The Connection Between Unique DNA and Individual Health
Mar 29, 2014 09:53AM
● By Robert Miller
People recognize the need for sensible supplementation, but looking at the dizzying array of supplements in stores and catalogs, selecting what they need can be overwhelming. Experts in biochemistry and DNA have recently discovered a way to inform choices in nutritional supplementation according to each individual’s unique genetic code.
Our bodies comprise trillions of cells, and cells must be made as quickly as old ones become worn out, damaged or die. Found within the nucleus of every cell in and on our bodies, DNA contains the coding instructions for each cell to perform its functions and replicates itself when making new cells. DNA must remain healthy to be able to continually code properly; otherwise, mutations can develop, causing alterations in the cell’s programming, compromising energy and health. As environmental health writer Bob Weinhold summarizes in his book, Epigenetics: The Science of Change, factors that alter the functioning of DNA include oxidative stress and toxins such as pesticides, environmental pollutants and heavy metals.
One of the many important jobs of DNA is to make enzymes which catalyze every process that takes place in the body. One such process, methylation, involves the addition of a methyl group, CH3, to another molecule. Adding or subtracting a methyl group activates or deactivates myriad reactions in the body.
Biochemist Aharon Razin, Ph.D., and geneticist Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., published a seminal article and book describing the many functions of methylation: turning genes on and off; transforming chemicals and toxins; creating neurotransmitters and processing hormones; building immune cells; and producing energy, the protective coating of the nerves (myelin sheath) and the master antioxidant, glutathione.
Methylation is required to detoxify the body, enable graceful aging, support proper weight and complete many other functions. The process occurs up to 80 billion times per second, continuously repairing DNA so that the body’s individual molecules can stay young or perfect.
The five different cycles of methylation depend upon nutrient cofactors that help to create the enzymes which make the cycle work. Unfortunately, we can inherit defects, called genetic polymorphisms, that do not allow these enzymes to be properly made. This can cause problems such as an inability to properly process amino acids into proteins and neurotransmitters, which in turn leads to inflammation, degenerative conditions, premature aging, stress, depression and other mental health issues. This can cause damage before it produces any symptoms.
Such is the case with one defect that where the body does not produce the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) enzyme. MTHFR deficiency produces high homocysteine levels, which is correlated with cardiovascular disease, stroke and a variety of chronic illnesses. The detection of MTHFR deficiency at an early age provides a person the chance to take appropriate action to prevent serious cardiovascular disease later in life. Research by Lynn Bailey, Ph.D., and Jesse Gregory III, Ph.D., experts on B vitamins, found that individuals with MTHFR deficiency benefit from supplementation with methylfolate and other nutrient cofactors that support the function of MTHFR.
Research published in 2011 in the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology concluded that simple and inexpensive saliva testing is an effective way to identify more than 70 different genetic polymorphisms. Based on each individual’s results, practitioners can customize targeted nutritional supplementation to compensate for the variants, which means nutrition can be used to support short-term and long-term health. This may very well be medicine of the future.
Robert Miller is a certified traditional naturopath and the owner Tree of Life Health Ministries, in Ephrata. He is also the epigenetics researcher and product formulator for a nutritional supplement company that provides products to health care professionals. For more information, visit tolhealth.com. See ad, p. 13.