There are over seven billion people who live on Earth, and yet every single one is unique. Even identical twins have been found to have differences in their genetic makeup. Our DNA distinguishes us from one another, but also links us together – humans share 99.9% of the same genetic makeup. However, the remaining 0.1% of variation among humans contains a vast amount of information that determines everything from our heritage, to our susceptibility to some diseases. But what about the foods we eat? Or the way we live our lives, from our work schedules to our sleep patterns? Does our DNA have the ability to predict which foods, exercise, and even which supplements are right for us?
Science Says Yes.
What is Gene Definition?
DNA is within every one of our trillions of cells and acts as the blueprint for each one. But how? How does this molecule determine which traits we develop? The answer lies in proteins. There are millions of proteins in your body that signal which hormones to release and when, and these proteins also play a key role in metabolism. It is the unique code of our DNA that tells our bodies which proteins to make. It’s no surprise, then, that our DNA can tell us vital information about our diet, exercise, and vitamin needs.
Some Basic Genetic Terminology
A cell is the basic building block of living things. An adult human body is estimated to contain between 10 and 100 trillion cells.
A chromosome is an organized package of DNA found in each cell. Different organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (22 pairs of numbered chromosomes, called autosomes, and one pair of sex chromosomes, X and Y). Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair, so each offspring gets half of their chromosomes from their mother and half from their father.
A gene is the basic physical unit of inheritance. Genes are passed from parents to offspring and contain the information needed to specify traits. Genes are arranged, one after another, on structures called chromosomes. A chromosome contains a single, long DNA molecule, only a portion of which corresponds to a single gene. Humans have approximately 20,000 genes arranged on their chromosomes.
A nucleotide is the basic building block of nucleic acids. DNA is made of long chains of nucleotides. A nucleotide consists of a sugar molecule attached to a phosphate group and a base. The bases used in DNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are a type of genetic mutation involving variation of a single base pair. Scientists are continually studying how single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced snips), in the human genome correlate with disease, drug response, and other phenotypes.
An allele is one of two or more versions of a gene. An individual inherits two alleles for each gene, one from each parent. If the two alleles are the same, the individual is homozygous for that gene. If the alleles are different, the individual is said to be heterozygous.
A combination of alleles a specific person has at specific genetic locations that can determine different traits.
The set of observable characterists that an individual has. This results from the interaction of your genotype and the environment.
How Do You Know What My Genes Say?
All genes are written in the same basic language, and are made up of parts called nucleotides, abbreviated A,T,C, and G. Your “genotype” is your unique code of letters. Each strand of DNA is millions of letters long, and it is in these letters that our differences, called variants, can be found. Vitagene examines these differences by looking at a certain type of variant called a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism). A SNP occurs when a single one of these nucleotide letters (A, T, C, G) gets substituted for another. There are millions of known SNPs, and hundreds of thousands of genetic studies exploring the implication of each one.
You Are The Sum of All Your Parts
Your DNA is the blueprint for your life, and plays a key role in determining who you become. It can tell you about your risk levels of developing different health issues, including nutrient deficiences. What your DNA says is not final however, and research shows there are things you can do to counter your genetic predispositions. You are the sum of all your parts, including your diet, exercise, sleep, and the medications you take. Maybe your DNA says you have an increased risk for high cholesterol, but your DNA can also tell you how you process different foods and how you respond to various exercises that can help limit your risk. Vitagene analyzes your DNA alongside your lifestyle factors to help you understand your DNA and what it says about your health, but also to provide you with things you can do to change your future.
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