Salt isn’t bad for you.

Eating a normal amount of salt or, by our government’s standards would be considered a high amount, is not bad for you. The government’s recommendation of 1tsp of salt per day is dangerously low…

“However, the decision to adopt a low sodium diet should be made with awareness that there is no evidence that this approach to blood pressure reduction is either safe, in terms of ultimate health impact, or that it is as effective in producing cardioprotection as has been proven for some drug therapies.” – American Heart Association Journals

Conclusions In this population-based cohort, systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic pressure, changes over time aligned with change in sodium excretion, but this association did not translate into a higher risk of hypertension or CVD complications. Lower sodium excretion was associated with higher CVD mortality.” – Journal of the American Medical Association

Huh… seems that it’s the opposite of of what they’ve been telling us.

If it doesn’t cause high blood pressure, what does restricting salt do?

“Data from randomized controlled studies define several potentially important non–blood pressure effects of sodium restriction. Notably, increases in plasma renin activity (PRA), sympathetic nerve activity, insulin resistance, and fasting glucose have been documented. These may be adversely associated with the occurrence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events.” – American Heart Association Journals

“Low-salt diet increases insulin resistance in healthy subjects” – Metabolism Journal

Here’s why I said one tsp was too low…

“If sodium intake drops too low, our metabolism shifts into a sodium-sparing mode. This stimulates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone hormonal system, which in turn maintains osmotic balance and adequate blood pressure. A significant increase in renin and aldosterone is a symptom of sodium insufficiency, and has been shown to occur as salt intake drops below 1.5 teaspoons per day. Interestingly enough, the recommendation for 2,300 mg of sodium equates to approximately one teaspoon of salt. An intake this low is associated with an even more rapid rise in renin.” – Chriskresser.com

“And when average life expectancy is plotted against the countries’ average salt intake, the trend shows that higher salt consumption is actually correlated with longer life expectancy. While this correlation does not imply causation, it is interesting to note the compatibility of a high salt diet with a long life expectancy.” – Chriskresser.com

Conclusion: What to do?

One study showed that:

“The association between estimated sodium excretion and CV events was J-shaped. Compared with baseline sodium excretion of 4 to 5.99 g per day, sodium excretion of greater than 7 g per day was associated with an increased risk of all CV events, and a sodium excretion of less than 3 g per day was associated with increased risk of CV mortality and hospitalization for CHF. Higher estimated potassium excretion was associated with a reduced risk of stroke.” – Journal of the American Medical Association

So, too much could be bad and too little is bad. This all isn’t to say that you should go out and gorge yourself on salt until it makes you throw up. But don’t be afraid of it. If you crave it, there might be a reason for that. Your body probably needs more.

If you already have hypertension, try out adding more salt in your diet and measure your BP with a cuff. If you see a spike then go back to your salt-restricting ways.

Whenever you hear a simplistic, one-size-fits-all solution, particularly from a political entity, you should probably dig deeper or ignore it or… do the opposite.

Something I haven’t covered much here is that your body likes balance and the balance between sodium and potassium is very important (healthy kidneys are pretty good at maintaining that balance). So, sodium is just one part of the equation…

Thiamine (B1) for Thyroid Issues

There is some evidence that Vitamin B1 supplementation could help with thyroid issues.

“The researchers conducted a small study of three patients who were on thyroid hormone replacement treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and who also suffered from fatigue. The study took place from May to July 2011. The fatigue was measured during the Fatigue Severity Scale. The patients all had free thiamine blood tests measured before and after the thiamine therapy — which was either 600 mg/day of thiamine orally, or 100 mg/ml every four days by IV.

The researchers found that the patients had partial or complete regression of fatigue within a few hours or days of the start of the treatment. They concluded that giving large quantities of thiamine restores “thiamine-dependent processes,” and relieves fatigue.”

About.com

Here’s a link to that study on Hashimoto’s and more from the ‘thyroid pharmacist.’

L-Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid.

“Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid the body makes from another amino acid called phenylalanine. It is an essential component for the production of several important brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells communicate and influence mood. Tyrosine also helps produce melanin, the pigment responsible for hair and skin color. It helps in the function of organs responsible for making and regulating hormones, including the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands. It is involved in the structure of almost every protein in the body.” – UM Medical Center

I’m mostly interested in it because it is a precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is generally considered to not only be a feel good neurotransmitter (dopamine is released when someone gets high, eats sugar, gets a facebook notification, drinks diet coke, takes cocaine, etc.) but it’s also considered to be the motivation neurotransmitter.

Tyrosine also plays a role in the formation of melanin in the skin during tanning and a year ago I had trouble tanning.

Taking a break from Tyrosine

My general and total lack of motivation over the past year or so led me to try taking the amino acid L-Tyrosine.

What’s that?

It is a precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is generally considered to not only be a feel good neurotransmitter (dopamine is released when someone gets high, eats sugar, gets a facebook notification, drinks diet coke, takes cocaine, etc.) but it’s also considered to be the motivation neurotransmitter.

(This is me wishing I had started posting here earlier because I did tons of research on dopamine and tyrosine months ago. My apologies.)

Because I was lacking motivation, I thought I’d give it a try. I took 500mg/day off and on for a while but it really didn’t do anything for me…

…until recently.

You see when I started taking Pantethine for adrenal burnout and high cholesterol just a few days ago I started to feel much better. But then I quickly started to feel overstimulated and too motivated. It wasn’t the calm motivation that we all want. I was rather amped up. It wasn’t good. What’s worse is that yesterday at about 4pm I had a huge crash after feeling overstimulated all morning. It was weird…

My initial thought was that it was the pantethine, but since pantethine has made a more profound affect on my mood and motivation, not to mention its  potential benefits for other issues I have, than anything else, I didn’t want to give it up just yet.

To the interwebs I went to search for more info on pantethine side effects and what I could do to mitigate them in the hopes of not having to give it up. I found a random forum post in which a woman complained of being over stimulated on pantethine. She was also on a bunch of other supplements and another commenter suggested she go off the tyrosine and other supplements supporting dopamine. Another poster chimed in that too much dopamine gave him similar symptoms.

That and other research led me to believe that it’s either too much dopamine or too much adrenaline (also produced by the adrenal glands and potentially stimulated by pantethine). So, today I’m testing the dopamine/tyrosine theory.

It seems to be working because I’m feeling better than average and not nearly as amped up as yesterday! The only thing I changed was that I didn’t take any tyrosine this morning.

Why did this happen?

My guess is having more cortisol from the pantethine upregulated the conversion of tyrosine to dopamine. Maybe I won’t need any more dopamine as my cortisol improves.

Great news as I’m already taking way too many supplements!

Taking a break from 5-HTP

I’ve been on 5-HTP for four days, but I’m going to take a break.

It seems that 5-HTP was causing me to dream more, so it could be helping me with my sleep. But, I’ve been waking up earlier and earlier each day and not feeling rested.

It would be great if it helped me sleep less by making me sleep more soundly and restfully, but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now. I’ll see if stopping for a couple of days helps this issue.

Niacin for High Cholesterol

“In the past, taking niacin or Vitamin B3 would give the same effect (lowering cholesterol). However, today we know that niacin can lead to inflammations in the liver and possibly raise blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.Furthermore, high doses of niacin required for therapeutic effect often lead to an intolerable flush. But, so far, pantothenic acid and pantethine do not have any of such negative side effects.” – Dr. Lam

I tried this for a while and subsequent blood tests didn’t indicate much improvement. Seeing this, I’m glad that I stopped taking 500mg/day B3.

Vitamin B1, Thiamin, Thiamine, Benfotiamine

“Thiamine, thiamin or vitamin B1, named as the “thio-vitamine” (“sulfur-containing vitamin”) is a vitamin of the B complex. First named aneurin for the detrimental neurological effects if not present in the diet, it was eventually assigned the generic descriptor name vitamin B1. Its phosphate derivatives are involved in many cellular processes. The best-characterized form is thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), a coenzyme in the catabolism of sugars and amino acids…

All living organisms use thiamine, but it is synthesized only in bacteria, fungi, and plants. Animals must obtain it from their diet, and thus, for humans, it is an essential nutrient… Thiamine deficiency has a potentially fatal outcome if it remains untreated. In less severe cases, nonspecific signs include malaise, weight loss, irritability and confusion.

The stable and non-hygroscopic salt thiamine mononitrate is the vitamer used for flour and food fortification. Thiamine is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.”

Wikipedia

Deficiency

“A lack of thiamine can be caused by malnutrition, a diet high in thiaminase-rich foods (raw freshwater fish, raw shellfish, ferns) and/or foods high in anti-thiamine factors (tea, coffee, betel nuts)[26] and by grossly impaired nutritional status associated with chronic diseases, such as alcoholism, gastrointestinal diseases, HIV-AIDS, and persistent vomiting.[27] It is thought that many people with diabetes have a deficiency of thiamine and that this may be linked to some of the complications that can occur.” – Wikipedia

Causes of  Low Thiamine Status

Thiamine absorption and activity can be hindered in multiple ways. Various factors can also increase the body’s demand for thiamine. All of these can contribute to a low thiamine status.

Factors that block thiamine:

  • Sulfites: cleave the thiamine molecule and degrade it. This reaction increases in efficiency in acidic environments. Sulfites are added to wine and many foods. If you have a high sulfite intake, consider supplementing B1.
  • Coffee & Tea: contain Anti-Thiamine Factors which inhibit the absorption of thiamine. Don’t take thiamine supplements with coffee and if you’re a big coffee drinker then you probably want to supplement.
  • Raw Fish: contain an enzyme that breaks down thiamine.
  • Tannic Acid: inhibits thiamine absorption. Wine, anyone?
  • Alcohol: consumption uses up thiamine, so if you’re a drinker you probably want to supplement. Thiamine is often used in hangover remedies. Quite effectively, I might add.
  • Low Magnesium: is common today and thiamine requires magnesium to be used within the cell. This is also exacerbated by alcohol consumption.

You can see that the standard american diet which often includes copious amounts of coffee and alcohol can keep thiamine levels low for various reasons. If you’re concerned about your thiamine status, supplementing might be a good idea or you might want to cut out the wine and coffee.

But who wants to do that? I just take 100mg/day. It’s low cost and easy.

What does thiamine help with?

You want to be sure you are getting enough thiamine. It’s very important.

It’s required for stomach acid production. Adequate stomach acid production is huge for those with heartburn/gerd, for GI and digestive problems, for nutrient deficiencies and for immunity. Here’s a study and another.

Insulin resistance is a huge problem. It leads to diabetes and weight problems. Thiamine has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and improve metabolism of glucose and fatty acids.

Autoimmune disease:

“Researchers have theorized that some people, and in particular, those with autoimmune diseases, may have a dysfunction or enzymatic imbalance that negatively affects the body’s ability to process thiamine at the cellular level.” – About.com

Hair loss? Maybe, some hairloss forums have posts about B1 helping to stop hairloss. Not much hard data on it though.

Thiamine could help with thyroid related issues. Hashimoto’s for example.

Safety

Thiamine is considered to be safe at relatively high doses, but here are some precautions from mayo clinic.

“Thiamine may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people who have low blood pressure or those taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

Caution is advised in people with diabetes or high blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar or that widen blood vessels.

Use cautiously in breastfeeding women, people who have abnormal heart rates, and those receiving chemotherapy.

Avoid high doses of thiamine injected into the vein or brain. Avoid doses higher than those found in marketed products, unless under the advice of a health professional.

Avoid in people with a known allergy or sensitivity to any parts in thiamine supplements.

Avoid using in the absence of vitamin B6 and nicotinamide, as life-threatening brain damage may occur.”

 

General info/links:

NIH

umm.edu

 

Protocol Update 8/15

Update for my current protocol.

Recently Changed or Started

  • Pantethine – Just started yesterday and seem to already be feeling better. This may have been the missing link! 450mg twice a day.
  • Phosphatydlserine – Started several weeks ago seems to be helping but could be some others below. 100mg three times a day.
  • 5-HTP – Took me a while to try this. My doc said I should take it but didn’t give me much reason why. Most of my research says that it can help with sleep which therefore helps adrenals. I have been taking 50mg before bed for the last 4 nights. Seems like I’m having more dreams. Also waking up earlier, but not necessarily feeling more rested.
  • Salt – Started about a month ago and it seems to help quite a bit. Heard about it from Dave Asprey and tried a pinch of salt in the morning, this was months ago, and it didn’t do much. Finally came across this article and decided to really load up on salt in the AM. I’ve been taking 1/4-1/2 tsp in the morning and then also adding more salt to food and having a cup of water with 1/4 tsp in it a few times throughout the day. Helps with energy and body temp.
  • Hydrocortisone – 5mg/day prescribed by doc. Once I started the salt, I decided to stop this. I don’t like the idea of taking steroids even at such a low dose and the salt really helped me improve to the point of not noticing a difference when not taking the HC tabs.
  • Increase Carbs – In a lot of ways I have been too dogmatic in the past about being low carb. Also, having insulin resistance makes me extra carb-phobic. Anyway, I recently starting increasing my carbs and it’s helping me feel a bit better. I think I just need to keep them balanced with fat and protein.
  • Adenosylcobalamin – This is the mitochondrial form of B12. I’ve tested low in B12 in the past so I normally take methylB12. I’ve had some headaches recently that seemed correlated with MB12 intake, so wanted to try another form. Headaches are still here. Oh well, I need B12 either way so I’ll use it.
  • Grape Seed Extract – I forget how I came across this. My doc actually recommended it a long time ago, but I didn’t understand what she said. She didn’t call it grape seed extract. I bought something else that wasn’t the same thing. More recently, I realized my error and started reading about a lot of benefits of GSE for anti-inflammation, anti-oxidantiont and improvement of cholesterol numbers. I’ve started taking 300mg/day. No noticeable difference, but we’ll see if my numbers improve.
  • B-Complex – Accidentally bought one with folic acid. It’s an older version of my preferred brand that now has only methylfolate. Stopped taking it, thinking it might be related to my headaches and knowing that I shouldn’t take folic acid.
  • Thiamin (B1) – Again, I don’t quite remember how I came across this one, but I think it had to do with it’s ability to increase stomach acid. Upon further research and also knowing that I have a greater need because of a Nutreval test, I decided to take this. 100-300mg/day. Supposed benefits include, reversing insulin resistance, helping with carb and fat metabolism, improving stomach acid, repelling mosquitos, possible help with hairloss. Thiamine insufficiency is also correlated with lots of bad stuff.
  • Vitamin E – Mixed tocopherols. Just started. Not sure of any benefit yet. Want it to help preserve progesterone.
  • MagMind – Might or might not be helping. 3/day

Been Taking a While

  • Manganese – 10mg every other day. Tested low.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid – 100mg/day
  • Calcium AEP – 500mg/day
  • L-Arginine
  • Mixed Amino Acids
  • Methylfolate
  • And more, but I’m tired of typing.

To Try in the Future

  • Adaptogenic Herbs – I’ve tried these in the past for my adrenals and had some strange reactions. Doc wants me to try again. I think it is a good idea since I think my nutrient status is improved now.
  • Stop Caffeine – I’ve been avoiding this for a year now. Everything I read about adrenal fatigue says to stop caffeine. It’s hard to stop. I have severe withdrawal symptoms. My denial was helped when my doc was less assertive with this one, probably because I really only have 1 cup/day.

Experimenting with Phosphatydlserine

I decided to experiment with phosphatydlserine when I came across some info suggesting it for both high and low cortisol. I don’t quite remember the source nor do I remember the reasoning, but that’s why I’m starting this blog.

Anyway, I’m almost done with the first bottle which is Jarrow formulas. I was taking 300mg/day and was actually disappointed with Jarrow because they used dl-alpha-tocopherol instead of the natural form alpha-tocopherol. I think it was used as a preservative so I’m sure it wasn’t a huge amount, but still not like Jarrow.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling better, but I’ve also made multiple changes over the course of starting PS. So, I can’t be sure. So, I wanted to post here so I can look back at when I stopped taking it to see if symptoms worsen.

9/30/15 Update:

I’ve continued to experience crashes while on pantethine, though reducing tyrosine has helped with that. So, I decided to look at PS as a cause. Since most claims I’ve found seem to say that it will bring down your cortisol, I figured it’s a good candidate. However, I haven’t stopped it completely. I’ve reduced it from 300mg/day to 200 and I’ve moved those 200mg to before bed.

My reasoning here is that PS is supposed to be good for your brain and cells and I probably don’t get much of it. If it only brings down cortisol then I figure taking it before bed will help me sleep and give me the other benefits. If this is correct, maybe it will help overall HPA function during the rest of the day.

As usual, it’s hard to tell if it’s working as I’ve only done it for a couple of days.