Selenium and Your Genes

Selenium is a trace element found in certain foods. Learn how selenium is used in the body, why it is important, and how genetic variants can make someone more susceptible to problems with a selenium-deficient diet.

Foods rich in vitamin A – retinol form

Interested in vitamin A foods? This article focuses on foods high in the retinol form of vitamin A that your body doesn’t need to convert plus some great links to vitamin A-rich recipes.

Decrease diabetes risk with coffee

Does coffee increase or decrease your risk of prediabetes? What if you add sugar to your morning cup o’ joe? Do your genes matter here?

A study that included almost 8,000 people in South Korea sought to answer this question.[ref]

Coffee, genes, and diabetes:

The study looked at the incidence of either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes in the participants over the course of 12 years. Researchers found that almost 12% of the participants were diagnosed with diabetes and over 60% became prediabetic during that time.

Overall, consuming 2 or more cups of coffee each day decreased the risk of diabetes or prediabetes.

Surprisingly, even drinking sugar-sweetened coffee reduced that risk of diabetes/prediabetes, but the risk reduction was not quite as much as in the black coffee group.

The decrease in risk varied quite a bit, depending on which genetic variants a person carried. Some people had a 13% risk reduction while others had up to a 64% risk reduction.

The researchers used a genetic risk score based on 5 genetic variants (SNPs). The people with a higher number of variant alleles had the greatest decrease in the risk of diabetes

Genetic variants to check:

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Genetic Variants that Decrease Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is an important co-factor in hundreds of different enzymatic reactions. Low levels of B6 are linked to an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. B6 is also important for reducing oxidative stress and inflammation.

Vitamin C: Do you need more?

Like most nutrients, our genes play a role in how vitamin C is absorbed, transported, and used by the body. This can influence your risk for certain diseases, and it can make a difference in the minimum amount of vitamin C you need to consume each day.

How do your genes influence your vitamin B12 levels?

Vitamin B12 is essential for your health! It is a cofactor for biological reactions such as creating the myelin sheath in nerve cells and the synthesis of DNA (rather important!). A lack of vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) can create a cascade of effects.[ref]

There are several genes that can influence your absorption, transport, and need for vitamin B12.  Some people need higher amounts of B12, and some people thrive on different forms of B12. Looking at your genetic data may help you figure out what is going on in your body.

Background Info on Vitamin B12

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarian and vegan diets are lacking in vitamin B12, and supplementation is usually recommended.

Vitamin B12 as a supplement can be found in four different forms:

  • cyanocobalamin
  • methylcobalamin
  • adenosylcobalamin
  • hydroxocobalamin

The cyanocobalamin form is often found in cheaper vitamins and added to processed foods. It must be converted by the body before use.  The methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are active forms used by the body.

Deficiency in B12:

Vitamin B12 deficiency or insufficiency has been shown to cause:[ref]

  • mental confusion
  • tingling and numbness in the feet and hands
  • memory loss
  • disorientation
  • megaloblastic anemia
  • gastrointestinal symptoms

To be able to absorb B12 from foods, you need to have adequate intrinsic factor produced in the stomach. This is something that is often depleted in the elderly, leading to B12 deficiency.


Genetic variants that influence vitamin B12:

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Nutrients Topic Summary Report

Utilize our Nutrients Topic Summary Reports with your 23andMe or AncestryDNA genetic data to see which articles may be most relevant to you. These summaries are attempting to distill the complex information down into just a few words. Please see the linked articles for details and complete references. (Member’s article)