SpectraCell Blog

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Children

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 @ 10:30 AM

adhd-2

In the early 1980s, researchers first linked ADHD to essential fatty acid deficiency. Recent years have seen an unprecedented rise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since our nerves and brain are composed mainly of fats, poor omega 3 fatty acid status can alter neurotransmitter function and inhibit brain performance on many levels. This deficiency has a greater impact on males because their requirements for essential fatty acids are , in general, much higher – one reason why autism occurs more frequently in boys.1164,1168

Brain and nerve growth throughout childhood is extraordinarily rapid. The need for omega 3 fatty acids remains critical all the way through adolescence and into adulthood. Our brains can actually create nerve pathways in response to new experiences and learning environments. Called “neuronal plasticity,” this phenomena is crucial for long-term memory and learning and proper levels of the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are needed for this to occur.1151The ratio of omega 6 fatty acids, which differ in structure and function, to omega 3 fatty acids also affects neuronal plasticity. Scientists now agree that the ratio of omega 6 fats to omega 3 fats is as important as the actual levels, especially in autism and ADHD. A lower ratio is better and when this ratio is improved, symptoms of autism and ADHD often improve.1155,1159

One Oxford University study demonstrated that fatty acid supplements given to children for 3 months who struggled with ADHD resulted in improvements in reading, spelling and behavior, which were not seen in a placebo group. When the placebo group in this study were given the same supplementation of essential fatty acids as a second part of this trial, the same improvements were eventually seen.1117

Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin are commonly prescribed for ADHD but studies show that supplements can be equally effective in treating symptoms of ADHD.1118

Differences in the fatty acid levels between people with ADHD and those without it are not wholly explained by differences in intake of either supplements or fatty acid-rich foods. This suggests that people with autism or ADHD are perhaps genetically predisposed to fatty acid deficiencies, and therefore metabolize fatty acids differently from normal controls. Children with low scores on behavioral assessment tests consistently have lower omega 3 fatty acids levels, and when supplemented with fish oils, the symptoms of ADHD in these children such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inability to pay attention – dramatically improve.1115,1125

The longer a child goes with Autism, the harder they are to reach. Evaluate your child's micronutrient status today! 

GET TESTED

For a copy of SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart on autism, click here. 

 

REFERENCES

1164Gow AV et al. Total red blood cell concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with emotion-elicited neural activity in adolescent boys with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2009;80:151-156.

1168Colter AL, Cutler C, Meckling KA. Fatty acid status and behavioural symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adolescents: a case-control study. Nutr J 2008;7:8.

1151Ramakrishnan U, Imhoff-Kunsch B, DiGirolamo AM. Role of docosahexaenoic acid in maternal and child mental health. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:958S-962S.

1155Bell JG et al. The fatty acid compositions of erythrocyte and plasma polar lipids in children with autism, developmental delay or typically developing controls and the effect of fish oil intake. Br J Nutr 2010;103:1160-1167.

1159Schuchardt JP, Huss M, Stauss-Grabo M, Hahn A. Significance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for the development and behaviour of children. Eur J Pediatr 2010;169:149-164.

1118Harding KL, Judah RD, Gant C. Outcome-based comparison of Ritalin versus food-supplement treated children with AD/HD. Altern Med Rev 2003;8:318-330.

1117Richardson AJ, Montgomery P. The Oxford-Durham study: a randomized, controlled trial of dietary supplementation with fatty acids in children with developmental coordination disorder. Pediatrics 2005;115:1360-1366.

1115Burgess JR, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:327S-330S.

1125Stevens L, et al. EFA supplementation in children with inattention, hyperactivity, and other disruptive behaviors. Lipids 2003;38:1007-1021. Scores on behavioral assessment tests consistently have lower omega 3 fatty acids levels, and when supplemented with fish oils, the symptoms of ADHD in these children such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inability to pay attention – dramatically improve.1115,1125


 

Topics: Cysteine, zinc, folate, Vitamin D, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, autism, Glutamine, Glutathione, Vitamin B1, nutrition and autism, nutrition speaks, autistic symptoms, micronutrient deficiencies, autism speaks, integrative approach to autism, alternative therapy for autism

Your Medication’s Side Effects Might Be a Drug-Induced Nutrient Deficiency

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 @ 03:34 PM

rx drugs

Pharmaceutical medications help millions of Americans cope with clinical symptoms every day, but most are not without side effects.  In fact, the side effects of a medication are often worse than the original condition according to many patients.  One reason for this is that prescription drugs very often cause nutrient depletions, which manifest clinically in very significant ways.  A classic example is coenzyme Q10 deficiency caused by statin medications.  Statins block an enzyme that affects cholesterol production, but the same enzyme is needed to manufacture the important antioxidant coenzyme Q10, which is a key nutrient needed for cellular energy metabolism proper heart function.   So if you block this enzyme (called HMG-CoA reductase for hydroxyl-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A, which is why statins are known generically as HMG-CoA reductase inhbitors), you may lower cholesterol, but as a consequence you may cause a coenzyme Q10 deficiency, which can manifest as low energy and muscle pain. 

Why is this so common?  The reason is simple – the pharmaceutical approach is fundamentally different from the nutrient repletion approach in that medications alter or interrupt metabolic pathways to achieve a clinical result while nutrient repletion supports or helps maintain the optimal function of a metabolic pathway to achieve balance.  In general, medications are palliative in that they focus often on the relief of symptoms.  Conversely, nutrient repletion is curative and the goal is optimal cellular function of which a side effect is relief of symptoms. 

This is not to say that medications have no place in health, but they do have a role in nutrient depletion which can cause the unpleasant and dangerous side effects.  Especially in the age of polypharmacy – when people take more than one medication simultaneously (including over the counter meds) – nutrient depletions caused by drugs deserve a closer look.  Here are some examples of how medications can deplete micronutrients:

  • Meds can interrupt endogenous production of a nutrient (statins and CoQ10)
  • Meds impairs absorption in the gastrointestinal tract (antacids and B12)
  • Meds can create reactive oxygen species and thus “use up” antioxidants (NSAID and cysteine)
  • Meds can increase urinary excretion of nutrients (diuretics and minerals)
  • Meds can alter the gut microbiome (antibiotics and vitamin K)
  • Meds can impairs mitochondrial function and cellular respiration

Adding to the problem is that fact research on drug-induced nutrient depletions is comparatively sparse compared to the giant funding allotted to pharmaceutical development and testing. In addition, there is a lag time between the market introduction of a blockbuster drug and potential nutrient depletion-induced side effect data.  An example of this is research in the past decade that implicates antacids (proton-pump inhibitors) as a causative factor in cardiac events due to their tendency to deplete magnesium.  The strong link between PPI use and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) may be caused by magnesium depletion, which may also explain an increased risk in bone fractures for people on long-term PPI use according to the FDA.  Although research on PPI-induced magnesium deficiency emerged in the last few years,  PPIs have been widely used in the market since 1990.  In some cases, the research on drug-induced nutrient depletions may not emerge for many years after a drug is widely accepted into the market.

If you are taking a medication, have your micronutrient levels tested today.

GET TESTED

For more information on drug-induced nutrient depletions associated with statins and antacids, download our nutrient wheels! 

Statins Nutrient Wheel
Antacids Nutrient Wheel

Topics: statin, Intracellular Analysis, micronutrient deficiencies, Advanced Nutritional Testing, Effects of Statins on CoQ10, Drug-induced Nutrient Depletion, Functional Micronutrient Testing, Antacids, Functional Medicine

Bioindividual Nutrition: Breaking Barriers for Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Thu, Apr 05, 2018 @ 11:03 AM

Autism-and-Water-child-in-the-waterWhen people think of autism and nutrition, the first thing that often comes to mind is food sensitivities, especially given the widespread attention to the impact of certain additives and common triggers (such as wheat or dairy) on that condition. 

Even more paramount, is the evidence suggesting that Autism is largely a whole-body disorder in which an individual's biochemistry affects the brain, learning and behavior. Restoring balance within the body through food and nutrients, therefore, becomes essential. The good news is, nutritional deficiencies that are impacting your child’s neurological development can be corrected. The list below includes specific micronutrients suggested to have a role in the development and treatment of autism:

Vitamin D: High-dose vitamin D therapy reversed autistic behaviors in severely deficient children; maternal vitamin D deficiency may predispose children to autism. A landmark trial further indicates that vitamin D supplementation helps children with ASD. 

Vitamin A: One cause of autism may be a defect in a retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein) that is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Evidence suggests that natural vitamin A fixes this protein defect in autistics.

Folate: Oral folate therapy can resolve symptoms of autism in some cases, particularly in autistics with genes that impair folate-dependent enzymes.

Glutamine: Blood levels of this amino acid - which acts as a neurotransmitter - are particularly low in autistics. Glutamine also helps prevent leaky gut syndrome, which can exacerbate autistic symptoms.

Vitamin C: Improves symptom severity and sensory motor scores in autistic patients possibly due to interaction with dopamine synthesis; it also has a strong sparing effect on glutathione.

Glutathione & Cysteine: Both are commonly deficient in autistic patients. Low antioxidant status impairs detoxification and methylation processes, and has been linked to neurological symptoms in autism, which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.

Vitamin B1: Deficiency linked to delayed language development; supplementation may benefit autistic patients.

Vitamin B12: Low B12 impairs methylation (detoxification), which can cause the neurological damage responsible for many autistic symptoms. B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy and vision loss in autistics; B12 raises cysteine and glutathione levels.

Vitamin B6: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; conversion of B6 to its active form is compromised in many autistics. Supplementation trials with B6 resulted in better eye contact, improved speech, and fewer self-stimulatory behavior in autistics. Some consider B6 in combination with magnesium to be a breakthrough treatment for autism.

Magnesium: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters that affect social reactions and emotion; autistics have low levels. Magnesium improves the effectiveness of B6 therapy.

Zinc: Eliminates mercury from brain tissue. The zinc/ copper ratio is particularly low in autistic kids, and low zinc impairs metallothionein, a protein that removes heavy metals from the body.

Carnitine: Transports fatty acids into cells. Low carnitine status, a common feature of autism, impairs the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.

The longer a child goes with Autism, the harder they are to reach. Evaluate your child's micronutrient status today!

GET TESTED

For a copy of SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart on autism, click here. 


 

Topics: Cysteine, zinc, folate, Vitamin D, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, autism, Glutamine, Glutathione, Vitamin B1, nutrition and autism, nutrition speaks, autistic symptoms, micronutrient deficiencies, autism speaks, integrative approach to autism, alternative therapy for autism

Nutrition Speaks: The Role of Micronutrient Deficiencies in Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

autism.jpgWhen people think of autism and nutrition, the first thing that comes to mind is often food sensitivities, especially given the widespread attention to the impact of certain additives and common triggers (such as wheat or dairy) on that condition. But it is worth considering that micronutrient levels can have a profound impact on autistic symptoms. The list below includes specific micronutrients suggested to have a role in the development and treatment of autism:

Vitamin D: High-dose vitamin D therapy reversed autistic behaviors in severely deficient children; maternal vitamin D deficiency may predispose children to autism.

Vitamin A: One cause of autism may be a defect in a retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein) that is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Evidence suggests that natural vitamin A fixes this protein defect in autistics.

Folate: Oral folate therapy can resolve symptoms of autism in some cases, particularly in autistics with genes that impair folate-dependent enzymes.

Glutamine: Blood levels of this amino acid - which acts as a neurotransmitter - are particularly low in autistics. Glutamine also helps prevent leaky gut syndrome, which can exacerbate autistic symptoms.

Vitamin C: Improves symptom severity and sensory motor scores in autistic patients possibly due to interaction with dopamine synthesis; it also has a strong sparing effect on glutathione.

Glutathione & Cysteine: Both are commonly deficient in autistic patients. Low antioxidant status impairs detoxification and methylation processes, and has been linked to neurological symptoms in autism, which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.

Vitamin B1: Deficiency linked to delayed language development; supplementation may benefit autistic patients.

Vitamin B12: Low B12 impairs methylation (detoxification), which can cause the neurological damage responsible for many autistic symptoms. B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy and vision loss in autistics; B12 raises cysteine and glutathione levels.

Vitamin B6: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; conversion of B6 to its active form is compromised in many autistics. Supplementation trials with B6 resulted in better eye contact, improved speech, and fewer self-stimulatory behavior in autistics. Some consider B6 in combination with magnesium to be a breakthrough treatment for autism.

Magnesium: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters that affect social reactions and emotion; autistics have low levels. Magnesium improves the effectiveness of B6 therapy.

Zinc: Eliminates mercury from brain tissue. The zinc/ copper ratio is particularly low in autistic kids, and low zinc impairs metallothionein, a protein that removes heavy metals from the body.

Carnitine: Transports fatty acids into cells. Low carnitine status, a common feature of autism, impairs the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.

For a copy of SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart on autism, click here. 

To evaluate your micronutrient status, order your micronutrient test today!

GET TESTED


 

Topics: Cysteine, zinc, folate, Vitamin D, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, autism, Glutamine, Glutathione, Vitamin B1, nutrition and autism, nutrition speaks, autistic symptoms, micronutrient deficiencies, autism speaks