Niacin

Niacin (vitamin B3, niacinamide, and nicotinic acid):

Food Sources of Niacin include:
  • nutritional yeast;
  • meats, salmon and tuna;
  • beans, green peas, peanuts, and seeds;
  • avocado, mushrooms, green leafy vegetables;
  • grains, nixtamal flour, & fortified cereals;
  • milk, coffee and tea.
Symptoms of Niacin (Vitamin B3) Deficiency:

Digestive symptoms of less severe niacin deficiency may include nausea and vomiting and may also be able to be seen visibly as an unusually bright red tongue. Several B vitamins can cause changes in the appearance of the tongue as the cells all along the digestive tract need to be replaced frequently with new cells. The B vitamins work together as a group and many are essential for the growth of new cells. See the excerpt in the reference section for other B vitamins necessary for maintaining a healthy tongue.

Headache, apathy, memory loss, disorientation, and/or depression may be neurological symptoms that occur if niacin deficiency continues long term. Fatigue may also be a symptom of niacin deficiency.

Severe niacin deficiency is called pellagra. Symptoms of pellagra include skin rashes, (dermatitis), diarrhea, dementia, and eventually death if adequate niacin isn’t provided to the patient.

The condition was discovered in groups of people who lived primarily on a diet of corn or sorghum.  However the condition was not common in Mexico, in Central America, or for some groups of Native Americans. Corn in those areas was first soaked in an alkaline solution of lime or wood ash before being made into a type of flour called nixtamal.  The alkaline soaking method makes more of the grain’s niacin content available for absorption in the human digestive system.

Nixtamal flour is available to the home shopper and might be called tortilla or tamale flour. The ingredient list would include lime or wood ash if the product was made with the alkaline presoaking step.

The amino acid, tryptophan, can be converted to niacin within the body if adequate B6, folate and heme are available (an iron rich enzyme cofactor).

Background history regarding nicotinic acid, niacin, and nicotine:

Nicotinic acid and nicotine from tobacco cigarettes have similar names because they are similar chemicals but are not the same chemical and don’t have the same function within the body. This is a content marketing issue, read more – including the comments in the following link.

A summary: Nicotinic acid is a chemically reasonable name for the form of the nutrient that was initially discovered, but the similarity of the word to nicotine made people fearful when it was first added to foods and food labels as a new nutrient fortification being added to help prevent and treat pellagra. The use of a different form with a name change to “niacin” may have been a move at that time towards a form with a more commercially successful name even though it is not as descriptive of the way the chemical is formed as the name “nicotinic acid.”

Warning – non-harmful “Niacin flush” may occur with Nicotinic acid:

For some people, excessive supplementation with the nicotinic acid form of vitamin B3, but not the niacin form, may cause a temporary non-life-threatening reaction that may include symptoms of itching, a temporary flushing or reddening of the skin, nausea and vomiting. The reaction may be referred to as a “niacin flush.” A holistic practitioner describes the reaction in the following article and mentions that it usually goes away after a week of taking the supplement and that drinking some extra water during the sensation might help ease symptoms. The practitioner suggests that the reaction may be helpful for multiple sclerosis.

Niacinamide is a form of niacin that does not help reduce cholesterol

Niacin can be converted to niacinamide in the body and both forms are available as supplements which could help prevent deficiency symptoms. However niacin may also be helpful with blood lipid (fats) levels. It may help reduce elevated levels of triglycerides which can help prevent high cholesterol levels. Niacinamide is a form that does not affect blood lipid levels and wouldn’t be recommended over the niacin form if the goal is protecting cardiovascular (heart & blood vessel) health. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-924-niacin%20and%20niacinamide%20vitamin%20b3.aspx?activeingredientid=924&

B vitamins essential for health of the tongue (and Gastrointestinal tract):

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 Niacin deficiency:
Other References used for the food sources of Niacin:

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.

Gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fortunately, Gluten free doesn’t have to mean cookie free, but gluten free cookies can be crumblier than traditional wheat flour cookies. The coconut flour and extra egg in the second recipe help to retain moisture and reduce the crumbliness somewhat. 

— and as my autoimmune health issues keep getting worse my baking skills keep stepping up to the cookie plate – see the third recipe for an egg free, butter free version that is still gluten free.

Glutamine is an amino acid that may be part of the sensitivity problem for people sensitive to wheat products but who don’t have the autoimmune condition Celiac disease/Celiac sprue. Glutamine is an amino acid that can cause actions to occur in the body, acting as a messenger chemical. Combined with excess glucose – sugar, glutamine and glucose in excess may be part of the underlying condition that promotes cancer cell growth. (Want cancer? Eat plenty of refined sugar say researchers [and glutamine too]) Eggs and egg white and wheat are considered good sources of the amino acid glutamine. (L-glutamine food sources) Egg: 0.559 grams glutamine and 1.014 grams glutamate. (glutamine content of foods derived by gene sequencing) But so is flaxmeal: 0.52 grams glutamic acid in 2 Tablespoons: (flaxmeal) The forms of amino acids are interchangeable but also may have different activities – it is complex and moderation is a good idea on National Cookie Day and any other day.

Plan ahead for National Cookie Day on December 4th and bake enough to have now and later. Cookies can be made ahead for the holidays and stored in the freezer after they are baked or as ready-to-bake cookie dough. Gluten free recipes can usually be adapted by substituting an equivalent amount of regular flour. Substituting white or whole wheat flour will work in either of the following recipes, 2 1/2 cups total flour for the first recipe and 3 to 3/14 cups for the second recipe – the corn flour is finely ground and dense compared to regular wheat flour.

The nutrient content of gluten free recipes can vary depending on the amount of flour or starch that is used. Gluten free cooking is important for people with some types of health conditions but it is not necessarily more nutritious for people of normal health and some of the products made with more starches may be less nutritious than wheat flour products. For the people with autoimmune sensitivities however it can be very important to avoid even trace amounts of gluten. the body makes autoimmune antibodies against gluten in response to encountering gluten.

It can take six months carefully following a gluten free diet before the autoimmune antibody levels decrease to normal but levels can normalize within a month on a gluten free diet for some. The person’s negative symptoms may not start feeling better immediately after they start a gluten free diet because of the circulating levels of autoimmune antibodies. The symptoms get better as the antibody levels decrease. Eating small portions or even trace amounts may cause an increase in the antibody levels again and a flair up in symptoms again. The autoimmune reaction by the body over time can cause chronic degenerative damage to the body so avoiding gluten may be helping a person have fewer symptoms on a daily basis and avoid long term damage to their body.

/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./

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – version without corn flour, 11/3/2015

Makes 48-60 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20 minutes.

  • 2 sticks Butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • — mix the softened butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs and vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • — add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • 1 1/2 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour
  • —- add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well
  • 1 ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips -the cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips

Form one inch balls of dough and roll them in white sugar if desired. Place about 24 per cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes unitl slightly golden brown. These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber than regular white flour cookies.

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – with corn flour

Makes 48-60 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20 minutes.

  • 2 sticks Butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • — mix the softened butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs and vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • — add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • 1 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Corn Flour, (such as the Maseca brand)
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour
  • —- add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well
  • 1 ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips -the cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips

Form one inch balls of dough and roll them in white sugar if desired. Place about 24 per cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown. These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber than regular white flour cookies.

The Egg free, Butter free – don’t need a refrigerator for the ingredients Version:

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – without egg, butter, corn or wheat flour, or other gluten containing flours (which may include oatmeal).

Makes 48 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20-25 minutes.

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flaxmeal, ground
  • 10 Tablespoons of Boiling Hot Water, – Step 1. Combine the flaxmeal and boiling water and stir together for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and looks a little like a watery porridge. Then add the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside until later.
  • 1 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (This is needed in the corn free version of the recipe in order to make the Baking Soda work properly as a leavening agent. Baking Powder has corn starch and it also has an acidic ingredient that Baking Soda doesn’t have.)
  • Step 2 (actually step 1 combined several actions): — add the dry ingredients to a different larger bowl and mix it together thoroughly:
  • 3/4 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda (*Baking Powder has corn starch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour. It tastes a little like cinnamon but is not quite the same.
  • Step 3: — mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.
  • Step 4: — add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. This batter is greasy seeming and the chips constantly pop out of the dough so I don’t even try to add a full package. It is easiest to work with the dough when the mix is more wet than dry, more like muffin batter than a typical “cookie dough“.
  • Step 5: — Preheat oven to 350’F., and form cookies with a scoop or with a pair of metal spoons as the batter is sticky and might even work in a cookie press if there weren’t chocolate chips. Form approximately one inch size balls of dough. Place about 24 on a pre-oiled or nonstick cookie sheet.
  • Step 6: — Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown.
  • Step 7: — Allow to cool slightly before eating and store in an airtight container once they are cool enough to no longer be emitting steam. The cookies keep for about a week or until they are all eaten, whichever happens first. They can also stored in the freezer once they are baked or as a cookie dough to be formed into cookies and baked at a later time for a treat fresh out of the oven with less work.
  • For freezer preparation — To form cookie dough into ready to cut and bake tubes of dough for the freezer, roll out a sheet of waxed paper on a clean countertop. Spritz it with a cooking spray oil and sprinkle the waxed paper with some ground flaxmeal. With oily hands put the dough on the waxed paper and form it into a long tube like log of dough about two inches thick, and then roll it up into the waxpaper. Store the paper wrapped tube in a larger plastic freezer bag or container.  A batch of cookie dough would make about two and half “tubes” of dough – the length of a square of waxpaper.  Each would make approximately one cookie sheet of cookies.

-The cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips or with other additions such as chopped nuts or dried currents or raisins.

These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber and antioxidant rich ingredients than regular white flour cookies, or gluten free cookies that are based on fiber free refined starches instead of whole grain flours.

  • 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.
  • 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)

Electrolytes are essential, magnesium helps protect brain cells

     Our bodies are like an ocean, not a fresh water lake. Our blood and cell fluid has a balance of salts and proteins that are essential for keeping things flowing and interacting as needed. Salts in our body are called electrolytes and they work in a buddy system.
Sodium and potassium are buddies that chemically can donate one electron for chemical bonds or energy interactions and calcium and magnesium can donate two electrons each. These minerals power nerve signals, muscle contractions and the movement of chemicals across cell membranes. All four are equally essential to have in our diet everyday.• Salt (Sodium chloride) has been a valuable trade commodity in ancient cultures. Seafood and salt mines are good sources.

Potassium is found in all fruits and vegetables.

Calcium is found in hard water, in dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, greens, canned fish, fortified foods.

Magnesium is found in hard water, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, whole grains, chocolate and a little in most foods.

     Having too much or too little of any of the four essential electrolytes in our blood and body fluid can be life threatening. They work together as teams that balance each other. Salt is not bad for us, we just need potassium in similar amounts. Processed foods tend to be overly salted and low in potassium. If we eat that way occasionally, no big deal, but if we eat that way most days then we may become low in potassium.

We lose electrolytes everyday in sweat and in the urine and feces. Muscle cramps can be a symptom of potassium deficiency and heart attacks can occur with abrupt drops in potassium. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom of magnesium or calcium imbalances.

Sweating a lot can leave us low in sodium and other electrolytes. Heatstroke can be due to excess heat [3] but it may also be due to hyponatremia or low sodium blood levels which can leave you feeling weak, dizzy and confused. Drinking plain water without also having a salty food may leave you feeling sick to your stomach if you are too dehydrated. Having a little salt or salty food first and then sipping the water might feel better when trying to rehydrate after a workout. The stomach controls what it lets into the more fragile intestine. If the stomach fluid is too thin and watery or too concentrated and acidic then the stomach will reject the fluid and cause vomiting. If the body has enough stored fluid and electrolytes then the stomach has systems for drawing in what it needs to digest whatever you eat. If you are dehydrated from excessive sweating then your stomach would not have those extra stores to use.

Magnesium may not be as familiar of a nutrient as calcium but it is just as essential to life. Excessive sweating during sports has been associated with sudden stroke later in the day in young athletes. It has been suggested that a sudden drop in magnesium from sweat losses may be the cause. Magnesium acts as the gate keeper in cell membranes and prevents calcium from flooding in from the blood. Calcium turns things on in the body and magnesium turns them off.

Calcium causes muscle fibers to contract and magnesium allows them to relax again. Calcium activates the energy production in the cell’s mitochondria and too much calcium flooding into a brain cell at once can overwork the cell to the point of cell death.

Glutamate and aspartate are amino acids that also act as brain neurotransmitters and their movement is carefully controlled by the protein channels in our cell membranes. Magnesium keeps the protein channels shut, so a sudden drop in magnesium may also cause stroke due to excessive flooding of brain cells by glutamate or aspartate. It might be better to avoid drinking beverages that contain Nutrasweet (Aspartame contains aspartate) by themselves in sweaty situations. A magnesium containing electrolyte beverage like Glaceau’s “Smart Water” would provide the brain cells with magnesium which is needed to prevent calcium, glutamate and aspartate from entering the cell.

 Sweaty situations call for rehydrating with water, and a potassium rich fruit or vegetable or juice and having a salty snack. Have beans, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds with your salty snack and you have your magnesium losses replaced as well.

Re-hydrating is also important if you are losing fluid in diarrhea or vomit. It’s also worth remembering to hydrate after night sweats or during high fevers. Darker yellow urine is a sign that you are dehydrated. Dry, chapped lips and skin are also symptoms.

No extra money is needed for a fancy bottled beverage when you understand your body’s electrolytes and know which foods and drinks are good sources. Dehydration is a frequent reason that people go to the hospital emergency room but with planning it is a problem that can be prevented.

Thinking about good hydration may help to be more aware of thirst signals. It can be easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, so sometimes you can save calories and cut back on mindless snacking by trying a drink of water first.

Excerpt: Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks, By Jane E. Brody (NY Times, Pub: January 31, 2011) [link]

“The authors noted that “four documented cases of caffeine-associated death have been reported, as well as five separate cases of seizures associated with consumption of energy/power drinks.” Additional reports include an otherwise healthy 28-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest after a day of motocross racing; a healthy 18-year-old man who died playing basketball after drinking two cans of Red Bull; and four cases of mania experienced by individuals known to have bipolar disorder.”

/Speculation/ The seizures, cardiac arrest, death after athletics, and mania could all be due to sudden changes in magnesium and potassium levels. The caffeine increases urine volume and urinary magnesium losses and the athletes also lost magnesium in sweat. The protein channels that have inadequate magnesium allow calcium to over-flood cell interiors. The calcium can trigger muscle spasms which may lead to cardiac arrest or stroke. Brain cells would also be vulnerable to over-excitation by calcium or the free amino acids, aspartame and glutamate. Brain cells that are constantly active could be associated with mania or seizures.

We could help prevent brain damage by adequately protecting our cell membranes with more frequent intake of magnesium containing foods and beverages. Seizures, strokes, migraines and mania are related to brain cells getting over stimulated and  the resulting lack of oxygen and energy stores can lead to cell death. The glutamate receptor rich areas of the brain are frequently the most devastated in the brains of sufferers of senile dementia.

 An Easy Solution: put magnesium back in beverages – it is in ground water and it is an essential electrolyte. The U.S. regulated it out in the past and bottlers have been removing it ever since – our intestines are suffering. [water policy history review – a 1920 Water Power Act had to do with hydroelectric water rights more than mineral content. I haven’t found more information about a bottled water act yet, [waterencyclopedia.com]
Every sip of a beverage that does not contain magnesium requires magnesium to be drawn to the intestines and stomach from our stored reserves – which are our bones – our structural support. If we want to stop osteoporosis then we need to be sipping and eating foods with a reasonable quantity of magnesium throughout the day. Any time we consume foods or fluids that have an electrolyte content that doesn’t match the concentration that is normal for our body requires our bodies take nutrients out of the reserves stored within our bones, those reserves run out eventually, leaving bones brittle from osteoporosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes and is not intended to provide individual health care. Please see a health professional for individualized health care./