November 20, 2017

447 Vitamin K2 Update [20 Nov 2017]

Back in 2012 I wrote a series of columns on vitamin K2 [#148-151] and in June 2015 [#323] showed that taking statin drugs inhibits the synthesis of K2 making supplementation even more critical. It’s time for a review and update.

Vitamins K1 and K2 are different nutrients with entirely different functions. K1 is found in leafy green vegetables and plays a role in blood clotting. K2 is found in fat products (including egg yolks and butter) from grass fed animals. K2 activates two different proteins: osteocalcin to attach to calcium and move it into our bones and teeth; and matrix Gla protein (MGP) to keep calcium out of our arteries, kidneys, heart, breasts and brain.

K2 works with calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to promote strong bones and teeth. Studies from Japan and the Netherlands found that K2 supplementation reduced bone fractures by 60-80% and actually reversed bone loss in people with osteoporosis.

Vitamins D and K2 are both needed for MGP which prevents calcium deposits on the lining of our arteries. A 2015 study showed that taking 180mcg of K2 prevented and even reversed hardening of the arteries. A previous 10 year study from the Netherlands found that increased consumption of K2 significantly lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and death from all causes.

Another role of K2 is in activating a protein that controls cell growth and helps protect us from some cancers. Research is also investigating potential roles of K2 in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and MS.

K2 deficiency is very common in Canada as very little is found in our diets and only a small amount is synthesized by our gut bacteria. There is still no readily available lab test for K2 levels but researchers estimate that an “overwhelming majority” of adults in North America get only about 10% of the vitamin K2 needed to prevent osteoporosis and cardiovascular heart disease. We don’t need to wait – every adult should be supplementing with 100-200 mcg (I take 200 daily). And it’s non-toxic so we needn’t worry about taking too much – just too little. We certainly shouldn’t be taking calcium and vitamin D supplements without also supplementing K2. One caution – anyone taking a blood thinning drug like warfarin should talk to their doctor before starting K2 as the drug’s dosage will need to be adjusted.

There are two forms of K2 available in supplements: MK-4 and MK-7. MK-4 is the one found in animal fats but has a short biological half-life (the length of time it stays active in our bodies) so needs to be taken several times a day. MK-7 is only found in certain (awful-tasting) fermented foods so is best taken as a supplement. It has the advantage of a longer half-life so only needs to be taken once a day. Some of the better calcium-magnesium supplements have added vitamins D3 and K2.

Source: Mercola 13 Nov 2017 Vitamin K2 for Heart Bone Health

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 13, 2017

446 Iron Deficiency [13 Nov 2017]

In September I wrote about iron toxicity [#439], how too much iron can damage your mitochondria and increase your risk of sudden cardiac death. This week I want to balance that with a reminder that worldwide, iron deficiency is a major problem. See my article #212 Iron – the Energy Mineral, April 2013.

The World Health Organization states that “Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. As well as affecting a large number of children and women in developing countries, it is the only nutrient deficiency which is also significantly prevalent in industrialized countries.”

People most affected by iron deficiency are growing children, pregnant women, and pre-menopausal women. Pregnancy especially requires iron as the mother’s blood volume increases nearly 50%. By the way, this extra blood volume also requires a lot of sodium, so this is not the time to restrict salt consumption. Children with ADD are commonly deficient in iron [see #443] as well as many other minerals and vitamins [see #172].

Besides being an essential component of hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying molecule found in red blood cells, iron is also essential in DNA synthesis and as a co-factor in a number of enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation.

Some symptoms of iron deficiency:
• General fatigue and weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Tachycardia (pounding heart)
• Chronic headaches
• Anxiety
• Pale skin
• Hair loss
• Heavy menstrual cycles

These are indications that you might have an iron deficiency. But remember the danger of excess iron – it is important to be tested to make sure there is an iron deficiency before supplementing. There are a variety of iron supplements available. Iron salts such as fumarate, sulfate and gluconate are poorly absorbed and may contribute to constipation. Iron bisglycinate is a better absorbed form. Heme iron, already in the form used in red blood cells, is the best absorbed. Herbal iron tonics are also very well absorbed and contain other useful nutrients.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 6, 2017

445 Methylfolate [6 Nov 2017]

Folate is a B vitamin (B9) with many essential roles in our metabolism. It is found in leafy green vegetables, hence the name folate after “folium”, Latin for leaf. Folate is also synthesized by certain lactobacillus and bifidobacteria bacteria in our small intestine.

Most of us have heard that folate is essential in pregnancy to prevent the birth defect spina bifida, but it plays many other roles. Folate:
• is essential in cell division and synthesis of DNA and RNA
• helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine
• prevents neural tube defects (including spina bifida) in pregnancy
• helps prevent anemia in pregnancy
• converts homocysteine to less-toxic methionine (homocysteine increases inflammation and risk of heart disease)
• maintains healthy T cell production and therefore resistance to infections
• improved symptoms of depression, bipolar and schizophrenia
• improves cognitive function and slows brain deterioration in Alzheimer’s and dementia

The natural form, folate, is metabolized in the small intestine to the active form methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF). The synthetic form, folic acid, found in “fortified” foods and cheaper vitamin supplements, requires conversion in the liver before a final conversion to THF. The liver process requires an enzyme, MTHFR, of which many people have inherited an inactive form. These people are unable to utilize folic acid or even some of the natural forms found in food. If they supplement with folic acid toxic levels could build up in their livers, so they need to use the methyl form. Are you one of them? Genetic testing could tell you – but a trial with MTHF would be easier and cheaper.

The ubiquitous herbicide glyphosate preferentially kills the folate producing bacteria in our gut so now it’s even more essential to get folate from our diet and supplements.

Similar to methylcobalamin being the preferred form of vitamin B12 [see #339], the preferred form of B9 is methyltetrahydrofolate. I’ve noticed recently that more of the higher quality B complex and multi vitamins have these forms of B9 and B12. Look for them when you are buying vitamins for yourself and your family.

Sources for further reading

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 30, 2017

444 Pain & Inflammation Protocol [30 Oct 2017]

A webinar by Philip Rouchotas ND of Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario described his treatment protocol for pain and inflammation. He also explained in some detail the rationale and science behind each item. Most of his patients with pain and inflammation have an autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies which attacks its own tissues. And a common factor in most autoimmune disease is a hyperpermeable intestinal wall, also known as a “leaky gut”.

Here is a summary of his protocol:
• Eliminate dietary proteins that promote leaky gut and the autoimmune response. Gluten and gliadins from grains and casein from dairy are the most common culprits. Human studies show significant improvements with elimination diets for many autoimmune diseases. Because of the inconvenience, Dr. Rouchotas doesn’t recommend everyone eliminate grains and dairy, but anyone with an autoimmune disease is advised to do a trial even with negative allergy tests. He describes it as “the single most effective intervention for autoimmune disease I know”.
• Vitamin D acts as an immunomodulator, reducing the autoimmune process by increasing production of regulatory T cells (Tregs), while at the same time improving the immune system’s ability to fight infections [see #363 March 2016]
• Probiotics help restore a healthy gut microbiome, reducing the production of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which cross the leaky gut inducing an autoimmune reaction
• Fish oil (at least 2,000 mg/day of EPA+DHA) replaces some of the arachidonic acid in the (COX) and (LOX) pathways, reducing production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes. A meta-analysis found that fish oil reduced joint pain, morning stiffness, and need for NSAIDS.
• Curcumin and Boswellia are the only herbals known to block both the COX and LOX pathways, thus providing double anti-inflammatory protection (Tylenol blocks only COX)
• Egg shell membrane (500mg /day) is another natural anti-inflammatory which has shown significant improvement in joint pain and stiffness after 1 or 2 months
• Glucosamine [see #63 March 2011] and chondroitin (1500 and 1200 mg/day) help rebuild cartilage in osteoarthritic joints [see #63 May 2010]
• Enzymes like bromelain and serrapeptase [see #442] taken between meals reduce inflammation

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 23, 2017

443 ADHD Protocol [23 Oct 2017]

A webinar by Philip Rouchotas ND of Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario described his treatment protocol for children with ADD or ADHD. He also explained in some detail the rationale and science behind each item.

Here is a summary of his protocol:
• Reduce simple carbs, especially for breakfast. Replacing the typical “bowl of sugar” with some protein and good fats will prevent the mid-morning blood sugar spike and subsequent crash.
• Choose organic food as much as possible. Many studies link pesticides to many human diseases including ADD.
• Go gluten and dairy free. This will make a huge difference in many kids. Be strict with gluten free using a dedicated toaster and butter dish to avoid crumb contamination.
• Multivitamin or B complex with activated B’s (e.g. P5P B6; methylcobalamine B12; L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate). Some ADD kids may be unable to utilize regular B vitamins – in food or supplements – because of missing or inactivated enzymes.
• Vitamin D3, 400 iu for under 5 years of age, 1000 iu for 5 and up. There are no studies showing improvements in ADD with vitamin D supplementation, but many that show that deficiencies in these kids are very common.
• Fish oil with 2:1 EPA:DHA totalling 400-600 mg/day is very important. High EPA fish oil has been shown to improve mood, depression, and ADD symptoms with no adverse side effects. In some cases it works as well as or better than anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and drugs prescribed for ADHD, and is a much safer option.
• Kids with ADD are often deficient in one or more minerals. Supplement with magnesium bisglycinate or, if constipation is a problem, citrate, at 125-250mg/day.
• Test for iron and zinc deficiencies and supplement if indicated (10mg zinc and 11mg iron daily). Deficiencies in these two trace minerals are common with ADD but should not be supplemented without testing first.
• Assess for heavy metals and other toxins, especially lead. Although blood levels of 5 mcg/dL for lead is considered acceptable, studies have found as little as 1 mcg increased the risk of ADD. It appears that the “normal” level is 10X too high.

In addition, something as simple as using an exercise ball for a seat in school will make an improvement in ADHD behavior. The rocking motion calms hyper kids while the bounce keeps inattentive kids awake.

Rouchotas cautions parents not to expect immediate results with his program. But he tells parents if they start now, they will have a different child in 6 months.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 16, 2017

442 Serrapeptase [16 Oct 2017]

Serrapeptase is a proteolytic enzyme used as a natural anti-inflammatory for a wide variety of conditions. Its full name serratiopeptidase reflects its origin in the bacterium Serratia found in the gut of silkworms.

Serrapeptase is commonly prescribed (as a drug) in Europe and Asia as a safer alternative to pain relievers and NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug). Robert Redfern explains that serrapeptase works by clearing unhealthy inflammation and affects only dead tissue, and that unlike NSAIDs it has no gastrointestinal side effects (like ulcers, bleeding stomach, and much worse) and has no known interactions with any drug. He has found it safe in pregnancy, breastfeeding (it helps with engorged breasts), and with bleeding disorders. Canadian label requires a warning to check with your physician if pregnant, breastfeeding or taking warfarin.

Serrapeptase has been used for a wide variety of conditions:
• pain of any kind including back pain, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, repetitive strain injury, carpal tunnel syndrome
• lung problems including bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema
• rhinitis, sinusitis, ear infections, laryngitis, hay fever
• varicose veins, peripheral vascular disease, blood clots, arterial plaque
fibromyalgia, cystitis, fibrocystic breast disease
• headaches and vascular migraines
• inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s
• pain and inflammation from trauma (e.g. sprains) and surgery

Despite the safe and amazingly successful use of serrapeptase over 50 years, there are few controlled studies published, so it is underutilized in North American medicine. I have two brands of serrapeptase with 60,000 and 120,000 SU strength.

For more information, download Redfern's free ebook "The Miracle Enzyme".

Note: this is an update from #217 Serrapeptase – the Anti-inflammatory Enzyme [May 20, 2013].

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 9, 2017

441 EPA not DHA [9 Oct 2017]

The two most important Omega-3 essential fatty acids for our health are Ecosapentanaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA). Both are found in fish oil supplements. As I alluded to in a column last month [#438 Nutrients for Mental Health] EPA is the critical one for mental health.

EPA has been found to be the more effective of the two for depression. A meta-analysis published in 2011 in J Clin Psychiatry found that supplements with an EPA:DHA ratio of 3:2 or higher with doses of 200 to 2,000 mg per day were effective in treating depression, and the higher the ratio, the more effective it was. A 2013 study in Eur Neuropsychopharmacol found that EPA but not DHA improved depression symptoms in adults already taking antidepressant drugs. Another study found that fish oil worked better than Prozac for depression, but both together worked better than either alone.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is another condition where Omega-3’s show promise. An Australian study published in J Dev Behav Pediatr in 2007 found significant improvement in attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. A review and meta-analysis published in 2011 in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry found a modest but significant reduction in ADHD symptoms with Omega-3 supplementation and concluded that because of its “benign side-effect profile” it “may be reasonable to use omega-3…to augment …pharmacologic interventions or for families who decline other psychopharmacologic options”. Another study [J Atten Disord 2009] found that after 6 months of Omega-3 supplementation, 47% of the children in the study had a reduction of ADHD symptoms to near normal. Of 12 studies on high EPA supplementation for ADD, 11 showed positive results. Of five studies using DHA, only one showed a positive result, and that showed improvement in only 7 of 16 possible markers.

Dr. Philip Rouchotas, ND, of Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario finds that 1,000 mg of omega-3 daily of a 2:1 ratio fish oil with works best for most conditions but mental health and mood disorders require a higher EPA:DHA ratio with 1,000 mg of EPA. He prefers capsules to liquid as the oil is better protected from oxidation. Rouchotas also finds that the ethyl ester form works as well as the triglyceride form, is less expensive, and allows much higher potency per capsule.

Most of the fish oil supplements in my store are slightly higher in EPA than DHA or at best 2:1. A new line I just brought in has a general purpose 2:1 ratio formula and a higher 10:1 ratio formula with 1,000 mg EPA for healthy mood balance.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.