On Monday, March 15 I will be giving a free lecture sponsored by
Cooportunity on Healing Through Detoxification.
This very special evening will begin at 7:00 pm and will be held at the
Santa Monica Synagogue at 1448 18th Street on the Northwest corner of 18th
Articles of Interest
Organic milk higher in essential
omega-3 fatty acids, study says
A U.K. organic dairy
co-op has urged the government to recommend organic milk after a study
published in the Journal of Dairy Science found that organic milk
contains 64% more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk. Some
nutritionists suggest many U.K. residents do not get an adequate amount of
omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D gains favor as health key
By Ronald Kotulak Tribune science reporter
As the sun begins to break through over Chicago, its warming rays are
resuming a critical role that has lain dormant most of the winter, coaxing
our skin to make vitamin D.
Emerging research indicates that vitamin D is more important to our
health than previously thought, leading an increasing number of scientists
to challenge whether the fear of sun exposure has made us cover up too much.
Doctors are finding an increase in vitamin D deficiencies, even as
researchers discover remarkable results from the vitamin that affects nearly
every tissue in the body.
Told their pain and muscle weakness would only get worse, and that they
would likely remain in wheelchairs the rest of their lives, five patients in
Buffalo decided to take a chance on large doses of vitamin D.
In 4 to 6 weeks they were up and about, saying goodbye to their
wheelchairs and back to normal activities, pain free.
When women took vitamin D in multivitamin supplements over a long period
of time, their risk of developing multiple sclerosis was reduced by 40
And a disturbing number of children who don't have enough vitamin D in
their bodies are showing up with rickets, a crippling bone disorder thought
to have been eradicated more than 70 years ago.
Dr. Craig Langman, a kidney and mineral metabolism expert at Children's
Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Medical School, sees a new
case of rickets every week, triple the rate of five years ago.
"We're finding more and more kids are presenting with evidence of vitamin
D malnutrition," said Langman, who noted that includes fractures and bone
Vitamin D is a critical hormone that scientists are discovering helps
regulate the health of more than 30 different tissues, from the brain to the
prostate. It plays a role in regulating cell growth, the immune system and
blood pressure, and in the production of insulin, brain chemicals and bone.
"We thought that vitamin D was a very narrow-acting substance," said Dr.
Hector DeLuca of the University of Wisconsin, where vitamin D was first
identified in the early 1900s, leading to the fortification of milk and some
other foods that eliminated endemic rickets.
"The big surprise is that it's got a lot of important biological effects
that probably contribute to our health and we're just now beginning to
uncover them," said DeLuca. "Are we getting enough vitamin D? No we're not,
especially in the winter."
Vitamin D is one of the body's many control systems. It acts like an
emergency brake that helps stop cells from perilously misbehaving, as immune
cells can do when they cause such autoimmune diseases as MS and as breast
and prostate cells do when they turn cancerous.
Variable protection This protection declines as vitamin D levels drop.
University of Chicago microbiologist Yan Chun Li discovered just how that
happens with high blood pressure. Vitamin D helps normalize blood pressure
by keeping a pressure-increasing switch called renin in check.
Vitamin D's importance for health goes back more than 750 million years
to the earliest life forms that left the ocean for the Earth's surface. All
vertebrates today depend on sun exposure for vitamin D production.
The lack of vitamin D is known to cause rickets, osteoporosis and
osteomalacia (soft bones). New research indicates that vitamin D
malnutrition may also be linked to many chronic diseases such as cancer
(breast, ovarian, colon and prostate), chronic pain, weakness, chronic
fatigue, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and Type
1 diabetes, high blood pressure, mental illnesses--depression, seasonal
affective disorder and possibly schizophrenia--heart disease, rheumatoid
arthritis, psoriasis, tuberculosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
"A lot of people with aches and pains and marginal weakness could be
helped by vitamin D supplements," said Dr. Paresh Dandona of the State
University of New York at Buffalo who reported the first five cases of
vitamin D deficient myopathy three years ago in the Archives of Internal
Medicine (news - web sites).
Undiagnosed pain is the chief complaint of more than one-third of
Studying 150 children and adults with undiagnosed pain, Dr. Greg
Plotnikoff of the University of Minnesota discovered that 93 percent were
severely or profoundly vitamin D deficient. All were put on prescription
doses of the vitamin.
"One patient with chest pain had multiple balloon angioplasties and his
pain never went away," Plotnikoff said. "He also had surgery for his low
back pain but he didn't get any better.
"I measured his vitamin D level and it was basically zero," he said. "His
chest and low back pain were not due to cardiac or spinal disease but to low
vitamin D. We put him on prescription strength vitamin D and he got much
better. We had spent over $200,000 on him in the hospital for these other
procedures without doing a $20 blood test."
A study in the British medical journal Lancet found that infants
receiving 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily were protected from developing Type 1
diabetes. Various forms of vitamin D have become a major treatment for
psoriasis and preliminary evidence suggests it reduces blood pressure,
reduces hip fracture risks in older people and improves symptoms of
rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Research help "Our study supports a possible role for vitamin D in the
prevention of MS," said epidemiologist Kassandra Munger of the Harvard
School of Public Health. "Further studies are needed to confirm the
findings, but taking a multiple vitamin as part of a healthy diet can't
Researchers are finding that the current recommended daily allowances of
vitamin D--ranging from 200 international units for infants, children and
adults up to age 50 years; 400 IU for men and women from 50 to 70; and 600
IU for people older than 70--are probably far lower than the minimum amount
necessary for optimum health.
Scientists are quick to warn that although people may need more vitamin
D, mostly in the form of supplements in higher latitudes where sunlight is
weak during winter months, they should consult a physician before consuming
large doses. Taking too much vitamin D can elevate levels of calcium in the
blood, a potentially serious condition that can lead to nausea, vomiting, or
even death. It is especially easy for children to overdose on vitamin D
Dr. Michael F. Holick of Boston University Medical Center, one of the
world's foremost vitamin D experts, recommends 1,000 IU daily for everyone
through a combination of safe exposure to sunlight and supplements.
Summertime sun exposure on the face, arms and hands around noon for only
5 to 15 minutes for people with light skin 2 to 3 times a week provides
sufficient vitamin D, he said.
Blacks have the highest risk for vitamin D deficiency because dark skin
needs 5 to 10 times more sunlight than white to produce the same amount of
the vitamin. One study found that 42 percent of African-American women in
the U.S. were vitamin D deficient.
Chronic diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency are 25 to 50
percent more frequent in northern climates than among people living closer
to the sunny equator, where humans first evolved. As people migrated away
from the equator, it is thought, skin evolved lighter shades to absorb more
sunlight for vitamin D production.
Limited menu Vitamin D is not available in most foods (oily fish, egg
yolks, liver and cod liver oil have some), but it is abundantly made when
sunlight strikes the skin, which normally produces about 90 percent of the
body's store of the vitamin.
People living in northern latitudes don't get enough sun from December
through February to make vitamin D. A person living in Chicago, Boston,
Detroit or New York can stand naked outside all day in the winter and not
make any vitamin D, said Holick, author of "The UV Advantage."
Even in summer the skin's vitamin D-making ability gets dampened from the
increasing use of sunscreen, leading a growing number of health experts to
challenge the advice given over the last two decades to avoid the sun at all
costs in order to reduce skin cancer risk.
"The amount of vitamin D in our diet is totally inadequate," Holick said.
"We are in an era of sunphobia--that is not being exposed to any direct
sunlight--that's being promoted widely by the dermatology community and it's
probably hurting people's health more than it's helping them."
"That message needs to be modified and moderated to a more sensible
approach so that people can get a little bit of safe sun," he said.
The evidence is overwhelming that excessive sun exposure causes skin
cancer. More than 1 million cases of squamous and basal cell cancers, which
are highly treatable, are expected this year, according to the American
Cancer Society. Solar exposure is also blamed for the anticipated 55,100
cases of melanoma in 2004 and 7,910 deaths. Melonama, a potentially deadly
skin cancer, usually occurs years after severe sunburns in childhood.
Conflicting research On the other hand, increasing but less conclusive
evidence suggests that adequate vitamin D levels from healthy sun exposure
may reduce the risk of many other cancers.
A recent study of more than 430,000 death certificates showed that people
who had more exposure to sunlight had a 26 percent lower risk of death from
colon and breast cancer, said D. Michal Freedman, an epidemiologist at the
National Cancer Institute.
Testifying in October at a "Vitamin D and Health in the 21st Century"
conference called by the National Institutes of Health (news
- web sites)'s Office of Dietary Supplements, William B. Grant, a retired
NASA (news - web sites) senior scientist and solar radiation expert, said
his studies determined that lack of vitamin D accounts for 45,000 cancer
deaths annually and 165,000 new cancer cases.
The conference was prompted by growing concerns of widespread vitamin D
inadequacy and how to strike a balance between supplements, dietary
fortification, tanning booths and sun exposure, said NIH nutritionist Mary
"If you go to the literature where people are talking about sunlight and
cancer risk, nobody mentions that you need sun for vitamin D," she said. "By
the same token if you go to the vitamin D literature where people are
talking about skin irradiation to get vitamin D, nobody talks about cancer.
"One of the first things that might be necessary is to get the skin
cancer people together with vitamin D requirement people," Picciano said.
"There are questions that need to be addressed before meaningful public
health policy can go forward."
Sources: National Institute of health, National Osteoporosis Society
Plant estrogens may fight menopausal bone loss
By Amy Norton NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Adding to evidence of the
potential benefits of so-called plant estrogens, a new study suggests that
isoflavone supplements may help reduce menopausal bone loss.
UK researchers found that, when taken for a year, the supplements
appeared to curb spinal bone loss in women between the ages of 49 and 65.
Isoflavones, compounds found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes,
are similar to the female hormone estrogen. Because of this, researchers
have been studying whether soy protein or supplements containing isoflavones
might act as a sort of "natural" hormone replacement therapy.
Studies have shown that Asian women, whose traditional diet is rich in
soy, have a relatively low rate of hip fracture, as well as breast cancer
and heart disease. In addition, animal research has suggested that
isoflavones might lessen bone loss related to waning estrogen levels.
Some studies of women, however, have found no evidence of bone benefits,
and much of the research on isoflavones has involved only small groups of
women followed for a relatively short time.
The new study, which followed 177 women for a year, is one of the largest
and longest investigations of an isoflavone supplement to date, according to
the authors. They found that compared with women randomly assigned to take a
placebo, those who took a daily isoflavone tablet showed less bone loss in
the lower spine.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Novogen Ltd., maker of the isoflavone supplement Promensil, provided the
tablets and partial funding for the study.
Despite the study's positive results, it's too early to recommend
isoflavone supplements for fighting bone loss, study author Dr. Sheila
Bingham, of the Medical Research Council Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in
Cambridge, told Reuters Health.
For one thing, long-range studies are necessary to determine whether
isoflavones can cut the risk of bone fractures, a major cause of disability
among older adults.
Also unclear, Bingham noted, is whether a soy-rich diet might be more or
less beneficial than isoflavone supplements when it comes to bone health.
The supplement her team studied is derived from red clover.
The study involved women ages 49 to 65, most of whom were postmenopausal
and all of whom had recently had a mammogram to screen for breast cancer.
Women with a history of the disease were excluded.
At the end of the study, women in the supplement group had lost less bone
density in the lumbar spine than those in the placebo group had. There was
no clear difference between the groups as far as bone density in the hip,
according to the report.
To help ward off the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, experts advise
women to get enough calcium and vitamin D, avoid smoking and exercise
regularly throughout their lives.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2004.
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited.