Taking supplements to enhance your mitochondrial performance is actually a well-founded scientific approach to overcoming oxidative stress. It’s simply that taking huge quantities of resveratrolalone (or as some magic pill) without changing your lifestyle or using all the other nutrients needed for optimal mitochondrial function is a misguided approach. This is especially true considering the fact that resveratrol really has an impact on your insulin/sugar balance, which is more effectively treated with diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes anyway.
Many vitamins and minerals and “conditionally essential” nutrients are known to control energy production and to protect and defend your mitochondria. These “antiaging” or neuroprotective supplements work because of the way they help protect and optimize mitochondrial function, both directly and indirectly.
- Astaxanthin is produced only by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialiswhen its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It’s the algae’s survival mechanism—Astaxanthin serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.
- There are only two main sources of astaxanthin: the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill).
- Astaxanthin is now thought to be the most powerful antioxidant found in nature.
- Astaxanthin not only provides the color to salmon but is also the reason salmon have the strength and endurance to swim up rivers and waterfalls for days on end.Their diets are high in this pigment, which concentrates in their muscles and makes them one of the “kings of endurance” of the animal kingdom.
- Once your retina is damaged, it cannot be replaced. Therefore, anything you can do to cut your losses from these photic insults will reduce your risk for developing macular degeneration and other diseases. Antioxidants that cross the blood-brain-retinal barrier to reach the inner eye are crucial to protect you from increasing numbers of free radicals as you age.
- Scientists have studied the most common carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, and astaxanthin) and compared their respective abilities to protect the retina. Butnone perform to the degree that astaxanthin does, in terms of potency as a free radical scavenger and permeability across the blood-brain-retina barrier.
- Mark Tsoof the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University has aptly demonstrated that astaxanthin is the clear winner when it comes to protecting your eyes.
- He discovered that astaxanthin easily crosses into the tissues of the eye and exerts its effects safely and with more potency than any of the other carotenoids, without adverse reactions.
- Other researchers (Shimidzu et al, Bagchi,Martin et al, andBeutner) have since confirmed Dr. Tso’s finding that astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant ever discovered for eye health, giving your eyes an additional layer of long-term protection.
- For example, eye fatigue, eyestrain, blurring and diplopia (aka “double vision,” caused by unequal action of your eye muscles) are problems for many people today who work in front of computer displays for long periods of time.
- A2002 Japanese study by Nagaki set out to examine the effects, if any, of astaxanthin on these types of visual problems among computer workers.
- They found that giving these workers just 5 mg of astaxanthin daily for four weeks resulted in a 46 percent reduction in eyestrain and improved eye focusing. AnotherJapanese study by Nakamura in 2004 found similarly positive effects on eyestrain at doses of 4mg, and even better effects at 12mg. In fact, there are now NINE different human clinical astaxanthin studies published in the area of eye fatigue, all showing positive results.
- Additional studies have demonstrated that natural astaxanthin supplementation can also help with a wide range of other common eye issues, including the following:
- Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier (beta carotene and lycopene do not), which brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to your eyes, brain and central nervous system and reducing your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Reducing eye soreness, dryness, tiredness and blurred vision (Shiratori 2005 and Nagaki 2006)
- Preventing eye fatigue from occurring in healthy people (Takahashi and Kajita 2005)
- Improving retinal capillary blood flow (Yasunori 2005)
- Improving your eye’s ability to focus by enabling the lens to more easily adjust
- Improving depth perception by 46 percent (Sawaki 2002)
- Reducing ocular inflammation (Suzuki 2006)
- astaxanthin is afat-soluble antioxidant with neuroprotective support.
- It has been extensively studied in clinical trials,
- natural astaxanthin has two very unique properties: first of all, it’s an extremely potent antioxidant. Some studies have shown over 500 times stronger than vitamin E. second, it crosses the blood-brain barrier and delivers these health benefits to the central nervous system.
- astaxanthin is used by professional athletes and extreme athletes to boost performance and speed exercise recovery.
- taking astaxanthin is probably the most powerful way to protect your skin and eyes from ultraviolet radiation. Taking enough astaxanthin (for 60 days or so) allows you to spend a lot more time in the sun, safely generating vitamin D from natural sunlight.
- There has been a study showing that oral consumption of Bioastin actually increases the skin’s resistance to damage by ultraviolet radiation, sunburn, so it’s an internal sunscreen of sorts. Scientists in Rome, Italy compared the abilities of various carotenoids to modulate UVA related injury. Of the carotenoids tested, only astaxanthin exhibited a pronounced photoprotective effect and countered all of the UVA-induced alterations to a significant extent. (Experimental Dermatology, March)
- Because astaxanthin is fat soluble, it works better when you take it with a fish oil supplement. The combination is extremely powerful from a nutritional science point of view.
- Astaxanthin has been referred to as nature’s sunscreen
- Recent research has documented its ability to increase cellular energy, protect against and treat cancer, protect against damage to the brain and nervous system, and halt the progression of complications from diabetes.
- People who pay attention to nutrition have long been impressed by the properties of the blue green pigment in marine microalgae, and have elevated spirulina and chlorella to superfood status. Another microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis, contains primarily dark red pigment. This pigment is the richest known source of the carotenoid astaxanthin.
Only phytoplankton, algae, plants, and certain bacteria and fungi are able to synthesize carotenoids such as astaxanthin. Animals, including humans, must consume carotenoids as part of their diet. Astaxanthin is found in many types of seafood and is what gives the reddish-orange color to salmon, shrimp, red fish, and lobster. It provides the coloration for birds such as flamingoes and quail.
- if you look at the underlying cause of many health problems, it’s all free radicals, and so it’s really the antioxidant capability of astaxanthin to get in and quench free radicals that makes it extremely powerful.
- Astaxanthin increases cellular energy by protecting mitochondria
Mitochondria are the cellular furnaces in which food is turned into energy in the form of ATP. During this process, oxygen is released, producing several oxygen-derived free radicals that play an important role in various diseases. Oxidative stress leading to mitochondrial dysfunction is a critical factor for many diseases, such ascancer, neurodegenerative and lifestyle-related diseases. Scientists in Japan recently found that astaxanthin decreased induced oxidative stress and protected cultured cells from free radicals. Moreover, astaxanthin helped maintain a higher mitochondria membrane potential and stimulated respiration, allowing for the production of increased levels of cellular energy. The researchers then investigated how astaxanthin stimulated and interacted with mitochondria when it is stressed. They found that astaxanthin improved the ability of the mitochondria to remain in a reduced state and maintain its functional integrity under oxidative challenge. (Journal of Nutrition and Biochemistry, May)
- studies have shown enhanced immune response and decreased DNA damage in humans following astaxanthin administration. Astaxanthin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier in mammals, a unique and important property for an antioxidant. This characteristic allows astaxanthin to extend its superior antioxidant activity to the central nervous system, which is highly susceptible to damage by free radicals.
Based on the data that showed astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier, scientists in Japan investigated the neuroprotective effect of astaxanthin by using an oxidative stress-induced neuronal cell damage system. Treatment with various neurotoxins led to significant decreases in dopamine cells, whereas a significant protection was shown when the cells were pretreated with astaxanthin. Furthermore, astaxanthin treatment significantly inhibited intracellular free radical generation. Based on these results, the scientists strongly suggested that treatment with astaxanthin may be effective for oxidative stress-associated neurodegeneration. They cited it as a potential candidate for a natural brain food. (Forum Nutrition, 2009)
- New research highlights astaxanthin’s incredible cancer fighting properties
The ability of astaxanthin to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells was studied at Catholic University School of Medicine in Rome, Italy. Astaxanthin inhibited cell growth in a dose and time dependent manner by arresting cell cycle progression and by promoting the death of cancerous cells. Astaxanthin resulted in a 220% increase in the expression of the well known anti-cancer gene p 53, and a 160% and 250% increase respectively in the anti-cancer genes p21 and p27. Astaxanthin strongly upregulated apoptosis through gene modification, and increased phosphoylation of the p38, JNK, and ERK1/2 genes by 160%, 242%, and 280% respectively. Growth inhibitory effects of astaxanthin were also observed in HT-29, LS-174, WiDr, and Sw-480 cells. These results document axtaxanthin as highly effective against colon cancer. (Cancer Letter, May 5)
Researchers in Japan examined the protective effects of axtaxanthin on neuroblastoma cells. Pretreatment of the cells with astaxanthin preserved cellular integrity in a dose dependent manner, and inhibited mitochondrial dysfunctions, including lowered membrane potential, and gene repair.
- Several other studies have shown the effectiveness of astaxanthin as a preventative and treatment against cancer. In 1994, astaxanthin protected mice from urinary bladder cancer. In 1995, the same research group showed that astaxanthin prevents oral cancer in rats, and inhibits cancer in a manner more pronounced than that of beta carotene. A further study by this group explored the effect of astaxanthin on colon cancer in male rats. They found a significant decrease in the incidence of colon cancer in the animals that were given astaxanthan.
- Astaxanthin was also shown to inhibit aflatoxin B1 induced DNA damage. Aflatoxins are deadly products of mold that can cause liver damage and cancer. They are widespread in nature and found on peanuts, wheat, corn, beans and rice. (Cancer Letter, March, 1997)
- Breast cancer was the subject of researchers in China looking into the effects carotenoids have on proliferation, cell cycle, apoptosis and the expression of the cancer promoting bcl-2 gene. They found that beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin all inhibited cell proliferation. The carotenoids also down regulated bcl-2 gene expression. (Zhonghua Yu FangYi Xue Za Zhi, July, 2002)
- celebrity physician Oztouted it vital to preserving visual acuity in maturing individuals. He called it “The #1 Supplement You’ve Never Heard of That You Should Be Taking.”1
- Astaxanthin is a red-orange carotenoid pigment derived from microalgae, fish, and crustaceans.2,13Scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that high consumption of carotenoids is protective against many oxidative stress-induced, age-related conditions.14 Astaxanthin stands out among the carotenoids for its exceptional antioxidant capabilities.2-4,15-19 Researchers estimate that astaxanthin’s antioxidant activity ranks up to ten times as high as other carotenoids.2 Astaxanthin is also unique among the antioxidants in that it spans both layers of the cell membrane, allowing it to trap free radicals outside and inside the cell.19-21
- Astaxanthin’s multiple mechanisms of action make it an ideal candidate for prevention and adjuvant treatment of many different kinds of cancer. By subduing inflammatory mediators such as COX-2 and NF-kB,36astaxanthin may prevent cancer promotion, the step that allows potentially cancerous cells to blossom into full-blown tumors. By supporting healthy intercellular communication, astaxanthin improves tissue resistance to cancers.15 And by impairing enzymes like matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that cancer cells use to break down tissue barriers, astaxanthin can help prevent tumor invasion and metastatic spread.36
- Laboratory studies demonstrate that astaxanthin has multiple beneficial effects on the immune system, boosting function of natural killer cells that patrol for abnormally developing cells that could turn cancerous.29,40,41
- Astaxanthin also favorably modifies the way various immune system cells respond in the face of an attack, which has the potential to make infections both less likely and less serious.63-65Human studies demonstrate enhanced immune responses in humans supplemented with astaxanthin.28
- Astaxanthin can limit the impact of the cardiac and skeletal muscle damage that accumulates with strenuous exercise, potentially allowing for a longer, more comfortable workout.66It improves muscle cells’ ability to use fat as a fuel source, making them more efficient and helping to burn body fat.67,68 Those enhancements can lead to improved exercise endurance and reduced fatigue as well.67,69
- Another promising application of astaxanthin is the prevention of eye fatigue orasthenopia,particularly in people who work long hours viewing a computer screen. In a study of 26 individuals who work at computer terminals, those who were randomly selected to receive astaxanthin each day for one month had a 54% reduction in complaints of eye fatigue, along with improvements in accommodation (your eyes’ ability to change optical power to focus on objects at different distances).80 A similar study showed that one month of astaxanthin reduced eye fatigue and increased accommodation power in healthy subjects.81 Researchers believe that astaxanthin may help fight eye fatigue in part by increasing blood flow to the retina.82
- As little as 4-6 mgper day has been shown to effectively support eye health. Between 6 and 18 mg are indicated for management of metabolic syndrome. As much as 40 mg per day have been taken with no side effects reported at any of these doses.18,33,78,85
- The emerging body of research supporting astaxanthin’s broad-spectrum benefits has not escaped Big Pharma’s notice. As of this writing, efforts are underway to develop patentable synthetic versions of astaxanthin to treat various forms of cardiovascular disease.4-8The best known of these, Cardax,provides yet another example of the drug industry’s corrupt, cynical maneuvering to put profits over the public health. Cardax (disodium disuccinate astaxanthin) is simply a “pro-drug,” an inactive parent molecule that disintegrates into astaxanthin following ingestion.9
- In other words, drug makers hope to charge a premium for an inactive form of a natural, safe, low-cost nutrient, and then let patients’ bodies act on the drug to convert it backinto that same nutrient.
- Synthetic (laboratory-made) astaxanthin is now commonly used worldwide to supplement fish feeds in order to obtain the desired pinkish to orange-red color.
- Please avoid synthetic astaxanthin becauseit’s made from petrochemicals.
Here’s a quote from mike Adam’s article on naturalnews.com on astaxanthin:
“I have personally used astaxanthin since 2004. It was a crucial part of my dietary supplementation during my years in hand-to-hand combat training, where even at age 38 I was out-lasting the 19-year-old kids in class. These days, I spend more time working on the ranch with a chain saw or hauling bags of feed to the chickens, and I take astaxanthin every day along with a high-quality fish oil supplement from. Because astaxanthin is fat soluble, it works better when you take it with a fish oil supplement. The combination is extremely powerful from a nutritional science point of view.
I credit astaxanthin with protecting my brain function, helping me stay mentally sharp and also keeping my physical endurance high. It’s not unusual for me to walk 4-5 miles a day, and I sometimes do that while fasting for 24 hours, as I’m into intermittent fasting. In fact, yesterday I fasted all day while I was clearing brush, removing barbed wire, chain-sawing some fallen trees, and doing other basic farm work. Most people would have considered it a day of “hard work” and couldn’t imagine doing it on an empty stomach. But I did it fasting all day long, drinking only Roobios tea in the morning and taking some astaxanthin and fish oils the night before.”
- Mark Merriman’s talk on the panel of longevity conference September 2011
- Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables such as a broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts that helps regulate hormone balance and cell behavior. I3C is one of the most effective phytonutrients in the prevention and treatment of breast, prostate, colon, and pancreatic cancers.
- Various research studies have shown that I3C can dramatically help reduce the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. An increase in testosterone to estrogen ratio is associated with higher levels of vitality and energy.
- Scientific research also shows I3C increases the level of good estrogens (2-hydroxyestrogen) while reducing the level of bad estrogens (16-hydroxyestrogen).
- The most powerful bad estrogen remover is I3C, which is the active ingredient in broccoli. The best way to get I3C is through supplementing. I strongly recommend taking a natural supplement named EstroGuard. EstroGuard is a supplement that was created after researchers at the University of California, Berkley discovered that high concentrations of broccoli concentrated blocked bad estrogens that can cause hormone imbalance.
- By this estimate, 18 kg of broccoli would provide roughly 200 mg of I3C and 20 mg of DIM.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) powerfully safeguards mitochondria from age-related decay and death through two principal pathways.
- 95%of all cellular energy production depends on it.
- CoQ10 levels in our vital organs, like the heart, steadily rise after birth and peak at about 20 years of age. After that, they undergo a continuous decline.18 Fortunately, three decades of cutting-edge research have shown us how to restore CoQ10 levels in the mitochondria to slow and even reverse the effects of aging.19-22
- In pre-clinical models, CoQ10 supplementation protects tissue from lethal DNA damage and increases lifespan.23It boosts mitochondrial function and total energy output in heart muscle in aging animals.24 And in animal models, lifelong CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to decrease oxidative damage in skeletal muscle, increase native antioxidant enzymes, and favorably modify age-related changes in muscular energy metabolism.25
- Until 2007, the only form of CoQ10 available was ubiquinone. Unfortunately, the ubiquinone form of CoQ10 has limited absorption.26 Another form of CoQ10, known as ubiquinol, remains up to eight times longer in the blood.27,28
- Dense with mitochondria, the heart requires more energy than any other organ—and the greatest concentration of CoQ10.29
- Exercise can boost longevity and even increase mitochondrial density in the short term; however, exercise can also damagethe mitochondria in the long term.44,45 The high rate of oxygen and electron flow that exercise requires can lead to chronically low ATP levels, which may exert negative effects during vigorous exercise.46 CoQ10 supplementation can counteract such effects, enhancing the adaptive response of skeletal muscle following exercise.47
- CoQ10 supplementation before exercise increases muscle CoQ10 levels, reduces muscular oxidant stress, and may increase the amount of time you can exercise until exhaustion.48 To take one dramatic example, CoQ10 supplementation of 300 mg/day resulted in improved blood markers of exercise-induced muscle injury among elite Japanese Kendo athletes (a form of martial arts) practicing up to five-and-a-half hours per day.49
- CoQ10 at just 100 mg/dayeven enhances performance of normally sedentary men during repeated bouts of exercising.50 Supplementation of 300 mg/day enabled adults to increase their velocity on a stationary bike compared with placebo, while reducing fatigue.51
- Animal studies show that CoQ10 supplementation increases brain levels of CoQ10, sustaining the brain’s tremendous energy needs. At the same time it reduces brain injury and increases life span in mice with a neurodegenerative disease.54
Today, scientists recognize mitochondrial dysfunction as a key biomarker of aging.1-6 To take one instance, researchers have recorded evidence of 50% moremitochondrial damage in the brain cells of humans over 70 compared to middle-aged individuals.7 Mitochondrial dysfunction and death are now definitively linked to the development of virtually all killer diseases of aging, from Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes to heart failure.8-11
The good news is that mitochondrial dysfunction can be reversed.12 The scientific literature is now filled with studies documenting the therapeutic power of CoQ10 to thwart degenerative disease by boosting mitochondrial health and bioenergetic (energy-producing) capacity.13-16
Vitamins and Minerals: Will They Give
You a Metabolic Tune-Up or Just Make Expensive Urine?
I don’t think people need vitamins and they are a waste of money…
That is only if they eat wild, fresh, whole, organic, local, nongenetically modified food grown in virgin mineral- and nutrient-rich soils and not transported across vast distances and stored for months before being eaten. And if they work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move their bodies every day, and are free from chronic stressors and exposure to environmental toxins.
Then we don’t need vitamins.
But, of course, I have described absolutely no one on the planet. In reality, we all need vitamins.
Most people don’t understand the role of vitamins and minerals in our bodies. I certainly didn’t when I finished medical training.
I thought if we just had enough to prevent us from some horrible deficiency state like scurvy (vitamin C deficiency), then we didn’t have to worry about how much we were getting.
I also thought that if we ate “enriched food” like white flour with a few vitamins added back in, or milk with vitamin D added in, additional vitamin supplementation was a waste.
What most people don’t realize is the same thing I was unaware of when I first started practicing medicine: the real reason our food supply must be “enriched” is because it is so processed that it is “impoverished” to start with.
So why can’t you just eat “nutrient-rich” food, instead of eating “nutrient-poor” food?
Today, even with our “enriched food,” more than 92 percent of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. That doesn’t mean they are receiving less than the amount
|they need for optimal health. It means they receive less than theminimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases.|
In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that 6 percent of those tested had serious vitamin C deficiency and 30 percent were borderline low.23 A report in the journal Pediatrics found obesity and malnutrition coexisting. Obese, overfed, and undernourished children with cognitive disorders were found to have scurvy and severe vitamin D deficiency or rickets. These deficiencies damaged their brains.24 You never think of overweight people as malnourished, but they can be!
A USDA survey showed that 37 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin C,70 percent not enough vitamin E, almost 75 percent not enough zinc, and 40 percent not enough iron.25
I would say 100 percent of us don’t have enough of the basic nutrients to create optimal health or give ourselves a metabolic tune-up.
There are many reasons the foods you eat no longer contain the nutrient levels you require for optimal health. Crops are raised in soil where nutrients have been depleted. Plants are treated with pesticides and other chemicals so they no longer have to fight to live, which further diminishes their nutrient levels and their phytonutrient content (not to mention the toxic exposure you receive from such chemicals). Animals are cooped-up in pens or giant feedlots instead of roaming free, eating the nutrient-rich wild grains and grasses they once consumed. Since cows’stomachs are adapted to grass instead of the corn they now eat, they must take antibiotics to prevent them from exploding.
To complicate this further, all of us are exposed to hazardous toxins and chemicals that poison our bodies, we live with too much stress, we don’t sleep enough, we don’t exercise enough, and we are inflamed, making the nutritional demands on our bodies even heavier.
In today’s world everyone needs a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement. The research is overwhelming on this point.26
|The question is not how much of a certain nutrient or vitamin do we need not to get sick, but how much do we need to be optimally healthy!* In fact, lower amounts recommended by the government may not be high enough.|
For most people, a high-quality multivitamin; a calcium-magnesium supplement; vitamin D; fish oil; and special B vitamin complex including folate, B6, and B12 will take care of the basics. I will give you specific guidelines on this basic supplement program in Part III.
I have tested for vitamin and nutrient deficiencies in thousands of patients and found that by correcting them people feel better, improve their mood, mental sharpness, memory, and ability to focus, as well as have more energy, and even lose weight. Correcting deficiencies also helps prevent disease. I have seen depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, autism, ADHD, mood swings, Parkinson’s, and dementia go away or dramatically improve.
The basic vitamin recommendations outlined above (which I will discuss in more detail in Part III) include nutrients that form the backbone for proper brain function, for mood, memory, behavior, and attention problems. They are needed to fix your broken brain.
Let’s take a look at the way nutrient deficiencies affect our health and our brain function.
Nutrients are powerful in both sickness and in health. Imagine a world where hundreds of debilitating, severe, often life-threatening diseases could be cured within days by taking substances without any side effects; substances that are completely safe and cost only pennies a day. That is the power of vitamins and minerals.
Now imagine that very few people were being treated with these cost-effective, safe, extremely effective strategies.
Imagine what the medical ward might look like.
As you walked the halls you would see endless suffering: people with teeth falling out and bleeding gums,
Nutrients: The Keys to Health and Brain Power
blindness, insanity, dementia, scaly bloody skin, uncontrollable diarrhea, severe depression, diabetes, and heart attacks. You would see people unable to walk because of lack of balance, children unable to talk and locked in their inner worlds, those whose bones bend under the weight of their bodies, people with loss of nerve function, severe infections that can’t be cured with antibiotics, pale skin, hair falling all over the floor, and peeling or grossly deformed fingernails that take the shape of spoons.
These are the symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Today we live in such a world. For some, symptoms of nutrient deficiency may be subtle. In fact, they are often invisible. But they cause no less suffering.
Many of the day-to-day complaints we think we have to live with as we age are the result of nutritional deficiencies.
These nutritional deficiencies range from problems like the epidemic of broken brains (which can be traced back to our nutrient-depleted toxic diet) to problems like reflux, allergies, and asthma to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Whether you are suffering from a bad mood, difficulty concentrating, or have a more serious condition such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease, it is likely that nutritional deficiencies are one of the primary causes.
This is not a nutrition textbook, but I must focus on a few important nutrients for optimal brain function, how they affect your mind and body, and what happens if you don’t get them. Essential nutrients are called “essential” because they are just that. Without them we cannot survive and thrive. That is why I recommend that everyone take a full complement of essential nutrients every day. I will explain which nutrients you need to take daily in Part III.
Some may need more or less of these nutrients, and some may need a special form. But we all need all of them. They work to run your biochemistry. Without them, the functions of your mind and body slow down or grind to a halt. These nutrients are the stuff of life.
Do you need a study to tell you that you need to drink water, breathe air, and sleep every night? You don’t need a study to know you require these nutrients either (though there are literally hundreds of studies that prove you do).
These are the essential ingredients for being alive. It is that simple.
Essential Daily Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin D Vitamin E
Vitamin K Vitamin C Vitamin B1
(thiamin) Vitamin B2
B3 (niacin) B5 (pantothenic
B6 (folic acid) B12
Macrominerals (needed in large amounts)
Calcium Chloride Magnesium Phosphorus Trace Minerals (needed in
small or trace amounts) Copper
Iodine Iron Manganese Molybdenum
Potassium Sodium Sulfur
Vanadium Zinc Boron Chromium Silicon
Essential Amino Acids
Tryptophan Methionine Phenylalanine
Valine Leucine Isoleucine Lysine
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-6 Fats Linoleic acid
Alpha linoleic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentanoic acid (EPA)
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
SPECIAL NOTE ON CONDITIONALLY ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
Our bodies are resourceful and make most of what we need from a very few basic raw materials. However, under certain conditions, such as stress, toxicity, medication use, infection, genetic variations, or aging, we may need what are called “conditionally essential” nutrients. They are called that because they are needed under certain special conditions.
Many of the brain-supportive nutrients, including amino acids like tyrosine, special fats like phosphatidylserine, or parts of our normal biochemistry such as coenzyme Q10, acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid, and others, fall into this category.
While not everyone may need them, many of us do,
particularly if we are in the category of the 162 million with chronic illness. They are very helpful in clearing up biochemical traffic jams and train wrecks and making things run the way they were designed so we can function optimally and thrive in every way—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
A New Model of Nutrition: Turning “Minimum Daily Requirements” Upside Down
Doctors learn that vitamins are important to prevent deficiency diseases (diseases caused by a lack of specific vitamins or minerals) like scurvy or rickets. Too little vitamin C and you get scurvy. Too little vitamin D and you get rickets. That’s it. That is the extent of our nutritional training.
However, there is a new concept emerging. Having enough of a nutrient to prevent one of these deficiency diseases, but not enough to optimize cellular function, will lead to “long-latency” deficiency diseases (diseases that take a long time to manifest themselves) like heart disease, cancer, depression, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorder, or Alzheimer’s disease.
For example, if you are severely deficient in folic acid, you will have anemia after a few months, or have a baby with birth defects. This is a deficiency disease. But if you don’t have enough folic acid for optimal function over thirty to forty years, you will double your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.27
This is a long-latency deficiency disease. There are dozens of examples like this of diseases caused by long- term nutrient deficiency.
Let’s examine our old model of nutrition, and how we need a radically different view if we are to effectively address, not only our broken brains but also all chronic illness.
The old model of nutrition is based on providing the minimum amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to
minimum amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to
prevent deficiency diseases. The questions being asked are: how much vitamin C is needed to prevent scurvy? How much thiamine is needed to prevent beriberi? How much niacin is needed to prevent pellagra? How much vitamin D is needed to prevent rickets?
The answer is not very much.
Understanding the role of vitamins and minerals in health this way is based on the concept that individual nutrients have one physiological role: to prevent the deficiency diseases. Vitamin C prevents scurvy. Vitamin D prevents rickets. That’s it. As long as you don’t have those problems, you are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need.
The current dietary reference intakes (DRIs), or the amount of nutrients we are told is safe and desirable by the government, are based on this outdated concept. Oddly, the USDA, or United States Department of Agriculture, not the Health and Human Services Department, sets the DRIs. Unfortunately, our nutritional needs, agricultural policy, and government subsidies of our industrial food supply compete with each other. The subsidies are primarily for corn and soybeans, which are used to make high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and most of the raw materials for the fast food, junk food, and processed food industry. Policy often overrides science in the end.
The thinking that led us to believe the DRIs are suitable recommendations for what we need to operate optimally is no longer scientifically sound. Since the human genome has been deciphered, we now recognize that there is vast biochemical variability within the population.
We all have unique nutritional and biochemical needs.
Using a single baseline for determining the dietary reference intakes for different people in the population does not fit with our understanding of this biochemical diversity. Different people have different needs. Some need more of particular types of vitamins and minerals than others.
What’s more, there is mounting evidence that taking just enough of a vitamin to avoid deficiency diseases
Vitamins, Genes, and Enzymes: Making Things Happen in Your Body
doesn’t give you nearly enough of that vitamin to achieve optimal health.
To understand this, we need to take a look at how your genetic makeup, the nutrients you consume, and special proteins called enzymes all work together to determine how healthy or ill you are mentally and physically.
This information is going to revolutionize the way you think about your health.
So how are genes and vitamins connected?
Humans have approximately thirty thousand genes. In that sense we are not that different from an earthworm.
What makes humans different from earthworms (and from each other) is the 1.5 to 3 million subtle differences in their genes called polymorphisms (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs). These slight alterations in your genetic structure determine everything—all the quirky, individual tendencies you have. They also create the unique biochemical needs within the population.
The only function of your DNA is to make proteins, as I said earlier (page 95). Enzymes are one of thousands of proteins created from your DNA. However, these particular proteins are critically important, because they are the catalysts that help turn one molecule into another—they are the helpers that slow down or speed up all the trillions of chemical reactions that happen every second in your body.
Nutrients, in turn, control the function of these enzymes. They tell your enzymes what to do. They turn on or turn off the chemical reactions in your body.
Making Happy Mood Chemicals
Let’s look at how we make serotonin as an example of how this works. Serotonin is a peptide (which is just a little protein) known as a neurotransmitter, which boosts our mood. You don’t eat serotonin, but your body makes it. It builds serotonin from the amino-acid tryptophan that comes
from the protein in our turkey sandwich. The enzyme designed to convert tryptophan from
turkey into serotonin needs vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, to help it perform its chemical wizardry. No B6, no enzyme
reaction, no serotonin, no happy mood. The result? Depression—along with a host of other potential problems.
Figure 8: Conversion of dietary protein to serotonin But the real critical element in this equation is you. You may need more B6 to get your enzymes to turn tryptophan into serotonin than your next-door neighbor does. Your genes may not have created an enzyme that is as responsive to B6 as your neighbor’s enzymes are, or just
runs a little more slowly. Hence you need more B6 to do the job.
Because you are a genetically unique individual. As a result your enzymes are constructed differently and respond to nutrients differently than those of your neighbors. About one-third (or 1 million) of your SNPs (the variations in your genes) are dedicated solely to the job of determining how effectively your enzymes are controlled by the nutrients you consume!
Why is this critical to your health? If you understand that one-third of the entire variation in your genetic code affects the function of your enzymes, and that nutrients are the control switches for those enzymes, you will want to make sure you have all the right raw materials (nutrients) to make those enzymes function optimally.
What happens if you don’t get the right nutrients to help your enzymes function optimally? It’s simple: you get sick. If your enzymes run too slowlyor too quickly your core systems get pushed out of balance. The results are mental disorders, illness, and weight gain. Controlling the function
of your enzymes means controlling your health. This is why nutrients are so essential. Without them, your biochemical wheels grind to a halt. Your enzymes don’t get the messages they need to perform their critical functions. Of course, this isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. It’s not as though you either have nutrients or you don’t. You have differing levels of nutrients and different enzymes that respond differently than other people’s enzymes do to
these nutrients. This is why making sure you have the right amount of
nutrients for you is so important. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by taking vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are the cofactors (or coenzymes) that make things runs smoothly. Vitamins and minerals help your enzymes do what they were intended to do.
It is for this reason that using a single baseline like the DRI to determine everyone’s nutritional needs no longer makes sense. The overwhelming evidence that now exists indicates that giving more than the minimum amount of nutrients necessary to avoid deficiency diseases may be critical to healing disease.
Bruce Ames, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, at the University of California, Berkeley, in his landmark review of over fifty enzymes controlled by nutrients that vary genetically from person to person, states that: “Our analysis of metabolic disease that affects cofactor binding [the joining of the vitamin or nutrient to the enzyme], particularly as a result of polymorphic mutations [person-to-person genetic variations], may present a novel rationale for high-dose vitamin therapy, perhaps hundreds of times the normal dietary reference intakes (DRI) in some cases.”28
This means that genetically some of us may require much higher (and even mega) doses of certain vitamins for our enzymes and cells just to function normally. In fact, many of us are born with needs that may be two to one hundred times higher than someone else’s.
Few Vitamins and Minerals, Many Jobs
Also absent from our current nutritional recommendations is the notion that each vitamin and
mineral has many—and sometimes hundreds—of functions. The body uses the same nutrients for many different jobs. A single nutrient may catalyze hundreds of biochemical reactions and suboptimal levels may lead to cellular and molecular dysfunction that is not recognized as a “deficiency disease,” yet still has a dramatic impact on our health.29
For example, just a little vitamin D30;31 prevents rickets, but a higher dose may have a role in treating or preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, depression, epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, and cancer. Folate not only prevents dementia, but also depression, colon and breast cancer, birth defects, Down syndrome, and more. Magnesium plays a role in over three hundred enzyme reactions.
That’s only three vitamins and minerals! Imagine the havoc suboptimal levels of many or all of the nutrients I listed on pages 118–19 might wreak on your body.
Robert Heaney, M.D., professor of medicine at Creighton University,32 admonishes us that this view overlooks two important facts.
First, living for a long time with suboptimal levels of nutrients may cause similar but more subtle effects as the regular deficiency diseases. For example, having soft, tender bones may result from low-grade vitamin D deficiency. Though this wouldn’t be defined as rickets, the effects are similar.
Second, there may also be very different mechanisms for developing disease after many years of low-grade deficiency because nutrients are involved in so many body functions. That is how suboptimal levels of folate can lead to cancer, heart disease, depression, or dementia.
The bottom line: we need nutrients, they are essential, and without them our bodies and our brains don’t function.
Now that we have established the critical role of nutrients as the building blocks of life, let’s look more closely at the ones that are the most important for the brain and mind.
Similarly, we know that alcoholics become “crazy” with a condition known as Wernicke’s encephalopathy from vitamin B1 (or thiamine) deficiency, which can be cured by giving them a vitamin.
Tryptophan is an amino acid (building block of protein) needed to make serotonin, the chemical in the brain for a relaxed and happy mood, and melatonin, the chemical for sleep. Vitamin B6 is crucial to converting tryptophan into serotonin. Clayton’s unstable mood, sleep disturbance, and ADHD were clues to a B6 deficiency.
Some of his prescription medications were actually further depleting his B6 supply.5
The Mighty Methylators for Mental
Health: Folate, B6, and B12
If you have ever seen a map of the New York subway system you know it is an incredibly complex interconnected set of train tracks. Imagine what would happen if there were a break in those tracks. Worse, imagine what would happen if there were a break in the tracks at Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal. Much of the interconnected networks of trains would slow or shut down.
If you have ever seen a map of the biochemical pathways of a human being you know that it is thousands of times more complex than the New York subway. This map would fill an entire wall, and the words would be so small you could barely read them.
The most important set of biochemical pathways in your body, perhaps the central switching station for the whole operation, are the “train tracks” responsible for keeping two specific trains (or biochemical processes) running smoothly. They are the “methylation” train and the “sulfation” train.
Many critical steps of our biology depend on these trains running smoothly and constantly. A break in the tracks on which these critical, interconnected processes depend causes many illnesses.
Problems with methylation and sulfation are involved in all mental illness and neurological dysfunction, especially depression, autism, attention deficit disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and more. They are also responsible for heart disease and cancer.
There are a few processes so central to health and biology that they explain much of what goes wrong with our brains, and how disease is created in general. Methylation and sulfation are two such processes. Think of these as natural laws—like the laws of physics—that explain all the phenomena we see with a few basic principles. Think of these interconnected biochemical pathways as part of the basic laws of biology.
In fact, breaks in the methylation and sulfation tracks are the deep roots of nearly all illness and can explain what goes wrong in nearly all the other keys of UltraWellness.
Why Are “Methylation” and “Sulfation” So Important?
Every important function in our bodies is regulated by or depends on these simple processes.
Our genes and our nutritional state control whether the methylation and sulfation trains run slowly or quickly, and whether or not they are likely to run off the tracks. Good genes and good nutrition lead to on-time express trains. Bad genes, poor diet, and toxins lead to train wrecks.
The good news is that these processes can be almost completely fixed through diet, detoxification, and special nutritional supplements, even if you have “bad” genes.
For methylation and sulfation to stay on track, your body needs a daily source of three special vitamins—B12,
B6, and folate—to help keep the process of methylation running.
Beside B12, B6, and folate the body also needs a
continual source of sulfur for the sulfation train specifically. This comes from foods like broccoli and garlic as well as fish, eggs, sunflower seeds, and poultry, which are high in methionine, and can be boosted by special nutrients such as NAC (n-acetylcysteine) and alpha lipoic acid and an herb like milk thistle.
The UltraMind Solution
Figure 9: Methylation cycle (control of DNA, creation of cell membrane, and production of cellular energy), detoxification, and antioxidant protection
A lack of these important nutrients is what causes the methylation and sulfation trains to break down. The tracks break, and the trains grind to a halt. And that prevents your brain from functioning the way it was designed, leading to depression, autism, ADHD, dementia, and almost all variations of broken brains.
Because sulfation is a critical part of detoxification, I will focus on that process more in chapter 10. For now, let’s look more closely at methylation.
Why the Methylation Train Needs to Run on Time
Almost every mental disorder and neurodegenerative disease from depression to Alzheimer’s,33 from ADHD to autism,34 from Parkinson’s35 to bipolar disease36 can be improved by fixing problems with methylation and sulfation trains. It is one of the most exciting areas of research in
medicine today. Fixing these biochemical trains also prevents heart
disease, osteoporosis, strokes, cancer, Down syndrome, spina bifida, and more.
Methylation is the center of our biochemistry and brain function because it:
Keeps Our DNA Working Protects our DNA: it repairs damaged DNA. Switches DNA on and off at the right time to keep us healthy. Helps Neurotransmitters Work
It is necessary for the production and removal of neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine to keep things in balance. It helps the receptors on cells get ready to receive messages from neurotransmitters.
It makes cell membranes more fluid, and less stiff and more receptive to brain messenger chemicals. It helps produce PC, the major fatty fluid component of cell membranes.
Is the Major Antioxidant System It lowers homocysteine (an unhealthy compound that can damage blood vessels and brain cells through oxidation).
It is critical in controlling oxidative stress or the rusting process common to almost every disease through the production of glutathione (see page 238) Is the Key to Detoxification
It helps recycle molecules needed for detoxification (namely, the body’s major detoxifier, or glutathione —see page 238). Cools Inflammation
It controls and reduces inflammation by producing glutathione and reducing oxidative stress (which triggers inflammation). Is the Link to All Chronic Disease
It prevents dementia, cancer, heart disease, and
|almost every known age-related disease.
It’s easy to see why breaks in the tracks on which the methylation train runs lead to many of the mental and physical health problems people suffer with every day. Let’s look at some of the research on how this process is linked to so many mental illnesses and brain disorders specifically. This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it gives|
you a sense of how huge this problem is.
Depression and Mood Disorders
Overwhelming evidence links low folate, B12, and B6 levels to depression and mood disorders. Deficiency or insufficiency of these vitamins is very common. And remember, it is these deficiencies that cause the methylation train to slow down. These special nutrients keep the enzymes going that run the methylation train.
Victor Herbert first discovered the consequences of this deficiency in 1962.37 He used himself as a study subject, consumed a folate-deficient diet for four and a half months, and experienced progressive insomnia, forgetfulness, and irritability. All these symptoms disappeared within two days of taking folate. In another study of 2,682 middle-aged men in Finland,38 those with the lowest dietary folate intake had a 67 percent greater risk of depression.
One remarkable study in the American Journal of Psychiatry39 found that 27 percent of severely depressed women over sixty-five years old were B12 deficient. This
was found not by blood levels of B12, but by the functional indicator of whether B12 was doing its job—methylmalonic
acid. If you think about it, this suggests that more than one- quarter of all severe depression can be cured with B12 shots!
Doctors are now using a “prescription” folate called Deplin to treat depression and to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants.40 In fact, if you have folate deficiency, it is unlikely that antidepressants will even work.
What’s remarkable is how backward the thinking about
depression is. Doctors tend to only use vitamins if the antidepressants don’t work.41 They should be prescribing the vitamins in the first place and then supplementing with antidepressants only if vitamins and lifestyle changes don’t work.
People with a low folate level have only a 7 percent response to treatment with antidepressants. Those with a high folate have a response rate of 44 percent. That’s six times better. In medicine, if we get a 15 to 30 percent improvement we are happy; but a 600 percent improvement should be headline news.
The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging found that 35 percent of people were deficient in folate and that the risk of getting Alzheimer’s was increased 60 percent in those who were deficient in folate.42 In one double-blind, placebo- controlled study of elderly patients with memory complaints, giving 15 mg of folate a day showed significant improvements in memory.
In another ten-year study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,43 doctors found that in those over sixty- five years old, low-vitamin-B12 status was associated with more rapid cognitive decline.
I see cases like this over and over again in my practice —get the methylationtrain running smoothly again and memory improves almost overnight. That is what happened for Eleanor.
Some of the most interesting studies regarding trouble with the methylation and sulfation trains come from the world of autism and ADHD.
Dr. Richard Deth of Northeastern University has discovered that the brain receptors for dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is essential for focus and attention (two things notably lacking in ADHD and autism), require methylation to work properly.
In fact, children with ADHD and autism tend to have slightly quirky dopamine receptors that are easily disturbed by anything that messes up methylation.
To be turned on, these dopamine receptors need vitamin B12 acting as a helper to specific enzymes. Unfortunately toxins, especially mercury, poison a particular enzyme (MS or methionine synthase). This can lead to a biochemical traffic jam.44
Getting the traffic flowing with methyl B12 often has miraculous effects on these children. The special form of B12 helps synchronize neuronal or brain activity. In one of my autistic patients, the school knows exactly which day he gets his B12 shots: he is focused, happy, and engaged.
Wow! That’s a rather long list of problems that are caused by improper methylation. So let’s take a look at
What Makes Us Sick: Our Nutrient- Poor, SAD Diet and Toxins
what causes the methylation and sulfation trains to come off the tracks. That will lead us to better understand how we can repair the problem.
What Causes the Train Wrecks?
Unfortunately, many things can affect optimal methylation and sulfation. But it can be boiled down to two main issues—your genes and your environment.
Genes load the metabolic gun and the environment pulls the trigger. And often a combination of genes sets the stage for problems. There is no one gene for Alzheimer’s or autism—there are multiple genes that interact with a complex and often toxic environment.
That’s how the gun gets loaded.
But whether we pull the trigger or not is largely dependent on us. You may have genetic predispositions to certain diseases, but that doesn’t mean you have to get sick.
Magnesium deficiency. This is so common in our
society because stress, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol all deplete magnesium, which in turn prevents the body from making serotonin.
Magnesium plays a role in over three hundred enzyme reactions.
If you are deficient in this critical nutrient you are twice as likely to die. This is reported from a study of hospitalized patients in the Journal of Intensive Care Medicine.54
Up to half of Americans are deficient in this nutrient and don’t know it. And normal blood tests may miss it.
It accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases, which are easily helped and often cured by adding this nutrient.
In fact, in my practice, this nutrient is one of my secret weapons against illness, particularly anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, and autism.
What is it?
It is magnesium. It is the stress antidote and the most powerful relaxation mineral that exists.
Now I find it very funny that more doctors aren’t clued into this nutrient because weuse it all the time in conventional medicine but never stop to think about why or how important it is to our general health or why it helps our body function better.
I remember using it when I worked in the emergency room. It was a critical “medication” on the crash cart. If someone was dying of a life-threatening arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat), we used intravenous magnesium.
If someone was constipated or needed to prepare for a colonoscopy, we gave them milk of magnesia or a green bottle of liquid magnesium citrate, which emptied their bowels.
But you don’t have to be in the hospital to benefit from treating magnesium deficiency. You can treat yourself now, and chances are youare deficient, because as I said above, up to half of all Americans don’t get enough magnesium.
Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, stiff—whether it is a body part or even a mood—is a sign of magnesium deficiency. If you suffer these kinds of symptoms it’s likely you don’t get enough magnesium.
This critical mineral is responsible for more than three hundred enzyme reactions in the body and is found in all your tissues, but mainly in your brain, bones, and muscles. It is necessary for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.
The list of conditions that are related to magnesium deficiency is very long. There are more than 3,500 medical references on magnesium deficiency.
But it is mostly ignored because it is not a drug, even though it is more powerful in many cases than drugs, which is why we use it in life-threatening and emergency situations like seizures and heart failure in the hospital.
You might be suffering from magnesium deficiency if you experience any of the following things:
Anxiety, autism, ADHD, headaches, migraines, chronic fatigue, irritability, muscle cramps or twitches, insomnia, sensitivity to loud noises, palpitations, angina, constipation, anal spasms, fibromyalgia, asthma, kidney stones, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, PMS, menstrual cramps, irritable bladder, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, trouble swallowing, and more.
We eat a diet that has practically no magnesium—a highly processed, refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy, none of which contain magnesium.
We are under chronic stress and this also decreases our magnesium levels. In fact, one study in Kosovo found
that those under chronic war stress lost large amounts of magnesium in their urine.
Magnesium levels are also decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, sugar, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics, other drugs, and some intestinal parasites.
We live lifestyles that cause us to lose whatever magnesium we have in our bodies, and we never replace it. When was the last time you had a good dose of sea vegetables (seaweed), nuts, greens, and beans? If you are like most Americans, your nut consumption mostly comes from peanut butter, and mostly in chocolate peanut butter cups. As for seaweed, greens, and beans … well, most
Americans don’t eat much of these at all.
magnesium is used in making and using energy.
Food-State Zinc & Selenium
We are in a global zinc deficiency epidemic. More than one third of the world’s population is zinc-deficient and in some populations up to 73 percent are deficient.55 This is a huge problem because zinc is used by more enzymes (over three hundred) than any other mineral, including those that help your DNA repair, replicate, and synthesize proteins.
Think back to the beginning of this chapter to understand why that’s so important. Your DNA’s job is to build protein. If that stops, your system breaks down from its roots.
Zinc is important in immunity and controlling inflammation, a critical factor in brain dysfunction. It is also extremely important for activating your digestive enzymes; this helps you break down and digest food better and aids in preventing food allergies—one of the chief causes of inflammation (and consequently brain diseases in so many). I will discuss the critical importance of inflammation in brain health in chapter 8.
Zinc also helps rid the body of heavy metal toxins like mercury by helping a key enzyme called metallothionein. Problems with metallothionein have been linked to many neurobehavioral problems, including ADHD and autism. In fact, the highest concentration of metallothionein is in the
brain, especially in the memory center, or hippocampus. Low zinc levels have been linked to depression56 as well as changes in behavior, learning, mental function, and susceptibility to convulsions. Zinc is also needed for the enzyme dopamine hydroxylase that makes the happy hormone noradrenaline from dopamine. This is, perhaps, one of the primary reasons zinc deficiency is associated
with depression. There have also been links between zinc deficiency
and schizophrenia. It seems that up to 50 percent of schizophrenics have a biochemical quirk called the mauve factor (a chemical by-product from oxidation injury to our fats and proteins).57 These odd compounds can bind to zinc and vitamin B6, leading to a functional zinc deficiency.
One of my patients told me the story of her schizophrenic brother who woke up from his madness by simply taking high doses of zinc, B6, and niacin.
Dr. Abram Hoffer, the father of orthomolecular psychiatry, has successfully treated thousands of schizophrenic patients using this approach.58 An extensive review of the mauve factor in many diseases by Woody McGinnis59 and his group documents how the neurotoxin influences mood, brain, and behavior. Mauve factor can be measured in the urine. Taking zinc, B6, and niacin can correct this problem.
Low zinc also affects taste and appetite and is linked to eating disorders. If you can’t taste your food, you either become anorexic or you overeat!
Adequate zinc is absolutely critical for a healthy brain and body. And many of us are deficient and don’t know it. So eat pumpkin seeds and take zinc.
Selenium is worth mentioning when it comes to the health of the brain and mood because it functions in a number of key systems in the body.
It helps you make thyroid hormone, so necessary for proper mood and brain function.
It helps your body make more glutathione, and supports your body’s main detoxification and antioxidant
system. (We will discuss this more in chapter 10.) And it is important in helping your body make some of the essential fatty acids which we know have a huge impact on mood, autism, ADHD, dementia, and just about
everything else to do with the brain. No wonder studies have found that selenium
supplementation boosts mood!60