Methyl Group, Methylation, Methyl Trapping: What Are They?

There is a lot of confusion around ‘methyl group’, ‘methyl donor’, ‘methylation’.

I’ve created a quick cheat sheet here for you.

 

Methyl group:

  • Carbon + 3 hydrogens (CH3)

Methyl donor:

  • a substance that is capable of donating a methyl group to another compound. Simply because something has a ‘methyl group’ does not mean it can donate it.

Methylation:

  • The act of giving a methyl group to another compound altering its chemical structure thereby changing it to something else. This is a carefully orchestrated transfer from one compound to another which requires an enzymatic process.

Methylation examples:

  • Uracil + CH3 = Thymine
  • Histamine + CH3 = N-methylhistamine
  • Homocysteine + CH3 = Methionine
  • Norepinephrine + CH3 = Epinephrine
  • Serotonin + Vitamin B5 + CH3 = Melatonin
  • Guanidoacetate + CH3 = Creatine

Methyl donors:

Not Methyl donors (rumors)

  • Caffeine
  • CoQ10 (any type)
  • Serine
  • Glycine
  • Melatonin
  • Folinic acid

Methyl conserving:

Methyl blocking:

Methyl Trapping:

  • When methylfolate and methylcobalamin cannot join forces and meet together.
  • This is typically caused by ‘methyl blocking’ or a deficiency of one or the other (methylfolate or methylcobalamin)
  • This can falsely elevate serum folate and/or serum cobalamin

Methyl Conserving means these compounds require a lot of methylation in order to be made. By taking them directly, your methylation does not have to work hard to make them.

Over 80% of your SAMe, which is your body’s primary methyl donor, is used to make creatine and phosphatidylcholine. By taking creatine and phosphatidylcholine, your SAMe does not get used up to make them.

Creatine, phosphatidylcholine and carnitine support your methylation without having to take methyl donors!

Methyl burning is the flip side. Niacin and lysine are two compounds which use up your methylation in order to process them.

Lysine and niacin are very much needed by our body to function. It is important to know that if we take many grams of niacin or lysine, we may be reducing our methylation capacity.

Stress is a major methyl burner. A great way to support your methylation is to reduce stress.

How can you reduce stress in your life?

Methyl blocking means these things slow or reduce your body’s ability to methylate.

In order to methylate, one needs to identify methyl blockers and remove them bit by bit. As these methyl blockers are removed, methylation may proceed as it needs to.

Comment Below

Are you wondering if ‘X’ or ‘Y’ is a methyl donor?

Other related questions?

Comment below and I’ll review it and then add it to the appropriate list.

Get Dr Lynch’s “26 Steps to Clean Genes”
Dr Lynch values your trust. We do not spam.

Comments 60

  1. Isn’t caffeine also known as trimethylxanthine? It feels like a methyl donor to me. I am homozygous for COMT and MAO and very sensitive to methyls. Are you sure caffeine is not a methyl donor?

    1. Post
      Author

      Gretchen – it does have three methyl groups, yes. The question is do those methyl groups get donated to other compounds or not as caffeine breaks down. The answer is no. They just get removed. Methylation is a carefully orchestrated process – done by methyl donors. Caffeine is not one of them.

  2. Hi Dr. Lynch- I need to find a sam-e supplement that is under 200 mg….and it seems impossible! Any thoughts or suggestions for me? Thank you! It’s for my daughter…she is 9 and I need to reduce the amount of sam-e just a smidge. Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Erica –

      You can open the capsule of SAMe and have her dissolve it under her tongue. I use this one on my boys when they need it for various reasons. Sleep mainly for my 11 yr old boy.

      Then save the rest of the capsule for next time.

      Do not mix in water – as her stomach acid will ruin it. Needs to be placed in the mouth for a bit and absorbed under the tongue for a few seconds – like 10 or so. Guessing.

  3. Hi Dr. Lynch- I need to find a sam-e supplement that is under 200 mg….and it seems impossible! Any thoughts or suggestions for me? Thank you! It’s for my daughter…she is 9 and I need to reduce the amount of sam-e just a smidge. Thank you!

  4. Dr Lynch, at the moment i study nutrition at CNM London and im very much interested in learning more abt all this biochemical processes.What would be a good point to start and will you have any type of courses anytime soon in London ??

    Kind Regards

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Albert – I love London 🙂

      Well – like. I prefer sun, warmth, dry and nature – but the food selection there is amazing – and people cool too.

      Good place to start – my YouTube channel – this presentation was shot in London – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VCOGqNlc4s

      If you’ve ordered a 23andMe test, using http://www.strategene.org to run your raw data through is a great actionable way to learn as well. You apply biochemistry on yourself – so you feel and experience the changes. Plus you can participate in our Facebook group as well – and learn a ton from folks there – and I add info often as well.

      Thank you for your interest!

  5. Dr Lynch, at the moment i study nutrition at CNM London and im very much interested in learning more abt all this biochemical processes.What would be a good point to start and will you have any type of courses anytime soon in London ??

    Kind Regards

    1. Hi Albert – I love London 🙂

      Well – like. I prefer sun, warmth, dry and nature – but the food selection there is amazing – and people cool too.

      Good place to start – my YouTube channel – this presentation was shot in London – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VCOGqNlc4s

      If you’ve ordered a 23andMe test, using http://www.strategene.org to run your raw data through is a great actionable way to learn as well. You apply biochemistry on yourself – so you feel and experience the changes. Plus you can participate in our Facebook group as well – and learn a ton from folks there – and I add info often as well.

      Thank you for your interest!

    1. Post
      Author
  6. Dear Dr Lynch, I have a question regarding juice fasting and mthfr mutation. Is that relevant to have juice fasting while you have a mthfr mutation since the fast will increase the detox process, would then the body, with the mutation, be able to handle it?
    Thanks and hi from France 😉

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Xavier –

      Cool – your name was my French class name 🙂

      Sadly I forgot most my French – j’ai oblie moi francais – man – no doubt that wrong.

      Fasting is fantastic – just make sure you are well rested and not active when you fast.

      Don’t push it either – if you feel you need to break it – break it. Stop I mean.

  7. Hi,

    my mom is compound heterozygous for MTHFR. I asked her to get tested with a Holo-TC-Test and B12 was normal.
    Now, regarding Methyl trapping: Is it possible that her B12 ist just high enough because she hardly uses it and will fall fast if she would supplement with 5-MTHF?

    1. Post
      Author

      Possibly – you are right on track. The issue is the enzyme which uses both MTHF and methylcobalamin is easily blocked by heavy metals and oxidative stress and aldehydes. Thus – may need MTHF, glutathione, PQQ, heavy metal chelation, gut healing, etc or may get lucky and only need MTHF 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Ayu –

      It is very simplified and I don’t like using those terms. I will make an article about it at some point.

  8. Hey Dr. Ben! LOVE your article, so helpful! I have a quick question ( i know you cant give medical advice) I am having a HARD time figuring out which B12 is best for HIGH serum levels…MMA elevated. Bad symptoms of low folate, and b12. I would like to lower serum levels, is that possible? All i have is one copy of A1298C. Never had serious health issues just after depleting every vitamin due to insane exercise, triathalons, ect…I began to have shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, hairloss, large red blood cells! So my question is which b12 would be best to lower the serum levels and boost intercellular b12? Thank you so much! I appreciate your response! I cant figure out which to start with!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Faith –

      Best form of B12 to reduce MMA is adenosylcobalamin. It helps reduce MMA directly via the MUT enzyme.

      The best form of folate to start with in this situation is folinic acid – as it supports red blood cell health and DNA production (hair growth).

      Are you saying you were a high level athlete and overtrained? Common to see a backlash and depletion from this – I highly recommend Optimal Electrolyte to support the mitochondria and electrolyte balance.

  9. Hello Dr.
    Hetero c677t, recovering alcholholic. I see niacin listed as a methyl burner, I take high dose niacin to treat cholesterol and depression. Is this a major problem? Thank you.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Dave –

      Congratulations on taking control of your health and beating alcoholism!

      High dose niacin is very useful – but yes – you’re right to be concerned a bit. Continue taking the niacin as prescribed by your doctor – just also support your liver and methylation with methyl donors OR things that conserve methylation.

      Consider creatine to support your methylation along with phosphatidylcholine. These two nutrients help conserve methylation very well – and support your liver health.

      If you notice homocysteine levels increasing, you may consider supporting them with HomocysteX Plus. This is formulated with a number of methyl donors to help support homocysteine levels.

  10. So I am very frustrated. I have been treated for hypothyroid since 2014. In 2016 found out I have mthfr a1298c, mthfd1 g1958a. So my doctor put me on methyl folate l-5 mthf 1000mcg. I don’t really know if he really knew what it all meant. Energy got better and felt better. Then this last week had a hypoglycemic episode at work persuasively sweating, disorientated, confused. I have been reading all your videos and notes but still confused and I’m a nurse. I have been studying days ran my strategene got it all printed out. Taking notes like a fool. So I had read maybe since I cut all my bread, sugar and milk out maybe that’s what did it. Maybe my dosage of methyl folate to high. I really don’t know. Made an appointment with a functional med dr tomorrow and I hope they can help. I’m so tired again even after hours of sleep, nervous, anxious, cold in extremity, dizzy, lack of appetite, weight loss, hypoglycemic but only at work I work in er, feel as though I have something wrong like doom. I had this before in 2014 before but once on the methyl folate it quit I felt good for so long now back to square one again. On the upside gluetin free, dairy free,and sugar free and eating all Whole Foods and mostly organic. By no means am I complaining but genetics is very confusing but I try so hard to understand it. It has sparked a fire in my education and now in nurse practitioner school I want to not only understand for myself but my patients as well.

    1. Hi Kim –

      I think you meant to comment here on the Genetic Testing article?

      Yes – it is tough.

      And – yes – your doctor didn’t handle your MTHFR SNP appropriately.

      Yes – your dose is too high. I would talk with them and stop taking it for now and consider taking some niacin.

      Please read this article on preventing methylfolate side effects.

      One does not determine dosage of a supplement based on a genetic test! That’s not possible for MTHFR. History and labs are needed – just like they are for most everything else.

      You’ll get there. I was super confused in the beginning, too. I still am when I am exploring new areas. It’s tough. The cool thing is once you learn how to play genetics, it is SOOO FUN and SOO powerful!

      This is a great video to start with – Practical Applications of Methylation

  11. Hi, Dr. Lynch,

    I took a high powered vitamin that sent me into almost a manic state. I have NEVER done anything like that before. I was awake almost 6 days. It was horrific. Due to that problem, everything else arose. Now I’m in a bind with health. I called the Company(they are suppose to be amazing, I did my research), and explained what happened to me and they said the few times that had happened it has had to do with the person having methylation issues. I did test for the gene. I do have 2 mutations. Could a vitamin do that? Is that consistent with over methylating??

    1. Good Luck on getting that answer from ANY natural supplement pusher. They will not admit that a lot of supplements have side effects good and bad. Like Pharmaceutical companies do drugs, they also overcharge people for supplements. If I am wrong correct me. Most supplements I have taken over 40 years had zero effect that I could see or feel.

      1. Hi Ken –

        There are a number of supplement companies that provide very effective formulations. Thorne Research and Life Extension are two great ones and my company, Seeking Health, is also very respected.

        The key is looking at formulations. Do you see quality forms of nutrients? Do you see a solid amount of them? Also do they provide certificate of analysis which demonstrates purity?

        Formulations I do are very potent – so I often recommend starting lower and working up.

  12. I have been attempting to support my mthfr, comt, mao and cbs mutations for 2 years and although I’m doing much better wiTh the metlyfolate, b12, p5p, vitamin d and zinc I still have random bouts of anxiety and panic followed by brain fog as well as feeling hyperactive, I can not sit still for any period of time and my
    Mind is constantly planning and overthinking. I drive
    Myself and my husband crazy. Am I missing something?

    1. Amy –

      I’m glad you’re doing better. You likely are missing something as you are not where you want to be.

      I highly recommend the Dirty Genes Course Bundle so you can get a vast array of tools and practical information to start with right away.

      There are many things in the bonuses and video courses which you can apply immediately. I am confident you’ll find improvement in your mind 😉

      Then you can take it a bigger step forward once my book is available for you Jan 30 (it’s also included in the bundle).

  13. What can you do if you suspect folate trapping due to a very high B12 level and already supplementing with active folate and b12? This is occurring in two of my children (21 mo with t21, and 18 years with compound hetero mthfr).

    1. Hi Tonya –

      Methyl trapping has to do with what could be contributing to Methyl Blocking. See the list above.

      By addressing the methyl blockers, then you will remove the ‘trap’ and the folate and B12 can get by and used.

      You will not know if they are truly methyl trapping if you are supplementing with B12 and folate. You’ll need to remove those two and then retest in a month or so to see if levels are still high.

      I highly recommend working with Dr Peirson http://www.downsyndrometreatment.net/

  14. I am MTHFR (-/-) but I have MTHFD1 (+/+). So it looks from the Folate Cycle that I may have difficulty moving from THF to 5,10 Methylene THF, and this probably dirties my MTHFR. I eat riboflavin food (leafy greens, lamb, spinach, almonds), take a daily 5-MTHF, DHA, ALA to attempt to increase the activity of MTHFR; and working to improve my low thyroid (hope to have that back to normal soon);

    BUT if my MTHFD1 is not functioning well, what more can I do to support MTHFR and methylation? NAD (niacin)?

    1. Hi Nancy –

      What you are doing looks good. You may also need to take some folinic acid as well.

      You won’t need to take folinic acid if your l-methylfolate is getting through your MTR enzyme and in order to do that it needs vitamin B12 and liposomal glutathione.

      Best way to support your folate pathway besides supplementation is to reduce its workload.

      – vacations
      – stress reduction
      – sleep
      – less processed food
      – less folic acid
      – mild exercise
      – less alcohol
      – less injuries / wounds / leaky gut

      Reduce the need for your body to need more folate.

      I give a lot of lifestyle and environmental tips in the Dirty Genes Course Bundle – and these tips help keep your genes clean or help clean them up.

      I’m impressed with all that you’re doing already 😉

      1. Thanks Dr. Ben! — I forgot to mention that I am supplementing with adenosyl/hydroxy B12, supplements are guided by my Functional Medicine Practitioner Dietician. I also eat a ketogenic diet. So it is good to hear that I mostly need to work on my sleep, keep stress low (sometimes difficult with difficult children!), and exercise (which I do regularly). Appreciate the response very much! Thanks, n

  15. I’ve read that if you supplement with l carnitine your body will stop making it. I know you recommend l carnitine so I was wondering if this is truly a concern.

    1. Hi Sandra –

      If you provide your body with any end product – such as creatine, carnitine or glutathione – then it will stop making it as there is a feedback system in place.

      However, as soon as your body runs out of those compounds, it will try to make them again.

      It will not just flat out stop forever making them – it senses the need and requirements and then goes to work. It’s a continuous evaluation – a continuous start / stop as needed.

  16. Dear Dr Lynch,

    Thank you so much for your brilliant work and for sharing your knowledge with us!
    I have a 2 years old son suffering from severe genetic epilepsy. He has Homozygous MTHFR A1298C, Homozygous VDR, Homozygous GSTP1 and a heterozygous COMT.
    He has a stubborn Candida infection which so far i couldn’t eliminate with botanicals. He gets about 300 mg of Niacinamide because of other issues.
    I started giving him methylfolate 200 mcg and hydroxy B12 about 1000 mcg. I don’t see any improvement:( his gluthathione levels are fine (he gets lyposomial gluthatione) and i supplement him with electrolites. Am i on a good way?
    I plan giving him some medication to eliminate his Candida issue. Does it mean that because of his Candida infection and the fact that he gets Niacinamide he has reduced (blocked) methylation? Can i do anything to help him? He is non verbal so it’s not that easy to get a feedback from him. We have a holistic practitioner but i feel that he doesn’t have enough knowledge to lead is through this complicated situation.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

    Gal

    1. Hi Gal –

      Sorry to hear about your son.

      I highly recommend you work with a health professional as your son is so young.

      Jess Armine, DC is great
      Barry Smeltzer
      Jared Skowron, ND

      all are great health professionals and all work via Skype.

      Diet is a big factor with candida – so need to work with that in a big way. At the same time using potent yet safe botanicals.

  17. I am compound MTHFR I am on methylated B12 injections and Methylated folate 15 mg prescription. I have taken indigestible charcoal for years is that a blocker or a problem for my MTHFR?

  18. My serum folate is always or over the upper limit on test. So high that it just gives a greater than the test upper limit > 23.7 ng. I have heterozygous mutations at 677 CT and 1298 AC of mthfr. My B12 is around 700 the last time but is usually over 1000. One of my questions is could the mthfr mututuation be causing the consistant elevation in my folate and b12? Possibly because my body can’t utilize b12 and/or folate efficiently because of my mthfr? Also when I take methylated folate and methylated b12 my functional medicine dr recommened I feel like I start getting overmethylation symptoms after a few days. Taking high quality high does vitamins with both in it also makes me feel the same way. I’m trying to take to help brain fog and fatigue but the supplements don’t feel like they’re helping so would methyl donors work better without overmethylation symptoms. Also is there any way to get folate level lower? I thought high folate can increase my cancer risk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *