Aging and Longevity – 1. Methylation

What is Methylation?

Methylation is a process which occurs in every one of our cells. It involves a chemical methyl group (CH3) being passed around a series of molecules in a cycle.

Methylation enables the body to:

  • Detoxify toxins within the cell
  • Repair damaged DNA
  • Create new cells

What Problems Does Defective Methylation Cause?

If the cycle of methylation is not working well a dangerous substance called homocysteine accumulates in the blood. High homocysteine levels cause serious damage to the cells and the DNA. This leads to premature aging – and premature death.

High homocysteine is closely involved in:

  • Heart and artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Various types of cancer
  • Depression
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Low thyroid function
  • IBS (inflammatory bowel syndrome)
  • ME (Myalgic encephalitis)

and other serious degenerative diseases.

For example a raised homocysteine level can easily double or even quadruple the chances of atherosclerosis and other artery problems, leading to serious illness or death.

What Causes Poor Methylation?

Poor methylation is due either to an insufficient supply of methyl groups necessary to the process; or a deficiency of the nutrients which facilitate the process. The main nutrients required are; vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc.

The Heart And Arteries And Homocysteine

It is well known that cholesterol can contribute to heart and artery disease. What is not generally known, is that before cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries damage must already be present. This arterial damage can be caused by a high level of homocysteine in the blood.

In fact, the level of blood homocysteine is a much more accurate indicator of heart and artery disease than cholesterol is. Once this sinks in with the medical establishment measurement of homocysteine will supplement routine measurement of cholesterol.

How Can I Lower Homocysteine?

To improve methylation and thus reduce homocysteine there are two approaches. A combination may be needed. The two approaches are:

To increase the elements in the blood, which supply the necessary methyl groups – primarily TMG (trimethylglycine) and SAM-e (S-adenosyl-methionine), and:

To make sure the nutrients, which enable methylation to take place all present in sufficient quantities – these are primarily vitamin B12, folic acid and zinc.

The amount of these nutrients to be taken is determined by a blood test indicating the level of homocysteine and an assessments of the deficiencies present. Professional help is an advantage, if it can be found.

What Level Should Homocysteine Be?

The target level of homocysteine in the blood is 6.3 µmol per liter of blood or less. If as high as 15 µmol per liter – and this level is not rare – the risk of coronary artery disease is quadrupled. A simple blood test will show the level of homocysteine present.

Your doctor will have heard of homocysteine, and can have it measured. However, he or she will probably not to know why you want to test it and not know the implications of a level above 6.3 µmol per liter. So be prepared to explain your concerns to the doctor and to take in some printed material to back yourself up.

Homocysteine – A Crucial Test

Measuring homocysteine is very important. If it is high it means you have a much higher chance of serious ill health than otherwise. This measure of the effectiveness of methylation in your body should be checked annually.

The 4 ‘-ations’ – Vital Indicators of Health

The 4 ‘-ations’ – methylation, oxidation, glycation and inflammation – are processes which damage and kill our cells. If we act to take control of these processes we will slow the path of aging and reduce greatly our chances of developing 21st century diseases – including cancer, heart and artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

  • sammy @ alzheimers

    Longevity is all well and good, as long as it is accompanied by well being. As a society we need to embrace a new association with planet earth.

  • The Health Guru

    If you were to take your time and realize that life is short you will be able to understand the true meaning of the message.

  • Malc

    Sounds a bit ‘preachy’… but thanks for taking the time to comment.


  • Heather Bowell

    Tetsing for homocysteine is a good indicator of an impending heart attack.

  • Manjit Bhurji

    very informative

  • cindy

    Is sam-e and b6,b12 and zinc enough to keep the methylation at it’s best?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Cindy

    Basically – you need, ideally, to test your blood to see what you need if anything: take the supplements: and retest to see if you fixed it.

    This is not an exact science especially so as we are at the cutting edge here. But the broad facts are right – now you have to apply them to yourself. OK – it’s a bit experimental, it’s true: but that’s the best option – and I’d say that’s a good option!

    I just had 80 or so blood tests done when in California, and it ran to $500/£350 or so. Not bad. I went through LIfe Extension – They are US-wide.



    Hey Malc
    Fluff-Free Internet Marketing

  • Noexcuses

    Isn’t  N-acetyl cysteine(an amino acid) combined with the amino acids glutamic acid and glycine the precursors of Glutathione-the king of antioxidants?  And isn’t homocysteine derived from cysteine?  Does taking B6, B12 and folic acid negate this formation?

  • Cindy

    first of all, there is a difference between homocysteine and cysteine alone. i will explain it to you:
    Homocysteine is a homologue of the amino acid cysteine, differing by an additional methylene (-CH2-) group. It is biosynthesized from methionine by the removal of its terminal C? methyl group. Homocysteine can be recycled into methionine or converted into cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. So basically you need the b vitamins for the removal of the homocysteine through methylation .
    And about Gluthatione you are right, but for eg i had a low glutathione lvl and i took the reduced form and now my levels are back to normal, but if you can find NAC and the other 3 amino acids go ahead and take them, they will not do you any harm.

  • whataboutthat

    “Enough study has been done to conclude with reasonable certainty that
    taking B-vitamins to lower homocysteine levels will not lower the
    incidence or heart attacks or strokes except for people with
    homocystinurea. Nor is it advisable to do routine screening for
    homocysteine levels”

  • Malcolm Simmonds

    Yes, this is one of the views. Thanks for input.



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  • Hirschome

    I have MTHFR C667T…one copy….but after taking out my amalgams, I became very sick due to mercury poisoning.  My homocysteine was 4.  Too low can also be bad.  Dr. Kendall Stewart, in Austin Texas, ( has works with thousands of ASD children with low homocysteine levels and helped raise them to normal with supplements like methylfolate, methycobalamin, P5P, and TMG.   MTHFR enzyme mutation makes it difficult to get rid of toxins because the methylation cycle is interrupted.  One study suggests that as high as 94-98% of ASD children have one or more copies of MTHFR, so they can’t get rid of toxins like those without the mutation.  40-60% of the population have this gene.  I started taking methylated B vitamins and now my homocysteine is 6.3…normal and all my side effects of mercury poisoning are gone and I have energy ,think clearly, and my pain disappeared that felt like fibermyalgia.  Don’t take the fake forms of B vitamins if you have MTHFR.  In 2005, my reproductive endocrinologist put me on Folgard 2.2mg (fake B vitamins) and my babies still died after seeing heart beats.  Most likely blood clots killed the babies because my husband carries MTHFR A1298C.  I have 5 kids.  Two have C667T/A1298C.  One with C667T and one with A1298C.  We are all taking methylated B vitamins and my two with the C667T/A1298C especially need to take them to lower their homocysteine levels.  Don’t just go out and start taking folic acid and B12….they need to be methylated. 

  • Malcolm Simmonds

    Hi – thanks for that feedback. I like the way you have tracked down the route you and your family need to follow. Kudos. And interesting point about the methylated supplements.

    Sorry about the lost babies 🙁

    Take care, Malc

  • ruth

    I have pyroluria. How does this effect methylation? As a consequence, I have to take high doses of zinc and B6 daily to keep my levels up. My homocysteine level is 7.5, I’m hypo thyroid and my c reactive protein is 6.9. Should I take TMG, SAMe and Methionine? Could the high homocysteine be a consequence of continually being drained of zinc and B6? Are there foods that people should or shouldn’t eat that effect homocysteine levels?

  • Malc Simmonds

    Hi Ruth – wow! You have all the figures there! I think you want to consult with a practitioner because as you take those supplements you will want to be monitoring the results via appropriate blood tests.

    I know of two in the US – if that’s where you are: Philip Miller in California and Terry Grossman in Denver. I hope that helps 🙂


  • BonV.Vant

    ….”As a society we need to embrace a new association with planet earth.” ……
    That is a statement which means absolutely nothing.

  • Joan Tendler

    Excess arginine uses up methyl groups as it is used to make creatine, raising homocysteine. Best thing is to avoid peanut butter, seeds, nuts, and grains, and eat lots of yogurt, beans, and fish.

  • Malc Simmonds

    Thanks for the input, Joan. 🙂

  • Joan Tendler

    I’ve been researching the effects of high arginine and low lysine, and it covers pretty much every health problem I can think of. I’m glad your longevity-type blog doesn’t push arginine-a lot of them do! I put this information up on a website-it’s really helpful, can I post it here?

  • Malc Simmonds

    Sure, Joan – post the link. Thanks 🙂

  • Joan Tendler
  • Malc Simmonds

    :Ta! )

  • Joan Tendler

    If you get a chance to look at the site, I’d appreciate any comments you might have.

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