In order of relevance
MINERALS & AMINO ACIDS
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Please read the following before spending a great deal of money and possibly even stressing your body by taking supplements that superficially appear to be helpful. The choice of supplements is far more complex...
Some minerals will directly affect the metabolisation of others and an increase in one will cause an imbalance or decrease in another. This sometimes works in only one direction.
In the diagram below note that Cadmium (Cd) influences Copper (Cu) and Copper influences Iron (Fe) but the reverse is not true. Excess Sodium (Na) may decrease Potassium (K) and vice verse.
For a person with hypertension it may not be appropriate to increase Sodium (Na) even if it superficially appears to be beneficial in ALS/MND. It may be better to decrease Potassium (K) thereby restoring sodium levels without taking potentially excessive amounts of sodium in food or as a supplement. Taken to an extreme, perhaps the balance of one mineral can only be restored by increasing or decreasing another mineral several steps removed from the apparent problem. Consider this before taking mineral supplements.
Ca=Calcium Cd=Cadmium Co=Cobalt Cu=Copper Fe=Iron K=Potassium
Mg=Magnesium Mn=Manganese Na=Sodium P=Phosphorus Zn=Zinc
Some vitamins, like minerals, cannot be properly metabolised if certain other vitamins or minerals are not present in sufficient quantities.
Vitamin B3 is a good example: tryptophane requires Vitamins B1, B2, B6, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Zinc and Manganese to be converted to B3, so all these are important for that synthesis. Taking a B3 supplement will not provide useful amounts of this vitamin unless the other vitamins and minerals exist in sufficient quantities to metabolise it.
Calcium is another example. Taking a calcium supplement or eating calcium rich food does not mean that your body absorbs this nutrient. Interactions among nutrients can either help or hinder the absorption of other nutrients. You are more likely to absorb calcium if you are also taking a vitamin D supplement.
Other supplements that aid absorption of calcium include, lactose (milk protein) lysine, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, vitamin B6 and vitamin A. Refined sugar can also assist in metabolising calcium but causes loss of calcium through urine! Some people can obtain more calcium from dairy products than from supplements and taking calcium supplements with food can increase their absorption by 10%.
Taking calcium in the evening is more effective than taking it in the morning. The calcium supplement calcium citrate is probably the most bioavailable of the calcium salts but can increase the undesirable absorption of aluminium! Dr Melvyn Werbach in his book "Foundations of Nutritional Medicine" explains numerous other ways in which simple calcium supplementation may fail or succeed according to the other foods and supplements taken in conjunction with calcium.
Based on my own research, I question the advisability of PALS taking calcium supplements unless they are extremely deficient in this mineral. Although calcium is essential for neuronal communication, simple calcium supplementation will not necessarily improve nerve conductivity and may even cause problems in some individuals.
Generally speaking, medications and supplements used in an attempt to slow the progress of ALS/MND are best taken in combination with complementary supplements at lower doses rather than taking excessively high doses of only one or two supplements.
Taking the "mega doses" sometimes suggested for supplements will, logically, tend to create an imbalance in other areas. Taking large doses (5000mg) of plain vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) has been shown to deplete gamma tocopherol levels in the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Taking a vitamin E "complex" (including alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols) can help prevent this. (Christen S., et al., Gamma-tocopherol traps mutagenic electrophiles such as NOx and complements alpha-tocopherol: Physiological implications. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, vol 94, pp. 3217-3222, Apr 1997.)
CHROMIUM Etienne-Emile Baulieu, French researcher at the College De France, has been giving elderly people low doses of synthetic DHEA as an anti-aging agent. The mineral chromium promotes an increase in this hormone.
An organic chromium supplement of 200 micrograms daily can help reduce accelerated ageing. (nb. oxidation of motor neurones is essentially a form of accelerated ageing).
The supplement should ideally be "biologically active" form of chromium, such as chromium nicotinate, for easier absorption and utilization by your body. If the chromium supplement is inorganic, your body must first convert it to an active form before it can be utilised.
The following is a partial description of B.C.100 Synergistic Chromium Compound made by Blackmore's, Australia:
The deficiency of this mineral may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis. Until recently, there were no accurate methods of Chromium determination. Studies showed that elderly subjects dying from coronary artery disease had no Chromium in the aorta. Rutolo D.A. & Hennessy G. Chromium-Take it to Heart lnt.Clin.Nut.Rev.19833(4)7.
A study on rabbits supplemented with Chromium decreased the aortic plaque as well as the cholesterol in the area. Healthy people supplemented with Chromium showed increased HDL-cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) levels, while their triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol levels decreased.
Magnesium and Phosphate are required in all reactions involving energy production, such as synthesis of metabolically important compounds, absorption and transport of nutrients and any physical activity.
MANGANESE AMINO ACID CHELATE is a trace mineral that activates numerous enzymes. Is a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol and plays a part in protein, carbohydrate and fat production and can help nourish the nerves and brain.
POTASSIUM PHOSPHATE: A correct balance of extracellular and intracellular potassium is necessary to maintain nerve cell resting membrane potential. Symptoms of imbalance include lethargy, lassitude, learning difficulties and depression. A fall in intracellular levels, causing membrane depolarisation, can result in irritability, insomnia, over-sensitivity and hyperactivity. A fall in extracellular levels can cause membrane hyper-polarisation with consequent depression of nervous function, lack of reaction to stimuli and poor concentration.
VITAMIN B3 is a coenzyme assisting in the breakdown and utilisation of protein, fats and carbohydrates. It improves circulation and reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. Kidneys are the major route of chromium excretion.
Tissue levels of chromium declines with age, except in the lung where levels increase, possibly due to environmental factors. Tissue levels may also vary with geographical location. Blood Chromium levels do not appear to reflect or to be in equilibrium with tissue levels because some organs may retain Chromium longer than blood plasma and serum Chromium can fluctuate because of the effect of glucose/insulin.
ABSORPTION AND CELLULAR UPTAKE: Chromium compounds (CrIII) are not as well absorbed as the chromate compounds (CrVI). Chromium compounds are transported via blood protein (including transferrin) while chromates are transported via erythocytes. The mechanisms of cellular and intestinal Chromium uptake are not well understood.
CHROMIUM BIOAVAILABILITY: Inorganic Chromium may be used therapeutically but organic forms of Chromium, e.g. GTF complexes, have higher biological activity. This may partly explain some of the variance in the results of trials. Phytate-rich diets possibly decrease Chromium absorption. Chromium is required to metabolise sugar but sugar may increases the excretion of Chromium. High dosage zinc supplementation possibly interfere with Chromium absorption.
Chromium can affect carbohydrate and lipid metabolism through its association with insulin. Chromium is thought to potentiate the action of insulin by forming a link between insulin and the cell membrane. High insulin levels may affect the quantity and type of triglycerides circulating.
Owing to its insulin-potentiating action, Chromium could be of use to people with aberrant carbohydrate metabolism. People with a long-term history of refined carbohydrate intake, if showing gylcemic symptoms, may benefit from short-term supplementation trial. Trivalent Chromium (Cr III), for example GTF complexes, show little toxicity compared to the hexavalent forms of Chromium (Cr VI).
Chromium toxicity is most likely to occur through occupational exposure, e.g. inhalation of Chromium fumes.
CHROMIUM FOOD SOURCES: Brewer's Yeast (but not Torula Yeast), whole grains, black pepper, molasses, oysters and rice bran.
DOSAGE (of Blackmore's B.C.100 Synergistic Chromium Compound): One tablet daily with main meal or as professionally prescribed. Preferably taken separately to any zinc supplement.
MAGNESIUM is important for neuro-muscular function and the utilization of calcium in the body.
Calcium cannot be absorbed properly without vitamin D but vitamin D is toxic in large amounts and should only be taken under medical supervision. Vitamin D is almost completely lacking in food, apart from fish-liver oils (although margarine is usually supplemented with vitamin D). Please see Vitamin D Information.
Our chief source of vitamin D comes from sunlight on our bare skin producing a substance that changes into vitamin D within the body. Some PALS find that Calcium/Magnesium supplementation worsens fasciculations and cramping. Supplements of all types should only be taken in conjunction with a healthy diet and/or other supplements to facilitate their metabolisation.
Exercise is required to metabolise protein in a way that builds muscle tissue. Too much protein can be as harmful as too little. It can cause calcium to be flushed from the body in urine. The loss of calcium is greater with high protein foods rich in phosphorus, such as meat and eggs.
According to Dr Julian Whitaker, a contributor to Prevention magazine, excess nitrogen and sulphur in the blood from a high protein diet creates an acid con-dition that leaches calcium from bone. The combined effect that the body loses more calcium than it takes in, so using calcium supplements may not help when you are eating excess protein. Osteoporosis, the gradual deterioration of the bones is rare in countries where the diet is low in protein - even when calcium intake is relatively low.
People wishing to lose weight sometimes adopt a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Dietary protein alone will not maintain the protein tissues of your body.
Without carbohydrates the body cannot use the proteins that are ingested. Carbohydrates spare protein and increase protein utilization. Attempt to eat only unrefined carbohydrates.
"Magnesium supplementation does not delay disease onset or increase survival in a mouse model of familial ALS".
ZINC is the "repair mineral". It plays a role in many metabolic functions including the normal absorption and function of vitamins. Taking a zinc complex affects general metabolic, neurological and psychological function and has been shown to exert a broad neuroregulatory effect on signal transduction, neuronal activity and brain function.
Zinc functions by maintaining spatial and configurational relationships necessary for enzymatic action. In this role it helps to bind enzymes to substrates and may modify the molecular shape of enzymes by simultaneously combining with amino acids at different places on the protein, thus affecting secondary, tertiary and quaternary protein structure.
In addition to its function in enzymes, zinc participates in the metabolism of nucleic acids and the synthesis of proteins. Zinc may also have an important role in cell division and in the synthesis of DNA . The combination of zinc and vitamin C are important for liver function.
A "Zinc complex" tablet or capsule is the best way of supplementing dietary zinc intake. Zinc is both an antioxidant enzyme cofactor and a stabilizer of cell membranes. It is vital to endothelial integrity, and may also protect against the potent, pro-inflammatory platelet activating factor (PAF).
Amino acids are crucial to our wellbeing, They are the building blocks of protein throughout the body, are used to make infection-fighting antibodies and help us resist damaging free radicals.
There are twenty different amino acids found in biological systems, including the human body. They serve a range of functions, and are best known as the components of protein - every protein is made up of a combination of amino acids, sometimes in chains that are thousands of amino acids in length.
Amino Acid supplementation was once widely used to treat ALS/MND but results were not as good as expected. The use of amino acids in combination with other supplements may assist to some extent but used alone they are apparently not the "cure" some practitioners claimed them to be.
A QUICK GUIDE
Selected Amino Acids
Asparagine & Aspartic Acid
Cysteine (see also NAC)
Phenylalanine & Alanine
Some Amino facts:
One exception is phenylalanine, where the D- form is believed to be more effective for the relief of depression, chronic pain, and possibly even Parkinson's disease. For this reason, a mixture of L- and D-phenylalanine, DL-phenylalanine, is the supplement of choice.
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