This questionnaire will help you identify whether you might have pyroluria, a social anxiety condition. The physical and emotional symptoms below are caused by deficiencies of vitamin B6 and zinc. When you experience high levels of stress, vitamin B6 and zinc will be further depleted, so you may notice worsening symptoms and more anxiety.
Based on my review of questionnaires and results of pyroluria tests for hundreds of clients, I’ve grouped the most common or classic signs and symptoms first. I’ve also labeled the symptoms that could be directly related to low levels of vitamin B6 or zinc so you can individualize your supplements and dosages. Symptoms without these designations are due to a deficiency of both vitamin B6 and zinc. Check off any of the following signs or symptoms that apply to you:
Most Common Signs and Symptoms
1. Being anxious, shy, or fearful or experiencing inner tension since childhood, but hiding these feelings from others
2. Having bouts of depression or nervous exhaustion
3. Poor dream recall, stressful or bizarre dreams, or nightmares (low vitamin B6)
4. Excessive reactions to tranquilizers, barbiturates, alcohol, or other drugs, in which a little produces a powerful response (low vitamin B6)
5. Preferring not to eat breakfast, experiencing light nausea in the morning, or being prone to motion sickness (low vitamin B6)
6. White spots or flecks on the fingernails or opaquely white or paper-thin nails (low zinc)
7. Liquid zinc sulfate having a mild taste or tasting like water (low zinc)
8. Poor appetite or having a poor sense of smell or taste (low zinc)
9. Joints popping, cracking, or aching; pain or discomfort between the shoulder blades; or cartilage problems (low zinc)
10. Pale or fair skin or being the palest in the family, or sunburning easily, now or when younger
11. Disliking protein or having ever been a vegetarian or vegan
12. Being sensitive to bright sunlight or noise
13. Upper abdominal pain on your left side under the ribs or, as a child, having a stitch in your side as you ran
14. Frequent fatigue
15. Being prone to iron anemia or low ferritin levels
16. Tending to have cold hands or feet
17. Having frequent colds or infections, or unexplained chills or fever
18. Reaching puberty later than normal or having irregular menstruation or PMS
19. Having allergies, adrenal issues, or problems with sugar metabolism
20. Having gluten sensitivity
21. Neurotransmitter imbalances, especially low serotonin
22. For women, belonging to an all-girl family or having look-alike sisters
23. For men, having a mother from an all-girl family or a mother with look-alike sisters, or all the females in the mother’s family bearing a strong resemblance to each other
24. Avoiding stress because it upsets your emotional balance
25. Tending to become dependent on one person whom you build your life around
26. Preferring the company of one or two close friends rather than a gathering of friends; becoming more of a loner as you age
27. Feeling uncomfortable with strangers
28. Being bothered by being seated in the middle of the room in a restaurant
29. Being easily upset by criticism
Less Common Signs and Symptoms
30. Stretch marks or poor wound healing (low zinc)
31. Crowded upper front teeth, many cavities, or inflamed gums or wearing braces (low zinc)
32. Bad breath and body odor (or a sweet, fruity odor), especially when ill or stressed (low zinc)
33. Being prone to acne, eczema, herpes, or psoriasis
34. Reduced amount of hair on your head, eyebrows, or eyelashes, or prematurely gray hair
35. Difficultly recalling past events and people in your life
36. Focusing internally, on yourself, rather than on the external world
37. Tending to have morning constipation
38. Tingling sensations or muscle spasms in your legs or arms
39. Feeling stressed by changes in your routine, such as traveling or being in new situations
40. Your face looking swollen when you’re under a lot of stress
41. Cluster headaches or blinding headaches
42. One or more of the following: a psychiatric disorder, schizophrenia, high or low histamine, alcoholism, learning and behavioral disorders, autism, or Down syndrome
If you check off 15 or more items, especially the more common ones, it’s highly probable that you have pyroluria and will benefit from taking zinc and vitamin B6 supplements. I encourage you to be tested, but if this isn’t possible, or even if you don’t have pyroluria, supplementing with zinc and vitamin B6 may be worthwhile if you have a large number of these symptoms.
This questionnaire is based on my experience working with many clients with pyroluria, along with information from Depression-Free Naturally (2001), by Joan Mathews-Larson, Nutrition and Mental Illness (1987), by Carl Pfeiffer, and Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders (2001), by Eva Edelman.
I start my clients with zinc (30 mg), vitamin B6 (100mg) or P5P (25mg) and evening primrose oil (1300mg), plus a good multi-vitamin (with manganese and no copper) and a multi-mineral and sometimes additional magnesium.
For the zinc I have found Opti-zinc (Solaray is a good brand that doesn’t have copper) to be very well absorbed by most of my clients. Using the liquid zinc sulfate/zinc status test is a useful way to assess your zinc levels (see link below).
We increase zinc based on the zinc test and the vitamin B6 based on dream recall. And obviously social anxiety symptoms too.
This questionnaire and information is taken from chapter 7 of The Antianxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings, available in major books stores and via Amazon. You can read more about the book here. You can find more detailed information in chapter 7.
11/5/2013 update – since doing this post, I’ve done a number of other posts related to zinc, vitamin B6, pyroluria and even introversion and I am including links to some of them here:
- Overcome your fear of public speaking
- Zinc deficiency is common: using liquid zinc status test as an assessment tool
- Am I an anxious introvert because of low zinc and vitamin B6? My response to Huffington Post blog
- Quiet: introverts on the job – pyroluria, low blood sugar, gluten?
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Trudy Scott (CN), Certified Nutritionist is the founder of www.everywomanover29.com, a thriving nutrition practice with a focus on food, mood and women’s health. Trudy educates women about the amazing healing powers of food and nutrients and helps them find natural solutions for anxiety and other mood problems. Trudy’s goal for all her clients (and all women): “You can be your healthiest, look your best and feel on-top-of-the-world emotionally!”