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Study Finds Common Supplements and Diet can Help Prevent Disease

November 20th 2005

Study Finds Common Supplements and Diet can Help Prevent Disease

Folic Acid

The old saying “you are what you eat” may have more evidence to bolster its claims. Rats were injected with a specific amino acid which changed the way their genes were expressed.  It may be possible that dietary supplements or drugs could permanently halt the genetic effects that predispose people to mental and physical illnesses.

The research was conducted at the McGill University in Montreal Canada by Moshe Szyf, Michael Meaney and their colleagues.  They found that certain nutrients and supplements changed genetics by switching off certain genes in rodents, as reported in EureAlert. 

Two years ago (New Scientist, 9 August 2003, p 14) a similar study was conducted where researchers found that the activity of a mouse's genes could be influenced by food supplements eaten by its mother just prior to or during the early stages of pregnancy. This research was conducted at Duke University.

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In Canada the researchers injected the L-methionine directly into the brains of “well-reared” rats.  L-methionine is a common amino acid and food supplement.  They found that the amino acid methylated the glucocorticoid gene, and changed the rat’s behavior. Diet may reverse some diseases such as schizophrenia and Huntington ’s disease. 

The researchers caution that the supplements can work both ways.  They have found that Methionine made healthy rats stressed. 

Last year the researchers in Canada found that baby rats there were not licked enough by their mother had methyl group chemical tags added to their DNA of a particular gene.  This affected the genetic codes for the glucocorticoid receptor gene. 

This gene is expressed in the hippocampus of the brain and helps mediate the animal’s response to stress.  In poorly raised rats, this methylation damped down the gene’s activity.  These young rats produced less stress hormones and were less confident exploring new environments as reported in Nature Neuroscience Vol. 7, page 847.    

Methionine is available at online health food stores and the molecules are small enough to get into the brain via the bloodstream.  They believe that this supplement can “cause DNA changes”, as reported by  They believe diet “may have a role to play as a regulator in genes”.

Scientists are trying to determine if colon cancer in humans might be triggered by diet through DNA methylation.  The BBC reports that Professor Ian Johnson at the Institute for Food Research is studying healthy people before the cancer starts.      

If diet can regulate genes then there may be other illnesses that may be treated with a dietary strategy.  Folic acid (folate) might influence methylation.  A difficiency in folate has been linked to an increased risk of colon and breast cancer. 


By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on Dieting

Keywords and misspellings:  methylation mthilation Methionine methionene glucocorticoid glucocordicoid suplements supplemants suplemants


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:40 PM