Archive for the ‘Vitamins’ Category
I did a B12 trial earlier this year. I found that B12 seemed to be useful in helping me recover from food chemical reactions (particularly amine hangovers), but the B12 gave me insomnia, irritability, palpitations, and caused weight gain, which are as bad in their own way as eating the amines in the first place.
B12 seems to have glutamate-agonist properties. I wondered whether taking it with a glutamate-antagonist might help neutralise some of the negative side effects. B6, K2, glycine, glutamine, theanine, and just being in ketosis are all potential options. I know from past experience that some of these have side effects too. B6 just gives me brain fog. Glycine makes me depressed. Glutamine doesn’t do much of anything apart from being very good at neutralising sugar cravings. Theanine had an effect but wore off very quickly, probably because the body breaks down theanine into glutamate. Ketosis makes me calm, but it isn’t strong enough to counteract the effects of the B12.
The last remaining option is vitamin K. I’ve been led to believe that vitamin K is supposed to protect against glutamate toxicity (if only I could find a pubmed study showing that I’d feel more confident about saying it). Vitamin K certainly makes me feel calm. The effect is like being in ketosis, but different. Vitamin K makes me feel drugged, like I’m on Valium. I find it hard to get worked up about anything. It also makes me feel stupid and I get very forgetful. It does not help me to control my weight, if anything, I’ve felt in the past that I’ve gained weight while taking it, though my hunger and blood sugar regulation feels under better control. K2 is supposed to help produce energy so WAPF members have blamed chronic fatigue syndrome on K2 deficiency. K2 has never made me feel more energetic. Pantothenic acid was always much better at that.
I can’t take vitamin K2 regularly because I had deep vein thrombosis a few years ago, and when I take vitamin K2 for more than a few days, the site of my DVT starts hurting and swelling. Vitamin K is involved in clotting, and old DVT sites usually have some fibrin still stuck to the inside of the leg vein just waiting to cause trouble. The only other thing that does that to me is calcium carbonate supplements. I’ve never managed to induce it with vitamin K1, but then, vitamin K1 is very hard for the body to absorb.
During this trial I took between 500mcg and 1.5mg of the Vitamin Research Products brand of vitamin K, which is largely the K2 MK4 variant, along with the adenosylcobalamin I was already using. I did not take the supplements every day, only when I had eaten something I knew I would react to.
What happens when I take B12 and K2 together?
Well, I feel calm. It doesn’t negate the positive effects of the B12 on amine hangovers, but it stops the slightly manic, overstimulated feeling and the insomnia. It doesn’t stop the weight gain. I also managed to pick up a couple of veruccas after years of not having any, possibly something to do with a K2/A antagonism (vitamin A arrests the growth of Human Papilloma Virus and was thought to help that poor tree root man who was in the news a while ago).
But I fall asleep.
I literally can’t keep my eyes open. It takes a couple of hours to kick in. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I just thought I must have slept badly or I was just tired. But that’s not the case. I’ve been trying this one out for a couple of months now, and every single time it’s knocked me out. Great at bedtime, not so great on a Sunday morning when you want to recover from Saturday’s cheating.
Vitamin K, along with glutamate, help to form a protein called gamma-carboxyglutamate protein, or Gla protein for short. Gla protein is involved in bone formation. The only suggestion I can find in pubmed that Gla might have anything to do with sleep is this abstract:
The venom of a fish-hunting cone snail (Conus geographus) contains a novel toxin, the “sleeper” peptide, which induces a sleep-like state in mice when injected intracerebrally. We demonstrate that this peptide contains 5 mol of gamma-carboxyglutamate (Gla) in 17 amino acids. The amino acid sequence of the sleeper peptide is Gly-Glu-Gla-Gla-Leu-Gln-Gla-Asn-Gln-Gla-Leu-Ile-Arg-Gla-Lys-Ser-Asn-NH2. Gamma-carboxyglutamate in a neuroactive toxin
The effect is quite different from the effects of GABA and melatonin – they send me into light dream sleep. Melatonin is particularly awful, as it induces a hypnotic not-quite-asleep state in me with vivid dream/hallucinations and a big hangover the following morning. The B12/K2 combo doesn’t do this. The sleep is proper, deep sleep. My partner has problems getting into deep sleep, and he also reported feeling like he got deeper sleep after taking K2. He’s usually very skeptical of vitamins, but he seemed quite impressed in this case.
Yippee, I discovered something unknown to science. A phenomenal new sleep drug. Are there any researchers who would like to take this up?
Unfortunately unless I plan on giving up all my IQ points and turning into a sloth, I think I may have to pass on taking B12/K2 regularly. I went on a five day food chemical binge recently, and B12/K2 failed to stop me feeling awful, though they limited my symptoms. I spent far too much time asleep. But at least I have a backup plan for those days when my diet slips.
Having had some relatively helpful improvements taking methyl-B12, and some fairly awful experiences taking other methyl donors like folate, especially when trying to come down off them, I’ve been meaning to get round to doing another isolated B12 trial for a while. Earlier this year I did one. It lasted for around two and a half months.
The RDA for B12 is only about 2.4 micrograms in the US and 1 microgram in the EC. There have been calls from some quarters to increase the RDA by 500% to around 5 micrograms, a dose that is easily obtainable in the diet if you eat meat, but very difficult to obtain if you only eat eggs and dairy, and very variable in different types of fish. I get several hundred times the RDA of B12 in my diet daily. I do not have absorbency problems with B12, because I can feel the effects and side effects of B12 when I take a relatively small dose.
Yasko’s nutrigenomics protocol (which I will critique at a later date), tests for a number of genetic variations in the capacity of the body to reduce (recycle) oxidised B12, the theory being that if you have a poor capacity to recycle B12, you will have a higher dietary requirement than other people.
There are various types of B12 – cyanocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, and methylcobalamin. All are active in the body. Cyanocobalamin is thought to be the least useful to the body but is the type usually found in vitamin supplements. B12 is used by the body to detoxify cyanide (i.e. cyano-), so this does make sense. Hydroxycobalamin is the type typically found in meat, along with some adenosylcobalamin. Apparently methylcobalamin is only found in significant amounts in milk, suggesting it may be required by infants and young animals. The body also uses B12 to detoxify sulphites to some extent, forming sulfitocobalamin – thought to be a toxic compound in its own right.
I used a Metabolics adenosylcobalamin supplement in capsule form. I chose this over hydroxycobalamin purely because I could not obtain hydroxycobalamin in powder form. Each capsule contains 1 milligram (1000 micrograms) of B12. This is an enormous dose, approximately 100,000 times the EC RDA. I have taken very large doses of B12 on a number of occasions. I experience some rather peculiar effects from a large dose of B12. I often become twitchy and very anxious and stressed. I also get the most excruciating ‘trapped nerve’ pain down the side of my neck. I had no intention of taking large doses of B12, instead I broke open each capsule and sprinkled a tiny amount on my tongue. I could make one capsule last over a week. This means I was still taking quite a large dose, but not large enough to give me nerve pain.
B12 does some very interesting things to me. Firstly, it makes me feel more intelligent. I feel wittier, brighter, more cheerful, more motivated, and more chatty. It makes me just a wee bit too happy. It also seems to have the peculiar effect of turning me into social dynamite. Gee, I never knew I could be so funny and entertaining that people ask me for my phone number and email address [the slight problem with this is that I never answer my phone unless I know who is calling!]. It also gives me more energy. Food chemicals, alcohol and stress often leave me feeling drained and fibromyalgic, and B12 seemed to negate some of this.
I have an online friend who tried taking B12 and after a couple of weeks experienced a seizure – I think complex partial. She is doing a nutrition degree and after researching this she discovered that B12 has the ability to depress a form of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD67) that converts glutamate into GABA. The symptoms I am going to describe make perfect sense in this context. Interestingly, the Japanese regard glutamate as making you more intelligent, which has something to do with why they eat miso soup for breakfast. Though I imagine several thousand Japanese commuters who’ve just eaten miso soup for breakfast won’t be in the best of moods.
The downside changes B12 makes to my personality are that I become a lot more irritable and emotional. Some people like melodrama in their lives. I don’t. I cry more easily. I become stressed more easily. I become more judgemental. I have a very low tolerance threshold for anger. The thing about being irritable is that irritability is completely invisible when you are on your own or things are going your way. Then someone crosses your path and confounds you, the dog does something naughty, a driver does something stupid on the road, and instead of coping and carrying on you get disproportionately cross about it. Exploding unpredictably might be something that earns you a little respect and fear, but it’s an extremely unattractive personality trait.
B12 also seems to ease my chronic back pain. The back pain is related to a lot of things. Food chemicals play a very significant part in it, particularly amines, which are always vile, but also salicylates. Propionates (E282) have me in absolute agony after a sneaky build up, and gluten and A1 casein give me a chronic low-level ache. But it’s also a repetitive strain type injury. It’s partly because we have an awful mattress that needs replacing – when we had a foam mattress a couple of years ago my back was great. I spend too much time using a laptop on my lap. I can’t sit at desks for very long as my former DVT leg starts to swell up and hurt because the valves in my leg vein are permanently damaged. So instead I sit on the sofa with my legs on a footstool or folded to one side and hunch a bit over my laptop, which puts pressure on the top third of my spine and my neck. Also, I have Lara Croft boobs, which sounds great if you don’t have them, but in practice they give me back pain. If someone offered me a reduction to a B or a C cup I would take it without hesitation because at my minimum BMI I was still a 32D. I also have lower back problems as well as upper back problems. I’m not sure which is worse. If I stand or walk around all day my upper back is a lot better, but I feel like someone’s been pile driving my spine into my pelvis. I can make the bottom of my back make an audible cracking sound by wriggling around a bit. B12 doesn’t get rid of my back pain entirely but it does seem to help lessen it. So does sunlight. So does a ketogenic diet.
I also experienced improvements in my skin. B12 did not make my skin perfect, but it seemed to lessen some of the bumps and red patches that flare up on my skin after I eat amines, additives or caffeine. However, I did experience some tinnitus.
B12 significantly improves my amine/salicylate tolerance. As well as damping down skin reactions the day after eating food chemicals, it also lessened the hangover/brain fog symptoms I get. However, this leads to problems because I feel I can cheat. My skin actually got significantly worse in practice because I felt I could get away with more and obviously I couldn’t. B12 seems to prevent some of the skin problems that flare up when I take folate or other methyl donors. However taking a multivitamin and some B12 still left me feeling significantly foggier and itchier than if I had done nothing at all. Unfortunately B12 does not negate food reactions, not even in a very high dose. I still feel off the day after eating something bad, however, a whole capsule megadose did come in very handy recently when I had no choice but to eat a curry (lovely red colouring and spices in it) with some friends. I have done this a few times now and I am usually wiped out for the whole of the next day. In this case I still made lots of silly mistakes and was very cross (not great when you have a four hour drive to make on hangover day). But I wasn’t bedridden, as I have been on previous occasions.
I often have problems waking up in the morning, especially after consuming food chemicals, and B12 seems to help quite a lot with this. I feel like I need less sleep and I wake up faster. In fact I generally feel more awake. It’s something I first caught on to after eating some clams one night and bouncing out of bed early the following morning. Clams are very rich in B12. Something else that helps me to wake up in the morning is tonic water. Tonic water contains quninine, a stimulant, which may also be, interestingly, a folate antagonist.
Returning to the notion of B12 as having glutamergic effects, this makes sense. Some anti-narcolepsy stimulants like provigil are thought to have glutamergic effects as well as raising monoamine levels. What is curious is that some people also experience drowsiness when they consume glutamates. I have been kept awake by glutamates and I have been sent to sleep by them (and I have been made totally autistic and spaced out by them). This may have something to do with the way glutamate interacts with other neurotransmitters at different times of the day. B12, however, always kept me awake and did not make me any more autistic than normal.
The downside of feeling awake is that B12 also gives me insomnia. Quite bad insomnia. It takes me a couple of hours to get to sleep. I’ve heard some people say that this ‘wears off’ as you get used to the B12. I have news: like hell it does. Two and a half months later I still had insomnia like this. Also, in the process of falling asleep I experience unpleasant heart palpitations and skipped heart beats, and hypnic jerks – little tiny myoclonic seizures as you’re falling asleep. One night shortly after I started the experiment, I had a hypnic jerk in the night that was so bad it threw both of my arms forward and I actually sat up in bed. My partner has JME and he had symmetrical arm seizures like these before we got him medicated properly. The palpitations and hypnic jerks did lessen, but they were still more frequent than usual. I also had a few moments when I was awake that felt like twitches or electric shocks, or, almost as though I had missed a second when I was doing something or watching something move. This is not good, in fact, it’s quite scary. Having a lapse like that when you are holding a kettle, cooking, or driving, is a fairly bad idea.
Apart from the irritability and the reduced tolerance of stress, the biggest downside to taking B12 was the weight gain. I have had very stable weight for a long time now, but I gained around five pounds during the two and a half month period I was taking the B12. This was not just because I ‘cheated’ more. On occasions when I tried taking a whole capsule, I would usually wake up the next day a pound or half a pound heavier. Though B12 did increase my appetite, I did monitor my calorie intake, and as usual, the weight gain was disproportionate – particularly as I was much more active than usual. It was real weight – fat – not muscle or water – and it did not come off of its own accord. B12 did not negate the weight gain I experience when I eat amines either, instead it contributed.
Something important to note is that during this experiment, I felt really very good for the first 2-3 weeks, then I started to feel less good and old symptoms started filtering through again – so either my body started to get used to the B12, or something else was missing or being depleted. A couple of years ago I would have come to the second conclusion, these days I am inclined towards the first.
I dreaded ending the trial but I could not continue to gain weight at the pace I was going. I have experienced awful withdrawal symptoms from taking methyl donors, and as B12 feeds into the methylation cycle, I was expecting to experience them again when coming down off B12. But I didn’t. This was totally astonishing. When I stopped taking B12 I just felt really, really calm and relaxed. I felt glad and relieved to have ended the experiment and to have stopped feeling so short tempered and unpredictable. If I became stupider again, I didn’t notice it. But then, when you’re stupid you don’t pick up on things, that’s the whole definition.
Would I take B12 over doing a ketogenic diet? And here, by a ketogenic diet, I mean a diet that is carbohydrate and calorie controlled – it tends to lose its effect if I reach a metabolic equilibrium.
No I wouldn’t. A ketogenic diet causes very similar improvements to how I feel and my various chronic symptoms, with the exception that it is not as good at negating reactions to food chemicals. However a ketogenic diet makes me feel a lot more motivated and energetic than B12 does. It also comes with the advantage that I remain very calm and stress-free and not prone to emotional swings. On a ketogenic diet, which reduces the impact of glutamate, I feel like I can cope with anything.
I have decided not to take B12 permanently due to the negative side effects, which are pretty much as bad in their own way as being off failsafe. Perhaps in the future I will find a way to counteract the glutamate-agonist response (B6, K2, glycine, glutamine, theanine, or ketosis are all potential options). However, I do believe I will find it most useful if I take B12 when I am forced to eat off-diet, in order to counteract strong negative reactions to food chemicals.
After I had my Factor V Leiden related DVT, I used vitamin E to thin my blood for a year or so, especially if I knew I was going to fly on a plane. I found 400iu to be an effective dose – effective in that if I cut myself I would bleed for longer than normal, and I bruised more easily. People who clot easily often do not bruise – I hardly bruised for most of my youth (problematic if you are being bullied). Alpha tocopherol was more effective than mixed tocopherols/tocotrienols.
A report published online on September 10, 2007 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association concluded that supplementing with vitamin E may reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) among women. The condition occurs when blood clots form in the veins, which subsequently dislodge and travel through the bloodstream, and is life-threatening when the clots block circulation to the brain, heart or lungs. The current treatment is warfarin, a blood thinner which often has side effects.
In the current study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Robert J. Glynn, PhD, ScD and his Harvard colleagues reviewed data from The Women’s Health Study, a randomized trial of 39,876 women who received 600 international units vitamin E every other day or a placebo for a ten year average period. Over the course of the study, 213 women who received vitamin E and 269 in the placebo group developed venous thromboembolism, indicating a 21 percent risk reduction associated with the vitamin compared with the placebo. For unprovoked venous thromboembolism, which is not caused by trauma, surgery, or cancer, vitamin E supplementation was associated with a 27 percent reduction in risk.
In a subgroup of 1,131 women who reported a history of venous thromboembolism prior to the trial, the condition was reduced by 44 percent in the vitamin E group, while among those with no history, the risk was 18 percent lower. And, among women found to have one of two genetic mutations associated with increased VTE risk (factor V Leiden and the G20210A prothrombin mutation), vitamin E supplementation was associated with a 49 percent reduction in the risk of occurrence compared with women in this category who received the placebo.
“Women who had an event before the study had a much higher event rate during the study, and the vitamin E worked a little better in that population than in the general population, when it came to reducing VTE risk,” noted Dr Glynn, who is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It seems that women who would particularly be interested in a preventive agent actually seemed to have a larger benefit.”
“While warfarin is quite effective for preventing VTE, we were looking for a preventive strategy that might be simple, with low side effects for this common disease,” he stated. “In this study, VTE occurred more often than heart attacks and almost as often as stroke. People don’t realize how common it is.” LEF: Vitamin E supplementation helps prevent venous thromboembolism
Vitamin E also seems to inhibit leukotriene production, and I often wonder whether this is one of the many reasons I suffered from less rashes, hives, and itching during that time.
It has been suggested that vitamin B12 (vit.B12) plays an important role in immune system regulation, but the details are still obscure. In order to examine the action of vit.B12 on cells of the human immune system, lymphocyte subpopulations and NK cell activity were evaluated in 11 patients with vit.B12 deficiency anaemia and in 13 control subjects. Decreases in the number of lymphocytes and CD8+ cells and in the proportion of CD4+ cells, an abnormally high CD4/CD8 ratio, and suppressed NK cell activity were noted in patients compared with control subjects. In all 11 patients and eight control subjects, these immune parameters were evaluated before and after methyl-B12 injection. The lymphocyte counts and number of CD8+ cells increased both in patients and in control subjects. The high CD4/CD8 ratio and suppressed NK cell activity were improved by methyl-B12 treatment. Augmentation of CD3−CD16+ cells occurred in patients after methyl-B12 treatment. In contrast, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity, lectin-stimulated lymphocyte blast formation, and serum levels of immunoglobulins were not changed by methyl-B12 treatment. These results indicate that vit.B12 might play an important role in cellular immunity, especially relativing to CD8+ cells and the NK cell system, which suggests effects on cytotoxic cells. We conclude that vit.B12 acts as an immunomodulator for cellular immunity. Immunomodulation by vitamin B12: augmentation of CD8+ T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitamin B12-deficient patients by methyl-B12 treatment
Free full text available at above address. Methylcobalamin stimulates T cell production and natural killer (NK) cell activity.
Vitamin D is made by the body when sunlight hits the skin. There’s a cholesterol compound (7-dehydrocholesterol) just beneath the skin that gets irradiated by UVB light and it breaks down into vitamin D.
Vitamin D is as much a prohormone as it is a vitamin. Aside from helping us to absorb and use calcium, it also has a huge impact on the behaviour of the immune system. Vitamin D prevents tumour growth and even shrinks existing tumours. Cancer rates are conversely correlated to vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also has a significant impact on autoimmune diseases. Low levels of vitamin D are a direct risk factor for the development of a wide range of autoimmune diseases, and, rather like steroids (vitamin D is in fact a steroid hormone), vitamin D suppresses the part of the immune system that attacks the body in autoimmune disease.
Any wideband UVB lamp should work to produce vitamin D. Some sources on the internet say that the vitamin D range is 270-290nm – which is into the UVC range, others say it is 290-315nm, which is the normal UVB range. I’m having trouble clarifying this, but either way, any wideband lamp should work.
You can get vitamin D / UVB lamps on ebay and from specialist allergy sites, they’re marketed for psoriasis. If they are strong enough to have warnings about tanning and burning on them, then they are strong enough to make vitamin D. You can even get UVB bulbs for your pet reptiles, though I am not sure whether they are strong enough or would cover enough of your body if you sat in front of one.
Otherwise, access to a sunbed that is fitted with Philips “Cleo Natural” UVA/UVB tubes will work. All sunbeds make small amounts of UVB and people who use sunbeds throughout the year have been found to have higher vitamin D levels, but this sounds a bit hit and miss.
UK buyers: they do not ship to the UK as they say that they do not work with UK power. I have ordered one from a reseller, instead. According to the manual the Sperti lamp is AC only, 110-120v, 60/50Hz, 800 watt. It is the 800 watt that is the problem, you need a specialist adapter that costs between £60-80. Maplin do not sell them, but they are available from a few online stores. Look for a step down voltage converter that goes up to more than 800 watts (a bit of leeway is always a good idea, I went for one that went up to 1000 watts).
UVB light is present in sunlight, on a sunny day, for the two hours either side of noon – from about 10am to 2pm – or, in British Summer Time, 11am to 3pm. However, in the winter, the angle of the sun can be too low in higher latitudes to make UVB light for much of the day, so the period of UVB exposure around noon can be shorter. Cloud cover shields us from UVB light. I found a vitamin D weather/latitude calculator online.
It is both more positive and more negative than the widespread view. According to them, it may be that vitamin D is still produced at higher latitudes, even in winter, however it is severely compromised by cloud/ozone cover – and also clothing. Hands up if you feel like bikini sunbathing in the winter? At the very least you need to expose your head, neck and the whole of your arms to the sun, for about an hour.
Also, if you didn’t know, UVB does NOT penetrate through normal glass. You can’t sunbathe in your conservatory or greenhouse.
Update: I’ve been using my Sperti vitamin D lamp for some time now. It’s brilliant, and it makes me feel a lot better, especially during the winter. I try to use it every other day. It has a timer on it that switches off after five minutes, and won’t allow a switch on again until the element cools. This is to prevent you from burning yourself, because UVB light will burn you after just three to five minutes of exposure. I tend to wind the timer back to the start before it switches off, and expose a different area of my body to the light – I generally do top front, bottom front, top back, bottom back, so that I get fifteen or twenty minutes of exposure time across different parts of my body. Because it can cause burning, I try not to expose my face for more than three minutes, or I end up looking rather red! An egg timer can help. I always use it on my breasts, because vitamin D is important in preventing breast cancer, which runs very strongly in my family, and being rather shy about topless sunbathing, using a sun lamp is the only time I’ll ever get sunlight to them.
Fact of the day: B12 might reduce sulphite sensitivity. B12 binds to sulphites and clears them from the body (they turn into sulfitocobalamin). Apparently this has been shown in studies to be effective in treating sulphite induced asthma, urticaria, contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. That would explain a few things!
This is great, however, it does not help convert sulphites to sulphates, which is what we need to do to get the PST enzyme back up and running.
I’ve also read that nitrites destroy the B12 and folate coenzymes. Therefore one should not attempt to get one’s daily B12 requirements from processed meats!
Eggs are a Paleolithic food.
I have a very, very slight allergy or idiosyncratic histamine reaction to eggs. The reason I know I have an allergy or histamine reaction to eggs, is because if my immune system is having a busy day, eggs will make the back of my throat itch within seconds of eating. When my sister was small she had an allergy/reaction to eggs that was more pronounced, she would get a rash around her mouth and an itchy throat. This is the same way I react to my genuine allergies – to dust mites, animal dander and pollen. This is also how I know that other vague reactions to wholefoods like milk and grains are NOT allergies! If they were allergies, I would get allergic symptoms!
I may react to many forms of sulphur and to folate, but I’m very fortunate in that I don’t really react to eggs, in fact organic eggs are one of the few foods that I can eat which I can guarantee is completely safe for me.
I’d like to speculate that much of the planet is suffering from a dietary egg deficiency.
The interesting thing about eggs is that they contain a perfect ratio of the amino acids required by the human body.
The reason that eggs smell sulphurous when they are old or rotten is because they are comparatively very high in the sulphur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine, as well as containing a few free thiols.
In fact, though meat is as near as we get to another perfect protein, all meat is much lower in methionine and cysteine than eggs. Beans are even less perfect and extremely deficient in methionine. Occasional strange foods like Brazil nuts are high in methionine (but not cysteine), but these foods are very few and far between. In short, if you want to get enough sulphur-containing amino acids on a restricted protein diet, you need to eat eggs! Any protein that you eat which is not eggs is deficient in methionine and cysteine.
Unlike muscle meat, eggs also contain goodly amounts of folate. The interesting thing about folate is that it is required for DNA methylation. This is the mechanism by which a folate deficiency can cause neural tube defects in the unborn. However, folate is difficult to acquire in the diet. It is actually present in tiny amounts in “foliage” (another case where “eat lots of fruit and vegetables” is poor advice), and large amounts in liver and beans, but pregnant women are being scared away from eating liver, and no one eats beans.
However, the folate path is not necessarily required. DNA methylation is also performed by methionine, whereupon it is converted to homocysteine. Choline is converted to betaine (TMG) and can act to take homocysteine back to methionine without the need for folate at all!
I feel safer eating eggs, which contain some folate and plenty of methionine and choline, than I would if I were eating my RDA of folate alone. Methionine and choline decrease folate and B12 requirements!
It is extremely impractical to eat a diet containing the inflated US RDA of folate (400mcg compared to 200mcg in the EU) from wholefoods alone – which would have to consist largely of wheat germ, lentils, beans and liver. Isn’t it about time health authorities stopped scaring pregnant women away from eating eggs and started tackling neural tube defects head-on by promoting egg consumption instead of such unreasonable demands?