I learned years ago from a great doctor that there is a commonly overlooked genetic illness called Pyroluria (also known as kryptopyrroluria (KPU) or the Mauve Factor) which causes an individual to excrete large amounts of B6 and Zinc, causing a persistent deficiency of these key vitamins. This illness is most commonly seen in women and typically becomes recognizable in their teenage years or early 20s.
Common symptoms of this illness are:
Unexplained stretch marks
Inability to concentrate
Hypothalamic dysfunction resulting in an increase or decrease in the following: appetite, sleep, irritability, and sexual function.
People with the moderate or severe form of pyroluria typically respond favorably to Prozac or related serotonin-enhancing drugs as they have a genetically determined deficiency of serotonin, a neurotransmitter essential for brain function. Since they are unable to make enough serotonin, a result of which is depression, these people are always chronically depressed to a certain degree. A milder form of this illness is seen with PMS – moderate depression throughout the month and then marked depression and dysfunction in the PMS phase.
The underlying metabolic flaw with these individuals is that, genetically, they have a greater need for vitamin B6. Luckily, this can often be corrected simply by supplementing with vitamin B6 and the “helper minerals” magnesium and zinc.
A Simple At Home Test To Determine Whether You Have Pyroluria
The best “test” for whether you have pyroluria or not is to do the “therapeutic trial” test. Sit in a quiet room and swallow 25 mg. of vitamin B6 with four ounces of water. If you have pyroluria to some degree, after about 30 to 45 minutes you will feel less irritable and fatigued. You may also notice you are able to think more clearly and your concentration may improve. The room may even appear to be brighter (due to a slight dilation in pupil size).
The daily dose for a 150-pound person usually consists of taking 50 mg. of vitamin B6 three times a day which may need to be adjusted up or down for an individual’s biochemical needs or weight. It is important to also take magnesium (try for at least 350mg a day) and zinc (15 mg 3 x day in gluconate form) along with (at the same time as) the B6 because the involved enzymes are dependent upon them and further improvement is typically seen when taking this combination. This supplementation must be maintained for life! This is an inexpensive treatment with no known side effects.
Additional Supplements That May Be Beneficial
To take the treatment up one more notch, I will point out a few other important things I learned. One, taking 100mcg of Niacin (in the form of niacinamide) 3 x day as niacinamide further helps with the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Some people do not tolerate niacinamide, so start slowly by inching up the dose until you see if you tolerate it. Secondly, some people are not able to convert B6 into its active form, Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate (P5P), therefore, to be on the safe side, you may consider using P5P 50mg 3 x day instead of B6. Klaire Labs makes a great P5P without excipients and in a veggie cap form (you can get it with or without magnesium added).
In addition, some doctors and scientists feel that Pyroluria causes individuals to be deficient in the following additional nutrients: Manganese, Biotin and omega-6 fatty acids such as GLA (Evening Primrose Oil is a good source).
KPU & Lyme?
Note: Pyroluria is thought by some to occur not only as a result of a genetic metabolic flaw, but also when a body is under extreme stress such as from an illness, and so it may be quite common in those with Lyme disease!
Nebert DW, Gonzalez FJ: P450 genes and evolutionary genetics. Hosp. Prac. March 15, 1987; 63-74.