Superoxide dismutase 2 – my genetic timebomb?

time-running-outNearly 2 years after receiving my 23andme genetic information, I’m still piecing together the puzzle but… my SOD2 polymorphisms are starting to look more and more like the ticking time bomb. Or, maybe a better metaphor is a bridge that crumbled underneath of me slowly for years and then suddenly washed away.

For those who’ve done either their 23andMe or AncestryDNA test, this is a link to check your results for SOD SNPs. Click “View Report” to get your results.

From my genetics report:

SOD2 rs2758331 A AA +/+
SOD2 rs2855262 T CT +/-
SOD2 A16V rs4880 G GG +/+
The SOD2 gene is a member of the iron/manganese superoxide dismutase family. This protein transforms toxic superoxide, a byproduct of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, into hydrogen peroxide and diatomic oxygen. The more energy your mitochondria produce, the more byproducts (free radicals) get produced. The toxic byproducts tear up cell membranes and walls through a process called oxidative stress.  Mutations in the SOD2 gene diminish your ability to transform these toxic byproducts into harmless (and beneficial) components.

livewello-sod2Not all of my SOD2 genes are defective — I was relatively healthy at 10 years old. A more complete picture of my SOD2 flaws at the right comes from

What probably happened is that heavy metals and possibly other toxins began to interfere with my already limited production of SOD2. Mercury is known to disrupt the functioning of many many enzymes in your body and I did find some evidence that SOD2 maybe one of them (see study 1 and study 2).

Mercury is the most potent enzyme inhibitor that exists; it is in a class of its own and well deserves its title as the most toxic non-radioactive element. Since mercury and lead attach themselves… read more

While mercury can disrupt the functioning of a critical enzyme like SOD2, it also induces additional oxidative stress making my diminishing supply of SOD2 even less adequate.

Here’s where the vicious cycle gets even darker – as my body’s supply of life-giving superoxide dismutase 2 (also known as MnSOD or manganese superoxide dismutase) was diminishing, my body produced less hydrogen peroxide and less oxygen as a consequence, thereby allowing mold and pathogens to proliferate in my gut.

Molds produce mycotoxins and pathogens produce other toxins further increasing oxidative stress.

The end result? My SOD2 levels are  insufficient to cope with the natural oxidative stress caused by walking up a few flights of stairs. That’s chronic fatigue in a nutshell.

As I write this, it’s feeling kind of tragic. But fortunately, not all genetic flaws are irreparable. Remember that I was healthy when I was 10 years old. My physical endurance was probably low (but at the time I still didn’t know it).

Remarkably, I may be in luck because there are some ways of treating SOD deficiency:

  • Extramel – note this is an SOD1 supplement, not SOD2. You can read about it at LEF, who also makes supplements containing Extramel: Endothelial DefenseSODzyme and Liver Efficiency Formula.
  • Fullerene (C60) – Buckminsterfullerene, also known as fullerene C60, is a sphere-like molecule made entirely of carbon atoms. Fullerene C60 is composed of 60 carbon atoms arranged in hexagon formations that combine to form a hollow spherical structure, giving it the nickname “buckyball”. C60 molecules often aggregate into large particles.  As a substance, it is highly stable but also insoluble in water, unless it is in its hydrated form. A derivative of the fullerene C60 molecule (C3) has been shown capable of removing the biologically important superoxide radical with a rate constant (k(C3)) of 2 x 10(6) mol(-1) s(-1), approximately 100-fold slower than the superoxide dismutases (SOD).
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – recommended by Dr. Cutler in the 500 to 4,000 mg range for raising blood glutathione. He says that people who are sensitive to paint fumes exhaust or the preservatives BHT, BHA, and TBHQ and other hydrocarbons are most likely to benefit. NAC is a slightly modified version of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. When taken internally, NAC replenishes intracellular levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione (GSH, often deficient with advancing age and in chronic illness), helping to restore cells’ ability to fight damage from reactive oxygen species (ROS). NAC also regulates expression of scores of genes in the pathways that link oxidative stress to inflammation. These dual effects give NAC a unique role in the prevention and treatment of many common diseases, both acute and chronic. NAC protects tissues from the effects of exercise-induced oxidative stress, adding value and safety to your workout. Has been shown to reduce oxidative stress in workers with lead exposure.
  • Pycnogenol – patented formulation of Pine Bark Extract standardized to 65-75% Procyanidin compounds (chain-like structures consisted of catechins similar to some found in green tea), shown to increase SOD1 and SOD2 and inhibit HIV.
  • Reservatrol – a type of natural phenol, (and thiol) produced naturally by several plants in response to injury or when the plant is under attack by pathogens such as bacteria or fungi (see study listing other SOD2 enhancers)
  • Spirulina – a cyanobacterium that can be consumed by humans and other animals, is often contaminated and has a bad reputation with Dr. Cutler’s chelation fans (see exercise study).
  • Tempola superoxide dismutase mimetic that belongs to a class of non-thiol-containing radiation protectors, and has the ability to permeate the membrane. Read more here, check out the patent or learn the chemistry.

Of course, I might be barking up the wrong tree… perfect storms are messy and all of these issues are somewhat murky because so little information is available and there’s often contradictory information. For now, though, I feel like I’m on the verge of a big breakthrough!

UPDATE: A reader commented that the way to boost SOD/SOD2 is to supplement manganese. Remembering Dr. Cutler’s discussion of manganese as it relates to mercury toxicity, I decided to have my manganese levels tested and guess what? my levels were so low they were almost not measurable. I’ve been supplementing now (September 8, 2015) for three or four months and they’ve just entered the normal range at the low-end.

Please share if you know of any other ways to treat SOD2 flaws.


Print Friendly
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • avatar

    Denise October 22, 2016, 3:44 am

    Have you tried the Buckminsterfullerene? I have been wondering about that for a while…..Thanks!

    • avatar

      Eric October 22, 2016, 5:52 pm

      I never did – always trying to stay focused on the root causes of my illness.

  • avatar

    Jenn July 7, 2016, 3:49 pm

    What about the Sod supplement by Seeking Health??

    • avatar

      Eric July 7, 2016, 8:00 pm

      what about it?

  • avatar

    Mikhail July 6, 2016, 8:09 pm

    Have you tried just buy superoxide dismutase in pills? I’ve seen such pills on iherb and I’m going to try.

    • avatar

      Eric July 7, 2016, 7:57 pm

      No, I haven’t… which ones will you try?

      • avatar

        Mikhail July 7, 2016, 8:00 pm

        • avatar

          Eric July 10, 2016, 6:01 pm

          Thanks, I just ordered it Mikhail since it is not too expensive – the first time I looked at it a year ago or so, if I remember correctly, I decided not to buy it because it’s SOD1 not SOD2…

          • avatar

            Tara Schuchter October 11, 2016, 4:11 am

            Did you buy this product for your SOD2? If so, have you seen any improvement? Has it had any type of negative impact or affected other minerals? Thank you for any information.

            • avatar

              Eric October 11, 2016, 5:18 pm

              Which product Tara?

  • avatar

    Julian March 3, 2016, 2:45 am

    There was a discussion about manganese from Mthfr Support on facebook, interestingly it claimed that people treating themselves with high doses of magnesium were unintentionally depleting their manganese. If you have SOD2 snps that makes it that much worse. It also links to an article that claims the weedkiller glyphosate chelates manganese. All together, the perfect storm.

    By the way, I seem to have the same SOD2 snps as you based on the 23andMe results. I wonder how common this particular variance is?

    • avatar

      Eric April 1, 2016, 4:21 pm

      That is super interesting Julian because I have been taking very very large quantities of magnesium for years and that might explain why my manganese was barely detectable. I’ve been titrating up manganese for four or five months and I’m at 200 mg per day now. I test monthly and hoping to get into the middle of the normal range soon. thanks for sharing that!

    • avatar

      Simon Saunder June 21, 2016, 4:09 am

      Whats the latest with the supplementing manganese?

      • avatar

        Eric June 27, 2016, 4:58 pm

        I’m taking 200 mg per day and my blood work shows I am just above the low range limit – I’m nervous about taking more so will probably just continue at 200 mg. I think this may have fixed my blood sugar problems as I’m no longer overweight and not gaining in spite of eating as much as I like… Still have tight muscles though.

  • avatar

    denise chapman February 13, 2016, 4:00 pm

    i read your paragraph on Fullerene but I don’t understand it. :). Does it mean that it helps by removing a bad version of SOD? Thanks!

    • avatar

      Eric February 13, 2016, 4:43 pm

      My recollection is that it’s a mimetic – meaning that it mimics SOD2. so it’s a little like hormone replacement. some people take hormones when their body doesn’t make enough. In the same way some people take Fullerene when their body doesn’t make enough SOD2.

  • avatar

    Kelly February 7, 2016, 6:23 pm

    HI Erik,

    I was wondering where you read that Extramel helps with SOD1, but not SOD2 polymorphisms?

    • avatar

      Eric February 7, 2016, 8:39 pm

      Sorry Kelly, this was too long ago… one of the reasons I blog is because my memory is terrible!

  • avatar

    Greg December 16, 2015, 10:49 am

    I have a chronic exhaustion issue 14 years. Recently tested very high lead and mercury, mould, yeast, lyme, virus, methylation and detox gene mutations, and now I read this article and I notice these following gene mutations;

    SOD2 rs2758331 A AC +/-
    SOD2 rs4880 G AG +/-
    SOD3 rs2855262 C CC +/+

    Do all of these supplements work for everyone or is one unique to the individual. How to choose which one of these supplements? How big a factor is SOD in the greater scheme of things? I sense detox is a big part of the problem for me. I’m doing ozone for a few months now and have improved considerably, but still have a ways to go. I still wake in considerable pain and distress, non-restorative sleep but improved, and I now wonder if that is a detox issue, my body’s inability to detox through the night and the wake pain and discomfort is being overly toxic. When I get up, walk around, have a big glass of water, the pain and discomforts decrease considerably and quickly.

    • avatar

      Eric December 18, 2015, 5:56 pm

      Wish I could answer those questions for you Greg, but I just don’t know. The supplements are so expensive that proper experimentation is really beyond my budget. When I am killing and eliminating biofilm with ozone, I feel like garbage and of course don’t sleep well either.. my impression is there’s no supplement that can compete with the scale of the toxins moving through my digestive system. I’m currently doing 200 mg a day of acetyl-glutathione which is very expensive but well documented. I still feel sick. Just got to clean the pipes out in my opinion.

      • avatar

        Greg December 19, 2015, 2:04 pm

        Thanks for the feedback. I’m also reading up regulating NRf2 with R-lipoic acid is good for detox, especially metals and mercury, and it looks quite cheap. Ozone has made a big big difference for me, but I sense it’s not a cure but more helping my body get back online, the rest is up to me, and the rest is a lot of work, but worth it.

        • avatar

          Eric December 19, 2015, 4:23 pm

          Greg, make sure to read Dr. Cutler’s books before you experiment with lipoic acid – you can do very severe permanent damage to yourself if you’re unlucky… Or, you may get healthy quickly using frequent dose chelation using his methods.

          • avatar

            Ally December 19, 2015, 5:38 pm

            Eric- there is 50mg of alpha lipoic acid in the multivitamin my functional Dr recommended (ONE by pure encapsulations). She said it was an antioxidant. Is is still harmful at that dose??

            • avatar

              Eric December 19, 2015, 5:54 pm

              YES in the right circumstances for the right person, it could be big trouble. 50 mg is a significant dose for anyone with mercury toxicity.

              • avatar

                Ally December 19, 2015, 7:22 pm

                Ok, thank you! Is there a multi you recommend? I don’t have mercury toxicity, and neither does my husband (that I know of).

                • avatar

                  Eric January 3, 2016, 5:24 pm

                  No, sorry but I don’t like or use multivitamins… the problem for me is that if I react poorly to one there’s no way to know what ingredient is causing a problem.

  • avatar

    Ally November 26, 2015, 7:24 pm

    What are your thoughts on high SOD enzymatic activity? I did the Genova oxidative stress profile and all that came back was low sulphate levels and very high SOD enzyme activity. All other markers were normal, including glutathione, lipid peroxidase, etc. The interpretive guide said this could be from Inflammation or infection,Environmental toxicity,impaired glucose tolerance,Alcoholism,Homocysteinemia. My best guesses are infection/inflammation since I have high EBV titers and possibly Lyme. I don’t drink and my homocysteine is normal. I was just curious if you knew anything about how to counteract this or bring the levels down. Thank you!!

    • avatar

      Eric November 28, 2015, 4:36 pm

      I don’t know what high SOD enzymatic activity means. Kind of sounds like a good thing to me… I’d recommend you read everything I’ve written about ozone therapy for your EBV / Lyme.

  • avatar

    Helen McDonald November 15, 2015, 11:21 pm

    I can’t drink coffee anymore as it triggers a bad flare of rosacea but do drink black tea. If you’re wondering whether the coffee enemas affect me the same way as a cup of coffee, no, not at all. I get no buzz, no shakiness the way I would with coffee, also no speedy activity. It’s more like instant endorphins, a feeling of wellness. I can do them in the evening too and I fall asleep no problem. Coffee would keep me awake until 3 am if I had a cup any time after 4 pm. I’m a slow coffee metabolizer.

    I’m waiting for results of a SIBO lactulose breath test and the pre-test diet was very difficult as it required 2 weeks without enemas. I felt sluggish and slow most of those 2 weeks. Feel much better since then 🙂

    Hoping your recovery continues. Thanks for your excellent blog!

    • avatar

      Eric November 28, 2015, 4:42 pm

      that’s exactly what I was wondering, very very interesting Helen, thanks for sharing!

"...nothing ever goes away
until it has taught us
what we need to know.
-Pema Chodron

"God, whose law it is that all who learn must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."


My name is Eric - I‘m 46 and saw a doctor for fatigue at 17. I lived fairly normally if a little subdued by lack of endurance at times. But then, 12 years ago I fell into a nosedive after moving to South Florida. Now, I know heavy metal toxicity is a significant source of my troubles along with genetic methylation cycle dysfunction. I spent 18 months chelating the metals out and starting up methylation but stopped when I felt myself circling the drain. Currently doing liver, colon, kidney and parasite cleanses. More about me here.

Timeline and current dosing:

Rounds completed: 29
Total chelation days: 125
Dose: 25 mg DMSA and 25 mg ALA every 3 hrs

* supplements
* hair test
* genetics
* lessons learned

"Battles are won in their darkest hours. Wars are won by learning something from each battle."

Recent Comments

Top Real Time Analytics