The idea that redhead people (women in particular) may have superpowers goes, at least, as far back as the 19th century when, in 1886 the book Le Parfum de La Femme et Les Sens Olfactif Dans L’Amour – Étude Psycho-physiologique by Augustin Galopin was first published in France. Is there any scientific basis for this? When it comes to the genetics of redheads, science-backed up some of Galopin’s claims.
According to the 19th-century French doctor, a specific odor emanates from redheads. This odor, or aroma, which is allegedly unique to redheads, is referred to as ambergris. Dr. Augustin Galopin thought of this aroma as sensual and appealing. Since then, scientists have gone further into this and discovered that the smell that redheads tend to emanate is the result of the acidic film covering their skin. Everyone has a thin acidic film all over their skin, but it is true that, in the case of redheads, this is what makes them discharge the aroma that Galopin noticed.
Le Parfum de La Femme (or Women’s Perfume in English) is a fascinating read because of all the insights it offers on redhead women. Being redhead or ginger is extremely rare. It is estimated that only between 1% and 2% of the world’s population have red hair. That would account for something around of 70 to 140 million people. Although the country with the largest number of redheads is the United States of America, Scotland is probably where redheads are more noticeable as they are about the 20% of the country’s population.
Why Do Some People Have Red Hair?
It would be fun to be a redhead… you can get away with being, like, really volatile and fire-y because you’re like, ‘I’m just a redhead; what can I say’? – Anna Kendrick
There is a very simple answer to this question is that most people with red hair have a mutant gene known as MC1R. This mutation is caused by a recessive allele on chromosome 16. This gene is responsible for their hair but also their skin color as it determines their skin pigmentation.
As can be easily observed that there is great variety among redhead people. Some people have darker hair, almost a burgundy hues while others have a strawberry blond or a burned orange hue. When it comes to skin color, the combination between high levels of pheomelanin (reddish pigment) and low levels of eumelanin (dark pigment) is responsible for their fair skin hue, their freckles, and their light eye colors. Redheads are also more sensitive to ultraviolet light than other people. Most people with natural red hair have a northern or western European heritage.
But, is it true that redheads have genetic superpowers?
Redheads Need Less Vitamin D Than Other People
While most people need to make sure that they consume plenty of vitamin D, redheads have the genetic advantage that they naturally produce their own.
This seems to be linked to an evolutionary fact that most redheads have historically lived in Europe where they were exposed to temperate and cold climates and whole months with very little sunlight. Why is this ability to produce vitamin D so advantageous? Vitamin D is key is reducing autoimmune disorders, diabetes, or heart diseases. But it also helps reduce obesity, hypertension, depression, and other conditions. Whereas vitamin D can be obtained from naturally from sunlight, modern lifestyles and the weather in many parts of the world make it hard for many people to get the amount of vitamin D they need. So, it is an advantage or “superpower” for redheads to be able to produce it on their own.
Redheads Have A Stronger Sensitivity To Temperature
One of the effects of their MC1R gene is that most redheads are more sensitive to be sensitive to changing temperatures.
So, ginger people can feel even the smallest changes in temperature and they would perceive whether it is getting warmer or colder than most other people.
Scientists have also discovered that on average redheads are more tolerant to pain than any other group of people.
There are several studies showing just how resistant to pain redheads are. For example, the University of Louisville in Kentucky has found that redheads need more anesthesia in order to be fully sedated (about 20% more than people with other hair colors). Scientists at the McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada found that tolerance to pain can be as much as 25% than that experienced by other groups. And a study carried out by scientists at the University of Oslo, Norway, has shown that women with redheads experienced less pain than others when they prick them with a pin. Ouch!
These are the main superpowers than scientists have discovered so far, but they are other things that set redheads apart from the rest.
Do All Redheads Have Fair Skin?
One of the most surprising things about redheads is that not all of them have fair skin. While it is true that all redheads with a European heritage are fair skinned, that is not often the case with redheads in other continents.
For example, redheads with darker skin can be found in many distant parts of the planet. In Africa, mostly in the North African Berber population concentrated in Morocco and Algeria. Or in the Asian countries of Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, or as far east as China.
They Are More Resistant to Hair Dye
There can be no doubt that redheads are very easy to spot, whereas with people with other hair colors can sometimes hide it, either by dying it or simply by being exposed to different lights, redheads are always more noticeable. Although they can, and some of them do, dye their hair even when they do so it is often easy to notice that they are naturally ginger. This is mostly because, for most redheads, their hair color is only one of the features that distinguish them from everybody else.