How Nutrient Deficiencies Affect Brain Connections

The growth factors that are essential for building the brain's nerve cell connections need nutrients to function. Numerous studies have shown that a lack of nutrients and, as a result, a lack of nerve growth factors, leads to nerve cell shrinkage and death. These effects may interfere with proper signaling between nerve cells, leading to symptoms of mood disorders.

Antidepressants have been shown to increase the brain growth factor levels somewhat, but several studies have shown that nutrients such as calcium and zinc appear to do a better job.

A study of close to 1,000 women with premenstrual syndrome showed that vitamin B6 improved their symptoms, particularly their depressive symptoms.

Another study of 207 people with externalizing behavior disorders showed significantly fewer assaults and destructive behavior after subjects were given folic acid and vitamin B12.

Nutrition and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body Chemistry. Believing that drugs and psychoanalysis were not always the best course of treatment for a variety of mental illnesses, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer began an extensive program of research into the causes and treatment of mental illness, and in 1973 opened the Brain Bio Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Here, with a team of scientists, he found that many psychological problems can be traced to biochemical imbalances in the body. With these patients, he achieved unprecedented success in treating a wide range of mental problems by adjusting diet and providing specific nutritional supplements for those conditions where deficiences exist. This book documents his approach.

Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed as schizophrenic; many more suffer from depression, anxiety, and phobias.

Dr. Pfeiffer's methods of treatment presented in Nutrition and Mental Illness are a valuable adjunct to traditional therapies, and can bring hope of real wellness to many of those who suffer.

"A proper biochemical balance is necessary to mental as well as physical health. In Nutrition and Mental Illness, Pfeiffer details how deficiencies (and excesses) of various nutrients can lead to imbalances that result in mood swings, manic-depressive states, schizophrenia and antisocial behavior. Pfeiffer also explains how these conditions are treated with nutrients rather than drugs; he calls the latter 'a door that leads nowhere."

The Nutrient Link

One of the most effective mood stabilizers used for bipolar is lithium, which is not a drug but a mineral that everyone needs in trace amounts. Lithium's effectiveness is not surprising when you consider that the neurotransmitter chemicals that the brain uses to send signals are made up and regulated by nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Many researchers now believe that a lack of these and other nutrients may cause the brain chemical imbalances of mental illness.

References

1. Frederickson CJ, Suh SW, Silva D, Frederickson CJ, Thompson RB. Importance of Zinc in the central nervous system: the zinc containing neuron. Journal of Nutrition. 2000 May;130(5S Suppl):1471s-83S.

2. Takeda A. Movement of Zinc and its functional significance in the brain. Brain Research Reviews. 2000 Dec;34(3):137-48.

3. Hutto BR. Folate and cobalamin in psychiatric illness. Comprehensive Psychiatry. 1997 Nov-Dec;38(6):305-14

4. Baldewicz TT, Goodkin K, Blaney NT, Shor-Posner G, Kumar M, Wilkie FL, Baum MK, Eisdorfer C. Cobalamin level is related to self-reported and clinically rated mood and to syndromal depression in bereaved HIV-1(+) and HIV-1(-) homosexual men. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2000 Feb;48(2):177-85

Share this with your friends