Here, a sub chapter on the “Biochemistry basics” is shared specifically as an attempt for enlightening the very elusive, and arguably difficult to explain subject on “Methylation”. Once again, all my “Sneak Peek” drafts are simply a preview or a progress which will effectively serve as public pilot feature articles pending final editing and/or revision once the rebranding and rewriting of the entire manuscript is sufficiently complete.
Methylation is one of the hardest to explain technical concepts in Biochemistry, at least given so far by This Author’s (AW) own self-learning comprehension. Whilst This Author (AW) remains humbly admissive he is not in anyway an authoritative figurehead in such a topic, he nonetheless felt obliged to sample this discussion because of its elusive importance to both physiology and psychology.
To begin, we have to examine our current reception on what “Methylation” is. Typing the word Methylation in our search engine yield numerous results that are at first not so readily understandable. However, upon witnessing how the term is used in various contexts, it is likely a reference, to one or both of the following interpretations:
- DNA[m] or DNA Methylation. In Epigenetics (“Epi” ~ meaning “on-top” of existing genetics) ~ A series of biochemistry processes, but first and foremost initiated by outside stimuli through environmental factors thereby prompting the organism to either enable or disable various gene expression(s). This is done by transferring a methyl group (usually denoted as chemistry symbol CH3) into the DNA. Or; –
- A fusion of a Methyl group (CH3) unto an existing macromolecule, be it protein or sugar ~ combined into several “donor” compounds. These are then used to further trigger a complex chain of reactions surrounding protein synthesis, neurotransmitter expressions, immune system activation, and hormone detoxification(s), to name a few.
Either interpretation share more or less a similar goal at producing end-products, or “donor” complexes that are re-used for other biochemistry processes. These end product/s or complexes are commonly known as S-adenosylmethionine (abbreviated As “SAM~EE” ), Phosphadtyl Choline and Creatine (Masterjohn, C. 2019).
However, select and/or key nutrients obtained from wholefoods are widely thought to support the production of these methylation donor(s), as follows :
- Betaine. Also known as TMG or trimethyl-glycine.
- B Vitamins. B12 (methylcobalamin), B3 (NR/Niacin/NMN), B6 (Pyridoxine),
- Folate / folic acid.
- Adequate full spectrum of mineral intakes ~ particularly Magnesium, followed by others ~ Potassium, Zinc, Calcium, Copper, etc.
- Methionine and/or adequate intake of proteins be it wholefoods and/or supplemental.
Why is Methylation so important? What impacts or impairs our Methylation status?
A crisis amidst all extrapolation of “health” and “fitness” is, once again, reciting our message from earlier chapter is that “one-size-fits-all” paradigm is doomed to fail.
“Methylation” is one discussion This Author (AW) speculates, though humbly only in his own comprehension thus far – that may serve an underlying and/or objective mechanism, to provide all possible/causal explanations why individuals should remain respected, both biologically and inherently as simply as that ~ an “individual”, nonetheless but less a subject for “treatment” or “correction”. The proxy behind all of this is accepting for the fact that genetic polymorphism or “mutation” (for the lack of more polite or “pleasant” word) ~ is inevitable.
There is a saying that “Life” is unfair, and we have to get used to it. Indeed, it is depressing at first that anything can be blamed to our Genetics. However this present us a choice. Learn to live within our own selve(s). Or wallow in nihilism, because one could not have “chosen” a better parent.
Methylation address all of these by exploring various polymorphisms or mutations; considering that at some stage, Epigenetics is inevitable to us all. It is a matter of self-introspection of what we can do to anticipate and or to be aware of, off our own internal responses should the worst or the most unexpected of stressful outside stimuli be it prolonged or acute, occur throughout our live(s).
Further, considering almost all health topics from psychology, physiology and immunology to name a few, will involve “Methylation” somewhere in the discussion. It is also an often-raised topic amidst nutrigenomics consulting as it concerns the overall gut health of the individual (Lynch, B. 2022). Specifically, such a discussion may determine and possibly address, to name a few – histamine (in)tolerances, management of bile acids disorders or deficiencies, SIBO / inflammation / gut bacteria imbalances, and all the way to homocysteine handling, clearance and detoxification disturbances.
Factor(s) that potentially impair Methylation status range broadly. However suffice and gladly as one may assume much of these are what we are already aware of, that includes but not limited to ~ chronic alcoholism, sedentary lifestyles, environmental toxin exposures/radiation, smoking and certainly highly reliant conveniences processed intake of foods, and industrial additive(s).
For ease of enlightening the complex topic of Methylation, This Author (AW) hereby decide to extend this mini section by providing a slightly detailed discussion, as a case example how a common neurotransmitter (Dopamine), and its expression can be impacted by one’s methylation status thereby affecting one’s psychosocial livelihood.
Methylation, Psychology and the impact of “slow” or “fast” methylation status
Methylation, in terms of psychology, refer to environmental and/or epigenetic stimuli that affect gene expressions. Methylation here in this regard is the assessment how the individual’s existing major neurotransmitters involved in stress and psychology ~ from dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, adrenaline, to name a few ~ are being handled, and/or expressed in various ways that may be over expressed, or under expressed depending, on the individual genetic response to outside stimuli be it living circumstances and/or environmental reactions. These may be assessed by the “speed” or the rate of how quickly methyl donors are being used up ~ in the processes for expressing any one or more of the above neurotransmitter(s), during, before or after any event that compels a stress response.
For example, a “slow” methylation suggests that the said individual is expressing a certain emotional trait that are of prolonged duration,such he/she appears to be in a fixation state. This is semanticised often as “the Worr-ier genotype”, or the “ruminating type”. However in technicality this may possibly refer to a genetic variance, that prevents that individual to appropriately clear, metabolise or simply “methylate” Dopamine away from circulation. Hence, in other words an excess or an over-expression. Conversely, “faster” or the “Warr-ior genotype” is the opposite ~where hyperactivity, difficulty to focus, inattentiveness, impatiences, easily-distracted reside on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Too often however, people quickly semanticize by using the above categorical characteristics as value judgment/s. Irrespective, what readers need to be assured in mind is that no matter what the semantic behind every trait genetic or otherwise, mutations and polymorphisms are a part of Life. They must be reconciled nonetheless as a virtue for that individual to somehow reframe in a way that enriches their own individual pursuit(s) through life irrespective sociological or personal. Altruistic or capitalistic. Extroverts or Introverts.
Do note however, that the above neurotransmitter Dopamine is only a very small yet complex example of the many dozens of others not confined to neurotransmitters alone. But also other enzymes; chiefly to name a few “COMT” , “MAOA” and “MTHFR”.
This Author (AW) remains hopeful that despite its elementary discussion, this chapter nonetheless illustrate the much needed overview on the theoretical heritage(s) of Biochemistry. Should readers in particular wish to pursue further knowledge especially surrounding their own potential concerns warranting further discussion they remain well advised to gain contact(s) of any alternative health practitioners, nearest to their area whom they should be able to gain a consultation, provided if the finances are both able and sound ~ Naturopaths, Nutrigenomics, and/or ~ Functional Medicine ~ practitioners.