Kiss A Ginger Day

Red hair, a topic that has been near to my brain and dear to my heart since the day I was born. Naturally, I find theme days like today hilarious (because it’s always fun to be in the spotlight, even if it’s just based on outer appearance). So pick your favorite ging and start smooching! But before you run off to spread your germs among the fiery-haired people around you, make sure you know your ginger fun facts:

1) It’s all down to genetics. Redheads  are endowed with a mutation on MC1R, the melanocortin 1 receptor. It normally binds to a melanocyte hormone (MSH), which activates the production of brown or black eumelanin pigments. This doesn’t happen in gingers. Instead, MC1R doesn’t function at all and the cell reverts back to the basics: the antagonist pathway, which produces yellow or red phaeomelanin. So, yes… In a way, redheads are dysfunctional mutants. (Don’t tell them that though, or you’ll feel the wrath of our fiery temper!)

2) You think being a mutant is lame? Well, think again! In a world where most of us spend our vitamin-deprived lives indoors, far away from the sunlight, gingers are at a serious advantage. Unlike normal humans, who require long exposure to UV-rays for the last step in vitamin D synthesis, redheads and their fair skin absorb sunlight faster and are able to produce the same amount of vitamin D in a fraction of the time other skin typed require. The downside: more absorbance leads to easier burning. Good thing I for one never leave the lab during the day anyway. Which leads me to my favorite fun fact:

3) The ancient Greeks believed (possibly due to a redheads dislike of the sun, which must seem strange to people living with and loving the Mediterranean weather) that gingers turned into vampires after they died. I advise you therefore to be careful next time you poke fun at a copperhead. (Heehee.) You might just have to deal with quite a bit of bloodlust later.

4) Last, but not least, this fact is for all the people  who keep guessing I’m from Ireland. Because thats where all gingers come from, right? Not at all! The highest concentration of redheads is not found in Ireland (10% of the population) but in Scotland (13%)!  And when two great things like that meet, we get something awesome, like Karen Gillian. (I’m still not over her disappearance on Doctor Who. Amy Pond, why did you leave us?!)

Now, if these facts don’t enable you to impress a ginger enough for them to lean in for a kiss, there’s always the fruit and vegetable section at your local grocer to find your very own ginger (root) to love.

References

Characterization of Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone Receptor Variant Alleles in Twins with Red Hair, Box (1997)

 

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