Cardiovascular disease is a group of diseases that involve the heart and the blood vessels. There are a number of risk factors associated with this condition, including genetic risk factors with several mutations in several genes being associated. One such important and independent risk factor is Homocysteine.
Folate (vitamin B9) is responsible for converting the harmful homocysteine to it’s useful form, methionine. Methionine is important for many essential bodily functions such as production of DNA and RNA, cell and tissue growth. Though dietary intake of folate is generally inadequate in India, that is not the only reason for high homocysteine levels. Genes also play an important role.
Folate is present in an inactive form in the body and is converted to its active form by the enzyme Methyl Tetra hydro Folate Reductase (MTHFR). The active form of folate is necessary for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. The gene MTHFR plays a role in the production of the MTHFR enzyme and any genetic variation in this gene could alter the level and activity of enzyme in the body. It has been shown that prevalence of MTHFR gene mutation is high in India, which when combined with low dietary folate intake can lead to very high levels of homocysteine and other associated conditions.
Maintenance of adequate folate levels is extremely important during pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. Lack of methionine, can lead to improper DNA synthesis and disruption in gene regulation that could lead to birth defects like neural tube defects, which are associated with folate deficiency.
Asians show a high prevalence for 677C>T polymorphism in the MTHFR gene. People with genetic variants that are at high risk for folate insufficiency should supplement their diet with rich sources of folate. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of folate, however in India, overcooking vegetables leads to loss of folate. Fortified cereals, grains and cornmeal are sources of folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate. The folate from the diet will compensate for the lowered levels due to gene polymorphism.
The type of MTHFR gene has been shown to influence the Active Folate levels in blood. Want to know what type of MTHFR gene you have? Try Xcode’s nutrigenetics test which can tell you what versions of the MTHFR gene are in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.