I have written about vitamin and mineral supplementation before in The Link, but for those of us who provide healthcare services, we are very aware of its importance as a foundational step towards excellent health. In our practices, we confront the consequences of subclinical malnutrition, the inadequacy of our current mainstream diet, the ongoing riptide of pesticide sequelae, and the established medical resistance towards supplementation on a daily basis. Most importantly, we are challenged by the lack of financial support for preventive services and that includes supplementation. We have made a bit of progress as now many multivitamins, vitamin D and sometimes melatonin are covered by Medicaid. That is more important than I can say because although many of my patients are willing to follow through on supplementation, they cannot afford to do so unless their insurer cooperates. The lower socioeconomic groups need these supplements the most. I know because I follow them from one hospitalization to the next.
My job is to keep them out of the hospital, at least in terms of their mental health. But who is to say that the 35 year old young woman who was hospitalized with serious suicidal ideation wasn’t deficient in iron, vitamin B6 or vitamin C or D? Since we do not normally test for vitamin deficiencies, we may not discover the underlying culprit for those life threatening thoughts. Iron deficiency can result in poor concentration and lack of energy, symptoms that are complained about frequently in mental health. B6 deficiency can also lead to depression and anxiety, causing decreased amounts of serotonin, the feel good hormone, dopamine, and melatonin. Decreased melatonin can produce all types of sleep disorders from trouble falling asleep, to middle insomnia, to early morning awakening. Of all the complaints I hear every day from patients, the number one complaint is inability to cope with stress. Aside from the psychologic component that reflects inadequate coping skills, there is a physiologic basis for this as well. Vitamin C is stored in the adrenal glands and how often have we heard that term “adrenal exhaustion?” Some blame poor adrenal response on consuming too much coffee, but vitamin C deficiency would be a better guess. Vitamin C is crucial in producing many important hormones and neurotransmitters in the body and when norepinephrine, thyroxin and dopamine are depleted, it takes its toll on a person’s ability to fight daily stress.
Our lifestyle today is largely unhealthy. Picture this: after a poor night’s sleep and awakening in an irritable mood, a person fights the stress of congested traffic to arrive at work to put in 8 hours or more under fluorescent lights in an artificial environment with too much noise, not enough time to eat, relax, and oftentimes even use the restroom. The pace of the work world does not wait for those who can’t keep up with its demands and these demands can become overwhelming. When the usual coping mechanisms no long seem to work, a host of unhealthy responses can set in, from shutting down and falling into a serious depression in which a person struggles to even get out of bed to becoming irate and flying into a rage that puts others at potential risk. Another response is to consume excessive alcohol or any of the many illicit substances that are so easy to come by today but which wreak complete havoc on a person’s life.
I recently listened to Dr. Tieraona Low Dog’s webinar on “Silent epidemic: the Hidden Dangers of Nutrient Deficiencies” sponsored by Emerson Ecologics. By the end of the presentation, I was in tears confronting the possibility that in my efforts to help patients by prescribing potent medications, I could have actually worsened their condition. The medications we utilize in mental health are like all prescription medications, they are extremely potent. Dr. Low Dog talked about the effect of the anticonvulsant drugs depleting vitamin B12 and folate. The anticonvulsants are one of two classes of drugs that we use as mood stabilizers. Along with the SSRIs and SNRIs, there are many medications that contribute to osteoporosis. The only thing that made me feel a little better is the fact that for as long as I can remember, I have recommended a multi vitamin/mineral supplement for ALL my patients and over the years, vitamin D3, fish oils and melatonin are also on the list. For those who feel that they can’t cope, a high stress vitamin B complex with 100% of the recommended amount of each B vitamin, is suggested. I am happy to say most follow through and I like to think that overall, my patients get better.
Dr. Low Dog also addressed the true origins of our deficiency syndromes, the lack of soil quality in which our food is grown along with the extensive use of pesticides today. I would add that another factor is well meaning but incorrect dietary advice from the medical community, pushing us to eat egg whites and throw out the perfect yolk, containing all nutrients to sustain life except vitamin C. Poor dietary habits along with small daily exposure to those nasty “endocrine disrupters” have most likely contributed to a burgeoning number of children with attention deficit disorder. Instead of examining the true cause, we throw more potent medications at these children and although I am licensed to do just that, I have my serious reservations about it. I have lived long enough to know that when I was growing up, there was no such thing as ADHD. Why has the inability to concentrate in so many children reached epidemic proportions today? I think we need to take a closer look at the physiologic origins of the problem.
With the deleterious consequences of poor nutrition in mind, it is inspiring to come across an agricultural business that is “safe for people, plants and pets!” I get a lot of catalogues and one that definitely caught my attention is “Spray-N-Grow,” a trio of organic plant foods developed by a chemist and father, Bill Muskopf, from Rockport, TX. There are three different products that when combined in a spray delivers the “Perfect Blend.” Rather than targeting the root system, these nutrients are sprayed right on the leaves where they make their way down the stems to the roots. The catalogue states that “foliar feeding is up to 10X more efficient than root feeding.” The first product is the fertilizer in “a perfect ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.” Next comes the second product, the Spray-N-Grow Micronutrients that are “like vitamins for your plants” and contain calcium, zinc, copper, iron, sodium, magnesium and other compounds. The third part of the trio is the Coco-Wet, which is a nonionic wetting agent that assists the other products to stick better to the leaves for better absorption and is made from all natural coconut oil. I think I have discovered my new approach to developing a beautiful, nutritious garden and look forward to trying out these unique products this summer. There are other products as well for natural pest control and animal repellents. Order a catalogue by phone: 800-323-2363 or go online to spray-n-grow.com.
If you haven’t done it thus far, get started on your vitamin supplements and a good quality multi is a good place to start. The information out there is overwhelming and can be confusing, so seek out a trusted professional to guide you through the process.