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Mind, Brain & Nerves

All mental and physical activities are controlled or mediated by the brain and the nervous system. Voluntary actions originate in the brain and the nerves carry the information to other parts of our body. The nervous system relies upon a correct chemical balance in the body. The chemical balance of our bodies can also have a major influence on our mental and emotional state.

We will address the following problems below:

Anxiety

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety at some points in their lives, but sometimes these feelings get out of control. This can lead to a range of physical and emotional signs and symptoms including:

Some of the common causes associated with anxiety are:

What you can do to help

Calcium at 400 mg per day can be very relaxing. It has a role in the transmission of nerve messages.

Increase your intake of the B group vitamins at 50 mg each.

Take 200 mg magnesium per day to ensure that the hormonal activity is normal and the chemistry of the nervous system is working efficiently.

Eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables but avoid high sugar intake and caffeinated drinks.

Try to deal with any worries that might be underlying the anxiety. Joining a group may be of assistance with this.

Depression

Depression may arise as the result of a traumatic event or everyday worries. Its symptoms include listlessness, insomnia, feelings of intense despair and lack of self confidence.

While mild and transient depression need cause no major concern, it is important to seek professional help if it is deeper, longlasting or frequent.

It is also important to seek help when depression is identified in children and adolescents.

What you can do to help

Depression that occurs just before your menstrual period (PMS) may be caused by a vitamin B 6 deficiency and post natal depression may be caused by a deficiency of vitamin B 12 and folic acid. Ensure you have plenty of these in your diet or supplement with Vitamin B complex.

Vitamin C helps to ease the symptoms of depression. Take 1g daily.

The amino acid tryptophan can be of assistance. It is found in these foods:

Chronic depression has been linked to deficiencies of:

Studies have shown that patients with depression almost always have a deficiency of one or more of these nutrients. A good multivitamin and mineral supplement will assist in restoring the balance.

For unknown reasons there is a worldwide depression epidemic. Always take signs and symptoms of depression seriously and seek help early.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy arises form the abnormal function of the brain's electrical communication system. During an epileptic seizure (or fit) the signals from one group of nerve cells become overwhelmingly strong causing an excessive electrical charge to occur suddenly in the brain.

Common nutritional causes of epilepsy may be:

What you can do to help

Studies have shown that vitamin E at the rate of 400 IUs par day, in addition to medication may significantly reduce the number of seizures in epileptic children.

Many epileptics have low magnesium levels and the severity of the epilepsy is related to the severity of the deficiency. Extra magnesium, calcium, zinc and vitamin B5 may help to prevent attacks.

Selenium supplementation has been shown to be useful.

Deficiencies of vitamin D and B6 can prompt an attack. Vitamin B6 can be obtained as a part of a multivitamin and mineral supplement. To increase the level of vitamin D spend 10 to 15 minutes with the arms legs or back exposed to direct sunlight each day. Do not increase the time beyond this because getting sunburnt can lead to other problems.

Shingles

Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a viral infection of sensory nerve cells. Shingles often occurs in people over 50 years and may be activated by surgery or X-ray therapy to the spinal cord and its roots. In younger people it is often associated with a weakening of the immune system. Shingles is characterized by:

What you can do to help

Vitamin B complex is necessary for a healthy nervous system and consumption can be increased by taking a suitable supplement.

Take vitamin C 1 g up to four times a day.

Vitamin E is known to reduce the long term symptoms associated with shingles. Take up to 1,600 IU daily, broken into three doses with meals. Vitamin E oil applied directly to the sores will encourage healing.

An attack of shingles may be a sign of general debility and you will need to take steps to boost your immunity (see...) to prevent the illness.

Headaches and migraine

Researchers have found that the blood cell (platelets) of migraine patients stick together more than normal between migraine attacks. Headaches are an extremely common complaint and vary in intensity from mild to severe pain.

They can have many causes including:

Headaches and migraines are often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. They are often triggered by eating foods containing tyramine, such as:

What you can do to help

Frequent headaches could be the signal that you are low on some important vitamins and minerals. Low levels of vitamin B3 (niacin) and B6 can cause headaches.

All vitamins of the vitamin B complex are needed to help combat stress and to avoid tension headaches. Protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts are good sources of vitamins B3 and B6.

Calcium and magnesium work together to prevent headaches, especially those related to a woman's menstrual cycle. Additional supplies of these can be obtained in a good multivitamin and mineral supplement.

The herbs ginger and feverfew have been used to help prevent and treat migraines.

Eliminate sugar, coffee, tea, and any other caffeine containing foods, smoking and alcohol (especially red wine). Eliminating these foods should be sufficient for most but if they are not, then the following should also be avoided:

Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is more common in children than adults. The child:

Some of the common nutritional causes of hyperactivity include:

What you can do to help 

Because many cases of hyperactivity are associated with food sensitivity and nutritional deficiencies it is necessary to monitor the child's diet carefully.

Use a good multivitamin and mineral supplement to assist in addressing the imbalances. Additional supplementation may be necessary depending of the deficiencies that are present. In particular they may need additional zinc.

Try to encourage the child to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and to drink plenty of filtered water.

Avoid sweet foods and drinks and anything that has artificial coloring and flavorings. Try to stick to whole foods that have not been processed and try to avoid convenience foods.

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References

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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