B Vitamins

Seeing Nutrigenetics Come to Life

Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics

Nutrigenomics is the study of how food and nutrition impacts gene expression.  For example, there has been som research conducted in the realm of soy intake and breast cancer risk/recurrence to determine if intake of this phytoestrogen impacts genetic expression that in turn causes cells to mutate into cancer.  Nutrigenetics is the study of genetic predisposition for disease and how nutrient intake is impacted and can play a role in the disease.

Nutrigenetics Comes to Life

Until looking into this recently I hadn't really known how nutrigenetics applies in clinical care, but after much reading and on the shoulders of a fantastic professional group (shout out to Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group) I have come to learn a lot (still not enough!) about a gene mutation that impacts absorption of B vitamins.  

That gene mutation is MTHFR.  MTHFR is an abbreviation for a fancy-schmancy 25 letter word that describes a specific gene found on chromosome 1.  If this gene is mutated, MTHFR enzyme is not made properly.  If the MTHFR enzyme is not made properly, it can impact proper methylation of folate for absorption, other B vitamins such as B12 absorption, and the amino acid pathway that converts homocysteine into methionine (very important amino acids for protein formation).  If something is going awry in these pathways, it can impact a whole host of conditions, including fatigue, heart disease, fibromyalgia, neurological disorders, fertility, and the list goes on.

I am unfairly trying to explain a wide array of metabolic pathways shortly into a blog post, so if interested I'd suggest reading more about it.  The interesting part for us RDNs is learning to help read bloodwork and correlate clinical exam findings in helping to identify patients that would benefit from genetic testing.  The most rewarding part is that the solution to the problem can be supplementing vitamins in their proper forms (in this case often methylated folate) that are going to be used efficiently by the body.  

Don't you love a simple solution to a genetic problem?  I do.

Micronutrient Infographic

A certain few friends from college would poke fun at my putting this on my website because in school I created a massive vitamin and mineral chart (sources, recommended intake level, upper limits, consequences of deficiency, etc.) and put it on my ceiling to study. So here's a nice infographic with sources of vitamins and minerals listed as well as the body systems these micronutrients individually support.

Blue Ribbon Vegetables

As a Registered Dietitian I find that my counseling often emphasizes adding vegetables and fruits in.  Although it sounds simpler that it is, the truth is that it is easier for us to eliminate the bad by utilizing the good.  This leads to satisfying and nutritious meals.  Not to mention, a pattern of intake that our bodies were meant to experience.

Take a look at all of the wonderful nutrients you can get from the following foods.  Use this 'Blue Ribbon' produce in as many meals as possible!

Top Vegetables for Various Nutrients:

Vitamin A - Pumpkin, Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, Kale, Carrots

Vitamin C - Red Pepper, Oranges, Strawberries, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Broccoli

Vitamin K - Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Green Cabbage

Vitamins B1 and B2 - Peas, Spinach, Mushrooms

Vitamin B6 - Prunes, Banana, Sweet Red Pepper, Baked Potato, Spinach, Zucchini

Folate - Asparagus, Spinach, Cauliflower, Endive

Potassium - Baked Potato, Kale, Avocado, Sweet Potato, Cantaloupe, Bananas, Tomato, Cabbage

Phosphorus - Green Peas, Corn, Baked Potato, Broccoli

Magnesium - Spinach, Banana, Arugula, Pineapple, Swiss Chard

Manganese - Pineapple, Spinach, Blackberries, Strawberries, Peas

Nutrients that are Impacted by Stress

And Vice Versa!  Is it the chicken or the egg?

Stress is an oxidative process in the body, during which micronutrients are used to help fight off further damage to cells from this oxidation.  That's why it is important to maintain regular intake of all of those colorful fruits and vegetables.  Each one contains different phytonutrients that help to fight off stress, which in turn means they need to be replaced thereafter.  So whether you feel it is before, during, or affter a stressful period in your life, you need these nutrients!  Here are some ideas for food sources.

  • Tomatoes, watermelon, papayas are sources of lycopene (a carotenoid, or provitamin A)
  • Oranges, apricots, bell peppers, and broccoli are all sources of vitamin C
  • Carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes are sources of beta-carotene (a carotenoid, or provitamin A)
  • Spinach, whole grains, and milk/yogurt are all sources of B vitamins

Photo courtesy of healthy-eating.org/uk