Q. I have been eating instant oatmeal five days a week for many years now. I have read that instant


Q. I have been eating instant oatmeal five days a week for many years now. I have read that instant oatmeal somehow is nutritionally inferior to regular oatmeal that must be cooked. Is this true, and if so, why?

A. Instant oatmeal has been processed to cook more quickly. It has a higher glycemic index than whole-grain oats. As a result, it is likely to raise blood sugar more quickly than whole-grain oats.

If you don’t have time to cook regular oatmeal in the morning, you might try cooking it the night before or soaking the oats overnight to speed cooking. That way you still would get the “whole-grain benefit” you are currently missing with instant oatmeal.

Q. Hypothyroidism is rampant on one side of my family, and I was diagnosed two decades ago. After 15 years on either Synthroid or generic levothyroxine (adjusted to achieve a “normal” TSH), my internist agreed to let me supplement with T3 (liothyronine) in a compounded sustained-release capsule. We lowered the dose of levothyroxine (T4) moderately, and I started taking a small amount of compounded T3 every 12 hours. It was like the sun came up! I have much more energy, and all my typical hypothyroidism symptoms abated.

The only downside is that my insurance does not recognize the T3 therapy “because TSH was normal on T4 only”! My insurance carrier is obviously not outcome-oriented.

A. You are not the only patient who has been unhappy with levothyroxine (T4-only) treatment of hypothyroidism. A recent online survey of more than 12,000 individuals with hypothyroidism found that those taking levothyroxine alone were least satisfied with their results (Thyroid, online, April 5, 2018).

People taking a combination of T4 and T3, as you do, were better pleased with their treatment, while those taking desiccated thyroid extract reported the fewest problems with weight control, fatigue, mood and memory.

Q. I have no feeling in the lower part of my legs. This has resulted in balance problems leading to falls. X-rays and MRIs show that there is no damage to the nerves exiting the spinal cord, so that is not the cause. Could vitamin B-12 deficiency contribute to this problem?

A. Vitamin B-12 is critical for proper nerve function and balance. Deficiencies in this important nutrient become more common with age. Other predisposing factors include use of medications such as strong acid-suppressing drugs and the diabetes drug metformin. Vegetarians and vegans don’t get vitamin B-12 in their diet and thus are also more susceptible to deficiencies.

Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, sore tongue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, personality changes, and tingling and burning in arms and legs. Prolonged lack of this nutrient may lead to anemia, depression, confusion, dementia and weakened immunity.

2018 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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