Maybe I should start this post off with a list of some of the things that I’m starting to get really angry about now that I know how much they negatively affect me and others who have MTHFR genetic mutations and/or thyroid disease or dysfunction:

    • Government mandated folic acid fortification of foods: folic acid is an artificial substance that can actually be very harmful to people with MTHFR mutations – and we’re talking about potentially 30% or more of the population here. I’ve written an entire post about this issue and how to avoid folic acid.
    • The fluoride and other poisons in our water supply
    • The allowance of food to be packaged in plastic containers that leach toxins into the food or beverage, or companies that are still charging a lot for their appliances while allowing food-touching components to be made of “bad” plastics.
    • The general level of toxins we are exposed to from industrialized farming and food production, pollution and unacceptable chemicals in products.
    • Poor food quality and harmful ingredients in food, not just for those of us with MTHFR, but for everyone (high fructose corn syrup, for example)
    • “Standardized” medicine that does not evaluate each patient individually and operates against holistic ideals
    • The corruption that allows much of this to happen

This is probably a growing list and I’d be naive if I thought that any of it was going to actually be stopped until everyone gets together and takes a real stand against it. Information about these issues dribbles out here and there in the mainstream media, but overall those of us trying to live clean, healthy lives are not winning. Just look at how many more regular supermarkets there are than organic supermarkets and farmers markets, and how much more expensive “healthy” food is.

On this website I am trying to exemplify the type of lifestyle that someone with special health challenges like MTHFR and thyroid issues should lead. But already I am failing. I have challenges in my household situation that prevent me from customizing everything so that I can avoid both toxins and the common endocrine disruptors that will surprise you. Otherwise, I’m doing the best I can and following a MTHFR protocol and a good diet. If you have MTHFR, I insist that you watch this video on Methylation and MTHFR Defects. It’s created by a naturopath who is a leading researcher in this area and who has MTHFR himself so you can trust the information there. You will learn a ton, I promise!

I live in a rented house at the moment and I’ve just moved back to the United States after many years overseas. We have to take some time to build credit and save for a house while we decide where in the city we want to live long-term. So we have at least another 10-18 months in this house. It’s a great house but some things about it are out of my control right now. I’ll give you a quick tour…

kitchen water faucet

Our water

You can smell the chlorine in our water. My husband complains every time he takes a shower that his skin smells like he’s gone in the pool. While our district is in compliance for all water contaminant levels, a review of the substances in our water is alarming. We have 0.41 mg per liter of fluoride, 1.75 mg per liter of chlorine and a whopping 9.75 average mcg per liter of arsenic! The latter is particularly alarming because of the effect that much arsenic can have on children and expecting/breastfeeding mothers.

But, as you can see from the photo above, our weird kitchen sink faucet doesn’t seem to be particularly filter-ready. Our plan when we purchase a house is to install a comprehensive water filtration system at the primary water main, but in the meantime, we only drink and cook with bottled water. Thank goodness for Costco!

bottled water

Now I know this is not the ideal solution for a few reasons, the first being that the water comes in plastic bottles. The brand we use is supposed to be fluoride and BPA-free, but who ever really knows. The second reason this is not ideal is the cost, but at the moment this is what we’re using until I can investigate some additional options. It would be more costly for us to outfit a house we are only going to live in for a year with a permanent filter than to keep purchasing bottled water in bulk for a year or so.

Third, and perhaps most important, this doesn’t solve the shower problem. Toxins in water are absorbed into our skin and that’s not okay. When you ingest a toxin, your kidneys and liver have a chance to minimize the damage, but your skin absorbs things right into your system. I’ve started shortening my showers and taking them less frequently. I spend most of my time behind my desk anyway so I’m not filthy at the end of the day and requiring constant scrubbing. So when you look at your water sources, be sure to look at everything you are doing with the water: bathing in it, cooking with it, watering your vegetable garden with it…use the best systems you can afford to improve the quality of your water.


Most of the rooms in our house have wall-to-wall carpet. Apparently certain carpets have toxins and, in general, tend to trap carcinogens. I try not to walk around barefoot but, seeing how we don’t know what kind of carpet we have, I’ve tried not to worry about this one too much at the moment.


Plastics in the kitchen

I turned the water tank for our brand new $600 espresso machine over today to empty it and saw the #7 plastic symbol on the bottom. Hmmm… Some quick reading online led me to this handy plastics guide and let me know that I MAY not need to worry about this. In general, however, it is difficult to avoid plastics in the kitchen. Pre-packaged meats often have a plastic tray and even the healthiest foods come wrapped in plastics. I’ve left this image in the set to remind you to do your best to reduce plastics in your kitchen and look for alternative packaging. I hear about new advances in packaging all the time so there are other materials out there. Companies just don’t always implement them because of the costs involved.

plastics in the kitchen

*By the way…coffee isn’t good for people with elevated homocysteine or trying to conceive anyway, and I only allow myself one a day (some things are just non-negotiable for me and my coffee is one of them). Just in case you were wondering.

Gas stoves

I’m a huge foodie who loves to cook so I shudder at the thought of this one. I AM supposed to avoid petrochemicals as much as possible because of my hypothyroidism, so this makes sense. Again, however, this is not something I can change this year.

gas stove

Chemicals in personal care and household products

I stopped using perfumes and lotions, only wear makeup a couple of days a week and have swapped out the products I do use for more natural substitutes. I don’t use fluoride or SLS toothpaste or shampoo with sulfates in it. My next product to tackle is my antiperspirant. That’s going to be tough because, while natural deodorants exist, I haven’t seen any alternative antiperspirants.

What other harmful products are lurking in our cabinets?

What other harmful substances are lurking in our cabinets?

Cleaning products are also tough. I’ve tried a few of the “green” ones and am happy with the results. At the moment, however, I am using a large number of regular cleaning products. I wear a mask and gloves when I clean and aerate the room. This is another area where my lifestyle detox needs some improvement.

What are the toxin challenges in your life? 

42 thoughts on “It’s Difficult To Be Perfect: Things To Avoid With MTHFR

  1. Sally

    I have used white vinegar in a fine spray bottle as deodorant for 22 years now. I also have a benchtop water distiller which will pay for itself in less than 5 months and there is only myself and my cats. If your hot water is mains pressure you can get a filter head for your shower. Wish I could because the gasses released from the heated water in a shower are breathed in going straight to the lungs and hence bloodstream which is far worse than through the skin. Bathing may be better. Cheers Sally


    1. Debbie

      Hi Sally… what is the white vinegar to water ratio you use for your spray deodorant, or do you use the white vinegar straight? Also, do you have to apply it every day, or would it last for another day if you don’t shower till then? Thanks, Debbie


  2. t

    This all sounds great but you forgot to mention animal protein. Excess protein is toxic to the human body. It takes a toll on our kidneys to filter out all those amino acids causing our bodies to be acidic which leads to inflammation and all sorts of diseases like auto-immune diseases, cancer, allergies, etc. While I think it’s fine if one consumes a small amount of animal protein a week (3-6 oz), the amount most people eat (at least in 3 meals a day) is an overkill. It’s killing us and we are all thinking it’s the water, the air, the cell phones, the pollution… no, it’s the animal protein we are eating. Grass fed does not make it better. It’s still laden with hormones, toxins and too many amino acids for our body. We only need about 10% of protein of our calorie intake daily. Animal protein also causes digestion problems which leads to mal absorption of nutrients. The microbiome we have in our gut survives on fiber, people! That means carbohydrates! Not meat. Our cells are fueled by glucose. The cleanest source of glucose is carbohydrates! Not fat or protein. I believe most people are toxic! Their bodies are not lacking in nutrients because they are overloaded with too many toxins. A diet rich in fruit will help detoxify your body. It will flush out toxins while supplying lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients to fight diseases. Google Dr Morse,, Dr Johh McDougall, The China Study… I wish you health!


  3. April

    Hi! I have PCOS & heterozygous C677T Mutation. We have a Berkey water filter that filters out arsenic and fluoride. Also, I have recently discovered Piper Wai deodorant ad LOVE it! they just came out with a stick form…it was only available in a jar before. Only natural deodorant that works for me and doesn’t break me out! We also use Better Life cleaning products! Reasonably priced and work great!


  4. Lori Bernardo

    I feel a lot better off all toothpaste, shampoo, soap and deodorant. I use calcium carbanate with a little water to brush my teeth. My teeth are stronger and whiter. No more biofilm ! My hair is great. I sleep deeper now and feel good. I have mthfr 677 and 1298. I have celiacs and hashimotos. I am off eggs, gluten, dairy, soy and lugumes. I don’t eat grains too.


  5. Diana

    I recently found out I have 2 mutant MTHFR genes – is there a master list of items with hidden synthetic folic acid to avoid? I recently found out many cough drops have glucose from wheat in them – thanks for any help


  6. Jennifer Mull

    Just thought I’d mention that you can get a showerhead filter… we have been using one for the last 5 years… Every 6 mons or so, we change out the filter… we also have one that is hooked to our kitchen sink. I can’t guarantee how well it filters everything out, but you can tell that the water is clearer and tastes better. The shower filters were about $80-90 each, and I think the kitchen one was around $150, maybe less….


    1. Autumn

      On Ebay they range from $4 to $20 for the one I use. I get one with the LED sensor because it takes a whole for our water to heat up in the winter and helps me to know when it is ready to get in. It takes a lot of toxins out. The LED one doesn’t come with the chlorine removing balls so I order them separately to add them. The unlimited one does come with them. Does wonders for the skin! My son who has MTHFR refuses to shower and only takes baths, and won’t use the shower filter to run it unfortunately. He has an excessive sweating issue and I’m so sick of his school acting like he doesn’t bathe or use antiperspirant. My after swears by the salt stone as an antiperspirant. I don’t think it works much for me. I have found after a shower if I use rubbing alcohol mixed with witch hazel, lemon juice, lemon grass, grapefruit oil, tea tree oil and peppermint, it helps a ton. You can make a mixture in a witch hazel or rubbing alcohol bottle. Mix 1/4 alcohol to 3/4 witch hazel or half and half if u can handle the burn if u shave. I find it works better stronger in alcohol. Put a few drops of each essential oil. Make sure they are safe oils without added junk in them. Mix it up. Then after you bathe blot your armpits and any other areas you sweat from, besides private parts. For private parts don’t add the rubbing alcohol. Works great for hemorids too!!! Anyhow, hope this helps! I have thyroid goider issues I was doing good by taking saffron but it’s so darn expensive. I’m just hoping for the best. I tries the thyroid medications and they made me feel crummy so I went holestic.


  7. Anna

    Have you heard of Norwex products for cleaning? You can clean using their microfiber cloths and just water! Their products work extremely well and there is no concern about exposure to chemicals. I was able to use them to clean through my pregnancy. I absolutely love them.


  8. Cathy

    Does anyone know how to rid your body of Folic Acid if you are Homozygous. 2 copies of C677T. Took Folic Acid as prescribed for many years, not knowing Homozgous folks can’t process it. My Folic Acid is off the charts and keep hearing it will stay there forever (and can be precurse to Cancer). Does anyone know if Folic Acid will every get out of your system? Help! Please! Thanks, Cathy


  9. Tara

    Hi, I’ve just found your site and I realize this is an older post, but I thought I’d mention a few things in case it is helpful for you (Andrea) or anyone else.

    Regarding the water – as someone else mentioned, a Berkey water filter is a non-permanent option, which comes in different sizes. I used one when we were in a similar situation – in an apartment before buying our own house. When we moved into our home, I purchased a Pure Effects water filter that goes under the kitchen sink, and a whole-house filter from them as well. Great company; I’ve been pleased with those units as well as the countertop filter we purchased from them for travel purposes. The Pure Effect filters remove fluoride (much more successfully than other filters – fluoride is particularly difficult to filter out), radiation, pharmaceutical residues (yep, tap water contains lots of those, unfortunately), etc. Very thorough filtration, and they continually strive to improve their filtration capabilities. I’ve been very pleased.

    For the shower, I use Sprite shower filters. The whole-house filter I mentioned filters out fluoride and loads of other stuff, and having a shower filter removes any contaminants picked up from the pipes in the house (after the water has gone through the whole-house filter, on its way to the shower). This is the same reason for having a filter in the kitchen in addition to the whole-house filter.

    Regarding cleaning the house – some simple options are 1) Branch Basics all-purpose cleaner (I use it as hand soap, body wash, countertop spray, bathroom cleaner, etc), 2) Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap (diluted) is an all-purpose cleaner as well, 3) Bon ami is a great “scrubby” powder for cleaning sinks, pots/pans, etc.

    As someone else mentioned, antiperspirant isn’t a good idea. However, I’ve found that a homemade recipe for deodorant works better for me than storebought stuff ever did. It’s simply a mixture of coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder. You can find recipes for this at the Mommypotamus blog, the Passionate Homemaking blog, and others. So simple – just mix them up, making sure to not use too much baking soda which can be irritating. Very, very good!

    There’s so much we don’t have much say over, but I think it’s hugely important that we are able to do something about the things that we slather onto our bodies everyday and the things we put into our mouth (yes, even if that grassfed beef comes wrapped in plastic, as mine does!… the alternative is much worse, since grainfed beef is unhealthy for other reasons AND is wrapped in plastic). Steps like eliminating the toxic cosmetics and lotions and shampoos, eating the best we can… those surely matter, even when we have other things (like carpet!) we can’t do anything about.

    Regarding makeup – look into Rejuva Minerals.


  10. Stacey

    Thank-you SO SO MUCH for this article! I went to the dentist yesterday for a root canal and my dentist noticed how inflamed my gum tissue was! Turns out I was having a very adverse reaction to toothpaste (and had been for who knows how long!) with my MTFHR gene defect it makes sense as to why avoiding SLS in toothpaste is a great idea and who knew that brushing your teeth wasn’t supposed to BURN! lol.


  11. allie

    Hi, thank you for your post it is helping me to understand a lot 🙂
    Diet change is the hardest thing for me right now, but as far as cleaning products go- have you heard of Norwex? I have pretty much switched over to all things Norwex- even deodorant 🙂 Check them out you wont be disappointed!


  12. Bridget

    I very recently found out I carry both Mthrfr gene mutations. I was in the process of changing my lifestyle already which has been a tremendous help. Your blog is so helpful. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I found a great natural deodorant before my mutation was discovered. I do not sell these products, I buy them, just to be clear Neal’s Yard Remedies coriander and lemon deodorant works amazing.


  13. Annie

    I was diagnosed with MTHFR about 7 years ago after a string of miscarriages. The only thing I was told was to take folic acid every day to reduce my risk of blood clots and steer clear of birth control. I have suffered from nearly every single listed MTHFR symptom with other doctors since my diagnosis telling me they didn’t know, everything was normal. They’ve suspected MS, cancer, thyroid, irritable bowel, food allergies, ulcerative colitis, heart attack, carpal tunnel, neuropathy… All tests came back normal… Never attributing it to the MTHFR. I am now at the point were this month I can’t sleep because my hands, arms and legs are painfully burning and tingling with peripheral neuropathy to the point I want to cut them off! As I am finally beginning my research, I’m starting to see how deeply involved this condition is, but I still don’t understand it. What does all of this do to my body and how can I fix it??? Internal fixes- nutritional guides, I understand… But these external fixes, I don’t.


    1. Andrea Post author

      Hi Annie – MTHFR means you have trouble detoxing – so externally, living as clean as possible is key


    2. Karen

      Same sentiment here. I have the a1298c mutation and I see now that most of my health related issues could be related to this. I have started taking a good b complex supplement with methyl folate so I am hoping this will make a big difference. My problem is that I like bread, crackers, croutons, etc., and if all flour is enriched then it probably has folic acid. Any suggestions on finding non enriched flour? Also I stopped taking omeprazole and feel so much better, but wondering how and if I can get off my blood pressure medication as well.
      I am trying to detox my life and have made changes such as: filtered water, natural laundry detergent, some organic and hope to add more soon, natural toothpaste. It is kind of fun to know you are eliminating a lot of chemicals and toxins from your life.


      1. Stephani

        I use Simply Balanced Organic flour and I get it from Target. It’s unenriched flour and it bakes really well. I use about 1/4 cup less than what a recipe calls for. I don’t get that full, heavy, bloated, tired feeling after eating breads or other items made with this flour. If I eat enriched flour, I get very tired, a bad headache and stomach bloating. I was so happy to have found this flour because I’m a baker and this has been a great flour without any added supplements!


    3. Karine

      Do not take folic acid if you have MTHFR gene. You should only take folate as your body doesn’t change folic acid to folate.


    4. Kathy

      I too have MTHFR C6777T. You are the first person who has spoken about experiencing itchy red burning tingling skin. I am covered on my arms and legs and have been dealing with this for several years now. I just received the lab test for MTHFR so I am new to this. The supplements I’m suppose to take to help, actually make the itching and redness worse. I have been eating real food, sometimes raw, organic food for over a year, but it is not elevating the problems. There are days I could crawl in a hole and scream, the burning, tingling, itching drives me crazy.


      1. Shannon

        Hi Kathy, I also have mthfr c677t double mutation and the hardest thing for me is the itching, mainly in my nose. I have a clean diet and lifestyle, take methy vitamins and the itching is so bad. I will have a good day once in a while. I feel for you.


  14. Karen

    I have the gene mutation a1298c and am trying to detox my life. Today I looked at the moisturizer I use and the top two ingredients were water and oil, so I took a little olive oil, mixed in a bit of water and applied to my face. It worked beautifully and my skin feels soft and I have eliminated a lot of added ingredients and expense.
    Gradually trying to go organic, drink filtered water, eliminate plastics, etc. Next I think I will try vinegar and oil instead of processed salad dressings. What is the best product (least toxic) to shower with? Thanks!


  15. Ashley Sears

    I just have to say I am SO thankful that I stumbled across your blog. I’m a 35 y/o mom that feels like a hot mess right now, and has tons of doctors telling me they don’t know what is wrong with me. I’ve been diagnosed with comp. hetz MTHFR for seven years now and every doctor has either told me to take more folic acid or “don’t worry about it.” Your blog is starting to shed a lot of light on things that are going on with me right now! SO thank you for all the info!


  16. Danni Francis

    Hey there, firstly I love your blog and how you have tackled your MTHFR problem. Some history on me: I am homozygous for A1298C, was diagnosed last week. My mother, father, brother, auntie and grandpa all have one form of the mutation. Anyway, I was wondering if you knew of, or have used any sort of make up that would be suitable for people with an MTHFR mutation? I am currently using MAC Cosmetics. I have managed to switched my moisturiser to Kora Organics, which is Australian Certified Organic, and I have also switched my cleanser, shampoo and conditioner to a brand called Sukin (which products do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), synthetic fragrances, animal derivatives, harsh detergents, propylene glycol, artificial colours, triethanolamine, mineral oils, EDTA, or parabens). Has anyone tried anything organic, natural, mineral, or more suitable? Thanks again for all your great blogging.


    1. Andrea Post author

      Great question! Unfortunately I don’t have any suggestions but hopefully someone else will. I work from home and have kind of embraced my own natural look over the last couple of years. I only wear makeup if I’m going out for an evening event or to a party, for important business meetings and special occasions. So I actually have just been using my regular makeup, which was always on the expensive side (not that that makes it any better). As for personal care products, I have switched to those not containing the ingredients you mention and also use those sparingly. Would love to know about what makeup brands others are using, however, for when mine run out!


  17. Marie

    Hi! So sorry to hear of your plight. I share it, plus some. It’s very frustrating. Before my eyes were opened and I educated myself, I let them remove my thyroid out of precaution b/c some tests came back as “possible” cancer. It infuriates me now. I digress. the reason I’m writing is to help you with the water situation and cleaning products. Get a Berkey. Any way you can…get a Berkey Water Purification system. They remove practically everything you can think of. You can put mud in the filter and it will come out clean and drinkable. I have one and it’s amazing. I still take chlorine showers but will soon get the Berkey shower head as well.

    As far as cleaning products, I use Norwex. The cloths are a special microfiber that are infused with silver. the silver does not allow viruses and bacteria to multiply so by the next day they are dead. You can essentially clean with just water!!!! For more difficult cleaning, like hard water stains, their other products are made with enzymes, not chemicals. I LOVE Norwex. Here’s some more information. Good luck!


  18. Melissa Hettick

    I’ve just found your blog floating around on Pinterest and want to thank you for sharing your journey my family is also researching our MTHFR genetic mutations and reading someone else’s journey In easy to understand English is so helpful.

    I also want to point out that vinegar and baking soda make wonderful cleaning agents especially when Adding In essential oils.

    Also the use of anti perspirant is not recommended for anyone really, it can Wreck Havoc on your lymphatic tissue since that is where they are applied. making your own deodorant after cleaning up your diet should be all that we need to help With BO. but an Antiperspirant actually works by blocking your sweat glands and that is not good for anyone.


    1. Andrea Post author

      So glad you found me, Melissa!

      Those are excellent tips regarding natural cleaning solutions and anti-perspirant. I have heard quite a bit about the anti-perspirant and will be covering that issue in an upcoming post. Appreciate the tips!


  19. Kelly

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! I am learning so much from reading your posts and it feels really good to know I am not alone in this new lifestyle. I am homozygous 677T along with my 22 month old son and my husband and 5 y.o. daughter are compound heterozygous. I wanted to say thank you and also see if I could share some of the less toxic products I use. I use Beauty Without Cruelty shampoo and conditioner (blue or green bottles are low on the EWG scale) and also their hairspray. Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap as body wash. Coconut oil is my moisturizer/body lotion. A vinegar water solution is great at cleaning everything except granite and toilets. Use peroxide (a standard spray nozzle fits right on the bottle) for the granite and seventh generation for toilets. Mix vinegar and baking soda for cleaning/deodorizing drains, tubs, crusty pots and pans. And lastly we bought a shower filter online that is said to filter the water from the shower and a reverse osmosis system for our drinking water.
    I look forward to reading more of your journey!


    1. Andrea Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing these products and tips, Kelly! This is the area of my life I need to start working on next…especially the shower filter. Really happy that you found this site and please keep in touch! =)


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