Zinc Picolinate

About Hormones and Hormone Problems

I had just finished a talk, and as usual, folks were milling around looking to get some questions answered. A woman named Nancy steps out of the crowd. She’s in her early 50’s with a whole slew of symptoms that I’ve heard many times before; Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. Her moods are swinging like a cheap screen door in a winter storm and loss of libido may end her marriage. She’s carrying an extra 30 pounds of body weight, and no matter how she changes her diet, she can’t drop them.

Hormones and Hormone ProblemsShe, of course, knows it’s her hormones. At least that’s what she tells me. But when I ask her what exactly she means by hormones she really can’t come up with much of an answer. That’s because she has little understanding of what is meant by this catch-all term “hormones”, and Nancy isn’t alone. Women like Nancy come up to me after every presentation that I do. I receive letters, take phone calls, and answer texts and messages on this subject many times a week.

Modern scientific understanding of hormones is over a hundred years old, but do a random survey amongst your non-medical friends to see how many people could really explain what a hormone is and/or what it does. Probably not many, if any. How can we really understand how to address hormone related health issues without having a basic grasp of what these things are and how they work.

In order to understand hormones, we have to understand cells which are best thought of as little extraordinary animals. Each one of these creepy-crawly blobs of goo, so tiny it takes 1000 to make an inch, is studded with hundreds of thousands of sub-microscopic switches called receptors. When these switches are activated, stuff happens.

A hormone is nothing more than a chemical that activates those switches. It’s a bit more complicated in the sense that there are different hormones for different switches and because combinations of hormonal switches get activated simultaneously, but, in essence, it’s just a question of switches and chemicals, i.e. the hormones that activate them.

Because the body’s functions all result from the activities of cells, if it’s happening in the body, it’s happening because of hormones. Hormones can be thought of as messages; the very word “hormone” is Latin for: “I arouse to activity”. That means that we are healthy (or not) because of hormones. In fact, from a physical perspective, we are everything we are because of hormones. To say you have a hormone problem when you are sick is like saying you have a money problem when you’re broke. Or a mechanical problem if your car breaks down. Of course, it’s true, but it’s tautological (saying the same thing twice in different words) and not helpful for taking care of the problem.

We have two major types of hormones. One type is fast-acting and rapidly broken down. These are substances that activate quick biochemical functions such as nerve firings, muscle contractions, and various secretions in response to food or some kind of irritant. These quick acting hormones have names like “prostaglandins” and “leukotrienes,” and they live fast and die young. They allow cells to respond to their environment in a speedy fashion, and they’re quickly broken down. In the brain, these hormone chemicals are called neurotransmitters, and they’re associated with various moods and brain functions.
When most people talk about hormones and hormone problems, most of the time they are referring to the second type, more long acting hormone substances called steroids, typically the so-called male hormone testosterone and the so-called female hormone estrogen. I say “so-called” because it’s somewhat of a misunderstanding to refer to these hormones in this sex-specific fashion as both genders produce both substances. Nonetheless, despite the fact that there are dozens upon dozens of various hormone substances in the body, when women blame their hormones, they’re usually referring to estrogen; likewise, when males talk about theirs, they typically mean testosterone.

So, if you’re a guy or a gal and you want to work on your hormones (testosterone or estrogen), what can you do? Well, probably the most important step you can take to return these two steroid substances back to their appropriate levels and potency is pay attention to intake of fatty foods and fat absorption. Steroid hormones are all derived from cholesterol which is a major component of fat-dense foods like eggs and dairy and organ meats, so making sure you’re getting enough of these types of foods can be helpful. You, of course, want to make sure that you’re absorbing these substances in the intestine as well. That means after you eat your omelet, cheese, and liver, you use digestive enzymes, lecithin, and apple cider vinegar– all of which can improve the body’s ability to absorb and utilize their cholesterol content.

Nutrients can help too. Below are 13 nutritional supplements that can help improve steroid hormone health:

Probiotics – 10 billion units/multiple strains daily
Magnesium Chelate -1000-2000mg daily
B-100 Complex – 2-3 tablets daily
Vitamin C -1000-3000mg daily
Omega-3’s – 1-2 grams daily
Evening Primrose Oil – 1-2 teaspoonsful daily
Zinc Picolinate – 50mg daily
Selenium Chelate -400mcg daily
Vitamin A -20,000 iu daily
Vitamin E -400 iu daily
Vitamin D – Sunlight 5000 iu daily
Pregnenolone -100mg daily
Choline – 100-200mg daily

 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Osteoporosis, Blood Sugar and Insulin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Osteoporosis is a textbook example of degenerative disease and affects nearly one out of 8 people in this country, mostly women. Degenerative disease is the leading cause of illness in this country, and a condition that affects nearly 70 percent of Americans. While awareness of the condition has increased dramatically over the last few years, which has seemed to lower the incidence of this potentially life threatening disease, it continues to escalate steadily in this country, and around the world.

Osteoporosis

By James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons

These days, even the most nutritionally obtuse person can tell you that taking calcium supplements can help strengthen the bone. More sophisticated aware nutrition minded folks may tell you about Magnesium and Vitamin D, and a so-called expert may even mention the importance of Vitamin K, zinc, and protein.
However, one of most significant keys to dealing with osteoporosis involves blood sugar and insulin, and hardly anyone ever addresses the importance of these two key health markers. Yet, in an article published in Annals of Endocrinology from December 2012, researchers bluntly remarked that “Diabetic osteoporosis (OP) is increasingly recognized as a significant co-morbidity of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2-DM)” , and further stated ”…elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are prone to develop OP. The insufficiency of insulin, the decreased insulin sensitivity….is important causes for OP in the patients with type 2 diabetes.”

Dysglycemia (a fancy way of saying messed up blood sugar) is tragic, and pervasive biochemical pathology with involvement in almost all degenerative disease. But, because blood sugar and insulin can be manipulated and controlled by our food choices, for better or worse, this is actually good news. In other words, if we change the way we eat we can change our blood sugar too!

And, as far as osteoporosis goes, it means one of the most important things you can do to keep bones from dissolving (which is essentially what osteoporosis is) is to stop eating the pasta! And the grains, and bread, and the cereal, and the fruit juice, and all the other blood sugar busting foods that form such a significant part of the Standard American Diet. And It wouldn’t hurt to throw in sugar metabolizing nutrients either. Alpha lipoic acid 200mg-400mg is a great blood sugar stabilizing supplement. Magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin A can help too. And then there are the B-Vitamins, best added to water and sipped on throughout the day.

Of course there’s more to building bone than just controlling sugar. Even if you just want to prevent osteoporosis, in addition to calcium, there’s lots of great under-appreciated and underutilized nutritional supplements that will help build and strengthen bone. Check out my favorites below. While by no means complete, it represents a great place to start if you’re looking to start an anti-osteoporosis nutritional program.

1. Protein – especially whey and egg. Bone soup is a good way to get bone building protein too.
2. Magnesium – the glycinate form is great. Use 1200mg a day.
3. Vitamin D3 – cod liver oil and adequate sun exposure (maybe 10-15 minutes a day 3 or 4 days a week) are the best ways to get this important nutrient.
4. Vitamin K2 – 5,000mcg daily. It’s a calcium magnet that helps harden bones.
5. Chromium Picolinate – helps stabilize blood sugar – 200mcg after meals.
6. B-Complex – use a powder form (Sanitas B-complex Power Blend or Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine are both good sources) and add to water and sip all day.
7. Essential Fatty Acids – Udo’s Blend or Youngevity’s ultimate EFA caps are both good sources.
8. Vitamin C – Bones are 30% collagen, and you can’t make collagen without Vitamin C.-Take 5,000 to 10,000 mg a day.
9. Silica – Abkit Liquid Silica Gel is a good source, take maybe 1-2 tablespoons a day.
10. Hyaluronic acid capsules – 100 to 200mg a day. Your nails and hair will benefit too!
11. MSM (Sulfur) – 1000 mg a day. Extra benefit: it’s great for liver detox.
12. Vitamin A – Take 20,000 i.u daily. I call it Vitamin Anabolic. Important for building bone tissue and protein utilization. Take it with fatty foods or meals.
13. Zinc Picolinate 50mg a day – works synergistically with Vitamin A. It’s the anabolic mineral.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Adult Persistent Acne or APA

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

SUMMARY

  • Millions of Americans have Adult Persistent Acne
  • APA? Think adrenal and ovary/testes hormones
  • Causes as always: digestive, insulin, blood sugar, adrenal stress
  • Ovarian involvement sometimes results in cysts in the ovaries.  This condition is called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Symptoms include obesity, blood pressure issues fertility development of body hair, loss of head hair and oily skin and blemishes
  • For all APA use nutrition, diet and lifestyle strategies, they work!

 

Think zits are for kids?  Think again!  According to The International Dermal Institute between 40 and 55 percent of the adult population age 20-40 have with low grade, persistent acne and oily skin.That means millions of unfortunate Americans and what’s even more disconcerting is the fact that dermatologists who refer to this condition as Adult Persistent Acne (APA) are, for the most part, impotent and clueless when it comes to addressing this difficult and unpleasant skin condition.  The accepted medical protocols for dealing with APA remain mired in the tired antiquated, decades-old saws of steroids and antibiotics or worse barbaric deep chemical peels using toxic substances and potential carcinogens  like croton oil, phenol or aminolevulenic acid.

Adult Persistent Acne APAWhen it comes to the biology of APA, no health condition screams adrenal and reproductive gland dysfunction louder. Both the adrenals as well as the ovaries/testes produce substances that regulate the skin oil production, pigmentation and skin cell growth that are the hallmark features of adult acne.

To put it simply and concisely, the symptoms of adult persistent acne are a classic case of hormone pathology.  And, hormone pathology is itself more often than not a reflection of digestive and blood sugar problems.

Food toxins and allergies can result in malabsorbtion of raw materials for hormone production In fact, one of the more poorly recognized causes of APA is food intolerance and digestive issues.  If you find that in addition to problem skin you have digestive health issues, including loose stools and/ or constipation, chronic heartburn bloating, gas, or simply general gastrointestinal discomfort and unpleasantness AND you’re breaking out, the chances are pretty good that you’re dealing with some kind of digestive related skin condition.  And once the digestive distress becomes long-term and chronic you’re very possible that you’ll end up dealing with adrenal stress which can then function as a secondary cause of problem skin.  This is especially likely if your facial blemishes appear as rashy and diffuse (spread out all over the face) and if they are showing up on the back or chest or other non-facial parts of the body.

Then there’s blood sugar connection to adult acne.  Elevations in insulin, the sugar controlling hormone are often involved in the development APA.   Once the blood sugar system become overwhelmed, the adrenal activity is unregulated. Many of the more common features of adult persistent acne, especially skin oiliness and hyper-pigmentation are a common sign of adrenal hormone activation.

Even more significant, the dermal distress of APA is more than merely an unsavory superficial skin condition.  The hormone pathology behind the appearance of blemishes, dark spots and oily patches can be the harbinger of much more serious health issues to come.  Because the gland chemicals that are involved in causing adult acne are largely cleared by the lymphatic system, it’s like likely the over the long haul APA can result in congestion in this significant circulatory conduit for biochemical waste.  Because the lymphatic system is charged with eliminating the acne-inducing toxic and old hormones over time congestion of lymph fluid is likely to occur.  Clogging of the lymphatic system may then manifest as immune activity and inflammation and causing even more adult acne, hyper-pigmentation and oiliness.  Ultimately lymphatic congestion can wreak even worse biochemical havoc; liver disease, heart disease and cancer are just some of the ways lymphatic congestion can show up.

As mentioned previously, the hormone issues associated APA may be related to blood sugar dysfunction.  And because of the close connection between blood sugar and female reproductive hormones, women are especially prone to blood sugar induced APA.  Over the course of years and decades of sugar abuse (the average American consumes nearly half a pound a day, far more than the human body is supposed to handling) chronic elevations in insulin are likely.  Insulin as growth inducing substance stimulates cell growth and division.  In the ovaries this rapid cell growth and division can cause cysts.  Ovarian cysts produce symptom hormones and this can be especially problematic for some women.   In fact, elevations ovarian hormones the resulting symptoms, collectively known as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) include weight gain, hair loss and the oily skin and blemishes associated with adult persistent acne.

If you are one of the many unfortunate sufferers of APA don’t despair.  Because ultimately acne like all skin and health conditions is a biochemical/nutrient problem, there are many biochemical/nutrient strategies(as opposed to pharmaceutical) for dealing with APA. Below are my Top 17nutrients and strategies for addressing adult persistent acne:

1)    Zinc Picolinate ( 50mg a day) – best taken with 2mg of Copper chelate, important for blood sugar control as well as hormone production and balance

2)    Vitamin A (20,000 iu a day) – premier skin vitamin stabilized the growth of skin cells and sebum (skin oil) producing cells too

3)    Vitamin B5 (1000-200mg three times a day taking each dose with the entire B-complex) – key vitamin for skin oils and adrenal gland hormones

4)    Vitamin B3 (timed release 100-300 mg daily,taking each dose take with the entire B-complex) – anti-inflammatory, improves blood sugar control

5)    NAC (500-1000mg) a day – important liver support nutrient, improve hormone processing

6)    Selenium Monomethionine (600mcg a day) – detoxification of old hormone

7)    Glutamine (1000 mg a day) – general detoxification and anti-inflammatory properties

8)    MSM (2000mg a day) – detoxification, improve hormone elimination

9)    Vitamin C (5000-10,000 mg a day) – the “primal panacea”, good for everything.  Involved in hormone production as well as blood sugar chemistry

10)   Probiotics (80 billion units of multiple strains) – improves fat metabolism, detoxification and hormone processing

11)    Vitamin E (400 iu a day) – dramatic anti-inflammatory and healing properties

12)   Isolate and eliminate problem foods (dairy, grains eggs and legumes are BIG problem foods; ANY vegetable can be a trigger as well)

13)   Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) – improves hormone processing and detoxification.  Steam lightly if you have any thyroid issues

14)   Reduce intake of insulin spiking foods

15)   Reduce intake of ALL foods caloric intake, fasting can have a dramatic impact

16)   Slow down and deepen breathing, deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques daily to improve adrenal function

17)   Exfoliate and cleanse daily 2% salicylic acid toners and cleanser.  Keeping excess skin oils off of the face is important.  These secretions from oil glands, technically called sebum undergo chemical when they’re exposed to air that can cause inflammation and increase zittiness.  Proper and regular exfoliation will assure that potential poor clogging dead skin cells are removed off of the skin surface.

18)   Use Retinoic Acid cream or gel!!  It is by far and away the most important topical skin product you can use.   It improves all markers of skin health including hyper-pigmentation, oily skin and blemish formation.  It’ll even prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

 

 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Bone and Tissue Building Nutrients

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

After breaking a bone, or being involved in any surgical procedure, making sure there are enough anabolic (building) nutrients present in the body, can be an important strategy for accelerating the healing process.  The same is true for anabolic requirements arising from exercise or simply to slow down the aging process.  The following are some important nutrients that can help speed up healing, improve tissue building associated with exercise and help stave off some of the breakdown affects associated with aging.

Bone & Tissue

  • SILICA POWDER – 100 to 150 mg a day

Silica is essential to skeletal development and aids in mineralization of bone.  Essential for both bone hardness and flexibility.  Improves collagen production.

  • MSM – 3-5 gm a day

Contains digestible, non-toxic sulfur a major requirement for bone, cartilage, and collagen building. Sulfur is also a critical component of detoxification enzymes.

  • CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM – 2gm/1gm a day

Primary mineral components of bone.  Involved in growth enzymes.

  • ZINC PICOLINATE – 50mg /day

Mineral component of bone.  Mineral component of protein-inducing enzymes involved in growth. Stimulates healing and healthy testosterone synthesis.

  • WHEY PROTEIN- 30gm/ 2-5 times a day

Stimulates growth of new tissue.  Stimulates bone growth.

  • EFAs –  3-9 Capsules/day

Initiates tissue growth activity.  Maintains circulatory fluidity.

  • BROMELAIN/PAPAIN- 1-2 gm/day

Helps dissolves scar tissue.  Accelerate healing, reduces swelling, bruising and pain associated with inflammation

  • VITAMIN K2 100mcg/day

Aids in bone remineralization.

  • SUNLIGHT (for VITAMIN D) – lots but don’t burn

Aids calcium deposition in bones.

  • VITAMIN D3 – 2500-5000 i.u./day

Aids calcium deposition in bones.

  • B-COMPLEX (especially FOLIC ACID) 1/8 teaspoonful /3 times a day Stimulates tissue growth processes.  Important in assimilation of dietary nutrients.
  • VITAMIN E- 400iu/day

Accelerates healing and tissue regenerative processes.

  • VITAMIN C – 1000mg/3 times day

Accelerates collagen production. Facilitates tissue development, healing processes.

  • SPIRULINA/KELP POWDER – 2-3 teaspoonsful/day

Important source of digestible, absorbable minerals.

  • BOVINE CARTILAGE – 1-2 gm/day

Accelerates healing, tissue growth.

  • GLUCOSAMINE/CHONDROITAN – -2 gm/day
  • VITAMIN A – 20,000 iu/day
  • COLLOIDAL MINERALS – 2 oz/day

Important source of absorbable minerals for bone/tissue growth, enzyme systems.

  • BONE SOUP –  as much as possible beef/chicken/fish bones soaked in water with veggies
  • HYALURONIC ACID 200-400mg/day

Important for anabolic support and connective tissue (collagen)  building.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we discussed all the ways zinc and the lack of it can affect the body. Skin clarity, bone health and immune system integrity are just some of the ways this essential nutrient can impact health. Taking a daily 50mg dose of zinc can help prevent and reduce the duration of colds (as I write this post, there’s a television commercial running that promotes the use of a cold remedy called “Cold-Eeze” which contains a small amount of zinc gluconate), eliminate acne and improve eczema. Zinc’s powerful hormone balancing properties can help improve prostate health and prevent male pattern baldness. And zinc is important for the health of sperm cells and may improve male fertility. All in all, zinc is important for hundreds of different biochemical reactions; this stuff is amazing!

Think ZincThat’s what I mean when I talk about the importance of nutritional supplementation. Think about the leverage here: one little pill with 50mg of Zinc in it (about the amount of zinc that would fit on the head of a pin) can control and stabilize and spark several hundred chemical processes in the body. Now that is some serious clout!

And, the most incredible part is how little 50mg of zinc costs. What would you expect to pay for a (magic) pill that could keep hair on your head, cure your acne, strengthen your bones, build your immunity, enhance your digestion, improve the function of your heart and help you think more effectively? And, with no downside when taken as directed. Would you expect to pay 100 dollars for a month supply? It would be worth it! In fact, for all those benefits, 100 dollars a month would be an incredible bargain. Well, surprise, surprise! A 30 day supply of zinc at a health food store will typically cost less than 5 bucks!

You can tell if you’re deficient in zinc by doing the “zinc taste test”. You can use a solution of zinc sulfate and water (available online) or you can place a zinc sulfate tablet on your tongue. If you’re not instantly repelled by a strong metallic taste chances are pretty good that you’re suffering from a lack of zinc.

The best way to get zinc into the body is supplementally in the picolinate and monomethionine forms. These are available in most health food stores, but they are harder to find at drug stores where the typical forms available are zinc gluconate and zinc sulfate. The bio-availability of these cheaper zinc varieties is less than satisfactory and many people find that they can cause nausea or other digestive distress. A good daily dose is 50mg a day and once you get going you can skip a day or two here and there. Interestingly the signs of zinc deficiency (such as acne, hair loss, frequent colds and flues) can be duplicated by taking too much zinc (100mg a day is too much). It’s also important to note than there is an antagonistic relationship between zinc and copper and it’s probably a good idea to take 2 mg of copper with every 50mg of zinc. Look for chelate or glycinate forms of copper which are easily handled by the body.

For those of you who want to try to obtain zinc through diet, in addition to the aforementioned oysters and the Rocky Mountain variety, the best sources include liver, lamb, venison, and sesame and pumpkin seeds. However, it should be noted than even then highest zinc concentration foods provide only 10mg or so per serving.

SUMMARY:
-Zinc deficiency is relatively common.
-It’s important for hundreds of different biochemical systems to work
effectively.

-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-Deficiencies can show up in dozens of different ways including depressed immunity, bone problems, skin rashes, eczema and acne, digestive distress and hormone issues.-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-All you need is a couple cents worth of zinc (50mg a day) to meet your zinc requirements and prevent the signs of deficiency.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

In Dr. Ananda PrasadIn’s seminal book “The Biochemistry of Zinc”, the nutritional chemist’s go-to guide for all things zinc, there is ample picture proof of the tragedy of deficiencies in the super, unbelievable important mineral. Page after page of photographs taken of children and adults who suffer from nutritional lack of zinc depict the impact of deprivation of this vital nutrient. Stunted growth, skin lesions, hair loss, wasting away syndromes, where the body becomes emaciated and frail, are all vividly portrayed. And zinc deficiency can cause less dramatic health problems too: immunity, skin and bone, the brain, the eye, reproductive and general hormone health, and blood sugar balance and insulin and digestive integrity largely depend on the presence of this incredibly important nutritional metal.

Think ZincThe scariest thing about zinc deficiency is its frequency, which makes it one of the most significant and widespread nutritional deficiencies in the world. 1 out 3 people world-wide is at risk for zinc deficiency and in developing countries, where cereals and grains (which contain zinc-binding compounds and are often-times grown on zinc deficient soils) provide the bulk of caloric intake, it is the 5th leading risk for disease.

Zinc is involved in over 200 different enzyme systems in the body. In other words, if there is any manner of deficiency, literally hundreds of biological systems will be operating at less than peak efficiency. The net result of zinc deficiency is a body that is dramatically less effective at growing, repairing and cogitating and is less able to perform, thrive and resist stress and disease.

Zinc is a key component of the body’s wound healing system. This can be especially helpful pre and post surgery. And, one of the best ways to help heal a sore throat and shorten the duration of a cold or a flu) is to suck on zinc lozenges. Most people notice relief within a day.

Zinc may be the single most important nutrient for acne-prone skin. In a laboratory, acneic lesions can be induced in animals by creating zinc deficiencies. Anyone who suffers from acne or acne-like blemishes should consider add a daily 50mg dose of zinc to well-rounded supplement program.

Pregnant women would be especially wise to watch out for zinc deficiencies. Not only does the developing fetus benefit from this critical nutrient, but deficiencies are associated with the development of stretch marks. And mothers to-be should be aware that there is scientific literature that indicates that zinc deficiency may persist for generations. In an article published in the journal “Science”, test animals who were deprived of zinc demonstrated a depressed immune system that persisted for 3 generations! Men get special benefits too. Supplementing with zinc is one of the best ways to protect the prostate. It’s important for improving sperm count, semen is especially rich in zinc. And, zinc’s supportive role in testosterone metabolism has given the mineral a well-deserved reputation as nutritional support for libido. Perhaps this accounts for the notoriety that oysters and the Colorado variety, Rocky Mountain oysters (which are both relatively high zinc) get for being aphrodisiacs.

Zinc is plays a critical part brain function and mental health. It’s been used to treat autism, ADHD and depression. Low levels in children have been associated with learning disabilities. In the 1970’s Dr. Carl Pfeiffer reported that zinc supplementation, when taken with Vitamin B6 was 95% per cent successful in treating certain types of schizophrenia.

There’s an important relationship between zinc and vitamin A. Zinc is required for Vitamin A to be activated and transported in the body. In the absence of zinc, Vitamin A deficiency is sure to follow. Vitamin A is required for eye, skin, bone, and heart and brain health and is also an important part of the immune system. In other words, in addition to all of the problems directly associated with a lack of zinc, deprivation of this key mineral can also induce a long list of Vitamin A deficiency symptoms as well.

We’ll continue with some practical ways to maintain Zinc health in a coming post…

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Mental Health, Sugar and Insulin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the most important mental health references in my library is called “Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry”. It was published in the 1950’s and it provides ample evidence of how critical changes in blood sugar chemistry are for mental and emotional well-being. There are chapters with titles like “Biochemical Changes in the Brain Occurring During Insulin Hypoglycemia” , “Insulin Therapy in Schizophrenia” and “Trends in Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry” that provide proof positive that manipulations of blood sugar can play a crucial, non-pharmacological role in improving mental health.

Mental Health, Sugar and InsulinInsulin is an anabolic (growth) hormone with many properties, the most striking of which is its ability to encourage fat cells to absorb sugar (glucose) and store it as fat. But what was recognized by old-time medical researchers, many decades ago, was the fact that this same hormone, as well-known as it was for its role in blood sugar control, was also a potential tool for psychiatrists treating various mental disorders.

Why is this so important? Well, the average American is ingesting over 140 pounds a year of sugar and another 60 pounds or so a year of high fructose corn syrup. In 1960 the amount Americans consumed was less than 100 pounds a year of sugar and zero pounds of high fructose corn syrup. If it is indeed true that there is an insulin connection to mental illness, considering the seeming epidemic in mental disorders 21st century Americans are confronting, one is forced to question how much is related to insulin and associated issues with blood sugar.

This question becomes especially significant in the case of children who are the most obvious and notorious consumers of the sweet stuff. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at any given time one out of five American children are suffering from some kind of mental illness. That’s anywhere from 7.7 to 12.8 million kids! 30 to 40 percent have ADHD, 10% suffer from an anxiety disorder, and at any given time, 1 out of thirty three will be clinically depressed and 3 out of 1000 will be diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The statistics for adults are no less alarming. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in four Americans over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder.

If you go to a physician or psychiatrist and leave with diagnosis of depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD or some other mental health issue, it’s unlikely anyone will be questioning your diet or suggesting nutritional supplements. In fact, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to get a prescription (or two or three) for a psychotropic drug. In a one year survey period from 2006 to 2007 there were 472 million mental health prescriptions written. That’s almost 10 percent of the total annual number of prescriptions written in the U.S.. There are over 170 prescription drugs used for mental health and there are more on the way. According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, there are 313 new drugs in research and development that are designed specifically to treat a variety of mental health concerns.

If you are suffering from some kind of mental illness, or you or your children are on a prescription drug that you want to get off of, or if you are being pressured by a well-meaning physician or loved one to start taking a prescription drug, please understand that you have options. And one of the most important ones involves (surprise, surprise) blood sugar and insulin.


Insulin Treatment In PsychiatryInsulin Treatment In Psychiatry

Contributing Authors Include Hans Hoff, Joseph Wortis, Ivan Bennett, And Many Others. Proceedings Of The International Conference On The Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry Held At The New York Academy Of Medicine, October 24-25, 1958.

Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry


Laying off the sugar and refined carbohydrates is the obvious first step. But “just say no” doesn’t usually work. Will-power is relatively useless when it comes to resisting sugar. The best way to wean yourself blood sugar and insulin spiking foods is to increase intake protein and essential fatty acids. It’s probably a good idea to start off all meals with a protein powder drink and 3 to 9 Omega6/Omega 3 capsules or a couple of teaspoonful of a good EFA liquid like Udo’s Choice. Then make sure you’re getting all the nutrients that help the body process sugar. The B-vitamins in liquid form are very important. Vitamins B1 and B3 have specific sugar-metabolizing properties. (Interestingly, Dr. Abram Hoffer used to use these two nutrients as medications in his protocol for treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.). Taking 50mg a day of Zinc picolinate and 2000 mg of chelated Magnesium would probably be wise. And, the minerals Chromium and Vanadium are well known for improving insulin response and blood sugar levels. There are many more supplements available for stabilizing blood sugar, and ultimately improving and helping maintain mental health. We’ll be getting to those in future posts.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health