Epinutrients play a very big role in DNA methylation. See, methylation is an important biochemical process that helps optimize gene expression, health outcomes, and, yes, aging (read more about it here). And while supplying your body with methyl donors—like beets, cruciferous veggies, and eggs, if you can tolerate them—is crucial for improving your methylation pathways, Fitzgerald says you don’t want to just be pushing methylation forward all the time. “You want to give it information about where to go,” she says.
“Yes, we need a robust methyl donor intake, but we also need to direct the behavior of these methyl groups,” Fitzgerald continues. And it turns out, epinutrients can do just that: “These exquisite compounds direct methylation traffic,” she adds. “So you want an abundance of methyl donors, but you want it with these traffic directors, these [epinutrients].”
You may hear the term methylation adaptogens tossed around, which is another scientific term for these epinutrients—just like how other adaptogens “adapt” to what your body needs in order to manage stress, these epinutrients help balance the methylation cycle.
On a final note: These have pretty science-forward names, as we’re calling out the specific nutrients that, as Fitzgerald notes, are “epigenetically active.” Don’t worry, though: We’ll give a few examples of foods that feature these powerful players: