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

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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)

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
  • Dopamine + CH3 = Norepinephrine
  • Guanidoacetate + CH3 = Creatine

Methyl donors:

Not Methyl groups (rumors)

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

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

There you have it.

It is really that simple.

Did I miss any? Are you wondering if ‘X’ or ‘Y’ is a methyl donor? Comment below and I’ll review it and then add it to the appropriate list.

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Comments 43

  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?

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      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!

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      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

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      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!

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      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 😉

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      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?

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      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 🙂

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      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!

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      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.

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      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??

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