Janet Levatin, MD
I have recently started to study a new field of study called Nutrigenomics. It involves having a panel of very important genes tested. The genes are related to methylation, a biochemical process that is continually taking place in our bodies, similar to how we are continually breathing. Without constant methylation we would not be alive (just as we would not be if we weren’t continually breathing).
When methylation is compromised, our bodies do not function optimally (analogous to how an asthmatic has challenges in functioning due to not breathing optimally). Compromised methylation can lead to difficulty detoxifying, difficulty processing B vitamins (especially B12 and folate), cardiovascular disease, difficulty producing neurotransmitters, birth defects, mental disorders, and more. It can cause increased susceptibility to chronic and recurrent viral illnesses, and complex chronic illnesses that seem very difficult to recover from, such as fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivity, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other brain and immune system dysfunctions.
Nutrigenomics is an another step in the development of personalized medicine, which integrative physicians have been promoting and practicing for a number of years. As the name implies, nutrigenomics involves learning about the genes in our methylation cycle and then using nutrition and supplements to “bypass” challenges in our genetics.
We all have genetic differences, commonly known as mutations, polymorphisms, or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). How they are configured is unique to each of us. When we have mutations in our methylation cycle genes, in certain configurations, we are more likely to have some of the above-mentioned health challenges. Poor nutrition, toxic exposures (including vaccines), lack of sleep, infections (obvious or occult), stress, and other factors can magnify these challenges, adding to the likelihood of us developing diseases and health imbalances. Knowing what mutations we have, what vitamin and mineral deficiencies we have, and what toxic burdens and infections we harbor can allow us to begin to detoxify and supplement in a more appropriate, targeted manner, hopefully leading to a recovery of our health.
The nutrigenomic approach can also be used to promote healthy aging and prevention of the many chronic degenerative diseases that are all too prevalent these days. No one is too young to have their genes checked and get on a path to optimum health. Our genes do not change (unlike our nutritional status), so they only need to be tested once.
A variety of new, exciting findings are emerging from the field of nutrigenomics. For example, there are 4 kinds of B12 (cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin). Which type (or types) we process the best is determined by two genes, COMT and VDRtaq. Additionally, lithium, a mineral that has not been considered much except for treatment of bipolar disorder, is a necessary cofactor, in smaller doses, for proper utilization of B12 in the body. Many people are lithium-deficient and thus cannot utilize B12 properly.
So if you want to work on a health challenge that you have been unable to conquer, or if you want to preserve the good health you already enjoy, nutrigenomics is a program to consider. Dr. Janet is available for complimentary phone or in-person consultations for those wanting to learn more.