An abundance of scientific findings have been circulated about redheads over the past decade, from affirming their place in the ranks of endangered species to asserting that they have lower thresholds for pain and heat. But here’s a new facet of redheaded existence not yet explored: The same gene that developed red hair has been found to be associated with a missing enzyme required to break down xanthine.
Xanthine is a purine base that plays a role in the formation of DNA and is converted into uric acid. A lack of the enzyme needed to break down xanthine may lead to redheads having higher levels of uric acid and an accumulation of xanthines. This, in turn, may translate in the body as inflammation and pain in the joints.
In order to address this imbalance, redheads can turn to foods rich in molybdenum. Molybdenum is an element that catalyzes the breakdown of uric acid and therefore may help relieve joint pain and swelling. So where does a redhead go to get a healthy dose of molybdenum?
Beans and legumes contain more molybdenum per serving than any other food. A single cup of cooked navy beans contains 196 micrograms of molybdenum, which is more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of the mineral for both women and men. Other molybdenum-rich bean and legume choices include black-eyed peas, with 180 micrograms per cup; lentils and split peas, which both have 148 micrograms in a cooked cup; and kidney beans, which contain 132 micrograms of molybdenum in each cup.
Nuts are slightly less abundant, but still excellent sources of molybdenum. Almonds contain 46.4 micrograms of molybdenum per cup, while a cup of peanuts has 42.4 micrograms. Cashews contain slightly less — 38 micrograms of molybdenum per cup — but still fulfill about 84 percent of a man or woman’s RDA of the nutrient.
While these factoids may be particularly pertinent to redheads, there’s a takeaway here for folks of every hair hue: Our body’s distinct genetic differences may significantly influence how well we process a diversity of biochemicals. In turn, we may face unique challenges in the way our genes express themselves. The best way to balance out these differences is to become as knowledgeable as we can about our individual particularities.
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