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 Naturopathic Medicine: The Facts about Brain-Boosting Nutrients  
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©

Some drugs, such as cholestyramine, a cholesterol lowering drug, decreases absorption of folic acid. Cimetidine, for ulcers, dampens digestion and vitamin B12 absorption. Even sodium bicarbonate interferes with vitamin absorption with its acid neutralization. Other B-unfriendly-drugs include sulfasalzine, phenytoin, nitrous oxide, isoniazid, hydralazine, tolazamide, tetracycline and birth control pills (16,17). Alcohol (16) and smoking (18) are harmful too.

In addition to stress, pollution, dieting, illness and injury, less obvious situations requiring higher B complex intake are exercise (16), pregnancy, lactation, and growing children and teens. Chronic, high doses of vitamin C can decrease B12 levels too.

In light of the evidence, it seems we're all bound for confused and unhappy B deficient lives. Not necessarily so. Knowing B complex's weaknesses gives you the ability to make good nutritional decisions. Eat as many fresh, raw, whole foods as possible including whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables and dried beans. Follow the macrobiotic principle of choosing foods that are regional and in season. A backyard garden is an ideal way to do this, or visit local farmers. Avoid smoking and alcohol.

If you're in a B-vitamin-draining situation, such as taking medication (see above or ask your doctor), pregnant, under stress (aren't we all) or ill, consider supplementing your diet with B complex. Since vitamins and mineral taken in large doses can impact each other, a multiple is best. If you suspect you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of B vitamin deficiency, consult a nutritionally trained physician for a complete work-up. Stay healthy, happy and sound of mind by protecting the B's in your life.



References
  1. Dolphin et al (eds). Vitamin B6: Pyridoxal Phosphate. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 1986, chapter 17.
  2. Tan GH et al. Acute Wernicke's encephalopathy attributable to pure dietary thiamine deficiency. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 1994;69:849-850.
  3. Pfeiffer CC, Sohler A, Jenney CH, Iliev V. Treatment of pyroluric schizophrenia (malvaria) with large doses of pyridoxine and a dietary supplement of zinc. Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry 1974;3(4):292-300.
  4. Hoffer A. Vitamin B3 dependent child. Schizophrenia 1971;3:107-113.
  5. Anon. Folate-responsive homocystinuria and "schizophrenia". Nutrition Reviews 1982;40(8):242-45.
  6. DeLiz AJ. Large amounts of nicotinic acid and vitamin B12 in the treatment of apparently irreversible psychotic conditions found in patients with low levels of folic acid. Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry. 1979;8(2):58-62.
  7. Czeizel AE, Dudas I. Prevention of the first occurrence of neural-tube defects by periconceptional vitamin supplementation. The New England Journal of Medicine 1992;327:1832-35.
  8. Cimons M. US advises folic acid use to reduce birth defects. Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, September 15, 1992: A1 & A17.
  9. Bhagavan HN, Coleman M, Coursin DB. The effect of pyridoxine hydrochloride on blood serotonin and pyridoxal phosphate contents in hyperactive children. Pediatrics 1975;55: 437-41.
  10. Martineau J, Barthelemy C, Garreau B, Lelord G. Vitamin B6, magnesium, and combined B6-Mg: therapeutic effects in childhood autism. Biological Psychiatry 1985;20:467-78.
  11. Brush MG, Bennett T, Hansen K. Pyridoxine in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a retrospective survey in 630 patients. The British Journal of Clinical Practice 1988;42:448-52.
  12. Baumeister FAM, Wieland G, Shin YS, Egger J. Glutamate in pyridoxine-dependent epilepsy: neurotoxic glutamate concentration in the cerebrospinal fluid and its normalization by pyridoxine. Pediatrics 1994;94(3):318-321.
  13. Machlin LJ. New views on the function and health effects of vitamins (ed). Nutrition 1994;10(6):562.
  14. Anderson GH. Diet, neurotransmitters and brain function. British Medical Bulletin 1981;37(1):95-100.
  15. Rosenbewrg IH, Miller JW. Nutritional factors in physical and cognitive functions of elderly people. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1992;55:1237S-43S. Quote, pg 1237S.
  16. Shils ME, Young VR. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease (7th ed). Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1988, pg 992.
  17. Morgan BLG. The Food and Drug Interaction Guide. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, p 264.
  18. Piyathilake CJ et al. Local and systemic effects of cigarette smoking on folate and vitamin B12. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994;60:559-566.
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