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Fish oil is one of the most commonly used dietary supplements. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It has been known to protect against heart diseases, lower blood pressure, and lower triglyceride levels.

According to a recent study published in the journal PLOS Genetics, the beneficial effect of fish oil on triglycerides is seen only in people with a certain type of genetic makeup.

What are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides (TG) are the most common type of fats present in your body. TG are commonly found in foods like butter, margarines, and oils. The extra calories that the body doesn’t need to use right away are also stored as triglycerides.

High triglyceride levels are considered to be a marker (indicator) for heart diseases. A blood sample reading of less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered to be the normal level of TG. Higher levels of triglycerides may thicken the walls of the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of stroke and heart diseases.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which is very important for your heart health. Fish oil can be derived from consuming oily fish like mackerel and salmon or through supplements. Some fish oil products are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as prescription medications to lower triglycerides levels.

But, a recent study published in the journal PLOS Genetics claims that “taking fish oil only provides health benefits if you have the right genetic makeup.”

The Study

The study focussed on the effects of fish oil on triglyceride levels in the blood. The study also examined the levels of the other three blood lipids - high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, and total cholesterol. All these types of fats (lipids) are biomarkers for heart diseases.

The study analyzed the data of 70,000 individuals taken from UK Biobank. The study cohort was divided into two - those who took fish oil supplements (around 11,000) and those who didn’t.

After running over 64 million tests, it was found that people on fish supplements who experienced a reduction in their triglyceride levels had a specific genotype of the GJB2 gene.

Individuals with the AG genotype who took fish oil decreased their triglycerides.

The study further revealed that individuals with the AA genotype who took fish oil had slightly elevated levels of triglycerides. The effects of fish oil on triglycerides in people with GG type could not be determined as present in the variant rs112803755. So, if you have your DNA raw data file with you, you can look up this rsID to find out your genotype!

Learn How To Use Xcode Life’s Gene Tool To Look Up Your Genotype here!

Recommendations to Reduce Your Triglyceride Levels

Apart from fish oil, there are also other effective methods to reduce your triglyceride levels. Some of them include:

Limiting your sugar intake

Excess sugar in your diet is turned into triglycerides, elevated levels of which are not good for your heart health. According to a study, replacing your sugary beverages with water can decrease your triglyceride levels by as much as 29 mg/dL.

Adopting a low-carb diet

The extra carbs in your diet are also converted into and stored as triglycerides. Following a low-carb diet has proven to be much more effective than following a low-fat diet in terms of reducing triglyceride levels.

Exercising regularly

HDL cholesterol is a type of good cholesterol. Increasing HDL levels can both help reduce triglyceride levels as well as counteract the effects of high triglycerides. Jogging for even two hours per week can reduce the levels of triglycerides.

Limiting Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is high in sugar and calories. If they are not used up by the body, they are converted into triglycerides. According to studies, even moderate alcohol consumption can increase your triglyceride levels by as much as 53%. This applies to people with normal triglyceride levels as well!


  1. High triglyceride levels are a marker for many heart diseases, as they contribute to plaque build-up in the arteries.
  2. Fish oil is one of the commonly used supplements and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It has been known to reduce triglyceride levels.
  3. According to a study, the effect of fish oil on triglyceride levels was found to be beneficial only in people with a specific genetic makeup.
  4. Upon analyzing the data of 70,000 people, the study found that fish oil reduces triglyceride levels only in people with the AG genotype of the GJB gene.
    Do You Carry The Beneficial AG Genotype? Find Out Using Xcode Life’s Gene Tool!
  5. Further, people with the AA genotype experienced a slight increase in triglyceride levels upon fish oil consumption.
  6. Some other effective ways of reducing triglyceride levels are regular exercising, lowering the consumption of high-sugar and high-carb foods, and limiting alcohol intake.

Use Xcode Life’s Gene Tool to find out your genetic marker for lowering triglyceride levels with fish oil supplements


  1. Should you take fish oil? Depends on your genotype
  2. GJB2 gene
  3. Substituting water for sugar-sweetened beverages reduces circulating triglycerides
  4. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity
  5. Effects of long-term, self-monitored exercise on the serum lipoprotein and apolipoprotein profile in middle-aged men
  6. Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on hypertriglyceridemia

Is fat a flavor?

Fat has been classified as a taste as early as 330 BC by Aristotle. However, recent research suggests that fat is associated more with the smooth velvety texture (like in butter) but not with the sense of taste.

To be classified as a ‘ basic taste’ it must meet certain criteria. Some of these include:

  1. Effective stimuli that react with the tongue: For fats, the stimuli arise from the breakdown of fatty acids
  2. Receptors on the tongue that identify the stimuli: A study published in the Journal of Lipid Research by Pepino et al. showed that our tongue indeed contains a protein (CD36) that can detect the presence of fats.
  3. A transmission of the signal from the fat receptors in the tongue to taste-sensing regions in the brain: The molecules generated from fatty acid breakdown activates neurotransmitters like serotonin, which trigger the orosensory (oral senses) perception.
  4. Independent perception of the taste: While sweet and salt tastes can be perceived independently, there’s still a controversy over whether or not ‘fat’ taste can be identified independently.

5. Physiological effects once the taste receptors are activated: Upon consumption of fat, a commonly seen physiological effect is the increase in the triglyceride levels.

Why Do We Like Fat?

Fat is universally palatable because of its desirable properties in smell and texture.

Smell: There’s a reason why we can ‘taste’ the sizzling bacon even before we dig into it. Fats dissolve odor chemicals and concentrated flavors. Upon heating them, these are released, and when you smell the cooked food, the flavor molecules make their way to your nose and mouth.

Texture: Fatty foods have a special mouthfeel, a special texture. Emulsions made with fat are responsible for the creamy texture of many items like ice cream, peanut butter, and chocolate.

Consumption Of Fats: An Evolutionary Need

Our ancestors likely began acquiring a taste for fat 4 million years ago.

Out of the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats), fats provide the most energy per unit gram.

Proteins and carbohydrates (sugars) provide about 4 calories per gram, while lipids provide 9.4 calories per gram.

Fats also make us feel fuller for a longer time because it is absorbed slowly.

When we feel full, our brain releases ‘feel-good’ hormones that make us content and relaxed. So on hunting days, our ancestors gathered as many fatty foods as possible.

Those who consumed more fats than others survived better in times of food scarcity.

The ‘craving’ for fatty foods, the happiness we derive from it, and the fullness we experience are all a result of evolutionary adaptation.

How Does Genetics Fatty Foods Preference?

A recent study from the Journal of Lipid Research claims that we carry a protein (receptor) in the tongue that is sensitive to fat. People who have more of this ‘fat-perceiving’ protein are more sensitive to fat, and vice versa.

CD36 and Tendency to Prefer Fatty Foods

The CD36 gene is located on chromosome 7. It encodes the Cluster of Differentiation protein, also called the fatty acid translocase protein. It is present on the surfaces of many cells in the body. People with certain forms of the CD36 gene have a lower concentration of the ‘fat-perceiving’ protein and may prefer and consume more high-fat foods than people with the other forms of this gene.


rs1527483 is associated with oral sensitivity to and preference for fat. Individuals who had the C/T or T/T genotypes tend to be less sensitive to fat in the diet than those with the C/C genotype. So, people with the TT type tend to prefer fatty foods more than the others.


According to a study, the G-allele of the rs1761667 SNP was associated with a 11-fold lower threshold for oleic acid than the A allele. Thus, people with the * GG type* had a higher sensitivity to oleic acid and thus consumed less fatty foods.

Health Risks Of High Fat Consumption

Increased Consumption of Certain Types of Fats May Increase The Risk of Diabetes

Fatty acid affects glucose levels by influencing the activity of enzymes like insulin. This can alter cell structure and gene expression. Studies show a positive association between trans fatty acids intake and risk of diabetes. Trans fat is found in animal products such as meat, whole milk, and milk products. Mounting evidence suggests that trans fats increase inflammatory cytokines that are related to the risk of diabetes.

Increased Consumption of Certain Types of Fats  May Increase The Risk of Heart Disease

The potential for a fatty meal to trigger heart attacks has been discussed in the medical literature for many years. According to a study, when people with heart disease consumed a high-fat meal, EKG changes were observed along with reports of chest pain in nearly half of the participants.

Increased Consumption of Certain Types of Fats  May Increase The Risk of Blood Clots

Heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism are examples of diseases caused by blood clots. According to a study, after a meal rich in fatty acids, the volunteers displayed increased activation of blood clotting factors.

Increased Consumption of Certain Types of Fats May Reduce Testosterone Levels

A study investigated the effects of fat-containing meals on plasma sex hormone levels in men. The results revealed reduced concentrations of both total and free testosterone hormone levels.

Consuming Fats The Healthy Way

Studies now show that certain kinds of fats (saturated fats) taken in the right amounts can offer health benefits. Some high-fat foods that are filled with nutrients include:

Animal Sources of Healthy Fats

Plant Sources of Healthy Fats


  1. Fats are universally palatable owing to the creamy texture it adds to foods like peanut butter.
    Our liking for fats has an evolutionary aspect to it. Fats provide the most energy per unit gram and make us feel fuller. So, our ancestors who consumed more fats had better survival chances than others.
  2. Certain people prefer fatty foods less than others because of their heightened sensitivity to fats. As a result, they may be less likely to consume excess amounts of this nutrient.
  3. CD36 gene influences the sensitivity to fat. Two SNPs in this gene - rs1527483 and rs1761667 are associated with oral sensitivity to and preference for fat. People with certain genetic types tend to consume more fats than others.
  4. Increased fat consumption is linked to health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.
  5. Some “healthy fats,” known as saturated fats, are beneficial to health. Some food sources of saturated fats include avocados, fatty fish, eggs, full-fat yogurt, and chia seeds.


What Is Hypertension?

Just like how water exerts pressure on the walls of the pipes when flowing, blood too exerts pressure on the surface blood vessels. The pressure exerted must be constant and of a particular value. A drop or hike in this pressure may likely be a warning of an abnormality.
When the pressure exerted by blood on the walls increases beyond a certain level, it is known as hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension is a pretty common health condition, with nearly half the American population expected to be diagnosed with it.

Symptoms Of Hypertension

Most people don't experience any particular symptom until the condition becomes severe. That is why hypertension is rightly known as the "silent killer." Even when people do experience the symptoms, they are almost always associated with other issues.
Some of these warning signals for hypertension include:
- Severe headaches
- Nose bleed
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue
- Sweating and anxiety

What Causes Hypertension?

The causes of hypertension or high blood pressure are still being studied. Some of the well-accepted and scientifically proven causes are smoking, obesity or being overweight, diabetes, having a sedentary lifestyle (one involving very minimal physical activities), and unhealthy eating habits.

What is Riboflavin?

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is a water-soluble vitamin. B vitamins are important for making sure the body's cells are functioning properly.
In addition to energy production, riboflavin also acts as an antioxidant and prevents damages by particles called free-radicals. It is involved in the production of folate (vitamin B9), which is crucial for red blood cell formation.
People need to consume vitamin B2 every day because the body can only store small amounts, and supplies go down rapidly.

How Does Riboflavin Affect Blood Pressure Response?

A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that one in ten people could significantly lower their blood pressure and, in turn, their risk of heart disease and stroke by increasing their vitamin B2 intake.

Previous studies have found an association between the 677C-->T polymorphism in MTHFR and hypertension. This transition from C to T results in increased homocysteine levels. About 30 to 40 percent of the American population may have a mutation at gene position C677T.

The relationship between riboflavin and hypertension was examined because riboflavin is known to have an important modulating effect on elevated homocysteine.

A study demonstrated that increasing riboflavin status reduced systolic blood pressure by 13 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by almost 8 mmHg, specifically in patients with the TT genotype.

Another study showed that riboflavin (1.6 mg per day) lowers homocysteine levels in healthy adults with the TT genotype but not in those with CT or CC genotypes.


rs1801133 is an SNP in the MTHFR gene that is commonly studied. It is also known as C677T, Ala222Val, and A222V.
People with the TT type have a lower blood pressure upon riboflavin/vitamin B2 administration than those with the CT or CC type.

Dietary Recommendations

People whose blood pressure responds better to vitamin B2 should consider increasing their riboflavin intake. Vitamin B2 supplements can be taken after consulting with a qualified medical practitioner.

Another way to get vitamin B2 is through dietary sources.

Animal Sources of Vitamin B2

  1. Salmon
  2. Lean beef and pork
  3. Chicken breast
  4. Eggs
  5. Cheese

Plant Sources of Vitamin B2

  1. Fortified tofu
  2. Mushrooms
  3. Spinach
  4. Almonds
  5. Avocados
  6. Grains such as wheat


  1. Many research studies have clearly outlined the role of the MTHFR gene in regulating blood pressure. A common mutation, C677T, is associated with increased blood pressure or hypertension. C677T also results in increased homocysteine levels.
  2. Observational studies have indicated an inverse relationship between vitamin B2 and homocysteine - the higher the levels of vitamin B2, the lower the homocysteine levels.
  3. The observed relationship between vitamin B2 and homocysteine led researchers to explore the role of riboflavin in regulating blood pressure.
  4. People who have the TT type in rs1801133 of MTHFR gene respond better to vitamin B2 supplementation - riboflavin seemed to have a blood pressure-lowering effect on people with the TT genotype. The same effect was not seen in those with the CC type.
  5. The TT type people can benefit more from vitamin B2 consumption. Some dietary sources of vitamin B2 include salmon, lean meat, eggs, tofu, avocados, and almonds.


Antioxidants Overview

Antioxidants are any compounds that help prevent cell damage in the body. One of the common reasons for cell damage is oxidation, where an atom or a molecule loses electrons.

While oxidation is useful for a few processes, excess oxidation leads to cell damage. The use of antioxidants is to regulate the level of oxidation in the body.

Depending on whether the antioxidants are soluble in water or fat (lipids), they are classified into two broad categories:

Antioxidants At The Molecular Level - Getting Technical

There are four basic levels of defense that all antioxidants have:

  1. Neutralizing free radicals by donating their own electrons
  2. Proactively searching and removing free radicals before they cause damage
  3. Self-repair and regulation of the internally produced antioxidants
  4. Adapting themselves to the body’s changes

Inside the body, the following factors determine antioxidant absorption and utilization:

The effectiveness of antioxidants depends on the internal environment they survive in.

Generally, larger molecules of antioxidants are broken down by the gut bacteria to help them enter the cell membranes.

The liver produces a few very important antioxidants. The cell membranes absorb some, while a large part is excreted out through urine.

Did You Know?

Have you heard of the famous egg or chicken question? The debate over whether the egg or the chicken came first to the world is never-ending. Until recently, scientists debated whether antioxidants were produced before or after the earth received oxygen through photosynthesis.

One may assume that microbes developed the ability to produce oxygen through photosynthesis first. This caused oxidative stress, and their bodies adapted themselves to produce antioxidants.

This is not the case, though!

According to this 2017 article, an anaerobic bacterium (oxygen-free bacterium) started producing an antioxidant called ergothioneine before it started the process of photosynthesis.

If not for neutralizing the effects of oxidation, what was the use of this antioxidant? Researchers are still trying to find out the answer to this question.

Why Do Humans Need Antioxidants?

Free radicals are unstable molecules that contain an unpaired electron. Because of this, they are highly reactive. Free radicals start taking electrons from the cells in your body and damages them in this process.

Free radicals are found in the air you breathe in, in the water you drink, in the foods you eat, and even in certain medications!

Antioxidants help by sacrificing/giving up their own electrons to the free radicals, thereby neutralizing them. Instead of damaging your cells, the free radicals damage the antioxidants, keeping you safe.

When your body does not have antioxidants, your cells are damaged faster because of free radicals, and this causes a variety of physical issues, including:

Genetic Association

GPX1 and Antioxidant Needs

Selenium is an important antioxidant that is needed for the healthy functioning of the body. Many enzymes in the body that fight free radicals are affected by how much selenium you get in your food.

Certain variations in the proteins GPX1 because of inadequate selenium intake are associated with increased cancer risk. In the rs1050450 SNP of the GPX1 gene, a minor allele ‘A’ increases your risk of developing cancer when your dietary selenium levels are low.

PON1 and Antioxidant Needs

Lycopene is a type of carotenoid that gives the red color to fruits and vegetables. This is also a very important antioxidant.
The PON1 gene helps produce the PON1 enzyme to protect against the oxidation of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). LDL oxidation results in risks of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

The Q192R (denoted by rs662) is a polymorphism in the PON1 gene. The presence of the TT allele can imply lower or decreased levels of PON1 enzyme activity. The higher the PON1 enzyme activity, the lower is the risk for heart disease.

Non-genetic Factors Affecting Antioxidant levels

Unhealthy food habits - Most of the antioxidants required by your body can be obtained by including various fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based ingredients regularly. If you depend on restaurant takeaways or packaged and frozen foods for your meals, you may be at a higher risk for developing antioxidants deficiency.
Harvesting and handling of fruits and vegetables - Certain methods of harvesting and handling fresh fruits and vegetables can cause a reduction in the antioxidant levels in these produces. Consuming these fruits and vegetables will not give you your recommended values of antioxidants.
Cooking methods - According to a study boiling and pressure cooking the vegetable bring down the antioxidant levels. Opt for gentler cooking methods like steaming and quick frying instead.

Symptoms Of Excess Antioxidants

It is difficult to get an overdose of antioxidants with just food sources. However, it is possible to overdose when you are using antioxidant supplements. Here are some of the symptoms of excess antioxidant consumption:

  1. High doses of beta carotene are associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in those who smoke.
  2. High doses of vitamin E supplements can cause prostate cancer and bleed in the brain.
  3. High doses of vitamin A can lead to liver damages.
  4. Some studies suggest consuming excess antioxidants can make existing symptoms in cancer patients worse.
  5. Selenium overdose leads to nausea, bad breath, and various kidney and heart problems.
  6. Excess antioxidants can interact with certain medications that you take. Talk to your healthcare provider about recommended levels.

Symptoms Of Antioxidant Deficiency

A 2018 study analyzed the intake of 10 antioxidants. The antioxidants under consideration were beta carotene, alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, selenium, zinc, and vitamins C and E.

The study concluded that those deficient in these ten antioxidants had lowered anti-inflammatory activities and lowered HRQOL - Health-Related Quality Of Life. It includes factors needed for physical, mental, social, and emotional quality of life.

Oxidative stress, over time, can damage healthy cells in the body. This can result in increased risks of:

## Recommendations To Get The Right Amounts Of Antioxidants
**Include a variety of vegetables and fruits** - Vegetables and fruits are very rich sources of different antioxidants. One of the best ways to prevent antioxidant deficiency is to include colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet. Studies show that fresh fruits and vegetables bring down your risk for developing several diseases apart from keeping you fit.
**Prefer food-based antioxidants over supplements** - Unless you have been advised specifically, stay away from supplements and change your food habits to increase your antioxidant intake.
**Know how your genes affect you** - If you are genetically prone to requiring more antioxidants than normal individuals or at a higher risk for developing certain diseases because of antioxidant deficiency, plan your food choices right.
**Supplement antioxidants with caution** - While supplements can easily cause an overdose, supplements can also interact unpleasantly with certain medications you consume.
**Change your cooking methods** - Your cooking methods matter a lot. Choose healthier cooking options like broiling, steaming, and quick frying on a flat pan instead of boiling and pressure cooking.

## Summary
1. Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent cell damage. There are 1000s of individual antioxidants available in nature.
2. While most antioxidants are obtained from food sources, few very vital ones are produced in the body.
3. Antioxidants bring down the risks of several diseases and keep you younger for a longer time.
4. Antioxidant overdose is rare and occurs only upon consuming supplements. Antioxidant deficiency can lead to a lowered Health-Related Quality Of Life (HRQOL).
5. Some people can be genetically inclined to absorb lesser quantities of antioxidants than others. Such individuals may need to compensate with supplements.
6. For healthier individuals, it is recommended to get the dose of antioxidants from food rather than from supplements.


Copper is an essential mineral for the body. Along with iron, it plays a vital role in the formation of Red Blood Cells (RBCs). It is a cofactor for several enzymes (cofactors are substances required for enzyme activation). Copper is a trace element - which means our body requires it only in small quantities. It is also crucial for organ functioning and a healthy metabolism. Meeting your copper requirements is important for the prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. The body cannot synthesize copper on its own - therefore, it must be consumed through diet or supplements.

Copper Metabolism and Absorption - Getting Technical

Hepatocytes - cells of the liver - are the primary sites for copper metabolism.
When copper enters the body through dietary sources, it is first absorbed by the intestines.
It is then transported to the hepatocytes by a tube-like structure called the portal vein.
The copper then enters the hepatocytes - this is mediated by a protein called copper transporter (CTR1). After it enters the hepatocytes, either of the two things happens:
1. With the help of another transporter protein ATP7B, it reaches the ‘Golgi apparatus’ (packages protein to transport it to the destination) where it binds to another protein, ‘apoceruloplasmin.’ Once copper binds to this protein, it becomes ceruloplasmin. Subsequently, this ceruloplasmin exits the hepatocytes and is transported to other organs.
Sometimes, the copper is loosely bound to another protein called albumin and is circulated in the blood. This is called free serum copper.
Free serum copper + ceruloplasmin = Total serum copper
These three parameters are very important for blood diagnostics of copper metabolism.
2. If the body doesn’t require copper, it is transported to the bile ducts. From there, it is excreted into the bile.

If the ATP7B protein doesn’t function well, the copper gets accumulated in the cells leading to Wilson’s disease.

Importance of Copper

Copper is found in the cells of almost all organs. It plays an important role in blood vessel formation, maintenance of the nervous and the immune system.
Our body needs copper for several activities. These include:
1. Formation and functioning of RBCs
2. Immune functioning - by forming white blood cells
3. Fetal and postnatal brain growth and development
4. Collagen formation
5. Turning sugar into energy
6. Protection from cell damage
7. Absorption of iron
8. Maintenance of healthy skin and connective tissue

Copper and Cardiovascular Health

Copper deficiency is associated with changes in lipid levels. According to animal studies, low copper levels can lead to cardiac abnormalities.
Some researchers believe that people with heart failure can benefit from copper supplementation.

Copper and Arthritis

Some studies have shown that copper may help delay or prevent arthritis. That’s why wearing a copper bracelet as a remedy for arthritis is popular.

RDA of Copper

For adolescents and adults, the RDA is about 900 mcg per day.

The upper limit for adults aged 19 years and above is 10,000 mcg, or 10 milligrams (mg) a day. An intake above this level could be toxic.

The copper requirement changes with age, gender, and events like pregnancy.

How Genes Influence Copper Intake?

SELENBP1 and Copper Requirements

The SELENBP1 is located on chromosome 1 and encodes selenium-binding protein.
Selenium is an essential mineral and is known for its anticarcinogenic properties, and a deficiency of it can result in neurologic diseases.
While selenium-binding protein has majorly been studied only for its tumor suppressant activities, a 2013 study found a significant association between this protein and erythrocyte (red blood cells) copper levels.

rs2769264 of SELENBP1 and Copper Deficiency Risk
rs2769264 is an SNP in the SELENBP1 gene. It is located on chromosome 1. This SNP has been associated with serum copper levels. According to a study, the presence of the G allele increases the copper levels by 0.25-0.38 units.

SMIM1 and Copper Requirements

The SMIM1 gene is located on chromosome 1 and encodes Small Integral Member Protein 1. This protein plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells.

rs1175550 of SMIM1 and Copper Deficiency Risk
rs117550 is an SNP in the SMIM1 gene. This SNP has been associated with serum copper levels. People who have an A allele in this SNP are at a greater risk for copper deficiency - the presence of A allele decreases copper levels by 0.14-0.26 units.

Non-genetic Factors That Influence Copper Requirements

Infants fed on formula milk had lower copper levels than those on breast milk.
Excess zinc
Consuming excess zinc can lead to an inefficient absorption of copper.
Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases
GI conditions like celiac diseases, short-gut syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome can impair copper absorption.
Certain health conditions
Some conditions, such as central nervous system demyelination, polyneuropathy, myelopathy, and inflammation of the optic nerve, can increase the risk of copper deficiency.

Symptoms of Copper Deficiency

Clinical symptoms of copper deficiency include:
- Premature hair greying
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sensitivity to cold
- Easy bruising
- Weak and brittle bones
- Learning and memory problems
- Pale skin
- Unexplained muscle soreness
- Loss of vision

Symptoms of Excess Copper

Copper toxicity means you have more than 140 mcg/dL of copper in your blood. It can be caused due to excess copper in drinking water, eating meals cooked in uncoated copper cookware, and IUDs (Intrauterine devices like copper-T).
Some symptoms of copper poisoning include:
- Fever
- Headaches
- Vomiting
- Diarrhea
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
- Dark stools
- Abdominals cramps
- Anxiety
- Mood changes
If left untreated, copper toxicity can lead to liver damage, heart failure, and in some cases, death.

Dietary Sources of Copper

Animal Sources of Copper

  1. Shellfish
  2. Oysters
  3. Organ meat
  4. Salmon
  5. Liver
  6. Lobster

Plant Sources of Copper

  1. Shiitake mushrooms
  2. Nuts and seeds
  3. Sweet potatoes
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Leafy greens
  6. Dark chocolate


  1. Copper is an essential mineral which is required for the formation of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and healthy immune functioning. Studies have also indicated that adequate copper consumption can help prevent or delay cardiovascular diseases and arthritis.
  2. Liver is the primary site of copper metabolization with the involvement of 2 important transporter proteins - CTR1 and ATP7B. It is then circulated in a bound form as ceruloplasmin or as a loosely-bound form (free form) with albumin.
  3. Two genes, namely SELENBP1 and SMIM1, are involved in regulating copper levels in the body. The A allele in an SNP present in SMIM1 has been associated with reduced serum copper levels. People who carry the AA type may be at a greater risk of copper deficiency.
  4. Copper deficiency is recognized through symptoms like premature greying of hair, loss of vision, sensitivity to cold, easy bruising, and brittle bones. While lower levels of copper are dangerous, too much of it also can harm the body. Copper toxicity is characterized by anemia, mood swings, fever, headache, and vomiting.
  5. Copper requirements can easily be met through diet. Some dietary sources of copper include shellfish, oysters, Shiitake mushrooms, nuts, and dark chocolate.


What Is Fiber And Why Is It Important For Weight Loss?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate also called roughage. This nutrient is available in many plant-based foods. Though fiber is a type of carbohydrate, it cannot be broken down into sugars in the body. There are two common types of dietary fibers.

Soluble fiber - This is fiber that is easily dissolved in the body. It turns into a gel-like substance in the body and leaves the person feeling full for a longer time.
Insoluble fiber - This is fiber that does not dissolve in the body. It moves through the digestive system as such and can prevent problems like constipation.

The soluble and insoluble fibers are further classified into different types depending on their sources.

Both these types of fibers keep you healthy.

In recent times, fibers have become even more important for their ability to help with weight loss.

Fiber At The Molecular Level - Getting Technical

Soluble fiber is not processed in the small intestine. In the stomach, it absorbs water and turns into a gel. This moves through the small intestine and reaches the large intestine. Here, soluble fibers are acted upon by the bacteria present in the large intestine.

This process is called fermentation. Fermentation results in certain nutrients that are beneficial to your body.

The remaining soluble fiber helps give body (volume) to your stool. The water content in the soluble fiber is also retained and passed out with your stools.

The insoluble fibers meanwhile pass through the small intestine and the large intestine unchanged. Except for a few types, the insoluble fibers are not fermented. Bigger molecules of insoluble fibers trigger the production of mucus in the large intestine. These provide volume to your stool and make passing stools easier.

Smaller molecules of insoluble fibers can be constipating.

While still not a macronutrient, dietary fiber is gaining status as a very important nutrient.

The significance of fiber

The significance of fiber in weight loss

Many studies conclude that a fiber-rich diet helps with weight loss. Here are the reasons why.
- Fiber-rich food keeps you full for a longer time and brings down appetite. This can help with weight loss over time
- Fiber prevents fluctuations in blood sugar levels. When sugar levels don’t go up and down drastically, your body goes through lesser sugar cravings and hunger.
- Fiber keeps the gut healthy and clean. This regulates digestion.

Did You Know?

Even though fiber passes through the body mostly unchanged, there are few places where your body smartly breaks it down into portions that it can easily handle.

The minute you eat fiber-rich food, your teeth and jaw work to break down the food into smaller portions. This action changes the physical appearance and structure of the fiber. After it reaches the stomach, the churning action of the stomach muscles also helps in further altering its physical structure.

The fiber content is further broken into smaller parts. From here until fiber reaches the large intestine, it mostly remains the same.

Fiber keeps your gut healthy by flushing out excess LDL cholesterol and other unwanted deposits in the digestive tract as it travels down.

The Story Behind Fiber

The story of fiber goes back to the times of ancient Greece. Greeks consumed wheat bran regularly as they thought it helped prevent constipation. They did not know why wheat bran helped though.

It was only in the 19th century that people started looking more intently into fiber and its benefits. The benefits of fiber in curing constipation was introduced in America by J.H Kellogg, a doctor, who later created the iconic Kellogg cereal brand.

Kellogg initially pointed to the lack of fiber as a reason for two common conditions prevalent then - constipation and masturbation. He sincerely believed that including a lot of fiber in food will ‘treat’ these conditions.

Kellogg and his family came up with a kind of granola that was full of fiber content. In 1953, a British physician first coined the term ‘dietary fiber’.

The early 1900s saw a lot of demand for these fiber-rich breakfast options and slowly, foods with higher fiber content became popular choices in families with healthy food choices.

As nutritionists and doctors started understanding what fiber did to the body, the link between high fiber and weight loss became a well-researched topic.

Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements.
Did you know that the average American gets only about 15 grams of fiber a day?

How Genetics Influence Fiber Related Weight Loss

FTO gene

The FTO gene is associated with obesity, type II diabetes, and body-mass index. A particular variant of the FTO gene seems to have a relationship between lower waist circumference and a high-fiber diet.

A allele - Individuals are likely to lose more weight upon fiber intake. Their waist circumference also reduces.
T allele - Individuals are likely to lose moderate to less weight upon fiber intake with a lesser reduction in waist circumference.

TCF7L2 gene

The TCF7L2 gene produces the TCF7L2 protein. A variation in this gene plays an important role in increasing/decreasing the risk of type II diabetes in relation to fiber intake. Type II diabetes and sharp sugar highs and dips in the body are directly related to weight gain.

*rs7903146 *
There are three genotypes of this SNP that relate fiber intake to risk of diabetes and weight loss. Individuals with the CC and CT genotype have lesser risk of developing type II diabetes upon fiber intake.
These individuals also lose more weight when they include fiber-rich foods. Those with the TT genotype are not protected against diabetes type II because of a high fiber diet and also lose only moderate to less weight upon fiber intake.

Non Genetic Factors That Relate Fiber And Body Weight

Feeling of fullness - Fiber-rich food is often bulky and fills you up well. It takes a long time for fiber to pass through the digestive tract too. Because of these reasons, fiber gives you a sense of being full for a longer time. This prevents re-snacking in between meals and can help with weight loss.

Low calories - Many fiber-rich foods are low in calories. Their energy density is lesser than foods rich in simpler carbohydrates. This means that even if you eat your normal quantity, you are getting lesser kilojoules/gram of the food. Choosing a fiber-rich meal is hence a perfect way to bring down the caloric intake and lose weight.

Lowered risk of sugar dips - When you have a normal carbohydrate-rich meal, carbs are quickly broken down into sugars and are absorbed right away. This causes a sharp increase in blood sugar levels and once the sugars are absorbed, a sharp dip too. Sugar dip can make you crave food again, especially sugary snacks and desserts. Fiber prevents the sharp sugar dips from happening and maintains your sugar levels stable. You will hence snack less and lose weight faster.

What are the symptoms of fiber overdose?

While many people are only fiber deficient, it is possible to get an overdose of fiber when you do not plan your diet right.

When you consume more than 70 grams of fiber a day, these could be some of the side effects noted.

What are the symptoms of fiber deficiency?

When you consistently get lesser fiber than what’s recommended, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

Recommendations For Healthy Weight Loss With A Fiber-based Diet


  1. Fiber, also called roughage, is quickly gaining popularity as an important nutrient needed for the healthy functioning of the body.
  2. This is a type of carbohydrate that is available in foods in soluble and insoluble forms. 3. A high fiber diet is associated with an increased chance of weight loss.
  3. High-fiber diet prevents constipation, cardiovascular diseases, risks of type II diabetes, and keeps the gut healthy.
  4. Some people are genetically designed to lose more weight with increased fiber intake than others.
  5. Making sure you get your daily recommended dose of fiber will help you stay fit and healthy.


Protein Overview

There are very few macronutrients discussed as extensively as protein. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps support all aspects of the human body. Proteins (Amino acids) are the building blocks of the human body. Proteins are made of chains of amino acids linked by a chemical bond. Amino acids are organic molecules that majorly contain carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. In nature, there are about 500+ amino acids available. Out of these, nine are considered essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce. These have to be obtained from the foods you eat.

Nine Essential Amino Acids


Sources Of Proteins

Proteins are abundantly found in all plant and animal sources. About 70% of protein intake in North America is through animal-derived foods. Over the world, about 60% of protein sources are plant-based foods.

Proteins At The Molecular Level - Getting Technical

Once you eat protein-rich foods, proteins reach your stomach. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach along with an enzyme called proteases help in breaking down proteins into smaller molecules. The amino acid sequence in proteins is connected together by peptides. Proteases help break these peptides. The smaller chains of amino acids now move to your small intestine. Here, enzymes like trypsin, carboxypeptidase, and chymotrypsin help break down the smaller chains into individual amino acids. The broken down amino acids are absorbed in the small intestine and reach the bloodstream. They are taken from here to all the cells in the body. When you consume a variety of protein-rich foods throughout the day, your body can collect the essential ones from different sources and get what’s needed for its survival.

Protein Functions In The Body

Proteins are abundantly needed and present in the body. It is essential for many vital processes including

Chemical reactions - As enzymes, proteins carry out thousands of chemical reactions in the body. Without enzymes, the body will come to a standstill.
Transmitting signals - Proteins act as messengers and help transmit signals and information between different cells, tissues, and organs. Proteins also help transport smaller molecules between different cells.
Providing structure - Proteins support the healthy growth of cells and give structure to the muscles and tissues. Proteins are also the basic building blocks of all the organs in the body.
Building immunity - Antibodies are types of proteins produced in the immune system. These help fight against harmful microorganisms attacking the body.

Proteins And Weight Loss

One of the most discussed functions of proteins is aiding weight loss. There are several protein-based diet plans on the internet that promise quick and rapid weight loss with minimal effort.

Do all these diet plans work? No. However, proteins help people lose weight when consumed the right way. Proteins help in increasing metabolism and reducing appetite. Both factors are beneficial to lose weight healthily. Particular gene types also encourage weight loss in certain individuals when they consume a protein-rich diet.

Did You Know?

Proteins are one of the most essential nutrients needed. There are so many functions that depend on protein sources in the body.

In simple terms, when you do not consume proteins, you cannot survive.

Protein turnover is a wonderful way your body keeps maintaining the levels of essential proteins in the body.

When you are asleep, your body does not get its source of proteins from food for 6-8 hours at a stretch. In this time, your body breaks down its own stored proteins and obtains essential amino acids. These stored proteins come from both skeletal muscles and your skin.

When you fast for days together, the body starts using up proteins from your muscles too. Every day that you fast, you will lose 32 grams of muscle because of protein turnover.

The History Behind Proteins

Did you know that the first living molecule that originated on earth was a kind of protein?

How fascinating is that!

That’s how important proteins are for living organisms.

Protein was first discovered by Gerhardus Johannes Mulder in the year 1837. He initially assumed that proteins were made of just one type of large molecule.

A Swedish chemist named Jöns Jacob Berzelius is given credit for naming protein in 1838. Protein means ‘primary’ in Greek.

The main problem with studying proteins was the difficulty in purifying them in large quantities. The only types of proteins that were studied extensively were those that were easily available from egg whites, blood collected from slaughterhouses, and digestive enzymes.

In 1949, insulin was the first protein for which the amino acid sequencing was done successfully. It was then that scientists understood proteins contained linear polymers of amino acids.

Since then, protein has been extensively researched and analyzed and its importance has only grown.

RDA of Proteins

The recommended intake of proteins is set as 0.36 grams of proteins per pound of body weight. In case you are an active person or an athlete, you may need up to 0.60 grams of proteins per pound to match up your physical demand.

This is the minimum recommendation to prevent a person from getting protein deficient.

How Genes Influence Protein Intake and Weight Loss Tendency?

TCF7L2 Gene and Protein Metabolism

This gene produces a protein that plays an important role in several functions in the body. Changes in the TCF7L2 gene affect the relationship between a high-protein diet and weight loss.

rs7903146 and rs10885406 of TCF7L2 Gene and Weight Loss Tendency On Protein Intake
In both the rs7903146 and rs10885406 SNPs, the C and A alleles respectively help individuals get the most out of a high-protein diet. Individuals with these alleles do not gain weight upon protein intake.

TFAP2B Gene and Protein Metabolism

The TFAP2B gene helps produce the AP-2B transcription factor. This controls the activities of other genes around and a particular SNP is known to affect the relationship between weight gain and protein intake.

rs987237 of TFAP2B Gene and Weight Loss Tendency On Protein Intake
The A allele of this SNP has very low risks of obesity. However, the G allele individuals are at high risk for obesity. In both variants, a high protein diet will help maintain existing weight and prevent further weight gain.

Non-genetic Factors Relating To Saturated Fats And Weight Gain

Excess Proteins and Weight Loss

While a high-protein diet will help with weight loss, when you start consuming excess proteins just to lose weight, experts say this could backfire.

Excess proteins in the body are stored as fat and this will result in weight gain with time. This is especially true when you consume excess calories on a high-protein diet.

Here are other possible side-effects of excess protein consumption:
- Gastrointestinal problems like indigestion and diarrhea
- Dehydration
- Bad breath
- Kidney damage in people with pre-existing kidney conditions
- Choosing excess red meats as protein sources can increase the risks of heart diseases
- Red-meat based high-protein diet increases the risk of cancers

What Happens When You Are Protein Deficient?

Recommendations For Right Protein Intake To Lose Weight

  1. For those looking to increase their protein intake, plant-based proteins are the best. These are safer and excess consumption does not lead to risks of cardiovascular problems or cancer.
  2. For meat lovers, seafood, turkey, and chicken are good sources of proteins that are healthier too.
  3. Make sure you include a variety of protein-rich foods throughout the day. This will ensure you get your sources of essential amino acids just from foods.
  4. Protein supplements can help those looking to quickly shed weight. Talk to your doctor/nutritionist about this.
  5. Genetics can play a role in deciding how helpful proteins are for weight loss. Get your genetic testing done.
  6. Choose healthier, fresh protein sources and stay away from packaged, processed, and canned foods. These end up causing more harm.



Saturated Fats Overview

Saturated fats are dietary fats that contain carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen molecules. These types of fats have saturated hydrogen molecules and just one bond between the carbon molecules. As a result, saturated fats remain in a liquid state when the temperature is high and solidify when the temperature drops.

Saturated fats are a common source of fat in the American diet.

Why Are Saturated Fats Considered Unhealthy?

Several studies have proved that excess saturated fat intake increases the risk of the below conditions.
Cardiovascular diseases
Hyperlipidemia (excess lipids in the blood)
Type II diabetes
Obesity and weight gain

Weight gain is a common problem with increased saturated fats intake. Saturated fats add extra calories to your meals and increase your LDL cholesterol levels. These steadily cause an increase in body weight.

Saturated Fats At The Molecular Level - Getting Technical

The digestion of saturated fats starts from the minute you consume fatty food. Saliva contains enzymes that break down fats into smaller molecules. The act of chewing food also helps in breaking down the particles. From here, fat molecules reach the stomach. The bile and stomach enzymes work on saturated fats and break them down into even smaller components. The very small fat molecules reach the bloodstream directly. Bigger ones get passed on to the intestine. In the intestine, fats get converted into triglycerides. Triglycerides are forms of fats that can be stored in the body.

Triglycerides circulate throughout the body and some of them are absorbed by the cells for energy. The rest are stored in the adipose tissue. Saturated fats have different structures than unsaturated fats. This makes it easy for lots of molecules to be packed together at the same location. Because of this tight packaging, it is difficult for the body to break down saturated fats. When you consume more fat than what’s needed by the body, your adipose tissue starts building up and you start putting on weight.

The more saturated fat you keep consuming over the years, the higher will be your body fat percentage.

Getting Technical - How’s Iron Circulated In the Body?

Iron Absorption

A fraction of the ingested iron is absorbed by the body. It can vary from 5% to 35% depending on a few factors like the type of iron (heme or non-heme) and hepcidin levels. Hepcidin is secreted by liver cells and is a circulating peptide hormone that coordinates the use of iron.

Iron Circulation

Iron circulation in the body occurs with the help of a protein called transferrin. The iron laden transferrin binds to its receptor, which leads to the entry of iron into the cell. Iron is then transported to the cell’s mitochondria, where it is used to synthesize heme or iron-sulfur compounds.

Did You Know?

Many people assume that saturated fats are types of trans fat, which are the worst types of fats you can eat. Trans fat is a byproduct of the process called hydrogenation. This process helps increase the shelf life of cooking oils to preserve them for a longer time. Trans fat is commercially produced and has no health benefits at all.

Saturated fats are not commercially produced like trans fats.

These naturally occur in the foods you eat. When had in the right amounts, saturated fats are beneficial to the body and help absorb certain types of vitamins. When you limit your fat intake and make sure you pick unprocessed and fresh sources of saturated fats, saturated fats are not bad! They don’t deserve all the bad rap they have been getting so long!

The History Behind Saturated Fats

In the 1950s, heart diseases were the biggest cause of death in the United States. On September 24th, 1955, the US President Dwight D. Eisenhower had a massive heart attack. Though he recovered and went on to win a second term, this caused an alarm in the US.

Diet and unhealthy lifestyles were both blamed for the increase in cardiovascular problems. It was during this time that fats were largely researched upon.

During the 1950s, researchers found a relationship between hyperlipidemia and heart diseases. This added fuel to the fire.

From the 1950s to the early 1980s, studies conducted all around the world found a positive relationship between saturated fats, weight gain, and cardiovascular problems.

In 1980, the ‘Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ was released by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture. It asked people to limit their consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol.

Since then saturated fats have had a bad reputation globally.

RDA of Saturated Fats

For an average American, the recommended intake of saturated fats should be less than 10% of the total caloric intake.

For instance, if you are on a 1500 calorie diet, just 150 calories have to come from saturated fats.

For those diagnosed with high cholesterol levels or those with existing heart conditions, the recommended intake of saturated fats has to be less than 7% of the daily caloric value.

In terms of weight, the Daily Value (DV) of saturated fats is 20 grams per day.

How Genes Influence Saturated Fat Requirements?

FTO Gene and Saturated Fat Metabolism

The FTO gene is a very popular gene related to obesity and weight gain. Certain variants of the FTO gene seem to worsen the effects of a saturated fat-based diet.

There are two SNPs of the FTO gene that relate saturated fat intake and weight gain.

rs9939609 of FTO Gene and Weight Gain Tendency On Saturated Fats Intake

The A allele of the rs9939609 SNP makes people gain more weight upon saturated fat intake. The T allele does not relate saturated fats and weight gain though.

rs1121980 of FTO Gene and Weight Gain Tendency On Saturated Fats Intake

Similarly, the A allele of the rs1121980 SNP causes weight gain with saturated fats intake while the T allele does not result in weight gain.

APOA2 Gene and Saturated Fat Metabolism

The APOA2 gene helps produce a protein called apolipoprotein A-II. This regulates fat metabolism and also helps in building HDL cholesterol in the body. A primary SNP of the APOA2 gene relates saturated fat intake and weight gain.

rs5082 of APOA2 Gene and Weight Gain Tendency On Saturated Fats Intake
The G allele of the rs5082 SNP is associated with obesity and individuals gain excess weight up on saturated fat intake. The A allele however is not associated with either obesity or weight gain relating to saturated fat intake.

STAT3 Gene and Saturated Fat Metabolism

The STAT3 gene produces a transcription factor that helps in controlling various other genes in the body. There is a link between variations in the STAT3 gene, saturated fat intake and obesity.

rs8069645 and rs744166 of STAT3 Gene and Weight Gain Tendency On Saturated Fats Intake
Men with the G allele of both these SNPs are likely to gain more weight with saturated fats intake. This can also lead to obesity. Those with the A allele are not affected by saturated fats.

rs1053005 and rs2293152 of STAT3 Gene and Weight Gain Tendency On Saturated Fats Intake

The C allele of both these SNPs can weight gain and obesity in men up on excess saturated fats consumption. This relationship is not found in those with the T allele.

Non-genetic Factors Relating To Saturated Fats And Weight Gain

  1. Higher caloric intake - Saturated fats have 9 calories per gram of fat. In comparison to fats, carbohydrates and proteins have about 4-5 calories per gram only. Because of this, it is easier to consume more calories with saturated fat intake, which can lead to weight gain.

  2. Fat storage - When you consume more fat than what’s needed for the body, excess fat is stored in the adipose tissues. When you consume excess saturated fats, your adipose tissue grows and you start putting on weight.

  3. Taste - Fatty foods are generally tastier. Think of buttery bacon, fried chicken, sweet pastries, or a big slice of cheesy pizza. They get addictive with time and this is another non-genetic factor that causes gradual weight gain.

  4. Food combinations - Most packaged foods/ takeaways/ restaurant meals are a mix of carbohydrates and saturated fats. While carbohydrates give the body the needed energy, the excess fat you consume is mostly not used. This gets stored in the body, leading to weight gain.

What Happens When You Do Not Consume Saturated Fats?

Fats are essential sources of nutrition. Fats help absorb and transport certain vitamins throughout the body. Fats also provide you with insulation when the temperature goes down and maintains cell membranes.

The right amounts of saturated fats help produce steroid hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Fats keep you fuller for a longer time and are used by the body as energy when you are glucose deprived.

While it is healthier to bring down your saturated fats intake, do not skip them altogether. Choose unprocessed and fresher saturated fats to enjoy their benefits.

Excess Saturated Fats And Weight Gain

When you consistently include excess saturated fats in your diet (more than 10% of your caloric intake), here are some of the problems it can cause.

Recommendations For Healthy Saturated Fat Consumption To Prevent Weight Gain

  1. Make healthier food choices. Let your sources of saturated fats come from natural plant sources and unprocessed meat. Stay away from processed meat, deep fried goods and pastries and savories.
  2. Low fat dairy products have limited saturated fats and also provide you with essential vitamins and calcium.
  3. Choose healthier cooking methods like broiling, sauteing, boiling, steaming, and baking instead of deep frying and roasting.
  4. Opt for skinless chicken and fish over red meat.
  5. Fill up your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of fat.
  6. Be calorie conscious. Count your caloric intake for the day to stay fit. Make sure most of your calories come from proteins, natural sources of fat, and complex carbohydrates.
  7. It is ok to treat yourself to fast foods and packaged goods once in a while. For the majority of the time, cook your meals fresh at home.



Phosphorus is a mineral that makes up 1% of a person's total body weight. It is also the second most abundant mineral in the body that is important for filtering out waste and building healthy bones and teeth. It is commonly found in many foods, like beer and cheese. Phosphate is a form of phosphorus that can be taken as supplements when you can’t get the required amounts through diet.

Importance Of Phosphate

Our body uses phosphorus for
- Movement of muscles
- Strong bones and teeth
- Providing energy
- Lowering post-exercise muscle pain
- Filtering waste from the kidney
- Formation of DNA
- Nerve conduction
- Maintaining a regular heartbeat

Phosphate is also known to treat urinary tract infections and prevent the development of calcium stones in the kidney.

When Was Phosphate Discovered?

In the quest to create the “philosophers’ stone” like every other alchemist, Henning Brandt, a German scientist, collected and boiled around 1200 gallons of urine. He then mixed the tar-like residue obtained with sand and charcoal and maintained the mixture at the highest temperature the furnace could reach. After several hours of heating the residue, a white vapor was formed, which was then condensed into white drops. These drops had the “glow in the dark” property and hence the substance was named phosphorus.
The discovery of phosphorus made Brandt the first-ever scientist to discover a chemical element. Due to financial constraints, he ended up selling the discovery process to other scientists. Within 50 years of its discovery, phosphorus was being produced and sold to apothecaries, natural philosophers, and showmen. Further down the line, this element was making its way into matches, fertilizer, and bombs.

What Is The RDA Of Phosphate?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of phosphate varies between 100mg and 1250 mg. Infants need about 200mg, while children between the ages of 9 and 18 need 1250 mg. Adults need 700mg.

How Genes Influence Phosphate Requirements?

CASR Gene and Phosphate Needs

The CASR gene encodes the calcium-sensing receptor (CASR). It is found in the plasma membranes of the parathyroid gland and renal tubule cells (in the kidneys). Calcium molecules bind to the calcium-sensing receptors. This receptor also regulates the release of the parathyroid hormone, which is responsible for phosphorus reabsorption in the kidney.

rs17251221 of CASR Gene And Phosphate Deficiency Risk
rs17251221 is an SNP in the CASR gene. The G allele of rs17251221 was also associated with higher serum magnesium levels and lower serum phosphate levels. Each copy of the G allele was also associated with a lower bone mineral density at the lumbar spine.

Non-genetic Factors Influencing Serum Phosphate Levels

  1. Vitamin D3 levels: A deficiency in vitamin D levels could result in poor absorption of phosphate
  2. Alcoholism: Alcoholism is treated with refeeding, which depletes phosphate levels
  3. Dietary intake: Severe malnutrition, such as from anorexia or starvation, can result in phosphate deficiency
  4. Kidney disease: Affects the renal reabsorption of phosphate
  5. Diarrhea: Diarrhea has been shown to increase phosphate losses through the intestines

What Happens When Phosphate Levels Are Too Low?

  1. Low phosphorus levels can result in
  2. Anxiety
  3. Appetite loss
  4. Joint pain
  5. Irritability
  6. Tiredness or fatigue

Children with phosphorus deficiency may also show poor bone development.

What Happens When Phosphorus Levels Are Too High?

Hyperphosphatemia is a rare condition characterized by high levels of phosphorus in the blood. It occurs mainly due to kidney problems or issues in calcium homeostasis (maintenance of calcium levels). The presence of higher levels of calcium in the blood can result in:
1. Diarrhea
2. High vitamin D levels
3. Damage to kidneys
4. Serious infections

"## What Is The Test To Identify Phosphorus Levels?
Phosphorus levels can be determined using a serum phosphorus test. This test is usually carried out to check phosphate levels as an indicator of kidney or bone disease. It also aids in assessing the functioning of parathyroid glands.

Dietary Sources Of Phosphorus

Plant Sources Of Phosphorus

Animal Sources Of Phosphorus


  1. Phosphorus plays an important role in the health of bones, muscles, and kidneys. It works with calcium to regulate bone health.
  2. Most people get enough phosphorus through their diets; however, several factors can affect its absorption in the body.
  3. A region rs17251221 in the CASR gene influences the intestinal absorption of phosphorus; the G allele has been associated with decreased absorption and, thus, decreased phosphate levels in the body.
  4. Low vitamin D3 levels, diarrhea, and alcoholism are also risk factors for phosphate deficiency - it can lead to anxiety, joint pain, and fatigue.
  5. Some dietary sources of phosphorus are dairy, nuts, chicken, and seafood.


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