Red Hair Genes & Melanin

This is Part I of a 5-part investigation into the possible epigenetic causes of Red Hair, O and Rh- Blood Types, their effects on the ATP energy production, and EMF sensitivity in the human body. Much of this information is simply cut and pasted from scientific journals. I apologize for not properly documenting and quoting all my sources, but I began collecting information informally without an intention to publish originally.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity which are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. One example of epigenetic change is DNA methylation — the addition of a methyl group, or a “chemical cap,” to part of the DNA molecule, which prevents certain genes from being expressed.

My hypothesis is that consuming large amounts of oysters rather than red meat led to a Copper deficiency among our ancestors which over time induced adaptive genetic changes. This conclusion is based on the fact that oysters contain very high levels of Zinc which competes with and inhibits Copper absorption in the small intestine. Because oysters actually have a great deal of Copper as well, constant overconsumption leads to a very high concentrations of un-digested Copper in the blood plasma and symptoms of imbalances, both Copper toxicity, as well as deficiency. Many of the symptoms of red hair and the illnesses that affect redheads appear highly correlated with symptoms of Copper imbalances.

Copper is required for the functioning of many enzymes, such as cytochrome c oxidase, the mitochondrial electron transport chainceruloplasmin, Copper/Zinc superoxide dismutase, and in amine oxidases. These enzyme catalyze reactions for oxidative phosphorylation, iron transportation, antioxidant and free radical scavenging and neutralization, and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Due to the many alleles that causes red hair, this imbalance appears to have affected our genetics several different times, and in many ways, depending on other dietary factors that were present in oyster consuming communities.


  • Red Hair is caused by SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism).
  • Redheads have a high abundance of pheomelanin, and very little eumelanin.
    • Photosensitizing pheomelanins are opposed to photoprotective eumelanins.
  • In most mammals, the switch between these pigments is controlled by the MC1R and Agouti genes.
    • Variants of this receptor, some of which are known to differ in their ability to activate adenylyl cyclase, are associated with various coat colors in mice, cattle, horses, foxes, and chickens.
  • 80% of Red Hair stems from recessive MC1R gene mutations.
    • MC1R is a gene that encodes a protein of 317 amino acids. [link]
    • There are over 400 variations of the MC1R gene.
    • There are 30 definite known alleles know to cause red hair, and up to 53.
    • MC1R is a seven layer transmembrane G-protein coupled-receptor for alpha-melanocyte simulation hormone.
    • MC1R is expressed in several cell types, including melanocytes and keratinocytes (hair genes).
    • Phenotype (the way someone looks) is different from genotype (the genes they carry).
      • Red Hair Color is also know as (RHC) phenotype to geneticists.
      • People with red hair almost always display the phenotype at birth.
      • People with the recessive genotype for red hair as well as the genes coding for dark hair, display the dominant dark hair phenotype.
      • It’s common for the phenotype to change with age, turning hair blond or brown.
    • MC1R seems to be involved in the central functions in the brain and inflammatory response.
      • MC1R is a pain receptor gene in the brain.
      • Redheads require 20-25% more anesthesia and less pain killers.
      • Redheads are more sensitive to thermal changes and pain induced by extreme temps.
        • Pain tolerance threshold at 2000 Hz stimulation in redheads was 11.0 mA [8.5, 16.5] vs. >20.0 mA for non redheads.
        • MC1R dysfunction could possibly modulate a response to any stimulus that might be perceived as painful.
    • The MC1R mutation also primarily affects adrenaline and hormones.
      • MC1R effects the pituitary tissue, glial cells, and cells of the periaqueductal gray matter.
      • All MCR1 mutations entail 1 of 2 loss of function mutations that make the MC1R protein less capable of receiving extracellular signals.
        • 1) It will be less able to bind with the signaling molecules.
        • 2) It will be less capable of embedding in the cell membrane, and thus, there is less of it to respond to signals.
      • Adrenal exhaustion symptoms include:
        • Cravings: certain foods, salty, sweets.
        • Fatigue, body aches, low blood pressure.
    • A possible explanation is that MC1R mutation upregulates production of the receptor’s primary ligands, melanocortins including α-MSH, which also stimulates other melanocortin receptors — including the melanocortin 4 receptor that modulates cold. [LINK]
  • Nucleotide Codes, Amino Acid Codes, and Genetic Codes:
  • Depending on the mutation, hair color will range from strawberry blond to auburn.
    • (V92M, (V60L), & (R163Q) – Cause weak RHC phenotype, (aka strawberry blond hair)
    • (R151C & (D84E) – Causes distinct RHC phenotype.
    • (R160W), (D294H),(R142H) & (Asp84Glu) – Causes distinct RHC phenotype and pale skin.
  • Due to a lack of eumelanin, all redheads are more susceptible to melanoma.
    • Seven variants significantly correlated with melanoma development.
      • (D84E), (R142H), (R151C), (I155T), (R160W), (R163Q) and (D294H)
    • Different mutations may be inherited from each parent resulting in the combining of the above mutations into a single child.
    • Certain MC1R variants could increase melanoma risk due to their impact on pathways other than pigmentation, and may therefore be linked to specific melanoma subtypes.
    • No association with melanoma or phenotype was found for (V60L) and (V92M). [LINK]
  • Red Hair arose in at least 3 separate times throughout history. [LINK]
    • Cysteine-red and Tryptophan-red originated in West Asia around 70,000 years ago.
    • Histidine-reds descend from a European who lived around 30,000 years ago.
      • The mutation responsible for red hair in Neanderthals this differs from that which causes red hair in modern human – Arg307Gly (R307G) – arginine to glycine. [LINK]
  • There are 3 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism) mutations on the MC1R gene that account for >60% of all cases of human red hair:
  • The less common but notable alleles of MC1R gene include:
    • Val92Met (V92M) (rs2228479) – valine is is replaced by methionine at codon 92.
      • Most commonly found in SE Asia, Taiwanese aborigines, among Tibetans and Japanese.
      • An interaction between (V92M) and a SNP in (OCA2) was associated with an increase in lightness of skin on the inner upper arm.
      • Val92Met variant could reduce the affinity of MC1R to α-MSH by approximately 5-fold.
      • For details analysis: [LINK]
    • Arg163Gln (R163Q) – arginine is replaced by glutamine.
      • Biochemical analysis reveals that (R163Q) does not have N-glycosidase activity.
      • This suggests that (R163Q) is a crucial residue for the enzyme activity of n-TCS, and its role is providing protons.
      • An association between (R163Q) and lentigo maligna melanoma was detected under a dominant model of heritance. [LINK]
    • Leu158Leu – is a common but silent change at codon 158 among (at least UK) redheads.
    • Asian populations, more than 10 variants have been reported.
      • V92M and R163Q variants are observed at high frequencies relative to the frequencies observed in non-Asian populations.
      • R163Q occurs in 78% of alleles in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. [LINK]
    • Ile155Thr (I155T) (rs1110400) – isoleucine is replaced by threonine
      • Sideroblastic anemia with B-cell immunodeficiency, periodic fevers, and developmental delay (SIFD). Origins in Italy/Meditarranean. [LINK]
    • Ser83Pro (S83P) (rs34474212)
  • Functional analysis of some of these variants revealed partial loss of the receptor’s ability to stimulate cAMP pathway, leading to a quantitative shift of melanin synthesis from eumelanin to phaeomelanin.
    • cAMP pathway plays fundamental roles in cellular responses to many hormones and neurotransmitters. [LINK]
  • Phenotypic characteristics is likely to be due to the presence of at least some of these variants affecting the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone signaling pathway in follicular melanocytes so that pheomelanin is preferentially synthesized
  • Red Hair can commonly become darker with age due to greater eumelonin production.
    • This occurs on a follicle by follicle basis.
    • The biochemical basis for this is due to the expression of two compounds:
      • pyrrole-2,3,5-tricarboxylic acid (PTCA).
      • pyrrole-2,3-dicarboxylic acid (PDCA).
      • The ratio of these two chemicals are altered as you age, and the melanocytes in the hair follicles produce more eumelanin.
      • An increase in the PDCA/PTCA ratio darkens hair as there is a decrease in the dopachrome tautomerase gene expression, which is completely unrelated to the MC1R gene that causes red hair.
  • Redheads produce more Vitamin D production which defends against rickets and tuberculosis.
  • Countries with the highest percentage of Red Hair include:
    • Scotland: 13% have red hair and 40% carry the gene.
    • Ireland: 10%
    • Red hair is very rare in Scandinavia and Germany.
  • Fully sequenced genomes from Neanderthals contain none of the alleles for red hair on the MC1R gene found in modern humans.
    • The changes on the gene causing red hair are not among the approximately 2% of the Neanderthal genome is represented in modern humans outside of Africa.
      • American Journal of Human Genetics: Dannemann, M. & Kelso, J. (2017). The Contribution of Neanderthals to Phenotypic Variation in Humans. [LINK]
  • MC1R mutations are also associated with a reduced DNA-repair capacity.
  • Recessive genes like red hair always come in pairs.
    • Commonly paired recessive mutations include: Rh- Blood [LINK]
      • O Blood Type [LINK]
      • Blue or green eyes
      • Left handedness
      • Vision problems
      • Mental illness
      • Adrenal malfunctions
  • There is a great deal of overlap with with confusion with the above mutations regarding what causes what, and which genes came first.
  • Red Hair is thicker and slower to generate static electricity.
  • For an Autosonomial DNA survey with a sampling of gene variations and Y-DNA paternal family country of origins, see Family Tree DNA.


  • Scientists have identified 378 genetic loci involved with determining skin color. [link]
  • There are 30-40 gene products responsible for production, distribution and metabolism of melanin.
  • Melanin is an absorber of light; a pigment able to dissipate over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation.
    • Melanin in fungal kingdom has been proven to absorb other ionizing radiation frequencies, including working as a photosynthetic pigment utilizing gamma waves.
  • In humans, melanin is found in the skin, the hair, the eyes, the adrenal gland, the inner ear.
    • Melanin also protects against damage from high temperatures, chemical stresses such as heavy metals and oxidizing agents and biochemical threats.
    • In the eye, the amount of melanin inversely correlates to the number blood vessels.
      • This means less melanin equates to more blood flow.
    • Lower melanin in the skin allows larger blood vessels and more blushing in redheads.
    • It also likely allows quicker reactions, and better addrenaline utilization.
    • Copper is used by the enzymes that produce melanin.
      • If Redheads produce less melanin, there must be excess copper in their blood compared to darker skinned or darker haired people with a similar diet.
  • There are three basic types of melanin: eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin.
    • Eumelanin is the most common and occurs in two types – brown and black.
      • Eumelanin is a brown-black polymer of dihydroxyindole carboxylic acids.
      • A small amount of brown eumelanin in the absence of other pigments causes blond hair.
      • A small amount brown eumelanin mixed with red pheomelanin causes red hair.
      • Trichochromes, with a lower molecular weight also appear in some red hair.
      • A small amount of black eumelanin in the absence of other pigments causes grey hair.
      • A lot of brown or black eumelanin causes dark brown or black hair.
    • Pheomelanins imparts a range of colors from yellow to red.
      • Pheomelanin gives sensitive, high blood vessel body parts like the lips and nipples their red colors.
      • Pheomelanin acts as a photo-sensitizer and leads to excess production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in response to UV-visible light.
      • Evidence indicates pheomelanin also depletes protective antioxidants such as glutathione.
    • Eumelanin and pheomelanin are redox-active, and can rapidly and repeatedly redox-cycle between oxidized and reduced states but pheomelanin possesses a more oxidative redox potential.
    • This likely leads Redheads to exist in a condition of chronic oxidative stress.
    • Both melanin types are generated by tyrosinase-catalyzed oxidation of tyrosine with the difference being that cysteine intervenes in pheomelanin biosynthesis and is incorporated in the final pigment.
    • Cysteine is an amino acid primarily driven from meat, has the same structure as serine, but with one of its oxygen atoms replaced by sulfur.
      • The sulfur is derived from methionine.
      • Methionine is also an important part of angiogenesis – the growth of new blood vessels.
        • Supplementation may benefit those suffering from copper poisoning.
      • Cysteine is also important in the creation of collagen.
      • Top sources include lean lamb chops, lean beef, lean chicken, tuna salmon, and halibut.
  • Neuromelanin (NM) is a black pigment produced by some catecholaminergic neurons in the brain.
    • Humans have the largest amount of (NM), which is present in lesser amounts in other primates, and totally absent in many other species.
    • (NM) is not homogeneous, but is made up of different substrate-specific black pigments formed by the oxidation of o.diphenols or other precursors. It can be found in:
      • Substantia nigra appears dark due to concentrations of (NM) in dopaminergic neurons.
        • Plays an important role in reward and movement.
        • The binding of iron, heavy metals, free radicals and harmful chemicals to the substantia nigra melanin is fundamental to body detoxification/protection.
        • Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra.
        • May act as semiconductor, transmitting and modulating nervous impulses.
      • Locus coeruleus appear blue.
        • Principal site for brain synthesis of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) production.
        • Nucleus in the pons of the brainstem involved with responses to stress and panic.
      • Melanin is also found in pigment bearing neurons deep within the brain nuclei.
      • Ocular melanin is believed to protect the eye by trapping metals and free radicals.
  • Redheads are more likely to suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
    • Parkinson’s sufferers have a lower incidence of all cancers, except melanoma.
    • Only 1% of male redheads get prostate cancer, vs 40% men with light brown hair.
  • Mice with melanoma genes also have fewer dopamine producing neurons.
    • Redheads suffer high rates of mental illness.
  • Less melanin creates higher sensitivity to toxic substances.
    • In humans, dark neuromelanin has a high chelating ability to bind with metals such as iron, as well as other potentially toxic molecules.
    • Toxic substances further damage dopamine producing neurons in people with less melanin.
    • This processes exacerbates oxidative stress throughout the body.
    • Low melanin and fair skinned people are most susceptible to this, but it is compounded by systemic oxidative stress and neurological impairment when epigenetic factors are exacerbated by toxic metal exposure and/or low Zinc levels.
  • Albinism often leads to late stage deafness or blindness, indicating a genetic correlation.
    • Rufous Albinism is most common phenotype causing red hair in New Guinea and Africa.
    • These conditions appear correlated at a molecular level to eye and ear melanin.
    • They also appear to share a bioelectric mechanism.
    • It has been claimed that inner-ear melanin mutes acoustic waves.
  • Evidence suggests that the Thr111Ala allele, found in 99.9% of Europeans is believed to account for 25-40% of the skin tone difference between Europeans and Africans.
  • The darker feathers of birds owe their color to melanin and are less easily degraded by bacteria than unpigmented ones.
  • Melanin generally costs 10x the price of gold – $400 per gram vs $40 per gram for gold.


  • It has been reported that Redheads have larger skulls and higher IQs.
    • The brain is 2% of the body’s weight but consumes 20% of it’s energy.
    • Redheads constitute 2% of the population yet produces 20% of its leaders.
  • If the people of Earth were atoms, Redheads would be the ions and free radicals.

Parts II-V will cover the following topics. Please subscribe for future posts and follow me @beaubier on Twitter. Find me on YouTube and listen to the Battlecry for Redheads, “The Light is Ginger Hued“.

Part II





Part III





Part iV





The unsuspected intrinsic property of melanin to transform light energy into chemical energy and the Warburg effect: Connotations in cancer biochemistry

Worse Health Status and Higher Incidence of Health Disorders in Rhesus Negative Subjects The genetic causes, ethnic origins and history of red hair

Zinc Induced Copper Deficiency

Copper on the Brain

RhAG protein of the Rhesus complex is a CO2 channel in the human red cell membrane

A critical review of the function of neuromelanin and an attempt to provide a unified theory.

Rh Protein and CO2 Transport in Blood

Reverse Engineering Applied to Red Human Hair Pheomelanin Reveals Redox-Buffering as a Pro-Oxidant Mechanism

Biological pigment that acts as nature’s sunscreen set for space journey

Timeline of Blood Type Evolution & Type O’s resistance to Malaria

Traits of Skin Color and Genetic origins

Influence of ABO Type on Sports Performance

Low Hemoglobin Levels in Type O blood

Details of the SNY Marker

A New Inherited Human Variation, The Rh Blood Factor, original paper from 1945

Metal ion-mediated agonism and agonist enhancement in melanocortin MC1 and MC4 receptors

Studies that mention targeting MCR1 receptor at

Neanderthal Origin of the Haplotypes Carrying the Functional Variant Val92Met in the MC1R in Modern Humans


Copper Toxicity


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