I believe that suboptimal methylation is one of the biggest, most silent issues when it comes to our health and longevity—and so does Lipman. “Methylation is a key mechanism involved in brain health, heart health, and emotional health,” he says.
See, methylation is a biochemical process that happens all day, every day in your body. We have a full explainer here, but we’ll let Lipman explain: “Methylation is just a simple biochemical process that involves a transfer of four atoms, referred to as a methyl group from one substance to another. It’s like a relay race: Your methylation goes from one substance, and then the baton gets passed on to another substance, and it gets passed on to another substance… It’s getting passed on along all these different biochemical processes, and it’s basically getting the gears to run properly and switching genes on and off.” And you can measure this process by looking at your homocysteine levels: “When you see a high homocysteine level, you can usually assume that you’re not methylating properly,” Lipman says.
High levels of homocysteine are something I have personally dealt with, and they have implications for cardiovascular health. You can read all about my personal story here, but here’s the gist: I felt physically fine, yet I had a homocysteine level of 63.3 umol/L (for reference, high homocysteine is defined as anything higher than 15 umol/L, so mine was especially shocking. Lipman even thought my labs were a mistake!). “No one usually feels that they have high homocysteine,” he adds. “That’s the issue.”