Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition

By William J. Walsh, PhD

Each of us has innate biochemical factors which influence personality, behavior, mental health, immune function, allergic tendencies, etc.  Scientists tell us that the number of different genetic combinations possible in a child from the same two parents exceeds 42 million.  It’s interesting to note that we do not possess a combination of characteristics from our parents, but instead have a diverse collection of characteristics from many ancestors on both sides of the family.Except for identical twins, each human being has unique biochemistry resulting in quite diverse nutritional needs.  Shakespeare was correct when he wrote “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”  For example, some of us are genetically suited for a vegetable-based diet and others are not.  Some persons can satisfy their nutritional needs by diet alone and others must have nutritional supplements to overcome genetic aberrations.Because of genetic differences in the way our bodies process foods, most of us are quite deficient in certain nutrients and overloaded in others.  Even with an ideal diet, most of us have certain nutrients that are at very low levels with many times the RDA required to achieve a healthy balance.  The nutrients in overload must be carefully avoided in vitamin supplements or serious health problems can develop.   After studying the biochemistry of 10,000 persons, we’ve learned that the greatest mischief is usually caused by nutrients that are stored in excessive amounts, rather than those at depleted levels.  The most common nutrients in overload include copper, iron, folic acid, calcium, methionine, manganese, choline, and omega-6 fatty acids.   Of course, these same nutrients may be in deficiency in other persons.  This is why we are concerned by supplement manufacturers who attempt to develop the ideal combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids for the general population.  This is a bit like trying to determine the ideal shoe size for the population.  The truth is that multiple vitamins and minerals are too indiscriminate, and may do as much harm as good.Each of us should ask the question, “Who am I nutritionally?” The answer to this question is important for all, but may be especially critical for persons with mental health problems.