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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This contains curcumin, which has a number of health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
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), caviar, flax seeds, halibut, herring, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, swordfish, tuna (bluefin or albacore) and walnuts.
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:
Eggs (don’t discard the yolk)
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.