Nutrients and Neurotransmitters – Their Commonly Overlooked Connection

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Nutrients and Neurotransmitters – Their Commonly Overlooked Connection

Nutrient deficiencies that are directly linked to ADHD but all too often dismissed in mainstream medicine can change the game when it comes to treating this commonly misunderstood condition

Intuitively, people understand that neurotransmitters play a key role in attention deficit disorders (ADHD = Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).   But micronutrients are arguably even more important in ADHD, although they are often dismissed completely.   Micronutrients are all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and metabolites our brains and bodies need to make us function as a living human.   Micronutrients are even more fundamental than neurotransmitters because it’s the nutrients that control neurotransmitter function, synthesis and balance. 


            You can correct micronutrient deficiencies without pharmaceutical intervention.   But unlike nutrient repletion, neurotransmitter imbalance is generally not treated by ingesting neurotransmitters. Things like dopamine and serotonin – two neurotransmitters that most people have at least heard of – are very dynamic in the body.  They exist in a fine balance, and consequently disorders of neurotransmitters are not typically corrected by directly taking them. 


There are many medications that indirectly alter their levels, however.  The Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft medications that are prescribed for depression or anxiety are all SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) drugs.  They act by making serotonin more available to the body.  But the side effects can be horrible – things like headaches, fatigue, suicide ideation – not exactly the picture of health. 


Micronutrient repletion is a very different approach.  Think of neurotransmitters as something that needs to be constructed in the body and then regulated.  Guess what does exactly that – Micronutrients!  Here are a few key examples:

  • Vitamin B6 can potentially raise serotonin levels, and has been shown to be as effective as Ritalin in studies on ADHD in children
  • Magnesium plays a huge role in regulating the feedback system in the brain (called the HPA axis, for hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) that controls emotion, attention, and hyperactivity
  • Vitamin B3 converts the amino acid tryptophan into the neurotransmitter serotonin.
  • Glutamine is a precursor for a calming neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that affects mood and hyperactivity


The list goes on.  The message here is that micronutrients are even more fundamental than neurotransmitters.  Deficiencies in micronutrients can cause problems in neurotransmitter balance, which can eventually manifest as attention or hyperactivity or anxiety problems. 


Some micronutrients actually are neurotransmitters (e.g. serine, glutamine).  Some micronutrients regulate neurotransmitter function and synthesis (e.g. zinc, vitamin C).  Some micronutrients are neurotransmitter precursors (e.g. choline).   You see where we are going with this – good micronutrient status sets the stage for neurotransmitter balance.


            If attention and hyperactivity is the clinical manifestation, then neurotransmitter imbalance may be the reason, but micronutrient deficiency is the root cause.  Think of this analogy:  You are writing a message on a billboard, but the basket of letters from which you can choose is deficient in 3 letters.   Out of 26 letters in the alphabet, that might not seem too big of a problem. So, your message reads… URORASMIRS D MICROURIS.   Doesn’t make sense, right?

So, let’s replete one letter N (of the missing three).  Now your message getting clearer, but still not optimal….

Replete the next missing letter T

The message is sub-optimal until you replete the third missing letter, E… NEUROTRANSMITTERS NEED MICRONUTRIENTS.   

This is how micronutrients work.  One deficiency and your body will compensate so that the function (in this analogy, the message) is sub-optimal, but workable.  Two deficiencies – it gets more complicated.  Three deficiencies and so on, until your cells (i.e. the “message”) doesn’t work at all and is severely compromised.

            Fortunately, correcting micronutrient deficiency is quite possible if you know which deficiencies exist.  This is where the SpectraCell Test comes in.   This simple, yet highly advanced blood test measures 31 nutrients (plus four metabolic assays) in your white blood cells and tells you exactly the nutrients in which you are deficient.   Armed with that information, you can replete your cells so they can perform all the metabolic functions necessary for health (including neurotransmitter regulation).

For more information on the link between specific micronutrients and ADHD, click here.

    For more information on the link between specific micronutrients and Anxiety, click here.

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