SpectraCell Blog

A New Twist on a Common Supplement: Using Omega 3’s to Lower Homocysteine

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 @ 09:54 AM

Omega 3's and HomocysteinGuest Blog by: Dr. Arland Hill (D.C.)

Homocysteine continues to gain acceptance as a risk factor in a number of conditions.  Once thought to be associated with mostly cardiovascular disease, homocysteine is now recognized as a contributor to numerous states of dysfunction, including arthritis, cognitive decline, osteoporosis and many more.  Given the vast reaching effects of homocysteine, having an ideal treatment protocol in place to address elevations seems necessary, if not even absolutely crucial.

Examination of the literature to lower homocysteine can be confusing at times, with some studies showing lack of efficacy of B vitamins.  However, these studies were not without criticism and ultimately a return to the basics of physiology has shown B vitamins to be an efficacious intervention.  When looking at the methionine cycle and delving deeper into the biochemistry of homocysteine, it becomes rather clear that without methyl donors, B Vitaminshomocysteine conversion to methionine gets stalled and homocysteine begins to build up.  As such, the methyl donors B12 and folate have become the primary interventions for homocysteine lowering therapy.

For some however, B12 and folate therapy are not enough.  Most of these individuals fall under the category of having a variant for the methyltetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme, commonly abbreviated MTHFR.  Variants in this enzyme impair the ability to reduce folate, thus making the conversion of homocysteine to methionine inefficient and promoting accumulation.  This is seemingly overcome fairly easily in elevated cases by the use of L 5-methyltetrahydrofolate.  Upon normalization of homocysteine in this manner, levels can generally be kept in an ideal range by the use of folate, a non-synthetic, as compared to folic acid.

As relatively straightforward as this all seems, the story does not end here.  A deeper look at the influences on our genes shows the complexity of modulating homocysteine.  There must exist a constant balance between homocysteine and methionine.  If the objective is to lower homocysteine, downregulating the enzymes that lead to its conversion and upregulating those that convert it to methionine would appear ideal.  To do this very thing, one should look no further than omega 3’s.  The polyunsaturated omega 3’s, known to most of us as fish oils, canOmega 3s directly affect the expression of the genes that control the enzymes linked to homocysteine metabolism.  Since the omega 3’s do not directly insert into the biochemical pathway of the methionine cycle, their actions clearly have to be based on another mechanism of action, one we now recognize as genetic.

Consider the therapeutic potential here for a number of patients.  Let’s take the aforementioned conditions for which homocysteine is known to affect.  Equally validated in the literature to support cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cognitive decline, and osteoporosis, omega 3’s will not only reduce inflammation but will also modify genetic expression of those enzymes metabolizing homocysteine.  This makes testing and adding omega 3’s to any clinical protocol at minimum a consideration given the considerable effects of homocysteine and the therapeutic potential of omega 3’s.

Please review the website below for more information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22260268

Dr. Arland HillArland Hill, DC, MPH, DACBN- Complete Care Chiropractic and Wellness

For more information about our client Dr. Hill, please visit his website or his blog. Or contact him at 281-557-7200.

Topics: Homocysteine, B Vitamins, supplements, Omega 3s, Dr. Arland Hill

Can Nutrient Deficiencies Provide Insight into the Health of a Neuron and Your Brain?

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Jan 09, 2012 @ 10:55 AM

Nutritional Brain HealthGuest Blog by: Dr. Arland Hill (D.C.)

Most of us are familiar with the saying use it or lose it.  Many times when individuals say this, they are likely referring to muscle tissue.  However, this saying is equally valid regarding the health of the brain and nervous tissue.  Since the brain has impact on every system in the body, keeping it healthy is of the utmost importance.  Doing so takes 3 key ingredients; energy, fats, and stimulation.

While most probably don’t think about the energy demands of the nervous system, they are in fact quite high.  The production of energy for a neuron, or nerve cell, goes beyond just good function.  The ability to produce energy is the difference between life and death.  As with all cells, an energy substrate must be available, preferably glucose.  Uptake of glucose by neurons depends on healthy insulin receptors.  Healthy insulin receptors that are sensitive optimize neuron function by efficiently controlling synapse density, promoting neuronal growth, or neuroplasticity, and refining the function of the involved neurocircuitry.  In short, neurons function better and extend their network when insulin receptors are sensitive.  But as attractive as this sounds, it fails to happen when nutrient deficiencies such as chromium and B3 exist.  Chromium and niacin help make up the glucose tolerance factor which has significant bearing on the glucose-insulin interaction.

Neuron Once glucose is taken in by the neuron, it must enter the mitochondria to produce ATP, the energy molecule.  However, to get ATP, several key nutrients must be available.  These nutrients fuel each step of the energy cycle and include B1, B2, B3, B5, glutamine, and magnesium just to name a few.  For the neuron, the importance of this cannot be understated.

When the neuron is able to receive adequate oxygen, it can combine the metabolites formed from the energy production cycle and generate ATP.  In the absence of adequate nutrient stores, ATP is not produced efficiently leading to the demise of the neuron.  This can be the early onset of neurodegeneration.  Moreover, since neurons depend on stimulation from each other to maintain functional neurocircuitry, losing a neuron will in turn have effects on adjacent neurons.  The potential “snowball-like” effect of neurodegeneration emphasizes the consequence of allowing seemingly harmless nutrient deficiencies to persist.

Lastly, a protective coating is needed.  Think about this as insulation for the wiring of your neurocircuity.  With it, neurological impulses are transmitted at a faster rate.  Our insulation is fat.  Micronutrient assessment provides a window into how we might be producing insulation Neuronsaround our neurological tissue.  Not only does such testing show how fats are being utilized by living cells, it also illustrates the status of nutrients such as B12 that are equally needed for production of our insulation, otherwise known as myelin.

The health of the nervous system is a commonly overlooked.  When it is functioning appropriately, it is given little attention.  In contrast, by the time a neurological condition manifests, it is difficult to make up lost ground to neurodegeneration.  However, altering its effects can take place, but only in the presence of adequate nutrient status.  Given proper precursors and stimulation, the ability of the neuron to produce energy is regained, promoting an environment of neuroplasticity.

Dr. Arland Hill


Arland Hill, DC, MPH, DACBN- Complete Care Chiropractic and Wellness

For more information about our client Dr. Hill, please visit his website or his blog. Or contact him at 281-557-7200.

Topics: micronutrient testing, Magnesium, B Vitamins, Glutamine, Brain, Nervous System, Chromium, Dr. Arland Hill, Glucose

Using Micronutrient Testing to Improve the Management of Autoimmune Conditions

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @ 10:09 AM

Autoimmune Disorders and MNTAutoimmune conditions are a rapidly growing segment of the medical population. They go by such names as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease just to name a few. The noted growth of these conditions appears to be related to many factors, including increased stressors, poor diet, and degradation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract allowing formation of a hyperpermeable gut.

Management of these conditions is not always a straightforward process and most therapies have traditionally centered on reducing inflammation. However, long term management of autoimmune conditions requires not only reducing the total inflammatory burden, but also working to add balance to the immune system. This is dependent on the function of the cells of the immune system. Therefore, having an assessment method that directly targets the cells of the immune system would serve as an invaluable tool in the management of autoimmune conditions.

One of the hallmarks of autoimmune conditions is that they promote the destruction of a large amount of tissue secondary to inflammation. Typically when this occurs, the ability of the cells to resist further destruction is reduced, leaving them even more susceptible. Micronutrient testing offers insight into the ability of the cells to resist tissue destruction. When levels of SpectraCell’s novel Spectrox marker start to drop, it is an indication that the tissues are no longer able to resist the inflammation. This is generally accompanied by lower levels of selenium and vitamin E since these nutrients serve to protect the lipid bilayer cell wall.

Blood CellsThe nutrient test goes beyond simply relaying the degree of destruction associated with autoimmune conditions. It also provides insight into where the destruction may be coming from. Autoimmune diseases are noted for a lack of regulation of the immune system. During states of autoimmunity, the T lymphocytes known specifically as T regulatory cells lose their ability to guide the appropriate type of immune response. The misguidance of the ideal immune response is what eventually manifests as the fulminant inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases. Proper function of the T regulatory cells is dependent on vitamin D, glutathione and omega 3’s. A deficiency in any of these nutrients opens the door to immune system dysfunction and increased autoimmunity. Lower levels of glutathione and vitamin D appear to be most representative of the state of the T regulatory cells and the likelihood of dysfunction. When these levels are low, especially glutathione, it can be noted that the inflammatory burden has become overwhelming. Ironically, the micronutrient test is probably one of the better suited tests to pick up the needed repletion of these nutrients since it is looking directly at the T lymphocytes.

An area that appears to open the door to autoimmunity is a breakdown in the integrity of the gastrointestinal lining, also referred to as a hyperpermeable gut. Nutrients such as glutamine, vitamin A and zinc are needed to maintain the integrity of these cells. As these nutrients trend lower, the suspicion of the gastrointestinal tract as a player in the autoimmunity milieu grows.

While not the only test warranted in managing autoimmunity, micronutrient testing should be one of the first considerations as it provides a window into not only areas that contribute to the autoimmune process, but also details the specific nutrients needed to manage it.

Dr. Arland HillArland Hill, DC, MPH, DACBN - Complete Care Chiropractic and Wellness

For more information about our client Dr. Hill, please visit his website or his blog. Or contact him at 281-557-7200.




Topics: micronutrient testing, autoimmune diseases, zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Selenium, immune system, Omega 3s, Glutamine, Glutathione, Inflammation, Spectrox, Dr. Arland Hill