November 27, 2017

448 Fit and Fat? [27 Nov 2017]

Studies on the relative risks of weight and exercise have suggested that being fit is more important than not being fat. A recent study from Britain, however, shows that even healthy obese people should not become complacent about their weight.

The study examined the electronic health records of 3.5 million adults in England (making it the largest study of its kind) that were initially free of heart disease, and followed them from 1995 to 2015. The study classified the patients by BMI (a ratio of weight to height) and recorded three metabolic abnormalities – diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). They were then followed and monitored for three cardiovascular diseases (CVD) – coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), or peripheral vascular disease.

As expected, within each weight category, those with one or more metabolic abnormalities had a higher risk of heart disease. And, not too unexpectedly, for those with the same abnormalities, the obese had a higher risk of CVD than those with normal weight. This held true for those with no metabolic abnormalities – the obese had a 49% increased risk of coronary heart disease, an insignificant 7% increased risk of stroke, and 96% increased risk (nearly double) of heart failure. Even those in the moderate “overweight” class had a 30% higher risk of coronary heart disease.

An earlier (2013) review and meta-analysis found a similar pattern. Compared to the metabolically healthy normal weight group, the metabolically health obese group had a 24% higher risk of having a cardiovascular event. All weight groups that were metabolically unhealthy had much higher risks, from 265 to 312% higher.

What this means is that even with no signs of diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, being overweight puts you at a much higher risk of heart disease. But having diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol increases your risk much, much, more.

As I have explained previously [#082], high blood insulin levels not only promote weight gain (and make weight loss next to impossible) [#065] but can also lead to diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) [#084] and dyslipidemia (high cholesterol) [#083] – the three main risk factors for heart disease. The medically designed ketogenic diet we use at our weight loss clinic lowers insulin which makes losing weight much easier and at the same time normalizes blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids. We have had dieters who, after losing significant weight, were able to go off their blood pressure and diabetic meds.

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 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.