Eating a healthy MTHFR diet is a mainstay of treatment for the MTHFR mutation. People with an MTHFR mutation need to avoid folic acid to ensure proper methylation, as the body is not able to utilize this synthetic form of the vitamin folate. Folic acid is found in vitamins and processed foods. One of the main sources for folic acid in the U.S. diet is enriched grains, including bread, cereals, crackers, pasta and other processed carbohydrates.
Organic grains are not typically enriched and most do not contain folic acid. Ezekiel sprouted bread is one example (not gluten free). It is important to read the labels of all the foods you are consuming, so you can eliminate those containing folic acid. Gluten free grains are an alternative to enriched grains, but these foods (ie. gluten free breads, pasta, crackers, cereals etc.) are best limited in the MTHFR diet as they are high glycemic and can cause blood sugar spikes. Many people with the MTHFR mutation have gut issues that require them to eliminate gluten in their diet, so please consult with your health professional about how this issue impacts you specifically.
How do you get folate in the diet? Folate is easily obtained in fruits, green leafy vegetables, legumes, lentils, citrus, asparagus, beef liver and avocado. When you eat green veggies and leafy greens (ie. spinach, broccoli, bok choy, kale, greens) make sure to eat them raw or steamed so the folate stays intact. Boiling veggies will wash away much of the folate. Adult women and men need 400 mcg of folate per day, while pregnant women need 600 mcg and breast feeding women need 500 mcg per day. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should take a pre-natal vitamin that contains methylfolate (5-MTHF) or folinic acid to ensure they are receiving all of the micronutrients for a healthy pregnancy.
Other B vitamins including thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, pantothenic acid and biotin may be needed in higher amounts for proper methylation and related biochemical reactions. The active forms of some of the B vitamins can be found in supplements only, and until the body has optimal methylation and other biochemical processes occurring, supplements may be needed. The breakdown of homocysteine, to methionine can be impaired with the MTHFR mutation, and this results in a higher need for methylfolate or folinic acid, and the active forms of vitamins B-12 and B-6. Consult with your MTHFR healthcare practitioner regarding appropriate use of supplements. You may order a home test kit for MTHFR here.
In addition to eating a minimally processed MTHFR diet with whole foods, the avoidance of toxins is important. The body’s ability to detoxify chemicals, alcohol, pesticides and hormones in food is impaired with this mutation. Choose organic, non-GMO foods, avoid exposure to cigarette smoke and limit alcohol to a few drinks per week if at all. Avoid artificial sweeteners and limit sugar in the MTHFR diet. Avoid bottled water and food packaged with plastics due to BPA. Filter your water and drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds drink 75 ounces of water, organic green or black tea or organic coffee per day. Limit caffeine to two servings per day.
A sample menu high in vitamins and minerals is below; base the portions on your hunger and fullness levels:
- Whole eggs scrambled with avocado, spinach, and mushrooms
- Chopped sweet potato and onions sauteed in extra virgin olive oil
- Gluten free steel cut oatmeal with cinnamon, nuts and protein shake with protein powder (free of folic acid), spinach, blueberries and almond milk (carrageenan free)
- Organic chicken, fish, shellfish or beef prepared your favorite way
- Cabbage, brussels sprouts or spinach salad
- Steamed acorn squash with butter and cinnamon or fruit salad with apples, plums, kiwi and coconut yogurt dressing
- Lentil or navy bean soup with cooked leafy greens (kale, spinach, or mustard greens)
- Fruit salad with strawberries, grapefruit, raspberries and blueberries with slivered almonds
- Organic chicken, fish, beef or lean pork prepared your favorite way
- Quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown basmati rice or other gluten free grain or cooked legumes or lentils
- Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or peppers
- Vegan spaghetti with spaghetti squash, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic
- Salad with romaine lettuce, carrots, yellow tomatoes, sunflower seeds and dressing
- Smoothie with greens, berries, tomato, chia seeds and unsweetened coconut milk
- Hummus and raw veggies
- Salsa and raw veggies
- Hard boiled eggs
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Trail Mix
- Ezekiel English muffin (not gluten free) with cashew or almond butter
- Coconut Chia Seed pudding
- The Rx Bar
- Cashew Larabar
- Cliff’s Kit Organic Cherry and Pumpkin Seed bar
- Organic Food Bar
- Primal Kitchen Dark Chocolate Almond Bar
- Paleo banana bread or brownies
- Coconut Ice Cream