Diet as a key factor in determining genomic stability is more important than previously imagined because we now know that it impacts on all relevant pathways, namely exposure to dietary carcinogens, activation/detoxification of carcinogens, DNA repair, DNA synthesis and apoptosis.
Current recommended dietary allowances for vitamins and minerals are based largely on the prevention of diseases of deficiency such as scurvy in the case of vitamin C. Because diseases of development, degenerative disease and aging itself are partly caused by damage to DNA it seems logical that we should focus better our attention on defining optimal requirements of key minerals and vitamins for preventing damage to both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
To date, our knowledge on optimal micronutrient levels for genomic stability is scanty and disorganised. However, there is already sufficient evidence to suggest that marginal deficiencies in folate, vitamin B12, niacin and zinc impact significantly on spontaneous chromosome damage rate.
The recent data for folate and vitamin B12 in humans with respect to micronucleus formation in blood and epithelial cells provide compelling evidence of the important role of these micronutrients in maintenance of genome integrity and the need to revise current RDAs for these micronutrients based on minimisation of DNA damage.
Appropriately designed in vitro studies and in vivo placebo controlled trials with dose responses using a complementary array of DNA damage biomarkers are required to define recommended dietary allowances for genomic stability. Furthermore these studies would have to be targeted to individuals with common genetic polymorphisms that alter the bioavailability of specific micronutrients and the affinity of specific key enzymes involved in DNA metabolism for their micronutrient co-factor.
That there is a need for an international collaborative effort to establish RDAs for genomic stability is self-evident.
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