On the way home from preschool the other day, five-year-old Frederick was recounting his dream for the night. As he described the dream, I thought “I must write about this on the site.”
What I thought to myself as he told me the story was “Good news. His B-6 status is good.”
Your regular doctor will not have this information but pioneer in mental health and food nutrients, Carl Pfieffer, describes in his book Nutrition and Mental Illness that in the presence of a B-6 deficiency you do not recall your dreams at night. Pfieffer was a pioneer in treating mental illness at the Brain Bio Center in New Jersey. He points to 1973 as the year that he and his staff pieced together the connection between B-6 status and dream recall. They discovered that their patients deficient in B-6 did not recall their last dream of the night upon waking but as they improved their B-6 intake, dream recall would come. If they took too much B-6, patients awoke through the night with vivid dreams and would remember several in the morning. Pfieffer and his staff worked a middle ground: supplement until you remember your last dream but not so much that your sleep is affected by too many of them.
How many times have you said, “I don’t have dreams”?
In the Pfieffer framework, you likely do have dreams but you just don’t remember them.
I did have a dream last night. I don’t remember it now, but I do remember this morning upon waking that I had some knowledge of some sort of dream. That counts. No dream whatsoever for many nights running may mean you have poor B-6 status.
Your doctor can test your B-6 level but some will start with a more general plasma homocysteine that is associated with poor folate, B-12, and/or B-6. If it is elevated you can investigate further why it is elevated (when it should be lower). If you do not remember your dreams, you can be fairly confident that B-6 is part of the picture.
B-6, by the way, is critical in converting your proteins such as tryptophan into key neurotransmitters such as serotonin. It certainly may aggravate your depression if you are low. When you wake up tomorrow morning, note whether you remember a dream.
For those who wonder what five-year-old boys dream about, here you go:
“Mama, children were stacked on top of each other’s backs, all the way up into space where space meets heaven.
“Children were screaming and laughing. Natasha was at the very top, right on top of me.
“The teacher was at the bottom, back on Earth, and she was very mad. She kept grabbing children out of the stack and throwing them off.”
“Where did she throw them, Frederick?”
“There was a fenced area and she kept throwing them on the other side of the fence. The children just kept laughing and screaming.”
“Were they scared?”
“No, they were screaming like they were on a roller coaster.”
There you have it. Even five year old children dream. You should too. Take note of it. Check out the foods high in B-6 provided by the USDA (here), though I would tend to avoid the fortified cereals and head straight to the tuna, liver, and chickpeas.