What is Methylation? Why is it so Darn Important?

by | | Gut Brain Axis

A process that occurs in the body a billion times a second, is good to understand if you are interested in health.  Poor methylation can affect the brain, the gut, and the liver.  Methylation also repairs DNA, turns genes on and off, fights infection and gets rid of environmental toxins by way of the phase two detox pathway of the liver.  This is the pathway that clears excess estrogens.  Mast cell activation is linked with poor methylation.  So can a long list of symptoms including brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression and the list goes on. 

The Chemistry in a Nutshell

Methylation is a reaction that occurs when a molecule passes one methyl group to another.  A methyl group is a carbon atom linked to three hydrogens.  Lessening oxidative stress is another way to describe how methylation functions in the body.  

Building and Balancing

For example, methylation is involved with building creatine, carnitine, CoQ10, phosphatidylcholine, melatonin, and many others. It controls sulfur metabolism and balances our glutathione needs, which I’ll talk more about later.  Other sulfur metabolites like cysteine, taurine, and sulphate are also involved.   

Cellular Energy Metabolism

Methylation influences the production of ATP, the fundamental energy unit of the cell.  Remember mitochondria from biology? Nothing works well if the cell can’t produce ATP in the mitochondria.  There just won’t be enough energy.

Cognitive Health

One of the main systems methylation effects is the production of neurotransmitters.  Autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, depression and anxiety are all seen in combination with methylation issues.


Glutathione is one of the major molecules in the detoxification cycle. If you don’t methylate properly, you won’t be able to detoxify properly. Heavy metal toxins, pesticides and other environmental pollutants like mold will be harder to handle.

Lipopolysaccharide from leaky gut and other bacterial or gut pathogens will also be more difficult to manage.  Ever wonder why one body can handle a level of toxic overload another can’t?  This is likely why or at least a significant factor.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

Histamine intolerance is what this is often called.  Methylation influences the breakdown of histamine in the gut.  Have you heard people talk about histamine intolerance or mast cell activation syndrome?  One of the potential underlying causes is poor methylation.

Gene Expression

Regulation of gene expression is a big topic.  I’ll dedicate my next article to it. Just briefly though, methylation controls the activation and silencing of genes.

How it works is a methyl group binds to the gene and this changes the way that a gene expresses itself.  This is known as DNA methylation or epigenetics. It’s a mechanism that cells use to control gene expression and is getting a lot of press these days and for good reason. This confirms that diet and lifestyle has a massive influence on health and gene expression.



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