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Vitamins are organic substances needed for the growth and development of the human body. Ascorbic acid or Vitamin C is one such vitamin. 

It was discovered in the 1920s by Albert von Szent Györgyi as the molecule that can cure scurvy. Scurvy, which is caused by severe Vitamin C deficiency, can turn fatal if left untreated.

Vitamin C is now an established drug and is commonly used as a supplement. Vitamin C must be consumed through food or diet. It can be excreted out of the body easily because of its water solubility.

vitamin c deficiency

Some animals like cats and dogs can synthesize this vitamin on their own, whereas some birds, fish, and humans cannot.

Though humans have the gene needed for vitamin C production, it has been inactivated through evolution.

The gene crucial for converting L-Gulonolactone into ascorbic acid, the active form of vitamin C, is heavily mutated. This gene contains instructions for producing an enzyme called gluconolactone oxidase or Gulon. These mutations were accumulated over time as humans evolved. These genes that accumulate mutations and are not functional are termed pseudogenes. 

You must be wondering why a process so crucial is prevented from happening in our bodies. The answer to this lies in understanding the function of this gene. 

There are a few theories to answer this question.

The first one is that hydrogen peroxide is a byproduct of this process. 

Hydrogen peroxide is a reactive oxygen species, ROS for short. A buildup of ROS in the body can lead to disease conditions. By not synthesizing vitamin C, our body prevents the buildup of ROS.

Another theory talks about the function of vitamin C as a regulator.

Vitamin C regulates the transcription factor Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1α, HIF1α for short. This is responsible for regulating the production of several stress-related genes. 

This shows that there are actually some advantages to the absence of vitamin C synthesis in the body. Additionally, human ancestors have had plenty of vitamin C in the fruits and berries they consumed in the rain forests.

Genetics of Vitamin C Deficiency

Your genes can also influence how effectively vitamin C is absorbed and used by the body.  SLC23A1 and SLC23A2 genes are involved in the absorption and distribution of vitamin C. Mutations or changes in these genes also influence the absorption of vitamin C by the body.

Vitamin C Genetic Test

You can find out if you have any genetic variations that affect your vitamin C levels. This can be done through a genetic test.

Most genetic tests provide your DNA information in the form of a text file called the raw DNA data. This data may seem like Greek and Latin to you.

Xcode Life, can help you interpret this data. All you have to do is upload your raw data and order a nutrition report.

Xcode Life then analyzes your raw data in detail to provide you with comprehensive nutrition analysis, including information on your vitamin C levels.


Dietary Antioxidants Hold the Key for Optimal Health

Well, you’ve heard it umpteen times that you are what you eat. You are probably gearing up already to redesign your food chart to throw in a few healthy choices based on nutritionists' recommendations.

In that case, you must be familiar with the term “antioxidants” – the magical word in the lexicon of health and nutrition that has become a synonym of power-houses of nutrients.

After all, who wouldn’t want to look perennially young, be energetic, and free of ailments! Though such a proposition may sound a fantastic probability, you can turn it into a possibility by opting for a sensible diet plan that includes foods rich in antioxidants.

Analyze your genetic variants for antioxidant needs

Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals in foods that help to counter the detrimental effects of oxygen free radicals, which form during normal metabolism.

External factors like pollution, ultra-violet radiation, and X-rays also produce free radicals that affect our system. Free radicals are deprived of oxygen and are responsible for the development of serious ailments, including cancer and heart disease.

Antioxidants convert the free radicals into harmless waste products that are eliminated from the body before any damage is done to the body. Thus, antioxidants act as scavengers that rid our body of free radicals that cause serious metabolic disorders by damaging the tissues and cells.

Daily consumption of antioxidants

Plants are one of the primary sources of antioxidants.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereals, and seeds are foods that are naturally rich in antioxidants.

The best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidants is to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables through a diet consisting of 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Fruits and vegetables can help guard against heart disease, cancers, and the effects of radiation, pollution, and aging.

Antioxidant-rich foods


Pomegranate, grape, orange, pineapple, plum, apple, and guava are some of the fruits that have the highest concentration of antioxidants.

In addition to being deliciously sweet, berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants.

These berries are rich in proanthocyanidins - the antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease as well.


Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, spinach, lemon, ginger, peppers, parsley, kale, red beets, and tomato are vegetables rich in antioxidants.

Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is one of the best antioxidants. It contains more vitamin C than an orange and has more calcium than a glass of milk.

In addition to minerals and vitamins, broccoli is filled with disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients.

Sulforaphane, a phytonutrient found in broccoli, has been shown to lower the risk of many types of cancers.

Tomato is the richest source of a powerful anticancer agent called lycopene.


Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans are some of the best antioxidant foods.


Barley, millet, oats, corn are cereals rich in antioxidants.

Nuts and Seeds

Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, groundnut or peanut and, sunflower seeds contain a good amount of antioxidants.


Garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and oregano are antioxidant spices.

It also has been used as a natural antibiotic to kill off some strains of harmful bacteria.

Garlic is also useful for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, removing heavy metals from the body, preventing cancer, and acting as an antifungal and antiviral agent.

One clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B, and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.

Green Tea

Green tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. It is also a powerful antioxidant and is very effective against cancer, heart disease, and high cholesterol.

Vitamins rich in antioxidants

Vitamin A

Vitamin A includes carotenoids and retinol.

They are essential for healthy eyes and prevent macular degeneration or age-related blindness.

The antioxidant in vitamin A neutralizes free radicals and boosts your immunity.

Beta-carotene, which is sometimes called provitamin A, can be found in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, guavas, carrots, pumpkins, apricots, and all green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B

All B vitamins are essential to a woman’s health.

They are essential for brain functioning, red blood cell formation, and DNA building. The important B vitamins are:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, serves as an antioxidant that facilitates wound healing.

It helps in the formation of collagen, which is essential for the wounds to heal.

It also helps in the production of new red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your brain and to the other cells of your body.

Vitamin C is present in citrus fruits, grapefruits, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, oranges, and broccoli.

Vitamin D

Also called cholecalciferol, this vitamin functions as a hormone and regulates bone homeostasis, together with calcium.

It is an important vitamin for women as it maintains strong and healthy bones.

A deficiency of this vitamin can cause you to have osteoporosis.

Exposure to sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D.

The dietary sources of vitamin D are eggs, fish, and vitamin-fortified products like milk.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E or tocopherol acts as an antioxidant that aids in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the integrity of cellular membranes.

It also helps to slow age-related changes in the body.

Sources of this vitamin include nuts and nut products, wheat germ, cod liver oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.

Eat healthy to stay healthy

In reality, eating healthy is never a cumbersome task. It all starts with a simple step of ringing in variety to your table.

Do you have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage?

Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life to get insights into 700+ health-related traits!

Updated 22 May, 2020

PON1 gene and Antioxidant Needs

An introduction 

PON1 gene in humans is located on the long arm of chromosome 7.

This gene was the first discovered gene of the paraoxonase multigene family along with the PON2 and PON3 genes.

The PON1 gene codes for the enzyme serum paraoxonase/arylesterase 1 or PON1 that has esterase and paraoxonase activity.

The PON1 enzyme is composed of 354 amino acids and is synthesized by the liver.

PON1 associates itself with High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) in the circulation.

The PON1 gene shows many polymorphisms in the coding and promoting regions.

Polymorphisms in the PON1 gene have an association with coronary artery disease and diabetic retinopathy. 

PON1 association with antioxidant needs

PON1 plays a major role in oxidative stress and inflammatory response by virtue of its association with HDL cholesterol in the body.

HDL facilitates the secretion of the PON1 enzyme, which in turn prevents the oxidation of HDL and stimulates cholesterol efflux from the cells.

These together offer an atheroprotective function to HDL.

What are antioxidants? 

As the name goes, these substances and compounds inhibit oxidation in the body. 

Antioxidants are natural compounds that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies.

Free radicals are substances whose elevated levels can be harmful to the body. 

The elevated levels have an association with diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and aging.

What is the function of antioxidants? 

Our body cells constantly produce free radicals as a reaction to internal body and environmental pressures and stresses.

The cells in our body are responsible for the production of these free radicals. 

These are unstable molecules, and thus can cause slow cell damage.

Since these free radicals are reactive oxygen species, the antioxidants naturally counter them.

Antioxidants are neutralizers of these free radicals and can be obtained by consuming foods that are rich in them.

In individuals who are healthy and disease-free, there is a balance of antioxidants that counter the effects of the reactive free radicals.

What’s the genetic link?

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SNP rs854560 is a polymorphism that is present on the PON1 gene associated with antioxidant needs.

The variants of this SNP affect levels of the PON1 enzyme and have an association with coronary diseases and diabetes. The T allele is the more favorable form of the SNP and codes for methionine, which leads too elevated levels of paraoxonase.

This is beneficial to the body.

However, the A allele codes for leucine; this leads to reduced paraoxonase activity, which is harmful to the body.

[table “130” not found /]

SNP rs662, also called as Q192R is a polymorphism of the PON1 gene.

The C allele codes for arginine, whereas the less common T allele codes for glutamine.

The presence of the TT allele can imply lower or decreased levels of PON1 enzyme activity. Higher the PON1 enzyme activity, the lower is the risk for heart disease.

The TT allele also increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2.3x and also increased the risk of vascular dementia, kidney disease, ischaemic heart disease, and male infertility.

Do you have your DNA raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FTDNA, MyHeritage?

Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life to get insights into 700+ health-related traits!



Updated on June 09, 2020

The Solute Carrier Family 23 Member 1 (SLC23A1) gene is associated with the synthesis of Solute Carrier Family 23 Member 1(SLC23A1) protein, a transporter which is found to be associated with the absorption of vitamin C and distribution to the rest of the body.

Most mammals synthesize ascorbic acid (vitamin C) on their own, however, humans cannot produce this vitamin and depend on dietary sources. One of the well-known historical anecdotes associated with this vitamin requirement is that of the exploration by Ferdinand Magellan. This Spanish explorer was the first to travel around the world with his crew, showing that the world was indeed round and not flat as was commonly believed. Most of his crew are believed to have died during the expedition due to scurvy, a condition caused due to the lack of this nutrient. However, cats that were taken as pets during the expedition survived as they could produce this vitamin. Some people are shown to be associated with an increased requirement for vitamin C, based on the variant of the SLC23A1 gene that they carry.

This vitamin is necessary for the biosynthesis of collagen, catecholamine and carnitine, non-heme iron absorption and in the synthesis of anti-oxidants. Its deficiency can lead to scurvy, leading to fatigue and weakness, reduction in bone and muscle strength and poor immunity.

Does your 23andme, Ancestry DNA, FTDNA raw data have SLC23A1 gene variant information?

CHIP VersionSLC23A1 SNPs
23andMe (Use your 23andme raw data to know your SLC23A1 Variant)
v1 23andmePresent
v2 23andmePresent
v3 23andmePresent
v4 23andmePresent
V5 23andme (current chip)Present
AncestryDNA  (Use your ancestry DNA raw data to know your SLC23A1 Variant)
v1 ancestry DNAPresent
V2 ancestry DNA (current chip)Present
Family Tree DNA  (Use your FTDNA raw data to know your SLC23A1 Variant)
OmniExpress microarray chipPresent

Association with active vitamin C levels:

In a study conducted on 15,087 individuals, people with the A variant of the gene were shown to be associated with a reduction in the amount of circulating levels of l-ascorbic acid. In a similar study conducted on 97,203 individuals, people with the G variant of the gene were shown to be associated with 11% higher vitamin C than people with the A variant.

Genotype rs33972313PhenotypeRecommendations
GG[Advantage] More likely to have higher plasma vitamin C levelsEnsure sufficient intake of vitamin C from the diet
AGModerate plasma vitamin C levelsInclude vitamin C rich foods in the diet RDI requirement: 75mg/day for women and 90mg/day for men. Vitamin C rich foods include oranges, broccoli, kale, red peppers, brussels sprouts, grapefruit and strawberries
AA[Limitation] More likely to have lower plasma vitamin C levelsInclude vitamin C rich foods in the diet RDI requirement: 75mg/day for women and 90mg/day for men. Vitamin C rich foods include oranges, broccoli, kale, red peppers, brussels sprouts, grapefruit and strawberries



“Nutrigenetics, fitness genetics, health genetics are all nascent but rapidly growing areas within human genetics. The information provided herein is based on preliminary scientific studies and it is to be read and understood in that context.”

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