About Nucleic Acid

DNA and RNA: Nucleic acids that support good health at the genetic level.

DNA: Where our genetic information is stored Human life begins from a single cell that contains 46 chromosomes in its nucleus, 23 inherited from each parent. These 46 chromosomes contain the genetic instructions for creating a living, functioning human being. Each chromosome is a molecule of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), a type of nucleic acid that consists of two strands of nucleotides linked together in a double helix formation. Each individual nucleotide is composed of a nitrogenous base, a sugar called deoxyribose, and a phosphate group.

The four types of nitrogenous bases used to make DNA nucleotides are guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine. It is the sequence of these four nitrogenous bases that creates the unique codes for the over 20,000 genes stored within the 46 molecules of DNA in the nucleus of each cell. These genes contain the instructions for creating proteins and other components that every cell in the body requires to perform its function.

Through a process of cell division, by the time a person reaches adulthood their body will consist of tens of trillions of cells, all containing the same genetic information as the original cell. Generally speaking, if the DNA sequence remains intact, a cell will continue to function and divide normally. However, over the lifetime of a cell, DNA is frequently damaged due to a range of internal and external factors. Examples of factors that contribute to DNA damage include oxidative stress, UV radiation, and exposure to harmful chemicals. This damage can cause errors in the sequence of the nitrogenous bases, which may lead to potentially serious illnesses. Fortunately, a DNA repair mechanism exists that is capable of detecting errors in the sequence of the nitrogenous bases and restoring the original sequence.

Both cell division and the DNA repair process are dependent on an adequate supply of nucleotides. Over 12 billion nucleotides are required just to make the DNA in a single cell.

RNA: Vital to the gene expression process Another type of nucleic acid, RNA, consists of only a single strand of nucleotides. Also, for RNA nucleotides deoxyribose is replaced with a ribose sugar and the nitrogenous base thymine is replaced with uracil.

RNA plays a key role in converting genetic information stored in DNA into the proteins needed for each cell to perform its function. First, a copy of the gene containing the instructions for making the required protein is made from messenger RNA (mRNA) through a process known as transcription. This mRNA copy of the genetic instructions then travels outside of the cell's nucleus and links up with a ribosome, which contains ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Based on the instructions encoded in the mRNA (determined by the sequence of the nitrogenous bases) the necessary amino acids are transported to the ribosome by transfer RNA (tRNA), a third type of RNA, and linked together in the specified order to create the required protein.

In addition to RNA's fundamental role in the gene expression/protein synthesis process, it has recently been established that several other varieties of RNA known as non-coding RNA (microRNA, etc.) play an integral role in the regulation of gene expression.

In summary, two types of nucleic acid - DNA and RNA - exist within every cell of the human body. DNA is the genetic blueprint for creating the proteins and other components necessary for sustaining life, and RNA plays a vital role in gene expression, protein synthesis, and the regulation of gene expression.

It is crucial that an adequate supply of nucleotides - the building blocks of DNA and RNA - is maintained in order to ensure optimal cell function.

Nucleotide synthesis and supplementation Owing to the cell division, DNA repair, and gene expression that occurs constantly throughout a human's life, it stands to reason that the body needs a stable supply of nucleotides. Fortunately, in addition to being able to reuse existing nucleotides, the human body is capable of synthesizing nucleotides through a process known as de novo synthesis. This process occurs mainly in the liver.

It is also important to note that the body is capable of obtaining nucleotides by breaking down nucleic acids contained in the foods we eat. This dietary source of nucleotides becomes particularly important as the ability of the liver to synthesize nucleotides declines with age. Unfortunately, eating foods rich in nucleic acid is not as easy as it once was. The modern diet tends to be heavy on processed foods and light on nucleic acid-rich foods.

Taking a nucleic acid supplement is one way to boost your daily intake of nucleotides, which will help you to maintain good health.