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X Fact
July 23, 2020
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Can Gene Mutations Be Inherited and What Does This Have to Do With Nutrition?

Gene mutations are very common and can occur spontaneously or can be inherited. A gene is made up of the distinct characteristic of the father and the distinct characteristic of the mother, each carried in the DNA code in a single allele to make up the functional gene in the offspring. In other words, each gene has two alleles (one each from each parent). If the same trait is carried by both parents, the gene in the child is homozygous. When only one allele carries the trait, the gene is called heterozygous. This match up can have huge implications if an inherited gene has a mutation (like a SNP - pronounced SNIP) that produces a less effective enzyme for metabolizing an important nutrient like folate, choline or vitamin B12.

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Words You May Not Know
Allele
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Allele

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 heterozygous.

Gene
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Gene

The 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.

Homozygous
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Homozygous

Genotypes are described as homozygous if there are two identical alleles at a particular locus. Alleles contribute to the organism's phenotype, which is the outward appearance of the organism.

Heterozygous
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Heterozygous

Genotypes are described as heterozygous if the two alleles of a gene differ. Alleles contribute to the organism's phenotype, which is the outward appearance of the organism. Some alleles are dominant or recessive. When an organism is heterozygous at a specific locus and carries one dominant and one recessive allele, the organism will express the dominant phenotype.

Allele

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 heterozygous.

Who Wrote This
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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