Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Important ingredients that support neurological, metabolic, and digestive health

Various ingredients that have shown a role in helping those with neurological and digestive health issues. To date, there have been countless studies documenting these effects from some of ingredients like

· Folic Acid

  • Vitamin B6 (P5P)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

No doubt that many people have heard of folic acid, an important B vitamin for many processes in the body, specifically for the nervous system. Folinic acid is the metabolically active form of folic acid and one less step is required for its conversion in the body. Usually folic acid has to be activated but it’s more readily available by using folinic acid. Folinic acid aids in the conversion of sulfur-containing compounds to glutathione, an antioxidant found in the body. Studies on folinic acid have shown improvements in sleep, communication, social interaction in those with neurological, metabolic and digestive needs. The Better-Worse ratio is 11 :1, meaning supplementation with folic acid caused 11 children to get better for every one that got worse.

Another extremely important vitamin is vitamin B6. Food sources include beans, meat, poultry, fish, and some fruits and vegetables. Pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) is the active form of vitamin B6 and it has been shown that the conversion to P5P is problematic in some children. Some studies have shown a low activity of pyridoxal kinase, which is the enzyme required for the conversion to P5P. For this reason, it is best to only supplement with the P5P form. B6 is also involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain and peripheral nerve cells, which are critical for the development of language, attention, alertness etc.

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in foods that come from animals, including fish, meat, and poultry. It’s a vitamin needed for many processes, including nerve cell activity, DNA replication. It’s best to use methylcobalamin, rather than cobalamin, as evidences indicate this form is utilized much more efficiently, especially in children with methylation defects. Every cell in the body expresses the folate/methionine cycle, defects in transmethylation can affect vital biochemical reactions at many places in metabolism. This is important, as some children do have methylation defects. So it makes sense to consume B12 in a form in which it's already metabolically active and maximally reduced, and thereby put less of a strain on our bodies' antioxidative capacity.

Zinc is a mineral that can be found in the following food sources: oysters, red meat, beans, nuts and grains etc. It is an essential mineral that is a component of more than 300 enzymes needed to repair wounds, synthesize proteins, aid in the development and maintenance of the brain, help cells reproduce, preserve vision, boost immunity, and protect against free radicals, among many other functions. It is a known fact that when zinc levels are down, copper levels are often increased. 90% of children with neurological and digestive needs have this abnormal zinc to copper ratio. Excess copper can lead to copper imbalance in the body and organs and copper imbalance in children is associated with delayed development, anti-social and hyperactive behavior, and learning difficulties. Because zinc helps facilitate the excretion of excess copper, it is important to make sure a multivitamin has an adequate amount of zinc. You should avoid copper-containing supplements for these children. Also, the B:W ratio for zinc is 22:1, even higher than that of vitamin C!

In support of the use of these ingredients for certain children, Adams and co-workers (Adams J et al. Pilot study of a moderate dose multivitamin/mineral supplement for children with autistic spectrum disorder. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 10(6):1033-1039, 2004) conducted a small pilot study using a strong, balanced multivitamin/multimineral formulation. 20 children ages 3-8 years old with neurological and digestive issues. This formulation included the P5P form of vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B12, calcium, among others. The results clearly indicated statistically significant improvements in sleep and GI health. They also determined a functional need for more B6 and vitamin C in these individuals.