***Author’s Note: If I’m a travel writer, what the heck am I doing writing about supplements, & how to get more energy naturally?! Am I even qualified to write about this?? As Tim Ferriss says, “I’m not a doctor, & I don’t play one on the internet!” Essentially, what I am doing here, is explaining my journey in discovering the efficacy of methylated B Vitamins, & how they’ve impacted my health for the better. I don’t believe they’re necessary for everyone ~ but for a significant portion of the population, I believe they could be a game-changer.
Please check with your doctor before trying these, or any new supplements!
How to Get More Energy Naturally
This may be one of the most important articles I’ve written. Granted, it’s not directly related to travel ~ but certainly, having sustained, healthy energy throughout your lifetime affects every aspect of your life. Whether hiking 14,000 foot mountains in Patagonia, or having adventures with my niece & nephew: I want & need energy! And about three years ago, my physician in Portland, Dr. Natasha Kassam, helped me discover how to get more energy naturally ~ simply by using the correct B Vitamins.
I’m writing this article because I think it has the power to affect SO many people. And it’s such a simple fix ~ if you discover, like I did, that you have a genetic mutation in your MTHFR gene. What the heck is an MTHFR gene?! Don’t worry. I’d never heard of it either, before my doctor ordered the test. I’ll explain all of this below, as simply as I can!
It is estimated that between 30-50% of the population has one or more mutations in their MTHFR gene.
What is the MTHFR Gene?
Essentially, MTHFR is a gene that gives your body instructions how to make an enzyme called “methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.” This gene is responsible for methylation, & governs how your body breaks down & uses nutrients. It also affects your body’s ability to detoxify. An MTHFR mutation can be inherited from one or both parents, & the severity of potential problems is different for each person with the mutation.
If you get confused with the name, you can call MTHFR what my brother does in short: “Mother-effer!” Easier to remember.
If you decide to test for MTHFR, the test will likely focus on two genes: c677T & A1298C. Some people have a mutation in one; others have it in both. For instance, I have a mutation in the c677T gene ONLY. If there are mutations in both genes, you’ll likely have worse symptoms than those with just one mutation.
What Symptoms Can MTHFR Cause?
When a person’s body is not methylating properly, it can affect brain & cognitive function, cholesterol levels, digestion, hormone levels, & neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers that tell your body what to do). From a symptoms standpoint, this can manifest as: addictions, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, autism, autoimmune disorders, ADHD, bipolar disorder, chronic pain disorder, depression, diabetes, fertility problems (including miscarriages), fibromyalgia, heart problems, IBS, migraines, Parkinson’s, pregnancy issues (including postpartum depression), schizophrenia, spina bifida, & strokes.
This seems like everything but cancer! Yikes!
What About Energy?
But the title of this article is “How to Get More Energy Naturally” ~ what does all of this have to do with energy? B vitamins, particularly B-12, have long been associated with increased energy. And there’s a simple reason for it: B vitamins help your body convert the food you eat into glucose (sugar), which gives you energy.
So you can see that when a mutation like MTHFR gets involved, it can start creating a cascade of effects in the body, including affecting energy levels. That “afternoon slump” may not be best cured by coffee ~ your body may, in fact, be craving B vitamins.
How Can I Test for MTHFR?
If you want to test for an MTHFR mutation, your doctor will need to order a genetic test, which is typically a simple blood test (sometimes saliva). This isn’t commonly ordered; the only reason my doctor ordered it was to determine possible causes for my adrenal issues (lack of B vitamins can also contribute to adrenal depletion). Genetic testing can be expensive, but many insurance companies are now covering it.
It’s also possible to have a genetic test performed independently. One kit that you can order is from: 1) MTHFR Doctors ($129). It requires a simple, cheek swab test ~ no needles necessary. The main problem with this route is that you’ll need to have someone analyze your results. In my opinion, it’s better to seek guidance from a physician, who will be able to look at the big picture ~ as MTHFR is merely one factor in what could be potentially be several issues impacting optimal health.
How to Help MTHFR?
If you find out that you have an MTHFR mutation, one of the most important things you’ll need to assist your body, is: Folate (Vitamin B-9). Folate is found in leafy greens, asparagus, beans & lentils, broccoli, avocado, & many brightly colored fruits. People with mutations (like myself) may not be able to get enough folate from food, in which case supplements are necessary for optimal function.
What’s Wrong with “Regular” B Vitamins?
The problem with “regular” B vitamins, is that they use cheaper, synthetic versions of B ~ like folic acid. If you have MTHFR, folic acid can act as a TOXIN!! My doctor made this very clear to me, & went through all my supplements ~ to make sure I was NOT taking it anymore. If you have MTHFR, your body doesn’t know what to do with folic acid. It does, however, know what to do with the active form ~ which is folate.
Certain medications also deplete folate, making the problem worse. These medications include: antacids, antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, cholesterol-lowering medication, hormone replacement therapy drugs, & NSAID’s (pain relievers). So if you’re someone with an MTHFR mutation, AND you’re regularly taking one of the above medications, it’s likely that your body’s folate levels (B-9) are far from optimal.
How to Get More Energy Naturally
Here it is, the “remedy” for how to get more energy naturally ~ if you have the MTHFR gene! All vitamins below have ACTIVE forms of B, which are necessary for people with MTHFR mutations. My preferred brand is Pure Therapeutics Pharmaceutical Grade Methyl-B. One pill gives me sustained energy all day, with no afternoon slump; it’s $39 for 120 capsules (4-month supply, at 1 pill/day).
If you’re borderline anemic (which I was as well), one of the BEST forms of iron I’ve found is Vitanica’s Iron Extra. The reason I’m including it here is because their formulation includes Methylated Folate & Methyl B-12 ~ which are exactly what people with MTHFR need. And this formula doesn’t constipate, like many do.
Please check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.
Just so you know how different methylated Vitamin B is from a “regular” brand ~ let’s do a side-by-side comparison. Below on the left, are the ingredients in Nature Made’s Super B Energy Complex. We’ll compare & contrast that with the brand I use, which is Pure Therapeutics Pharmaceutical Grade Methyl B.
- Vitamin B-2 = 1.7 mg (100% DV) of Riboflavin in Nature Made, vs. 25 mg (1,470%) of active Riboflavin-5′-Phosphate-Sodium in Pure Therapeuticals.
- Vitamin B-6 = 2mg (100% DV) of Vit. B-6 as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, vs. 15 mg (750%) of Vit. B-6 (as Pyridoxal-5′-Phosphate).
- Vitamin B-9 = 400 mcg (100% DV) of Folic Acid, vs. 2,000 mcg (500% DV) of Folate (as Methylfolate & Quatrefolic)
- Vitamin B-12 = 6 mcg (100% DV) of Cyanocobalamin, vs. 1,000 mcg of Adenosylcobalamin & Methylcobalamin
You can see, in looking at the brands side-by-side, that Pure Therapeuticals is like B Vitamin on steroids. Not only is the quantity of the ingredients higher, but the quality is more active & potent ~ & more efficiently able to be used by the body as energy.
How to Get More Energy Naturally
I hope this article explaining how to get more energy naturally has been relevant & useful. If you’ve never heard of MTHFR before, I hope it opens your eyes to something that could enhance your energy levels for a lifetime. When I read of Vitamin B’s connection to mental health & mood disorders in particular, I knew I had to write on this topic. If there’s a way to help more people in this country who suffer from these conditions, without the side effects that so often come with prescription drugs: I am all for it.
Please Note: This article documents what has worked for me, as someone with a moderate MTHFR mutation. Please check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.
Read Next: How to Stay Regular on the Road