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Night Terrors and Nightmares in Children

Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine

Night Terrors can be a very emotional event for parents, especially if they become more common.
The good news is that there are things that will help, and most children “grow out of it” eventually. The average age for Night Terrors is from 3 to 12 years, although some start sooner and finish later.
Nightmares can happen at any age, often recurring in children at a particular age.

Difference between night terrors and nightmares

Children can have both, which makes things confusing, however, dealing with nightmares may be similar to the guidelines below for night terrors.

Night Terrors

Night terrors frighten the parents, and the children have little or no recollection in the morning. During the event, they are still in a very deep stage of sleep. Children appear to be awake, but are in fact still in deep sleep as they scream or run around violently. They may not recognise their parents and usually refuse any offer of help.
Because the child is so active and seems awake but distressed, parents attempt to calm the child, but as the child does not hear the parents because of the deep sleep, they usually do not respond.
Any calming attempts fail, and trying to awaken the child may cause even more stress.
Night Terrors may last from a minute to an hour, and if they wake up during the event, they are often confused, and have no memory of the Terror.
The best approach seems to be to carefully restrain them, ensure their safety where they sleep, allowing an eventual return to natural sleep.

Nightmares

Nightmares (scary dreams) can and do frighten children.
Often they remember their nightmares, which happen during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep rather than Deep Sleep. During REM sleep, the child may more readily awaken during a nightmare.
This is the time for reassurance, and the child will respond to a hug and soft words.

What causes Night Terrors?

Night terrors can be caused by many things, including:

  • Junk food
  • Processed food
  • Dairy or Grain-based foods
  • Vitamin B group and or Niacin deficiency
  • Bad sleep quality
  • Sleep patterns out of routine
  • Sleep deprivation – bed time too late
  • Too hot or cold in bed
  • Noisy sleep environment
  • Stressful events – perhaps starting a new school, new teacher, new baby-sitter, bullying, etc
  • Listening to parents arguing
  • Watching violent TV (even the News)
  • Playing violent video games
  • Medication, especially antihistamines, decongestants, over-the-counter and prescription medication
  • Vaccinations
  • Genetics – children of Night-Terror parents are more likely to suffer
  • Fever
  • Central nervous system problems or immaturity

What causes Nightmares?

Somewhat similar to night terrors.

Remedies for both conditions

Calm the child before bed. Read a story (not Ghostbusters or Friday 13th!)
A heavy blanket has a “hugging” effect which improves the sense of security. In warm weather, a light blanket with weights sewn into the corners may be helpful.
Discourage TV for an hour before bed.
Try to maintain a consistent routine and bed time each night.
Make bed time early, as children and adults tend to wake up when the sun comes up, so late bed time means less sleep.
Avoid junk food, improve nutrition
Avoid all processed food, especially those with a chemical number in the ingredients list.
Avoid all grain foods, especially wheat or wheat flour, as gluten sensitivity may be a problem. Even if the doctor says the child does not have coeliac disease, they may still have gluten sensitivity and/or Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Avoid dairy products as lactose or casein intolerance may be a problem.
Get the child to place all worries into an imaginary (or real) garbage bag, tie it up and place it in the bin (real or imagined).
Place a “Dream Catcher” over the bed – generally a wire loop decorated with string, beads, etc with “magic dream-catching” properties. The child may feel better if something in the room is their friend.
Lavender or other calming oils – a few drops on or under the pillow, or a sprig of real lavender.
Snack before bed – this may help children who have unstable blood sugar during the night (usually caused by a bad diet with too much sugar).
St.John’s Wort is a natural antidepressant (children’s dose only). Not to be used with any prescription medication as many meds use the same pathway in the body.
B Complex vitamins may help, also Niacin (Prolonged Release) if there is a deficiency.
GABA supplements have a calming effect and may help.
Vitamin D3 supplements may help, especially if the child does not get adequate direct sunshine in the middle of the day. This is a high dose, so once or twice a week is normally enough as this is a fat-soluble vitamin, not easily flushed away like the water-soluble vitamins.
White noise – such as recording of ocean waves gently rolling onto the beach can have a calming effect. Even subtle noise from running a fan or ioniser may help.
Classical music softly played during the night may help.

Uptated 16th January 2020 – Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

RLS – Restless Leg Syndrome

Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine

What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

This is a nervous disorder, affecting around 10% of the population, but more prevalent among middle aged or older people.
Up to 40% of women experience at least some mild symptoms during pregnancy, which usually passes at end of term.
Significantly affects more women than men, even allowing for the pregnancy factor.
Often interrupts sleep, so is also considered a sleep disorder.
Stress, pregnancy, heredity, hormonal changes, diabetes, Parkinsons disease, heart, lung, circulatory problems, arthritis and kidney failure are among the many trigger factors.
Smoking, caffeine and alcohol tend to increase symptoms.
Deficiency in iron, magnesium, folate, B-group vitamins can cause or aggravate RLS.
Problems mainly occur at night, but some patients can have symptoms at any time.
Sitting, relaxing, resting, or lying down tends to bring on symptoms, and moving, stretching, or massaging the legs tends to diminish symptoms.
Some people with RLS also have PLMD – Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. This is a sleep disorder where repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs occurs during sleep.
If the condition does not improve, most patients eventually start suffering from other chronic health issues due to lack of sleep. People with sleep disorders have a 65% greater risk to develop cancer.
Symptoms vary between patients, which is why it is often difficult to diagnose, but can include:

  • Itchy feeling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Creepy crawly feeling, as if something is crawling on or under the skin
  • Prickling, tingling, tugging, burning or aching sensations
  • Uncontrollable need to move legs
  • Legs jumping, jerking or twitching uncontrollably
  • Uncomfortable sensations deep within the legs
  • Feeling like a fizzy soda is bubbling through the veins
  • Feeling an itch deep within the bones
  • Some symptoms occur in the arms as well as the legs
  • Some patients only have symptoms after stressful events, some have it every night

Causes of RLS

Officially, the cause is unknown and there is no cure.
Possibly an imbalance of dopamine, which transmits signals between nerve cells in the brain.
Some say that abnormal iron uptake by the brain may cause or aggravate RLS.
Around 60% of sufferers have other family members with the same condition.
Those consuming diet soft drinks have greater risk of RLS because these drinks leach potassium from the body. Potassium is imperative for correct nerve function, as well as all of the other electrolytes. Food sources of potassium include bananas, avocados, spinach, sweet potato, yogurt and more.
As well as helping with restless legs, potassium will help lower blood pressure and build strong bones.

Treatment

Prescription Medication

There is no official cure, but doctors often prescribe Ropinirole, which can make symptoms better or worse, and side effects such as dizziness, fainting, severe nausea, narcolepsy, hallucinations and addictive behaviors can be very serious.
A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that patients with restless leg syndrome have a 40% percent higher risk of death in the next eight years.
Some prescription drugs may mask symptoms, but side-effects may make the condition worse in the long run.
Speak to the doctor about medication.
If snoring or breathing is a problem, the doctor can organise a “sleep study” as a CPAP machine may improve health, lower blood pressure, and supply oxygen that the patient may be missing.
The doctor may simply refer patients to a sleep disorder clinic, as these specialists deal with RLS regularly.
Some doctors recommend dopaminergics, benzodiazepines, or opioids.
Medical conditions such as iron deficiency, diabetes, or nerve damage may be aggravating RLS, so treatment of the underlying problem may reduce symptoms.
If there is no underlying condition and all else fails, some prescription medication may help to reduce symptoms.
Medication works for some people, aggravates it for others, and several types may have to be tried for best results.
Prescription medications which initially work may become less effective over time.
Some side effects include nausea, headache, daytime sleepiness, and may increase risk of compulsive disorders like gambling, binge eating, shopping, etc.
Parkinsons medication may help with RLS – pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), rotigotine transdermal system (Neupro), Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa), cabergoline and pergolide.
Side effects of Parkinsons medications include nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue, and an increased risk of heart disease.
Prescription painkillers like Codeine, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Percocet, etc can provide relief in severe, unrelenting cases of RLS, but these can be addictive.
Side effects include nausea, dizziness, constipation, and can cause other problems, and the effect wears off over time, often leading the patient to over-dose.
Sleep medications and muscle relaxants such as Ambien, Sonata, Klonopin may help those whose RLS keeps them awake all night, but do not help the leg twitching, and can cause daytime drowsiness.
Anti-seizure medications such as Neurontin, Tegretol, Epitol may help painful daytime symptoms, but side effects include dizziness and drowsiness.
Obviously, pregnant women should always avoid prescription medication where possible.

Medications that can make RLS worse

The doctor should review all medications you are taking. Some prescription and over the counter drugs can aggravate RLS. Some known medications to watch out for are:

  • Over-the-counter sleeping pills
  • Antihistamines – found in allergy and many cold meds like Benadryl, NyQuil, Dimetapp
  • Anti-nausea medications – like Antivert, Compazine, Dramamine
  • Calcium channel blockers (drugs for heart and high blood pressure)
  • Antidepressants such as Prozac, Effexor, Lexapro
  • Antipsychotics – used for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

The Leg Wrap Cure

This natural treatment is more effective than any drug, according to the Lake Erie Research Institute in Pennsylvania.
Researchers created a leg/foot wrap which places pressure on two foot muscles: The abductor hallucis and the flexor hallucis brevis. The wrap was used in an eight-week clinical trial of 30 moderate RLS patients, with great results. 90% of the participants using the leg wrap experienced improvement in their symptoms, while only 63% of those taking Ropinirol found improvement. Those using the leg wrap reduced sleepless nights by 82%.
The wrap is believed to be more effective in the way it targets the two muscles known to ease RLS symptoms, and because this causes the brain to release dopamine. RLS sufferers are thought to have a dopamine deficiency.
Conventional leg wraps, physiotherapy, acupuncture or massage directed at these muscles, all appear to have the same benefits.

Other treatments

  • Exercise every day – walk, swim, aerobic, yoga, pilates, tai chi, but avoid very strenuous exercise
  • Calf stretch – with hands against a wall, bend the right knee, step the left leg back with foot flat on the floor to stretch the calf muscle, hold for 20 seconds, switch legs and repeat
  • Front thigh stretch: grab an ankle and pull toward the buttock, keeping the other leg straight, hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat
  • Hip stretch: place the left foot on a chair with the knee bent, keeping the back straight, press the pelvis forward to stretch the top of the right thigh, hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat
  • Cut back or give up caffeine, smoking and alcohol
  • Wear warm socks to bed
  • Wearing compression stockings to bed
  • Get sunlight during the day and sleep in a pitch-black room or wear a mask – helps the circadian rhythm required for a good sleep
  • Leg massage, any time through the day, but most important before bed
  • Acupuncture (do not be afraid of needles – it might just work!)
  • Avoid intense exercise before bedtime
  • Losing excess weight will reduce symptoms – cut back on carbohydrates, processed foods and trans fats
  • Change ergonomics, changes such as working from a high stool allowing legs to dangle
  • Let co-workers, friends and family know why you must keep moving so they can help create a healthy environment at work and home
  • Sit in an aisle seat during movies, meetings, aircraft etc, allowing periodic walking around
  • Get adequate sleep – always a problem when sleep is interrupted
  • Improve sleep patterns: try a consistent bed time, or sleep later in the morning
  • Aromatherapy: Lavender, eucalyptus or other oils in the bedroom can help sleep
  • Drink plenty of water, sipped slowly throughout the day and evenings to prevent dehydration of muscles
  • Take a hot (hot as you can stand it) shower just before bed, scrubbing legs vigorously
  • Have more sex! Orgasm releases natural dopamine and opioids which can help calm the legs
  • Slowly slide the leg back and forth on the bed for a few minutes and repeat with the other leg. May help relieve jumping
  • Leg lunge exercises at bedtime, but be careful not to overdo it. More intense lunges are better earlier in the day
  • Menthol creams such as Tiger Balm or Vicks Vapor Rub, rubbed into the legs before bed
  • Balance electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate. Read the electrolyte section in my Blood Tests article
  • A hot soak in the bathtub with Epsom salts, apple cider vinegar or baking soda, before bed
  • Relaxation, meditation, deep breathing and other stress-reducing activities
  • Apply hot or cold packs to the legs. Alternating between hot and cold can help
  • Sleep with a pillow between the legs to help prevent compressing leg nerves
  • Keep a sleep diary for RLS symptoms – this will help determine which foods or activities aggravate symptoms
  • Muscle relaxation, deep breathing and meditation at bedtime – see below

Muscle relaxation and breathing

Breathe deeply for a few minutes to oxygenate the lungs (breathing out fully is just as important as breathing in).
Tense the muscles in the feet and hold for a few seconds.
Breathe deeply again, and do the same with the calf muscles, and repeat with the thigh muscles.
Repeat with the other muscles all the way up to the neck.
The major muscle groups should now be more relaxed and oxygenated.

Lifestyle Changes

Fatigue can worsen the symptoms of RLS, so getting enough sleep is vital.
Regular exercise: If push-ups or squats do not appeal, then tennis, swimming, bowls, dancing, zumba, tai-chi, pilates, yoga, walking are a few more pleasant options.
Hit the sack at the same time every night, (or try warm baths before bed, or reading in bed) allowing plenty of time for winding down.
A warm bath with half a cup of Epsom Salts in the water can increase magnesium intake through the skin, avoiding diarrhea which can be the result of taking too much magnesium in supplement form. Magnesium also helps lower blood pressure, improve the cardiovascular system, and improve all nerve conditions.
Avoid TV, bright lights, etc for an hour or more before bed time.
Get support from family members. It will not hurt them to follow the same routine.
Reduce stress. Engage in a hobby, craft, or any pleasing activity can help calm down the nerves, and help forget the stressful events of the day, preferably something not involving sitting for long periods.

Supplements which can help RLS

  • A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water at bedtime (or ACV capsules if the taste is a problem)
  • 5-HTP before bed can help calm the legs and improve sleep quality
  • Magnesium supplements 400 to 600mg daily – also helps diabetes, blood pressure, etc
  • vitamin D3 also builds bones, improves immunity
  • vitamin K2 to keep calcium in bones and out of blood vessels
  • MSM – (Methylsulfonyl Methane) – to reduce inflammation and pain, improve nerves, increase pain tolerance
  • Vitamin B-Group for nerve health
  • Active Vitamin B12 for extra nerve health
  • Active Folate essential for nerve function
  • Iron – ONLY after a blood test showing deficiency, and NEVER overdose!
  • Valerian may help get a better night’s sleep
  • Vitamin E may improve symptoms
  • D-ribose 5 grams powder once daily for prevention, 3 daily for treatment
  • Potassium and Iodine Potassium deficiency is not uncommon, especially in hot weather. Many prescription drugs deplete potassium

Pain Medication

Over-the-counter pain relievers may reduce symptoms temporarily, but long-term make the body more sensitive to pain.
Paracetamol (Panadol), known in the USA as Tylenol or Acetaminophen all deplete Glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Even small doses may damage the liver.
The recommended 8 pills per day (500mg each) has now been reduced to 6 per day, but anyone in severe pain invariably overdoses, so it is best not kept in the house!
It is estimated that 90% of those on the liver transplant waiting list are there because of Paracetamol overdose!
If you have children, note that in Cuba, where Panadol/Tylenol cannot be bought off-the-shelf, Autism cases are less than 1 in 12,000 compared to the USA at 1 in 45, and Australia becoming very close to the USA.
A few decades ago, Autism cases were 1 in 100,000. Perhaps some were not diagnosed, but the increase is still alarming. If one were to include cases of ADD, ADHD, hyperactivity, etc in with the Autism count, it is 1 in every 5 new births and predicted to be 1 in 2 if the alarming increase proceeds over the next 1 or 2 decades!
No double-blind studies have been carried out to prove or disprove the relationship, but LeanMachine requires no further evidence to make a logical conclusion.
More info at www.leanmachine/catalog/articles/autism-spectrum-disorder.php
Aspirin is now proven to cause deadly side effects such as intestinal bleeding.

Supplements to NOT take

Surprisingly, Melatonin supplements (well-known for improving sleep) may aggravate leg movements in those with restless legs syndrome.
Caffeine, alcohol, SSRI antidepressants, antihistamines, and most antipsychotic and antinausea medications can potentially increase symptoms.
Also be aware that RLS can occur as a result of kidney or liver disease. People with these conditions should consult with a healthcare professional before taking supplements

Important

All information here is for education only.
There is no intention to provide medical advice.
LeanMachine no longer sells supplements, but links to the best suppliers are available in our LeanMachine Supplement site.
The information provided is completely independent. Most products can easily be purchased world-wide at health stores, chemists, supermarkets, etc.
LeanMachine cannot take responsibility for any consequences from any treatment, supplement, procedure, exercise, diet, etc resulting from reading or following this information.
This information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. It is only intended to aid the reader to arriving at a better understanding so that a better outcome with the health provider may be hopefully achieved.
The reader should seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider before undertaking any course of treatment, supplementation or medication.

LeanMachine supplements

Disclaimer

LeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia – Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia – Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia – Chemistry – Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA – Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA – Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA – Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA – Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England – Inside Cancer
WebMD Education – The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
WebMD Education – High Potassium: Causes and Reasons to Treat
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands – Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain

LeanMachine has now examined thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.

Updated 10th January 2020, Copyright © 1999-2019 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Why we need B12, B6, Active Folate and TMG

Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine, Health Researcher
Updated 2nd December 2019, Copyright © 1999-2019 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, or Cobalamin, is part of the B group of vitamins, but is different in three respects:

  • The B12 molecule is the largest and most complex vitamin known.
  • B12, like the rest of the B-group vitamins, is water-soluble, but B12 is the ONLY water-soluble vitamin which can be stored in the liver for months, or even years
  • B12 is generally formed in the high-acid stomach, but those with low acid levels cannot form B12.

Benefits of B12

  • Protects brain cells, improves nerve growth and conduction, increasing speed of messages to and from the brain
  • Protects the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells.
  • Protects against Alzheimer’s and other brain-degenerative diseases
  • Mental clarity, concentration, memory, nervous system
  • Circulation
  • Aids in turning food carbohydrates into glucose for energy
  • Fat metabolism, digestion
  • Helps produce DNA and RNA, the genetic material in our cells
  • Increases iron utilisation to build red blood cells, preventing anemia
  • With B9 (folate), helps the manufacture of S-adenosylmethionine to reduce depression and boost the immune system
  • With B9 (folate) and B6, B-12 inhibits homocysteine production, an amino acid linked to heart disease.
  • Adrenal hormone function
  • Energy – physical, emotional, mental

B12 is only found in animal products, apart from mushrooms, which are the only vegetable (actually a fungus) containing B12, but the B12 exists only in the skin of the mushroom which is often peeled off and discarded, and in any case, this is a poor food source of B12.
This is why vegetarians, and especially vegans should take additional B12 supplements.
The elderly are also at risk for B12 deficiency, because as we age, the level of stomach acid tends to drop, and once it drops below a certain point, this ends the conversion process that generates the B12 that can be absorbed.
Many diets recommend that we limit protein from animal products, but this is very wrong. LeanMachine has been a vegetarian for over 40 years, but regularly eats eggs and fish for B12 intake. Even so, B12 levels were low the first time they were checked at around age 64. Since then, daily B12 supplements have built B12 levels to around five times the normal amount. We cannot overdose on B12, unlike Folate and other vitamins.
Unfortunately many doctors never test for B12, and if we are deficient in B12, doctors typically misdiagnose this deficiency, resulting in prescribing drugs that do not help the condition, but may even create side effects that only make us feel worse!
Some PPI (Proton Pump Inhibitor) medications such as Nexium, prescribed for reflux, heartburn and other digestive issues, deliberately lower stomach acid, and there are many off-the-shelf antacids which do the same, and all result in knocking out our Vitamin B12. Note also that microwaving food also knocks out all B12.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency

  • Anaemia
  • Macrocytosis (larger than normal red blood cells)
  • Hypersegmented neutrophils (Nuetrophil blood cells with more lobes than normal)
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Weak legs
  • Forgetfulness, mental fogginess
  • Mood swings, lack of motivation
  • Depression, paranoia, delusions
  • Yellow colour
  • Feelings of apathy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Rapid heart rate (Tachycardia)
  • Shallow breathing, short of breath
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Bleeding or bruising more than normal
  • Persistent constipation or diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Sore tongue or mouth
  • Bones which easily break, even if a DEXA scan says they are dense
  • Tingling in fingers or toes
  • Strange nerve sensations
  • Muscle Tenderness

Untreated, a severe B12 deficiency may lead to permanent nerve damage.
Not everyone with low B12 will have all symptoms, but having a few of these suggests testing for B12 and Folate.

Who is at Risk?

  • Those aged over 50
  • Vegans, vegetarians
  • Those taking antacids
  • Those on PPI (Proton Pump Inhibotor) medications, e.g. Nexium
  • Diabetics taking Metformin (Diabex)
  • Those having surgery where part of the stomach is removed
  • Those with Ceoliac Disease
  • Those with bacterial overgrowth, stomach and intestines
  • Alcoholics
  • Those taking some anti-seizure medications
  • Those drinking too much water

Research suggests that in the over-50 age group, more than 20% of the population are low in B12, and a fifth of those are seriously deficient.

Recommended Daily Allowance for B12

Official recommended dietary amounts (RDAs) are:

  • Infants 0-6 months, 0.4 mcg
  • Infants 7-12 months, 0.5 mcg
  • Children 1-3 years, 0.9 mcg
  • Children 4-8 years, 1.2 mcg
  • Children 9-13 years, 1.8 mcg
  • Adults: 2.4 mcg daily for ages 14 years and older
  • Pregnant Females: 2.6 mcg daily
  • Breastfeeding Females: 2.8 mcg daily
  • Adults over 50 years old: 20 mcg daily

However, LeanMachine has the opinion that these amounts are way too low. If anyone has any symptoms of deficiency, testing and subsequent supplementation may be required, but beware of cheap supplements containing cyanocobalamin (an artificial chemical made from cyanide) and only use methylcobalamin which is the active form of Vitamin B12. Even though the cyanide in cheap B12 is fairly harmless, and easily excreted into urine, the methyl version can be used directly by the body without conversion, and contributes to the important methylation process, which occurs over a billion times per second in the body.
LeanMachine recommends Active B12 1500mcg 60 vcaps

Testing Vitamin B12

It is important to test Folate at the same time as B12, because a deficiency in one can mask a deficiency in the other.
Blood Test for B12 deficiency:
For a long time, the reference range in Australia has been 135 to 650 pmol/L (pica moles per litre) but this is way too low.
In the 1980’s, Japan lifted their low end of the range to 500, and for those people with the defective MTHFR gene (up to 40% of the population), even this can be too low.
LeanMachine recommends 750 to 1500 as a more desirable range. LeanMachine uses B12 supplements, and tests at the top end of this range.
However, a high B12 reading does not always mean a satisfactory level.
When B12 is low, two enzyme substrates will increase: tHcy (total homocysteine) and MMA (methylmalonic acid). If deficiency symptoms do not go away, these should also be tested.

Treating Low Vitamin B12

Memory loss is a significant symptom, and if diet and/or supplementation is improved within one to two years, full memory can often be restored, but after two years, permanent memory damage may have occurred.
Ideally, we should look at the diet first, and if this does not improve B12, then B12 supplements are essential. If deficiency symptoms are severe, immediate supplementation or a B12 injection is advised.
Because B12 can be stored in the body, B12 injections are only required every 3 months to maintain healthy levels.
Here are some food sources of vitamin B12, arranged from highest to lowest:

Type of Food mcg of B12/serving % of RDA
Shellfish (Clams) 85g/3oz 84 1400
Liver, beef 85g/3oz 70.0 1178
Shellfish (Oysters) 85g/3oz 84 408
Crab, raw, 85g/3oz 9.8 163
Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 85g/3oz 5.4 90
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 85g/3oz 4.9 80
Red Meat (Beef) 85g/3oz 5.1 85
Yogurt, plain, 1 cup 1.4 25
Haddock, cooked, 85g/3oz 1.2 20
Egg (chicken), one extra-large 0.5 20

Chicken is missing from the table above, because one egg has as much B12 as nearly half a chicken. Another case for the egg coming before the chicken!

Who should NOT take Vitamin B12
In those with Leber’s Disease (Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, or LHON, a rare eye disease affecting less than 1 in 50,000) B12 can seriously damage the optic nerve, so B12 should never be taken.

Homocysteine – an inflammatory marker

Homocysteine levels in the blood are a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease, and low levels of Vitamin B12 and Folate can raise Homocysteine levels.
High homocysteine levels usually lead to cognitive decline in advancing years, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many other ageing-related diseases.
Homocysteine is produced in the body as a result of demethylation of methionine utilisation of fats and proteins.
In Australia, doctors seldom order a Homocysteine blood test unless we ask for it. This test can also check for a rare inherited disorder called homocystinurina. The risk for homocystinurina is low, but it is best to rule it out.
If there is a family history of high homocysteine, children should be tested from birth.
The main purpose of the Homocysteine test is to determine if you have increased risk for heart attack or stroke, and a deficiency in B12 and Folate, and all should be tested at the same time.

What is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins. We can not get homocysteine from the diet.
Homocysteine can only be made from methionine, another amino acid that is found in meat, fish, and dairy products, and this reaction can only happen with enough Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B12 and folate.
Foods containing methionine are transformed into homocysteine in the blood, and then Vitamin B6 helps convert homocysteine to cysteine. Vitamin B12 related enzymes can also recycle homocysteine back into methionine.
Cysteine is a very important protein, involved in how proteins in cells are folded, maintain their shape, and link to each other, and cysteine is a source of sulfide, taking part in metabolism of iron, zinc, copper and other important minerals. Cysteine also acts as an anti-oxidant. If homocysteine cannot be converted into cysteine or returned to the methionine form, levels of homocysteine in the body increase. Elevated homocysteine levels have been associated with heart attack, stroke, blood clot formation, and perhaps the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Homocysteine Test

Laboratories generally say that normal homocysteine serum levels are between 4 and 15 micromoles per litre, with anything above 15 considered high.
However, the OPTIMAL level of homocysteine is less than 10 or 12 in good labs, but many doctors will ignore readings unless they are flagged on the report (above 15).

CRP  (c-Reactive Protein)

C-Reactive Protein is another important marker for inflammation and risk for strokes, and should be tested if homocysteine results are inconclusive.
Healthy people should ask for the High-Sensitivity test, hs-CRP.
Those in poor health should ask for the regular CRP test, which is not as sensitive, but has a much wider range of values.

Folate, Folic Acid, Folinic Acid, Active Folate

These all sound similar, but most forms have to be converted in the body to the active form that the body can use: MTHF or (6S)-5-MethylTetraHydroFolate, commonly calles Active Folate.
Up to 40% of the population have a MTHFR gene polymorphism. The MTHFR gene helps make  methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme involved in processing amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
Unfortunately, consumption of Folic Acid can aggravate this MTHFR gene polymorphism, making the problem worse, blocking the real folate, increasing cancer risk and causing other health problems.

Treating High Homocysteine

Because homocysteine is missing CH3 (the methyl group), the best way to lower homocysteine is to add a methyl donor, which will aid the breakdown of homocysteine into methionine.
The following are all methyl donors:

Studies

In a 2-year study of people aged over 70 with elevated Homocysteine levels over 11.3 micromoles/litre, patients were given either a placebo or Folic Acid 800mcg, Vitamin B12 500mcg, and Vitamin B6 20mg daily.
Most of those on the placebo showed distinct cognitive decline. Those on the supplements showed no decline or much more moderate decline.

  • A 2-year study of people aged 60 to 74 with symptoms of depression using smaller doses and only Folic Acid 400mcg and Vitamin B12 100mcg taken twice daily, showed small but significant improvements in short-term and long-term memory
  • An 8-year study of several hundred people in their seventies showed that those having the lowest levels of B12 in their blood (under 257 pmol/l), 40% of the group, had the highest rates of cognitive decline. Formerly, the official danger point for B12 was set at 148 pmol/l (picomoles per litre), but this study confirms that this level is too low, and that most people aged 50 or over should either consume foods fortified with B12 or take supplements
  • A 2-year study showed that B12 and Folic Acid supplements significantly reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  • A study found that although bone density remained the same in the B12 and Folate group as well as the placebo group, the number of bone fractures was 80% less in the supplement group.
    It appears that high homocysteine levels interfere with the way collagen works to strengthen bone

Food Sources of B Vitamins

All B-group vitamins come primarily in meat and eggs, the only exception being mushrooms as the only “vegetable” with B-group vitamins).
ALL vegetarians and especially vegans should supplement with Active B12 and Active Folate.
Almost all seniors need B12 because of reduced stomach acid as we age, and anyone taking statin drugs (e.g. Simvastatin, Lipitor, etc for Cholesterol) or heartburn medication (Nexium) (or off-the-shelf remedies) MUST supplement with B12 because stomach acid will not be strong enough for the body to produce any B12 at all.

As we age, we also lose our ability to absorb B12, B6 and Folate from foods, so most people over 50 should supplement.
Many younger people are also deficient in B-group vitamins due to diet, health, lifestyle, genetic makeup or illness, so annual blood tests are recommended for everyone.

Around 20% of the population suffer from Folate deficiency, but too much Folate (over 1000mcg or 1mg daily) can be toxic to the liver.
However, we cannot overdose on B6 or B12. No side-effects have ever been observed at extremely high doses.

TMG – TriMethylGlycine

The TMG molecule consists of three methyl groups (CH3) and one glycine group (C2H5NO2).

The advantage of TMG is that it can donate all three methyl groups, leaving pure glycine.

Glycine is very important for body functions, including:

  • Build lean muscle mass
  • Preventing sarcopenia (muscle loss, muscle wasting)
  • Producing human growth hormone
  • Improving memory and mental performance
  • Reducing risk of strokes and seizures
  • Protecting skin from aging and cell mutations
  • Increasing collagen in joints, reducing joint pain
  • Improving flexibility and range of motion
  • Lowering blood glucose, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Reducing inflammation and free radical damage
  • Increasing glutathione production
  • Reducing risk for some cancers
  • Building gastrointestinal tract lining
  • Producing bile salts and digestive enzymes
  • Reducing allergic and autoimmune reactions
  • Increasing energy levels, fighting fatigue
  • Increasing red blood cell production
  • Reducing stress,  anxiety
  • Controlling symptoms: seizures, schizophrenia, mental disorders

The following are my recommended supplements:

LeanMachine Supplements

Disclaimer

LeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been studying nutrition and health since 2011 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia – Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia – Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia – Chemistry – Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA – Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA – Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA – Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA – Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England – Inside Cancer
WebMD Education – The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
WebMD Education – High Potassium: Causes and Reasons to Treat
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands – Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain

LeanMachine has now examined thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.

Updated 2nd December 2019, Copyright © 1999-2019 Brenton Wight and BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285