Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Vitamins, foods might improve your genes

06 Apr 2005

Taking your vitamins and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables - such as raspberries and spinach - can make up for your not-so-healthy genes.

That's according to a new book, Feed Your Genes Right (John Wiley & Sons, March 2005).

Your genes, which you inherited from your parents, contain the biological programs that control your health. But you don't have to be at their mercy.

Best-selling nutrition and health author Jack Challem points out that certain vitamins and foods enable your genes to function at their best.

For example, at least one-third of Americans have a variation in the gene that reduces activity of folic acid, a B vitamin. As a result, they are more likely to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. A woman with this defect is more likely also to have a baby with birth defects.

You can't change the gene, but taking a daily multivitamin and eating certain fruits and vegetables help that gene to work better, Challem says.

"Our bodies need B vitamins and other nutrients to make, repair, and regulate our DNA and genes," Challem says. "In a sense, vitamins are inexpensive gene therapy to help our genes function at their best."

The B-vitamins are involved in what biochemists call "one-carbon metabolism." The process donates molecules needed to make the nucleotides that form DNA and genes.

Challem's advice includes these suggestions:

-- Take a moderately high-potency daily multivitamin, which includes the B vitamins. Several of these vitamins help suppress cancer-promoting genes.

-- Eat spinach salads. Spinach is rich in folic acid, a B vitamin needed to make and repair genes.

-- Eat berries. Raspberries and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which protect genes from damage.

-- Drink green tea. It protects genes from the cancer-promoting effects of dioxin and other pollutants.

-- Go easy on foods high in refined carbs and sugars. They boost levels of insulin, a hormone that turns on fat-storage genes.

"The biochemical basis of our genetics comes back to nutrition," Challem says. "Nutrients provide the biochemical building blocks for our DNA and genes."

Excerpts from the book are available at

Jack Challem is a leading nutrition and health writer and the author of the best-selling "Syndrome X" and "The Inflammation Syndrome" books. He writes regularly for Alternative Medicine, Body & Soul, and other health magazines. His scientific articles have been published in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Medical Hypotheses, and other journals.

Comment: Well, if you have been reading my Blogs for a while, you know I have been advising these recommendations for years. I can add another health writer that goes even farther. Bruce N. Ames, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley.

He states this...

"A deficiency of any of the micronutrients: folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, or zinc, mimics radiation in damaging DNA by causing single- and double-strand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both. For example, the percentage of the US population that has a low intake (<50% of the RDA) for each of these eight micronutrients ranges from 2 to >20%. A level of folate deficiency causing chromosome breaks was present in approximately 10% of the US population, and in a much higher percentage of the poor. Folate deficiency causes extensive incorporation of uracil into human DNA (4 million/cell), leading to chromosomal breaks. This mechanism is the likely cause of the increased colon cancer risk associated with low folate intake. Some evidence, and mechanistic considerations, suggest that Vitamin B12 (14% US elderly) and B6 (10% of US) deficiencies also cause high uracil and chromosome breaks. Micronutrient deficiency may explain, in good part, why the quarter of the population that eats the fewest fruits and vegetables (five portions a day is advised) has about double the cancer rate for most types of cancer when compared to the quarter with the highest intake. For example, 80% of American children and adolescents and 68% of adults do not eat five portions a day. Common micronutrient deficiencies are likely to damage DNA by the same mechanism as radiation and many chemicals, appear to be orders of magnitude more important, and should be compared for perspective. Remedying micronutrient deficiencies should lead to a major improvement in health and an increase in longevity at low cost".

Good health to you all...


Christopher Wiechert's Healthblogger is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.