Micronutrient deficiencies can cause DNA damage
by Helmut Beierbeck
(NaturalNews) All of us, identical twins excepted, are genetically unique. Of course, everyone’s genes encode all the proteins needed for life, but the sum total of all our biochemical processes varies considerably from person to person. One of the consequences of this genetically determined biochemical individuality is that different people have quantitatively different needs for the nutritionally important minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, etc.
In his book, Biochemical Individuality, biochemist and nutrition pioneer Roger Williams showed that requirements for any given nutrient may vary from person to person by a factor of five or more. Given the large number of genes affecting metabolic processes, it is likely that all of us have at least some nutritional needs that fall well outside the so-called normal range. These exceptional needs might be due to differences in digestion, absorption, excretion, enzyme patterns or other causes.
Biochemical individuality may well explain why clinical trials fail to find nutrients effective in disease prevention. These trials typically include participants chosen at random and test nutrients in amounts judged adequate for most people. Participants with average needs for the nutrient in question may have that need met by their diet plus any supplements they might take on their own; for them, the ‘therapy’ confers no further benefit. For people with exceptional needs, on the other hand, diet plus daily supplements, plus “therapy” might still not be enough to reach therapeutically effective nutrient levels – the levels needed to ensure proper functioning.
Essential nutrients are substances that the body cannot make, or cannot make in adequate amounts. Given the sad state of today’s diet, it is more than likely that many of our chronic “lifestyle” diseases are the result of dietary shortcomings and will; therefore, respond to dietary interventions. Unmet nutritional needs will sooner or later lead to health problems.
The science of nutrition has made tremendous strides since Williams’s book was published. It is now recognized that the gene-nutrient connection is a two-way street. Not only do nutrient requirements depend on genetic individuality but nutrients in turn are crucial for genome stability; they act as antioxidants and co-factors for enzymes involved in DNA metabolism and repair. In fact, genome damage caused by even moderate micronutrient deficiencies rivals damage from environmental factors like chemical carcinogens or radiation.
The sharp drop in the cost of gene sequencing has now made it possible to screen individual patients for biomarkers of DNA vulnerability to micronutrient deficiencies, prescribe the appropriate nutritional therapy, and assess the effect of that therapy on DNA stability. Instead of diagnosing and treating diseases caused by genome damage, one can identify and nutritionally prevent the most fundamental initiating cause of developmental and degenerative disease-genome damage itself.
Of course, we still need to take good care of ourselves or all the gene therapy will be for naught.
Roger J. Williams, Biochemical individuality, John Wiley & Sons, 1963
Bland J, The future of nutritional pharmacology, Altern Ther Health Med 2008;14(5):12-14
Fenech M, Genome health nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics – diagnosis and nutritional treatment of genome damage on an individual basis, Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46(4):1365-1370.
About the author:
Helmut Beierbeck has a science background and a strong interest in all scientific aspects of health, nutrition, medicine, weight loss, or any other topic related to wellness. You can follow his ruminations on his blog http://healthcomments.info and leave comments on this or any other health-related topic
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