What is nitrous oxide and how does this affect those with MTHFR gene variations? When you have an MTHFR deficiency, which results in elevated serum levels of homocysteine, you are at risk for a number of health issues. Your body may also react differently when exposed to nitrous oxide, a common sedative agent used in surgery and dentistry. So, what happens when you have to use nitrous oxide as a sedative in a medical procedure? Learn about the nitrous oxide possible side effects in this article.
What is Nitrous Oxide and Does it Affect MTHFR?
In this Article:
- What Is Nitrous Oxide?
- What is MTHFR?
- How does Nitrous Oxide Affect those with MTHFR Deficiency?
- Are those with MTHFR Gene Variants at Risk of Having Cardiac Events During a Dental Procedure?
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, is a colorless, non-flammable, and naturally occurring gas found in the atmosphere in small amounts. The usage of nitrous oxide as a sedative agent is common in surgical and dental procedures due to its anesthetic and analgesic effects.
What is MTHFR?
MTHFR is the gene responsible for the enzyme that processes amino acids. It is essentially the building block of the methylation process, which is vital to glutathione production. And glutathione production is important because glutathione is an important antioxidant capable of preventing damage to various cellular components by free radicals, heavy metals, and other dangers.
Some people have an MTHFR mutation or deficiency—the common variants are C677T and A1298C. If you are one of them, it means you are prone to having a poor methylation cycle and may need to take supplements to boost glutathione levels.
How does Nitrous Oxide Affect those with MTHFR Deficiency?
Nitrous oxide has an influence on the increase of homocysteine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body. It is part of the methylation process, but a high level of homocysteine is indicative of oxidative stress and a risk factor for heart disease.
Those with the MTHFR C677T and A1298C gene variant are more prone to experiencing this effect from nitrous oxide.
Are those with MTHFR Gene Variants at Risk of Having Cardiac Events During a Dental Procedure?
Nitrous oxide does increase homocysteine levels, but it does not have the same effect as troponin, which are proteins in the blood.
According to Dr. Stephen Smith, "Troponin is an element in the blood that goes up when you have a heart attack or heart stress and that does not seem to rise with the nitrous oxide."
"In general, nitrous oxide should be safe with people that have MTHFR. It will cause a transient rise in homocysteine but it does not seem to be associated with cardiac events," he said.
Dr. Smith also suggested the intake of certain products to prevent homocysteine from increasing.
"If you want to block this effect, you can just take a product like Methyl Matrix or other complexes with lots of B vitamins and you can prevent the rise of homocysteine altogether."
There was a study conducted in 2013 that explored the relationship among nitrous oxide as anesthesia, B vitamins, and MTHFR gene variants on cardiac events during surgery. The summary statement of the randomized trial is:
"Neither MTHFR gene variants nor acute homocysteine increase is associated with perioperative cardiac troponin elevation after nitrous oxide anesthesia. B-vitamins blunt nitrous oxide-induced homocysteine increase but have no effect on cardiac troponin elevation."
Learn how nitrous oxide affects MTHFR gene variants in a dental procedure in this video:
Exposure to nitrous oxide may increase your homocysteine levels when you have MTHFR gene variations. But it does not increase cardiac troponin, according to Dr. Smith and the study mentioned above. Dr. Smith also mentioned that nitrous oxide is generally safe for those who are MTHFR deficit. To put your mind at ease during a dental procedure, you can take supplements rich in active B complex beforehand.
What do you think of the nitrous oxide side effects? Let us know in the comments section.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned is intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.
Editor’s Note - This post was originally published on February 28, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.