Sunday, October 9, 2011

31 for 21: A New Vitamin Formula for DS

A couple months ago someone on the Einstein-syndrome list asked about a new form of TNI which they had recently found called New Downs. It is based in Canada and developed by a naturopath originally for her son with Down syndrome.

Here is a video about Sejal Parikh-Shah (the developer of New Downs) and New Downs:

Of course, I had to research it to see what all it had in it. The ingredients in New Downs are below:

Vitamin A and carotenoids
Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, choline and folinic acid
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Manganese & Molybdenum
Betaine HCl
Methionine, Cysteine, Ornitine
Alpha-ketoglutaric acid
Lipoic acid

 Overall, it doesn't look too bad. But, when looking closer at the ingredients there are several problems.

I would be extremely skeptical of having iron in the formula. While Iron is very important, it's kind of a double-edged sword. Too much iron causes increased free radicals, especially the hydroxyl radical, which children with Down syndrome have a hard time dealing with as it is. If a child is on the lower end of Iron, then it would be beneficial. But, I would not want it in a standard formula.

There is no way, I would supplement with Cooper. It's been shown in many studies that Copper is typically high in DS. This is due to the overexpression of the Cu/Zn Superoxide Dismutase gene. High copper equals metal deposits in the brain which is not good.

Cysteine is also not good and something I would not supplement at all. This is another thing which has been shown in many studies to be high (typically) in Down syndrome. This is due to the overexpressed CBS
(CystathioneBetaSynthase) gene causing a messed up SAM cycle.

 The above is a quick synopsis of the problems I see with New Downs. But, I went ahead and emailed the doctor who developed this to ask her a few questions as to why she has these ingredients in it. I will quote all the emails below:

My first email to her:

 Dear Dr. Parikh-Shah,

I am the sister to a wonderful little boy with Down syndrome. Your vitamin formula for DS, New Downs was recently posted on a DS listserv which I’m on. Being the research queen that I am, I of course had to look into it more. My brother currently takes Nutrivene-D and has since he was 8 months old (he’s 6 ½ yrs old now).

I’ve done a lot of research on Down syndrome nutrition & biochemistry for the past 6 years (which you can see on my blog & site links below). This has raised some questions for me on New Downs and I thought it would be good to ask you.

Do you do routine testing, specifically for copper, cysteine & iron? If I may ask, why do you have copper, cysteine & iron in the formula?

I only ask these questions, because of research I have done. Due to the Cu/Zn Superoxide Dismutase gene which is overexpressed, copper is typically high in people with DS. And, as you probably know, extra metals deposit in the brain, which can then lead to Alzheimer’s Disease. So, this is why I question the copper. As far as the cysteine goes, the overexpressed CystathioneBetaSynthase (CBS) gene causes excess cysteine in the body. This, can in turn cause increased oxidative stress, which we know is not good :). And the iron, I question, because it is such a touchy metal. Iron is SO important for life, but it is also extremely dangerous. Especially because if there is excess iron it increases the hydroxyl radical, which is already in overabundance. That creates even more free radicals, which cause oxidative damage & stress.

I am emailing since I’m very curious about your position. Don’t take this email wrong at all, as I’m always open to hearing anything :). I look forward to hearing back from you and corresponding more!

Her response:

Hello Qadoshyah,

Your brother is very lucky to have a sister who is very interested in his wellbeing.

The New Downs formula is for kids who are still developing.  I'll start with iron, even though it can act as a oxidant, iron is very important for growth.  Many kids tend to be anemic.  Many kids with DS, due to their limited diets, do not consume adequate amounts of Fe.  Fe can be tested via routine blood testing (CBC & ferritin).  Copper is also necessary for Fe utilization and is a very important nutrient for phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification pathways.  Zn is added to New Downs for growth, liver detoxification and balance the Cu.

Cysteine is necessary for liver detoxification pathways and glutathione regeneration.

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Sejal Parikh-Shah B.Sc., N.D., LAc.
Because the answer was pretty general, I decided to write back with further questions,

Hi Sejal,

Thanks for the reply and explanation! I have a few more questions for you.

I can understand your reasoning with the iron. I prefer just to test for iron and only give extra if there is a necessity for it. But, that’s just personal preference :).

I completely understand why you would include those supplements in the formula, because of their interactions with each other. But, because people with Down syndrome have many different metabolic and biochemical pathways in their body, there are many processes which function differently. And therefore, they may not need certain things that the general population without DS needs when supplementing.

In regards to Copper, there are several studies which show that it is increased in people with Down syndrome (here are just two examples: & So, because of this, their bodies already have enough copper to deal with, but not enough zinc. So, why would you recommend giving more copper?

In regards to Cysteine, because it has also been found to be high in Down syndrome (here’s one example:, due to the overexpressed CBS gene. Why would you recommend supplementing more of this, when their body already has too much (typically) and cannot compensate with the proper amount of Glutathione?

Thanks again for the response and I look forward to hearing from you more!
To the above questions, I never received an answer. I was really wondering how she would reply to it, but I guess she decided not to reply at all.

Overall, I would not recommend New Downs for people with Down Syndrome. To me, it seems like just a "glorified" regular multivitamin. If you are going to have so many of the above things which are very questionable in DS in a "TNI" sort of formula, just give a general multivitamin.

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