Tag Archives: anxiety

And then there was the time vitamin B-complex drove me insane…

One of the first things you discover when you start investigating nutritional therapy is that vitamin B-complex formulations are badly designed. Never mind the dubious value of having most of the B vitamins in the same milligram amounts when no one can really say just what ratio they should ideally exist in. (Here’s a chart by Ronald Roth at Acu-cell.com illustrating the unbalancing effect that causes.) And never mind the fact that the majority of the complexes use forms of the vitamins that really don’t work well in people with stressed or overworked livers — cobalamin instead of methylcobalamin, folic acid instead of methylfolate, and pyridoxine instead of P5P (two types of vitamin B6). And what livers among us these days are not stressed and overworked?

The biggest problem with B-complex preparations is that to save on costs manufacturers seriously shortchange you on the more expensive biotin, vitamin B12, and folate. Typically only the US RDA amount is provided, which is pointless. 400 mcg of vitamin B12, only 3% of which is absorbed, will not do much for anyone.

If you rely on vitamin B-complex for a long period of time without taking additional B12, folate, and biotin supplements, you’ll eventually induce a deficiency of them. The extra, larger amounts of the other B vitamins, all of which work together and need each other to be processed, now have increased the need for that vitamin and you’re drawing on more of it than you were before you were taking the supplement. If you’re given a ton of one but too little of another, eventually those bigger doses will require too much of the lower doses.

I experienced this effect in a dramatic fashion when in an attempt to combat fatigue I decided to try 300 mg of vitamin B-complex a day, which is advocated in some circles as a fast way to get B vitamin levels up in situations where they are presumably very low — newly diagnosed celiacs for example, or recovering schizophrenics.

At the time, I was reading what someone had recommended as one of the best American detective novels ever, The Death of the Detective by Mark Smith. As it turned out, the book made the post-apocalyptic Children of Men look uplifting by comparison, and it didn’t even involve an apocalypse. As I read it, each menacing, creepy scene created stronger feelings of dread and anxiety. Paranoia carried over into my other activities — driving a car, walking around a store, etc. When I started shaking while reading one scene, it occurred to me that this probably wasn’t a normal reaction.

I figured the best culprit was the recent megadose experiment. I had taken extra vitamin B12 and biotin for a long time so I thought folic acid was probably the problem. I took 2 or 3 800 mcg methylfolate supplements and in about an hour was noticeably more relaxed.

I tossed the book without finishing it. Luckily for the author I couldn’t track him down. I was denied the satisfaction of sending him hate mail or hate tweets or some other social media hatefulness about his soul-sucking piece of crap.


Illustration: Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd., Paramount Pictures 1950. Remix by MRhea.

Month 2 of Operation Electrosmog Reduction

Adventures in Nutritional TherapyMy annoyance with the reception delay on my cell phone started me on a path that led to Ann Louise Gittleman’s book Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution. She sorts through the data on the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on human health, details all the sources you’re likely to encounter in your home and environment, and gives lots of options for counter-measures you can take. She maintains an optimistic tone throughout which I appreciate, as I tend to get stressed and tune out when listening to doomsday pronouncements.

After reading about a quarter of the book, I spent three days making what alterations I could in my apartment. I turned off my cell phone and replaced the cordless phone with a corded one. Since the wired version of the beautiful Apple keyboard turned out to be $100, my poor iMac now suffers the indignity of a $13 plastic knockoff. I tried a wired mouse but fighting the drag of the cord drove me insane — how did we ever use those things? — so I switched to a trackball.

I already turned all my appliances on and off from power strips. This way you don’t have to unplug the appliance from the outlet to keep it from drawing power. I also replaced my kitchen’s fluorescent task light with an incandescent one and got rid of two lamps in my bedroom. My air purifiers will be turned off over my dead body.

I finished all these changes on a Monday. For the next three days I kept catching myself thinking it was Friday. The same thing happened the next week, also starting on Tuesday. The next week, a holiday week, that I’m-on-vacation feeling did not return but I’m still experiencing a noticeable increase in calm.

I made another change at around the same time that must also be considered. The week before I had added magnesium to my regimen. I’ve taken it before, and it can definitely be a relaxant, but it had never had this kind of effect on me. However, this was the first time I’d ever taken it in conjunction with selenium, which I’d started several months before and which for me also has a calming effect.

To me the rapid onset after getting rid of the cordless phone points to an electrosmog correlation. Another is the weird weekend and holiday increase in jitteriness, which could be explained by the increase in the neighbors’ electricity use compared to the work week. I am one of the few people in the building who work at home.

Ideally I should reinstate the cordless phone and wi-fi and see how I feel, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet. And of course actually measuring their EMF output would be interesting. But as subjective as this is, I’d say that the cordless phone was responsible for the greatest part of the effect I noticed.

After making those changes I got a little overwhelmed by Gittleman’s other suggestions, which cost a lot more money. Moving my iMac’s CPU tower further away from my body isn’t possible (it’s grafted to the monitor), so I’d have to purchase a different computer setup. Microsurge suppressors, which block voltage spikes from outlets, would add up to several hundred dollars. I wouldn’t want to try them until I could actually measure what they were lowering, but the gadget to measure that also costs several hundred bucks.

I’d also eventually like to measure everything you can’t shield yourself from as easily, such as the power line with two step-down transformers that’s 100 feet outside my window, my neighbors’ cordless phones and wi-fi, and the ceiling fan of my downstairs neighbor that is three feet below my bed. (Remember: EMF go right through walls.) But measuring these sources requires at least one other expensive meter. You can hire an expert to do all this, but only if you can find one in your area, and it will cost at least $300.

In the middle of this experiment I started wondering about incidents over the past three years where I’d get off the cordless/cell phone after a long call and have the sensation that everything was suddenly much quieter, as if I’d been yelling to someone in a windstorm and now was indoors. That hasn’t happened since I started the experiment. Electrical pollution experts believe that EMF disrupts your body’s electrical signals and can destroy cell walls. Perhaps my brain had to work at a higher output to fight the phone interference, and that change registered in my memory after the interference was gone.

My experience with the Perfect Health Diet’s supplement plan

by guest blogger Steph

Steph is maharani at Midlife Makeover Year, where she’s exploring new approaches to her health, diet, attitude, family life, and shoes, among other things. She is also one of my few commenters to refrain from mentioning w-bcam s-x, for which I will be eternally grateful. — mr

When I went on the Perfect Health Diet plan, I hoped to clean up my eating habits and address some of my thyroid issues through food choices. As it happens, the PHD plan is not just about food; there is actually a pretty aggressive recommended supplement plan. (Aggressive, that is, for me, as I’ve traditionally been a “multi-plus-maybe-some-vitamin-D” person.) Since the supplement plan didn’t involve drastically cutting sugar or giving up the fresh, hot gluten-filled rolls I was habitually baking for my family (as the food plan does, sigh), I did the pills first.

Because I was not expecting to get any bang for my vitamin and mineral buck, I didn’t watch for any reactions, good or bad, that I might have to this or that supplement. I didn’t take a scientific approach to starting on a new pill or capsule. I included each recommended supplement in my morning cocktail as it arrived in the mail. Pretty quickly (thanks to Amazon Prime), I had added the following to my multi-vitamin and 1000 IUs of vitamin D3: vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin K2 (100 mcg), copper (2 mg), chromium (200 mcg), iodine (500 mcg), magnesium (400 mg), and selenium (200 mcg).

Within a few days after I was on everything, I noticed a major change, not physically, but mentally — a major reduction in OCD symptoms and general anxiety. I was first struck while I was driving to the food store. I had a feeling of competence and ease. I was not gripping the steering wheel. I was, in fact, steering with one hand. This is not something I do. Generally, I drive waiting for an accident, acutely aware of my killing potential. But now I felt…not indifferent to others’ wellbeing, by any means, but as capable as the other drivers on the road.

This was strange! And it took a little mental work for me to accept that perhaps I felt like a competent driver because I am one, not because I was suddenly drugged and delusional.

A few days later, I began to feel that I was perhaps a bit too mellow. In poking around a little, I learned that the recommended dose for magnesium for women is 200 mg (400 mg is the recommended dose for men). Also, I have low blood pressure, and I was concerned that too much magnesium would lower it even more. So I bumped my dose down. That felt more natural.

Then, the real test: I had an upset in my personal life, the sort of thing that generally sets me off in a spiral of obsessing, “phoning in” my obligations to my sons, driving my husband crazy, clenching my jaw, eating obsessively, and just generally getting sucked into a vortex of negativity and pulling my family and friends down with me. Only I didn’t. I was upset for a bit, processed the situation, and moved on. This was major, and completely unexpected.

With minimal research (laziness being central to my character), I learned that many folks with OCD find symptom relief with selenium supplementation, so I’ve decided that this was likely key to my newfound mental health improvement. I’ve taken magnesium in the past with no reduction in OCD symptoms.

I may in the near future try eliminating selenium for a bit to see if my OCD symptoms ramp up. The trick will be finding a “good” time to invite that lovely obsessing back into my psyche.

If you grapple with OCD, you might want to give selenium a try. Note that too much selenium is toxic, so monitor your intake. And if you regularly eat Brazil nuts, you are already getting a big hit of selenium, so be careful.

I have since stopped taking the copper, iodine, and vitamin K2. My multi-vitamin already included the recommended amount of copper and I became concerned about taking too much. The iodine was making my thyroid feel “wonky.” I have since switched from sea salt to regular, supermarket iodized salt, and this is working better for me. I stopped the K2 after I developed a superficial blood clot on my leg. So far as I know, K2 assists the body’s clotting mechanism, but doesn’t cause blood clots. Nevertheless, I figure I probably clot OK on my own.