What Your DNA Tells You About Your Vitamin Needs

Genes, which are composed of strands of DNA, contain all the information that makes us us. Gene variations arise from random mutations and mixtures of our parents’ genes and help us distinguish ourselves from everybody else. These variations can be normal, benign or harmful.

Since genes control the way we digest, absorb, and utilize nutrients, variations can change the way our bodies process vitamins and minerals. Gene variations can turn helpful vitamins into harmful ones, and vice-versa.

There’s just one very big problem: how this is handled out in the real world.

So why do so many of us take articles on vitamins and minerals* at face value? About which are good for us, which are bad, and what doses everyone should take.

It might be the notion that nutrients aren’t “medicine”. They’re just something you take that may or may not benefit you, something supplemental. So this information must be harmless, right?


Genetic Variations

Not quite. The fact is, people have an average of 2,000 genetic variations that impact health. Some of these variations are harmful, some are not, and some may make nutrients that benefit others completely useless to you. The fact is, everyone has unique nutrient requirements based on their genetic makeup.

The right nutrients and dosages can actually create a life-changing impact, getting rid of symptoms we’ve experienced our entire lives, bringing back the energy we’ve lost, helping us sleep better, and plenty of other benefits.

Conversely, the wrong nutrients might cause us further harm without us even realizing it.

We’re overloading ourselves with contradictory and even harmful information when we try to find answers to what vitamins we need in popular media. Let’s change all that.


Supersize Me

Unfortunately, the norm in the US is one-size-fits-all. Imagine you’re ordering a pair of pants or shoes, and you get one size no matter what your measurements are. That’s far from ideal. So most items have a range of sizes, but even these aren’t perfect. The best choice, of course, is to go to a shoemaker or tailor to get the best fit for your body type.

Similarly, everyone has different nutritional needs. Some people’s genetic variations require them to take more Vitamin D or Calcium, while at the same time avoiding some vitamins that may cause more harm than good. Dosage is a vital factor as well.

By now you’re starting to get the picture: there’s no room for averages. Large multinationals pushing multivitamins onto the population are relying more on marketing than science, and definitely don’t have customers’ best interest in mind.

Rootine is disrupting this broken model. We’ve been working for years to ensure that everyone gets a custom-tailored set of vitamin and mineral microbeads suited to their gene variants.

But before we dive further into how your genetics affect your nutrient needs, we have to acknowledge something that many find quite hard to swallow.

 

Genetics Isn’t Fair

Rootine is built on making the best of what we have. We can’t change our genes at will (at least, not for a while). To ensure our bodies get what they’re missing, we look at three three biggest indicators of what nutrients and dosages we need: lifestyle, genetics and blood levels.

Genetics tells us what nutrients are compatible with our body (and which are not) and if a lower or higher than average dose is required. Blood levels are critical in understanding if nutrients are in the correct ranges in our bodies and if there are deficiencies. Lifestyle helps illuminate additional dosage information (ex. age, weight, gender and diet).

There’s just one caveat in regards to genetics: it isn’t fair. Even if you have a healthy lifestyle and you’re exercising and eating right, your genes might be keeping you from getting to optimal nutrient levels.

Rootine’s co-founder and Chief Scientist Daniel Wallerstorfer, PhD, understands this all too well. Daniel inherited a genetic variation called Alport syndrome, which affects 1 in 50,000 people (that’s very rare in the gene variant world). Basically, people with this variant have a 50% chance of kidney failure by 30, and a 100% chance by 60.

Though Daniel has a condition he can’t change, he knows that there are plenty of inherited conditions that could be counteracted with personalized nutrient dosages and lifestyle improvements. Such changes could make these conditions manageable, boost energy and mood, and get body and mind to optimal conditions.    

 

52 is the Magic Number

Daniel and his team perform 200,000 gene tests every month, and Daniel himself has been doing genetic testing for a decade. He’s never seen someone have a “perfect” genetic profile, nor a “worst” possible genetic profile. The fact is, everyone is different and many genetic variations are common.

For example, a gene variant that affects Calcium absorption is present in 20% of the population, and 30% of the population has a variation that requires additional Selenium intake. From Daniel’s experience, likely everyone has at least one gene variant that changes the way nutrients work on them.

Rootine tests for 52 gene variations that have been scientifically confirmed to have gene-diet interactions in at least three independent studies. Fifty-two gene variations tell us 52 different facts about you: which nutrients are helpful, which are harmful, and which will do absolutely nothing.

Do you need twice the Vitamin D3 because of your VDR gene? If yes, we increase Vitamin D3 in your daily pack of vitamin and mineral microbeads. Maybe you have a low-Iron diet, but Iron is actually deleterious to your system, so we exclude it altogether.

Let’s explore a few more examples.


Coffee = Heart Attack?

Let’s take the Selenium example we mentioned above. We have an entire post dedicated to the GPX-1 gene’s effect on our need for this mineral, but in a nutshell: 30% of us have a genetic variation that reduces the effectiveness of GPX-1**, which results in less protection against tissue damage and the speed-up of aging processes. That means more Selenium would help that 30%.

Let’s dive a little deeper. The CYP1A2 gene encodes an enzyme (these speed up chemical reactions in our bodies) that is responsible for metabolizing caffeine. If you have a certain gene variation that makes you a “slow caffeine metabolizer”, coffee intake may lead to an increased risk of heart attack. If you are a “fast caffeine metabolizer”, you likely]don’t harbor an increased risk from genetics.

That’s pretty life-changing information to know, and something you’d want to shape your lifestyle and nutrient-intake on.

Here’s more food for thought: an APOA1 gene variation might have the opposite intended effect when taking fish oil - aka, it might lower your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.


Your Nutrient Blueprint

Before starting construction on a building, a contractor needs blueprints. Otherwise, they’re building something that might fall apart at any moment. Similarly, to build a proper nutrient foundation, you need a layout of how key gene variations in your body affect your vitamin and mineral needs.

Normally, this would require a solid understanding of the latest research on the links between genetic variations and key nutrients - something even researchers have a hard time keeping up with. More importantly, you’d need to grasp how these variations affect each other, and how this ultimately affects your nutrient requirements.

This is too complex of a task to lay on any person. Luckily, Rootine has done all the heavy lifting in advance. We’ve incorporated decades of government research, medical expert opinions and over 200 independent peer-reviewed scientific papers to develop an algorithm that analyzes your genetic makeup, takes into account lifestyle and blood attributes, and produces an easy-to-understand nutrient blueprint anyone can comprehend.

Since we believe in transparency, we share this blueprint with you once we assess your lifestyle, DNA, and blood levels. 


A Better Life

We hope this gives you a better understanding of why genetics play such a key role in determining your personalized nutrient needs - and why we take this subject so seriously. Without genetics, you’re basically flying blind.

We also get that it’s insanely difficult to go at this alone. Which is why we’ve spent years developing a solution custom-tailored to your genetic makeup. We’re tired of corporate marketers trying to push one-size-fits-all multivitamins, as well as all the contradictory media pieces saying which vitamins are “good” and which are “bad” for the general public.  

It’s true that genetics isn’t fair, but it’s not like we can’t do anything about it.



Support Your Body based on Science

Instead of flying blind, we want you to know exactly what nutrients your body and mind needs and doesn’t need. Every Rootine subscription includes a free home-based DNA test and in-depth results on what nutrients your body needs.

Buy Vitamins

 


*Curious about the difference between vitamins and minerals? Check out this Go Ask Alice entry for a nice explanation.
**PubMed IDs for the relevant GPX-1 research studies: PMID 21185702, PMID 19505917, PMID 20178852, PMID 19428448, PMID 20852007, PMID 21842217, PMID 22139612, PMID 23073788, PMID 19415410.