In this episode of IWG Radio, Functional Medicine Doctor Nicole Rivera and Pregnancy Chiropractor Dr. Kyle Klim discuss common misconceptions with prenatal vitamins and the importance of testing for a gene mutation called MTHFR.


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Hey, there. This is Dr. Nicole, and you are listening to another episode of IWG radio. The place to be for all of your wellness needs. I am really excited to be here with Dr. Kyle. Who is the pediatric, prenatal, and pregnancy chiropractor, here, at IWG. For those of you that don't know me, I am also the functional medicine practitioner, here at Integrative Wellness Group.

We decided that we wanted to talk about a hot topic, today. Which has to do with MTHFR, which we will go in more detail about, but also, just talking about general recommendations for women that are trying to get pregnant as well as, currently are pregnant, and what is the best route to go for proper prenatal support, especially in the event that you do have the MTHFR gene mutation.

I want to introduce, Dr. Kyle, and let him tell you a little bit about what he does, here at Integrated Wellness Group.

Dr. Kyle:
Hello, everybody. Dr. Kyle Klim, here. At Integrative Wellness Group, like Dr. Nicole said, I do specialize in pregnancy prenatal, and pediatric chiropractic care. Along with that, there's definitely some more that comes along with that. A lot of times, parents come in and have lots of questions regarding, obviously, not only chiropractic, but what steps they need to take to make sure that they're pregnancy continues to go well. If they are not pregnant yet, and are trying to become pregnant, what steps they should take as naturally, and holistically as possible in order to make conception easier, and then, how to maintain a healthy pregnancy in order for labor, and delivery, as well as the development of their baby to be as best as it possibly can.

Dr. Nicole:
I think that is a really important thing for people to understand, as well, is we've all heard horror stories of women that have gone through a really troublesome pregnancy, then which lead to also, a birth that maybe had complications, or it wasn't necessarily as smooth as we hoped for, but then, there are those other women, that we hear about, who had this amazing experiences throughout their entire pregnancy, and birth. It's not kind of luck of the draw, and it's not necessarily the card that you've been dealt.

There's usually some underlying reasoning behind, maybe not having the best experience during your pregnancy. This is why we actually wanted to touch on this subject, because something like, issues with methylation, or even not having the proper nutrition, or proper support, can definitely contribute to having lots of symptoms, and symptoms even as common as morning sickness. I actually had a woman the other day, she was, "Can't you expect to have morning sickness when your pregnant?" I told her, "No." She was really, really surprised. That is true, there is definitely things that can contribute.

Dr. Kyle:
As Dr. Nicole, said, pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be, and should be a beautiful experience for you and your partner to bring in another beautiful life into the world, and if you go about things properly, and plan accordingly, before you try to start to conceive, and do everything in the right way, pregnancy can be great, and easy, and fun. Labor, and delivery can be quick and easy, as well. All it takes is a little extra work, in the beginning, and it won't be a big deal.

Dr. Nicole:
Dr. Kyle, why don't you tell us a little bit about, what are the top things that you are supporting women with? What are the top things that women are coming in, talking to you about, or things that they are fearful of in the event of getting pregnant, and some of the top symptoms they are experiencing?

Dr. Kyle:
Initially, when moms, or if parents come together, if they are currently pregnant they're main concern is the birth, itself. They would like to have as natural or holistic labor and delivery as possible. Avoiding interventions, such as c-sections, or a difficult deliveries. Utilizing vacuum or forceps deliveries. Helping them prepare the proper birth plan, and what steps to take for the remainder of the pregnancy to make sure that, that doesn't happen. Part of that, the main reason for a c-section is usually when baby isn't in the proper position. Utilizing specific chiropractic technique called Webster Technique, helps allow for the pelvis to be in it's proper position, for the most amount of the space, for the baby to be in their best possible space, for labor and delivery.

There are many, many things that parents can do. Whether it's nutrition, definitely proper movement, and exercise throughout the pregnancy. I think we also, sometimes have this cultural thing, that pregnancy involves a lot of bed rest, and we cannot do too much. To a point, of course, you definitely need to rest a little bit, but the body, needs motion, especially during pregnancy. It can be something as simple as just going for a walk, or really light yoga classes. There's now prenatal yoga classes that are great. Just being active, really thinking about proper nutrition, and preparing for exactly the birth that you want to have, so nothing comes as a surprise.

Dr. Nicole:
I think that, there's so many layers, to it. There is the movement aspect. There is making sure that your body is in proper alignment. There is nutrition. Coming from my standpoint, with doing functional medicine, there are some commonalities of different types of deficiencies, that I do see, especially in the event that somebody is either not getting pregnant, or having trouble getting pregnant. This is, it kind of overlaps with the main things, that end up being in a prenatal. The thing is, there is some issues with some of the prescription prenatal in the sense that, there are a lot more additives, than we would expect.

In some prenatal that I've seen, I've seen chemicals like propylene glycol. I've seen different types of dyes, like red dye. I've seen blue dye. I've even seen traces of aluminum in some of them. Even others I've seen traces of fluoride. If you have been prescribed a prenatal, please Google it, go online, check to see what the ingredients are. You might be surprised. Some of the major things that you really need in the event that you are trying to get pregnant, as well as, you are currently pregnant, and you want to support that pregnancy is, things like trace minerals, everything from your copper to your zinc, to your calcium, your magnesium, your phosphates, we need those essential minerals, they are extremely important for hormone function. Extremely important for brain function.

Iron, iron is huge, and one of the primary things, that I see in women who are having trouble with infertility is they have an iron deficiency, so they always say, your prenatal needs to have high amounts of iron in it, because your iron is going to be taken by the baby. If you don't have any, you don't have any to give. That is going to be a limitation with your pregnancy. Iron is an extremely important part. I honestly prefer using iron in a whole foods supplement, so that it is more easily digested and more bio available. Or, eating something like liver, which is not always what people want to do.

Some of the other things, B vitamins. B vitamins, are extremely important. One of the biggest issues, why we are all in B vitamin, crisis, is because we have so many different things in our foods, including a chemical called glyphosates, which is known to be energetically modified foods. This is blocking our B vitamin absorption. Which is leading us to be B vitamin deficient. B vitamins are extremely important, and of course getting the proper types, which we are going to elaborate more on when we talk about MTHFR, and methylation.

Also, different types of genetic markers. Looking to see if you do have the MTHFR gene mutation, and another really important one, especially in the event that you want to avoid morning sickness, is the PEMT gene, and that specific pathway has to do with choline uptake. If you have a choline deficiency, you will have morning sickness. For those of you who are struggling, or have struggled it is somewhat of a easy solution. If your experiencing morning sickness, you really want to try a good quality choline supplement, also known as phosphatidylcholine. See if that resolves your morning sickness, because it's a very important part of the puzzle.

Before we get into MTHFR, and explain a little bit more about what it is, let's talk about the effects, that having either the MTHFR gene mutation, or issues methalation, in general, what does that look like in pregnant women, and then leading into obviously the child being born?

Dr. Kyle:
Sure. If you are someone who is positive for the MTHFR gene mutation, one of the things that it doesn't allow your body to do is, properly process your folic acid. Now, we all know, and we've all been told, that folic acid is very, very important when it comes to pregnancy and the development of your baby. We do need this in order for proper development of brain, spinal cord, bone formation as the baby is growing, prenatally. Now, if you are positive, and you are not properly physiologically creating folic acid from folate, it's free floating in the body. Your not absorbing it, your not utilizing it, it's not doing anything for you, and it is also not doing anything for the baby.

Dr. Nicole:
If anything, it's actually creating inflammation, because of the higher levels of homocysteine.

Dr. Kyle:
Exactly. What that can look like on my end, say when baby does get delivered, what are called neuro-tube defects, and what that means are incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and some of the bones of the head, or face, also what are called mid-line defects. Whether its spina bifida, which is a incomplete closure of some of the vertebrae in the spin, which allow for the spinal cord to be exposed. Tongue tie, and lip lie, as well as cleft palate type presentations. Some of these things are relatively common, but if this is something that we can know about, prior to conception, or early on in the pregnancy, this is something that we can definitely help with, and it's something that's easy to find out, and important to know.

Dr. Nicole:
I think, that is really important talking about these mid-line defects, because we are a facility that actually works with the lactation department of one of the local hospitals, and we were having a lot of referrals, because they wanted to avoid surgery for these tongue ties, and lip ties. For those of you that don't understand what that is, it's pretty much the shortening of the skin in between the gums and the lip, or the base of the mouth, and the tongue. These are babies that are having a lot of issues with latching. They're a lot of issues with breastfeeding.

This is becoming more and more common, and they are referring to our facility for cranial sacral work to see if that is going to improve some of the cranial nerve function in order to prevent the surgery, but at the same time, this is something that could have been avoided knowing if the mother had issues with methylation in the first place. Some of the things, that I personally see in my functional medicine practice, later on in life, is we're talking about mid-line. What is the primary organ that is in the mid-line? That's your thyroid.

Later down the line, testing women for methylation issues, because genetic testing is a pretty common thing that I do, I end up seeing women who have had, literally, ten percent of their methylation working, that means ninety percent of methylation does not work in their body. These are women that have had, either thyroid cancer, or they had a thyroidectomy. They had their thyroid removed, because other types of pathology.

I find it to be a very interesting correlation, again, because that organ is on the mid-line. Another thing that I always tell my clients, if we test you, and primarily you can go one of two ways to test for MTHFR, you can test it in the blood, you have to be very careful to make sure insurance will cover it, otherwise it is a five hundred and fifty dollar cost, out of pocket. If they don't feel you have sufficient reasoning to test it. The other way to go is you could do a saliva test, which is done by a company called, Twenty-three and Me, and they will actually give you all of your raw genetic data, and then you will be able to work with a functional medicine doctor to interpret it. It is very confusing.

depending on the type of mutation, you could have a decrease in methylation by fifteen percent. You can have a decrease in methylation by up to ninety percent. These are the situations where you are going to see a lot more of those mid-line issues. If you were a person, say, had fifty percent, or more of your methylation not working, you need to be very, very cautious of synthetic folic acid. Synthetic folic acid, is the primary thing in most of the pre-natals, out there. It's also, in some of our breads, pastas, and other types of processed foods, because they had in this synthetic folic acid in the process of enriching, or fortifying foods.

If your the person that does not have proper methylation, by fifty percent or more, and you consume a bunch of processed foods, carbohydrates, breads, pastas, and you get all of this folic acid built up in your body, which Dr. Kyle said, that folic acid is not being converted into methylated folic acid. Now, you have this unusable folic acid, which is now, building, building, building, and creating massive amounts of inflammation, in the body. Inflammation, is like swelling. It's literally, swelling that can happen around the organs, and create a lot of problems. It could raise your blood pressure. It can create headache. It can create muscle aches. Pain. It can create all of those things.

In the event of getting pregnant, being pregnant, test, get tested for this MTHFR, because it is extremely important, and it can really impact your pregnancy, and it can impact your child's health in a very positive way, if you take the right supplements for it. Supplementation wise, you want to be cautious of these prenatals that are all in one combination pills, because, again, they're probably not containing the methylated form of the folic acid. Which is the type that you need. That's why it's called MTHFR, because it is methylenetetrahydrofolate. That is what you are going to see when you buy these methylated supplements is it's on the back of the bottle, it's actually going to say, 5-MTHF, and that is the specific type of folic acid that you want to take, in the event that you are dealing with this type of mutation with the MTHFR.

Dr. Kyle:
One of the things that I would also like to mention, as Doctor Nicole was talking about supplementation, and prenatals, and vitamin, and mineral deficiencies is we also have to think about how long we've been on oral contraceptives, and birth control. We see ladies here, all the time, think about it, how many people do you know, that's been on birth control for five, ten, fifteen years? These types of pills, the pill, if you will, can lead to many deficiencies, and these deficiencies that then happen can cause issues with conception. Being aware of this, and again planning accordingly, if you are that person that's been on birth control for a long time, and you're okay, and you got off of it, and immediately are trying to conceive, it's going to take a while for a lot of things to balance out. That may be another issue that you may have some questions about, or may need some help with, and that's something we definitely see a lot of.

Dr. Nicole:
Birth control is a folic acid blocking drug. You coming off the birth control pill are going to be extremely deficient in folic acid. You definitely need to amp up your folic acid intake, dietary wise, as well as supplement wise, but again, the last thing you want to be doing is taking the wrong type of folic acid for your body. It ends up, not necessarily serving you or replenishing you. Definitely, I think that's an amazing point that you made, because it's very, very important.

Dr. Kyle:
Even for more information on that there's a previous podcast, with Doctor Nicole and Brooke about birth control, and just what we spoke about.

Dr. Nicole:
Definitely. Kind of just to wrap up, and sum things up for you guys, I know there was a lot of information that we throw at you, but really the best thing to do is really start with the right testing, and you can definitely get a lot of information about your genetic makeup, going back to the MTHFR, and going back to the PEMT, which has to do with the choline deficiency, which can be creating morning sickness. Those can be done through those twenty-three and me test. Again, genes are not easy to interpret, so you are going to want to work with a functional medicine practitioner to interpret that for you. Unless, your OBGYN has the capabilities of doing that.

Then, you also want to make sure that you are looking at the possibility of any other deficiencies in the B vitamin world, as well as in the mineral world, and calcium, magnesium, et cetera. You can definitely do blood tests in order to get some of these values. B vitamins are definitely best seen in the urine, so urinary test is best to have the most accurate markers. Between a saliva test, a blood test, as well as a urinary test, you will be able to get a lot of information about your body, in order to have the best, most enjoyable pregnancy, possible.

We thank you so much for listening. If you want any additional information or interested in setting up a consultation with myself, or Dr. Kyle, because you are currently pregnant or looking to get pregnant, and just need some support, just know that we are happy to support in any way possible. Doctor Kyle does chiropractic prenatally, but he also does offer consultation for women that are looking for a birth plan, looking for information on nutrition, and various other things according to having a healthy pregnancy.

We thank you so much, again, and please opt in, in order to get some information in the paper based form about the MTHFR, and some of the pre-natals that we recommend, and some of the brands that we recommend, as well. Again, thank you so much.

Dr. Kyle:
See you next time.