September 30th, 2014

New Study Shows Vitamin C Does Help Fight the Common Cold

Introduction:

It has been over 40 years since Linus Pauling wrote the book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold. Dr. Pauling based his opinion on several studies that showed vitamin C was very effective in reducing the severity of symptoms, as well as the duration of the common cold. Since that time, the research has been very controversial. A new study adds another strong argument that vitamin C supplementation does in fact, produce the results that Pauling promoted.

Background Data:

Over 30 clinical trials involving 11,350 study participants have been designed to judge the effectiveness of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of the common cold. While the results from individual studies may be mixed, when the results from higher quality studies are pooled researchers have concluded that vitamin C can be quite beneficial in reducing the risk of developing a cold. This conclusion especially applies to individuals in high stress situations. Vitamin C supplementation may also reduce the duration of a cold by a day or so.

New Data:

In a randomized, double-blind, 8-week controlled trial conducted at Arizona State University, vitamin C supplementation was found to be associated with reductions in the incidence of the common cold and increases in physical activity levels.

The subjects, 28 men aged 18 to 35 years, received either 1,000 mg of vitamin C or a placebo, daily. The number of participants reporting cold episodes was just 7 in the vitamin C group, compared to 11 in the placebo group, during the 8 week trial representing a risk reduction of 45% in the vitamin C group. In addition, cold duration was significantly reduced in the vitamin C group (by 59%), as compared to the placebo group, as well. In the final 2 weeks of the trial, the physical activity score rose modestly (+39.6%) among subjects in the vitamin C group, compared to the placebo group after adjusting for baseline values.

The authors concluded: “These data suggest significant health advantages associated with vitamin supplementation in a population with adequate-to-low vitamin C status.”

Commentary:

Previous studies have shown that the benefits of vitamin C against the common cold may be particularly helpful when people are exposed to stress or cold weather. In six trials involving a total of 642 marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers on sub-arctic exercises, the risk of developing a cold was reduced by 50% in the vitamin C group, compared to a placebo. Vitamin C was also shown to reduce the duration of a cold slightly in these trials.

This new study provides an interesting wrinkle in that vitamin C was shown to be effective even in a warm weather location like Phoenix, Arizona.

Another interesting aspect of this study was vitamin C supplementation increasing physical activity. Several early studies showed that low levels of vitamin C are associated with fatigue and aversion to exercise. In addition, a couple of placebo-controlled intervention studies have showed that vitamin C supplementation educed perception of effort during exercise. The thought is that vitamin C in may be promoting physical activity via its antioxidant properties, since oxidative stress is definitely related to fatigue.

Reference:

Johnston CS, Barkyoumb GM, Schumacher SS. Vitamin C supplementation slightly improves physical activity levels and reduces cold incidence in men with marginal vitamin C status: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2014 Jul 9;6(7):2572-83.

September 26th, 2014

Finish 2014 Strong!

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In life, no matter what the goal it is critical to finish strong.

With 2014 nearly behind us, instead of waiting for New Year’s resolutions, it is time to get energized and motivated NOW.

In this dynamic webinar, Dr. Murray will share with you his secrets for completing the task, achieving health goals, and living with high energy and passion.  

Now is the time to get focused. The average American gains 7 to 10 pounds between now and the end of the year.

Don’t let that happen to you! In fact, go the other way and enjoy the process!

Join Dr. Murray on his upcoming live webinar: Finish 2014 Strong! on Wednesday, October 15th at 9pm EST.

 

September 23rd, 2014

Dark Chocolate Reduces Stress Hormones

Introduction:

Of all the foods available on planet Earth, those produced from the bean of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) are the most magical, interesting, and delectable. Our long- standing love for chocolate is now being matched by scientific research on its health benefits when consumed in the right form.

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland has shown the consumption of dark chocolate can reduce the effects of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This study provides another strong reason to eat a moderate amount of dark chocolate each day to promote better health.

Background Data:

One of the key areas of research into the benefits of chocolate consumption is its effect on cardiovascular disease. Much of the benefits are attributed to its high content of flavanols, a type of polyphenol – antioxidants found in foods like cocoa, tea, berries, and wine. A growing amount of recent research suggests that:

  • Chocolate flavanols are especially important in protecting against damage to cholesterol and the lining of the arteries.
  • Chocolate flavanols prevent the excessive clumping together of blood platelets that can cause blood clots.
  • Frequent chocolate consumption is associated with a nearly 40% reduced risk for heart disease and a 30% reduced risk for a stroke.

Another mechanism for chocolate flavanol consumption substantially lowering cardiovascular mortality may be its ability to dampen the stress response.

New Data:

To evaluate the effect of dark chocolate to impact the stress response, healthy, non-smoking men, not taking any medication (20 to 50 years of age) were assigned to the experimental dark chocolate group (n = 31) or the placebo control group (n = 34).

The dark chocolate used (“Noir 72%”; Chocolat Frey AG, Buchs/Aargau, Switzerland) contained 281 calories and 125 mg of the flavanol epicatechin per serving of 50 grams. The placebo looked and tasted identical, but was actually a flavanol-free white chocolate that was dyed and flavored to match the color, appearance, and smell of the dark chocolate.

Two hours after chocolate ingestion, both groups underwent an acute stressful situation (standardized psychosocial stress task combining public speaking and mental arithmetic). Measurements of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were taken prior to chocolate ingestion, before and several times after the stressful task. Plasma levels of the flavanol epicatechin were also determined.

Results showed that the dark chocolate group showed a significantly blunted reactivity of the peripheral adrenal gland hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), as compared to the placebo group. The blunted reactivity of both these stress hormones related to higher plasma levels of epicatechin.

These results led the researchers to conclude that the flavanol-rich dark chocolate intake can help reduce the effects of stress on the body.

Commentary:

Without question, in the right form, chocolate is a true super food. I get my chocolate fix by having a big mug of hot cocoa nearly everyday by taking 3 tablespoons of organic Superfood Chocolate Hot Cacao Powder (click here) and 1 tablespoon of xylitol into my mug and then I add 12 ounces of decaffeinated coffee to it. I also regularly consume a small chunk of high flavanol content dark chocolate.

Reference:

Wirtz PH, von Känel R, Meister RE, et al. Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014 Jun 3;63(21):2297-9.

September 16th, 2014

Natural Eggshell Membrane Produces Impressive Results in Relieving Arthritis Pain

Introduction:
Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM®) is an innovative nutritional supplement that brings fast relief to people suffering from the pain, stiffness, and impaired mobility of osteoarthritis and other joint health problems according to the results of a recent study in Germany.

NEM® is a natural source of collagen, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, each of which is known to support joint health. Much of the benefit with NEM® is thought to be the result of its nutrients boosting the production of critical joint molecules. In addition, NEM® has also been shown to reduce the production of various inflammatory compounds including interleukin-1 beta and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), two primary mediators of inflammation.

Background Data:
The clinical research on NEM began with a pilot study published in patients with mild-to-moderate joint pain received 500 mg NEM daily. After just seven days, participants had an average 26% improvement in pain and 28% improvement in flexibility. After 30 days, they had an average 73% reduction in pain, with 45% of participants reporting they were completely pain-free. They also had a 44% improvement in flexibility and 76% less pain through their range of motion. No adverse side effects were reported.

To further support the safety and efficacy of NEM in osteoarthritis, a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted involving 67 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. They received either 500 mg of NEM daily or a placebo. After only ten days, those receiving NEM supplements had a 12% reduction in pain and 17% less stiffness. At the end of the 60-day trial, those receiving NEM had an average pain reduction of 15%, and 31% less stiffness. One third of the patients receiving NEM experienced a reduction in pain of 40% or greater, and more than half had at least 50% less stiffness. No adverse side effects were reported.

New Data:
A new study was conducted at six different clinical sites throughout Germany to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of NEM® for the relief of the pain and discomfort associated with osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip.

Forty-four patients were treated with a daily dosage of 500 mg of NEM®. Clinic visits were scheduled for subjects at study initiation and at 60 days following the onset of treatment. Statistical analysis revealed that supplementation with NEM® produced a significant pain relieving effect within 10 days. On average, nearly 1/4th of the subjects experienced a 30% improvement in pain-related questions within 10 days and almost 20% of the study population experienced a 50% improvement in pain-related questions by the end of the study (60 days). Significant improvement for stiffness was noted at 30 and 60 days after treatment.

An indication of the pain relieving effect of NEM was a drop in analgesic use. For the 30 days prior to study commencement, patients consumed on average 7 doses of acetaminophen. Analgesic use had dropped considerably to 2.43 doses per 30 days after 30 days of supplementation with NEM®.

No side effects were noted with NEM®.

Commentary:
Osteoarthritis of the knee and hip is extremely common in North America. Unfortunately, most people look for a quick fix by taking ibuprofen, aspirin, Celebrex, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This approach is extremely unwise given the side effects of these drugs including their negative effects on cartilage repair. A much more rational approach is to use NEM®, glucosamine sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and/or other natural products with proven safety and efficacy in osteoarthritis by addressing the underlying factor – decreased formation of cartilage components.

Reference:
Danesch U, Seybold M, Rittinghausen R, Treibel W, Bitterlich N. NEM® Brand Eggshell Membrane Effective in the Treatment of Pain Associated with Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis Results from a Six Center, Open Label German Clinical Study. J Arthritis 2014;3:136. doi: 10.4172/2167-7921.1000136

September 1st, 2014

Take Advantage of Natural Lighting for a Better Life

Introduction:

In a breakthrough study, office workers with more light exposure at the office had longer sleep duration, better sleep quality, more physical activity and better quality of life compared to office workers with less light exposure in the workplace.

The study highlights the importance of exposure to natural light to health, and stresses the need to switch the workplace lighting with the equivalence of natural daylight exposure for workers.

Background Data:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is associated with winter depression and feeling “normal” or very happy in the summer. Typically, individuals with SAD feel depressed and generally slow down, oversleep, overeat, and crave carbohydrates in the winter. In the summer, these same people feel elated, active, and energetic.

Although many variables may be responsible for SAD, lack of exposure to full-spectrum natural light appears to be the most logical explanation. Full-spectrum light therapy, designed to replicate natural sunlight, has been used to treat both seasonal affective disorder as well as clinical depression.

These benefits may not be limited to SAD and depression. There is a growing body of data showing that exposure to full-spectrum natural light may help anyone feel better. The explanation given is that without natural light exposure, there is a reduced secretion of melatonin by the pineal gland, and an increased secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands. These hormonal changes are associated with poor sleep quality, stress, and an increased appetite.

New Data:

In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, the impact of daylight exposure on the health of office workers from the perspective of subjective well-being and sleep quality, as well as nighttime activity and sleep-wake patterns were examined.

Participants included 27 workers working in windowless environments and 22 comparable workers in workplaces with significantly more daylight. Windowless environment is defined as one without any windows or one where workstations were far from windows and without any exposure to daylight. Employees with windows in the workplace received 173 percent more natural light exposure during work hours.

Workers in windowless environments reported poorer scores than their counterparts on physical activity and vitality, as well as poorer overall sleep quality. In contrast, workers with windows at the workplace had more physical activity and better sleep quality. Employees with windows in the workplace slept an average of 46 minutes more per night, than employees who did not have the natural light exposure in the workplace.

The researchers concluded that the architectural design of office environments should place more emphasis on sufficient daylight exposure of the workers in order to promote office workers’ health and well-being.

Commentary:

Another option for the workplace (and home) is to replace typical lighting with full-spectrum alternatives. The latter is a bit more expensive, but the payoff in health benefits, especially mental health and physical energy, appears to be worth it.

Reference:
Boubekri M, Cheung IN, Reid KJ, Wang CH, Zee PC. Impact of Windows and Daylight Exposure on Overall Health and Sleep Quality of Office Workers: A Case-Control Pilot Study. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.3780

September 1st, 2014

RDA for Vitamin D is “Grossly Inadequate”

Introduction:

A huge and growing amount of research has now shown that vitamin D deficiency is very common (at least 50% of the general population and 80% in infants), and plays 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 a doubling of risk for many diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

The optimum blood levels of vitamin D and what constitutes vitamin D deficiency is somewhat controversial in mainstream medicine. For optimum health, most experts recommend blood levels of vitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) between 50-80 ng/mL (125-200 nmol/L).

Although an individual’s vitamin D requirement may be met through synthesis of vitamin D from 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin through exposure to sunlight, most people have serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the subnormal range and require treatment with supplemental vitamin D.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine demonstrates quite clearly that the RDA for vitamin D is grossly inadequate, and considerably higher dosages than the RDA are required to help meet a person’s vitamin D requirement.

Background Data:
Vitamin D3 acts as a vital key to unlock binding sites on the human genome for the expression of the genetic code. The human genome contains more than 2,700 binding sites for D3; those binding sites are near genes that are involved in virtually every known major disease of humans.

Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome (VDDS) is newly designated disorder linked to blood levels of D3 less than 25 ng/ml and the presence of at least two of following conditions:

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.
  • Breastfeeding – breastfeeding will result in vitamin D deficiency in the baby if the mother fails to ensure her own levels are high enough to provide for her baby’s needs. When the mother is deficient, the breast-fed child will be deficient due to the low vitamin D content of the mother’s breast milk.
  • Obesity – fat-soluble vitamin D gets trapped in fat tissue, preventing its utilization by the body.

New Data:
Researchers from the University of Missouri conducted a study to determine whether the recommended doses of vitamin D3 are adequate to correct deficiency and maintain normal blood levels. They also sought to develop a predictive equation for replacement doses of vitamin D.

They reviewed the response to vitamin D supplementation in 1,327 patients and 3,885 episodes of vitamin D supplementation. For the whole population, the average daily dose resulting in any increase in blood levels of vitamin D3 was 4,707 IU/day; corresponding values for ambulatory and nursing home patients were 4229 and 6103 IU/day, respectively.

The authors concluded that the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D (600 to 800 IU) is grossly inadequate for correcting low blood levels of D3 in many adult patients. They estimated that 5000 IU vitamin D3 per day is usually needed to correct deficiency, and the maintenance dose in adults should be equal to or greater than 2000 IU per day. Furthermore, for people living in nursing homes or not getting any direct sunlight, slightly higher dosages may be necessary.

Commentary:
This new study confirms that most adults need to be supplementing with 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day. Of course, the ideal method for determining the exact optimal dosage of vitamin D3 is to get a blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 or 25(OH)D3. Many doctors are now routinely checking vitamin D status in their patients, which is a great service. You can also order a test from www.vitaminDcouncil.org where you collect a small blood sample by skin prick and send it in to the lab. Again, for optimum health, 25(OH)D3 blood levels should be around 50-80 ng/mL (125-200 nmol/L).

Reference:
Singh G, Bonham AJ. A predictive equation to guide vitamin d replacement dose in patients. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014 Jul-Aug;27(4):495-509.