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Genes can Influence your Vitamin A requirement- Here’s how

Picture credits: thrombocyte

Source: World Heart Federation

Source: World Heart Federation

According to American Heart Association (2015), cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year, a number that is expected to grow to more than 23.6 million by 2030.

Low dietary intake of beta carotene is associated with chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease and vitamin A deficiency. It is well known that a greater intake of fruit and vegetables can help prevent heart diseases and mortality. Antioxidant compounds found in fruit and vegetables, especially dietary carotenoids  such as beta carotenes, lycopene, lutein may influence the risk of CVD by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol in arteries.  

 

 

Know more about vitamin A

Vitamin A in the diet can come from animal or plant sources. Vitamin A exist in the form of retinol or retinoic acid, the active form in animal sources, and in the form of carotenes in plant sources. Retinol, an active form of vitamin A cannot be made by our bodies and should be obtained from the food we eat. Carotenes must be converted into retinol for them to function as vitamin A in the body. BCMO1 is the enzyme responsible for this conversion. Individuals, especially vegetarians, who get their vitamin A primarily from plant- based foods rely on this conversion to meet their vitamin A needs.

Dietary sources of vitamin A

vitamin-a-sources

Liver and fish oils are one of the richest source of retinol and other good sources includes eggs, especially egg yolks. Carotenes are found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, sweet potatoes, orange and yellow vegetables and in vegetable oils.

Vitamin A and genes

BCMO1 gene produces BCMO1 enzyme. Individuals with certain genotypes have reduced ability to convert carotenes to retinol, due to reduced BCMO1 activity. Individuals who carry certain versions of this gene may have up to  60% less enzyme activity than others and such individuals may be at risk for vitamin A deficiency. It is recommended that these individuals consume more animal sourced vitamin A, such as fish, eggs, meat and milk products to get their active form of vitamin A, retinol to meet their requirements.

Watch out for these symptoms like oily skin, acne, dry eyes, poor night vision, immune system impairment that indicates insufficiency of retinol in your body. You can also check your vitamin A levels via a blood test.

Type of BCMO1 gene has been shown to influence the vitamin A levels in blood. Want to know what type of BCMO1 gene you have? Try Xcode’s nutrigenetics test which can tell you what versions of the BCMO1 gene are in your DNA. You can also learn about how your genes may influence other traits, including your risk for certain diseases. Write to us at info@xcode.in to find out more.

Janani Thiru
Janani Thiru
Janani is a Nutrigenetic Counselor at Xcode, Freelance Writer, Food Scientist and Nutritionist by academics. She received the prestigious Erasmus Mundus Award by the European Commission for her post graduate program in Food Science and Technology in 2010. She worked with Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome and Cambodia previously. Her latest project is an e-book of nutrigenetics she is compiling that will be published next year.