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The Biochemistry Behind Parenting
(Or, Say Hello to Manganese)

What traits makes a great parent? In my book they include patience, fairness, flexibility, firmness and unconditional love. As a single mother, I know how just how hard it is. I remember my pediatrician told me when I was particularly exasperated when my son was going through the terrible twos that the only difference between a loving parent and a child abuser was we thought about it but they actually did it.  

In addition to the psychological component, there is a physiological component to good parenting. It is the trace mineral manganese. Long called "the mothering nutrient", manganese levels provide telling biological clues about your feelings toward both your children and your parents. 

Aminal studies have deprived mice of manganese until they suffered a deficiency. This biochemical imbalance severely impaired their reproductive ability. What's worse, the mice who did have litters totally ignored and refused to nurture their young. But, when their manganese levels improved, they took more interest in mothering. 

In humans, a manganese deficiency causes defective ovulation and ovarian degeneration in females and testicular degeneration in males. Increased infant mortality occurs when the mother lacks manganese during pregnancy. 

Quite a few of my customers have a manganese shortage when I look at their Tissue Mineral Analysis results. (The TMA is a clinical lab test performed by a federally licensed lab that charts 35 trace elements and heavy metals. Meltdown sells this test, performed by one of 13 chartered labs in America.) When I talk to them about their children, a whole lot of them are either not particularly interested in their children's welfare or seem overwhelmed by the whole parenting process. 

You can have too much manganese and be a bad parent, too. Mild manganese toxicity causes insomnia, mental excitement and compulsive actions. I'll guarantee you the Milwaukee father who severely beat his son last year because he was bothering him while he watched the Dallas-Green Bay game on TV was real short on manganese. 

Alcoholics are more prone to manganese toxicity than others. And people with excessive manganese levels also tend to be toxic with iron, too. Too much iron can cause volcanic, irrational rages. I'll bet OJ had too much iron and manganese on that fateful night. 

Interestingly, some people have none of these symptoms yet are toxic with manganese. When I visit with them, I discover many had some disastrous emotional event with a parent. In addition to abuse, a singular event can cause the toxicity. 

In one case, a father gave a mortgage free house to his daughter and her husband as a wedding present. After a few years, he and his daughter got into a minor quarrel. He then sold the house even though he didn't need the money, even though the couple was about to have their first child and the husband had just been laid off. Not a real good time to be put out on the street. The daughter was quite angry about this and it caused her manganese levels to rise and remain stubbornly high. 

After a couple years of therapy, she was able to resolve the situation in her mind. She was strong enough to repair her relationship with her father. Thereafter, the couple miraculously found a fixer-upper in Los Angeles that was perfect for them and bought their own home, one that no one (but the bank!) could take away from them. Soon after they moved in, her TMA showed a marked decrease in manganese. 

How do you fix a manganese deficiency or toxicity? Each is easily fixable (assuming the problem is not emotional) becaus tissue manganese levels are directly related to the substance's availability in the diet. Fresh vegetables are high in manganese. However, a vegetarian diet does not necessarily improve manganese levels. 

Meat, on the other hand, is not a good source of manganese. But scientific studies have found that subjects eating a high protein diet have a healthier manganese status than those eating a diet low in protein. That's because meat enhances the bio-availability of manganese. Therefore, eating meat -- or any lean protein (fish, poultry without the skin, eggs, white meat pork) with fresh vegetables ensures that the body will be able to absorb enough manganese. 

Although tea is rich in manganese, it is unavailable for absorption because of the tannin content of the drink. Alcohol, on the other hand, increases the liver's manganese level and apparently doubles it absorption.  

Nutrition has a very powerful effect on emotions. If you have children, you have a strong responsibility to eat yourself patient! Get that manganese in the zone. 

Freud once said ignorance is no excuse for dumb behavior. In the Meltdown interpretation of those words, ignorance is a choice we make to prevent ourselves from making difficult changes in our lives even though we really know better. Now you have no excuse not to get healthy!

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