Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thiamin Vitamin B1

Thiamin, vitamin B1 is another key nutrient for brain health. In this newsletter I will briefly review the role of thiamine in the brain and some food sources for this important vitamin.

I have stated earlier that mitochondrial health is critical to brain health. Without mitochondria making ATP molecules from the food we eat, the brain cells do not have the energy to so their work. They can’t make myelin, they make few neurotransmitters and are unable to repair damage done to the myelin sheath.

Thiamin is involved in supporting mitochondrial function in the brain. Without thiamin mitochondria have more difficulty generating ATP molecules or energy from sugar and carbohydrates. Thiamin is also an important co-factor to help the brain cells make myelin to insulate the nerve.

Ensuring plenty of thiamin in one’s diet is important for anyone with MS. Thiamin is secreted by the kidneys and is generally not stored in the body. It is important to have a steady supply in your diet. Good food sources include sunflower seeds, mushrooms, yeast, asparagus, black beans, cabbage and kale.

How much thiamin can one take safely? Because the body can easily get red of the excess thiamin an upper limit for safe amount of thiamin has not been established.
Physicians have used thiamin to treat alcoholic-related brain damage. Excessive alcohol use can cause severe thiamin deficiency. As a result they develop brain damage causing problems with memory, coordination, balance and problems with heart failure. The typical dose of thiamine given to alcoholics is 100mg per day. Thus it is likely that 100 mg of thiamin each day would generally be safe.

Physicians in the past have advocated high dose thiamin for people with degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Frederich R. Klenner and the Canadian physician, Dr. H.T. Mount, both reported success using nutritional approaches to treat MS based upon liver extract which is a potent source of B vitamins. They believed that high dose thiamin, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacinamide (vitamin B3) were beneficial for those suffering from poor brain health.

Unfortunately, few who eat the western diet consume adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins. While taking extra thiamin may be very helpful, improving the micronutrient content of your diet overall is a better solution. Eat more mushrooms, nutritional yeast, vegetables and fruit with a goal of consuming at least 9 cups a day is a better solution. That way you get more of the many essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy brain and a healthy body.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Radio interview podcast

This link will take you the Iowa Public radio station which has an MP3 file of interview with Ben Kieffer on "The Exchange" December 8th, 2008.

Scroll down to find the pod cast for December 8.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MIcronutrients and Improved Function in MS

Progressive multiple sclerosis and micronutrients – is raw food superior to cooked food?

I am often asked whether raw food is superior to cooked food for micronutrient availability for patients with MS. The basic guide I provide is that food taken directly from the plant is the very best for you. If you cook food, the lower temper in steaming or a very low (180 degree) roast is the next best. The other key item is to eat any fluid or juice from the cooking (which is where all the water soluble nutrients have gone.

Micronutrients are critical for brain health. Unfortunately the average western diet is deficient in most vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids which have recommended daily allowances. The reason for this is the reliance on cheap sources of calories in grains which have most often had the germ and husk of the grain removed.
Very few vegetables are consumed. The animals are increasingly raised in high density farm factories with minimal exposure to green grass or sunshine. The consequence is that the meat has minimal omega 3 fatty acid, vitamin and mineral content.

Are nutrients lost with cooking? That depends on high the cooking temperature and how long. Immediately fresh and still raw when you eat the food means that cooking has not leached any of the micronutrients out of it. But some of the micronutrients may not be available to you because our bodies can’t digest all of the cell walls in plants. If you cook below the boiling point and drink all the juice – the food is generally more digestible and you have not lost much of the micronutrients. However – some of the compounds that are very helpful to us will gradually be lost with prolonged cooking. Cooking above the boiling point of water, particularly frying tends to oxidize many of the compounds in food. When that occurs many of the anti-oxidants in food have become oxidized – and therefore their anti-oxidant benefit to us is gone.

Bottom line – Raw retains the nutrients in the food. Cooking gently makes the nutrients more available because the food has been partially digested by cooking. Frying oxidizes many of the helpful compounds. Prolonged high temperatures cooking likewise can breakdown micronutrients. My advice is to increase your micronutrients through more vegetables and fruits. Eat them raw or cooked according to your personal preference. But if you cook, always drink the juice. Never throw it away.