In last month's issue we talked about the causes of widespread nutritional deficiencies in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia CFS/FMS). These included poor quality diet and digestion (which can be helped dramatically with plant-based digestive enzymes -- e.g. Similase by PhytoPharmica), bowel infections, and increased nutritional needs secondary to the illnesses. This has resulted in an immense number of recommendations for different nutrients, each of which have been purported to be critical for people getting better. This has caused patients to become very confused and overwhelmed with the vast number of supplements that they're told they need to take.
Because of this, we have worked on a simplified approach that makes it easier for most people to get the nutritional support they need -- both easily and effectively. I would like to begin, however, by reviewing the importance of long-term nutritional support with key nutrients in CFS (and for most people). In the next issue, I will review the nutrients that only need to be taken for three to nine months while the body is in its "Repair Phase."
Why are vitamins and minerals so important in CFS/Fibromyalgia?
Dr. Janet Travell, White House physician for presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and professor emeritus of Internal Medicine at George Washington University, co-wrote Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, which is acknowledged as the authoritative work on muscle problems. In one chapter alone, Dr. Travell and coauthor Dr. David Simons reference 317 studies showing that problems such as hormonal, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies can contribute to pain and muscle disorders. Numerous other studies have also shown that adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially folic acid, zinc, and selenium, are critical for proper immune function. Zinc levels in particular have been found to be quite low in people with CFIDS/FMS (and also in AIDS).
Every vitamin and nutritional mineral is very important in some way to health. If the patient is low in any of a number of vitamins and minerals, their fibromyalgia simply will not subside. B vitamins, for example, are the backbone of energy production and it is important that patients with CFS/fibromyalgia get at least 50 mg of most of these, plus 800 micrograms of folic acid and 500 micrograms of vitamin B12. These can have a dramatic effect on your patients' well being.
Why such high levels of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient in CFS. Technically, a patient's B12 level is normal if it is over 208 pg/dL. Studies, however, have shown that people can suffer significant nerve and brain dysfunction from B12 deficiency, even if their levels are as high as 300 pg/dL. In addition, a recent study using the respected Framingham database showed that metabolic signs of B12 deficiency occur even with levels over 500 pg/dL.
Why are the "normal" levels set so low? In part, the normal values were initially set according to what prevents anemia. This is problematic, however, because the brain and nervous system's needs...
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