Vitamins, Minerals, & Amino Acids
A Detailed Description
From Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dr. R.H. Murphree
Vitamin A: It is a potent antioxidant with immune system enhancing abilities. Some of the functions of Vitamin A are: develops and maintains the epithelial tissue that lines the inner and outer surfaces of the body. This includes the mucous membranes, the lungs, skin, stomach, and the urinary, digestive, and reproductive tracts. Essential for night vision. Maintains a healthy thymus gland, which controls the entire immune system. Vitamin A is important for the formation of bones and soft tissue, including tooth enamel, and it protects against some cancers. It is important in treating acne, treated topically and orally with large doses of Vitamin A. It helps with hormonal imbalances, which are associated with skin problems. It also strengthens epithelial tissues, including the skin.
Birth Defects: A deficiency of Vitamin A is linked to birth defects. Expectant mothers should use a multi-vitamin with a minimum of 2,000 I. U.’s, and no more than 8,000 I. U.’s (excess Vitamin A in pregnancy can also cause birth defects).
Asthma: Vitamin A is important in maintaining healthy lung tissue. It also helps reduce allergic reactions.
Allergies: Vitamin A helps ensure proper immune antibodies (IGA) are present. This is important in digestive dysbiosis, including parasite, Candida, bacterial, and viral infections. Vitamin A is important in correcting a leaky gut. A leaky gut is associated with such allergic reactions as migraine, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel, cystitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, ear infections, dermatitis, hives, and eczema. Side Notes: Beta-Carotene can be converted into Vitamin A. Beta-Carotene is relatively non-toxic.
Vitamin A is important in calcium metabolism. A deficiency in zinc will cause Vitamin A not to be metabolized, even when there is an abundance of Vitamin A. White spots on the fingernails indicate a Zinc and Vitamin A deficiency and suggest reduced immunity.
Toxicity: Cracked lips, dry skin, headaches, thinning hair, and bone pain are all signs of too much Vitamin A. These symptoms are quickly reversed when Vitamin A levels are reduced.
*Beta-Carotene is a group of carotenoids, which are found in dark green, yellow and dark orange fruits and vegetables. It is a strong antioxidant that has anti-cancer properties. One molecule of Beta-Carotene can destroy 1,000 free radicals. It protects the skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. Women with low levels of Beta-Carotene in their cervical tissues are at risk for developing cervical cancer. Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Essential Vitamin and Mineral Guide, E. Somer, M. A., R. D.
A nineteen-year study involving 3,000 men shows carotenoids (especially Beta-Carotene) may be capable of significantly reducing the incidence of lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers. Dr. Braly's Food Allergy and Nutrition Revolution, J. Braly, M.D., Keats Publishing, New Canaan, Conn., 1992. Side Notes: Beta-Carotene can be used as a precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin E and Selenium enhance the role of Beta-Carotene. Toxicity: The only side effect of consuming too much Beta-Carotene is a yellowing of the skin. This condition disappears once Beta-Carotene is discontinued.
*Vitamin D is produced by the body after exposure to sunlight. It helps maintain healthy nerve and muscle systems by regulating the level of circulating calcium. Calcium is essential for proper nerve transmission and muscle function. A deficiency in Vitamin D can cause degeneration of bones and possible hearing loss if the small bones in the ear are involved.
*Vitamin E is another major antioxidant. It protects cells and tissues from oxidative stress and free radical damage. It also protects the pituitary and adrenal hormones, fatty acids, and myelin sheaths surrounding nerves and genetic material in DNA from free radical damage. Studies done in Israel show Vitamin E can reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Braly.
As an antioxidant, Vitamin E helps slow down the aging process. Vitamin E increases and maintains proper brain function. Recent studies conducted at Columbia University have shown Vitamin E to slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at Tufts University found that by supplementing the diet with 200 I.U.'s of Vitamin E, control groups had a 65 percent increase in immune fighting abilities. According to research done at Harvard School of Public Health, people who supplement their diets with 100 I.U.'s of Vitamin E reduced their risk of heart disease by 40 percent (100 I.U.'s is seven times the RDA for Vitamin E). It prevents abnormal blood clotting and increases the efficiency of muscles, including the heart, by reducing oxygen requirements.
Researchers at Duke University have demonstrated that Vitamin E acts as a potent antioxidant to counter the toxic effects of air pollution. The amount needed to combat air pollution, including ozone and nitrous oxide, is six times the RDA! Once again, this should serve notice that the RDA levels are inadequate in today's society. Vitamin E is effective in reducing tension in the lower extremities, which is associated with intermittent claudication and heart disease. Vitamin E also relieves restless leg syndrome or "the fidgets". A deficiency in Vitamin E can lead to heart disease, muscular dystrophy, nervous system disorders, anemia, liver damage, and birth defects.
Side Notes: Selenium enhances the effects of Vitamin E. A Zinc deficiency increases the need for more Vitamin E. Vitamin E may be necessary for the synthesis of Vitamin B-12. Vitamin E helps protect the body from the toxic effects of lead and mercury. Smokers definitely need to take extra Vitamin E. Research done at the University of California shows Vitamin E and Vitamin C levels are reduced by exposure to cigarette smoke. G. J. HandelVan, L. Packer, and C. E. Cross, Destruction of Tocopherols, Carotenoids, and Retinol in Human Plasma by Cigarette Smoke, American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 63:559-565, (1996). Studies have also demonstrated a 45 percent reduction in lung cancer in those individuals who take vitamin supplements. S. T. Mayne, D. T. Janerich, P. Greenwald, Et Al, Dietary Beta Carotene and Lung Cancer Risk in the U. S. Nonsmokers, Journal of the National Cancer Institute (USA), 86:33-38, (1994).
Toxicity: Unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin E is relatively non-toxic. Vitamin E taken in very high dosages can cause interference with Vitamin K and lead to prolonged bleeding times. However Vitamin E is safe when taken in dosages several times higher than the RDA (which it is recommend you do). *The body stores fat-soluble vitamins, which include Vitamins A, D, E, K, and Beta-Carotene. Because of this, an overdose is possible when taking these vitamins. However, the side effects of vitamin toxicity are quickly eliminated once they are discontinued.
The Water Soluble Vitamins: Vitamin B-1, also known as Thiamin, is needed to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is important for proper cell function, especially nerve cells. It is involved in the production of acetylcholine. This nerve chemical is directly related to memory and physical, as well as mental energy. A deficiency of Vitamin B-1 can lead to fatigue, mental confusion, emaciation, depression, irritability, upset stomach, nausea, and tingling in the extremities. Vitamin B-1 has been reported to be deficient in almost 50 percent of the elderly. Could this be one of the reasons pre-senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have increased so dramatically over the last few decades? Side Note: Diets high in simple sugars, including alcohol, will increase the chances of having a Vitamin B-1 deficiency. The tannins in tea inhibit Vitamin B-1 absorption.
Riboflavin or Vitamin B-2 is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Vitamin B-2 is involved in producing the neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that are responsible for sleeping, mental and physical energy, happiness, and mental acuity (more on neurotransmitters and depression under Amino Acids). A deficiency of Vitamin B-2 can cause soreness and burning of the lips, mouth, and tongue, sensitivity to light, itching and burning eyes, and cracks in the corners of the mouth. Side Notes: Vitamin B-2 can help curb the craving for sweets, and is needed for the synthesis of Vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-2 is needed to convert the amino acid Tryptophan to Niacin (B-3). Vitamin B-2 is not absorbed very well and any excess will turn the urine a bright fluorescent yellow. Toxicity: None.
Niacin or Vitamin B-3 plays an important role in mental illness. Orthomolecular physicians have used Niacin to treat schizophrenia, anxiety and depression. Vitamin B-3 is a by-product from the metabolism of Tryptophan. Some psychiatric disorders are caused by a genetic inability to breakdown or absorb Tryptophan. This can lead to aggressive behavior, restlessness, hyperactivity, and insomnia. *Large daily doses of Niacin can decrease blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing the good cholesterol, HDL. Niacin increases the circulation. This helps prevent blood clots and arteriolosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. A deficiency of Niacin cause weakness, dry skin, lethargy, headaches, irritability, loss of memory, depression, delirium, insomnia, and disorientation. Side Notes: Large doses of Vitamin B-3 can cause a flushing of the skin. This can be prevented by starting off with 25 mgs. a day, gradually increasing the dosage over a period of days. The flushing is due to the release of cellular histamine. Niacin acts as a wonderful sedative to calm nerves and help with sleep. Vitamin B-6 is needed to convert Tryptophan to Niacin. Toxicity: *Daily doses of 1,000 mg. appear to be quite safe, and large doses are needed to treat high cholesterol. For high cholesterol, its best to use timed release Niacin. For psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression and insomnia, it is best to use a special version of Vitamin B-3 known as Niacinamide.
Pantothenic Acid or Vitamin B5 is crucial for managing stress and boosting the immune system. Vitamin B-5 is needed by all cells in the body. It is needed for normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. It converts carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. Vitamin B-5 is needed to produce adrenal hormones which play an important role in how well we deal with stress. In fact, Vitamin B-5 is sometimes referred to as the "anti-stress" vitamin. Vitamin B5 can help reduce anxiety and may play a significant role in depression. It helps convert choline into acetylcholine which is responsible for memory. A deficiency in Vitamin B-5 can lead to fatigue, depression, irritability, digestive problems, upper respiratory infections, dermatitis, muscle cramps, and loss of sensation in the extremities. Side notes: Vitamin B-5, along with Vitamin C, helps to reduce uric acid levels. Increased uric acid levels are associated with gouty arthritis. Vitamin B5 helps boost endurance by manufacturing ATP, an essential chemical for cellular energy. Toxicity: Large doses may cause diarrhea.
Pyridoxine or Vitamin B-6 may be the most important B vitamin. It is involved in more bodily functions than any other vitamin. Vitamin B-6 is crucial for making neurotransmitters, including Serotonin, epinephrine and Norepinephrine. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals, which regulate our energy, moods, sleep, memory, drive, and ambition. It inhibits the formation of homocysteine, a toxic chemical associated with heart disease. It is involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, which make up the genetic blue print of cells. It helps metabolize essential fatty acids. As a major antioxidant, Vitamin B-6 helps prevent the destruction caused by free radicals. Vitamin B6 helps produce hydrochloric acid which is crucial for proper digestion. The formation of hemoglobin is dependent on Vitamin B-6. A Vitamin B-6 deficiency can cause anemia even if normal iron levels are present. A deficiency of Vitamin B-6 can cause depression, insomnia, fatigue, tingling and numbness in the extremities, increased susceptibility to infections, nausea, kidney stones, and anemia. Side Notes: Vitamin B-6 may be suppressed by certain medications, including oral contraceptives and estrogen. ymptoms associated with Vitamin B-6 deficiency include premenstrual syndrome, depression, irritability, tension, headaches, fluid retention, and acne, and may be reduced by taking Vitamin B-6. It can also serve as a natural diuretic. Vitamin B6 can alleviate carpal tunnel (tingling or pain in the wrists and hands). Some asthmatics have a malfunction in the way they assimilate Vitamin B-6 and process Tryptophan. Supplementing with 250-500 mg. of Vitamin B-6 a day can help with symptoms of asthma. Vitamin B-6 is needed for proper magnesium levels in red blood cells. Orthomolecular physicians use mega doses of Vitamin B-6 to treat schizophrenia. Vitamin B-6 stimulates IGA antibodies which help prevent tooth decay.
Cobalamin or Vitamin B-12 is the only B vitamin that is stored by the body. A Vitamin B-12 deficiency occurs only in malnutrition, malabsorption or other impediments to proper digestion. Vitamin B12 is important in the growth of children. It is responsible in the replication of the genetic material in all the cells, and therefore, is essential for the development and maintenance of all cells. Vitamin B12 helps form the myelin sheath that insulates nerve processes. This sheath allows rapid communication from one cell to another. A deficiency of B-12 can cause a reduction in mental acuity, evidenced by poor memory. Side Notes: Alzheimer’s and senile dementia are two diseases that are associated with memory loss, confusion and nerve damage. Both diseases can be due to a deficiency of Vitamin B-12. B12 is only found in animal products (especially liver), and therefore, vegetarians should supplement their diet with Vitamin B-12. Anti-gout medications, anti-coagulant drugs and potassium supplements may interfere with B-12 absorption, and taking antacids will block the absorption of Vitamin B-12! Calcium is necessary for normal absorption of B-12. High doses of Folic Acid can mask the symptoms of a Vitamin B-12 deficiency anemia. A Vitamin B-12 deficiency is usually caused by malabsorption, and is mainly seen in elderly patients. Because this deficiency is routinely seen in the elderly, I believe everyone over the age of 60 should be taking extra Vitamin B-12. Vegetarians are also more likely to have a B-12 deficiency, and therefore, should routinely supplement their diet with B-12. Toxicity: None.
Biotin-is critical to the body's fat metabolism, and it aids in the utilization of protein, Folic Acid, B-12, and Pantothenic Acid. Sufficient quantities are needed for healthy hair and nails. Biotin may help prevent hair loss in some men. Biotin is also important in promoting healthy bone marrow, nervous tissue and sweat glands. A deficiency in Biotin can cause brittle nails, hair loss and depression. Side Notes: Saccharin inhibits the absorption of Biotin. Raw egg whites, antibiotics and sulfa drugs all prevent proper utilization of Biotin. Due to poor absorption, infants are susceptible to a Biotin deficiency. Symptoms of a deficiency include a dry, scaly scalp and or face. This is known as seborrheic dermatitis. A Biotin deficiency is considered rare, and deficiency is usually seen in hospitalized patients on intravenous feeding tubes, or patients taking large dosages of antibiotics. Symptoms of a deficiency include depression, dry skin, conjunctivitis, hair loss and color, elevated cholesterol, anemia, loss of appetite, muscle pain, numbness in the hands and feet, nausea, lethargy, and enlargement of the liver. Toxicity: None.
Choline: Is essential for the health of the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, and nerves. It helps with fat and cholesterol metabolism. It prevents fat from accumulating while helping fight fat build up in the arteries and liver. Our bodies can make Choline from Vitamin B-12, Folic acid, and an amino acid, Methionine. Choline is essential for brain development and proper liver function. A deficiency in Choline may cause poor memory and mental fatigue. Mega doses of Choline have been used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington's disease, learning disabilities, and Tardive Dyskenesia with varying degrees of success. Toxicity: None.
Ascorbic Acid or Vitamin C produces and maintains collagen, a protein that forms the foundation for connective tissue. Connective tissue is the most abundant tissue in the body. Vitamin C is important in fighting bacterial infections, healing wounds, preventing hemorrhaging, reducing allergy symptoms, and helping to prevent heart disease. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, which helps prevent free radical damage. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine, and can reduce blood pressure in mild hypertension. Vitamin C prevents the progression of cataracts, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Vitamin C may help improve fertility, and helps regulate cholesterol so that it is excreted out of the body. It lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, while raising the HDL (good) cholesterol. Vitamin C increases the immune system function, and is involved in the formation of important stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands. A deficiency in Vitamin C can cause bleeding gums, loose teeth, dry, scaly skin; tender joints, muscle cramps, poor wound healing, lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, and swollen arms and legs. Side Notes: Vitamin C is important in the conversion of Tryptophan to the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) Serotonin. Low Serotonin levels are linked to insomnia and depression. A deficiency of Vitamin C causes an increase in urinary excretion of Vitamin B-6 (also associated with making neurotransmitters). Vitamin C helps prevent toxicity of cadmium, a heavy metal that can increase the risk of heart disease. Other heavy metals, including mercury and copper, are also counter-acted by Vitamin C. Aspirin, alcohol, antidepressants, anti-coagulants, oral contraceptives, analgesics, and steroids can all interfere with Vitamin C absorption. Ester C is absorbed four times faster than regular ascorbic acid. Most Vitamin C is lost in the urine. Ester C only loses one-third the amount of ascorbic acid in urination. Toxicity: Pregnant women should not exceed 5,000 mg. of Vitamin C a day. Large doses of Vitamin C can cause diarrhea. Many nutritional experts, including this author, recommend gradually increasing Vitamin C until you have a loose stool. Then, reduce your Vitamin C intake 500 mg. at a time until you no longer have diarrhea. This is your optimal dose.
Folic Acid is considered brain food. It is involved with energy production, synthesis of DNA, formation of red blood cells, and metabolism of all amino acids. Folic Acid is involved in the production of the neurotransmitters, including Serotonin. Low Folic Acid levels are associated with an increase in homocysteine, an amino acid linked to cardiovascular disease (Vitamin B-6, Folic Acid and Vitamin B-12 all help reduce homocysteine levels). A deficiency in Folic Acid (one the most common vitamin deficiencies), will produce macrocytic anemia, digestive disorders, heart palpitations, weight loss, poor appetite, headaches, irritability, depression, insomnia, and mood swings. Side Notes: A sore, red tongue may indicate a Folic Acid deficiency. Folic Acid needs Vitamins B-12, B-3 and C to be converted into its active form. Folic Acid can improve the birth weight, neurological development and prevent neural tube defects in infants. Women who are trying to get pregnant and expectant mothers should take a multi-vitamin with at least 400 mcg. of Folic Acid. A condition known as neural tube defect or Spinal Bifida occurs when the baby's spinal cord and brain don't close properly. If the opening occurs at the top of the neural tube, the brain never develops properly and the baby will die in a matter of hours. Toxicity: Large doses of Folic Acid can mask a Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Inositol is important in the metabolism of fats, cholesterol, and in the proper function of the kidneys and liver. It is vital for hair growth, and prevents hardening of the arteries. Inositol is needed for the synthesis of lecithin, which helps remove fats from the liver. Along with Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid, Inositol may help reduce anxiety. Side Notes: Caffeine may decrease Inositol stores. There is no known deficiency or toxicity for Inositol.
Para-amino benzoic Acid or PABA is needed to form red and white blood cells, which in turn, form essential B vitamins. PABA is used in suntan lotion to help block harmful UV rays and prevent sunburn. PABA has anti-viral properties, and has been reported to help in treating Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Side Notes: PABA may help restore gray hair to its natural color. PABA and sulfa drugs cancel each other out. Toxicity: Doses over 1,000 mg. can cause nausea and vomiting.
Boron is needed in trace amounts for the proper absorption of calcium. A recent study by the U. S. Department of Agriculture showed women who consumed 3 mg. of Boron a day lost forty percent less calcium and one-third less magnesium in their urine. Toxicity: Excessive amounts of Boron can cause nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, and fatigue.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It comprises some two to three pounds of total body weight, and is essential for the formation of bones and teeth. Calcium regulates heart rhythm, cellular metabolism, muscle coordination, blood clotting, and nerve transmission. Adequate intake of Calcium can help lower high blood pressure and the incidence of heart disease. Calcium contributes to the release of neurotransmitters that allow nerves to transmit their messages. Calcium can have a calming affect on the nervous system. A deficiency of Calcium can result in hypertension, insomnia, osteoporosis, tetany or muscle spasm, and periodontal disease. Side Notes: The ratios for calcium-to-magnesium and for calcium-to-phosphorous is important. It is recommended for Calcium intake to be 2 to 1 or 1.5 to 1, to Magnesium, and 2 to 1, 0r 3 to 1 for Phosphorous. Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of Calcium. Calcium absorption is decreased by high protein, fat and phosphorous (junk food) diets. Chelated Calcium (bound to a protein for easier absorption) and Magnesium can help reduce aluminum and lead poisoning. Toxicity: Excessive (several grams a day) Calcium intake can cause calcium deposits in the soft tissue, including the blood vessels (arteriosclerosis) and kidneys (stones). Oyster shell or bone meal calcium supplements often contain high levels of toxic lead. Calcium citrate or ascorbate is recommended, instead.
Chromium is involved in the metabolism of blood sugar (glucose). It is essential in the synthesis of cholesterol, fats and protein. Chromium helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. Proper interaction between blood sugar and insulin insures proper protein production, reducing the chance for fat storage. A deficiency in Chromium can cause adult onset diabetes, hypoglycemia and coronary artery disease. Side Notes: Ninety percent of the U. S. population is deficient in Chromium! Diets high in simple sugars increase the loss of Chromium, and a deficiency can cause a craving for sugar. Zinc can inhibit Chromium absorption; and should always be taken separately. Toxicity: None.
Copper maintains the sheath that wraps around nerves (myelin sheath) and facilitates nerve communication. It plays a vital role in regulating the neurotransmitters. Copper plays an integral part in maintaining the cardiovascular and skeletal systems as well. It is part of the antioxidant enzyme Supraoxide Dismutase, and may help protect cells from free radical damage. Copper helps with the absorption of iron, and a deficiency in Copper can lead to anemia, gray hair, heart disease, poor concentration, numbness and tingling in the extremities, decreased immunity, and possibly Scoliosis. Side Notes: Cadmium, Molybdenum, and sulfate can interfere with Copper absorption. A Niacin deficiency can cause an elevation of Copper. Zinc and Copper impair the absorption of one another. Toxicity: Daily intake of 20 mg. or more can cause nausea and vomiting. Wilson's disease is a genetic disorder characterized by excessive accumulation of Copper in the tissues, liver disease, mental retardation, tremors, and loss of coordination.
Iron is important in formation of hemoglobin, oxygen use, energy production, muscle function, thyroid function, and components of the immune system, protein synthesis, normal growth, and mental acuity. Side Notes: Iron should not be routinely supplemented. Blood tests are recommended for those who may be deficient in Iron. The exception in iron supplementation is for females who rigorously exercise. Studies show only eight percent of the U. S. population is deficient in Iron. However, twenty percent of pre-menopausal, and as many as eighty percent of females who exercise, are deficient in Iron. Excessive amounts of Vitamin E and Zinc interfere with Iron absorption. Vitamin C helps with the absorption of Iron. Vitamin B-6 is needed for the Iron containing-protein, hemoglobin. People suffering from Candida and chronic herpes infection usually have a deficiency in Iron. Toxicity: Excessive amounts of Iron are associated for increased risk of heart disease and can lead to decreased immunity, liver, kidney, and lung disorders. If you suspect you have an iron deficiency, talk to your health professional about having blood tests done.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It is responsible for proper enzyme activity, transmission of muscle and nerve impulses, and aids in maintaining a proper pH balance. It helps metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into energy. Magnesium helps synthesize the genetic material in cells, and helps to remove toxic substances, such as aluminum and ammonia from the body. Adequate amounts of magnesium are needed to insure proper heart function. A deficiency of magnesium may increase heart disease by decreasing free radical damage. Calcium and magnesium help regulate the heart rate. Magnesium relaxes smooth muscle, including the heart, and calcium constricts or activates smooth muscle. Magnesium plays a significant role in regulating the neurotransmitters. A deficiency in magnesium can cause depression, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, heart disease and arrhythmia, constipation, insomnia, loss of hair, confusion, personality disorders, swollen gums, and loss of appetite.
Side Notes: Magnesium is a natural sedative and can be used to treat muscle spasm, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and constipation. It also helps with intermittent claudicating, a condition caused by a restriction of blood flow to the legs (I recommend Bilberry and 600 mg. of magnesium). Magnesium is also effective in relieving some of the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Women who suffer from PMS are usually deficient in magnesium (as is 80 percent of the general population). New studies are validating what many nutrition-oriented physicians have known for years; a magnesium deficiency can trigger migraine headaches. Magnesium helps relax constricted bronchial tubes associated with asthma. In fact, a combination of Vitamin B-6 and magnesium, along with avoidance of wheat and dairy products has cured many of my young asthmatic patients. High intake of calcium may reduce magnesium absorption. Simple sugars deplete the body of magnesium! So does stress, and magnesium is a potent anti-depressant! Toxicity: Symptoms of magnesium toxicity include nausea, lethargy and difficulty in breathing. Magnesium supplemented above 600 mg. can cause loose stools and diarrhea, but this is quickly remedied by decreasing the dosage.
Manganese aids in the development of mother's milk and is important for normal bone and tissue growth. It is involved in the production of cellular energy. It metabolizes fats and proteins and is essential in maintaining a healthy nervous system. Manganese is needed in order to synthesize thiamin, and it works in coordination with the other B vitamins to reduce the effects of stress. A deficiency of manganese can cause fatigue, impaired fertility, retarded growth, birth defects, seizures, and bone malformations. Side Notes: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, and Zinc all compete for absorption in the small intestine, and large doses of one these nutrients may reduce the absorption of the others. Many of my patients who suffer from Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are deficient in manganese
Molybdenum aids in the conversion of purines to uric acid and allows the body to use nitrogen. It is important in sulphite detoxification and promotes normal cell function. Molybdenum deficiency can cause stunted growth, loss of appetite, and impotence in older males. Side Notes: Excessive copper may interfere with molybdenum absorption. Molybdenum works with Vitamin B-2 in the conversion of food to energy. Molybdenum can help reduce symptoms associated with sulfite sensitivities. I had a patient who broke out in a rash every time she ate foods containing the preservative Sulphite. A hair analysis revealed a molybdenum deficiency. Once her molybdenum levels were normalized, she was once again tolerant of sulphites. Toxicity: High dosages can cause symptoms similar to gout, joint pain and swelling.
Phosphorus is needed for healthy teeth, proper bone and cell growth, and helps regulate heart contractions. A deficiency in phosphorus is quite rare. It is found in most foods, especially meats, dairy products and junk foods. Side Notes: Excessive amounts of phosphorus can interfere with calcium absorption. Junk foods, especially sodas, are loaded with preservatives and large amounts of phosphorus. Toxicity: As above.
Potassium, Sodium, and Chloride help to regulate the nervous system and heart rhythm. They regulate sodium and water balance in the body. Potassium, sodium and chloride are all closely related to one another. These three minerals are known as electrolytes due to their electrical charge. They are responsible for maintaining a proper pH (along with calcium and magnesium). Excess sodium can cause an elevation in blood pressure. Potassium helps lower blood pressure and can reduce the risk of stroke. Chloride helps make up the digestive enzyme hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid helps digest food, destroys harmful intestinal "bugs", and synthesizes Vitamin B-12. Chronic diarrhea, vomiting, heat stroke, prolonged use of diuretics and kidney disease can a cause deficiency of all three of these minerals. A potassium deficiency manifests itself as irregular heart beats, sterility, muscle weakness, apathy, paralysis, and confusion. A chloride deficiency can lead to alkalosis, an imbalance in the body's pH system. This imbalance can cause vomiting and more diarrhea. A sodium deficiency is rare, but can occur after long periods of sweating, fasting and or diarrhea. Side Notes: Sodium increases urinary calcium loss, while potassium decreases urinary calcium loss. Potassium and magnesium are synergetic in lowering blood pressure and, therefore, should be taken together.
Selenium is an important antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. It is a component of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme essential for detoxification of cellular debris. Selenium, along with other antioxidants, especially Vitamin E, combats free radicals that can cause heart disease. Selenium may help prevent certain forms of cancer. Selenium may help those suffering from autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is an important component of the immune system. It helps make thyroid hormones and essential fatty acids A deficiency can cause birth defects, certain cancers, fibrocystic disease, heart, and liver disease. Toxicity: Doses above 600 mg. can cause side effects that include, tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Zinc is important in over ninety enzymatic pathways. Zinc facilitates alcohol detoxification within the liver. It plays a role in producing and digesting proteins. Zinc is also important in maintaining normal blood levels of vitamin a, boosting the immune system, healing wounds, converting calories to energy, reducing low birth rates and infant mortality, controlling blood cholesterol levels, and in producing the prostaglandin hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, inflammation, and other processes. A deficiency of zinc can lead to poor taste, anorexia nervosa, anemia, slow growth, birth defects, impaired nerve function, sterility, glucose intolerance, mental disorders, dermatitis, hair loss, and atherosclerosis. Side Notes: Excess copper can cause a zinc deficiency and vice versa. Women who are pregnant accumulate excess copper and become zinc-deficient. This can lead to post-partum depression. Extra zinc, 50 mg, a day, should be consumed by pregnant females to help avoid unwanted post-partum depression. I don't recommend prescription pre-natal vitamins, because they are too low in the needed micronutrients, especially zinc and the B vitamins. I encourage my pregnant patients to take a high potency vitamin with a maximum of 10,000 I.U.’s of Vitamin A. Doses of Vitamin A above 10,000 I.U.’s are contraindicated and should be avoided. Zinc lozenges have been shown to reduce the symptoms and duration of colds by fifty percent. It is estimated that sixty-eight percent of the population is deficient in zinc. Zinc deficiency can cause depression, since it's necessary for the production of the happy hormone, Dopamine. Fingernails that contain white specks are indicative of a zinc deficiency.
Vitamin/Mineral IV Therapy
Clinical experience and recent research has proven intravenous vitamin and mineral therapy to be effective in treating FMS and CFS patients.
Our practice has been using vitamin/mineral IV therapy for the last 4 years. They're an important part of our FMS and CFS program.
Nutritional deficiencies are a major reason why Fibromyalgia patients can't get well. We are only as healthy as the chemical, cells, tissues, and organs that make up our bodies. Our chronically ill patients, especially our FMS and CFS patients, are deficient in several vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
A recently published review of eighty-six FMS patients, seventy four percent improved and most only needed four or fewer treatments for optimal results. Side effects leading to discontinuation of therapy occurred in four percent of the participants. Prescriptions for anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants were virtually eliminated.
(Reed JC. Magnesium therapy in musculoskeletal pain syndromes-retrospective review of clinical results. Magnesium Trace Elem 1990;9:330.)
Alan Gaby, M.D., a well respected resource in the complimentary medicine movement, is largely responsible for promoting this therapy. Dr. Gaby first learned of nutritional IV therapy from Dr. John Meyers. Dr. Meyers was a well known physician in Baltimore, Maryland who created the "Meyers cocktail." This cocktail contains vitamins and minerals as described below. There are now hundreds maybe thousands of doctors using this cocktail. Dr. Gaby has personally overseen the administration of fifteen thousand plus of these "Meyers cocktail" IV therapies. Several prominent physicians who specialize in FMS and CFS including Majid Ali, author of "The Canary and Chronic Fatigue" and Dr. Teitelbaum author of "From Fatigued to Fantastic."
Vitamin C and intravenous therapy
Use of vitamin C infusions originates with the work of the late Fred Klenner, M.D. He's one of the unsung heroes in medicine. Dr. Klenner, in the small town of Reidsvill, North Carolina, discovered the efficacy and safety of IV vitamin C. He practiced and taught this technique for over 40 years, and achieved tremendous success in the treatment of refractatory infections and autoimmune diseases. His life's work was recently published in a fascinating book called The Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C. In our experience, intravenous vitamin C is a powerful weapon against CFS and FMS. We have seen numerous patients obtain dramatic relief from pain, fatigue, insomnia, and depression from the use of this modality.
Vitamin and mineral IV’s are usually recommended because we've found them to be extremely valuable in accelerating the healing process. Individuals with chronic illnesses like FMS and CFS usually have a problem with digestion; bloating, gas, indigestion, irritable bowel, malabsorption, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and yeast overgrowth. Because of this they don't digest and absorb the essential nutrients found in foods or vitamins.
Without these essential nutrients, chronically ill patients will stay chronically ill!
Prescription medications often further deplete vital nutrients that the patient needs for optimal health. A case in point is a deficiency in magnesium.
It is estimated that up to 80% of those with FMS/CFS are deficient in magnesium. A deficiency in this essential mineral can cause the following symptoms, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, heart arrhythmias, depression, constipation, irritable bowel, and leg cramps. Does any of this sound familiar? Yet, most physicians don’t know this and therefore don’t recommend supplementing magnesium.
There are twenty amino acids. Nine of these are known as essential amino acids. Essential amino acids can't be made by the body and must be obtained from our diet. Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured from within our own cells. Individual amino acids are joined together in sequential chains to form proteins. Protein, the body’s building material, is essential to every cell and makes-up our muscles, hair, bones, collagen, and connective tissue. Essential and non-essential amino acids are involved in every bodily function. They are the raw materials for the reproduction and growth of every cell. Amino acids are in every bone, organ (including the brain), muscle, and most every hormone. Amino acids are also needed to make enzymes. Enzymes are protein molecules that coordinate thousands of chemical reactions that take place in the body. Enzymes are essential for breaking down and digesting carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
*A few distinctions are needed in order to understand and use amino acids properly. Amino acids can occur in two forms, a “D-form” and an “L-form”. These two forms are mirror images of one another. The “L-form” is available in the foods we eat, and it is considered the most absorbable form. The white, crystalline free-form amino acids derived from brown rice protein are the purest supplement available. In a natural state all amino acids are in the “L-form”. “D-forms’ can be formed by bacteria, tissue catabolism, or synthetically. Most “D-forms” are not available for protein synthesis and can be detrimental to normal enzyme functions. However, DL-Phenylalanine as discussed below is the exception. DL-Phenylalanine inhibits the breakdown of endorphin and enkephalin limiting enzymes.
Essential Amino Acids
Non-Essential Amino Acids
*Disorders associated with Amino Acid deficiencies
*Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory Application Guide for Physicians.
Individual Amino Acids
Amino acids can be taken as a blend to shore-up any underlying nutritional deficiencies. Always use “free form” (L- forms) amino acids. Taken individually, amino acids act like a drug to produce specific reactions. It’s best to take single amino acids on an empty stomach; 30 minutes before or 1 hour after eating. Individuals with malabsorption syndrome, irritable bowel, leaky gut, and chronic illnesses are wise to take an amino acid blend in addition to any single amino acids they may be taking. The Essential Therapeutics FMS/CFS Formula contains all of the essential amino acids.
Here are some of the amino acids and how they are used in nutritional medicine.
L-Tryptophan has already been discussed in chapter 8, "First Things First."
L-Carnitine and energy
Carnitine is produced by combining two other amino acids, Methionine and Lysine. Carnitine helps transport fats into the cell for the mitochondria to use as energy. The mitochondria burn fatty acids during physical activity, which makes L-Carnitine a valuable tool for reducing weight and reducing the risk of fat build-up in heart muscle. Its efficient use of fats helps the body lower cholesterol, triglycerides and possibly the risk of heart attack. The consumption of alcohol can cause a build up of fat in the liver. L-Carnitine inhibits alcohol-induced fat build up in the liver. L-Carnitine helps boost cellular energy and has shown to be helpful in reducing the fatigue associated with CFS.
L-Cysteine and detoxification
Cysteine is formed from the amino acid Methionine and plays an important role in detoxifying the body. Cysteine is the precursor to the most abundant and most important amino acid in the body, glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide of glutamine, (Glutamic acid), cysteine, and glycine.
Cysteine destroys free radicals, chelates (removes) heavy metals from the body, guard’s cells, including heart and liver cells, from toxic chemicals like alcohol, xenobiotics and other damaging substances. Glutathione and cysteine are effective in reducing or eliminating skin conditions, such as psoriasis, acne, liver spots and eczema. Those with respiratory problems, asthma, bronchitis, and allergies may benefit from taking a specialized form o cysteine known as N- acetyl-cysteine. *N-acetyl-cysteine has proven to be helpful for wide variety of respiratory problems.
*Lomaestro BM, Malone M. Glutathione in health and disease: pharmacotherapeutic issues. Ann Pharmocother 1995; 29(12):1263-73.
I prescribe L-Cysteine and L-Methionine to my patients with aluminum toxicity and poor liver function. Usually used in a combination formula. If taking by itself use 500-1000 mg a day on an empty stomach.
Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) and anxiety
GABA, which can be formed from the amino acid Glutamine, has a calming effect on the brain, similar to valium and other tranquilizers without the side effects. GABA, used in combination with the B vitamins Niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B-3) and Inositol, can alleviate anxiety and panic attacks. Many of my patients are surprised by the effectiveness of GABA in treating their anxiety and panic attacks.
For anxiety start with 500mg 2-3 times a day (or as needed) on an empty stomach. Some individuals may need up to a 1,000 2-3 a day.
L-Glutamine and intestinal permeability
Glutamine is converted to Glutamic acid in the brain. Glutamic acid increases neuronal activity, detoxifies ammonia (an abundant waste product in the body) from cells, and like glucose, is used to feed the brain. L-glutamine plays an important role in intestinal maintenance and repair. Glutamine is the major energy source of the intestines. It is one of the most important nutrients for the cells that line the colon. Individuals with intestinal problems, including Crohn's disease, colitis, irritable bowel, intestinal permeability, yeast overgrowth, and food allergies, especially need glutamine supplementation. Weir, C. D., Et Al:, Glutamine-Enhanced Elemental Diet Modifies Colonic Damage In A Hapten-Induced Model Of Colitis. Gastroenter, 102, part ii:a 711, 1992. Wustma, M., Tate, H., Weaver, L., Et Al. The effect of glutamine deprivation and supplementation on the structure of rat small-intestine mucosa during a systemic injury response, J. Parenter, Enteral Nutrition, 1995-19; 22-7. Studies in Britain and Canada showed that when individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) were given glutamine their symptoms, which include abdominal pain and diarrhea, dramatically improved.
The Ultimate Nutrition Glutamine The Essential Nonessential Amino Acid by Judy Shabert, M.D, R.D. and Nancy Ehrlich. Avery Publishing
Glutamine is one of the three amino acids that form glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in the detoxification system of the body. It helps clear unwanted toxins through the kidneys and liver.
It helps reduce sugar cravings and acts as an appetite suppressor.
Glutamine is the precursor to two very important neurotransmitters, Glutamic acid (glutamate) and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter while GABA is an inhibitory (relaxing) neurotransmitter.
Children who took glutamine supplements showed increased mental abilities and tested higher on I.Q. tests.
Usual dose is 500-1,000 mg twice a day on an empty stomach.
L-Glycine and detoxification
Glycine is another inhibitory amino acid. It can be used to reduce the symptoms of bipolar depression, epilepsy, and nervous tics. Glycine is also important in neutralizing toxic chemicals (especially alcohol). It helps synthesize Glutathione. It's been used in the treatment of depression and in the inhibition of epilepsy. J. Balch, M. D. and P. Balch, C. N. C., Prescription For Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, New York, p.29, 1990.
Usually taken in a combination formula.
L-Histidine and allergies
A histidine imbalance can cause anxiety, schizophrenia, nausea (particularly if pregnant), lethargy, fatigue, and anger. Histidine is the precursor of histamine. Histamine is known to play a role in allergic reactions (hay-fever) but also acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Histamine increases alpha-wave activity within the brain. The alpha-wave is associated with relaxation. When activated it helps increase ones resistance to stress and tension.
Histidine improves digestion by increasing the production of stomach acid. Usually taken in a combination formula.
L-Lysine and viruses
Lysine is the essential component of all proteins and plays a major role in soft tissue formation and repair. It is used for in treating cold sores, and is one the most important and cost efficient supplements I prescribe in treating herpes viruses. L-lysine is one of the most effective therapies for shingles. Cortisone only reduces the itching, but it does nothing to rid the body of the skin lesions. Taking steroids weakens the immune system and can cause further outbreaks of the virus. Use the natural antibiotic, anti-viral herb Echinacea along with 1,000 mg. of L-lysine and 25,000 I.U. of Vitamin A daily for two weeks or until the lesions disappear. If you easily bruise or your body has a difficult time healing wounds, you're deficit in Lysine.
L-Methionine and SAM
One of the essential amino acids (the body can't manufacture it on its own). Methionine is a crucial nutrient that allows the body to digest fats, combat toxins, produce choline, and deal with allergic reactions. It’s the precursor of cysteine, glutathione and taurine, and contributes to the production and regulation of insulin. Methionine is an excellent chelator. Chemical chelators are able to attach themselves to heavy metals like aluminum and lead and then help escort them out of the body through detoxification processes.
I prescribe methionine to my patients with faulty detoxification systems. People with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, liver problems, and heavy metal or xenobiotics overload need extra methionine.
Methionine is the main chemical component of s-adenosyl-methionine (SAM). SAM is involved in synthesizing neurotransmitters. A deficiency of SAM can contribute to depression.
A number of studies have shown that supplementing SAM can increase serotonin and dopamine. For more information on SAM and depression please see chapter on depression.
SAM and FMS
Studies involving FMS patients and SAM have shown dramatic improvements in pain reduction. 8One study showed that patients taking SAM for a period of 6 weeks had an improvement of 40% in pain reduction and 35% improvement in their depression.
*Grassetto M and Varotto A (1994) Primary Fibromyalgia is responsive to S-adenosyl-l-methionine. Current Therapeutic Research, 55: 797-806.
Recommended dose for methionine is 500-1,000mg a day on an empty stomach. It may also be taken in a combination formula.
Recommended dose for SAM is 400-800mg a day.
DL-Phenylalanine and pain control
This is a combination of the D- and L-form of the amino acid.
This form of phenylalanine acts as a natural pain reliever. DL-phenylalanine blocks the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of endorphins and enkephlins. Endorphins and enkephlins are a group of substances with in the body that help relieve pain. Endorphins are similar in chemical structure and actually far more powerful than the drug known as morphine. Small cells throughout the nervous system, brain, spinal cord and nerve endings are able to produce these morphine-like proteins.
It acts as an appetite suppressant and mild stimulant. Dl-phenylalanine has shown to be affective in helping patients afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Although caution is advised for individuals with high blood pressure, DL-phenylalanine is an affective supplement in treating musculoskeletal pains, including those associated with FMS. Many of my Fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients have benefited from taking DL-Phenylalanine.
A clinical study shows subjects taking DL-phenylalanine had a remarkable improvement in their condition; improvements were seen in 73 percent of low back pain suffers, 67 percent with migraines, 81 percent with osteoarthritis, and 81 percent with rheumatoid arthritis. J. Brawly, pg. 131.
For pain control or as an antidepressant take 1,000-4,000 mg twice a day on an empty stomach.
Phenylalanine can elevate blood pressure and very high doses may cause rapid heart beat; start with a low dose an increase to higher doses only as needed and only if no side effects are noticed.
L-Phenylalanine and depression
Phenylalanine is an important amino acid that is involved in the production of a particular neurotransmitter known as catecholamines. Catecholamines stimulate mental arousal, positive mood, and the “fight or flight” response to stress. Phenylalanine creates the following neurotransmitters, adrenaline, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help to elevate mood, reduce depression, pain, fatigue, and lethargy.
Phenylalanine is converted to the non-essential amino acid Tyrosine. Individuals with a rare but life threatening illness known as phenylketonuria (PKU) can’t breakdown and convert phenylalanine into tyrosine. The thyroid hormone thyroxin is made from tyrosine (see below). Supplementing with phenylalanine and tyrosine helps increase the thyroid gland and rate of metabolism. This in turn helps mobilize and burn fat. Phenylalanine curbs the appetite by stimulating a hormone known as cholycystokinin (CCK), which tells the brain when you’ve eaten enough.
As an antidepressant use 1,000-4,000 mg twice a day on an empty stomach.
Phenylalanine can elevate blood pressure and very high doses may cause rapid heart beat; start with a low dose an increase to higher doses only as needed and only if no side effects are noticed.
L-Tyrosine and low thyroid
Tyrosine can be a lifesaver for those suffering from depression. It has helped people with depression that has been resistant to all other medications. Tyrosine is effective not only in treating depression, but also helps with those suffering from fatigue and asthma. Tyrosine aids in the production of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary hormones. Many of my patients with low or hypothyroid function have benefited from taking a special supplement that contains L-tyrosine. Low energy, brittle nails, cold hands and feet can mean a person is suffering from adrenal hormone insufficiency. If so, these people may benefit from taking L-tyrosine and along with an adrenal extract supplement. Tyrosine, which can be produced from phenylalanine, elevates mood, drive and ambition by stimulating the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.
Tyrosine can also raise blood pressure so use caution. For low thyroid supplement with 1,000 mg twice a day on an empty stomach. For depression and fatigue use phenylalanine instead (see above).
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