Why supplemental nutrients ?

Lots of reasons make these supplemental nutrients valuable, even life-saving (as in vitamin B6 dependency1.)
While on this particular vitamin, at the other end of life The Linus Pauling Institute recommends2 that older adults take a multivitamin/mineral supplement, which provides at least 2.0 mg of vitamin B6 daily.

Aging and digestion

Conditions leading to reduced stomach acid become more prevalent with age5 and pepsin also diminishes. Diminishing pancreatic6 function with age doesn't matter as it has so much reserve capacity7. I guess our hunter forebears had to stuff themselves when they made a kill.

Especially if you feel bloated soon after meals, a supplement of hydrochloric acid plus pepsin may help get the goodness out of your food and avoid food intolerances15.

Nutrient supplements for SNPs

Variations in your MTHFR gene8can make folate supplements very valuable.

Folic acid is synthetic, cheap and often valuable4. It does require tailoring to be useful and may end up being anything but.

The folic acid trap.

Mr. R was prescribed folic acid 5 mg to help with his hypoglycaemia, but developed right sided abdominal pain and elevated homocysteine of 15.7 (RR 3.7 to 13.9.)
When the folic acid was ceased his abdominal pain settled, and his abdomen didn't swell as much. He felt better and slept better. A month later his homocysteine had fallen to a healthy 8.8 indicating I'd been poisoning him with the folic acid.

Mr R started off with a transplanted liver which wasn't entirely healthy, so he is probably a "yellow canary" in regard to danger from folic acid - more susceptible than the average man or mouse.

Mice don't do well on it either3.

Pharmaceutical drugs KO nutrients

This9 is a short list of drugs and the nutrients affected. It's just one of the problems from long-term use of pharmaceuticals.

Antibiotics similarly affect nutrition, here by interfering with the intestinal microbiome. If people have delayed convalescence after treatment for an infection, with fatigue and sore mouth, oral B group vitamins often just don't work but injected B complex is very useful, producing overnight improvement.

Pregnancy, children and choline

Choline is essential and mostly adequate in western diets.10 Where this is not so it has made a life and death difference11 so a small extra dose could be prudent.

There was evidence of a decrease in the risk for stillbirth12 among women receiving multivitamins plus iron and folic acid compared iron and folate only groups (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.85 to 0.99, 10 trials, 79,851 women; high-quality evidence)

Birth weight and length were significantly higher in the offspring of n–3-supplemented women than in those in the placebo group (P < 0.05) in one trial.13

Nuclear disasters and thyroid glands

Potassium iodide could be in your first aid kit if you live anywhere near a nuclear power plant.

Supplemental nutrients for weekend warriors

Here is a personal anecdote about vitamin E. Many years ago my 4 teenage offspring and I had a weekend skiing. I had not trained for this and by the end of two days could barely put one foot in front of the other. My muscles were very weak but not painful, as I'd taken a lot of vitamin E.

Another instance was the builder who did renovations on our home, who fell about 15 ft from the top of a ladder. He landed on a garden bed and didn't break anything, but the next morning he had pain everywhere and could barely move. He consumed a whole bottle of vitamin E capsules that day and we were both surprised at the speed of his recovery.

And holiday sunbathers

Vitamin E again, the oil filled capsules. A rapid-acting remedy for sunburn is one or two layers of the oil, very gently smeared on the painfully burnt skin.

Australia did not have us white-skinned people and we aren't suited to its climate. One of my patients has lost lots of skin from his head to the surgeon's knife. He is continually needing treatment for more skin cancers. One dose of 50.000 units of vitamin A and he reported that after a couple of days he lost the continual soreness he had felt in his facial skin.

And for those with "silver" fillings

They are 50% mercury and this toxic element comes out of them.14 It binds to enzymes which should have other elements such as zinc and magnesium, blocking function.

Before I had my amalgam fillings replaced years ago, I needed about 4 zinc tablets a day to partially counteract this.

Maybe you're tired all the time.

Not enough energy? Our body makes energy in our mitochondria. You may be short of some essential nutrient needed for this. Bruce Ames CHORI-bar16 hopefully will get off the ground but in the meantime look to improve your gut lining and microbiome and take supplemental nutrients for mitochondrial function on a suck-it-and-see basis.

Or merely lacking motivation and a bit sluggish

At 77 years Mr SS was like that. Ten years earlier his homocysteine level had been a reasonable 9 micromol/litre and four years earlier his vitamin B 12 had been an equally healthy 453.

Now his homocysteine had risen to 13.9 and B12 dropped to 297. His diabetes treatment with metformin had caught up with him. This drug reduces B 12 absorption.

After some B 12 injections he was "more active, wanting to do things" and his homocysteine levels dropped over a few months to 12.8 in May, 11.3 in June and 10.3 in November that year.

Conditionally essential nutrients

Glutamine17 can become thus in desperately ill people. Taurine19, arginine, glycine, proline and tyrosine etc can also be conditionally essential in certain circumstances18.

Combinations are good

The modern idea seems to be mine traditional remedies for individual chemicals, patent them somehow and market as "cures." Aspirin and hydroxyethylrutoside are examples of such slight chemical changes to natural substances, here salicin and rutin.

Rutin is one of the bioflavinoids, originally called vitamin P.
"Szeged is the center of the paprika (red pepper) industry. Paprika was not available at Cambridge. I once saw it on the market but the vendor cautioned me that it was poisonous. One night we had fresh red pepper for supper. I did not feel like eating it and thought of a way out. Suddenly it occurred to me that this was practically the only plant I had never tested. I took it to the laboratory and about midnight I knew that it was a treasure chest of vitamin C, containing 2 mg per gram.

A few weeks later I had kilo¬grams of crystalline Vitamin C which I distributed all over the world among researchers who wanted to work on it. This soon made complete analysis and synthesis possible. I received my Nobel prize partly for this work which also led to another unexpected discovery.

When I still had only impure but highly concentrated solutions of ascorbic acid we tried my extracts in cases of Henochs' Purpura. In scurvy there is a great capillary fragility causing subcutaneous bleeding, so it seemed logical to try my extracts in purpura (subcutaneous bleeding). They worked. When I had crystalline ascorbic acid we tried it again, expecting a still stronger action. It did nothing.

Evidently, my impure extract contained an additional substance responsible for the action. I guessed that it might be "fiavones" which did the trick. My guess proved right. I isolated the flavones from "paprika" and they cured purpura. I called this group of substances Vitamin "P."20
Traditional remedies were seldom used singly and even herbs were natural combinations of often synergistic substances.

Curcumin, boswellia, ginger, piperine (black pepper) all work well together.

We need co-factors to activate some (pro)vitamins so this combination may be valuable - such as zinc needed to activate pyridoxine to the active B6 (pyridoxal-5-phosphate.)

Nutrition and getting physical

Patrick Holford points out that we may need supplements simply because modern life is too easy. Prior to the industrial revolution one needed to use muscles more and needed to eat a lot more so got more nutrients.

Nutrition and getting stressed

Dr. Michael Gonzalez talks of students getting ill when stressed by exams. Eating nutrient poor refined foods is doubly damaging, as one needs nutrients to put these foods through the basic energy metabolism of the body, using up scarce supplies and resulting in less being available for making neurotransmitters and hormones and running the immune system.

Notes and references for supplemental nutrients page.

1. Treatable neonatal epilepsy

2. Micronutrient Information Center - vitamin B6

3. High folic acid consumption leads to pseudo-MTHFR deficiency, altered lipid metabolism, and liver injury in mice Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar; 101(3): 646–658.

4. Folic acid supplementation and neural tube defect recurrence prevention.

5. Effects of aging and gastritis on gastric acid and pepsin secretion in humans: a prospective study.

6. Changes in Pancreatic Exocrine Secretion with Age: Pancreatic Exocrine Secretion Does Decrease in the Elderly

7. Aging of the Exocrine Pancreas in Principles and Practice of Geriatric Surgery.

8. To Health With That! Thoughts from Amy Neuzil, ND Understanding the MTHFR Mutation Basics.

9. Do the medications you take deplete nutrients from your body?

10. Extra prenatal choline doesn't help kids' brains

11. Evidence for negative selection of gene variants that increase dependence on dietary choline in a Gambian cohort.

12. Vitamin supplementation for preventing miscarriage Cochrane review.

13. Effect of ω-3 supplementation on placental lipid metabolism in overweight and obese women.

14. Mercury Exposure and Risks from Dental Amalgam in Canada: The Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009 G. Mark Richardson

15. The role of protein digestibility and antacids on food allergy outcomes.

16. CHORIBar Program.

17. Is glutamine a conditionally essential amino acid?.


19. Protective and therapeutic effectiveness of taurine in diabetes mellitus: a rationale for antioxidant supplementation.

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