Guide To Eating For Methylation And Detoxification

Photo credit: John Jackson

Photo credit: John Jackson

What is methylation? Methylation is a biochemical process in you body that acts sort of like a switch, to turn things on and off. It takes place in almost all parts of your body and it is constantly happening. It’s needed for DNA and RNA synthesis, it helps control inflammation, it's needed for detoxification pathways in the liver to help clear your body of toxins, and it also is necessary for the metabolism of neurotransmitters that control your mood.

MTHFR is a common genetic polymorphism. It affects the way your body metabolizes folic acid, and it plays a role in methylation. If you have the MTHFR mutation consider taking a supplement that contains the appropriate, activated forms of your B vitamins, including folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. If you are familiar with MTHFR, you may be familiar with the concept of taking methylated forms of these vitamins. The methylated forms aren’t necessarily the only ones you need to consider. Depending on other genetic polymorphisms you have in how you metabolize B vitamins, there are other forms of Bs you may need.

With MTHFR, it’s also important that you avoid folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate. Folic acid is added to many food products, so make sure to read labels. Folate is the natural form of this important B vitamin and it is found naturally in a wide variety of foods.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to support methylation, detoxification and mood

Nutrients important for methylation: folate, B6, B12, Betaine, Magnesium, Zinc, B2, Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, DHA (omega 3s), Probiotics

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione,Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Nutrients important for mood: B1, B2, B3, Biotin, B5, B6, Folic acid, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), magnesium

Nutrients and Foods Containing Them

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is only found naturally in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods contain carotenoids)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Betaine: Quinoa, beets, spinach, amaranth grain, sweet potato, turkey, veal, beef

Choline: Beef liver, beef, eggs, salmon, chicken, cod, Brussels sprouts

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans 

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans 

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef 

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids: Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs 

Flavonoids: Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice 

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol (antioxidant): Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Probiotics: Prescript Assist, Ther-Biotic (both recommended - reassess probiotic when current one runs out)

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.