Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's the State of Your Air?

Just plug in your zip code and the American Lung Association will break down your area's grades in a "report card."

Organic, natural cosmetics loaded with allergens: NYT

This extremely informative New York Times piece explores the issue that while creams, ointments, shampoos, and various organic/natural cosmetics do not contain harmful preservatives, they are often loaded with allergens. It is nice to see someone else besides us be the bad guys here!

We have said for so long that while we prefer our clients to use organic or natural cosmetics, they must scrutinize the labels because for our allergic clients, these products can do more harm than good. For example, if you have a ragweed allergy, using anything with chamomile will exacerbate that allergy.

You can read the full article here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reflux drugs (PPIs) strike again

Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia
A new study from the European Respiratory Journal reaffirms that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are tied to a higher risk of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). In a population-based case-control study of 430 adults with CAP and 1,720 matched controls, initiation of PPI therapy within the past 30 days was associated with about a 3-fold increased risk of CAP

Prior studies have suggested that backflow and overgrowth of gastrointestinal bacteria during PPI therapy may result in colonization of the oral space and predispose to pneumonia. The current study was the first to include elaborate microbial data, acquired using an extensive diagnostic protocol to identify the causative agent of CAP.

A Canadian Medical Association Journal study
also links the use of acid-suppressive drugs to increased risk for pneumonia. Overall risk for pneumonia was higher in persons taking proton pump inhibitors and in those taking histamine-2 receptor antagonists. The findings suggest that 1 of every 200 inpatients treated with acid-suppressive drugs will develop pneumonia, which is even more clinically meaningful given that 40% to 70% of hospitalized patients receive these medications.

An important feature for oral allergens is their digestion-resistance during gastrointestinal transit. For some oral allergens, digestion stability is an innate feature, whereas digestion-labile antigens may only persist in times of impairment of the digestive system. Gastric acid levels determine the activation of gastric pepsin and also the release of pancreatic enzymes. When anti-ulcer drugs inhibit or neutralize gastric acid, they allow persistence of intact food allergens and protein-bound oral drugs with enhanced capacity to sensitize and elicit allergic reactions via the oral route. Further study suggests that maternal food allergy arising from co-application of a food protein with anti-acid drugs results in a Th2-biased immune response in the offspring. Especially, anti-ulcer drugs containing aluminum compounds act as Th2 adjuvants. In summary, impairment of gastric function is a documented risk factor for sensitization against oral proteins and drugs. Allergy, April 2011

FDA warns of lymphoma risk in teens taking TNF blockers

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to receive reports of hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL) in adolescents and young adults treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, azathioprine, and/or mercaptopurine. HSTCL has been reported in patients taking immunosuppressive drugs for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Drugs associated with increased risk include the TNF blockers, a class of drugs that includes infliximab (Remicade, Centocor), etanercept (Enbrel, Amgen and Pfizer), adalimumab (Humira, Abbott Laboratories), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia, UCB), and golimumab (Simponi, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc). The immunosuppressive drigs azathioprine and mercaptopurine may also be associated with increased risk.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pharmacists firmly behind dietary supplements

Pharmacists have become an influential information source for consumers, answering questions about dietary supplements and offering recommendations to their customers. Additionally, pharmacists themselves are incorporating dietary supplements into their lives as a means of increasing their overall health and wellness. According to research from the “Life…Supplemented” Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study1, 93 percent of pharmacists recommend supplements to their customers, while 87 percent believe that supplements can play an important role

A pharmacist’s training specifically qualifies him or her to take a comprehensive look at an individual’s current prescribed medications and determine if any potential drug-dietary supplement interactions or drug-induced nutrient depletions may need to be addressed. To maximize benefits and safety it is important to talk to a pharmacist or other qualified health care practitioner about all the things you are taking for your health.

With regard to which supplements pharmacists were most often asked about, the top three mentioned by respondents are omega-3/fish oil (mentioned by 73 percent), calcium (73 percent) and glucosamine/chondroitin (70 percent). Pharmacists, like many other healthcare populations, also were willing to take their own counsel when it comes to supplements. Nearly nine in 10 pharmacists said they use dietary supplements (86 percent) citing “overall health and wellness” (44 percent) and “filling in nutrient gaps” (40 percent) as the top two reasons they personally take dietary supplements. Seventy six percent of those surveyed indicated that they take a multivitamin; other popular supplements taken by pharmacists include omega-3/fish oil (35 percent), calcium (35 percent), vitamin C (32 percent), B vitamins (25 percent), as well as vitamin D (23 percent) and fiber (19 percent).

Study: DHA increases aggressive prostate cancer risk

Bonnie - make sure you read my comments below.

Analyzing data from a nationwide study involving more than 3,400 men, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that men with the highest blood percentages of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an inflammation-lowering omega-3 fatty acid commonly found in fatty fish, have two-and-a-half-times the risk of developing aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer compared to men with the lowest DHA levels. Conversely, the study also found that men with the highest blood ratios of trans-fatty acids -- which are linked to inflammation and heart disease and abundant in processed foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils -- had a 50 percent reduction in the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. In addition, neither of these fats was associated with the risk of low-grade prostate cancer risk. The researchers also found that omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in most vegetable oils and are linked to inflammation and heart disease, were not associated with prostate cancer risk. They also found that none of the fats were associated with the risk of low-grade prostate cancer.

These findings by were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study was based on data from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, a nationwide randomized clinical trial that tested the efficacy of the drug finasteride to prevent prostate cancer. While the trial involved nearly 19,000 men age 55 and older, the data in this analysis came from a subset of more than 3,000 of the study participants, half of whom developed prostate cancer during the course of the study and half of whom did not. Among the study participants, very few took fish oil supplements -- the most common non-food source of omega-3 fatty acids. The majority got omega 3s from eating fish.

The researchers insist that overall, the beneficial effects of eating fish to prevent heart disease outweigh any harm related to prostate cancer risk. Yet they have no explanation for the weird findings.

Bonnie - there are several aspects of this study to take into consideration:

1) These subjects were on finasteride (Propecia, Proscar). There have been no safety studies on how this drug works in relation to other medications, much less how it interacts with dietary nutrients. Maybe finasteride has a weird effect when it interacts with certain dietary fats.

2) Virtually none of these subjects were on omega-3 dietary supplements.

3) It very unusual that a small group of subjects had high DHA levels only. In most fish, as there is in most fish oil supplements, a healthy balance of EPA to DHA (more EPA than DHA) exists. The researchers have no explanation for the high DHA levels.

4) Whenever there is a fat imbalance, even within the omega-3 subset, there is a risk for a biochemical imbalance. Do I believe that these high DHA subjects would be subject to a two and a half greater risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Not a chance. There has to be some connection with finasteride or another confounding factor.

5) What makes the study even more questionable is that trans-fat, which is well-known for creating a host of health issues, including heart disease and just recently, male infertility, would actually reduce the risk for aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, omega-6 fatty acids, some of which are considered inflammatory fatty acids, did not increase aggressive cancer risk.

6) There have been numerous studies over the last decade showing the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids for reducing prostate cancer risk. I cannot say that I have seen one showing DHA alone helps or harms, however. The studies have always been with EPA and DHA together.

In the event there there is merit to this study, here are my recommendations:

1) If you are an older male, do not take consume DHA in high amounts by itself. Always consume as EPA/DHA, which 99.9% of you do already.

2) If you take finasteride (Propecia or Proscar), you may want to test your DHA levels to make sure they are not high. If the DHA level happens to be high, I would look to wean off finasteride (with assistance from a licensed health professional) as opposed to stopping consumption of fish and fish oil supplements. Balancing your EPA and DHA levels can be accomplished pretty easily.

Two ways you are helping the environment without even knowing it.

  1. By simply reading this eNewsletter and Blog.
    As stated by the Environmental Protection Agency, in the United States alone, over 2 billion books, 359 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers are published every year and less than 50% of these products are recycled. According to, it takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday edition of the New York Times. In addition, even if most of us took the time to recycle our newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, the recycling process still has an environmental impact from the energy used in the transportation of the paper and in the actual recycling process. After all, "e" can be a big part of "green". Thanks for your effort!

  2. Making dietary choices which include foods that are fresh, real, and organic instead of processed. Processed food leaves a much larger environmental footprint. The myriad ingredients needed to keep processed food shelf-stable, the manufacturing process, the packaging, as well as the distribution makes processed food extremely harsh on the environment. Fresh food with minimal ingredients require much less environmental effort. Choosing organic, which eliminates the pesticides used for conventional food, takes your environmental effort even further. By choosing local food, your effort goes further yet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Preventing autism: a parent's hypothesis

Vitamin D essential for African Americans

Supplementation with vitamin D3 may be particularly beneficial for overweight African-American adults, a population at increased risk for both CVD and Vitamin D deficiency, by improving the health and function of vascular endothelial cells. The study will be presented at the Experimental Biology 2011 in Washington, DC.

African-Americans have a greater risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency: The pigmentation in their skin inhibits their skin cells' ability to produce Vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. The treatment group received 60,000 IU of Vitamin D in a single dose every 4 weeks for 16 weeks.
Given the time it takes the body to clear Vitamin D, a dose of 60,000 IU equals about 2,000 IU a day. The placebo group received dummy pills. After 16 weeks, the researchers measured the participants' flow-mediated dilation again and found that flow-mediated dilation had improved in the treatment group, but not in the placebo group.

Diet plus exercise the best

A new study from Obesity has found that when it comes to losing weight and body fat, diet and exercise are most effective when done together as compared to either strategy alone. The majority of women in the study who both improved their diet and exercised regularly shed an average of nearly 11 percent of their starting weight, which exceeded the study's goal of a 10 percent or more reduction in body weight.

The year-long intervention involved 439 overweight-to-obese, sedentary, postmenopausal Seattle-area women, ages 50 to 75, who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: exercise only (goal: 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise per day, five days a week); diet only (goal: 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day, depending on starting weight, and fewer than 30 percent of daily calories from fat); exercise and diet (with the same goals as above); and no intervention.

At the end of the intervention, the researchers found that the women in the exercise-only group lost, on average, 2.4 percent of their starting weight (with a mean weight loss of 4.4 pounds) as compared to an average weight loss of 8.5 percent among women in the diet-only group (with a mean weight loss of 15.8 pounds). The greatest weight loss was achieved by women who both changed their diet and exercised regularly; these women shed an average of 10.8 percent of their starting weight (with a mean weight loss of 19.8 pounds).

Triglycerides drop with lifestyle changes

Healthy lifestyle changes can significantly lower elevated levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat associated with heart disease and other health problems, says an American Heart Association statement in journal Circulation.
Click here to find out more!

"The good news is that high triglycerides can, in large part, be reduced through major lifestyle changes," statement committee chair Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, said.

Clinically, the new guidelines recommend lowering optimal triglyceride levels to less than 100 mg/dL and using non-fasting triglyceride testing as an initial screen.

"In contrast to cholesterol, where lifestyle measures are important but may not be the solution, high triglycerides are often quite responsive to lifestyle measures that include weight loss if overweight, changes in diet and regular physical activity," said Miller, who is also a professor of medicine in epidemiology and public health at the university.

Bonnie - it's about time the AHA got with the program. They are not accurate, however, in suggesting how to lower triglycerides. The easiest way to lower them is through limiting grain carbohydrates and added sugars. Of course, exercise cannot hurt either

What's even more exciting is that the for the first time, AHA endorsed EPA/DHA fish oil to lower triglycerides. They recommended 0.5 to 1g of omega-3 EPA and DHA for individuals with borderline fasting triglyceride levels (150 to 199mg/dL), 1 - 2g for individuals with high fasting-triglyceride levels (200 to 499mg/dL), and 2 to 4g for individuals with very high fasting-triglyceride levels.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

10 things the beauty industry won't say

Link to the Smart Money article.

Number of prescriptions increase yet again in U.S.

Courtesy of Time Magazine

The contents of America's medicine cabinets — as captured by IMS Health's new report on U.S. prescription drug use — offer an interesting snapshot of our national health. A look at the top 10 most popularly prescribed drugs, for instance, reflects an aching, aging, overweight citizenry. The report also finds a shift that resulted in a smaller increase in drug spending in 2010 (2.3%), compared with 2009 (5.1%).

The rate of doctor visits also fell: the number of visits to American doctor's offices dropped 4.2% in 2010, and the number of patients starting new drug treatments for chronic conditions declined by 3.4 million.

Following are the top 10 most popularly prescribed drugs in the U.S., according to the report "The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2010" by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

10. Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL)
9. Metformin HCL (Glucophage)
8. Amoxicillin (Amoxil)
7. Azithromycin (Zithromax)
6. Omeprazole (Prilosec)
5. Amlodipine besylate (Norvasc)
4. Levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid)
3. Lisinopril (Prinivil)
2. Simvastatin (Zocor)
1. Hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin)

BMJ study: calcium increases heart risk in post menopausal women

The conclusion from a meta-analysis released in yesterday's British Medical Journal concludes: "Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D modestly increase the risk of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction, a finding obscured in the WHI CaD Study by the widespread use of personal calcium supplements. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is warranted."

Bonnie - where have we heard this before? It is actually a recycled study that has been published over an over again in different variations since 2008. This current version looked at post menopausal women taking 1000 mg. calcium in addition to what they may have been taking personally. This, of course, is way too much calcium for the average individual. The study never mentions the source of calcium taken, which has a lot to do with how well it is absorbed.

As I have suggested time and time again, calcium should not be self-prescribed, is not one-size-fits-all, and should always be taken with magnesium and vitamin D. There is absolutely a chance for increased heart risk if not taken properly and evaluated by a licensed health professional. The term "calcification" means buildup in arteries and other soft tissue from excess calcium by either taking too much or not being properly absorbed.

Here is the history and different variations of the BMJ study.

August 2010, NCI Well Connect Blog
"A meta analysis of close to a dozen clinical trials involving about 12,000 patients found calcium supplementation to be associated with a 20% to 30% increase in heart attack risk.

The findings were derived from 11 randomized trials in which participants took calcium supplements (500 milligrams or more per day) without vitamin D. After adjusting for differences in study design, the researchers concluded that calcium supplementation was associated with a modest increase in risk for heart attacks, but not for strokes or death from heart disease. The study appears today in the journal BMJ Online First.

Bonnie - as I have said many times, I am not surprised to see this results, albeit from a meta analysis, which I acknowledge with trepidation. Calcium, in doses such as those researched in this study, should never being taken alone. Calcium should always be taken with vitamin D and magnesium to assure optimal absorption. In addition, I anticipate that the source of calcium viewed in these studies was poor (such as carbonate, oyster shell, etc.). Poor calcium sources further reduce optimal absorption.

The reason why one would see an increase in heart attack risk is that calcium is improperly absorbed. It then roams freely in soft tissue and embeds itself in areas such as the arteries and kidneys. Calcium, as well as any dietary supplement, should be recommended by a licensed professional to assure individual needs are taken into account."

Bonnie's Blog With Bonnie and Steve Minsky (2008)
Study Suggests Heart Risk From Calcium Supplements

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How western diets are making the world sick

A client forwarded this NPR story to us. While it should come as no surprise, the angle this physician uses in the piece is interesting nonetheless.

The Moderate Drinker's Dilemma? Get Cancer or Prevent Alzheimer's?

Two new studies have thrown the state of moderate drinking into a tizzy. One study leads you to believe that continued moderate drinking leads to increased risk of cancer, while another study insists that it prevents memory decline.

According to a study presented at the 2011 Alzheimer's Disease International Annual Conference, heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk for cognitive impairment, whereas light to moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk. Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) scores were higher for light to moderate drinkers compared with both nondrinkers and heavy drinkers. Light and moderate drinkers consumed less than 400 grams for men and less than 280 grams for women per week. Brandy containing 45% alcohol would deliver about 21 grams of alcohol in 1 drink: wine at 12% about 9.6 grams of alcohol per glass and beer at 4% about 10.5 grams in a can. In conclusion, the researchers state: "We have known for years that in western populations some drinking is good for you and a lot of drinking is very bad for you, so we recommend that everybody drink a glass of wine every day — maybe 2 and maybe even 3 — but beyond that, it is detrimental."


"A considerable proportion of the most common and most lethal cancers is attributable to former and current alcohol consumption," concludes a large European study published in British Medical Journal. The researchers attribute about 10% of all cancers in men and about 3% of all cancers in women to previous and current alcohol consumption. The estimates come from an analysis of data from the huge ongoing European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer (EPIC) and from representative data on alcohol consumption compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO). The risk increases even with drinking moderate amounts.

The researchers assumed a causal association between alcohol and cancer of the upper digestive tract (which includes the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), liver cancer, female breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. The team then calculated that in 2008, alcohol was responsible for 44% of the upper digestive tract cancers in men and 25% in women, 33% of liver cancer in men and 18% in women, 17% of colorectal cancer in men and 4% in women, and 5% of breast cancer in women. A substantial portion of these cancers attributable to alcohol consumption was linked to drinking more than the currently recommended upper limit: maximum of 2 drinks per day (about 28 g of alcohol) for men and 1 drink (about 12 g) for women. The team calculated that drinking more than this was responsible for 57% to 87% of the cancers attributable to alcohol in men and from 40% to 98% in women.

"The cancer risk increases with every drink, so even moderate amounts of alcohol - such as a small drink each day - increases the risk of these cancers," according to Cancer Research UK. "Thus, alcohol consumption should not be recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality.
There is no sensible limit below which the risk of cancer is decreased," they write.

Bonnie -
we are not convinced with the results of this data because we have previously seen research to the contrary. If you take these new studies at face value, however, beyond the fact that we agree that heavy drinking is worse for both diseases, it would seem that light drinking may be the solution. Could it be that for some individuals, moderate drinking would be completely agreeable with their individual needs? Of course. Do we believe, as the memory study suggests, that not drinking will lower your memory scores? Absolutely not. I think what is most is most important to remember for our clients that drink is to consume alcohol that is well tolerated and does not contain allergens, intolerants, or chemicals that affect you adversely. This is supersedes the light to moderate drinking issue.

Cherries or Pain Meds?

We have lauded the benefits of cherries, especially post-exercise for pain and inflammation. Dr. Leo Galland seems to concur in this article.

Folate is not linked to increased cancer risk

Increased intakes of folic acid from fortified foods and dietary supplements are not linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, says a new study from the American Cancer Society. Analysis of data from almost 100,000 men and women indicated that “there is no evidence that dietary fortification or supplementation with this vitamin increases colorectal cancer risk.” The study, published in Gastroenterology, should go some way to allaying fears that increased intakes of folic acid – the synthetic form of folate – are linked to colorectal cancer risk.

A total of 51 countries now have some degree of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid. Concerns that folic acid may increase the risk of colorectal cancer have surfaced over recent years, with some experts noting that folic acid, and not folate, may promote the formation of cancers under select circumstances where a person may already have a pre-cancerous or cancerous tumor. This has led to some finger pointing at the synthetic form of the vitamin. On passage through the intestinal wall, folic acid is converted to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, the naturally circulating form of folate. However, some studies have suggested that oral doses of folic acid in high doses may overwhelm this conversion pathway, leading to measurable levels of folic acid in the blood.

In this very large population study, researchers found that neither high intakes of natural folate nor folic acid were associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, total folates (from all sources) were associated with a 19 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk.

Bonnie - while I am not surprised with these findings, there are still many of us who do not break down folic acid into absorbable folate, and thus, do not take advantage of its benenfits. This is why I always recommend supplementing with a total folate complex, which includes each form of the folate cycle.

Monsanto close to FDA approval for fish oil soybeans

The biotechnology firm Monsanto stands just one FDA approval away from growing soybeans that have been genetically modified to produce those omega-3 fatty acids called stearidonic acid soybean oil. Monsanto plans to include SDA soybean oil in just about everything: baked goods and baking mixes, breakfast cereals and grains, cheeses, dairy product analogs, fats and oils, fish products, frozen dairy desserts and mixes, grain products and pastas, gravies and sauces, meat products, milk products, nuts and nut products, poultry products, processed fruit juices, processed vegetable products, puddings and fillings, snack foods, soft candy, and soups and soup mixes, at levels that will provide 375 milligrams (mg) of SDA per serving.

How did Monsanto coax soybeans to produce the oils? They inserted genes for two enzymes – one derived from a flower (Primula juliae), the other from a red bread mold (Neurospora crassa) – into a line of soybeans. SDA soybean oil contains 15 to 30 percent SDA and 5 to 8 percent gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), neither of which is present in conventional soybean oil. SDA soybean oil also contains slightly higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and palmitic acid than conventional soybean oil. SDA soybean oil contains lower levels of oleic acid and linoleic acid (LA) than those present in conventional soybean oil.

Steve - here's the big problem: this GMO soybean produces ALA and GLA, not EPA/DHA. ALA must be converted to EPA and DHA in order to be absorbed as such. A large part of the human population cannot perform this conversion.

In addition, where are the safety studies prior to approval? Especially with regards to allergy? Not only is soy a major allergen, but when you add genes from a flower and fungus, how much more allergenic does the soybean get? Of course, the safety studies are non-existent.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Take: Alternative Headache Treatments Delight

Bonnie and Steve: a recently published study from journal Headache: Alternative Headache Treatments, Nutraceuticals, Behavioral and Physical Treatments is as exciting a piece on headaches as we have seen.

"According to researchers, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of various complementary and alternative medicine approaches in the management of headache disorders. These treatment modalities include nutraceuticals, physical and behavioral therapies." Bonnie and Steve: we have summarized this review and commented on what we feel are the most important parts for our clients and readers.


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased in patients with neurological disorders, and now appears to be in widespread use among patients even in tertiary headache care. In a recent questionnaire-based survey conducted in Germany and Austria, the majority (81.7%) of patients attending tertiary outpatient headache clinics reported use of CAM. CAM usage is often motivated by dissatisfaction with conventional therapies and medication side effects, or a desire to be proactive against a disabling disorder.

Data from the National Library of Medicine (PubMed), The Cochrane Library, and the American Academy of Neurology's Evidence-Based Guidelines were searched through August 2010 to identify studies, reviews, case series, reports or other information that assessed the alternative treatment of headache or migraine.

The evidence for some nutraceuticals is promising, especially for magnesium.

Essential cation that plays a vital role in multiple physiological processes, may have several roles in migraine pathogenesis. Deficiency in magnesium has been associated with cortical spreading depression, neurotransmitter release, platelet aggregation, and vasoconstriction, all of which are important aspects of our current understanding of migraine pathophysiology. In addition, magnesium concentration influences serotonin receptors, nitric oxide synthesis and release, inflammatory mediators, and various other migraine-related receptors and neurotransmitters. Magnesium also plays a role in the control of vascular tone and reactivity to endogenous hormones and neurotransmitters, through its relationship with the NMDA receptor. Deficiency in magnesium results in the generation and release of substance P, which subsequently acts on sensory fibers, resulting in headache pain.

Given its commercial availability, the red blood cell (RBC) magnesium assay is a good way of assessing for deficiency, as improvements in clinical symptoms correlating with corrected levels would clearly demonstrate the benefits of magnesium supplementation.

Several studies have shown that magnesium supplementation is effective in migraine treatment. In one study, women with menstrual migraine receiving 360 mg of magnesium daily from ovulation to the first day of flow resulted in a significant reduction of the number of days with headache, total pain index, as well as an improvement of the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire score compared to placebo. Two other study comprising migraineurs also showed that attack frequency was reduced by 41.6% in the magnesium group.

The most common adverse effect associated with oral magnesium supplementation is diarrhea. Bonnie and Steve - this is why the glycinate form is so wonderful. It does not cause loose stool.

Several studies have also shown positive results with Intravenous Magnesium treatment. 1 g of magnesium sulfate resulted in rapid headache relief in patients with low serum levels. In another trial of patients with moderate to severe migraine attacks, treatment with 1 g intravenous magnesium sulfate was superior to placebo in terms of both response rate (100% for magnesium sulfate vs 7% for placebo) and pain-free rate (87% for magnesium sulfate and 0% for placebo). Of note, none of the subjects reported headache recurrence during the 24 hours after treatment.

Bonnie and Steve: are you convinced with regards to magnesium?!

The remainder of this piece exploring supplements, behavioral, and physical headache therapies is available to NCI Well Connect subscribers. Click here for a sample issue or to order.

Watchdog claims Organic Valley violating federal organic standards

Obviously, we are tracking this situation as Organic Valley has been one of the most well-respected large organic egg cooperatives. Read the full article here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fish oil supps reduce postpartum depression

Eating fatty fish or other foods rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may help lower your risk of developing symptoms commonly seen in postpartum depression, a study suggested at the Experimental Biology 2011 annual meeting. The pregnant women took either a corn oil placebo pill or a fish oil capsule containing 300 milligrams of DHA for five days a week during the 24th to 40th weeks of their pregnancy. The amount of DHA contained in each capsule is the equivalent of about one-half serving of salmon. The researchers used a postpartum depression screening scale to determine if the women were showing any signs or symptoms of postpartum depression two weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months after delivery. Women who received the fish oil supplements scored lower on the scale and had significantly fewer postpartum depression symptoms than those who received the placebo. Women in the fish oil group were also less likely to report anxiety symptoms.

Vitamin D lowers AMD: study

Higher levels of circulating vitamin D appear to reduce the risk for early onset of age-related macular degeneration in women ages 50 to 74, an ancillary study reported in Archives of Ophthalmology. Among postmenopausal women younger than 75, those who had the highest concentrations of 25 (OH)D (at least 75 nmol/L) were significantly less likely to develop the eye condition than those with the lowest (38 nmol/L or lower). There was not association between time spent in direct sunlight and the likelihood of developing macular degeneration.

Having Kids Make You fat

Researchers from the University of Minnesota looked at 838 women and 682 men and concluded that having children — particularly for moms — is linked to an array of negative outcomes. Mothers had a higher body-mass index and didn't eat as healthily as childless women, chugging more sugary drinks and eating more total calories and saturated fat. Both moms and dads exercised less than their child-free counterparts. In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, moms got less exercise per week, 4.5 hours of physical activity compared with the 6 hours that non-mothers got. Mothers also ate more calories, 2,360 compared with childless women's 1,992.

The research didn't focus on what the difference might be attributed to, but researchers suggested the 368 extra calories could result from grazing on children's leftovers.

Bonnie - this news story was splashed all over the country. We haven't scared younger generations from having children enough already? How many excuses do we need as a country for the fact that we are sick and overweight? Now we blame it on having kids?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dietary advice circa 1861

Public health nutritional advocate Marion Nestle shared this information she learned at a recent conference.

David Schnackenberg, who runs a website on the history of military nutrition, gave these dietary guidelines from 1861. They are from a monograph by Dr. John Ordonaux, "Hints on the Preservation of Health in the Armies: for the Use of Volunteer Officers and Soldiers."
  • Soldiers should be fed a mixed diet of animal and vegetable substances.

  • A variety of foods are needed to avoid monotony and increase assimilation.

  • A healthy diet must conform to the physiological requirements of the season with less animal fats in the summer, and more starch, vegetables, and fruits.

  • Fresh fruits are always preferable to dry or preserved ones.

  • Farinaceous (cruciferous) vegetables are more nourishing than roots or grasses.

  • French army dietaries provide nutritious soups made with meat or vegetables.

  • The woody fiber of the vegetable provides bulk as well as nourishment.

  • Each company should have at least one educated cook.

  • Beans, unless thoroughly cooked, are only fit for horses. When half-cooked, they will provoke indigestion and diarrhea.

  • Ardent spirits are not necessary for health and the soldier is better off without them.

  • Soldiers must be well fed to bear the fatigues of marching, to encounter unaffected the changes of climate, and to develop a high muscular tone.

Bonnie - wow...we could have learned something from our fighting men.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quercetin's effect in reducing disease risk markers

Researchers in a Journal of the American Dietetic Association report investigated quercetin as an antioxidative and anti-inflammatory for the potential to lower disease risk factors. They evaluated the effect of quercetin, vitamin C, and niacin supplements (500 mg quercetin, 125 mg vitamin C, and 5 mg niacin; 1,000 mg quercetin, 250 mg vitamin C, and 10 mg niacin), on disease risk factors in a large group of community adults varying widely in age and body mass index. Subjects were randomized into one of three groups (placebo, Q-500, or Q-1,000) and ingested supplements for 12 weeks. Blood samples were taken pre- and postsupplementation, and plasma quercetin, inflammatory markers (ie, C-reactive protein and five cytokines), diagnostic blood chemistries, blood pressure, and blood lipid profiles were measured. A small decrease in mean arterial blood pressure was measured for Q-500 and Q-1,000 groups compared to placebo. A difference in serum total cholesterol was measured between Q-500 and placebo groups, and there was small decrease in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in the Q-1,000 group. Change in inflammatory measures did not differ between groups except for a slight decrease in interleukin-6 for the Q-1,000 group. The researchers concluded that Q-500 or Q-1,000 supplementation for 12 weeks had an influence on reduction of disease risk factors.

Was there any doubt about food addiction?

Wall Street Journal scribe Kevin Helliker reported on a new study suggesting that people who struggle to say no to chocolate, french fries or other junk food suffer from something more insidious than lack of willpower: They may actually have an addiction. While not a surprise to the readers of this blog, using a high-tech scan to observe the brains of pathological eaters versus normal eaters, the Archives of General Psychiatry study found that showing a milkshake to the abnormal group was akin to dangling a cold beer in front of an alcoholic. Subjects who scored high on the Yale Food Addiction Scale had addict-like neural responses to food during an MRI.

The study suggests that food addicts could benefit from a checklist akin to those that exist for measuring alcoholism and drug addiction. The publishing of the study comes at a time when American psychiatry is wrestling with whether to regard pathological eating as an addiction akin to alcoholism.

Steve - we have frequently mentioned how sugar addiction is akin to drug addiction. Certain fatty foods have a similar effect as well. While most experts claim that lifestyle and dietary changes cannot help this type of addiction, we disagree. When balancing the body biochemically, especially by addressing nutrient deficiencies and removing detrimental food triggers, food addiction can be ameliorated.

Another story making the rounds in media concerns how people use the organic label on food packaging to make them feel better about consuming food that is still high in sugary carbohydrates. Remember that what we like to call "natural junk" is still junk, albeit with less chemicals. While we would still have you choose organic junk ten times out of ten over conventional junk, please do not use it as an excuse to consume it in copious amounts.

Fresh food lowers toxic exposure

Families who gave up canned foods and food and beverages prepared and packaged using plastic containers saw their levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical fall by 66%, according to a new journal Environmental Health Perspectives. All it took was three days of eating only freshly prepared, organic foods. The chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many kinds of plastic food packaging, such as some water bottles, food storage containers, and sealing wrap. It is also used to line the inside of food cans. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been associated with a host of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and infertility in adults, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. The researchers comment that food packaging is the major source of people’s exposure to bisphenol A and the phthalate known as DEHP.

Researchers took urine samples from each family member before, during, and after the study to check for levels of BPA and other chemicals found in plastics. For three days, a caterer who had been specially coached to avoid preparing food exposed to chemicals from plastics delivered meals prepared from fresh and organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and meats. The cooks were instructed to avoid contact with plastic utensils, and nonstick cookware and foods had to be stored in glass containers with BPA-free plastic lids. Researchers even told food preparers not to overfill the containers so the food wouldn’t touch the plastic lid. Microwaving in plastic was out; so was using coffee makers with plastic parts. Coffee drinkers got their morning coffee from French presses or ceramic drip models. Participating families gave up water in plastic bottles in favor of stainless steel. Eating out was also avoided since other studies have shown some restaurant meals to be high in BPA. By the end of the study, urine tests showed the average BPA level dropped 66%, from 3.7 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to 1.2 ng/mL. Levels of DEHP metabolites dropped by about half, from 57 ng/mL to 25 ng/ML. People who started the study with the highest BPA levels saw even bigger reductions -- 76% for BPA and about 95% for DEHP metabolites.

Moreover, the researchers stated that we are in an industrial world. We are surrounded by plastics. It’s very difficult to avoid it. But the food industry and the chemical industry should really avoid using bisphenol A if they can find an alternative. Not all plastics gave this effect.

Bonnie - in many of the obese and overweight children I see, a lack of fresh food, vegetables in particular, is high on the list of common themes. One contributing factor to weight gain is excessive toxic exposure. Fat cells are created to encapsulate excess toxins. This study is incredible because of the dramatic reduction in plastic metabolites in such as short period of time from avoidance. This is yet another example of why we should consistently strive to eat real, fresh food.

Of course, the FDA has had several chances to take action against BPA and phthalates, but have not because there is not "sufficient evidence."

Friday, April 08, 2011

Worst 100 Cities for Spring Allergies

Progesterone reduces premature birth 45%

Treating high-risk pregnant women with the hormone progesterone cut their rate of premature delivery by 45 percent and helped lower the risk of breathing complications in their babies, National Institute of Health researchers said on Wednesday. The late-stage study of a natural progesterone vaginal gel raises hopes for a simple way to prevent premature birth in women with a short cervix. Babies born too early -- before the 33rd week of pregnancy -- have a higher risk of early death and long-term health and developmental problems. In the United States, 12.8 percent of babies were born preterm in 2008, raising their risk of dying in their first year and having breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, blindness and deafness. The findings were published in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Bonnie - using natural progesterone to prevent premature delivery? Sounds very familiar (I am being facetious, of course).

MSG promotes weight gain

An upcoming study in the May issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the consumption of monosodium glutamate (MSG), the flavor enhancer, in relation to incidence of overweight in Chinese adults. It has been hypothesized that monosodium glutamate (MSG) influences energy balance through the disruption of the hypothalamic signaling cascade of leptin action.

The study investigated 10,095 apparently healthy Chinese adults aged 18–65 y at entry from 1991 to 2006. Diet, including MSG and other condiments, was assessed. The cumulative mean MSG intake was positively associated with increased Body Mass Index after adjustment for potential confounders and cluster effects at different levels for participants in the highest quintile of MSG intake compared with those in the lowest quintile after adjustment for age, physical activity, total energy intake, and other major lifestyle factors.

In conclusions, the consensus reached by the researchers was that MSG consumption was positively, longitudinally associated with overweight development among apparently healthy Chinese adults.

Heartburn drugs for kids questioned

According to a study in journal Pediatrics, acid-suppressing drugs like Prilosec and Prevacid may not be much help for infants with troublesome acid reflux, and there's too little evidence that they help older children and teenagers. The findings question the usefulness of so-called proton-pump inhibitors in children with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The researchers reviewed 12 clinical trials that tested the medications for treating GERD in infants, children or teenagers. They found no good evidence that the drugs eased acid-reflux symptoms in infants -- such as crying and "fussing" after being fed. IN older kids, there is still too little data on the long-term effectiveness and safety of proton-pump inhibitors for children's GERD, the researchers say. One study of infants, though, found that babies treated with proton-pump inhibitors had a higher rate of lung infections.

Bonnie - such a shame that so many parents choose to put their infants on this devastating, nutrient-blocking medication with absolutely nothing to show for it. It has been one issue over the years that has really disturbed me because I have seen first-hand what long-term use of PPIs can do. That is why years ago I wrote an action plan to address reflux without meds. Of course, it is much more difficult to follow than taking a med, which is why most parents opt for the med.

This study comes on the heels of the recent FDA warning for PPIs creating dangerously low magnesium.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Meditation can help block pain

Even very brief instruction in meditation appears to help people cope with pain. After just four, 20-minute instructional sessions in mindfulness meditation, most participants in a Journal of Neuroscience study experienced big reductions in pain intensity and unpleasantness when subjected to painful stimuli. Prior to learning the meditation technique, brain imaging showed significant activity in a key area of the brain when the participants were subjected to intense heat, but this activity was reduced when they were meditating.

Before and after mindfulness meditation training, brain activity was measured using a special type of magnetic resonance imaging that captures longer-duration brain processes, such as meditation, better than standard MRI. While the MRIs were being performed, a device was placed on each participant’s right calf that delivered 120 degrees of heat -- a temperature that most people find painful. The heat was kept on the skin for 12 seconds and then taken off the skin for the same amount of time over a total of 5 minutes. Even though the MRI was very loud, most of the participants were able to successfully block out the noise and the pain from the heat source and focus on their breathing. Pain intensity ratings were reduced after meditation by an average of 40%, and pain unpleasantness rating were reduced by 57%. Meditation was shown to reduce activity in key pain-processing regions of the brain.

Steve - we have posted often on the power of the mind. Meditation is one of the most useful daily lifestyle tools for reducing stress and rewiring the brains' circuitry.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Soy and breast cancer study misleading

To see the headlines, "Soy Will Not Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer Relapse," one would think they could start eating all the soy they want. “If you regularly eat soy, you don’t need to worry or avoid it, and women who want to lead a healthy life, can safely include some soy in their diets,” says study researcher Xiao Oh Shu, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Do we believe that consuming moderate amounts of the right type of soy increases the risk of breast cancer relaspe? No, we do not. But this is a perfect example of how not to get ahead of yourself from one study.

The study was performed on 18,312 women from China, not the United States. The type of soy foods Chinese women eat are different than what most women eat in the U.S. In China, fermented soy such as tofu and tempeh are more frequently consumed, whereas in the U.S., soy protein and soymilk are more predominant. Soy protein and soymilk on average have much more concentrated amounts of soy isoflavones.

In addition, soy that is grown in the US is the most heavily sprayed crop with pesticides. This adds xenoestrogenic residue to any product it is made with.

After an average of nine years after their breast cancer diagnosis, women in the study who consumed the highest amount of soy, or more than 23 milligrams of soy per day, had a 9% lower risk of dying from any cause and a 15% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence, compared to women who consumed 0.48 milligrams of soy per day or less. 23 milligrams per day of soy consumed is the equivalent of one glass of soy milk or a half cup of tofu.

This is good news, but we would still recommend that women who had breast cancer consume organic soy foods whenever possible, and try to stick to fermented soy products only.

Periodic fasting good for the heart?

This appeared in Tara Parker-Pope's Well Blog in the New York Times

Regular fasting may be good for your heart. That’s the finding of a new study from doctors in Utah who looked at the relationship between periodic fasting and cardiovascular disease. The researchers interviewed 200 patients who were undergoing an angiography, an X-ray exam of the blood vessels and heart chambers that can determine if a person has coronary heart disease. The patients were asked if they engaged in regular fasting, and the researchers compared the answers to whether they eventually received a diagnosis of heart disease. Because about 90 percent of the patients were Mormons, a faith that encourages its members to fast for one day a month, the doctors expected to find a relatively high rate of regular fasting among the study participants. The researchers found that people who fasted regularly had a 58 percent lower risk of coronary disease compared with those who said they didn’t fast, according to the report presented at the American College of Cardiology conference in New Orleans this week.

The study showed only an association between fasting and better heart health, which means it’s possible that fasting may not have a direct effect but might just be more common among people who are healthier to begin with.

A second, smaller study conducted by the same research team suggests that the effects of fasting aren’t just about having an overall healthy lifestyle, but that abstaining from food on a regular basis leads to metabolic changes that are good for the heart. For that research, also presented at the New Orleans conference, 30 patients were asked to fast for 24 hours with water only. The scientists used blood tests before and after the fasting period to look at a number of different metabolic markers. Among other changes, they found that levels of human growth hormone, or HGH, surged after fasting — increasing 20 times in men and 13 times in women. The hormone is released by the body in times of starvation to protect lean muscle mass and trigger the body to start burning fat stores.

Bonnie - another possibility that was not discussed in the two studies is that a fast gives your organ systems time to rest and regenerate. The gastrointestinal tract, in particular, works tirelessly to process what your body ingests. Giving it time to periodically to rest is important.

We never suggest that one fast or cleanse without working a licensed health professional, especially if one has health issues or are on medication.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Any Alternatives to Accutane and Antibiotics for Acne?

Acne is a common and complex skin condition that affects individuals of all ages. Its prevalence is estimated at 79%-95% for adolescents, 40%-54% for adults older than 25 years, and 12% of women and 3% of men in middle age. Severe acne with inflamed lesions can lead to scarring. Papules, pustules, and nodular cystic lesions have been linked to psychological damage. A 2010 study linked the use of oral isotretinoin (Accutane) for up to 6 months with an increased risk for attempted suicide in adolescents with severe modular cystic acne. However, the risk did not persist at 3 or 15 years of follow-up in this study. A reproducible system of grading acne is essential to assessing the efficacy of treatments. The Leeds grading system uses a pictorial guide to assess severity from grade 1 (minimal) to 12 (most severe). The physical examination should be performed using a bright light such as the Brighton 1001 circular fluorescent lamp with a circular Sylvanian warm white tube placed not more than 30 cm from the patient. Failure to follow this protocol could cause the lesions to be undergraded. Grades 1-3 indicate noninflamed acne. Prevention of progression to scarring and inflammation would help in minimizing adverse social and psychological effects.

The bacterium Propionibacterium acnes represents the most proximate cause of acne, with sebum and oil production as causes of exacerbation. Daily cleansing with a nonabrasive cleanser that avoids excessive skin drying is essential to acne management. Harsh cleansers can lead to overcompensation by oil glands and greater skin surface oil. The mainstay of acne treatment remains topical benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, and topical Accutane. More severe disease may require oral treatment with antibiotics or Accutane.

Dietary manipulation may influence the balance of steroid hormones, follicular keratinocyte proliferation, and inflammation. Some studies suggest that a high glycemic and insulinemic diet may exacerbate acne. Glycemic index has been used to study acne progression, particularly in the presence of metabolic syndrome and hyperinsulinemia. A randomized, controlled trial of 43 male acne patients aged 15-25 years treated over 12 weeks reported greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and body mass index in parallel with greater reductions in acne lesion count with a low-glycemic-load diet. The low-glycemic-load diet was achieved by boosting the intake of proteins such as lean meat, poultry, and fish, and by emphasizing foods with a lower glycemic index such as fruit and whole grains.

In another approach, drinking fermented cow's milk enriched with the milk protein lactoferrin was shown to improve acne. A total of 36 adults, aged 18-30 years, were randomized to receive either fermented milk alone or fermented milk supplemented with 200 mg of lactoferrin daily for 12 weeks. People in the supplemented milk group showed an improvement in total inflammatory lesion count, total lesion count, and acne severity of 38.6%, 23.1%, and 20.3%, respectively. In addition, people who were randomized to the enriched milk group had a significant reduction in triacylglycerols, a skin surface lipid, compared with the placebo group. Skin hydration and pH were unaffected by either treatment. Sebum content was reduced by 31.1% in the lactoferrin group, a finding replicated using fermented milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus casei.

However, milk consumption alone also may be linked to a greater likelihood of severe acne, as shown in a study of 4237 adolescent boys. Those with the highest intake of both skim milk and whole milk were most likely to have severe acne. The proposed mechanism for this risk is increased androgenicity conferred by milk products. The role of milk in the pathogenesis and exacerbation of acne continues to be debated. More information can be found at this link.

A topical gel made with 5% tea tree oil appears to be as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion for treating acne, with fewer side effects. Alpha hydroxyl glycolic acid, use as a facial peel or lotion, has been reported to be moderately effective in persons who can tolerate facial peeling. Zinc levels have been reported to be suboptimal in some patients with acne, and both topical and oral zinc have been proposed as potential treatments. Studies that combined topical zinc with erythromycin reported improvement in comedones, pustules, papules, nodules, and macules.

While completely based upon client testimonials, milk of magnesia applied topically twice daily seems to have improve the acne of a number of our clients.

The treatment of acne scars with ablative lasers vaporize the epidermis and part of the papillary dermis. The resultant healing that occurs 'smoothes out' the scar tissue. The CO2 laser has been found to be more effective than the Er:YAG laser, but is also associated with a higher incidence of side effects. Ablative lasers should only be used for grade 3 acne scars, while nonablative lasers are indicated in grade 2 acne scars. Nonablative lasers are known to be less effective than ablative lasers, but they are also associated with less downtime and side effects. A relatively new laser technology, known as FP, uses zones of microthermolysis to injure the epidermis and dermis in a uniform manner, so that healing occurs in a controlled fashion.

Acleara Acne Clearing System is the first continuously-cooled system FDA-cleared to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne, comedonal acne, and pustular acne. Acleara is powered by an advanced vacuum and filtered broadband light technology. A vacuum deep cleans pores by extracting build up of sebaceous material. Along with the targeted heating of sebaceous glands, the endogenous light activates porphryns to destroy P. acnes and reduces sebum production through photodynamic action.
No anesthetics, numbing or cooling gels are required.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Former Intern Pens "Sweetness Without Sugar"

Bonnie - Wendy Vigdor-Hess, a former intern of mine now practicing nutrition and reiki in Virginia, just wrote a dynamite book called Sweetness Without Sugar. I am very happy for Wendy. I highly recommend the book.

FDA panel shuns need for food coloring warning

An expert advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that there was not enough scientific evidence linking artificial colors with hyperactivity to warrant a warning label or new restrictions on thousands of processed foods colored by chemicals.The 14-member panel struggled with the question, rejecting the idea of warning labels by a margin of 8 to 6. The panel recommendation makes it less likely that the FDA will place restrictions on food dyes. The agency is not obligated to follow the guidance of its advisory panels but often does. Once made from coal tar but now derived from petroleum, artificial dyes are brighter, more stable and cheaper than natural colors derived from fruits and vegetables.

The British government urged food makers to stop using six dyes, and the European Parliament required foods with those dyes to carry a label warning. To avoid warning labels on their products in Europe, many food makers — including U.S.-based companies such as Kellogg and Mars International — found substitutes for the six dyes, including natural dyes made from fruits and vegetables.

Steve - sooner or later, artificial dyes and flavors will be removed from our food supply. Most likely, it will occur because the consumer will shun products that contain them. Eventually, the data will grow to a degree that the FDA will have no choice but to add a warning.

One-Third of Americans Deficient in Vitamin D

Bonnie - If you read the media headlines, you could be easily mislead over the new report that "most Americans get enough vitamin D." How easy it is to manipulate data. What if most of the headlines were "one-third of Americans deficient in vitamin D"?

A new analysis by researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics from 2001 to 2006, shows that 67% of Americans age 1 or older had blood levels of vitamin D that fell between 50 to 125 nanomoles per liter, which is considered adequate. Another 24% were at risk for inadequate levels of vitamin D, with blood levels of 30 to 49 nmol/L; 8% were at risk of deficiency, which is defined as less than 30 nmol/L. Just 1% of the population has blood levels that were too high.

Any public health expert will tell you that if one-third of the American population have blood levels of a nutrient considered inadequate or deficient, it would be considered an epidemic. Given the importance of vitamin D for so many organ functions, one would think there would be a call-to-action. On the contrary, most media and public health officials were happy with the results survey.

Besides the fact that I believe the numbers of vitamin D-deficient Americans are much higher than this survey shows, it is yet another example of how incredible, economical preventative tools such as vitamin D supplementation are marginalized.