The close relationship between B vitamins, genetics, and diet, is perhaps the most prominent example of modern nutrigenetics. The relationship between the three is fully analyzed by our DNA Diet Coach, with an anticipated Kickstarter launch date of February 1st. The DNA Diet Coach is designed to give users actionable dietary and supplementation advice, based on genotype and lifestyle preferences.
The MTHFR gene is widely recognized as having importance for a well functioning body, although there are certainly some controversial claims regarding MTHFR. For the DNA Diet Coach, we stick to the basics as they relate to B vitamins. First, the MTHFR gene encodes an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. This enzyme is one of the many enzymes taking part in the methylation process, which is required for a well functioning body. The key metabolic pathway where MTHFR plays a role is homocysteine (amino acid) to methionine conversion using vitamin B9 (folic acid). Methionine is one of the key antioxidants in the human body.
Some people (up to 80%) have one or more mutations mutations of the MTHFR gene. Some mutations are more critical than others, but certain combinations can create up to a 90% decreased efficiency of MTHFR. When this happens, homocysteine levels increase and methionine levels drop, causing negative effects. Two things are important to keep this methylation process healthy – sufficient supply of B9, which is required for MTHFR function and comes from diet, and sufficient MTHFR activity (which is a result of genetics).
The primary source of B9 and B12 in most individuals’ diet is red meat. Thus, vegetarian/vegan diets may cause problems themselves, if not properly planned. Proper planning becomes even more important in cases where there is MTHFR mutation. Thus additional supplementation of B9 or it’s active form – methylated B9 and methionine-contacting products – is required. What measure should be taken (B9, levomefolic acid (5-MTHF) and/or methionine supplementation) is determined by our DNA Diet Coach on the basis of genotyping results and user dietary preferences; our platform always considers the most up-to-date information on genetics, which show that 5-MTHF is more efficient in dealing with the results of MTHFR mutations that just pure folic acid alone.
Another gene which is important for the vitamin B group is FUT2. It is the gene that encodes H antigene and is required for B12 vitamin transportation through membranes. This mechanism is complex, but we know the outcome of a common FUT2 mutation: decreased level of B12 in plasma up to 30%. This not only can lead to B12 deficiency but also to a decreased level of lactobacter in the gut, which is important for normal gut functionality. Like B9, the main source of B12 is also red meat, so extreme caution should be taken if the user follows a vegetarian diet. Also, a mutation in FUT2 gene logically suggests increased consumption of probiotic products (yogurts, etc), which could be a problem in case of lactose intolerance, peculiarities of calcium metabolism, or a user’s diet preferences (vegan, for example). All of these factors are considered in our smart genetic panel, the DNA Diet Coach, and straight-forward advice is given to a user in order to minimize odds of vitamins B deficiency in the body.
Genes that are used for B vitamins assessment are: MTHFR, FUT2, VDR, COMT. You can sign up to learn more about our DNA Diet Coach by clicking here.