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A Canary's Eye View — Metabolic Basis
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Methylation –
study notes in progress
(items particularly applicable to me are in orange)

"The simplest organic molecule contains a single carbon surrounded by 4 atoms of hydrogen. Called methane, it has the shape of a perfect 4-sided pyramid called a tetrahedron. In this structure, the carbon is in the very center of the pyramid shape and a hydrogen atom occupies each of the 4 corners.

If a hydrogen atom is removed from one corner of the methane pyramid, the carbon atom in the center can now bond with another atom. The chemical group just formed - with a carbon and three hydrogen atoms - is called a methyl group." (Description from The Chemistry of Life Extension.) The process of adding a methyl group to a molecule, is methylation. It takes place in every cell in the body.

  • From Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab's April 2000 newsletter: "first an "adenosyl" group from ATP is attached to methionine to form S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM) by an enzymatic process that needs magnesium. With the help of a methyltransferase enzyme, SAM can then give away the methyl group that is carried on the methionine portion. When it does this, SAM becomes S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH)." [In the US, SAM is sold as a nutritional supplement under the marketing name SAMe.]
  • involved with
    • protein production
    • DNA regulation
    • neurotransmitter production
  • required for the production of melatonin.
  • detoxifies
    • cobalamin
    • histamine
    • adrenal catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine)
    • serotonin
    • phosphatidylethanolamine (successive methylation produces choline)
    • tryptamine
    • tyramine
    • amphetamine
    • aniline, benzidine, imidazole
    • arsenic, antimony, selenium. "For arsenic, SAM reacts twice with arsonic acid to produce dimethylarsinic acid (also called cacodylic acid). Similar methylation detoxifies antimony and selenium, and hydrogen sulfide." [GSDL again]
    • hydrogen sulfide — becomes (CH3)2S.
  • protects against cancer, especially in the liver

Endogenous production

Defects

  • critical enzyme methionine synthetase is inhibited by heavy metals and other toxins

Supplementation

Testing

  • Since homocysteine rises when methylation is deficient, might a blood test for homocysteine level be a simple way to determine methylation status? See "A Lethal Misconception."

For more information

copyright © 2006 by Catherine Holmes Clark. Last updated 26 June 2006