November 24, 2014

295 Vitamin D – How Much? [24 Nov 2014]

How much vitamin D should we be taking? We have a good idea what blood levels are optimum for health. Dr William Grant of the Vitamin D Council states that 75 nmol/L is “the minimum [vitamin D] concentration associated with optimal health”. The Vitamin D Society, a Canadian non-profit organization, recommends Canadians maintain levels between 100 and 150. But what supplementation do we need to achieve this? Pure North S’Energy Foundation of Calgary carried out a study, published this month, to answer just that.

Over 17,000 healthy adult volunteers of varying BMI (Body Mass Index) were supplemented with different levels of vitamin D for a year, and had their serum D levels measured before and after. On average, 5,000 IU daily achieved a level of about 100 nmol/L; 10,000 about 140; and 20,000 about 150. Note the diminishing returns on increased dosage. Results varied considerably according to the person’s BMI. People of normal weight required about 2,500 IU to reach 100 nmol/L and 10,000 to reach 150. Overweight people required 3,000 and 14,000 respectively; obese people 12,000 and somewhere over 20,000; while underweight people needed only 2,000 and 8,000.

Remember, these figures are for healthy people; people with MS or fighting cancer would want to achieve a higher blood level and would likely need to take a higher dosage to achieve it. A Rosetown woman with MS told me that she was taking 50,000 units for a prolonged period just to keep her vitamin D level in the low end of normal.

Keep in mind that these are all averages and individual results vary considerably so it is important to check your baseline vitamin D levels before beginning (or increasing) supplementation and to have your blood levels monitored regularly.

No adverse side effects were observed in this study, despite supplementation at more than 20,000 IU per day. No cases were reported of hypercalcemia, a concern of critics of high dose D supplementation. This is consistent with other studies which showed no adverse effects with supplementation of up to 50,000 IU.

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 17, 2014

294 Curcumin – Nature's Painkiller [17 Nov 2014]

Curcumin is a natural phenol found in turmeric root which gives this Indian spice, used in curry dishes, its bright yellow color. Curcumin is used in herbal medicine primarily to relieve pain and inflammation. In India’s traditional Ayurvedic medicine, curcumin has a long history in the treatment of asthma, allergies, sinusitis, liver disorders, rheumatism and wound healing. Curcumin is now being scientifically explored for several other potential purposes – besides its anti-inflammatory properties, curcumin has demonstrated antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective and antiarthritic benefits.

Like most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), curcumin inhibits the COX2 enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain in the body; but it does so more completely and more safely than NSAIDs. The problem with curcumin though is that it is very poorly absorbed. One method used to enhance absorption is the addition of piperine, an extract of black pepper. Another method, used in Europe, attaches the curcumin extract to a phospholipid and adds turmeric essential oils to create a special extract called BCM-95. BCM-95 is up to 10X better absorbed than regular curcumin, and is significantly better than the combination with piperine.

Curcumin is very safe, even at high doses. One possible caution is that it may suppress iron metabolism so anyone using curcumin long term should monitor his blood iron levels. Interactions with other medications are rare with BCM-95.

The BCM-95 extract is available in Canada in two formulas. A full strength 750 mg capsule of BCM-95 is effective for all types of inflammation and also offers long term pain relief. The other formula has 450mg of BCM-95 plus 100mg of Boswellia serrata extract (better known as Frankincense) – another herb with proven joint-pain relieving properties – and is more effective for immediate pain relief. Customers who have used these formulas tell me they are amazed at how quickly they have experienced relief from pain and swelling.

See for more information.

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 10, 2014

293 Chew Your Food [10 Nov 2014]

Remember your mother telling you to chew your food? She was right, but probably didn’t know all the reasons for doing so.

We learned in school about amylase – the enzyme in our saliva that starts the digestion of starch. Chew an unsalted cracker for a few minutes and it will start to taste sweet as the starch breaks down into sugars (salt masks the sweet taste so it’s harder to notice with salted crackers).

Thoroughly chewing your vegetables mechanically breaks down the cell walls making the nutrients inside available for your digestive processes to work on. So you get more nutrients from the same amount of food.

Another reason is to convert nitrates from vegetables to nitrites which are in turn converted in the body to nitric oxide (NO) which works to dilate arteries and lower blood pressure. The conversion to nitrites in the mouth occurs when a certain bacteria which lives on our tongue and in our saliva is mixed with the nitrates in our plant food. Frequent use of antibacterial mouthwash, by the way, interferes with this process, lowering arterial NO levels and raising blood pressure. (See my recent columns #281 on August 18 and #288 October 6 for more on the importance of our microbiome, and #180 & 181 on Nitric Oxide in September 2012.)

Chewing raw cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) mixes two compounds – glucoraphanin and an enzyme myrosinase – to form sulforaphane, a powerful antioxidant with anticancer and antimicrobial properties. I wrote about the health benefits of eating raw broccoli in #184 (24 Sept 2012); this is another benefit.

Juicing your vegetables or making smoothies mimics the action of chewing, but does it much more thoroughly. It’s still important to chew your juice to mix in the saliva. Someone once advised “Chew your drinks (to mix in saliva) and drink your foods (by chewing them until they are liquid)”.

Source: Why You Should Chew Your Food Well (And Stop Using Mouthwash) by Dr. Joel Kahn,, 29 October 2014.

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 3, 2014

292 The Blue Dot Tour [3 Nov 2014]

My brother and I went to hear Dr. David Suzuki last month when he was in Saskatoon with his Blue Dot Tour. The tour is named for the appearance of planet Earth from space – a pale blue dot in the vast cosmos. Seeing the Earth from this perspective has made us realize that this planet is our only home and that all living things on it – people, animals and plants – are in a sense our family.

We live in one of the most beautiful countries on Earth with abundant fresh water, natural spaces and wildlife. But we are falling behind in protecting these resources, which make up a large part of our identity as Canadians. Much more than that, the environment is what sustains our very life – the air we breathe, water we drink and food we eat. To ensure a healthier and more secure future, we must balance environmental protection and economic development.

Suzuki claims that more than 20,000 Canadians die prematurely every year due to environmental pollution. More than 110 countries recognize their citizens’ right to live in a healthy environment, but not Canada. One of the goals of the Blue Dot Tour is to work towards including this right – to fresh air, clean water and healthy food – in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Some of my relatives have no respect for Suzuki and consider him a hypocrite because he travels by jet and owns a large home. But he is not opposed to resource development or wealth, just development at the expense of air, water, and soil quality. To me the hypocrites are the industry leaders who lobby for the right to pollute the air, water and food, but still expect to breathe clean air, drink pure water and eat wholesome food. If environmentalists shouldn’t drive a car, then owners of polluting industries shouldn’t eat, drink or breathe!

Visit for more information on this tour and join the movement. I did and you can too.

P.S. I’m pleased that Ascenta Health, my distributer of NutraSea fish oil supplements, is a major sponsor of the Blue Dot Tour.

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