Personalize Your Vegan Diet For Your Genetics

March 21 - Writen by new admin

Based on your genetics vegans have to pay special attention to specific nutrients and the intake quantity of nutrients that you are at higher risk of being deficient at.

The focus of this post is to help you understand how DNA or genetics can help different individuals personalize their vegan diet to ensure that they have all the required nutrients they need, for a healthy and long life. We will start with the common reasons individuals choose to opt for a vegan diet. We’ll then go through scientific studies supporting it, evolution of humans on a plant based diet, common nutritional challenges and how you can use DNA to personalize your vegan diet.

Any diet that omits certain food groups need special consideration to have all the essential nutrients. On top of the diet our genetic variations play a significant role in how our body absorbs different nutrients from different foods or supplement sources. Based on your genetics you have to pay special attention to specific nutrients and the intake quantity of nutrients that you are at higher risk of being deficient at.

1. Fatty acids – Omega 3s: EPA and DHA – FADS genes
Dietary fatty acids are very important for many health outcomes and diseases, especially cognition, mental health and heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, a type of fat your body can’t make. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. A small percentage of alpha-linolenic acid can be changed via the enzymes produced by FADS1 and FADS2 genes into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

People with AG or GG variations of the SNP 1535 have even lower conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA – 25% to 50% reduced efficiency respectively. Vegans with these variations have to be extra careful and work on getting their EPA and DHA from algae or microalgae oil supplements.

2. Vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels – MTHFR and MTRR genes

Studies have shown that because of lower intake of Vitamin B12, vegans have a higher chance of B12 deficiency and elevated plasma homocysteine levels. The methylation of DNA is strongly linked to homocysteine metabolism. Since DNA methylation is an important epigenetic factor in the regulation of gene expression, alteration of the methylation pattern has been associated with aging, cancer, atherosclerosis and other diseases.

People especially vegans with risk variants of MTHFR and MTRR genes will need even higher amounts of B-12 to reduce the deficiency and methylation risk.

You can see your individual genetic adjusted nutrition needs in Gini Health

3. Vitamin K, K2, Bone Health – VKORC1 and GGCX genes

Vitamin K1 and K2 are two forms of Vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is found in plants and Vitamin K2 in animal products and fermented foods. Vegans can have reduced intake of K2 foods. VKORC1 and GGCX genes impact the level of active Vitamin K metabolism. APOE gene also impacts the absorption and transport of fat soluble nutrients like Vitamin K.

4. Vitamin A , Beta Carotene and Retinol – CYP26B1 and BCMO1 gene

Active form of Vitamin A is converted from beta carotene in the food that is used by the cells for biological functions. BCMO1 genes variants affect this metabolism. People with risk variants have very low efficiency in converting beta carotene to active form of vitamin A. Vegans and vegetarians need higher amounts of vitamin A or need to use pre formed sources of vitamin A or retinol. CYP26B1 gene is also involved in metabolizing and breaking down retinoic acid and thus plays a role in the vitamin A status in the cells.

5. Iron , anemia risk – TMPRSS6 gene

The two forms of dietary iron are Heme Iron and Non-Heme Iron. Heme iron is found only in meat, poultry, seafood, and fish, making this the type of iron that comes from animal proteins in our diet. Non-heme iron, by contrast, is found in plant-based foods like grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 7 to 35 percent while non-heme iron is typically absorbed at a rate of 2 to 20 percent.

People with G type of genetic variant rs4820268 for gene TMPRSS6 have high chances of being deficient in iron. Vegans with this type need to be very careful about their iron intake and should take vitamin C with non heme sources of iron to increase the bioavailability.

6. Vitamin E, Vitamin D – CYP4F2, CYP2R1 and GSTP1

These two are also very important fat soluble nutrients that require special consideration in the vegan diet. CYP4F2 and CYP2R1 genes affect the absorption of the vitamin E and Vitamin D. These should be used to determine the daily amount and supplements need as well. People with AG variant of rs1695 of GSTP1 gene may need to avoid Vitamin E supplements as it may increase inflammatory cytokines in the blood.

Gini Health and Vegan

You can see your individual genetic adjusted nutrition needs in Gini Health app. They are building more features to make it super easy for vegan people to make sure they are hitting all their personalized needs through their diet.

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