Genetics and Epigenetics Influence Dietary Supplement Effects

17 August 2019
Connie Packer

Genetics and Epigenetics

It’s not the genes you are handed, but what you do with them. People may praise or complain about the outcome of their genetic lottery but factors outside the DNA sequence affect how those genes are expressed. Even if a person carries a desirable gene, if the expression of that gene is prevented by epigenetic factors, such as DNA methylation or histone factors, then they won’t see the full benefit of that gene.

This article discusses the study of one such histone-related factor that extends life in a worm. If a certain gene is not expressed in the worm then the LIN-53 protein doesn’t get produced. This results in the worm having decreased mobility and shortened lifespan. Another interesting fact about this protein is that there are analogous proteins in humans. DNA function may be changed or optimized by manipulating epigenetic factors.

Folate may enhance cognitive function through epigenetics. Effects of folic acid supplementation on cognitive function and Aβ-related biomarkers in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. This study involved 151 adults with mild cognitive impairment who took a placebo or 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for 2 years. The folate supplementation improved global cognitive function (measured by the FSIQ and the VIQ, Information and Digit Span subtests of the WAIS-RC). Supplementation also affected blood markers of DNA methylation pathways and gene expression (decreased plasma Hcy, SAH, and Aβ-42 concentrations and APP-mRNA expression and increased plasma SAM, the SAM/SAH ratio, DNMT1-mRNA, and DNMT3a-mRNA expression). The data suggests that the supplemental folate silenced the genes that are responsible for plaque production in the brain, and this was accomplished by altering the methylation of the DNA. The folate supplement ultimately improved cognitive function.

Garlic may inhibit chronic inflammation. Aged garlic extract supplementation modifies inflammation and immunity of adults with obesity: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. This study gave 51 adults with obesity a placebo or 3.6 g garlic extract with food for 6 weeks.  Blood analysis showed no significant differences in CRP, leptin, and total adiponectin after supplementation. However, while the placebo group saw an increase in serum concentrations of IL-6 and TNF-a, compounds that increase the risk of inflammation and chronic disease, those taking the garlic extract had no increase. Those taking the garlic extract also had a decrease in blood LDL levels. The garlic extract reduced factors that are associated with chronic inflammation and disease.

Omega 3 may enhance heart function, especially in certain gene combinations. Genetic Risk Score Predictive of the Plasma Triglyceride Response to an Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in a Mexican Population. This study built off previous studies including a genome wide association study that identified a set of genes in French Canadians that were predictive of triglyceride response to omega 3 fatty acid supplementation and a study that identified several different alleles common in Mexicans that predicted the same response. Researchers gave 191 Mexican participants 2.7 g/day of omega 3 (759 mg DHA and 1941 mg EPA) daily for 6 weeks. When the Mexican genetic data was analyzed using the ten genes used in the French Canadian genetic risk score, the genetic risk score only explained 4% of the variance among the Mexican participants. Then, when a new genome wide analysis was done on the Mexican participant data, five genes were identified that explained 13% of the variance. The mix of genes that most influenced the response of omega 3 supplementation on triglyceride levels varied between the two populations. This study looked at just one potential outcome of omega 3 supplementation but it is exciting to see that models are being developed to predict the outcome of supplements through genome analysis. Omega 3 supplementation may be tailored for specific gene types and specific goals.

Editor Note

Thrivous Omega Cardioprotector provides clinical doses of Garlic and Omega 3, combined with Pycnogenol, to enhance heart and circulation function. And Thrivous Clarity Daily Nootropic provides the most bioavailable form of Folate (L 5 Methyltetrahydrofolate MTHF) as part of a full Vitamin B Complex, in combination with nootropic herbs, to enhance cognition.

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