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Vitamins that Protect and Repair DNA to Prevent Cancer and Slow Aging

Vitamins that Protect and Repair DNA to Prevent Cancer and Slow Aging

Picture of Paul House

What are the causes of cancer? What makes us older? If lifestyle choices like smoking cigarettes or drinking cola increase our risk of cancer, what can we do to try reverse or change these decisions? Is it even possible to reverse the damage? How proven are these theories?

An article published in Clinical Nutrition analyzed the role of vitamins in DNA repair and protection. The repair and protection of DNA is thought to play a critical role in preventing cancer and slowing aging. This article looked specifically at nutrient–gene interactions with the hope of finding vitamins that could be used as a kind of diet medication.

Carotenoids (vitamin A precursors) such as beta-carotene are now conclusively considered anti-oxidants which ensure genomic stability. Their role in preventing cancer, however, is still considered somewhat controversial, with some studies reporting that carotenoids prevent cancer, and other studies reporting no effect.

Vitamin B12 and folate have also been found as essential for DNA metabolism. In short folic acid and B12 are required for the maintenance of DNA conformation and methylation patterns. The exact concentrations required to maintain DNA integrity are unknown. There is also increasing evidence that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) might affect the activity of the proteins required for the absorption, transport, and metabolism of b12 and folic acid. In other words the amount of vitamin B12 and folic acid you absorb depends on your own genome, or genetic fingerprint.

Vitamin D has also been shown to play a role in stabilizing DNA structure, and has been proven to help in bone health, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and possibly cancer. The idea of taking vitamin D supplements should be approached with caution, however, as too much is potentially toxic to the body.

Vitamin E is lipid peroxyl radical scavenger which makes it very effective at reducing chromosome damage. However, there is mixed evidence if vitamin E supplements play a role in reducing heart disease, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.

In summary, vitamins play an important role in maintaining DNA integrity and stability. Key vitamins to eat include beta-carotene, Vitamin B12, folate (B9), Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.

Thanks for reading, please see the original post on vitamins, cancer, and aging at


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That article links to a 2003 article in Clinical Nutrition.

Picture of Paul House

Thanks for your comment, I suppose recent was not a well chosen adjective. I appreciate any other suggestions.

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That particular study was a little dated but the topic has currency. I'm seeing a lot of new research coming out about vitamins and their impact on genes. I was doing a background search on these studies and that's how I found your blog. Keep up the good work!

Picture of Peter Lipson

Meh.  This whole worship of "anti-oxidants" is evidence-free, and some rather famous studies have show that carotenoids may increase the risk of some cancers. The headline in particular is a pretty inaccurate reflection of the science.


There are no convincing studies that vitamin supplementation prevents cancer.  

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Highly innacurate.

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My mother ate many nuts which were very very greasy. None of our entire family had pimples. But me and my brother got a bad case. I heard on the news once that what a person eats could affect DNA and pass it on to their children. Is this true?


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