90% of children diagnosed with autism have methylation impairments
Biomedical treatment relies heavily on supporting methylation biochemistry for its success. Some of you may be familiar with this important biochemical cycle and the role it plays in autism, ADHD and Down Syndrome. For some, methylation may be a new term. It is important to note that if your child is autistic or you suspect autism it is essential to support the methylation pathway.
What is methylation?
Most women take synthetic folic acid when they are pregnant because the folate cycle is responsible for making all the cells in the body. Women who have folate cycle impairments or SNPs that interfere with folate metabolism are 4.7 times as likely to have a child diagnosed with ASD. Epigenetic damage leads to problems with methylation and the folate cycle. For example, if your grandmother smoked or ate tuna filled with mercury, your child could have an increased risk of a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Directly next to the folate cycle is the methylation cycle. The methylation cycle is impaired in ninety percent of children diagnosed with autism. Metals like lead and mercury can further damage the body’s ability to methylate DNA. Methylation IS the process of development. When babies are conceived, they are not methylated. Healthy biochemistry results in healthy cellular function which ultimately results in healthy children. On the other hand, impairments in biochemical pathways result in increased risk of tongue ties, birth defects, speech delay, autism and ADHD.
On the positive side, 92% of children respond positively to methyl B12 injection therapy.
Methylation governs many aspects of our biochemistry and physiology including:
- Genetic expression
- Protection of genetic material
- Immune system regulation
- Detoxification of heavy metals and chemicals
- Making GLUTATHIONE (the body’s master antioxidant)
- Production and function of proteins
- Regulating inflammation
- Making neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine
- Producing melatonin, CoQ10, carnitine, creatine, and choline
How can improving methylation help your child?
Methyl B12 injections:
Research from the Arkansas Children’s Research Institute has shown that methyl B12, when injected helps to support methylation and production of glutathione.
- The diet that best supports the methylation cycle is the “paleo” diet
- Meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Meat should be hormone and antibiotic free if possible
- Vegetables and fruit should be organic whenever possible.
- The methylation cycle detoxifies chemicals like PCBs and pesticides
- 40-70% of kids can’t convert synthetic folic acid to active folates
- Grains are fortified with synthetic folic acid
- Folate receptors preferentially bind synthetic folic acid, not active folates
It is important to note that glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant. In view of glutathione’s important role in the body, depletion glutathione has significant consequences. In autism, up to 80% of glutathione is deficient. One of the most important jobs of the methylation cycle is to produce glutathione which detoxifies metals, chemicals and hormones.
To put it another way, glutathione is needed to protect the brain from toxicity and is the rate limiting step to a child’s development. By the same token, a child’s brain can only develop as far as their glutathione will take them.
Methyl folate and folinic acid:
As an illustration, if you picture the folate cycle, snuggled up to the methylation cycle, you can imagine that any influx of methyl donors could be beneficial. In fact, adding additional methyl folate to a child’s treatment protocol helps in a number of different ways.
The methyl group from methyl folate is given to SAMe, whose job it is to deliver methyl to 200 essential pathways in the body. For this reason, SAMe truly acts as a delivery truck for methyl donors.
Methyl folate is also very important in treating children who have been diagnosed with Cerebral Folate Deficiency, which is a cause of autism spectrum disorder and seizures.
SAMe is what I like to call a worker bee. After receiving methyl donors, SAMe delivers methyl to 200 pathways in the body including ones needed to make carnitine, creatine and phosphotidylcholine. SAme helps to improve methylation.
Low carnitine levels have been identified in children diagnosed with autism. Carnitine supplementation improves delivery of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids needed to support language, social and cognitive development. Phosphatidylcholine is important in cell membrane health and repair. Toxins can damage the cell membrane, which contributes to inflammation as it is broken down.
Repair of the cell membrane is an important part of improving sensory issues and motor planning issues in children with autism, ADHD and sensory integration disorder
DMG and TMG:
Dimethylglycine (DMG) and trimethylglycine (TMG) donate methyl groups to the methylation cycle. TMG is needed to recycle homocysteine and help produce SAMe. If DMG is beneficial for your child, note that long term use will slow methylation. After a period of DMG supplementation, it is important to start using TMG and SAMe to optimize this vital cycle needed for neurological health.