Where are my plant-based MTHFRs at?? I'm definitely a believer in bio-individuality, a concept coined by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which basically means that what works in terms of diet for one person may not work for another. So I will never push one particular diet as the only correct way to live and thrive. With that said, there are many people in this community who thrive on a vegan or plant-based diet (and others who experienced worsening of symptoms after trying to make the switch). Bio-individuality can really be a tricky thing and I believe that a journey is required to determine what works best for you. However, even for those who find that a vegan diet agrees with their body and their ethics, there are some important supplementation considerations to be made, especially as someone with the MTHFR mutation. There is one nutrient in particular that is critical for methylation and difficult to get enough of without consuming animal products, but is often overlooked. Can you guess what it is?
If you're thinking Vitamin B12, you're on the right track, but not quite. Vitamin B12 supplementation is incredibly important for a vegan and especially a vegan with the MTHFR mutation. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products and is a critical component of the methylation process. When receiving supplementation advice, Vitamin B12 usually gets all the attention, and for good reason. However, there's another key player in the methylation process that is also found primarily in animal products. While this underdog nutrient can be found in plant-based foods in small amounts, it would be incredibly difficult to get your needs met for methylation without getting some additional help through supplementation. Can you guess yet what it may be?
.....it's choline! If you're not familiar with what choline is, it's a good idea to get acquainted (even if you're not a vegan). Choline is a co-factor in methylation, meaning that it's required in order to complete this process efficiently. Foods with the highest concentration of choline include beef liver, chicken liver, and eggs. While liver is generally no longer a staple of the American diet, eggs certainly are and tend to be the primary source of choline for most liver-shy people. Some vegan-friendly sources of choline include cashews, almonds, soybeans, cauliflower, and broccoli, but you'd have to consume a whole lot of them to meet choline requirements. For this reason, it's highly recommended that MTHFRs on a plant-based diet include choline in their supplementation regimen to fill in the gaps.
Are you on a plant-based diet? Do you supplement with choline? Tell us about it!