A GMO labeling bill has passed the Senate but it may create loopholes in what will be considered GMO

Genetically modified organisms created for agricultural purposes may be required to be listed on food labels but the wording of the proposed legislation may allow some types of foods or ingredients to not be listed. Refined ingredients that would not be expected to contain “genetic” content (DNA or RNA) may not be required to be listed as GMO.

The risk to health however has to do with the proteins that the GMO DNA cause to be produced throughout the plant rather than the DNA itself. Allergens might be produced that weren’t present in the normal crops. And in Bt GMOs the Bt toxin is produced throughout the plant as an insecticide, even within the part we harvest for food use. And while it is believed to not be harmful to human health it was initially developed as an antibiotic and mineral chelator. And humans depend on having a healthy balance of microbes within the intestines and glyphosate may be harmful to them. A refined ingredient might not contain much DNA protein or much of a Bt endotoxin protein either but it would be nice to have a lab test showing that it wasn’t present in the refined ingredient rather than be concerned only about GMO DNA. Testing for glyphosate residue levels would be of interest to me also.

Read more about the Senate bill on GMO labeling, it is a bipartisan backed bill that is expected to pass the House:  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-food-gmo-vote-idUSKCN0ZO08N

“About 75% of the foodstuffs at the grocery store are now genetically manipulated, in what has been called the world’s largest biological experiment on humans.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36746-monsanto-bayer-and-the-push-for-corporate-cannabis

Sometimes progress can seem like progress but if it misinforms the public then is it really progress? A food label that claims to inform consumers about GMO content but which actually excludes major categories of refined ingredients that are based on GMO crops is providing disinformation – inaccurate information about the food’s content. Sick people who are trying to improve their health wouldn’t be able to trust the labels if the labels still allowed ingredients that were making the sick people to feel sicker. If the goal is supporting an individual’s right to know what is in their food then the labeling requirements ideally would include all types of GMO based ingredients whether the ingredient includes GMO DNA are not.

On a different but related topic — a couple recent posts [1, 2] included history about concerns I’ve had regarding excessive vitamin D and calcium supplementation, the new information I learned about glyphosate provides the likely solution – but more research is needed. The glyphosate information about CYP enzyme inhibition of vitamin D metabolism could be an explanation for the increase in low vitamin D levels observed in the U.S. population. And excessive supplementation with inactive vitamin D may not have been found to be helping as expected because of inhibition by the herbicide glyphosate.

A quote from a book on an unrelated topic: “When you solve a mystery, you destroy its power over you.”  – Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.,  If You Had Controlling Parents; How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. page 79, (Harper, 1998)

The question of why U.S. citizens had lower vitamin D levels than Canadians, when I knew our food supply had adequate amounts of vitamin D and that we would collectively be getting more sunshine than Canadians on average with most of the country being located farther south, was a mystery I’ve been pondering ever since learning of it in 2010.

And the inhibition of CYP enzymes by glyphosate could be a cause of low vitamin D levels that don’t respond well to supplementation and which could be affecting a large percentage of the population. There was a large increase of the herbicide with Round-Up ready GMO crops and with the introduction of glyphosate as a crop desiccant . (And magnesium deficiency may be another cause of low vitamin D levels when there is plenty of vitamin D available and which could be affecting a large percentage of the population, but more on that later.)

As a dietitian I was uncomfortable ethically in 2010 regarding the high dose supplements being given to people for long term treatment without monitoring the active hormone level and I am still uncomfortable about the potential risks for the minority of people who may develop elevated levels of the active hormone D. Elevated levels can cause worsening of chronic illness and even increase risk of death. A large number of studies have now been performed that have not found high dose supplements to be consistently helpful — and it turns out that the form of the supplements may be inhibited from being activated by glyphosate.

In past writing I’ve included information about types of infection that may be affecting hormone D metabolism in some people but infectious disease is likely to affect a smaller number of people than the population wide levels of low vitamin D that have been observed. Some pathogens are known to modify the vitamin D receptor metabolism. Inhibiting the vitamin D receptor would reduce immune function of the cell and allow the microbe to infect the cell. Infection likely is affecting vitamin D levels for some people but a food contaminant would likely affect a larger percentage of the population.

A GMO labeling law is progress but the law wouldn’t include crops that use glyphosate as a desiccant in addition to excluding some refined but GMO derived ingredients from being listed as GMO and it may be the glyphosate itself – the Round-up herbicide – in Round-up ready crops that is the biggest risk to health– not the genetically modified DNA. And similarly it may be the Bt toxin itself that the genetically modified DNA encodes for rather than the DNA that is a risk to health. The Bt toxin may be causing harm to the intestinal bacteria and may have been modified enough from the original Bt toxin that the genetically modified Bt toxin is now also a risk to the cell walls of human intestinal and red blood cells unlike the Bt toxin that previous research has been based on. Research with the GMO seeds by private research labs or scientists is being limited by the companies that own the GMO seed patents.

Intestinal bacteria can affect mood positively or negatively and an imbalance in magnesium, vitamin D, and calcium can also affect mood. My condolences to all of the families and individuals who have lost loved ones or friends to gun violence. Part of the reason I’ve been concerned about the excess supplementation of vitamin D is because an imbalance in vitamin and hormone D can lead to an imbalance in calcium and magnesium which can lead to severe irritability and even homicidal violence. Epsom salt baths are inexpensive and provide a form of magnesium that can be absorbed well even when there is an imbalance in the vitamin and hormone D levels which tends to promote calcium absorption in the intestines and increased magnesium losses in the kidneys.

Calcium is also important but the average U.S. diet tends to include many calcium rich sources and promote calcium supplements more than magnesium. Magnesium however is necessary for converting vitamin D into 25 hydroxy D and 1, 25 dihydroxy D in addition to CYP enzymes so magnesium deficiency might also be an underlying factor for low vitamin D levels that don’t respond well to vitamin D supplements.  “Data indicate a reduced risk of insufficient/deficient vitamin D status at high magnesium intake and an inverse association between circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D and mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality, among those with magnesium intake above the median.”  ~ People with more magnesium intake also had better vitamin D levels and reduced risk of death, particularly less risk of death due to heart disease.   http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-11-229

Unlike most other nutrients the blood levels of vitamin D can be affected in a number of different ways as it is actually a hormone rather than being simply controlled by intake of food or supplements. And levels of blood calcium and magnesium are also carefully controlled in a number of ways because they are electrically active. Excess calcium can cause muscle contractions and magnesium helps muscles relax. Excess calcium is associated with more severe coronary artery disease and magnesium deficiency is associated with heart attacks and strokes. Elevated hormone D tends to promote elevated calcium levels and may lead to heart disease and osteoporosis. Elevated calcium levels is also associated with increased risk for kidney failure. the following link has a chart that compares risks of elevated blood cholesterol and calcium and the difference is startling. http://blog.parathyroid.com/high-blood-calcium-risks/

Many nutrients are important (all of them in fact), and an older article (2013) reviews a variety of nutrients and research on violence and aggression and diet or other factors affecting violence such as psychiatric pharmaceuticals. Adequate omega 3 fatty acids may be protective. Cholesterol is essential too, low levels of it is associated with increased aggression according to the article. The review of research was in response to the increase in school shootings (2013): http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight/ – that link is to a site that promotes a diet based on the foods that are believed to have been available to ancient people. The article reviews a large number of nutrients and other topics and their possible role in promoting or preventing violence. Magnesium is just one of the many nutrients essential for health but it is also essential for a good mood. There were many other results for the search terms that I used, “magnesium deficiency violence aggression‘: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=magnesium%20deficiency%20violence%20aggression

Solving the mystery has led to information that has helped my health and a GMO label law might make it easier for me to avoid GMO products but it might not be that helpful if the law is written so that many types of GMO ingredients wouldn’t be included and a GMO-free label actually meant only possibly GMO free. The labels wouldn’t be reliable if foods might still contain refined GMO ingredients and yet not be required to have the GMO label.

The list of foods that might be sources of glyphosate or Bt toxin:

It is our right to protect our health and I find my health is improved when I avoid or moderate use of some of those foods, I wasn’t aware of the specific oils on the list but had been avoiding excess poly-unsaturated oils in general because it may increase inflammation to have too little omega 3 fatty acids and too much of certain fatty acids found in poly-unsaturated fats..

  • An imbalance in the two types of fats has also been associated with increased aggression per a link provided earlier:  (2013):  http://www.westonaprice.org/uncategorized/violent-behavior-a-solution-in-plain-sight/
  • And having certain types of controlling parents has also been associated with increased risk for aggression or violence per the book I quoted earlier in this post: “When you solve a mystery, you destroy its power over you.”  – Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.,  If You Had Controlling Parents; How to Make Peace with Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. quote page 79, (Harper, 1998)

Glyphosate and the  GMO Bt toxin may be affecting our intestinal bacteria which can affect our moods. Disrupted vitamin D metabolism can lead to an imbalance in calcium and magnesium which can affect our moods. When the body works it seems simple but it isn’t.

The GMO labeling law has language that will identify ingredients as GMO by how refined they are rather than whether the whole food was a GMO or not. Information about GMO content would be helpful but a refined ingredient might still contain glyphosate residue or Bt toxin or other unknown allergens that may have developed during the genetic modification of the organism. Research and testing of those chemicals would be helpful. Labeling laws would be a challenge for the food industry to comply with. Working on using less glyphosate and GMO crops (that have been shown to potentially be hazardous to humans or the environment), seems like a more direct route to improving health to me.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause long term nerve degeneration

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin):

Vitamin B12, Cobalamin, foods sources and possible symptoms of deficiency.

Neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency may include:

  • numbness and tingling of the arms and legs; problems walking; disorientation; memory loss; mood changes that may resemble schizophrenia; and dementia.  Damage may occur to the myelin sheath which surrounds and insulates nerves like the plastic coating around an extension cord.  Nerve damage and mental health symptoms may become permanent with long term deficiency of vitamin B12.

Digestive symptoms may include:

  • loss of appetite, a painful tongue, and constipation.  The reason for there to be digestive symptoms associated with B12 deficiency is not well understood.  One theory suggests that undiagnosed digestive problems might have been an initial cause of the  B12 deficiency.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may also include:

  • pernicious anemia and megaloblastic anemia which are hemoglobin deficiencies that have symptoms of tiredness.  Folate deficiency symptoms are also possible because B12 is necessary in folate metabolism.  Increased heart disease risk from elevated homocysteine levels may result from B6,  B12, or folate deficiency.

People who may be more at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include:

Those with malabsorption problems, or people with chronic use of antacids and those who are over age 60.  A specific protein cofactor called the intrinsic factor and normal stomach acidity levels are necessary for B12 absorption to be able to occur.  Some individuals receive monthly injections of B12 after reaching older age and some people need to receive them monthly throughout life due to having chronically low vitamin B12 for other reasons than normal aging such as a genetic issue with their production of the intrinsic factor protein.

Sublingual tablets of the supplement are also available which are absorbed in the mouth, bypassing any problems with the rest of the digestive system.

A genetic difference may exist that causes some individuals to require the methylated active form of B12 rather than being able to benefit from the more commonly available supplement which is an unmethylated and therefore inactive form.  [More about methylcobalamin.] A genetic screening test would need to be ordered to find out if there were any differences in the gene that might cause an inability to methylate vitamin B12 or folate/(folic acid is the commonly used supplement which is also in the unmethylated form, and therefore inactive for someone with a genetic inability to perform the methylation reaction – meaning an enzyme is malfunctioning somewhere in the complex chemical chain of events.)

A problem with lower digestive acidity in the stomach could also be managed simply by adding a side dish or condiment to meals that contains vinegar or acidic ingredients. Examples from around the world include chutneys, pickles, lime or lemon juice/fresh wedges, vinegary salad dressing, salsa or Tabasco Sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.

  • What is Worcestershire Sauce? (thespruce) (and how do you spell it?)- It is an interesting story – featuring the chemists Lea and Perrins. (Lea & Perrins is still the best selling brand of Worcestershire Sauce). Who knew chemistry could be so delicious?

Schizophrenia may also be associated with an increased risk for low levels of vitamin B12. Read more: (askdrgonzalez.com/deficiency-of-vitamin-b12-and-schizophrenia/)

Low stomach acid may be an underlying issue with symptoms of schizophrenia and in other mental health disorders. The balance and variety of microbes living within the gastrointestinal tract also may be involved in symptoms resembling mental illness. (Digestion & schizophrenia /PMC4437570/)

Pickles that are made fresh and need to be refrigerated  can be a source of healthy intestinal microbes, in a similar way to the healthy bacteria found in yogurt with active probiotics or Kefir drinks.  A variety of traditional products with live cultures are listed here – and a new one, probiotics are being added to chocolate in some products: (health.com/probiotics & chocolate) Scientists studying the microbiome tend to recommend the live culture foods rather than supplements of probiotics – based on my overview impression of multiple sources. An overview regarding the current recommendations about probiotic supplements is available here: (washingtonpost/people-love-probiotics-but-do-they-really-help/2017/05/19)

Probiotics refers to products that contain actual good guy bacteria, while prebiotics refers to foods that contain fiber or other nutrients which the good guy bacteria need to eat in order to survive and flourish – in competition with the more negative strains of bacteria or with yeasts or other microbes which might be found within our gastro-intestinal tract.

Eating vegetables and other foods that are good sources of some types of fiber also helps support healthier intestinal microbes, a few foods that provide the types of fiber that our intestinal microbes need to eat in order to flourish and protect us from more negative types of microbes, are listed here: (pcrm.org/seven-foods-to-supercharge-your-gut-bacteria)

It is a very good idea to get adequate fiber in the daily diet – because starving microbes will start breaking down and consuming edible portions of the intestinal cells for nourishment – if forced, and it may leave the body more at risk for infection (labblog.uofmhealth.org/gut-bacteria-eat-colon-lining-when-starved-for-fiber) – but why starve your good guy microbes? Our intestinal microbes may also help prevent anxiety. (neuroscienceresearch.wustl.edu.pdf)

Food Sources of Vitamin B12 include: 

  • shellfish, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy products, Nutritional or Brewer’s yeast.  Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy, eggs, fish or other meat products may need a supplement or nutritional yeast, a vegan food source of vitamin B12. (nutritional yeast/pubmed/11146329)
  • See the post on Vitamin B6 for more information about how the group of B vitamins work together in energy metabolism and cell growth.

Reference for more information:

An Evidence-based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals:  Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations, 2nd Ed., by J. Higdon & V. Drake, (Thieme, Stuttgart / New York, 2012)

  • A description and source for purchasing the text: (thieme.com)
  • A review of the text: (ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/5/892.full)
  • The text is produced in cooperation with the Linus Pauling Institute. He is a researcher who used large doses of vitamin C to cure cancer tumors. His work was met with skepticism. More recently research supports his work in that a specific type of cancer cells is very susceptible to vitamin C – while to the rest of the body it is water soluble and non-toxic at the level that was toxic to the cancer cells. (sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213231716302634)

Last reviewed and revised on 9/30/2017, graphic added, 5/23/2018.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

Folate is essential and Folic Acid is commonly available

Folate (L-methylfolate or vitamin B9) and Folic Acid:

Food Sources of Folate, the bioactive natural form, include:
  • beans, black eyed peas, green peas,
  • peanuts and other nuts and seeds,
  • whole grains,
  • asparagus, most dark green vegetables,
  • orange juice, citrus fruits.
  • Fortified cereal and rice are sources of folic acid, the supplemental form.
Folate is the natural form; Folic Acid is in supplements & fortified foods.

Folate is the form of the vitamin found in food and is more bioactive.  Folic acid is the form that is commonly available as a supplement and in fortified foods, however it is less bioactive, less able to function until methyl groups are added which requires adequate supplies of vitamin B12. A genetic difference may exist in some individuals that prevent the body from being able to convert the inactive folic acid form into folate, the methylated bioactive form of the vitamin. [More about methylation.]

Symptoms of Folate deficiency include:
  • Deficiency of folate can cause megaloblastic / macrocytic anemia which is characterized by red blood cells that are over-sized and ineffective.  Anemia symptoms include being short of breath and feeling tired and weak.  The symptoms are due to a shortage of normal red blood cells and reduced ability to transport oxygen with each breath.
  • Folate is needed for DNA synthesis and for DNA methylation which may be important for preventing cancerous changes from occurring in the DNA.
  • Lack of folate may increase heart disease risks due to less breakdown of homocysteine. Vitamin B6 and B12 are also necessary, a deficiency of any one of the three might cause an accumulation of homocysteine.
  • Folate is important during pregnancy for fetal development.  Spina bifida and cleft palate are birth defects that may be caused by folate deficiency.
  • Deficiency of several of the B vitamin group can cause changes in the appearance and surface texture of the tongue. B vitamins that can cause changes in the tongue are mentioned in the following excerpt and include “niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (folate/B9), and vitamin B12”:
  • “Deficiencies of niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folic acid, or vitamin B12,  resulting from poor diet or from the administration of antagonists, may cause a sore, beefy-red tongue without a coat. In the chronic vitamin deficiency state, the tongue may become atrophic and smooth.”                   – “The Tongue – Clinical Methods – NCBI bookshelf  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236/

  • See the post on Vitamin B6 for more information about how the group of B vitamins work together in energy metabolism and cell growth.
Reference used for food sources & symptoms of Folate deficiency:
Other References used for the food sources of Folate and Folic Acid:

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Thiamin: people with anorexia or alcoholism are more at risk for vitamin B1 deficiency

Thiamin (also called Thiamine or vitamin B1):

Food Sources of Thiamin (vitamin B1) include:
  • fortified flour or rice, whole grains;
  • lean pork, fish, eggs;
  • nutritional yeast;
  • cantaloupe; acorn squash, asparagus, green vegetables;
  • beans, green peas, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seed kernels & other edible seeds including flax, sesame & chia.
Thiamin or vitamin B1 may have been the first vitamin to be discovered.

Thiamin is also known as vitamin B1. Historically it may have been the first vitamin to be discovered.  Around 2600 BC the symptoms of thiamin deficiency were described in Chinese literature.  Thiamin deficiency, or beriberi as it was commonly called, became a more frequent problem in some communities when white flour and polished rice were first introduced.  Milling brown rice removes thiamin from the grain along with the fibrous outer layer of the grains of rice.

Symptoms of beriberi, vitamin B1/Thiamin deficiency, can include:
  • rapid ‘fluttery’ heart rate;
  • enlarged heart;
  • edema or swelling of the extremities,
  • heart and lungs leading to breathing problems and eventually congestive heart failure; burning painful feet;
  • muscle weakness and pain;
  • Wernicke encephalopathy or Korsakoff psychosis are symptoms that may occur with more severe B1 deficiencies and which can include mental changes.
Deficiency of Thiamin is rare except with severe malnourishment or increased needs:

Chronic alcoholics and anorexic or other malnourished people are more at risk for thiamin deficiency.  Malaria and HIV may increase need for thiamin due to the infected cell’s increased use of the nutrient.  Renal patients on dialysis may need extra thiamin due to increased loss. The nutrient is fairly widely available and deficiencies are not typically found in people of average health with reasonably varied diets.

Reference used for food sources & symptoms of Thiamin deficiency:
Additional Reference used for Food Sources of Thiamin:

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.