MTHFR Mutation, symptoms and diet

MTHFR Diet. What Do I Eat If I Have The MTHFR Mutation?

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:

Breakfast

  • Whole eggs scrambled with avocado, spinach, and mushrooms
  • Chopped sweet potato and onions sauteed in extra virgin olive oil
  • Berries

OR

  • 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)

Lunch

  • 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

OR

  • 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

Dinner

  • 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

OR

  • Vegan spaghetti with spaghetti squash, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic
  • Salad with romaine lettuce, carrots, yellow tomatoes, sunflower seeds and dressing

Snacks/Desserts

  • Smoothie with greens, berries, tomato, chia seeds and unsweetened coconut milk
  • Cashews
  • Hummus and raw veggies
  • Salsa and raw veggies
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Berries
  • Almonds
  • 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

45 Comments

  1. Donna Frank

    Good info…….my SNPs and mutations don’t allow me to eat animal protein so it’s frustrating. I’m a work in progress.

  2. Kara

    My question is… Is the only reason for giving up gluten when you have MTHFR the enriched flour? Anything I buy for my home I make sure it’s not enriched and sometimes pasta from Italy or Greece. Also I had pinner blood test done and had zero sensitivity to gluten or wheat. But did have sensitivity to rice lentils and soy.

    1. Diane Keddy, MS, RD, CD

      Hi Kara, the other reason is gluten containing products often contain yeast too, which is high in histamine. European pasta may not bother you because the wheat in Europe has less gluten than the wheat in the U.S. Work with your practitioner to determine if non-enriched and European wheat are healthy choices for you.

    2. Diana

      It’s crazy that she listed bread because it’s the glutamate in baked goods we have to avoid it blocks the uptake of vitamin B12

          1. Sara L.

            If heat destroys the folate in foods we should eat, how can those of us with the MTHFR mutation cook beans, lentils, root vegetables, etc? I understand keeping leafy greens raw or slightly steamed, but that won’t work for anything else. I love cooking, and unfortunately roasting has been my go-to method for root vegetables. Boiling lentils, quinoa, etc. also appears to remove the folate….is there a cookbook available that MTHFRs can reference? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  3. Becky

    Thank you for this, I really appreciate all the info. Do you happen to know a dr in San Diego that is well versed in this mutation?

    1. Support Team

      2% Should not make much difference. Organic non GMO bread should be fine if you are not gluten intolerant.

    2. Bruce Stewart

      I wonder if they mean folate? Many people call folate, folic acid. They think that is the standard term for that particular B vitamin.

    3. Almen

      If you really want a bread that does not have synthetic folic acid try Dave’s Killer Bread.
      Here is their response when I asked them about folic acid.
      Dear Almen:

      Thank you for your inquiry about folic acid in Dave’s Killer Bread. We do not add folic acid to our breads. The small amount listed on the label represents folates (inherent in the ingredients) not folic acid. Folates are represented as folic acid on the label. We are in the process of working to change that to read folates.

      We hope this answer addressed your comments.

      Please contact us anytime with your questions or feedback.

      Janet Wilson
      Consumer Response
      Dave’s Killer Bread

  4. Maria

    I have 2 of the 5 mthfr mutations, my doctor said I cannot eat kale, broccoli, capers, avocado, black tea, and other food items that seem healthy. Does anyone else have these restrictions?

  5. Hi Maria,

    There are many healthy foods high in histamine and/or oxalates, which can be a problem for people with MTHFR mutations. I would ask your doctor the rationale for the restrictions, and perhaps for assistance in meal planning.

  6. Bruce Stewart

    Good article, however I would limit the amount of scrambled eggs. When eggs are scrambled there is some oxidation of the yolks. As we know, oxidized fats are not healthy.

  7. Kathy

    WOW,
    Thank you for the article and all of the comments and questions. Im new to this whole MTHFR business. I’m pretty overwhelmed to say the least. Im glad there is information available.
    Kathy

    1. Sara L.

      Yes, but my PCP relates it to ‘stress’. The specialist who tested me, identified me as a homo MTHFR, does not specialize in nutrition/can’t support my dietary informational needs. But yes, hair is thinning. specialties.

    2. Hilary L.

      Have you had your TSH, T3 and T4 checked? Also have an antibodies test for Hoshimotos. I have hair thinning and loss due to Hoshimotos Thyroiditis. I had to fight with my PCP to check me for antibodies, because my TSH would come back normal, But I had all the clasdic symptoms of Hoshimotos/Hypothyroid disease. (It runs in my family) However with Hoshimotos results can be in the normal range. I basically told her to humor me and prove me wrong..she did the test and it came back positive for antibodies. I switched Drs. After that. Hope you are feeling better!

    3. Leslie

      I was just diagnosed two days ago and was told that it it the reaso my hair is falling out. I have lost 3/4 of my hair 😢

  8. Lynda A Hall

    Also just learning tht I hve the MTHFR gene Mutation I’m curious if theirs a specific diet to follow and which supplements I should take? My family Dr prescribed 7.5 mg Deplin for the first month and then go up to 15 mg after she shes how I tolerate it.
    I was taking lots of supplements and viviscal for hair loss. Is it ok to continue with the Viviscal?
    Lynda

  9. Suzanne Newman

    Hi – I just wish to know if you can have dairy of any kind withthe MTHFR gene? Is bio-organic bought yogurt ok?

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Most practitioners recommend against dairy due to the potential for it to block folate receptors. I think small amounts of organic dairy are okay, provided you do not have sensitivities to it and are consuming adequate folate, and provided your methylation is working adequately.

  10. Rachel raffaele

    Hello!
    My daughter is 10 months and is homozygous c677t. Can you offer any advice as to what I should be feeding her and supplements for her to take? My pediatrician and hematologist do not think this mutation is a big deal and did not provide much i formation to go on. I would greatly appreciate any advice you have to offer.

  11. KIm

    I am homozygous for MTHFR- DAO- MAO- COMT-MTR- many others. I was told my histamine is high and with double MTHFR I should only eat small amounts of foods with folate as it can cause depression. Anyone else have multiple mutations and told to eat in contradictory ways. I was told with my SNPS to eat low histamine-low protein-low fat-low greens-no dairy-not grains-no eggs- which basically means air.

  12. HI Kim,
    You really need to be careful that you dont limit your foods too much. Obviously you cant eat air, but I would say the low histamine is more likely the priority. Eating protein normal amounts ie: .8gms per kg of body weight shouldnt cause too much of an issue. if you have no problem with headaches or brain fog then eating protein at decent levels is fine. Not everyone with COMT needs to watch folate foods and I generally say that if you can put it on a plate then eat it, just dont start juicing lots of leafy green vegetables as this can cause some people to get depressed if they are not utilising the methyls particularly well. I think unless you have an allergy to eggs you should be fine to eat them. Look at my low histamine blog on the website and this will help you get started. https://www.facebook.com/mthfrsupportaustralia/videos/1280314442005000/
    So I would say, eat leafy greens, eat protein, eat eggs if you tolerate, but be cautious with grains (particularly if you have gut issues) and watch dairy. The most important thing in that list in my book is histamine. Regards Carolyn

    1. Leah

      Hi Carolyn,
      You advised against juicing lots of greens, can I ask why? I find having 1 big smoothie of greens is the only way for me to consume veggies some days, however I do tend to suffer from depression from time to time so I would love to hear your advice.
      Thanks Leah

  13. Destiny G Wren

    I have Compound heterozygous. I just learned I have it. I’m also pregnant with my second child. Does anyone have any advice besides this article for me?

  14. Alice Elizabeth Hopkins

    I’m reading on another site that Broccoli is a bad food for MTHFR. Is this true? The list they have there were quite a few healthy food items that I was surprised by.

  15. Fam

    Hi! So i just found out this year that i have mthfr homozygous type after my 2 miscarriages my NP did some gene tests. Now i found out im pregnant again and im scared im gonna Have another miscarriage. Any suggestion on what food i could eat or not? Can i drink ensure?

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