The Gene Blame Game

Fight "Bad Genes" with Megadose Vitamins.

Copyright 2005 by

Owen Richard Fonorow

There is a new tactic in the war of ideas between traditional and innovative medicine. The latest media propaganda blames incurable chronic disease on "faulty genes" as if there are no treatments for genetic defects. What the public isn't being told is that megadose vitamins are often the best answer to problem genes.

Table of Contents

Heredity and Proteins
B-Vitamins Repair Damaged DNA
The Wonder of DNA
The Genetic Code is a Blueprint for Protein
The Proteins we Eat Are Not the Proteins we Use
Enzymes Control Body Chemistry
Why isn't Coenzyme Q10 a vitamin?
How Can Genetic Defects be Cured using High Dose Vitamins?
Gene Therapy Through Targeted Nutrition

Misleading Medical news

As you read the medical news, you may notice the flood of stories crediting medical science with discovering a gene responsible for this or that medical condition. The subliminal message seems to be that there is nothing that can be done right now, but never fear, modern medicine is on the case. The apparent aim of these stories is to divert the public's attention from medical scienceís inability to find cures. Unbeknownst to those behind the media hype, high-dose vitamins can compensate for bad genes, and some vitamins already are known for their ability to repair damaged DNA.

Heredity and Protein

Our genetics and the vitamins we require daily for health are closely related. Genes contain the instructions that our body needs to make us physically who we are. Vitamins help genes carry out these instructions.

Our genes create proteins (technically, genes in our DNA contain a blueprint for a protein, and the nucleic acid RNA uses the gene's blueprint to make various proteins.)

Of the 50,000 or so proteins the human body produces, the vast majority are enzymes. Enzymes control the chemical reactions within the body.

Vitamins are usually specialized molecules called coenzymes which regulate various enzyme reactions. Generally, coenzymes are not destroyed during reactions with their target enzymes. So, small amounts of coenzymes are usually sufficient for health. Vitamins may affect both the rate at which proteins (enzymes) are produced and the chemical reactions controlled by the enzymes.

During evolution human DNA lost the blueprints for all the vitamins as the result of genetic mutations. In each case, we must eat food that contains the vitamin (or else we must supplement the vitamin) to overcome the ancient mutation. If we don't eat each and every vitamin regularly, we will get sick and eventually die.

B-Vitamins Repair Damaged DNA

Although it isn't well publicized, the consumption of megadose vitamins have already achieved remarkable beneficial effects in numerous people with "faulty genes."

Dr. Bruce N. Ames, world renown American biochemist and geneticist at the University of California at Berkeley, claims that his investigations have already proven that more than 50 known genetic diseases can be effectively treated by high-dose vitamin therapy. Dr. Ames' ideas are based upon significant research focusing on the role vitamins play in the natural process of DNA repair.

Megadose vitamins not only repair faults which appear in DNA strands with aging, but they also may compensate for heredity errors, or mutations in our DNA. To understand how vitamins can accomplish this, lets first review genetics and the nucleic acids at the center of life: DNA and its cousin, RNA.

The Wonder of DNA

Human DNA is 3 billion nucleotides chained together. Every cell has one DNA molecule. If one strand of human DNA were straightened, it would extend approximately 1 meter (english yard). All the DNA from all the cells in your body, if stretched, would extend past the moon, and back, several thousand times!

DNA must be tightly bundled to fit within a tiny cell. These bundles, called chromosomes , have characteristic shapes when viewed under a high-powered microscope. Each chromosome is composed of thousands of smaller sub-groupings that control your inherited traits.

The Genetic Code is a Blueprint for Proteins

In addition to DNA, every cell contains RNA. The DNA and RNA molecules are called nucleic acids and they work together as partners. Simplifying greatly again, small sections of the DNA strand called 'genes', which are usually several hundred to several thousand nucleotides long, are able to create a different type of long, linear molecule called a protein.

If the DNA is the genetic 'computer program' source code, then RNA controls the programís execution. The input to the genetic program is our diet. The output are proteins.

Heredity experiments have shown that every gene controls one or more inheritance factors, such as the color of the hair or skin. The 20,000 to 25,000 "protein encoding" genes found in human DNA are estimated to make the more than 50,000 different proteins we must have to be healthy

The Proteins We Eat Are Not the Proteins We Use

The food we eat can be divided into three broad categories based upon its chemical make-up, carbohydrates, fats (or lipids) and proteins.

The body tissues are composed mostly of protein and the body chemistry is controlled by protein (enzymes). Proteins are a kind of plastic- known as a polymer- that are made up of a small number of different molecular building blocks called amino acids.

The proteins in the food we eat are not the proteins our human body requires. We eat animal and vegetable protein for its amino acids. These foreign proteins are destroyed during digestion. When we digest proteins, the resulting amino acids are absorbed and then reassembled in cells, according to our genetic protein-blueprints.

There are 20 different kinds of amino acids in human protein. The body can even make some of the amino acids it needs. The others our body cannot make are called essential amino acids and they must be obtained from our food.

If you are getting the idea that the color of your eyes, your sex, the size of your muscles, and the color of your hair are based on the different proteins that your different cells make, and of those proteins that were made previously in your parent's cells, you have the right idea.

Our heredity is our DNA blueprint for the production of thousands of different proteins directed by our unique genetic code. How we implement the blueprint is our state of health.

Enzymes Control Body Chemistry

Many hormones, as well as the enzymes, are protein, meaning their chemical structure is directly encoded in DNA. These substances control and speed up countless chemical reactions in the human body and life would be impossible without them.

Coenzymes, on the other hand, are usually complicated particles that enhance the function of specific enzymes. Coenzymes are required for life, and many combine proteins with lipid (fatty) components and are known as lipoproteins . Some inorganic trace minerals act as coenzymes and are also required for life.

In general, the formula to produce a coenzyme is difficult to encode in DNA. Because coenzymes are not pure protein, the DNA must encode other enzymes that are necessary for the body to produce organic coenzymes through a series of chemical reactions called a metabolic pathway. (Remember, DNA encodes proteins, but coenzymes are not pure protein.) This complexity increases the likelihood that a mutation will interfere with the genetic instructions.

The vitamin deficiencies were discovered and isolated in the early 20th century because deficiencies kill people. Most vitamins, but not all, are coenzymes. During the course of evolution, if the amount of the vitamin in the diet was sufficient to ensure survival, a species could lose its ability to make it. However, genetic accidents are usually detrimental. The accident of nature does not imply that the coenzymes in today's food supply are adequate. Many scientists, including the late Linus Pauling and Bruce Ames, believe that more coenzymes in the diet may lead to better health. Most vitamins are remarkable for their lack of toxicity.

Vitamin C is an unusual 'vitamin.' First, it is not a typical coenzyme, instead, ascorbic acid (the technical name for vitamin C) closely resembles the simple sugar glucose. It is destroyed during the chemical reactions our body uses to make collagen.

Second, the DNA in most living things on Earth still contains the blueprint for making vitamin C.

In fact, the genetic mechanisms that have been measured in most animals produce gram amounts of 'vitamin' C in the liver or the kidney. With respect to the need to ingest vitamin C as a vitamin, humans are a rare exception, not the rule.

Why isn't Coenzyme Q10 a vitamin?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is required for energy. Every cell in the body requires tiny amounts of CoQ10 to make the cellular fuel ( ATP) out of sugar (glucose). Yet, CoQ10 is not a vitamin because the human body still has the genetic encoding for creating this molecule, thanks to our DNA/RNA.

Our body can manufacture the vitamin-like fat-soluble CoQ10 using a complicated 17-step metabolic sequence, controlled by vitamins, coenzymes and enzymes [*].

We may ask, why is coenzyme Q10 not a vitamin like many other similar coenzymes? Why do we and all other animal species still have the very complicated DNA blueprint for CoQ10?

One reason is that our diets do not contain much CoQ10. Non-vegetarians ingest, on average, 5 to 10 mgs of CoQ10 per day. (Vegetarians obtain even less CoQ10 in their diets.) Scientists estimate that our bodies make 500 mg of CoQ10 per day. [*] We can conclude that the amount of CoQ10 available in the ordinary diet is insufficient to meet the energy needs of our species, or any species, even meat eaters.

It should be noted that, several dietary vitamins (as coenzymes) are also required for our bodies to make its CoQ10.

How Can Genetic Defects be Treated or Cured with High Dose Vitamins?

Consider the dire consequences should a person not be able to make CoQ10. The ramifications of such a genetic mutation would be catastrophic. Persons unable to manufacture adequate amounts of CoQ10 would have extreme lethargy, muscle aches, inability to move their muscles, heart failure, and early death.

Think of it. Such a horrible genetic fault could be easily "cured" by supplementing 500 mg of CoQ10 daily.

This is one hypothetical example of the paradigm by which orthomolecular (nontoxic) substances, usually vitamins, can overcome the genetic flaws in the blueprints for encoding proteins and enzymes.

Perhaps the greatest known actual genetic defect in humans is our inability to make vitamin C.

Most species on earth make vitamin C in their livers and kidneys out of glucose. This genetic miracle is accomplished by four enzymes, only three of which are present in human beings. Human DNA/RNA lacks the genetic ability to create the fourth enzyme, l-Gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase (GULO). The missing enzyme performs the fourth and final step in the conversion of glucose to vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

This genetic defect was first isolated to a mutation in a specific gene in 1959 by the biochemist John J. Burns [*]. It is estimated that this mutation occurred forty million years ago. There are only four or five species that have survived to the present day having suffered a similar mutation. The vast majority of known animal species still retain the genetic code for vitamin C.

The lack of vitamin C in humans has probably caused more suffering than all other genetic defects combined. Scientists who have studied these matters have blamed heart disease, cancer and many other chronic diseases on this single genetic defect that caused our ancestors to loose their ability to make vitamin C.

Vitamin C is now inexpensive and plentiful, thanks to the combined efforts of countless brilliant scientists, starting in the 1930s. We are indebted especially to Noble prize winners A. Szent-Gyorgyi and Linus Pauling, along with biochemist Irwin Stone, for their crusade to make the value of high-dose vitamin C better known among the public.

Oral vitamin C intake can compensate for our genetic fault because Vitamin C is not broken down in the stomach. While there is sufficient vitamin C in the ordinary diet to support life, most animals still make their own vitamin C in large amounts. Humans must supplemental vitamin C in order to achieve the same levels in the blood and tissues that are normally present in animals.

The improvement in health that can be achieved by taking vitamin C is similar to the health of animal species which make vitamin C. The best health is generally obtained by mimicking that amount the animals produce by ingesting gram amounts of vitamin C daily up to bowel tolerance .

Can every genetic fault, where life is still possible, be successfully treated in the same manner? Sadly, medical science is not investigating this question. The large pharmaceutical interests will not invest money to help determine the role of vitamins (and other low-cost substances) that can not be patented. In fact, they try to steer researchers away from such questions.

Gene Therapy Through Targeted Nutrition

Often, genetic mutations can be corrected by targeted nutrition. In cases where the defect interferes with the production of a required substance, such as in the case of vitamin C, the oral consumption of the substance, or its precursors, can overcome the genetic fault. Every vitamin we must consume corrects an ancient genetic mutation in our DNA.

After science identifies defective genes, and the proteins they produce, it may be possible to use vitamins, at much higher amounts than normally found in the diet, to help improve the speed of "faulty" reactions that are dependent on the missing enzyme. This seems to be why high amounts of vitamin B3, for example, have such profound beneficial effects on so many schizophrenics. As the vitamins help our bodies produce more (or replace) the missing proteins, health improves.

As we age, many cells die or become less productive. Dr. Amesí works helps us to understand how the various B vitamins "repair" damage that occurs in DNA strands as we age. Ames has already shown that high dose vitamin therapy can overcome 50 genetic diseases.

Someday, when genetic engineering becomes a reality and science can safely correct DNA mutations, our progeny may regain the lost ability to make vitamin C out of sugar, like most species.

The bottom line.

Every being is a great experiment. Outside of identical twins (or clones), no two beings are exactly alike. We are different than other species because our DNA encodes different proteins, and we are different than other humans because our cells produce our proteins at different rates. The complexity in our DNA reduces to protein, its nature and how much our cells produce. Together inside each cell, our RNA molecules guide the process of manufacturing proteins using the genes that our unique DNA encodes.

The next time you read a news story blaming a faulty gene for some medical condition, what they are really saying is that there is a problem with the instructions for making a human protein, probably an enzyme that controls some of the body chemistry. A missing enzyme is why we can't make vitamin C. As you read such stories, ask yourself whether megavitamin therapy might be an effective therapy that overcomes the defective gene, and why isn't medical science doing more to find out?


1: Genomics. 2004 Mar;83(3):482-92. Functional rescue of vitamin C synthesis deficiency in human cells using adenoviral-based expression of murine l-gulono-gamma-lactone oxidase. Ha MN, Graham FL, D'Souza CK, Muller WJ, Igdoura SA, Schellhorn HE. Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1.

Owen Fonorow, Naturopath, Ph.D.
Vitamin C Foundation
PO Box 3097, Lisle IL 60532 
630-416-1438 , Fax: 630-416-1309   
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