Nutrition Research

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Stephen Davies. M.A., B.., B.Ch., in his article Zinc, Nutrition and Health (1984—85 Yearbook of Nutritional Medicine, Keats Pub.), states that olfactory acuity has been reported to be diminished in zinc deficiency. Davies also refers to a study by Henkin, R., Keiser, H., Jaffe, I., et al., Decreased Taste Sensitivity Reversed by Copper Administration (Lancet. ii, 1268-71, 1967), wherein the authors refer to other cases in which olfactory acuity has been reported to be diminished by zinc deficiency.



In an overview of rheumatoid arthritis presented in The Practitioner (224, Feb. 1980, 208-211), the authors point out that lower blood levels of pantothenic acid are associated with arthritis. Studies cited demonstrate that pantothenic acid supplements have helped alleviate symptoms of this disease and urge that further trials are indicated.



A report in Magnesium (4, Jan.-Feb. 1985, 16-19) describes how twenty cervical cancer patients developed diarrhea so severe they required hospitalization. Ten patients were treated with magnesium, and diarrhea disappeared within 3 days; whereas the group treated in the conventional way required two to six weeks before symptoms cleared. Radiation causes blood levels of magnesium to decrease, and the authors suggest that pretreatment with magnesium might prevent this side effect. In addition, magnesium has been found to reduce diarrhea due to malnutrition, Crohn's disease, and other conditions.



The American Journal of Kidney Diseases (5, Jan. 1985, 67-68) includes a case history of a 33-year-old hypertensive woman who had a salt craving that caused her to consume a half pound of salt per week. After treatment with large amounts of iron, her craving decreased dramatically. The authors note that pica, the compulsive consumption of odd substances, occurs in about 50 percent of iron deficient patients, half of whom eat ice. Salt craving is recognized as a symptom of several conditions but has not been previously reported in connection with iron deficiency.


According to Robert J. Benowicz (Non-Prescription Drugs and Their Side Effects), each week an estimated
30 million Americans take aspirin or related products to relieve their headaches; of these, an estimated 1.5 million, or 1 in 20, suffer some form of indigestion, nausea or vomiting. Referring to the dosage, he warns that a person should not take aspirin or other salicylates for more than a week to ten days without a doctor's supervision and should stop taking aspirin at the first sign of any side effects or adverse reaction.


In the August 1981 Postgraduate Medicine Journal (57,511-515), a report describes the case of a previously untreated diabetic who was treated with insulin and diet. His triglyceride level dropped from 258 to 158; this was sharply reduced further when niacin therapy was added. The report referred to other studies that have shown that triglyceride levels can be lowered by more than 60 percent by nicotinic acid.


The British Journal of Psychiatry (116,1970: 437-38) provides evidence presented by Dr. F. Flack that adequate body calcium promotes mental well-being. Dr. Flack has discovered that improvement in depression is accompanied by increased retention of calcium in the body.


In Psychosomatics (21, Nov. 1980: 926-29), a study reports folic acid blood levels were shown to be significantly lower in the depressed patients, leading the authors to conclude that a folic acid deficiency may be the cause of depression.

In a review article presented in Lancet (11, July 28, 1984:196-98), the authors point out that depression is a common manifestation of severe folate deficiency. Depressed patients with folate deficiency had more severe illnesses and responded less well to conventional antidepressant therapy than those without this deficiency. In addition, those who were treated for the deficiency made better recoveries than those who were not treated for folate deficiency.


A report in the Annals of Neurology (Feb. 17, 1985:117-20) states that pyridoxine-dependent seizures (PDS) in infants (which should be suspected in every infant with convulsions before 18 months of age) were controlled by administration of B-6. Failure to treat PDS with B-6 promptly results in severe mental retar­dation or death.



According to a report in Physiology and Behaviour (issue 34, May 1985: 727-34)), vitamin K-deficient animals became less active and suffered from general malaise. These results suggest that vitamin K defi­ciency may contribute to physical and psychiatric symptoms.


Biological Psychiatry (20, February 1985: 163-71) describes a study of 41 unmedicated psychiatric patients; 11 women who attempted suicide had significantly lower cerebrospinal fluid levels of magnesium than non-suicidal patients and controls. The authors hypothesize that magnesium may be required to maintain normal serotonergic (neurotransmitter) activity in the central nervous system.

In a study presented in Biological Psychiatry (19, June 1984: 871-76), 165 boys who had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital were compared with normal boys. Patients with low magnesium blood levels had signifi­cantly more symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, and sleep disturbances. The authors conclude that low blood magnesium is associated with depressive and schizophrenic symptoms in children.


In a study reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry (141, 1982: 271-72), 53 percent of all the psychiatric patients admitted to the hospital were deficient in at least one of the following: B-6, thiamin, and riboflavin. B-6 is associated with depression and other emotional disorders and the authors suggest that, along with riboflavin, B-6 deficiency has a primary role in the cause of emotional disorder.

A report in Biological Psychiatry (9:4, 1984: 613-16) concludes that the current data suggests that as many as 20 percent of a medically cleared population of outpatient depressives may suffer from a B-6 deficit. The report points out that nutrition, diet, and vitamin levels have received very little attention in psychiatric literature and implicates reducing diets as playing a possible role in depression.

In a study of 11 psychiatric patients, 57-100 percent of the depressed patients and 25-50 percent of the obsessive-compulsive patients had inadequate levels of B-6. The authors pose the question: Does depressive illness cause vitamin B-6 inadequacy, or vice versa? (Nutrition Reports International, 27, April 1983: 867-73)


The U.S. FDA reported that there was a 14 percent increase in adverse drug reaction reports from 1984 to 1985. Most of these were toxic effects to usual doses. (JAMA, Apr. 17, 1987)


Medications such as Retalin (methylphenidate) and Dexadrine (dextroamphetamine) are used to control behavioural problems in hyperactive children. The New England Journal of Medicine (287:217, 1972) published a report, Depression of Growth in Hyperactive Children on Stimulating Drugs (these stimulants calm, rather than excite, hyperactive patients), that describes growth retardation noted in hyperactive children who are on long-term medication therapy. This side effect is also said to be the result of reduced food intake associated with medication-induced suppression of appetite.


Antidepressant medications and tranquillizers are known to alter nutrient status because they affect food intake or nutrient excretion. Facts and Comparisons: Drug Information (Lippencott, 1985, pp. 260-264) reports that the anti-anxiety medications meprobamate, lorazepam, oxazepam, alprazolam, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and diazepam (Valium) can cause nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, loss of appetite, diarrhea, reduced salivation, and stomach disorders. The tricyclic compounds such as Elavil alter appetite and can cause weight gain or loss. These medications also increase urinary excretions and are known to increase losses of the B vitamins and vitamin C. The side effects of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors include constipation, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain; these conditions might reduce nutrient intake and excretion. Diazepoxide and diazepam might alter magnesium status and increase urinary loss of calcium.


Three physicians at the University of Missouri, Drs. James D. Dexter, John Roberts, and John A. Byer, have published studies often referred to as the definitive study on migraine: "The Five-Hour Glucose Tolerance Test and Effect of Low Sucrose Diet on the Migraine Patient" (Headache, Vol. 18, May 1978: 91-94; also H.J. Roberts in Headache, Vol. 7,1987: 41-62). They studied 74 migraine patients whose attacks were time-locked to the midmorning or midafternoon fasting state. According to their 5-hour glucose tolerance test, 6 patients were diabetic and 56 were reactive hypoglycemics. Only 16 percent of the group had normal glucose tolerance curves. All patients were placed on a low-sugar, 6-meal regimen and improved greatly. The 6 diabetic patients showed an improvement of greater than 75 percent; 3 were completely headache free. Forty-three of the 56 reactive hypoglycemics were available for follow-up, and 63 percent of them showed greater than 75 percent improvement. None became worse.


Based on evidence presented in the Lancet (Jan. 29, 1983:225-228) from patients with disorders of fat metabolism leading to severe vitamin E deficiency, it is suggested that vitamin E is important for normal neurological function in humans.

Children with vitamin E deficiency, often due to fat malabsorption, had similar neurological disorders which respond to vitamin E therapy. (Canadian Journal of Neurological Science, 11, November 1984:561-564)


In his book, Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy (Grove Press, Inc., NY:119), Michael Lesser, M.D., discusses the similarities between the symptoms of an anxiety attack and the mental symptoms of calcium deficiency. He describes a double-blind study with two groups: one composed of normal subjects and the other of patients suffering anxiety. Doctors administered lactic acid which precipitated anxiety attacks in 13 of the 14 anxious subjects within a minute or two after the infusion was started and, also, in 10 of the 20 normal control patients. When calcium lactate was used, anxiety symptoms, for the most part, did not occur. Dr. Lesser concludes that the above experiment has two important implications; first, it demonstrates a biochemical cause for anxiety—lactic acid; second, it indicates that calcium in sufficient quantities will prevent anxiety attacks.

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