Nervous System… Know Your Personal Micronutrient Needs

Nervous System… Know Your Personal Micronutrient Needs

Tune_the_Nervous_System

A single deficiency – mineral, vitamin, antioxidant or amino acid – can set off a cascade of events where metabolic processes are disturbed. Conversely, repletion of such deficiencies can and often do resolve clinical neurological symptoms such as migraines and neuropathy.

Migraine Prevention:

Anyone who has experienced migraine headaches knows how debilitating they can be. Fortunately, nutritional intervention can be very successful in migraine prevention. Although the mechanism of action is not totally understood, several nutrients that facilitate energy production at the cellular level may also benefit the treatment of migraine headaches. Supplementation with coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant that aids energy Headachemetabolism, may reduce both the frequency and intensity of migraine headaches. Similar results occur with magnesium and vitamin B2, since they also help mitochondria (energy-producing centers in our cells) function properly. “Mitochondrial dysfunction” is one possible trigger to migraine headaches.

The role of oxidative stress in causing migraines is not totally understood, but studies do show that low levels of specific antioxidants, such as glutathione and lipoic acid are associated with migraine occurrence. Correcting specific deficiencies specifically B3, B6, B12 and folic acid can produce dramatic results for reducing the pain and frequency of migraine headaches.

A Healthy Nervous System:

Antioxidant therapy has the potential to contributeHealthy Nervous System to preventing or mitigating many neurologic disorders. SpectraCell Laboratories can measure a person’s total antioxidant function with their SPECTROX test, in addition to measuring the performance of individual antioxidants. Since nutrients play multiple roles, a comprehensive assessment of nutritional status is key.
Minimizing Neuropathic Pain:
Damage to nerves in the limbs but outside the spinal cord causes the painful condition called peripheral neuropathy. Although potentially debilitating, there is overwhelming evidence that neuropathy responds well when specific nutrient deficiencies are corrected. In some studies, vitamin B1 and vitamin B12 significantly reduce neuropathic pain. High levels of oxidative stress increase neuropathic pain, which explains why the powerful antioxidants cysteine, vitamin E and lipoic acid may be successful in treating neuropathy. The pain reducing effects of carnitine and omega-3 fatty acids has been proven in several trials.

Keeping Our Nerves “Insulated”:

NerveNerves are covered with a protective coating called myelin, much like the insulation that coats electronic wiring. If the myelin sheath deteriorates, neurological problems arise, which is what happens to people with multiple sclerosis (MS). A key enzyme needed to manufacture this protective coating contains serine, an important amino acid needed for neurological health, which is why serine deficiency may cause neurological problems. Research shows that patients with MS have lowered calcium levels and that symptoms of MS are more severe when blood levels of vitamin D are low. Copper deficiency can cause symptoms seen in MS patients as well.

Reducing the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s:

Nutritional deficiencies have been linked to sReducing Riskeveral neurodegenerative diseases. For example, research shows that over half of people with Parkinson’s disease are deficient in vitamin D.  Similarly, a higher intake of vitamin C and vitamin E can slow the progression of dementia that is seen in Alzheimer’s patients. Evidence confirms that copper deficiency contributes to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging through allocation of scarce micronutrients by triage

Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging through allocation of scarce micronutrients by triage

  1. Contributed by Bruce N. Ames, October 6, 2006 (received for review September 20, 2006)

Abstract

Inadequate dietary intakes of vitamins and minerals are widespread, most likely due to excessive consumption of energy-rich, micronutrient-poor, refined food. Inadequate intakes may result in chronic metabolic disruption, including mitochondrial decay. Deficiencies in many micronutrients cause DNA damage, such as chromosome breaks, in cultured human cells or in vivo. Some of these deficiencies also cause mitochondrial decay with oxidant leakage and cellular aging and are associated with late onset diseases such as cancer. I propose DNA damage and late onset disease are consequences of a triage allocation response to micronutrient scarcity. Episodic shortages of micronutrients were common during evolution. Natural selection favors short-term survival at the expense of long-term health. I hypothesize that short-term survival was achieved by allocating scarce micronutrients by triage, in part through an adjustment of the binding affinity of proteins for required micronutrients. If this hypothesis is correct, micronutrient deficiencies that trigger the triage response would accelerate cancer, aging, and neural decay but would leave critical metabolic functions, such as ATP production, intact. Evidence that micronutrient malnutrition increases late onset diseases, such as cancer, is discussed. A multivitamin-mineral supplement is one low-cost way to ensure intake of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of micronutrients throughout life.

Poor nutrition has been linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The human diet requires both macronutrients, which are the main source of calories, and micronutrients (≈40 essential minerals, vitamins, and other biochemicals), which are required for virtually all metabolic and developmental processes. The leading dietary sources of energy in the United States are abundant in carbohydrates and fats (1) but deficient in micronutrients (i.e., they are energy-dense and nutrient-poor) (2). Such foods are inexpensive and tasty and as a consequence are consumed excessively, particularly by the poor (3). Thus, even in the United States (4), inadequate intake of some vitamins and minerals is common (Table 1). Suboptimal consumption of micronutrients (4) often accompanies caloric excess (688) and may be the norm among the obese and contribute to the pathologies associated with obesity.

Significant chronic metabolic disruption may occur when consumption of a micronutrient is below the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) (710) but above the level that causes acute symptoms. When one component of the metabolic network is inadequate, there may be a variety of repercussions in metabolism, including acceleration of degenerative diseases. The optimum intake of each micronutrient necessary to maximize a healthy lifespan remains to be determined and could even be higher than the current RDA, particularly for some populations (710). For example, folic acid intakes above the RDA appear to be necessary to minimize chromosome breaks (1011).

Use of micronutrients attenuates cannabis and nicotine abuse as evidenced from a reversal design: a case study

Use of micronutrients attenuates cannabis and nicotine abuse as evidenced from a reversal design: a case study

  • Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Abstract

Prior research shows that micronutrients, particularly amino acids, can assist individuals with substance dependence to quit various drugs of abuse, including cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine. As part of a wider investigation of the impact of micronutrients (mostly vitamins and minerals) on psychiatric symptoms, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, and anxiety, we observed that many participants reduced or eliminated use of alcohol, cigarettes, and cannabis. One case using a single-case reversal (off-on-off-on-off) design is presented and shows not only on-off control of psychiatric symptoms as micronutrients are consumed or withdrawn, but also simultaneous on-off use of cannabis and cigarettes, despite not directly targeting this substance use as part of the treatment protocol. This case adds to a growing body of research supporting the use of micronutrients in the treatment of psychiatric symptoms and suggests it may extend to substance dependence. Micronutrients, by assisting with mood regulation and reductions in anxiety, may assist with successful cessation of drug use. Alternatively, they may directly impact on the brain reward circuitry believed to be involved in the expression of addictions, thereby providing the appropriate precursors and cofactors necessary for adequate neurotransmitter synthesis. This case should continue to stimulate researchers to consider the role of nutrients, in particular vitamins and minerals, in drug treatment programs and encourage more rigorous trials.

Can micronutrients improve neurocognitive functioning in adults with ADHD and severe mood dysregulation?

Can micronutrients improve neurocognitive functioning in adults with ADHD and severe mood dysregulation? A pilot study.

  • Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Little research has investigated how micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) affect cognitive functioning, despite preliminary studies showing they may improve psychiatric functioning.

DESIGN:

The formula was consumed in an open-label trial over an 8-week period.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

The participants completed tests of memory (Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning) and executive functioning (Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System and Conners Continuous Performance Test) at baseline and at the end of the trial. A gender- and age-matched control group of 14 non-ADHD adults not taking the formula were assessed on the same tests 8 weeks apart in order to investigate the impact of practice on the results.

RESULTS:

There were no group differences in ethnicity, socio-economic status and estimated IQ. Significant improvement was observed in the ADHD group, but not the control group, across a range of verbal abilities including verbal learning, verbal cognitive flexibility and fluency, and verbal inhibition. These neurocognitive improvements were large and consistent with improved psychiatric functioning. No changes were noted above a practice effect in visual-spatial memory and there were no improvements noted in reaction time, working memory, or rapid naming for either groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although the pilot and open-label design of the study limits the generalizability of the results, it supports a growing body of literature recognizing the importance of nutrients for mental health and cognition. The results also provide evidence supporting the need for randomized clinical trials of micronutrients as well as other experimental studies in order to better assess whether improved neurocognitive functioning may contribute to improved psychiatric symptoms.

Successful treatment of bipolar disorder II and ADHD with a micronutrient formula: a case study

Successful treatment of bipolar disorder II and ADHD with a micronutrient formula: a case study.

  • University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Abstract

Bipolar disorder with co-occurring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a challenge to treat. Ten previous reports have shown potential benefit of a micronutrient treatment (consisting mainly of vitamins and minerals) for various psychiatric symptoms, including mood and ADHD. This case study aimed to investigate the longer term impact of the micronutrients on both psychiatric and neurocognitive functioning in an off-on-off-on (ABAB) design with 1 year follow-up. A 21-year-old female with bipolar II disorder, ADHD, social anxiety, and panic disorder entered an open-label trial using a nutritional treatment following a documented 8 year history of on-going psychiatric symptoms not well managed by medications. After 8 weeks on the formula she showed significant improvements in mood, anxiety, and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Blood test results remained normal after 8 weeks on the formula. She did not report any adverse side effects associated with the treatment. She then chose to come off the formula; after 8 weeks her depression scores returned to baseline, and anxiety and ADHD symptoms worsened. The formula was reintroduced, showing gradual improvement in all psychiatric symptoms. This case represents a naturalistic ABAB design showing on-off control of symptoms. After 1 year, the patient is now in remission from all mental illness. Neurocognitive changes mirrored behavioral changes, showing improved processing speed, consistency in response speed, and verbal memory. A placebo response and expectancy effects cannot be ruled out although previous poor response to treatment and the duration of the current positive response decrease the likelihood that other factors better explain change. These consistently positive outcomes alongside an absence of side effects indicate that further research, particularly larger and more controlled trials, is warranted using this multinutrient approach.

Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies in lactating mothers and their infants

Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies in lactating mothers and their infants in Indonesia.

  • Division of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University, Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Deficiencies of vitamin A, iron, and zinc are prevalent worldwide, affecting vulnerable groups such as lactating women and infants. However, the existence of concurrent deficiencies has received little attention.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim was to investigate the extent to which deficiencies of vitamin A, iron, and zinc coexist and the nutritional relation between lactating mothers and their infants.

DESIGN:

In a cross-sectional survey in rural West Java, Indonesia, 155 lactating mothers and their healthy infants were assessed anthropometrically and blood, urine, and breast-milk samples were obtained.

RESULTS:

Marginal vitamin A deficiency was found in 54% of the infants and 18% of the mothers. More than 50% of the mothers and infants were anemic and 17% of the infants and 25% of the mothers were zinc deficient. There was a strong interrelation between the micronutrient status of the mothers and infants and the concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene in breast milk. Vitamin A deficiency in infants led to an increased risk of anemia and zinc deficiency (odds ratios: 2.5 and 2.9, respectively), whereas in mothers the risk of anemia and iron deficiency (odds ratios: 3.8 and 4.8, respectively) increased. In infants, concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I were related to concentrations of plasma retinol and beta-carotene but not to zinc.

CONCLUSIONS:

Micronutrient deficiencies were prevalent in West Java. The micronutrient status of lactating mothers and that of their infants were closely related; breast milk was a key connecting factor for vitamin A status. Furthermore, concurrent micronutrient deficiencies appeared to be the norm.

Could Micronutrient Deficiency be a Missing Link in the Fight Against Overweight/ Obesity?

Could Micronutrient Deficiency be a Missing Link in the Fight Against Overweight/ Obesity?

By Jayson B. Calton Ph.D. Published in the Journal of the American Association of Integrative Medicine Summer 2010

Of all the debilitating health-related conditions and diseases in America today, perhaps none is as widespread and potentially devastating as overweight/obesity. According to Dr. Richard H. Carmona, M.D., a former surgeon general of the United States, “Obesity is the terror within; unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist attempt.”1 The problem with America’s overweight/obesity epidemic is twofold: not only are the rates not declining, no one can seem to stop them from growing. According to Johns Hopkins researcher May Beydoun, “Obesity is likely to increase, and if nothing is done, it will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.2 While the media has focused largely on the rising number of overweight and obese adults, America’s youth may be the ones suffering the most, with the overweight prevalence for children and teens having tripled since 1980.3 It is hard to imagine that anyone living in America today has not been affected by the growing obesity pandemic in some way, whether personally, through family or friends, or by the rising costs of health care. While current research by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults and one-third (33%) of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese, the predictions concerning the future of obesity are even more sobering.4 According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Youfa Wang, estimates now predict that by 2015, 75% of all U.S. adults will be overweight or obese, by 2030 that number will be 86.3%, and by 2048 all American adults will overweight or obese.5

While nutritional and medical experts from around the world frantically try to understand the root causes of the obesity puzzle, the American people have tried just about everything they can to lose weight. Between the popular diet programs, gym memberships, hypnosis, acupuncture, cellulite creams, body wraps, infomercial contraptions, diet pills, prescription drugs, liposuction, aerobics classes, health spas, electronic abdominal stimulators, personal diet coaches, gastric bypass surgery, lap bands, fat-free foods, low-carbohydrate foods, foods whose macronutrient ratios add up the 40/30/30, vibration machines, yoga, saunas, appetite suppressants, diet drinks, exotic herbs, fasting, body cleansing, and pole dancing classes, Americans should be the skinniest people on the planet. But we’re not…why? While one of the major government objectives for 2010 was to reduce the number of obese people in America to 15%, the recently released results of that initiative show that not one state met that goal.6 In fact, a new report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that 28 states actually increased their obesity rates. Since 1991, a dramatic increase in obesity has occurred in the United States. The report shows that in 1991 no states were recorded as having an obesity rate greater than 20%. In contrast, the latest data from 2009 shows only one state as having a prevalence of obesity less than 20% (Colorado, 19.1%), 38 states have obesity rates greater than 25%, and currently nine states have obesity prevalence greater than 30% (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.)7

While science seems to be missing an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to slowing, stopping, and eventually reversing obesity, one recent study found a connection between being deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and vitamin-like substances, such as CoQ10 (micronutrients) and overweight/obesity that may be worth a closer look. Published in December 2007 in Economics and Human Biology, the study found a direct link between being micronutrient deficient and being overweight or obese.8 Keeping all variables constant, the researchers concluded that the odds of being overweight or obese were 80.8% higher for the study’s micronutrient-deficient participants when compared to the studies’ non-deficient participants. Other studies lend credibility to this theory. A group of researchers out of the Medical College of Georgia set out to determine if another essential micronutrient (vitamin D) played a role in childhood obesity. Their research, presented to the American Heart Association, showed that when 650 children between the ages of 14 and 19 were tested, the students with the lowest vitamin D intake had the highest percentages of both body fat and abdominal fat.9 In a related study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers concluded that a deficiency in vitamin D was directly linked with increased body fat.10

While some may argue that micronutrient deficiency is too rare in America to be a probable cause for the obesity epidemic, recent statistics disagree. In a 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics, American children were found to be a whopping 70% insufficient in vitamin D, and recent findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine show three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults deficient in vitamin D.11,12 However, it is not just vitamin D Americans are deficient in—statistics from the USDA’s own Web site highlight just how widespread America’s micronutrient deficiency condition is. According to the USDA, 9 out of 10 Americans 2 years and older are deficient in potassium, 8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E, and more than 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in calcium, and approximately 5 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium.13 In addition, in a recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the popular diet plans that millions of Americans are following each year to lose weight, such as the Atkins for Life diet, the DASH diet, The Best Life Diet, and the South Beach Diet, were found to be deficient at providing minimum Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) of 27 essential micronutrients.14 The study determined that on average, these diets left their followers deficient in 15 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B5, vitamin B7, vitamin D, vitamin E, choline, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, magnesium, sodium and zinc.

To add to America’s micronutrient deficiency epidemic, more U.S. adults are taking prescription drugs than ever before.15 Recent studies show that one of the major side effects of many of today’s most popular prescription drugs—including statins, analgesics, loop and thiazide diuretics, antacids and oral contraceptives—is vitamin and mineral depletion, which can eventually lead to micronutrient deficiency.16,17 Making matters worse, even those individuals who religiously take their daily multivitamin pill are not immune to becoming micronutrient deficient. It turns out that due to something called “micronutrient competition,” many of the vitamins and minerals found in the typical multivitamin may end up going right down the toilet. Research published in both the British Journal of Nutrition and Harvard Health Letter shows that natural competitions for absorption between many vitamins and minerals, including copper and zinc and calcium and iron, could make it so that unless a multivitamin is specially formulated to prevent micronutrient competition, many of the micronutrients in the multivitamin are simply not absorbed. 18,19

The fact is, new research is showing that micronutrient deficiency is much more of a widespread problem than previously thought. It has been proven to increase the risk factor for multiple heath conditions and diseases in both adults and children, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers.20 In addition, kids who start out with micronutrient deficiencies and never correct them may be putting themselves at risk for developing all of these diseases at a much earlier age. With so many people worldwide affected by overweight/obesity, coupled with the recent research showing clear links between micronutrient deficiency and overweight/obesity, it seems prudent to further examine this potential connection. When all is said and done, a micronutrient rich diet, sunlight, and proper anti-competition supplementation could turn out to be our best defense against the potentially largest, most devastating health scourge of the 21st century—the obesity pandemic.

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