic: "There is a genetic test for MTHFR variations. But there’s also a cheaper and more accurate way to test for whether MTHFR variations are causing disease. We simply check the levels of homocysteine in the blood. . . . If homocysteine levels are normal — even if there is an MTHFR variation — then nothing needs to be done clinically." (Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Founding Chairwoman of the Genomic Medicine Institute)

In the end, it seems to basically boil down to a folic acid/folate issue. Those folks concerned should go straight to a plant-based diet, with lots of leafy greens, and they will have abundant folate. They can buy and take methylfolate supplements, but I think it is an optional luxury.

As regards B12, I think everyone should take the methylated form, which is probably absorbed better than other forms of cobalamin. B-12 is a huge molecule (1,355 g/mol) and needs all the absorption help it can get.

Additional B-6 is also important. Plain old cheap pyridoxine is fine. It does not have to be in a designer form. B-6 is C8H11NO3. It weighs 169 g/mol, which is less than the simplest sugar, glucose (180 g/mol). There is no absorption issue with B-6.

Dosage is determined by need and need is determined by results. A therapeutic trial of gradually increasing amounts of the above mentioned vitamins is a safe and simple way to approach the problem.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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