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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Precision Nutrition: From Cell to Society

By Michael McBurney

The International Life Sciences Institute is holding its annual meeting. Monday, ILSI North America hosted a session entitled “Precision Nutrition: From Cell to Society”. Two speakers, Dr Steven Zeisel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Kannapolis and Dr Helene McNulty, University of Ulster, gave outstanding presentations on the interaction of genetics with nutrient requirements and health.

Zeisel started the session with an outstanding presentation on nutritional genomics. He reviewed the literature defining dietary choline requirements and the impact of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Building from Zeisel, 2011, he elegantly explained how ≥50% of premenopausal women may be resistant to choline deficiency because estrogen induces the phoshatidylethanolomine-N-methyltransferase (PEMT) gene that catalyzes endogenous choline synthesis. He discussed the increased nutrient requirements  of individual carrying specific SNPs. Without adequate nutrient intakes, these persons may be particularly sensitive to nutrient shortfalls.

McNulty also discussed personalized nutrition and folic acid requirements with respect to neural tube defects (Reilly et al, 2012). Then she reviewed the importance of optimizing riboflavin status to maintain blood pressure in genetically at-risk individuals (Wilson et al, 2012).

Some of the tweets have been storified here. The bottom line, as said by Dr Zeisel, "without knowing one’s personalized nutrient requirements, taking a multivitamin supplement is insurance to minimize risk of nutrient inadequacy".

ILSI will post videos of these presentations to their website. Visit the ILSI website to see these excellent presentations once they have been uploaded.


Zeisel SH. Nutritional genomics: defining the dietary requirements and effects of choline. 2011 J Nutr doi: 10.3945/jn.110.130369

Wilson CP, Ward M, McNulty H, Strain JJ, Trouton TG, Horigan G, Purvis J, Scott JM. Riboflavin offers a targeted strategy for managing hypertension in patients with the MTHFR 677TT genotype: a 4-y follow-up. 2012 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.026245

Reilly R, Ward M, McNulty B, Pentieva K, Scott JM, Marshall B, Molloy AM, Strain JJ, McNulty H. MTHFR 677 TT genotype and folate requirements for preventing neural tube defects: is there a case for  personalized nutrition? 2012 Proc Nutr Soc doi: 10.1017/S0029665112000869