[N]early 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:
|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.
Not 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 livewello.com.
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 Defense, SODzyme 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).
- Tempol – a 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.