April 15th, 2014

Low Vitamin D3 Levels Linked to 13% of All Causes of Death in the USA

Introduction:

A huge and growing amount of research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is very common, and with some studies showing at least 50% of the North American general population having low blood levels of vitamin D. This finding is thought to play a major role in the development in many of the chronic degenerative diseases. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be the most common medical condition in the world, and vitamin D supplementation may be the most cost effective strategy in improving health, reducing disease, and living longer.

Those deficient in vitamin D have twice the rate of death and double the risk for many diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Background Information:
Vitamin D3 is actually more of a “prohormone” than a vitamin. Humans can produce vitamin D3 by the reaction of a chemical in our skin in response to sunlight.

 

Some Risk Factors for Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Insufficient exposure to sunlight – working and playing indoors, covering up with clothes or sunscreen when outside, residing at a high latitude.
  • Aging – seniors are at greater risk due to lack of mobility and skin that is less responsive to ultraviolet light.
  • Darker skin – high incidence of vitamin D deficiency and its associated conditions in Blacks is widely documented. Blacks are at greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency due to higher skin melanin content.
  • Obesity – fat-soluble vitamin D gets trapped in fat tissue, preventing its utilization by the body.

New Data:
A new study published in the British medical journal BMJ analyzed data on more than a million people to determine relationship between disease and blood levels of vitamin D. The data included evidence from double-blind trials — the gold standard in scientific research — that assessed whether taking vitamin D daily was beneficial.

Conducted by a team of scientists at Harvard, Oxford and other major universities this study provides further persuasive evidence that vitamin D3 protects against major diseases. Adults with lower levels of the vitamin in their systems had a 35% increased risk of death from heart disease, 14% greater likelihood of death from cancer, and a greater mortality risk overall. In analyzing the double-blind studies, middle-aged and older adults who took D3 had an 11% reduction in mortality from all causes, compared to adults who did not. The benefits were found only with D3, and they found no benefit in people taking the D2 form of the vitamin.

The researchers estimated that roughly 13% of all deaths in the United States could be attributed to low vitamin D levels.

Commentary:
The human genome contains more than 2,700 binding sites for active D3; these binding sites are located near genes that are involved in virtually every known major disease of humans.

If you want to know for certain if you are getting enough D3, get the blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D . The acceptable level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml because at levels below 50 ng/ml the body uses up vitamin D as fast as you can make it, or take it. Many doctors are now routinely checking vitamin D status in their patients.

To insure optimal vitamin D status without testing, recently most health experts, myself included, are advocating daily dosages of 2,000 to 5,000 IU, even in healthy adults. The research definitely supports this higher dosage level.

While vitamin D3 conceivably has the potential to cause toxicity, the reality is that dosages in the range of 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day are now recognized as being extremely safe levels. That dosage of 5,000 IU may seem like a huge amount, but keep in mind that the skin produces approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D in response to 20–30 minutes of summer sun exposure. So, 5,000 IU is really a nominal amount of vitamin D. Just to put this amount into perspective, you would need to drink 50 glasses of milk in order to obtain 5,000 IU.

Reference:
Chowdhury R1, Kunutsor S, Vitezova A, et al. Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies. BMJ. 2014 Apr 1;348:g1903.

April 15th, 2014

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Every Day For A Better Life

Happiness_3You will be amazed at how powerful questions can be in your life. Let’s look at the following example: an individual is met with a particular challenge or problem, such as getting passed over for a promotion at work. He can ask a number of questions when in this situation. Questions many people may ask in this circumstance include: “Why does this always happen to me?” Or, “Why am I always so stupid?”

Does the person who asks these questions get answers? Do the answers build self-esteem? Does the problem keep reappearing?

A higher-quality question would be, “This is a very interesting situation, what do I need to learn so that it never happens again?” Or, how about “What can I do to make this situation better?”

Whatever the question, your mind will come up with an answer. That’s why asking better questions can have such an amazing impact on your life.

When the mind is searching for answers to powerful, transformative questions, it’s reprogramming your subconscious into believing you have an abundance of energy. Unless there is a physiological reason for the fatigue, such as anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or some serious disease, it won’t take long before your subconscious mirrors the energy you’ve generated.

If you want more energy, excitement or happiness in your life, simply ask yourself the following questions on a consistent basis:

1. What am I most happy about in my life right now? Why does that make me happy? How does that make me feel?

2. What am I most excited about in my life right now? Why does that make me excited? How does that make me feel?

3. What am I most grateful about in my life right now? Why does that make me grateful? How does that make me feel?

4. What am I enjoying most about my life right now? What about that do I enjoy? How does that make me feel?

5. What am I committed to in my life right now? Why am I committed to that? How does that make me feel?

6. Who do I love? Who loves me? How does that make me feel?

7. What must I do today to achieve my long-term goal? Why is it important for me to achieve my long-term goal? How does it make me feel to know that I am making steps to achieve my long-term goal?

Regardless of the situation, asking better questions is bound to improve your attitude. If you want to have a better life, simply ask better questions. It sounds simple, because it is.

April 14th, 2014

Fire Extinguishers

Natural approaches to whole body inflammation

Inflammation occurs as a reaction to injury or infection. It’s characterized by pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes loss of function. It’s actually part of our natural defense against invading organisms. During inflammation, white blood cells rush to the area to destroy harmful microorganisms and dead cells, thus preventing the spread of irritation and permitting tissue to repair itself.

But sometimes inflammation can produce harmful effects, and that’s a problem. Chronic low-level inflammation plays a central role in many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

When you scrape your knee, it’s easy to see and feel the inflammatory response. But chronic, low-level inflammation, known as “silent inflammation,” is stealthier. To determine the extent of the problem, physicians can measure blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). For this reason, I recommend adding a CRP test to your yearly physical. It’s actually a stronger predictor of heart attack than cholesterol levels.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Diet plays a definite role in triggering the inflammatory response. Studies have shown that CRP levels tend to be higher in people with high-glycemic diets. Conversely, a diet that’s rich in fiber and low in refined carbohydrates is associated with lower CRP levels.

In general, diet rich in fruits and vegetables has the greatest benefit. It’s also important to avoid refined or simple sugars, which increase the glycemic load linked to inflammatory response.

Fight Fire with Supplements

Vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and flavonoid-rich extracts—such as grape seed or pine bark extract (Pycnogenol)—are the most important antioxidants for fighting inflammation. Supplementation with fish oil products that provide a combined dosage of 3 grams EPA+DHA daily has also proved to be effective in reducing inflammation and producing positive changes in numerous trials.

Preparations of proteolytic enzymes—including chymotrypsin, trypsin, bromelain, papain, fungal proteases, and Serratia peptidase—have been shown to be useful in a wide range of inflammatory situations. Look for products that contain a combination, and follow label instructions. You can also find Serratia peptidase as a stand-alone product for inflammation.

MicroLactin, a special milk protein, is gaining recognition as a natural treatment for joint inflammation (see sidebar on p. 28). During the inflammatory response, the “junctions” between cells that line the joint spaces increase, which allows white blood cells to enter the joint. Once inside, these cells cause more inflammation and ultimately more joint damage. By tightening up these cellular junctions, MicroLactin prevents the migration of white blood cells into joint spaces. This mechanism of action is similar to that of drugs such as prednisone, but without side effects.

Whole-Body Approach

Reducing whole-body inflammation—especially in severe cases—requires a truly comprehensive approach. The examples given above are just a few of the possibilities. A consultation with a nutrition-oriented physician can help map out the best possible course of treatment for you. To find a naturopathic doctor in your area, visit naturopathic.org for a referral.

The Science of MicroLactin
MicroLactin is made through a unique process whereby a small, low-molecular-weight fraction of milk is super-concentrated so that it can be delivered in convenient dosages. Two independently conducted clinical trials have confirmed that it is highly effective at improving joint function in cases of inflammation. In a double-blind study, MicroLactin showed a significantly better treatment effect in improving joint health versus placebo than did glucosamine. In fact, this treatment effect, which measured the overall improvement in joint function scores over a period of six weeks, was 60 percent greater for MicroLactin than for glucosamine. The typical dosage for MicroLactin is 2 grams twice daily for the first 7—10 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 2 grams once daily thereafter.

April 10th, 2014

Healing Facts – Cucumbers

cucumbersAlthough over 70% of them are made into pickles, cucumbers are nutritious and yummy in their own right. Cucumbers are a tropical plant that originated in Southeast Asia over 10,000 years ago. Early travelers to India introduced the cumber to other parts of Asia, and ancient civilizations in Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Cucumbers as beauty treatment is not a new idea, in fact in ancient times they were often used for their beneficial skin-healing properties. During the 17th century, cucumbers were introduced to the U.S., and also began to be cultivated in greenhouses. It is thought that the pickling of cucumbers began in Spain, and were of high value to Roman emperors.

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Although fresh cucumbers are primarily composed of water, they are still rich in vitamins C and A, and folic acid.
  • Cucumber’s skin is a good source of fiber and minerals such as silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum.
  • A 3½-ounce serving contains only 12 calories.

 

Health Benefits:
Rich in silica, cucumbers contribute to the strength of our connective tissue, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.

  • Cucumbers can be used to treat a variety of skin ailments, including swelling under the eyes and sunburns.
  • Because cucumbers contain ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, cucumbers prevent water retention, helping to combat swelling and burns.

Add cucumbers to any salad or even sandwiches. Dice cucumbers with tomatoes and onions and dress with balsamic vinegar for a low calorie and refreshing dish. Consider making a cold gazpacho soup by puréeing cucumbers with tomatoes, green pepper and onions and seasoning to taste. What is your favorite dish to use cucumbers in?

April 8th, 2014

Fish Oil Supplementation Improves Periodontal Health

Introduction:

Periodontal disease is an inclusive term used to describe an inflammatory condition of the gums (gingivitis) and/or support structures (periodontitis). The periodontal disease path typically progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis.

Periodontal disease may be a manifestation of a more systemic condition, such as diabetes, anemia, vitamin deficiency states, leukemia or other disorders of white blood cell function. In addition, it is associated with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and an elevation in C-reactive protein (CRP)– which is an important marker for systemic inflammation and an independent risk factor for heart disease.

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish and fish oil supplements have been shown to be protective against atherosclerosis, as well as being useful in the treatment of a wide range of inflammatory mediators. It seems only natural that a recent double-blind study would show significant benefit with fish oil supplementation in patients with periodontal disease.

Background Data:
In addition to proper oral hygiene, the therapeutic goals in treating periodontal disease from a natural medicine perspective are:

  • Decrease wound healing time (the timespan for wound healing is longer in patients who are more susceptible to periodontal disease).
  • Improve the integrity of collagen and other support structures.
  • Enhance immune status (defects in the immune system, particularly white blood cells—especially neutrophils—are catastrophic to oral health).
  • Decrease inflammation (inflammation can induce a vicious cycle and promote periodontal disease)

Although there are many nutritional considerations in the goals listed above, supplementation with fish oils would appear warranted based upon  the possibility of achieving some of these goals – especially the ability to reduce inflammation.

New Data:
Sixty otherwise healthy subjects with moderate and severe chronic periodontitis were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test the ability of fish oil supplementation to improve this condition. The control group was treated with the standard dental treatment of scaling and root planing (SRP) and given a placebo; the treatment group was treated with SRP and dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids (providing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg DHA daily for 12 weeks).

A significant reduction in the gingival index, sulcus bleeding index, pocket depth, and clinical attachment level was found in the treatment group compared to the control group at the 12-week exam. However, no statistically significant changes in serum CRP  levels were found.

The pocket depth improved from 4.26 mm at baseline to roughly half that value at 2.15 mm. These results show that fish oil supplementation is very much indicated in the treatment of periodontal disease.

Commentary:
These results are impressive given the rather modest dosage of EPA+DHA. For general health the standard recommendation is to take enough of a fish oil supplement to provide a total of 1,000 mg EPA+DHA. For therapeutic purposes, the usual dosage is 3,000 mg EPA+DHA daily.

A higher dosage of EPA+DHA may be necessary to lower CRP levels – a key marker in systemic inflammation.

For more information on natural approaches to periodontal disease, please consult the 3rd edition of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Reference:
Deore GD, Gurav AN, Patil R, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids as a host modulator in chronic periodontitis patients: a randomised, double-blind, palcebo-controlled, clinical trial.

J Periodontal Implant Sci. 2014 Feb;44(1):25-32.

 

April 7th, 2014

Rejuvenate Your Brain

PQQ a new wonder supplement may be able to help your brain fire on all cylinders no matter your age

A recently discovered, vitamin-like compound known as pyrroloquinoline quinone—orPQQ—shows promise for boosting mental performance and memory.

This naturally occurring compound is an essential cofactor in cellular functions and has been found in all plant foods analyzed to date. Parsley, green peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, and tofu are especially rich sources, containing 2—3 mcg per 100-gram serving. Green tea provides the same amount per 4-oz serving.

What Does PQQ Do?

Studies show that PQQ is a key regulator of cellular function and is capable of neutralizing free radicals to a much greater degree than many other antioxidants such as vitamin C.

When PQQ is omitted from diets in animal studies, it leads to growth impairment, compromised immunity, and abnormal reproductive function. The daily requirement of PQQ seems to be similar to that for folic acid (400mcg). As with other essential nutrients, the immune system seems particularly sensitive to low levels of PQQ.

PQQ for Energy and Anti-Aging

Another key action of PQQ involves mitochondria—the energy producing compartments in our cells. In addition to PQQ’s powerful antioxidant effect, it also promotes thegeneration of new mitochondria within aging cells, a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. This effect makes PQQ ripe for further study in the anti-aging field.

PGXTry It!
Kathy Smith, world famous fitness expert says, “PGX Daily is just as important as exercise.” PGX promotes weight loss, lowers cholesterol, and balances blood sugar. PGX can help you be satisfied with smaller portions and experience a lasting sense of fullness. Natural Factors is giving away 300 samples of PGX Daily Ultra Matrix Softgels. Email your name and address to sample@naturalfactors.com.

Brain Benefits with PQQ

Current research has focused primarily on PQQ’s ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans. Here are some of the effects noted in the animal studies involving PQQ:

  • Blocks the formation of several compounds that are extremely damaging to brain cells.
  • Protects against the self-oxidation of the DJ-1 gene, an early step in the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Protects brain cells against oxidative damage.
  • Reverses cognitive impairment caused by chronic oxidative stress and improves performance on memory tests in animal models.
  • Protects the brain against neurotoxicity from glutamate, mercury, oxidopamine (a potent neurotoxin used by scientists to induce Parkinson’s in laboratory animals), and other powerful toxins.
  • Prevents development of a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Protects nerve cells from the beta-amyloid protein, which has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

3 Tips To Improve Your Memory

NO. 1: Take fish oils. High quality fish oil supplements can help improve brain function as well as help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Take 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily.

NO. 2: Eat blueberries. Blueberries and other berries are rich in plant pigments known as anthocyanidins that have been shown to improve mental function in numerous clinical studies.

NO. 3: Control blood sugar. The brain is critically dependent on a constant and steady supply of blood sugar (glucose). When people are on the blood sugar rollercoaster, it’s difficult to stay focused and concentrate. One supplement that can help even out blood sugar is PGX.