Saturday, January 24, 2009

Something about zinc

The importance of zinc for human health was first documented in 1963. Ananda S. Prasad had studied it first in Iran and then in Egypt where he discovered that a syndrome marked by short stature and hypogonadism, which delays bone maturation, was caused by zinc deficiency. As late as 1991 he wrote that it is required for DNA synthesis, cell division and gene expression. It is needed for enzyme activity as well as cell mediated immunity.

Discovery of Human Zinc deficiency and Studies in an Experimental Human Model, by Ananda S. Prasad; Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:403-12.

I was first made aware of the need for zinc when my son Erik was found to be deficient in that element in 1999. This was discovered through a set of circumstances I do not want to go into right now. The story is too long. But what is significant is that his deficiency was discovered many years after Prasad's first report. Erik is very short and his bone age in 1999 was at about age 12 at a time he was already 28 years old. It leaves me at a loss that zinc supplementation long ago might have kept him from suffering. Erik has many broken bones. With zinc supplementation he might have reached his genetically intended height, and he might have had fewer broken bones.

I discovered by reading this report that there is a connection of zinc to Vitamin D. Without zinc in the intestines a person cannot absorb calcium very well from food. Interesting, isn't it?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is it genetic?

The term genetic keeps coming up. They say autism is genetic. It seems to me everything alive has something to do with genetics, at least loosely speaking. But when it comes right down to it, an affliction is genetic only when one gene is affecting one expression of that gene, and it is expressed or it is not expressed depending on whether it's dominant or recessive. I'll leave it at that even though there is a lot more to it than just that.

Now getting to autism, is it genetic? It is probably genetic, meaning there is a genetic susceptibility. But while brown hair is truly depending on just one gene, autism depends on much more than just one gene. If autism were indeed as solidly tied to just one gene as brown hair is, there would be many more cases of autism because of the Mendelian laws of genetics.

Taking it from there, true autism also is not likely to be passed on within a family because truly autistic people are not likely to have children. But let's say they do. Let's say a mildly autistic person gets married and has children. The children might be mildly autistic or severely autistic. The severely autistic offspring would not be likely to have offspring. That genetic material would not be passed on. Generally survival of the fittest allows offspring with better genes to have a better chance at survival. Because this is so, eventually most severe cases of autism would be eliminated unless there are mutations. That, of course, is quite possible in autism.

In order for mutations to happen in large quantities, there have to be triggering factors. So what are triggering factors? Triggering factors are events or substances in the environment. Toxins such as mercury might be good triggering factors for mutations of genes toward autism. In any case genes do not do it by themselves, and that is all I want to convey this time.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Feathers Permitting, I'll Fly

My motto for 2009 is: "Feathers Permitting I'll Fly." Since I don't have any wings nor feathers, it is as good a statement for next year as any. I am not sure I'll be able to grow wings but let's hope comparable miracles are possible.

The idea of flying is there in my dreams if only on gossamer wings. Let's hope they work well enough to take me where I wish to go.