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Pollution Threatens Your DNA… B Vitamins to the Rescue!

Have you ever wondered why B vitamins are so critical to human health? They are included in over-the-counter multivitamins, but often sold as a separate supplement as well. Most people think of B vitamins as a way to support energy and deal with stress, and while those are certainly important benefits, B vitamins serve multiple vital functions in the body. These include supporting brain chemistry, detoxification, dozens of life-sustaining biochemical pathways, and yes, even protecting DNA.

A recent report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal showed that B vitamins such as B12, folic acid, and B6 can help protect the human epigenome. There is increasing evidence to indicate that diet, lifestyle, stress, toxins, certain medications, and pollution can affect epigenetic patterns, including direct or indirect effects on DNA. When these factors influence changes in DNA indirectly, the result is often described as occurring via the epigenome — the bodily substances that play a crucial role in sustaining an individual’s DNA sequence.

A classic example of environmentally triggered epigenetic changes to DNA is the disruption of an essential biochemical process called methylation.

When methyl groups are added to a gene, that gene is turned off. This process is often compared to an on-off light switch. If occurrences of methylation are insufficient, genes may not shut off properly, leading to an increased risk of conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and other long-term health problems.

The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined individuals exposed to fine-particle pollution, and the impact of B-vitamin supplementation. Indeed, B vitamins were shown to help protect the DNA of subjects exposed to air pollution. It is important to remember that multiple types of DNA can be found in the body:

  • Nuclear DNA (half maternal and half paternal sources), creating a unique individual
  • Mitochondrial DNA that controls the production of ATP, the cell’s main energy source that helps fuel the body and promotes the proper function of cell DNA.
  • Microbial and fungal DNA occurring naturally in the GI tract and elsewhere in the body

The trillions of cells that comprise the human body — including trillions of mitochondria and even the trillions of bacteria that live in the GI tract — all require proper methylation in order to sustain a hospitable and conducive environment for the optimal function of nearly all of the body’s systems.

Taking steps to consume an optimal amount of B vitamins on a daily basis will help your body function properly on a multitude of levels. Most of my patients report that taking B vitamins helps increase their energy, support their nervous system, and for some, even promotes increased dreaming at night.

It makes good sense to proactively nourish our bodies, as preventive care is smart care.

 

Written by Dr. Chris D. Meletis

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