Saturday, September 13, 2014

Essential Fatty Acids: Should We Be Concerned About Them?

Because people can build up large stores of (essential) nutrients — enough to maintain proper physiological functioning for as long as years — diseases arising from dietary deficiencies should be expected to develop slowly and a long time after a deficient diet was imposed.  But for the same reason, it’s extremely difficult to determine the essentiality of a particular nutrient, especially when the requirement for the nutrient is relatively low, as well as the fact that foods contain an array of nutrients in varying proportions.

However, two scientists, husband and wife, working in the Botany Department of the University of Minnesota, crafted a clever and sophisticated (but not full proof) way to test the idea as to whether certain fatty acids were “essential” or not.

Although the idea that the fat-soluble vitamins were essential to good health were proven beyond a doubt by the mid-1920s, when George and Mildred Burr suggested that certain fatty acids – in particular, linoleic acid – were not only merely fuel and vehicles for absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins, but also essential nutrients in themselves, they came up against skepticism from other scientists.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

'Smart Drugs' Are Stupid

Smart drugs, or “nootropics,” are a topic I’ve stayed cleared of until now because, well, the idea of using them was stupid.  Not only is the research on those so-called smart drugs severely deficient and inadequate; but also the evidence on which people make their decision to use them or not derive largely from anecdotes found on Internet forums, which are fishy to me and notoriously unreliable. 

There are a few problems as to why the situation on the topic of smart drugs is in disarray.  The first is that a distinction between simple arousal and stimulation versus true learning is often sloppily made or passed over.  The second is that there is too much emphasis placed on manipulating neurotransmitters, namely choline, serotonin, histamine, dopamine, and norepinephrine.  And the third is that there is a tendency to deemphasize (or to gloss over altogether) the availability and metabolism of glucose, as well as the hormones that govern and interact with these processes, such as insulin, thyroid hormone, and cortisol.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Unsung Hero of Thyroid Replacement Therapy: ATP

ATP and thyroid are closely related in that the thyroid hormone is essential for the rapid turnover of ATP, both inside and outside of cells.  ATP, in turn, affects processes as diverse as pain, inflammation, blood clotting, bone formation, cognition, blood pressure, and insulin secretion – among many others.

Considering the intensive research currently underway to develop compounds with specificity for ATP receptors in various tissues, and the wide range of disorders these compounds could, when it is all said and done, treat, it is obvious that ATP, in particular its turnover, has a wide range of drug-like effects that are independent of its role in energy metabolism.  All of the conditions that have been linked with hypothyroidism – most comprehensively by Broda Barnes – can, in my estimation, be traced back to the impact of thyroid hormone on ATP.