MTHFR, Nutrition and Genetic Testing
With the advances in technology it is becoming increasingly easy (and popular) for people to access information about their genes. Increasing numbers of biotechnology companies, health companies and healthcare professionals are looking towards nutritional genomics to help guide nutrition recommendations. One of the common areas looked at currently is MTHFR in regards to personalising folate recommendations.
What is nutritional genomics?
Nutritional genomics is the area of science that looks at the relationship between our genes, nutrition and health. It is the over-arching term for a number of exciting new areas of science including:
- Nutrigenetics is the area of science that looks at how the variations in our genes (small changes in genes between people) can affect our nutrition and health.
- Nutrigenomics differs from nutrigenetics, in that it looks at how the foods we eat (and our nutrition) affect gene expression (or how our genes produce proteins from the instructions in our DNA).
One popular nutrigenetic test that is currently available is the MTHFR (methylentetrahydrofolate reductase) genetic test.
What is MTHFR?
Methylentetrahydrofolate reductase gene , MTHFR, is a well-researched gene. Certain variations (polymorphisms) within this gene have been associated with a number of medical conditions and have been suggested to affect the way the body processes folate.
It is important to understand that just because associations have been made in the literature does not mean certain variations are the cause of some diseases. It is therefore very important to seek the correct advice from experts before seeking out testing.
Results of nutrigenetic testing
If you have already had a nutrigenetic test conducted, such as MTHFR, we can assist with helping you understand the results and also incorporate those into an assessment so any nutrition advice given to you will consider these results. Please note though we only deal with information pertaining to nutrition recommendations; information from genetic tests regarding disease development need to be discussed with a clinical geneticist and genetic counselor.
If you are considering having a genetic test
If you are considering having a genetic test done, it is important to seek medical advice before having a test. While for some people having a nutrigenetic test such as MTHFR may seem quite harmless there are still many elements to consider such as will the test be able to tell you the information you are seeking, any ramifications for life insurance, will there be any information in the your results that you potentially may not like to receive and would there be any possible ramifications for your family.
Seeking out the advice of a genetic counselor or clinical geneticist may help you answer some of these questions before having the test. The Health Centre for Genetic Education can assist you in finding a genetic counsellor near you.
A final note
Nutted Out Nutrition believes nutritional genomics holds much potential for the future and that learning more about genetics and genomics will assist us to make more targeted nutrition recommendations for good health, for prevention of diseases and also to assist in treating certain conditions.
While we know a lot already about this area, there is still a lot we don’t know regarding this space, especially on what we do with the information within our genes. Nutted Out Nutrition’s dietitians are passionate about this area and want to continue to bring the latest evidence and advice regarding this space to our clients. However, there are limitations to what we know and how we may use the information – we recommend individuals conduct research and speak with qualified medical specialists before making any decisions regarding testing. The Health Centre for Genetics Education has information that may help you understand more about genetics and healthcare.