Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is found inside the nucleus of almost every cell in the human body. It provides the instructions needed to build every protein of every tissue and organ. Throughout your lifetime, certain cells retain the ability to replicate themselves to replace old or dysfunctional cells with new ones. Cell replication requires the synthesis of new DNA so that the daughter cells contain the blueprints they require to function properly. The DNA of a human contains information for roughly 30,000 different genes. The cellular machinery used to synthesize DNA is subject to occasional error, from the totally unnoticeable to uncontrollable cell replication. Because some of the errors can lead to tissue dysfunction and disease, it is important to keep DNA protected and in good working order. Certain vitamins are important for the proper synthesis of DNA.
Vitamin B6 is converted by the body into an important coenzyme called pyridoxal phosphate, or PLP. This coenzyme participates in the synthesis of nucleic acids. The information stored in DNA is coded for by specific triplicate combinations of only four nucleic acids: guanine, adenine, cytosine and thymine.
Folate and Vitamin B12
Folate, also known as folic acid or folacin, is converted by the body into tetrahydrofuran or THF by vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 and THF are both important in the synthesis of the nucleotide bases that contribute to the information contained within the DNA.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamins C and E are protective of DNA because they serve as antioxidants. The biochemical reactions that cells undergo during normal metabolism produce a number of electrically charged substances known as free radicals. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are able to neutralize free radicals, thus preventing them from damaging DNA and tissues.
Phosphorus and Zinc
Zinc and phosphorus are ubiquitously used in the synthesis of DNA. Phosphorus is required to produce the "phosphate backbone" of the DNA helix, while zinc is used by the enzymes that initiate DNA replication.
- "Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function (5th Edition)"; Ken Saladin; 2010
- "Understanding Nutrition (11th Edition)"; Ellie Whitney and Shoron Rody Rolfes; 2007
- "The Chemical Biology of DNA Damage"; Nicholas E. Geacintov and Suse Broyde; 2010