Having an MTHFR gene mutation (especially being homozygous), can affect both fertility and the health of the baby once pregnant. While there are many things that women (and men) with the MTHFR variant can do to improve fertility, this post will focus on what women should do once pregnant.
You've finally conceived and want to have a healthy pregnancy/baby. However, you know that having this mutation unfortunately means a higher risk of not only recurring miscarriage, but also for having a child with a neural tube defect like spina bifida or anencephaly, as well as developing preeclampsia - all very serious and potentially fatal conditions. What's a MTHFR to do?
Of course, there's no underestimating the power of the foundational principles of wellness, such as diet, exercise, and stress management. In particular, a healthy diet rich in folate will help to lay the foundation for a healthy pregnancy. Foods rich in folate include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, oranges, papaya, nuts and seeds, avocado, Brussels sprouts, beans, peas, and lentils. Cutting out processed foods and foods enriched with folic acid (folate's evil synthetic twin) is also tantamount to a healthy MTHFR-friendly diet.
Beyond that, you should supplement with methylated B vitamins. Once pregnant, the first recommendation by doctors is to supplement with folic acid. However, people with the MTHFR mutation can not process folic acid or any of the synthetic B vitamins, which are crucial to a healthy pregnancy and to health in general. Folic acid and folate are often referred to interchangeably, but they are not the same. One is toxic to people with the MTHFR mutation and the other is a critical building block to health and wellness. Read more about folic acid vs. folate in one of my previous blog posts. If you still can not tolerate methylated B vitamins, another option is folinic acid, which is another form of folate in its natural form.
The most powerful change you can make to increase your likelihood of a healthy pregnancy is to make the shift from folic acid to natural sources of folate. This includes both cleaning up the diet and using the proper form of supplementation.
There are other more controversial treatments for pregnancy with the MTHFR mutation. These include Lovenox and Heparin injections with a daily Aspirin regimen to prevent the formation of blood clots between the placenta and uterine wall.
Have any of you struggled with fertility, miscarriages, and/or birth defects? What has helped you in your journey? Tell us about it!