So far I’ve talked a little about what foods and substances you should avoid if you have MTHFR gene mutations and what I’m doing to improve my health. Today I want to talk a little about what foods you should be incorporating into your diet. Unfortunately, the nutrient-depleted foods of today often prevent us from getting everything we need from our meals.  If you have MTHFR then supplementation will likely be necessary, as will improving your gut health, both topics I will get to in the coming weeks. But let’s look at some of the specific vitamins and nutrients that MTHFR people need, particularly those who have the C677T mutation.

broccoli mthfr

Remember, these should be included as part of a balanced diet so that you don’t neglect other vitamins and minerals that your body needs. And while I know many of you may not be eating gluten or dairy, I’ve still included some foods like milk and wheat-based foods for those who have not given up those products. Please note also that what is good for one person isn’t always good for another. Listen to your body. Some foods, like those containing a lot of sulphur, don’t agree with people who have certain SNPs (CBS mutation, for example). Hopefully there is plenty on each list to choose from. And remember to always eat organic and non-GMO.

Folate

Folate (or Vitamin B9) is not to be confused with Folic Acid, the synthetic version which you should avoid. Naturally occurring Folate can be found in many different sources, including:

Almonds, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, banana, beans (black, garbanzo, green beans, lima, navy, kidney, pinto), beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, dark leafy greens (collard greens, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach and turnip greens), flax seeds, grapefruit, grapes, green onions, lentils, okra, orange juice and oranges, papaya, peanuts, peas (green, chickpeas, split peas), potatoes, raspberries, red peppers (sweet), squash, strawberries, sunflower seeds and yeast.

beef mthfr

Vitamin B12

B12 is crucial for your brain, nervous system and red blood cell formation. People with MTHFR can become deficient in B12 if they are taking the wrong form (cyanocobalamin) or not getting enough from natural food sources. Without B12, your body can’t utilize Folate properly. You can get this important vitamin from:

Beef (grass-fed), caviar, cheese (especially Feta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss), chicken, clams, crab, eggs, emu, fish (especially mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, trout and bluefish), ham (cured), lamb and mutton, liver (goose, turkey), lobster, milk (grass-fed cows), mussels, octopus, oysters, scallops, shrimp, turkey and yogurt.

salmon mthfr

Vitamin B6

Are you noticing a pattern? It’s all about the B’s. Vitamin B6 is crucial for your brain, immune system, nerve function, red blood cells and protein digestion. Find it in:

Asparagus, avocado, banana, beef, bell peppers, rice and wheat bran, broccoli, brown rice, buckwheat flour, cashews, chestnuts, chicken, chickpeas, chili powder, cod, garlic, halibut, hazelnuts, kidney beans, lentils, liver (beef, turkey), molasses, paprika, peanuts, green peas, pistachios, pork tenderloin, potatoes, salmon, sesame seeds, snapper, sorghum syrup, spinach, sunflower seeds, Yellowfin tuna, turkey, turnip greens and yams.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin cannot be stored in the body so you need to have some every day. Vitamin B2 is essential for energy production and serves as an important antioxidant. Get riboflavin from:

Almonds, cheese (especially roquefort, brie and limburger), chili powder, collard greens, cow’s milk, cremini mushrooms, eggs, green peas, liver (especially beef and lamb), mackerel, paprika, salmon, sesame seeds, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, tempeh, trout, wheat bran, venison and yogurt.

Vitamin C

Another powerful antioxidant, this one is a little easier to get as long as you eat your fruits and veggies. In particular, Acerola cherry, bell peppers, black currant, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, garden cress, grapefruit, guavas, kale, kiwi fruit, lemon, lime, mustard greens, oranges, papayas, parsley, peaches, pineapple, potatoes, red and green hot chili peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes and thyme are all rich in Vitamin C.

sardines mthfr

Vitamin D3

This is more difficult to get from food and also blocked from sunshine exposure if you wear sunscreen. Supplementation is crucial here but you can also get your Vitamin D from beef, catfish, caviar, eggs, flounder, herring, liver, mackerel, milk, mushrooms, oysters, pork, salmon, sardines, sole and tuna. Be sure to balance any Vitamin D supplementation with magnesium in the proper amounts.

Vitamin E

It is also tough to get adequate Vitamin E from foods, but almonds, apricots, asparagus, avocado, basil, bell peppers, chili powder, collard greens, green olives, kale, kiwi fruit, mustard greens, oregano, papaya, paprika, peanuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, taro root, tomatoes and turnip greens all contain substantial amounts of this vitamin.

spinach mthfr

Betaine and/or choline

These are important to the methylation process and also for liver health and homocysteine reduction. Good food sources include amaranth, beef (grass-fed), beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bulgur, cauliflower, chicken, collard greens, eggs, liver (beef), pasta (bread and biscuits), peanut butter, quinoa, mutton, rabbit, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, spinach, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, Swiss chard, tilapia (fish) and turkey.

Glutathione

Several foods boost glutathione levels, including avocados, asparagus, beets, bilberry, bok choy, Brazil nuts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cardamom, cauliflower, cinnamon, collards, eggs, garlic, horseradish, kale, melons, mustard, okra, onions, peaches, raw spinach, rice bran, rosemary, strawberries, turmeric, turnips, walnuts, watercress and watermelon.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine

It’s difficult to get NAC from food but from my own experience, I need very little of this amino acid in additional supplement form. Add protein sources like beef, chicken, fish, milk, nuts, seafood or turkey to your diet. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions and sweet bell peppers along with nuts and seeds will also provide some NAC.

Turmeric

This contains curcumin, which has a number of health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

EPA/DHA

These fatty acids are all the rage these days and are particularly important for people with MTHFR genetic mutations. Find them naturally in algae, anchovies, beef (grass-fed), canola oil, caviar, flax seeds, halibut, herring, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, swordfish, tuna (bluefin or albacore) and walnuts.

eggs mthfr

Get it all in one place

The following foods are on five or more of these lists, packing a punch when it comes to MTHFR nutrition:

Beef (grass-fed)

Broccoli

Collard greens

Eggs (don’t discard the yolk)

Salmon

Sardines

Spinach

It’s important to watch your protein intake and also to consult a nutritionist or doctor before changing your diet. Some of the foods on these lists may also be harmful to your health in large quantities or may not be good for YOU because of another condition you have. These lists are strictly intended as a starting point to get you thinking about what kind of foods a MTHFR deficient person needs for improvement. Something I’ve always heard as a piece of advice is to get a lot of different colors onto your plate throughout the day. The more of a rainbow of foods you eat, the healthier you’ll be. It’s all about balance and moderation. I will discuss how I created a personalized nutrition plan for myself in the coming weeks.


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If you have a comment that is related to your own health or have questions that require an answer, please leave these in the community discussion forums and not in the comments below. Thanks! =)

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18 thoughts on “Good Foods For MTHFR: What To Eat

  1. Heather Brandt

    can you refer me to any resources explaining how much protein we need? I eat paleo and that means it is high protein. I have read paleo or GAPS diet can benefit folks with MTHFR so I don’t understand the contradiction and don’t know what to do :/

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Heather – Great question! Dr. Lynch recommends 0.7 grams protein per kilogram of body weight here

      I’m not sure where Paleo came in as being recommended for MTHFR people – I know a lot of people like it because it’s less sugar and removes grains and processed foods but to my knowledge it is not necessarily a better diet for MTHFR because of all the meat. Another recommendation from Dr. Lynch is to eat foods that are low in methionine if you have have elevated homocysteine (as many people with homozygous 677CT do). So that doesn’t really jive with the paleo diet because if you look at that list, meats are very high in methionine. There is no “one size fits all diet” for MTHFR and from what I can put together, paleo (while it has its virtues) certainly would not be it.

      Reply

      1. Heather Brandt

        Thank you! I think maybe they recommend it to help heal leaky gut which some of us have? I don’t know…I know I don’t necessarily feel that great eating lots of meat right now and it is hard to juggle with my kids who are on GAPS (my gut feeling is I could just do gluten-free and restricted/limited dairy–which I do right now as it is but with most of our meals being GAPS). I’m a newbie to learning about my husband and I both being homoz 677CT and it is all a lot to take in right now…though in one sense it brings some relief to know that our fertility probs were related to something genetic :/

        Reply

        1. spirova17

          Personally I would make up my own nutrition plan based on what you know about your own personal needs – you can pull from various diets. I find some of these popular diets to be too limiting for every person, or too much of a temptation to not pay attention to what your body is telling you. Sounds like you know about your own requirements and have the knowledge to take charge =) Good luck on the road to better health!

          Reply

  2. K

    hi there. i recently saw a new ob who is in the middle of testing me for mthfr. i have a lot of symptoms of hypothyroid but all those came back normal (antibodies, free t3 & t4 and tsh). after talking to the dr and speaking of my miscarriages, she said it sounds like i have a form of mthfr.
    i promised myself i wouldnt look it up on the web until i knew if i had it. but i found myself “googling” today and i found your site.
    one thing i found interesting is that if i do have it she made a comment that when we become (hopefully) pregnant again that i have to go on a higher dose of folic acid, take a baby aspirin and also use lovenox injections. does this sound right to you?
    granted i dont know if i even have it, on the dr’s end it was a quick, “this is how we will handle you when you get pregnant” type of comment. so i know we will go more into once the results come in.
    i will do more “digging” later when i get home. i am so glad i found your site. looks like a lot of helpful info here!!! thank you for posting it!

    Reply

      1. K

        Thank you. Sorry i should of waited until i got home and was able to do more research instead of panicking and writing a comment right way. but thank you for responding and i will head of there tonight. thanks.

        Reply

  3. Christine

    I found out recently that I am Homozygous for A1298C so my ND put me on a 5-MTHF, 1mg supplement made by Thorne Research. I am supposed to take 4 capsules per day. I have been reading a lot online about people taking B-Vitamin supplements in addition to the MTHF supplement. I asked my doctor about this and she said that I did not need the B vitamins because my bloodwork showed that I am not deficient. Do you only need to take the B Vitamins with the MTHF if you are deficient???

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      My understanding is that the B vitamins all work together, so you wouldn’t want to supplement with just one form. Red blood cell (the usual serum testing) is also not always accurate. And everyone’s situation is completely different so it’s impossible to advise you on anything without knowing more about your health. If you’d like to talk about your case specifically, please post in the forums as all personal discussions take place over there. =)

      Reply

  4. Sara

    Hi Andrea

    I just found your website and I think it’s great. I will be spending a lot more time here reading the info you’ve put up. One comment I’d like to make – The absorption of B12 can be reduced or prevented completely if a person has Pernicious Anaemia (PA). PA is really quite common amongst people with endocrine autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s, etc. So you can eat as much B12 containing foods as you like but your body will not absorb it. This then becomes a double whammy with the MTHFR genetic thing.

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing that information, Sara! Those with autoimmune diseases should ask their doctor for a methylmalonic acid (MMA) test to determine whether they are B12 deficient. Then they may supplement with B12, perhaps with methylcobalamin shots if they tolerate the methyls…or sublingual B12. Lithium orotate in very small amounts is helpful with B12 transport. Others may also want to take intrinsic factor if that is deficient.

      Reply

  5. Jen

    Wow – thank you so much!! Between my three children and I (MTHFR and other mutations like CBS, and COMT) it’s been difficult to determine what to eat and how to supplement. This information is invaluable and has inspired me to start juicing collards ;)

    Reply

  6. dawn

    Andrea, thank you for taking the time to pull together all this information. Having recently discovered that I have homozygous MTHFR, I am so overwhelmed with what I am finding online. All the abbreviations, delicate balances of supplements indicated, and debate over what and how much is affected by this condition is just too much information for me to absorb. I’d almost rather not know, except that I have finally become symptomatic after 36 years of blissful ignorance. But your writing is a breath of fresh air, giving me hope that a normal individual without a medical degree might actually be able to get a handle on this thing (with the doctor’s help, naturally – but mine is the kind who just thinks tossing some Deplin at me means problem solved).

    I note that you have the compound heterozygous form of the gene. Do you know if these dietary recommendations are the same for other types of mutation? Is treatment the same no matter which type of mutation you have?

    Reply

    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Dawn, Thanks so much for your comment and I’m really happy that you’ve found my information helpful!

      I think a common misconception is that there is a sort of “one size fits all” diet for MTHFR. This is definitely not the case. A very large percentage of the population has MTHFR gene mutations and these people differ in their food sensitivities, other significant gene variants (SNPs), overall health and environment. The most important thing I can recommend is to keep your food and environment as clean as possible, watch your intake of processed foods, remove folic acid (and food fortified with it) from your diet and eat organic. Everything else really depends on you and what you need to achieve nutritionally from your diet.

      I hope that helps even though I realize it probably isn’t the simple answer you were looking for.

      Reply

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