December 21, 2015

350 Magtein - Magnesium for the Brain [21 Dec 2015]

In March, April & May of 2013 I wrote three columns on magnesium and its many important roles in human health. The May column was about magnesium bisglycinate, a new non-laxative form of this mineral. This week I’m writing about another new form of magnesium and its amazing benefits for mental health.

Magnesium plays essential roles in brain function and in the repair of injured brain tissue. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to confusion, fatigue, irritability, poor memory, and reduced ability to learn.

The problem is that most forms of magnesium do not readily cross the blood-brain barrier and are therefore ineffective in raising magnesium levels in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). The only exception is magnesium L-threonate which was recently developed by MIT researchers. An animal study showed that Magtein (the patented brand name of magnesium L-threonate) outperformed all other forms of magnesium in raising CSF levels; in fact it was the only form to significantly raise magnesium levels.

Along with the increase in CSF magnesium levels, animal studies have shown Magtein to improve long and short term memory and to enhance learning abilities. Both young and older animals improved spatial working memory on maze tests.

A decline with age in synaptic connections in the hippocampus part of the brain is correlated with impaired memory and Alzheimer’s disease. In animal studies Magtein supplementation increased the synaptic density in the hippocampus.

Magtein supplementation significantly reduced Beta amyloid plaques, associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in Transgenic Alzheimer’s (TA) mice. Even older end-stage TA mice showed reduced plaque and significant improvement in memory tests, providing hope for Magtein as a treatment for advanced Alzheimer’s.

Human clinical trials are under development to see how well Magtein works in people. Meanwhile Magtein has been available in the US for several years and has just been approved for sale in Canada. People using Magtein report noticing changes in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Some of the benefits reported are: improved memory, restored ability to think and focus, brain fog cleared, improved mood, better quality sleep with vivid dreams, less need for afternoon naps, and increased energy. An 81-year-old summed it up this way “It is a marvelous feeling to have my mind back again!”

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. See this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

December 14, 2015

349 Three Vitamin D Studies [14 Dec 2015]

The Vitamin D Council recently reported on three important studies on Vitamin D published in 2015.

Alzheimer’s: An 8 year study of 382 elderly participants was published in JAMA in September. It found that low D levels in older adults was associated with accelerated declines in cognitive ability of up to three times faster.

Autism: A meta-analysis of 11 studies from the Netherlands was published in October in Eur. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry. The researchers reported that 8 of the 11 studies found lower D levels in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ADS) than other children. The report reviewed the many ways that vitamin D is involved in brain development and function, and showed that low D levels causes brain malfunctions similar to those occurring with autism. The researchers concluded that lower vitamin D levels might be a risk factor for ASD.

A case study of a 32 month old boy with ASD and vitamin D deficiency published in January 2015 in Pediatrics reported that his “core symptoms of autism improved significantly after vitamin D supplementation”. So it appears that vitamin D may also play an important role in the treatment of ASD.

Breast cancer survival
: A four-year study looked at women diagnosed with breast cancer and found that higher D levels significantly increased their survival time. A previous study from 2011 by the same researcher found that vitamin D levels of 125 nmol/L (50 ng/ml in the USA), which required supplementation of 4,000 IU per day to achieve, nearly doubled survival times. An earlier study by Lappe et al, 2007, in Am J Clin Nutr found a 77% reduction in risk of all cancers for the group taking 1100 IU D3 and 1500 mg calcium.

While the best way to increase our vitamin D is from safe sun exposure, that doesn’t work in Canada from September to April leaving supplementation as our only option. Dr. Cannell of the Vitamin D Council recommends supplementing with 5,000 IU daily (which is what I take) to maintain natural levels of 100-125 nmol/L. Even this is considered conservative by some. Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has studied vitamin D extensively, considers anything below 125 to be deficient and recommends 125-175 for optimum health and up to 250 for fighting cancer or heart disease. To achieve these levels, however, requires much higher supplementation – due to the law of diminishing returns – so is impractical for most of us. Winter supplementation of vitamin D of 4,000-5,000 IU seems optimal.

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

December 7, 2015

348 Radon Testing [7 Dec 2015]

My house is being tested for radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced by the breakdown of uranium in the ground. It can seep into your home through cracks in the basement walls or floor and become concentrated at low levels (think basement floor). Because radon is odorless and colorless, it is not detectable except by instruments.

It is important to know your radon level because it is a significant health hazard. Next to smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US and Canada. An estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in Canada are caused by radon. The combination of smoking and radon is most deadly. A non-smoker exposed to high levels of radon over a lifetime has about a 1 in 20 chance of developing lung cancer; for a smoker that increases to 1 in 3. So if you have smokers living in your home, it is even more important to have it tested.

Radon and its breakdown elements emit alpha particle radiation which, unlike gamma radiation, cannot penetrate very far into tissue. It’s only when you inhale the radioactive elements that the radiation can damage the lungs and cause lung cancer.

Radon can vary greatly between houses, even next door. So knowing your neighbor’s house is ok does not mean that yours is. The only way to find out is to have it tested. There have been high test results found in Rosetown and surrounding areas. In Canada radon is measured in becquerels / cubic meter (Bq/m3). Over 200 is considered dangerous.

The best time to test is in the winter when there is less air exchange and the levels are highest. There are several different home test kits you can buy. Health Canada recommends a 90 day test which can be ordered from for $55. Saskatchewan Health uses a 30 day test kit available from the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory (SDCL) at 1-866-450-0000 for $42. I’m using the Saskatchewan Health test. I’ll let you know my results sometime in January.

If you find your home has a high level of radon you should have a certified radon mitigation professional install an air pump to pull the air from the basement floor outside. All new homes are now built with the piping in place – only a pump needs to be installed.

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