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August 23, 2014

Co-factors and the immune system

by Helene van den Berg

A child with omega-6 conversion problems may have a deficiency in the co-factor vitamins and minerals that are essential in helping the delta-6 desaturase enzyme to convert linoleic acid (LA) to prostaglandins. Vitamin A, certain B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and iron are important. Food allergies may make it difficult to get enough of Linolenic acid (LNA). To regulate EFA metabolism properly, enzymes depend on key co-factor vitamins B6, A, C and E and minerals – magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium. If you do get enough of these vitamins and minerals, the body will metabolize LA and LNA into prostaglandins. Prostaglandins regulate the lymphocytes, which include the white blood cells, T-cells and B-cells in the immune system. Macrophages clean up the bloodstream and when it encounters a bacterium (antigen) it carries it around, until it meets a helper T-cell. The Helper T-cells send the killer T-cells and B-cells into action. The B-cells produce antibodies and the suppressor T-cells stops the action, when the battle has been won. B-cells and T-cells are the mind of the immune system and have a memory (like the brain cells). B-cells learn to make antibodies for every one of the thousands of different germs, toxins, fungi , bacteria, viruses that invade the body in the course of a lifetime. T-cells remember every invader – the germ may make some headway the first time, but the second time it invades, the army will be ready.

The immune system depends on a constant exchange of information amongst the team members of the army. The T-cells are the key to that communication and must stay healthy to be able to make the decisions and give orders. Their ability depend on the right supplies of prostaglandins. If prostaglandin production goes awry, the T-cells are disastrously affected and the whole immune system malfunctions and eventually result in disease!.

The body can make 50 different prostaglandins. Problems in their production result in disease, like cancer, asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus. If a prostaglandin imbalance is suspected, the first thing to look for is whether they are getting enough EFAs (LA and LNA). The second culprit to look for is a deficiency in the key co-factor vitamins and minerals (Vit A, B-6, C and E and magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium), that make it possible for enzymes to regulate the metabolism of LA and LNA.

FOODS that are naturally rich in EFAs are naturally rich in co-factor vitamins and minerals e.g. nuts, seeds and beans are excellent sources of magnesium, copper, zinc, vitamins E and B-6. Seafood is a rich source of all the minerals. If fresh vegetables are added for vitamin A and C, we have a EFA-strong, balanced diet that build our immunity.

SUPPLEMENTS for a EFA -strong, balanced diet that builds the immunity are:

  • Vitamin A: (cod-liver oil) – 1 tsp daily
  • Vitamin B2, B3 and B6 – 25mg of Vitamin B-6 daily
  • (B-complex free of sugar, yeast starch, artificial coloring)
  • Zinc: zinc lozenge 10mg daily
  • Iron: ferrous sulfate liquid 15 mg daily
  • Magnesium 6mg per pound of weight daily
  • (magnesium citrate liquid 1Tb daily
  • or milk of magnesia) 1 ½ tsp daily

Note: the best absorbable form of magnesium for children is magnesium citrate (to prevent a laxative effect, use a sublaxative dose. Milk of magnesia is second best. Magnesium is also an ANTIHISTAMINE


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