Nutrient Effects on the Nervous System
Compound Deficiency Overabundance Sources Comments
Vitamin A
Vision problems such as night blindness (nyctalopia). Night blindness is the inability of the eyes to adjust when a person goes from a lighted area to a dark area. changes in the skin and mucous membranes; decreased sense of taste Nausea, fatigue, headache; toxic in large amountsSweet potato, dairy products, beef liver, raw carrotsOne to five million people have a vitamin A deficiency.
Vitamin B1
Beriberi = loss of motor coordination; paralysis; pain in arms and legs; headache. Loss of myelin sheath; attacks motor and sensory axons of the neuron.None known Pork, liver, grains, wheat germ, dried beansDeficiency seen most often in alcoholics
Vitamin B2
Visual problems: burning, itching of the eyes, sensitivity to light; burning sensations around the mouth; peripheral nerve damageNone knownBeef liver, milk, yogurtLittle is lost during cooking, but it is sensitive to light.
Vitamin B3
Pellegra = mental problems (disorientation, confusion, depression, memory deficit, mania, paranoia); digestive problems; skin problems.Liver damage; flushing of the skinBeef, corn, peanutsImportant for releasing energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins
Vitamin B5
(Pantothenic Acid)
Although rare, fatigue, burning sensations on hands and feet, and headaches may occurNone knownBeef liver, yogurt, egg yolks, wheat, riceFound in many different foods so a deficiency is rare.
Vitamin B6
Abnormal touch sensations, mania, convulsions; abnormal EEG recordingsRare problemsHam, eggs, potato, oatmeal, chicken, bananaAlcohol can interfer with vitamin B6 metabolism. Involved with the production of numerous neurotransmitters.
Vitamin B9
Folic Acid
Peripheral nerve problems, memory disorder, convulsions. Involved with neural tube defects: spina bifida, anencephalyNone knownSpinach, yeast, brocolliOne of the most common vitamin deficiency. Prevents spinal tube defects.
Vitamin B12
Mainly causes blood disorders. Neurological signs include memory problems, pain, abnormal touch sensations and movement problems including weakness. can occur. Degeneration of white matter in the cerebral hemispheres, optic nerves, spinal cord.None known.Beef liver, clams, oysters, tunaAffects myelin formation
Vitamin C
(Ascorbic Acid)
Scurvy = joint pain, open sores, weight lossDigestive problemsCitrus fruitUsed in the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Vitamin D
Help body bring in calcium, so low Vitamin D may lead to low calcium levels. This may cause seizures. Rickets = malformation of bones, sweating, restlessness Excessive calcification of bones and soft tissues; toxic in large amountsTuna, salmon, milk fortified with Vitamin DVitamin D can be produced by the body by a reaction with ultraviolet light in the skin.
Vitamin E
Affects peripheral nerves and the nerve supply to muscle. Walking and balance problems, eye movement problems.Few effects knownCorn oil, wheat germ, sunflower oil, milkEnhances the effects of vitamin A; protect fatty acids; good for cell membranes
CopperWilson's disease - genetic disorder that causes a build up of copper and results in mental and movement problems.Beef liver, oysters, crabThe highest concentration of copper in the body is found in the kidney; the second highest concentration is found in the brain.
IronAnemia = reduction in the amount of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen is necessary for the conversion of glucose into energy.Animal protein, beans, rice, corn, apricots, liverMost common nutritional deficiency in the world; highest brain levels found in the basal ganglia
MagnesiumMuscle spasms, anxiety, headache, insomnia, crampsRespiratory problemsWheat germ, almonds, corn, peanutsAssists in energy regulation of cells; activates enzymes
ManganeseSleep problems, crampsalmonds, grains
SeleniumCardiac problemsCNS damage
Oysters, liver, lobster
ZincTaste and smell loss, hallucinations, depression. Zinc deficiency during pregnancy can cause brain defects.Muscle pain, headache, flu-like symptomsOysters, egg, lobster, shrimpThe hippocampus has a high concentration of zinc.
LeadIntracranial hypertension, headache, fatigue, memory and concentration problems; paralysis; gout; Lead is neurotoxic and can also damage the kidneys.Old paint, older plumbing, glazes, leaded gasoline.
CadmiumNeurotoxic; possible learning problems.Industrial pollution; cigarette smoke.
Biotin Movement problems, visual problems, may be involved in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome None known Egg yolk, liver Eating uncooked egg white can lead to deficiency in biotin.
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