Zinc

Zinc

Zinc--a critical element for autism

Zinc is detrimental in the nutritional healing process of autism, ADHD or other behavioral condition.

It is known to play a vital role in neonatal development and is involved in countless metabolic and signaling pathways within the body.

One of the many critical roles of zinc is in gastrointestinal function and gut-brain interaction. There is indication in some research that zinc deficiency among mothers during pregnancy can play a role in the development of gastrointestinal functions of infants/children.

Zinc is critically important for neurotransmitter production, thyroid function and hormone balancing.

Zinc has been found to improve cognition in children with autism and ADHD as well as lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Zinc has also been found to play an important role in sensory integration as well as taste and smells with food. Because of this, zinc supplementation can sometimes be very beneficial in getting extremely picky eaters to try new foods.

Having zinc and copper serum levels checked are proving to be very helpful in knowing the right amount of supplementation to acquire. Zinc and copper ratios have shown in research to be a major indicator of severity of autism.

Studies indicate that zinc and copper have a huge impact on GABA neurotransmitters as well as mercury accumulation in bodily tissues.

The highest amounts of zinc are found most abundantly in oysters, lentils, and green peas. Absorption from food is typically only about 33% in healthy adults, which makes supplementation necessary in many individuals.

Zinc supplementation is also typically necessary to pull someone out of a deficient state. The recommended daily dose is 12-15mg for healthy individuals but may need more depending on signs, symptoms and nutritional status.

Speak to your healthcare provider or Clinical Nutritionist to have a better understanding of yours or your child’s individual needs.

 

 

Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

Contact me for more information

 

 

 

References:

 

Bjourklund, G. , The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders,Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2013;73(2):225-36.,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823984

 Guillermo Vela, Zinc in Gut-Brain Interaction in Autism and Neurological Disorders, Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 972791, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/972791

Babaknejad N, The Relationship between Zinc Levels and Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis., Iran J Child Neurol. 2016 Fall;10(4):1-9.

 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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sun

Vitamin D and Behaviors

Vitamin D and Autism

New research is showing that up to 75% of children on the autism spectrum show significant improvement with high dose Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels are very often significantly lower in children with autism and ADHD.

Vitamin D has many vital roles in our body, including enhancing intestinal absorption of other critical nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphate and Zinc. Vitamin D is also very involved with immune function and regulating the inflammatory response within the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to play a role in many conditions such as autoimmune and behavioral disorders.

Unfortunately, very few foods contain Vitamin D. It is pretty limited to Wild Caught fish (salmon), mushrooms and some shellfish as well as fortified milk. Most of our Vitamin D supply is meant to come from the sun.

Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day depending on specific needs of the child.

However, higher doses are many times warranted for certain conditions and when deficiency is known.

Serum (blood) Vitamin D levels are very important to know prior to supplementing and should be checked again after about 6 months of supplementing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. According to research, ideally levels should be at least 45ng/ml.

Reports and research shows that there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD as vitamin D levels are normalized.

 

 

 

Mohommad, R, et.al, The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Autumn; 9(4): 48–53.
Cannell, J, Vitamin D and Autism, What’s New? Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Feb 20.

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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probiotics for optimal health

Probiotics

Probiotics for Autism, Autoimmune and More

Probiotics (good, healthy bacteria needed for gut and digestive health) are being recognized for helping in many conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and many autoimmune conditions.

 

Front and center, gut health plays an important role in overall health and immune function. And now researchers are realizing that gut health is very important for brain health and function as well.

 

It is known that 70-80% of our immune system lies within the digestive tract, and up to 90% of serotonin levels are produced there. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter which is derived from tryptophan and Vitamin B6 is also needed to produce this. Serotonin is what most medications for depression, ADHD and anxiety work on. So keeping our gut health as healthy as possible is crucial to keep this neurotransmitter producing!

 

Many kids on the autism spectrum have problems related to gut health ranging from acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating and pain. These physical symptoms are another area in which probiotics have been found to be very beneficial.
Many of these kids also have immunologic and metabolic problems which effect their behaviors and emotional health.

 

Taking care of some of these underlying issues can many times lead to improvements in behaviors and symptoms associated with autism, ADHD and sensory conditions.

In a small study published in Nature medical journal, results showed that when infants were given a specific strain of probiotic (lactobacillus rhamnosus strain), there were zero cases of autism and ADHD, whereas, in the placebo group, 17.1 percent had developed autism or ADHD.

 
Refer to the list of additional references below which show connection between autism, ADHD and probiotic need.
Additionally, probiotics and the gut microbiome (balance of good/bad bacteria) have been found to play a role in allergies and specifically food allergies. One particular study looked at lactobacillus rhamnosus  given to children with a positive IgE (skin prick allergy test) to peanuts. There was an 82% reversal of the peanut allergy from continued use of this probiotic (tested under close medical supervision). Digestive health matters!

 

There is even new implication in regards to gut health and childhood Type 1 diabetes and indication that new treatments for this condition may lie within gut function and probiotics.

 
Every one’s probiotic needs and dosages are different; feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

  • Custom Probiotics, Autism and Probiotics, http://www.customprobiotics.com/autism.htm
  • The Gut:  Our Second Brain, Documentary, Amazon Video, 2016
  • Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
  • Grossi, E., et. al,Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics, SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Aug 26;4:2050313X16666231., March 2017
  • Navarro, F. Can Probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?, World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 14;22(46):10093-10102. March, 2017
  • Partty, A,a possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial, Nature, Vol 7:6, June 2015
  • Mimi, LK, Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 135:3. pg, 737-744, March 2015
  • Gareau, MG, Cognitive Function and the Microbiome, Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:227-246, March, 2017
  • Aleksandar, D.,The Dynamics of the Human Infant Gut Microbiome in Development and in Progression toward Type 1 Diabetes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p121

 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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digestive enzymes, nutrition

Digestive Enzymes

Digestive Enzymes (Autism)

Digestive enzymes are a crucial part of optimal health and healing many symptoms associated with autism.

If there were only one supplement to add to your protocol…this would be it!

Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring in our digestive tracts and help on several levels. For one, they break down the foods and nutrients in to a form that is easily absorbed. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has led to damage to many of our gut lining’s (where these enzymes are produced). (Refer back to the “Leaky Gut” series for more info on this.)

Additionally, this breakdown of foods is necessary so the bad bacteria or yeast don’t have more food to eat and grow on.

Enzymes are proteins made by cells in all living organisms including our bodies. They exist in all raw food, so the more raw food you consume, the less your body need’s to produce them. Any type of cooking or processing of food destroys these necessary enzymes, which is one reason supplementing is necessary.

Science is showing more and more that Gluten and Casein ( the proteins found in grains such as wheat and a protein found in dairy) greatly affect GI health as well as brain health and can lead to many neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms. Gluten and casein produce opioid peptides creating a “drug-like” effect. These peptides are commonly found in the urine of those with autism and schizophrenia.

When the gut is damaged or hyperpermiable (leaky gut), these peptides called gluteomorphin (gluten) and caseomorphin (casein) can pass into the blood, provoking an immune response which leads to chronic inflammation. They can also mimic endorphins which can lead to changes in perception, mood, and behavior.

This is one reason why the gf/cf (gluten free/casein free) diet is so effective in reducing behaviors in kids with autism—it eliminates these peptides from the diet.

I absolutely believe a Gluten free and Casein free diet is eminent and should be used for GI healing and restoration.

However, enzymes are the next best thing to removing these foods!

Enzymes can actually break down these peptides!

So they are perfect for transitioning the “picky-eater”! It is essential to have a very high quality digestive enzyme with DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV). This is the only enzyme that effectively breaks down gluten and casein.

Here is a list of additional enzymes which are important and the functions they serve:

Amylase – breaks down carbohydrates, starches, and sugars

Protease – breaks down proteins (found in meats, eggs, cheese, and nuts)

Lipase – breaks down fats (found in most dairy products, meats, oils, and nuts

Cellulase – breaks down cellulose, plant fiber (will also breakdown time-release medications that use a form of cellulose in their outer coating)

As previously mentioned, these enzymes are naturally produced in our bodies, however, due to many conditions such as medications we take, foods we eat and other environmental factors, many of us have become deficient in these enzymes.

Additionally, damage to our gut linings have been done from these very reasons. Enzymes are an essential part of repairing the gut.

Enzymes must be taken with every meal to reap the benefits. The dose of enzymes taken depends on the amount of food being consumed. It is best to start with half a capsule (which can be mixed in liquid) and work up to at least 2 capsules with every meal.

Digestive enzymes can be beneficial for so many conditions. Let me know how they work for you!

Contact me with any questions you may have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Gahlichi, F, et.al, Effect of gluten free diet on gastrointestinal and behavioral indices for children with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized clinical trial. World J Pediatr. 2016 Nov;12(4):436-442. Epub 2016 Jun 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27286693

Fukudome, S., et.al, "Release of Opioid Peptides, Gluten Exorphins by the action of pancreatic Elastase", FEBS Letters 412, no. 3 ( Aug. 4, 1997): 475-79

Buie, T., et.al, "Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals with ASDs: A consensus report", supplement, Pediatrics 125, no. 1 (Jan. 2010): S1-18

 

 

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Methyl B12

Methyl B12 for Autism

Many of those on the autism spectrum and with ADHD have been found to be lacking in Methyl B12 when evaluated through lab work.

Methylcobalamin (Methyl) B12 is an active form of B12 that supports metabolism and is needed for almost every cell in our body. It is critical for the function of the nervous system, gastrointestinal system and several biochemical pathways.

Methyl B12 also works as a cofactor, or coenzyme, and is needed to activate the methionine/homocysteine biochemical pathway.

Methyl B12 is also responsible for the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the universal methyl donor from homocysteine. Too much homocysteine in the blood has been shown to have an impact on many inflammatory conditions such autism, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This formation of SAMe is also critical for the formation of glutathione which is the body’s primary antioxidant and is responsible for many detoxification reactions including the removal of heavy metals and other toxins from our body.

So to sum it up, if this biochemical pathway is dysfunctional, detoxification becomes impaired. Toxins build up and wreak havoc on the neurological functioning of children.

Additionally, if the gastrointestinal system is not properly functioning, it is very hard for the body to breakdown and absorb B12 properly. For this reason, sublingual B12 or B12 injections may be more effective.

Methyl B12 is water soluble, meaning your body will dispose of excess B12 through urine.

While Methyl B12 has been shown to be very effective, it should be used in addition to other protocols such as dietary factors and additional vitamin supplementation.

Clinical trials have shown Methyl B12 injections to be effective in improving many autism symptoms including improvements in speech and language, socialization and improved sleep. B12 injections seem to be more effective than other forms of B12, however, sublingual is the next best form. 50 mcg of Methyl B12 is a good dose to start with for children on the autism spectrum.

 

 

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

References:

Zhang, Y., et.al, Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia., PLoS One. 2016 Jan 22;11(1):e0146797, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799654
Hendren, RL, et.al., Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Methyl B12 for Children with Autism., J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Nov;26(9):774-783 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889605
Autism Doctor, B12 for treatment of Autism, http://www.theautismdoctor.com/vitamin-b12-for-the-treatment-of-autism/

vegetables pizza

Gluten Free/Casein Free Food Substitutions for Autism Kids

Transitioning to a new way of eating doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might imagine. Let’s look specifically at Gluten free/Casein free food substitutions for the extremely picky eater.

Many children with autism have food aversions and will not try anything new. I get it. My son was the same way.

There finally came a point that I knew we had to try the nutritional approach because his behaviors were very difficult to manage, he was not making progress with his therapies, and he was literally sick all the time. Even before I was a Clinical Nutritionist, I knew that he was not able to get adequate nutrition from the 4 or 5 things he was eating.

With autism and sensory processing disorders, this can be a slow transition. Do what you can, when you can.

As I talked about in the article, What about my picky eating child, I talked about taking the approach of substituting their favorite foods with gluten free, casein free (GFCF) alternatives. Typically, a child on the spectrum is going to be “addicted” to foods in this category.

Pizza, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, grilled cheese. It all comes down to cheese and bread. Gluten is the protein found in many grains including wheat and casein is a protein found in dairy products.  Read more about how these proteins affect autism here.

The first step is many times to simply replace these with a GFCF version.

Below, I will list some of the best substitutions for many of these products. I would like to add, that many of these products are not “ideal”, but it is a great place to start.

 

*Transitioning off grains and off most processed is the most ideal for speedy healing of the gut and as a result, improved behaviors.

Butter

Barlean’s Butter Flavored Organic Coconut Oil

Breads

UDI’s (also has hamburger buns, hotdog buns, dinner rolls, etc)
Food for Life Organic Rice Bread

 

Pizzas and Pizza Crusts

UDI’s—Gluten free/casein free crusts but the fully made frozen pizzas have real cheese (casein)—You can just buy the crust and make your own pizza with Daiya cheese and Hormel Naturals Pepperoni.

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—They do provide a fully prepared Gluten Free, Casein Free Pizza. Try to get soy free as well.

Cheese

Daiya ( highly processed and not the best ingredients)

A better choice is finding a recipe for Cashew "cheese" such as this

Mac N Cheese

Amy’s Organic (frozen)—The only brand I know of that has a Gluten free and Casein free option.

Better Choice>>> Or easily make your own with Brown Rice or Quinoa Noodles with some Cashew Cheese

Snack Bars

Lara Bars

Chicken Nuggets, Corn dogs, Deli Meats, Pepperoni

Applegate Farms
Hormel Naturals

Oils

For Baking:

• Coconut oil/butter
• Flax seed oil
• Macadamia nut oil
• Palm oil/palm kernel oil shortening like Nutiva Organic Shortening or Spectrum Organic Shortening
• Safflower oil
• Sunflower oil
• Walnut oil

For Sauteing:

• Olive oil
• Rice bran oil
• Sesame oil

For Salad Dressings:

• Avocado oil
• Grapeseed oil
• Olive oil

Egg Substitutes

• While not gluten or casein, many people have a sensitivity to eggs. These are my favorite egg substitutes for baking

• 2 tbsp. arrowroot flour = 1 egg
• 1 tbsp. chia seeds + 3 tbsp water=one egg
• 2 tbsp. potato starch = 1 egg
• 1 banana = 1 egg in cake recipes
• 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds plus 3 tbsp. water = one egg

 

I also highly recommend getting vegetables in as much and as soon as possible. One way I did this was to chop bell peppers, carrots, garlic, onions, etc with a food chopper as small as possible and mix it in to their pizza or spaghetti sauce or meatloaf.

 Avocado is an extremely good, nutrient dense food for getting healthy fats in. Here is a good recipe for Chocolate Pudding that hides the avocado.

 

**If you have a question regarding a gluten free/casein free substitution for a specific food, please Contact Me.  or comment below. I will also be adding to this list as I get more questions.

 

 

oranges, healthy eating, autism

How Diet Change Helped My Son’s Autism

When my son first started showing signs of autism, I was determined to give it my all and find out how to help him.

I was so excited to have this little guy; I followed every guideline to a “T” and I watched all of his milestones so carefully.  All of his developmental milestones were met on time or even early. He crawled at 6 months, walked at 12 months, played ball, laughed, smiled, had eye contact and said first words, “mama”, “dada”, “ball”.

At 18 months he stopped saying new words and quit saying the few words he had been saying. At this time, he also started showing obsessive compulsive tendencies with lining his cars up. He would get down on the floor and study the wheels. The wheels of the car had to be perfectly aligned with the edge of the carpet.

He was no longer interested in play and only wanted to walk up and down stairs…nonstop. He would go up and down, up and down with no interest in anything else around him. He would stare at his cars for hours, open and close all the doors in the house numerous times, turn door knobs repeatedly, and stare at door hinges while inspecting exactly the way they were working.

He became obsessed with specific objects, such as a placemat and a cup he drank from. They had to be placed just right and he would stare at them without distraction incessantly. Some doors in our house had to be open and others had to be closed; the sunroof in the car had to be just as he wanted it or he would scream the whole way home.

He would have severe laughing fits followed by screaming and crying. Additionally, he was very sensitive to sounds and bright lights. Crowded stores would cause high anxiety for him and he would cover his ears any time we were driving down the highway. The sound of blenders and vacuum cleaners would sending him into screaming tantrums.

His OCD and meltdowns completely ruled our life for a while--the places we could go was very limited due to his behaviors. He had no interest in other kids and did not want to play.

I became concerned of him having autism and began to research. My research kept leading me to gluten free/casein free diets as a way to improve symptoms associated with this disorder. My initial reaction was, “oh he could never do that! That’s all he eats! Macaroni and cheese, pizza, breakfast cereal and grilled cheese.”

However, after many months of researching, I continued to be led to this same idea and I felt this was exactly the way to go. After all, what could it hurt? Maybe we would see some benefit and even get a little healthier in the process.

By this time, he had been diagnosed with multiple ear infections, viruses, colds and stomach bugs. My son seemed to be sick...all. the. time. He had even landed in the hospital from dehydration due to severe stomach virus and double ear infection at the same time.

He was very behind in language development as well as gross and fine motor skills by this point.

We found a few highly recommended integrative medicine doctors and clinical nutritionists and we began our journey of healing. We learned what was occurring on a biochemical basis to cause certain behaviors and make him not be able to effectively communicate with us.

We had our son tested for food allergies, food sensitivities, bacteria, yeast, viruses, and even parasites. He tested intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, and citrus. The gluten and casein were reacting like drugs in his body which is why that was the only thing he would eat. His gut was low in good bacteria, and high in bad bacteria and yeast. He tested low in several critical nutrients such as B12, Vitamin E, and Chromium--all very important in neurological function. The bacteria, yeast and food intolerances were preventing him from absorbing important nutrients and due to his very self-limiting diet, he was not getting adequate nutrients from foods.

The diet change began very simple. We substituted all of his favorite things with gluten free versions. Within three days he was trying new foods! We were able to progress the diet from there, eventually getting to a whole foods diet with even vegetables.

Once we started addressing these underlying issues, we started seeing much improvement in his ability to focus and concentrate and even started to hear new words from him. His ability to focus helped him learn new skills from his therapies. Within a few months, his OCD was greatly improved and his screaming tantrums had significantly decreased. His daily anxiety levels were dramatically reduced and our happy, playful boy was returning to us. We continued improving his diet over the years and we added supplements needed based on blood work for nutritional deficiencies.

Today, my son is 11 years old and he no longer has obsessive compulsive behaviors. His once very uncontrollable anxiety is now very well managed. He has excellent gross and fine motor skills, imaginative play and is very social. He is in a mainstream classroom and has several friends. I wasn’t sure at one time if I would ever hear him say “mama” again, or hear him say “I love you”. It was very hard to foresee any type of conversation with him. Now, we have full conversations and he is curious about everything. It is often sometimes challenging to get him to STOP talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more I continued to research, the more interested I became in the biochemistry of our bodies and the impact they have to heal themselves in so many ways. There are many chronic conditions on the rise; it is not just autism.

Genetic components mixed with environmental triggers make for a very chaotic cascade of  health conditions. While this is not about "treating" autism, it is about making the child healthier.

Many times, a child's "autism-like" behavior can result from specific medical issues, food sensitivities or nutrient depletion. Once treating these specific issues, the child is healthier and feels better which results in better behaviors and communication.

MTHFR

MTHFR- What You Need To Know

Methylation deficiencies and a defect in MTHFR are linked to many conditions/symptoms, including:

ADHD

Frequent miscarriages

Autism

Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism

Delayed Speech

Headaches

Bipolar or manic depression

Heart disease

Diabetes

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

IBS

Autoimmune Conditions

 

MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrafolate-reductase) is a much needed enzyme in the body. It’s required for processing methylation and converting folic acid/folate in to an active form that the body can use. MTHFR is needed for many functions of the body including: repairing DNA, switching genes off and on, processing chemicals, hormones, building the immune system, producing energy and maintaining cells.

Not to be confused with the enzyme, the MTHFR gene provides the instructions for making that MTHFR enzyme—therefore, “triggering” the production of the enzyme. A mutation in the MTHFR gene may therefore affect enzyme function.
MTHFR gene mutations are thought to affect up to about 60% of the population.

Researchers suspect there may be at least 30 different types of this gene mutation with C677T and A1298C being the most studied and tested of these mutations. {This number and letter sequence refers to what is known as a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP (pronounced “snip”).}

Having a gene with a mutation does not mean that the gene is defective or nonfunctioning, only that it is working with an altered efficiency.

Although mutations can occur at any time during our lifetime, it is most likely that we are born with these mutations and will have them throughout our life.

This may provide an explanation as to why certain traits or diseases "run in the family".

Although we cannot change our genetic code, we can change how our genes are expressed.

Research has determined that our gene expression is not only distinguished by hereditary factors, but it is also influenced by our diet, nutritional status, toxic load and environmental influences or stressors. This phenomenon has been termed "epigenetics".

MTHFR dramatically affects Homocysteine- an amino acid linked to a wide range of health problems, and is an independent risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. It is naturally formed in the body, but gets broken down by L-methylfolate (active folate). Due to MTHFR restricting active folate, homocysteine is significantly affected by this gene mutation.

MTHFR mutations don’t directly make you unwell.

Rather, they may cause an exaggerated response to poor diet or environmental factors that others can “get away with”.

If you lack vitamins and minerals as result of a poor diet, digestion or absorption, it limits the body’s ability to have proper methylation.

Why?

Because these nutrients are needed to help make the most active form of folate in your body known as methylfolate. There are several of the B vitamins that require activation before they are useful to the body.

This is why dietary considerations are so important for certain MTHFR mutations.

For instance, when people with an MTHFR genetic mutation are exposed to certain environmental factors (chemicals, food, poor air quality, vaccines, medications, etc), they have a harder time getting rid of them, which can cause immune dysfunction leading to many chronic conditions.

One of the ways the MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to certain conditions is by lowering the body’s ability to make glutathione. People with MTHFR irregularities typically have low glutathione, which makes them more susceptible to stress and less tolerant to toxic exposures.

As the saying goes, “Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”

 

 

 

Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

 

References:

Bjelland I, Tell GS, Vollset SE, Refsum H, Ueland PM. Folate, vitamin
B12, homocysteine, and the MTHFR 677CT polymorphism in anxiety
and depression: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study, Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2003;60:618-626

Boris, M., MD, et.al, Association of MTHFR Gene Variants with Autism, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 9 Number 4 Winter 2004

Rosenblatt D. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase., Clinic of Investigative Medicine 2001;24:56-59

donuts, gluten

What Are Food Sensitivities & How Do They Contribute To Children’s Behaviors?

Most people are very aware of the effects of common food allergies. People may suffer from hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose, or itching.

Very commonly overlooked, however, are food sensitivities (commonly referred to as “hidden food allergies”) which can contribute to many different health conditions as well.

If someone has a sensitivity to a specific food, an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) response occurs in the body. This is different from the IgE response which occurs in an “allergy”. The IgE response activates an immediate release of histamine. However, with the IgG immune response there is still a reaction happening which activates cytokines (immune response chemicals) in the body, though this is very commonly a delayed response and does not have the antigen-antibody response that the IgE reaction does.

This response can happen hours or even up to 7 days later. These cytokines can inflame the gut, the brain, or even respiratory tract and can affect how you or your child feels emotionally and physically.

Some common symptoms seen with the effects of food sensitivities in children are:

• Inconsistent performance: he or she will know the material one day but not the next.
• Poor memory
• Struggles with focusing and attention.
• Sensory processing problems: things such as noises, tags, foods, and transitions bother this child
• Irritability
• Hyperactivity
• Frequent meltdowns

Additionally, the child may have frequent infections, constant allergies, or digestive issues.
The best way to determine if someone has a food sensitivity is by an elimination diet, which consists of eliminating the foods which are most commonly contributors. A typical elimination diet lasts approximately 3 weeks in which the foods are slowly added back in to see if a reaction occurs.

Specific blood work can also be looked at to determine an IgG response to foods.

The most common food contributors to causing a food sensitivity in the body are:

• Dairy
• Eggs
• Gluten – Protein in Wheat, Rye, Oats and Barley
• Sugar (Especially if your child has candida, a yeast overgrowth which can effect behavior, common in children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism.)
• Shellfish
• Soy
• Food Dyes, Preservatives, Pesticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods)

 

Contact  me with any questions or for more information.

 

 

 

References:
Lord, Richard, Bralley, J., Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicines, 2nd edition, Metametrix Institute, 2012, pgs. 433-436

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ocean , magnesium

Magnesium: Why is it so important?

Love this picture I took of the ocean off the coast of California last summer—did you know Magnesium is found abundantly in sea water—along with many other minerals which is one reason swimming the ocean is so healing –don’t drink it though 😉

Magnesium is required in the body for over 350 biochemical reactions! That makes this mineral quite critical in many different ailments and conditions.

Unfortunately, 80% of us are deficient in magnesium! There is tons of research showing how important it is to not only eat magnesium rich foods, but also probably supplement with this mineral to lessen your risk of becoming deficient.

Lack of magnesium may lead to irritability, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. Every organ in the body — especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys — needs the mineral magnesium. It is also important in the synthesis of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body.

Low dietary intake of magnesium is common and can quickly lead to deficiency.

Periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy and childhood adolescents also increase need of magnesium.

Use of certain medications can deplete magnesium from the body and increase need of supplementation. Some examples of medications which may contribute to increasing your magnesium needs are diuretics (thiazides, furosemide), chemotherapy, cortisone, laxatives and PPI’s (Nexium, prevacid).

Those with diabetes or anyone with intestinal hyperpemiabilty (leaky gut) are also at an increased risk of deficiency.

Magnesium deficiency in children is characterized by excessive fidgeting, anxiety, restlessness, psychomotor instability and learning difficulties.

Some common signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

• Muscle cramps and spasms
• Personality changes: depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating
• Irregular heartbeat
• Increased blood triglycerides and cholesterol
• Water retention
• Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
• Anxiety
• Insomnia

Magnesium will help:

• relax nerve impulses and muscle contractions
• promote relaxation; aid in restful sleep
• help lower blood pressure
• keep your bones strong (especially when taken with calcium)
• keep your heart healthy by lowering cholesterol
• relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS
• help the body absorb calcium and potassium

Diet: The best food sources of magnesium are sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, broccoli, okra, almonds, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, spinach, long grain brown rice, chives and cocoa. For example, spinach (1 cup) and pumpkin seeds (1 ounce) will provide about 157 mg.; long grain brown rice (1 cup) provides 84 mg.

These are the current RDAs for magnesium depending on your age and gender according to the NIH:

• Infants–6 months: 30 mg
• 7–12 months: 75 mg
• 1–3 years: 80 mg
• 4–8 years: 130 mg
• 9–13 years: 240 mg
• 14–18 years: 410 mg for men; 360 mg for women
• 19–30 years: 400 mg for men; 310 mg for women
• Adults 31 years and older: 420 mg for men; 320 mg for women
• Pregnant women: 350-360 mg
• Women who are breastfeeding: 310-320 mg

TYPE OF MAGNESIUM: Magnesium citrate, oxide, glycinate, and sulfate. For constipation, people use magnesium citrate, however, if citrate tends to upset your stomach, glycinate may be a better form taken internally.
Epsom salt baths are an excellent way to absorb magnesium in the form of magnesium sulfate without digestive upset.

 

 

References:

National Institute of Health, Magnesium, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium#h2
Block, Mary Ann, DO, No More ADHD, Block System Inc, 2001
Rakel, Integrative Medicine 3rd edition