So a while back I had my genes sequenced by 23andme (I got Darci’s sequenced too), and given that I’m starting to really worry about my long term heart disease prospects (thanks, genes), I decided to start digging into the details.
I can’t find a link right now, but I ran Promethease against my raw DNA sequence. Promethease (http://snpedia.com/index.php/Promethease) is a neat little cloud-based (if you pay for the full report – it’s cheap) analysis tool which rips through your DNA and generates a database of every correlation it can find in the medical literature for known single-nucleotide pairs (SNPs). Which means that as new research comes out, you can track it back to specific code changes in your DNA. Neat!
The cool thing though is its built in search tools. You can track down the SNPs that apply specific problems. So, for example, if you’re worried about having a biotin deficiency, you can just search for “biotin” and see if there’s anything hiding in your DNA which might affect that.
I’ve known for a while that I had a variety of problems with B-Vitamins (otherwise, why would I feel leaps and bounds better when taking them? – standard medical literature says that I’m pretty much just pissing away a lot of money). So I started digging in.
Well, zoiks. Looks like I’m heterogenous for the gene that controls methylation of folic acid. Bugger. Now, I’m not totally screwed – I still get 65% conversion – but it’s certainly not as good as being homozygous for the good form of the gene. So I need to supplement.
But I don’t need to supplement with folic acid – that won’t help at all. (Sure, it’ll help a bit, which is probably why I love things like Kale and Spinach and other dark leafy greens, and eat a ton of them). Unfortunately, this is an enzyme production problem; I’m rate limited on how much my body can use the folate it does get, and folic acid hanging around in your system in large quantities doesn’t help you – some studies show it may cause problems akin to anemia.
Time to switch things up. I’m going to add in L-Methylfolate into my supplement regieme, which should help things as it’s further down the biochemical pathway. I’m very cautious when it comes to short-cutting natural rate-limiting in my biochemistry (5-HTP, for example, is really bad for your cardiovascular system because your body can’t control its conversion to serotonin, and outside of the brain serotonin can wreak havoc in large quantities). But this is a case where I’m willing to make an exception; I need double the amount my body can process on its own.
I also did some digging into apolipoprotein-alpha (I appear to have variant 3/4 – hellooooo Alzheimer’s). It seems that medical science has caught up to my own suspicions on supplementing with N-Acetyl Cysteine – it’s not only a good hangover cure, and a great way to get past flu and cold symptoms which have always kicked me in my ass, but it looks like it’s now gaining acceptance as an anti-inflammatory, with the ability to lower homocysteine levels by one biochemical pathway (hey, maybe that’s why my weight loss noticably accelerates when I take it – it’s part of the cortisol pathway), and also to reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Apparently it’s also involved in the nitric oxide pathways (which allow arterial walls to relax), and is protective against atherosclerosis.
But the studies there show that the does I’m using is too low. I was taking 1200mg/day, but all of the studies showing improvement show that it doesn’t kick in until about 2000mg/day. So I’m going to double the dose. (This is pretty safe; issues don’t kick in until about 10x that amount).
The worrying thing about the apolipoprotein findings is that I have a choice to make. It looks like at least as things stand, I can choose between brain health or heart health. My brain needs the cholesterol (in large quantities), and it’s harder to get it across the blood/brain barrier with the 3/4 variant. Not as bad as 4/4, but still, icky. My heart would prefer that I stop dicking around with cholesterol as it’s going to gunk up the works. My liver just listens to the fact that I appear to be having trouble repairing damage, and keeps pumping out the cholesterol to allow my neurons to repair themselves.
In short, I’m screwed. And I’m sorry, but I choose brain over heart. I hate feeling fuzzy – it makes life not worth living. Hopefully the N-AC will actually make a big difference. (I should really add in more Vitamin C as well; some other studies show that the combination works incredibly well).
And the final thing I’ve added to my regieme – as you might guess from the start – is biotin. The results on my DNA vs. biotin are a bit fuzzy, but it can’t hurt, and I’ve had a number of symptoms which added together appear to point at biotin deficiency, so I’m going to roll the dice on that one and add a safe amount. Not in the amount recommended for diabetics, but enough. It’s hard to add too much anyway; I’d need to take 10x as much as I am to get any kind of ill effects.
So there you go. Better living through science (hopefully).
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).