All About Redheads

The relationship of Adrenalin, Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Eumelanin

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Abstract

Redheads have reduced levels of Eumelanin compared to the rest of the population. But because of correlates in cell biology, reduced levels of Eumelanin may be accompanied by comparably reduced levels of Epinephrine (Adrenalin), Dopamine, Serotonin, and Oxytocin as well. The resulting change in demeanor and the diminished energy for Fight or Flight make redheads more likely to turn to non-military solutions to threatening circumstances. Is it any wonder redheads are over-represented in the Cerebral Arts?

All About Redheads

Some time ago, I saw an episode of Nova on PBS that was all about Man’s Best Friend.

One of the interesting tidbits of scientific data had to do with breeding foxes, wolves (and dogs) to be tame.

As successive generations became tamer, their coat color also lightened up.

Whyizzat?

Turns out that wildness/tameness has to do with conditioning the Fear
Response. When an animal is in the wild, things are a lot more dicey, a
lot more dangerous. The Fear Response System pumps a lot more Adrenalin
in a wild animal than in one that is tame and docile.

As the
body’s need for stores of heart-pumping adrenalin subsides, the
metabolism of adrenalin production eases back proportionately.


So breeding out wildness and breeding in tameness changes the body
chemistry in such a way as to reduce the production of all the
metabolic products of Phenylanine and Tyrosine, including Adrenalin,
Dopamine, Serotonin, Oxytocin, and Eumelanin.

Adrenalin, like
all proteins and neuropeptides, is assembled out of Amino Acids — the
building blocks of life. Adrenaline (epinephrine) belongs to a class of small-molecule neurotransmitters known as catecholamines. There are about 22 Amino Acids. They are like
the letters of the alphabet. And, like the letters Q and X, some are
found in only a few unusual words (like Quixotic and Toxique). Two
Amino Acids in particular go into the making of Adrenalin:
Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. Phenylalanine is an essential Amino Acid, meaning we obtain it through dietary intake. Tyrosine is a nonessential Amino Acid that is synthesized in the body from Phenylalanine.

But Tyrosine has other uses in the metabolic life of the animal. It’s
also an essential building block of Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Eumelanin. It
also plays a role in the production of Serotonin.

Eumelanin? Why ain’t that the pigment that turns your skin and hair dark?

Why it sure is.

Pathway for Production of Epinephrine (Adrenalin)

In humans, redheads are way over-represented in Math, Logic, Science, Philosophy, and Comedy.

Whyizzat? High levels of Adrenalin (Epinephrine) are associated with
Athleticism and Anxiety. Low levels of Adrenalin are associated with
Scholarship and Coolness. And one of the markers for that is the
associated low levels of Eumelanin — e.g. redheadedness.

If you
watch that PBS Nova episode, you will notice something remarkable.
About half the scientists and dog-lovers featured on the show are
blonds and red-heads. As are the tamer breeds of dogs and wolves.

Socrates, Galileo, and Darwin were redheads. So was King David, Vincent
van Gogh, Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson. Queen Elizabeth I and
Winston Churchill were redheads. The legendary King Arthur was said to
be a redhead. JK Rowling is a redhead. So is Jane Goodall.

For
years I’ve wondered why so many of the people who share my interest in
science, math, philosophy, comedy, and the bardic arts were redheads
like myself. On the other hand, redheads make lousy soldiers, since
soldiers need lots of Adrenalin. There was only one notable redheaded
General in American history, and he was one of the worst Generals the
US Cavalry ever had. His name was George Custer.

Now I have a credible theory to explain it.

Here are photomicrographs of Tyrosine and Phenylalanine:

Tyrosine

Hydroxyphenyl amino acid that is used to build neurotransmitters and hormones.

Tyrosine
is metabolically synthesized from phenylalanine to become the
para-hydroxy derivative of that important amino acid. This hydroxylated
amino acid participates in the synthesis of many important biochemicals
including the thyroid hormones, the melanin biological pigments, and
the catecholamines, an important class of biological regulators.
Tyrosine is incorporated into proteins and enzymes at the molar rate of
3.5 percent with respect to the other amino acids.

Phenylalanine

Most common aromatic amino acid found in proteins.

Phenylalanine
is an essential amino acid that is also one of the aromatic amino acids
that exhibit ultraviolet radiation absorption properties with a large
extinction coefficient. This characteristic is often used as an
analytical tool to quantify the amount of protein in a sample.
Phenylalanine plays a key role in the biosynthesis of other amino acids
and some neurotransmitters. It is the most commonly found aromatic
amino acid in proteins and enzymes with a molar ratio of 3.5 percent
compared to the other amino acids, about double the amount of any other
aromatic amino acid.

Micrograph Sources: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/aminoacids/index.html

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