Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) are types of genetic mutations of single DNA strands. DNA is made of a series of nucleic acids Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine (ATCG).
SNPs occur where certain nucleotides are replaced with others. For example, a T might be switched with a C at a certain location. Research suggests SNPs occur once every 1,000 nucleotides on average. This results in an estimated 4-5 million SNPs in any given human genome—including yours.
Modern researchers use SNPs to help correlate genetic variations with predictive endpoints such as increased cancer risk, lower risk of diabetes, or even lower cholesterol. Certain SNPs have more scientific support than others but the field is still fairly new.
The SNPs known to influence encoding of the MTHFR gene are among the most popularized. These polymorphisms can dramatically influence how folate is processed in the body. Personal genetic testing can help identify these and lower risk factors for certain negative health outcomes.