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    Dr. Boggess (Medical Director)

    Dr. Tony Boggess is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, speaker, and writer who specializes in Nutritional and... read more

Methylation Health & Disease

What is “Methylation” and why should I care? First consider how we exist physically?  We exist courtesy of carbon chemistry and its rules which allow us to thrive, grow, and sometimes suffer failures, illness and disease. This fragile microscopic world is built upon combinations of elements forming molecules which in turn form microscopic structures that become cells.  Cells in the aggregate form organs, systems, and ultimately the body in which we get around in every day.  

Now, consider a methyl group (a single carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms — CH3) being transferred roughly one billion times per second allowing for millions of chemical reactions ongoing.  This process of methylation (i.e. transferring of a methyl group — CH3) serves innumerable critical functions throughout the entire body.  It is secondary in importance only to water (H2O). This is what methylation is. And studying the methylation cycle, in combination with other biological cycles can provide invaluable clues to assist in recovery from numerous states of disease. 


  • Methylation Overview
  • Methylation & Disease
  • Nutrigenomic testing

Methylation summary

  • Methylation is the process whereby methyl groups (-CH3) are donated to other molecules.
  • This addition alters the body’s chemistry; sometimes activating it and sometimes inactivating it, depending upon the chemistry in question.
  • Key substances in the body affected by methylation include: DNA/RNA (i.e. genes), neurotransmitters, hormones, neurons, cellular membranes and their signaling mechanisms, immune cells, enzymes, proteins, and many many others.
  • Most of what traditional Western medicine strives to achieve is merely labeling a disease and then suppressing the associated symptoms.  A nutraceutical/biomedical approach is now not only possible with genetic testing, but also effective in addressing the root cause of many disease states.
  • Methylation cycle optimization, if indicated, is an efficient avenue to dramatically improve health and mental well being in many children and adults suffering a wide range of symptoms and problems.

Where do methyl groups come from?

  • There exists a methylation cycle which shuttles the methyl groups from molecule to molecule and ultimately donates them to subsequent or prior substrates.
  • Key nutrients such as methyl folate and methyl-B12 are key donors of the needed methyl groups in genetically susceptible children and adults .
  • Numerous enzymes involved in these processes also require minerals co-factors such as zinc and magnesium for improved efficiency.

What happens if I don’t methylate well?

  • DNA/RNA expression is altered, often leading to chronic diseases (including cancer)
  • Neurotransmitter imbalances occur, resulting in any of a number of psychological conditions as well as neurodevelopmental delays (including Autism Spectrum Disorder) 
  • The body’s inherent detoxification processes are impaired, leading to the buildup of toxic metabolites and the accumulation of environmental toxins (such as heavy metals).

How does methylation regulation occur?

  • The presence or absence of the required vitamins, co-factors, and methyl groups are necessary for the forward movement of the methylation cycle.
  • Buildup of any of the substrates within the cycle can and does lead to negative feedback.  This, in turn, leads to the substrates being forced down alternative pathways, often causing the accumulation of harmful end products.

How does the methylation cycle become impaired?

  • Genetic mutations known as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) within the genes responsible for the production of the needed enzymes can result in a decreased efficiency of these enzymes.  This can cause a slowdown of the entire cycle.
  • Similarly, a lack of the vitamins and co-factors needed result in the same type of decreased enzymatic efficiency.
  • Medication interactions
  • Environmental toxins such as heavy metals
  • Insufficient methyl donors (i.e. methyl folate, methyl B12, and many others)
  • High levels of any of the substrate molecules within the cycle


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