Aging Gracefully

After several thousand hours of studying and dozens and dozens of really tough cases, Dr. Greg Peterson is convinced methylation is still the key to "aging gracefully."

Dr. Wally Schmitt introduced methylation issues over 4 years ago. He has a specialty research practice where other doctors refer him challenging patients. He finds at about 1/3 come to him with methylation issues. Other doctors’ claim 50% of all patients have methylation problems. So the more complicated the case, the greater there is a chance that methylation is an underlying issue.

The term methylation technically refers to moving one methyl group from one molecule to another, especially to enzymes. A methyl group is a carbon atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms. Methyl groups are needed for almost every bodily function from detoxification to genetic repair, hence the "aging gracefully" connection.

Methyl groups are directly related to: immune function, neurological function, cardiovascular function, respiratory function, dermatological function, gastrointestinal function, endocrine function. In short, methylation is related to our entire body's ability to function. Let me give you a simplistic understanding of a very big picture. If the right cofactors are present, homocysteine (HCY) is converted to methionine. The next step is methionine converting to S-adenosyl-Lmethionine (SAM for short). SAM then donates a methyl group to one of over 200 enzymes. After the methyl group is donated the remaining product is S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine (or SAH for short). SAH gets converted back to homocysteine and the process begins again. Science has developed the technology to detect gene mutations called single nucleotide polymorphisms. A single nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP (pronounced "snip"), is a variation or change in shape at a single position in a DNA sequence among individuals. If a gene has a different or altered shape than intended, it reduces the functional ability of enzymes or proteins associated with it. Under-methylators sometimes called hypomethylators can't convert homocysteine into SAM. The result is a rise in homocysteine. As it becomes elevated the incidence of heart disease as well as multiple other conditions increases. One researcher say homocysteine is like cut glass in the arteries. We're not sure if the problem is the elevated homocysteine or the byproduct of not feeding the SAM pathway.

If the body can't convert homocysteine to SAM, we have serious problems because SAM takes a methyl group and gives it away to over 200 enzymes in the body. These 200 enzymes: protect our DNA, naturally reduce histamine levels, produce a key component of our cell membranes called phosphatidylcholine as wells as make neurotransmitters.

So when SAM is depleted and neurotransmitters don't receive the methyl groups they need, things change. Low neurotransmitters translate into poor sleep, inability to think clearly, irritation over little things or depression.

A low production of neurotransmitters can create conditions that result in addictive behavior, anxiety, ADHD, mania, irritability, insomnia, or learning disorders to name a few.

What a lot of people don't realize is that the body in its wisdom can work around metabolic roadblocks. Even genetically defective genes can often be compensated for in the right environment.

But if the body is under stress for prolonged periods and deficient in key nutrient building blocks, enzymes will not catalyze the reactions needed for repair. And when the repair mechanisms are sluggish or absent, pathology becomes evident.

On the opposing side, some people are over methylators. This group is less common however, over methylation means the body is hyperdonating methyl groups, the result being an excess of neurotransmitters. This process of over methylation occurs less frequently. Some of the symptoms of over-methylators are: anxiety, acne, achy joints, agitation, headaches, irritability, insomnia, migraines, nausea, palpitations, and rash. Niacin is important for these patients. But since the majority of your patients will be under-methylators, the key points to remember are these. Under methylation means the body is not donating methyl groups via SAM.

This under methylated state translates into lowered neurotransmitters as well as the other 200 enzymes that are underfed. Part of this picture is an increased homocysteine. One approach for treating under methylation is to supplement the cofactors B12 (B12-2000), B6 (B6 Phosphate or B6/B1 Plus Zinc) and 5-MTHF (5MTHF Plus Forte).

Another approach is to address the lack or shortage of methyl groups, TMG (TMG) or betaine (Betaine Plus HP) being the most prevalent. Biotics Research Corporation introduced a new product TMG to compensate for the patients who have a shortage of methyl groups. TMG comes in a powder and is very easy to add to a smoothie or food. Each teaspoon supplies 3 grams of trimethylglycine.