May 28, 2018

473 The Missing Vitamins [28 May 2018]

We all know about vitamins A, C, D, E and K and the B vitamin family of B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). Did you ever wonder what happened to the missing vitamins F through J and Bs 4, 8, 10 & 11?

The early and mid 20th century was an exciting time for nutritional science. New vitamins and their deficiency diseases were being discovered every decade. The deficiency diseases, like scurvy and beriberi, were, of course, known for centuries but their causes remained elusive. Part of the problem was that a disease caused by NOT eating something was unheard of. The discovery of microbes as a cause of disease was well accepted by then (although that too was a hard sell in its day – see my story about Semmelweis, #021 July 2009) and all diseases were thought to be caused either by a pathogen or a toxin.

By 1912 (the year biochemist Casimir Funk coined the term “vitamine”) the idea was just starting to become accepted that scurvy, rickets, beriberi and pellagra were each caused by a deficiency of some unknown substance. The next few decades led to the discovery and naming, in alphabetical order of discovery, of the current family of 13 vitamins. To be classed as a vitamin it must meet two criteria: 1) be essential for health; and 2) not be synthesized in the body so must be obtained through diet.

The missing letters and numbers are compounds that were initially thought to be a new vitamin but turned out not to be. Vitamin F turned out to be essential fatty acids which were given their own nutrient class. Vitamin G was vitamin B2; and vitamin H was B7. Vitamin I was a nickname for the drug ibuprofen, so was passed over in the naming sequence. Vitamins J and L were found to be synthesized by the body. Vitamin M turned out to be B9. Vitamins O, P, S and U are all also synthesized by the body. Similarly vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11 were also disqualified from vitamin status due to synthesis in the body.

To complete this discussion, pseudovitamins are a small group of compounds that act like vitamins but don’t meet the strict definition. This group includes inositol, choline, lipoic acid and PABA. A good B complex supplement will include all or most of these.

Source: Accidental Medical Discoveries – How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World. Robert W Winters, MD, 2016

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

May 21, 2018

472 Preserving Muscle [21 May 2018]

A few weeks ago [#470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned several supplements that help preserve or rebuild muscle in the elderly. Let’s take a closer look at these.

The first is protein powder. Whey works best and is fine for nearly everyone even those with dairy issues. A whey protein will increase muscle, improve liver and kidney function, and increase white blood cell and lymphocyte count (reducing colds and flu infections by half).

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are special amino acids that do not require processing in the liver so can be used without stressing the liver or kidneys. They are particularly beneficial in preventing muscle loss in elderly or ill people and in enhancing healing of injuries including burns. BCAAs are available in tablet or powder form.

We usually think of creatine as a supplement for athletes and body builders but it is also beneficial for maintaining muscle in the elderly. Dr. Philip Rouchotas believes everyone over 70 should be supplementing with creatine daily. It will even prevent muscle atrophy in a limb that is in a cast from a fracture. Creatine is especially beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. It will slow the progression and improve survival in ALS, and in Parkinson’s will improve upper body strength, improve mood, and most significantly slow the requirement for increasing doses of dopamine. A low dose of 2.5 g per day is perfectly safe for the kidneys.

Exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is essential in building and maintaining muscle, but without the above nutrients will not be nearly as effective. In one study adding whey protein doubled the amount of muscle gain from resisted exercise. Exercise of course has many other benefits which I have previously discussed including cancer prevention [#361] and increased life expectancy [#420].

But building muscle is only half the equation of strength. The other half is energy, which is produced in the mitochondria of our cells. B vitamins (or a good multi), coenzyme Q10, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine will all improve energy in the elderly; see my articles on mitochondria for more on these.

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

May 14, 2018

471 The Mediterranean Diet [14 May 2018]

In two recent articles [#464 Heart Health Protocol and #470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet is the basis of the protocols recommended by Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario. Let’s examine it more closely this week.

While potential benefits of what came to be known as the Mediterranean Diet (MD) were reported in the 1960s and 70s, it was the Lyon Diet Heart Study, published in 1999, that brought it widespread recognition. This study followed 605 people with existing heart disease for 4 years, comparing the Mediterranean Diet with the American Heart Association’s then-recommended STEP 1 diet. The MD group had 56% lower risk of all cause death and 67% reduction in risk of cardiovascular-related complications. In comparison, beta blocker drugs reduce all-cause mortality by 22% and fish oil by 25%.

Surprisingly it wasn’t until 2013 that the Mediterranean Diet was tested for prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population. This study published in the New England J of Med in 2013, followed 7,447 people randomized to two variations of the Mediterranean Diet and a control for 5 years. The MD groups had 28% and 30% lower risk of major cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke).

So what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is usually shown in the form of a pyramid (click here or drop in and ask me for a printed copy). At the base is physical activity and enjoyment of food with others – a great start!

Next is plant foods. Daily, each meal should be based around a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil and nuts are an important source of fats.

The third step is fish and seafood to be eaten often, at least twice a week.

Fourth is poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, in moderate portions, daily to weekly.

Finally, at the top is red meat and sweets, to be used sparingly.

Drinking sufficient water is important. Wine is allowed in moderation.

The Mediterranean Diet is very general, so can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences. In my opinion the significant lessons are: eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds; replace most red meat with fish and seafood; and restrict sugar and other refined carbs.

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

May 7, 2018

470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly [7 May 2018]

In a recent webinar Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario, shared his nutritional protocol for his elderly patients, especially those with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s, and those with mild cognitive impairment or traumatic brain injury. He believes most people over 60, and everyone over 70, will experience rapid and significant benefits from this program.

The base of the program is the Mediterranean Diet (more on this another week) along with physical exercise (aerobic and resistance) and mental exercise (chess, bridge, video games).

Step 1 deals with nutritional deficiencies which are “epidemic” among North American seniors for three main reasons: loss of appetite (they eat less); change in appetite (they prefer saltier, fattier, less nutrient-dense foods); and digestive impairment (they absorb fewer nutrients). Step 1 supplements:
• A good multivitamin with trace minerals and activated B’s
• Whey protein (30g) – prevents muscle loss; halves number of viral infections (colds)
• Creatine (2.5g) – prevents muscle loss (even while in a cast); with Parkinson’s slows requirement for increasing dopamine dose
• Fish Oil (1000-2000mg total EPA + DHA) – a 2:1 ratio works best

After a few months on Step 1 the elderly should have regained some strength and be ready to add a few more products from Step 2 to further improve their health:
• CoQ10 (100mg x2) – improves mitochondrial function, increases energy for muscle and brain function
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (2g) – cofactor in mitochondria, necessary for burning fat for energy; doubles survival time in ALS patients
• Melatonin (as needed up to 20mg) – nerve cell antioxidant, benefits elderly even if sleep is not an issue
• Ginkgo biloba (120-240mg) – use if meds allow (blood thinners are a contraindication); improves cerebrovascular function (blood flow to the brain)
• Lion’s Mane (1g x2) – prevents cognitive impairment due to amyloid beta plaque; improves brain function in Mild Cognitive Impairment

I appreciate that Dr. Rouchotas’ protocols are backed with multiple human (not just animal) placebo-controlled studies so we can be confident in their safety and effectiveness. I plan to write more about some of these products in future articles.

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