Archive for December, 2018

Crucial facts you probably don’t know about vitamin C

You probably don’t know many of these facts—as a clinical nutritionist, I should, but I didn’t. My interest in the benefits of vitamin C increased recently because of facts that Bill Sardi brought to light about improved health span and longevity related to this humble vitamin.

Most people only know that vitamin C can help prevent colds, as well as shorten their duration and reduce their severity. I was aware that vitamin C (also known as “ascorbic acid”) did more than that, but I was blown away when I started poking through the research on the government database, PubMed.com. I would enter the search “vitamin C” and whatever condition popped into my head. I did not find a single condition that was not improved by having adequate blood levels of vitamin C. In fact, each study lead to two more topics. I had to just quit if I was going to finish this blog.

The items below are just the beginning. Next week, I will discuss: Aging, Allergies, Alzheimer’s, Bleeding Gums, Diabetes, Gallbladder Stones, Glaucoma, and Protection from Toxic Drug Effects. Gosh, it may take more than two weeks because I should also cover why we may not have enough, even with the best diet and typical supplementation. Then there is the good news that we can restore the body’s ability to make vitamin C from blood sugar as most animals do. If you want to skip ahead and understand that now, read this Whole Foods Magazine interview with Bill Sardi. 😊

CARDIOVACULAR

  • Stroke. In a large study, middle-aged men with the lowest plasma levels of vitamin C were more than twice as likely to experience a stroke!
  • Female nurses who took vitamin C supplements had a 30 % lower risk of Heart Attack! Based on that stat, something like 300,000 lives per year could be saved each year if everyone supplemented with vitamin C.
  • This review of studies stated: “Vitamin C has been shown to be an effective therapeutic for reducing total serum cholesterol”. They determined that doses of at least 500 mg / day significantly reduced LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The elevating effect on HDL was not significant at this dose. (I’m guessing it might be at higher doses.)
  • Clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis) can be caused in animals by greatly increasing their cholesterol. In one study, doses of vitamin C that are a human equivalent of about 10,000 mg / day significantly reduced the arterial plaque.
  • Congestive Heart failure (CHF) is extremely serious and hard to treat. An animal study showed that out of hundreds of agents tested, only vitamin C could enable stem cells to become heart muscle. In another study it was demonstrated that vitamin C can help patients with CHF by suppressing the signal for cells within blood vessel linings to essentially kill themselves.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

  • Vitamin C helps the function of most types of immune cells. A recent Journal Article stated that “supplementation with vitamin Cappears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections”. Authors noted that “saturation”, not just “adequate amounts” [according to whom?] might be needed, especially to fight existing infections.
  • Going well beyond the head cold, vitamin C is valued in more progressive cancer Several studies show that administering it intravenously helps chemotherapy work better and protects healthy cells from the effects of radiation.
  • Sepsis” is a grave condition caused by the body’s overly enthusiastic response to an infection. In the US, it affects more than a million people a year and for 25% or more of those it is fatal. New research found that adding vitamin C and vitamin B1 to the intravenous hydrocortisone the hospital mortality rate dropped from 40.4% to 8.5%!

That last item is the only one I heard about on the news (NPR). Shame on the media!

I once asked two time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, how much vitamin C he took per day. As I recall, he answered “I take 14,000 mg a day now, but when I get old I will take more.” He was in his 80’s at the time. 😊 In response to this blog I heard from someone who knew him in his 90’s. Apparently then he was taking 16,000 mg a day. (Sometimes folks get tunnel vision. I hope he was also taking zinc and other needed nutrients.)

Digging Deeper into a Recent Vitamin D Study

Sigh. Studies that cast doubt on the value of supplements are automatically assumed true and publicized as such. There seems to be a prevalent mindset that humans are poorly designed and cannot function without medications. Ridiculous. We are by nature healthy…if we give the body everything it needs for optimum function and we don’t gum up the works with excesses it cannot handle.

One thing we don’t get enough of for optimum function is vitamin D. The original plan was that we would be functioning most of the time in the sunshine and naturally form vitamin D when the sunlight touched our skin (typically 10,000 IU per day). Modern indoor life and the admonitions of dermatologists to cover up with sunscreen have changed that dramatically. Virtually every cell in our body has a receptor for vitamin D and it interacts with over 3,000 genes. I guess we can assume it must be pretty important. It is being researched, but often in a way that produces misleading results.

For example, a vitamin D study released in November 2018 concludes that 2,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D does not help prevent cardiovascular problems or cancer compared to a placebo. On the plus side, it was very large, randomized, placebo-controlled and fairly long (5.3 years so far). I have these concerns about putting too much stock in the study’s conclusion.

  • They called 2,000 IU a “high” dose. Recent research shows most of us probably need between 7,000 and 10,000 a day to reach optimum blood levels of 70 ng/mL or so.
  • Testing the difference in health outcomes based on blood levels of vitamin D would be much more meaningful. The participants were all given the same dose of D no matter how low their blood levels were to start with. Although researchers checked one year in and saw some increase that was not used as a factor in gauging results.
  • They did not check to see if participants had sufficient storage of magnesium to activate the vitamin D. By the conservative estimates, half of Amercians do not get enough magnesium.
  • I looked up the full text of the study to see if they monitored sun exposure and it appears they did not. This is important because, for all we know, the placebo group instinctively sought out more sun time. Milk contains vitamin D and it isn’t clear if they controlled for milk intake.
  • Although 5.3 years is long as studies go, cancer can take decades to reach diagnosis stage. Therefore, the benefit of vitamin D might be more apparent over a longer time. Interestingly, even in this brief time, there were already positive trends in every category. For example, this quote; “During follow-up, 341 participants died from cancer, with 154 such deaths in the vitamin D group and 187 in the placebo group.” That is a significant difference in my book, but it seems they were looking for invasive cancers, not deaths so this fact didn’t come out in the headlines.
  • In a discussion of other studies, this paper noted that different organs can have different needs for vitamin D. Also, those with a high body mass index (fat) need more D. Also, African Americans need 20% more vitamin D. This study included 20 % black participants. As is so often the case, all of these differences just mentioned were lumped together hiding what may be important to certain subgroups.
  • The study was not geared to record any fringe benefits participants might have enjoyed from increased D levels. E.g. they may have had fewer colds, a more cheerful outlook, more energy, etc.

Bottom line: Don’t take this study too seriously. The best thing to come out of it was showing no harmful side effects from a “high” dose of 2,000 IU. I recommend getting your blood levels tested and supplement with whatever dose it takes to stay in the optimum range.

Part 2 of Science Marches on

Prevent a Return of Colon Polyps: A reader had a polyp removed during a colonoscopy and wanted to know how to avoid developing another one. He is concerned because they are considered pre-cancerous. I asked my favorite gastroenterologist, Jeffry Fine, MD. He said to limit animal protein and fat and to take at least 2000 iu of vitamin D3 with 45 mcg of vitamin K2.

Medical Deaths Put into Perspective. Medical errors are considered the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. Then there is the documented 106,000 deaths from drugs given as prescribed in hospitals. Add in the common side effects of drugs taken at home (e.g. something like 16,000 deaths a year from NSAIDS) plus overdoses of opioid pain killers and we are talking colossal numbers of fatalities. For comparison: more deaths from meds and erros in any one year than breast cancer, gun shots, auto accidents, AIDS, home fires, tornadoes, floods, and workplace accidents all combined! Oops, wait, that is still way short. You also have to add the total of two recent middle East wars and the 911 tragedy! That total is mind-blowing, but we should also consider the gradual degenerating contribution of medications to deaths that are in the end officially blamed on some other causes. (See a great example of that in the section below.) This situation is why HBN preaches to prevent disease and use natural solutions whenever possible.

Question from Tom about a relative’s cancer. “Back in August, I learned that my sister-in-law, age 68, has stage four brain cancer. She has been undergoing the standard medical treatments, but the prognosis is not good. I was shocked when she told me that she has used Omeprazole [a proton pump heartburn drug, a PPI] for the last 20 years. I am just wondering if this very long term usage has anything to do with her cancer. After reading your book about natural alternatives, I stopped using Omeprazole and found other things I could do to help my acid reflux. I quit smoking back in 1975, and I figure that was one big decision that has let me live this long (68 years). I can’t imagine having to use any drugs for decades. Thanks for a wonderful site to find good, reliable info.”

My reply to Tom. Thank you for the kind words and you are very smart to ask that question. There is no way to prove a connection between the drug usage and her brain cancer, but well known research and knowledge of physiology would lead to that conclusion. Connect the dots:

  • Stomach acid is critical for absorption of the mineral zinc. Zinc is critical for immune function and helps preserve the thymus gland. The thymus produces immune cells that protect against the viruses suspected in some brain cancers.
  • Acid suppressor drugs also interfere with the uptake of selenium, a mineral that helps zinc and is considered highly cancer-protective.
  • Stomach acid is needed for absorption of magnesium that is needed for hundreds of body functions including brain health. Magnesium is needed to properly utilize vitamin D. Low vitamin D increases the risk of brain cancer. (Most people are low in D to begin with.)
  • PPI drugs interfere with the formation of vitamin B12 which is critical for the health of the nervous system and brain function.
  • Reducing stomach acid leads to an imbalance of good to bad organisms in the gut. That imbalance can directly interfere with immune function and damage the lining of the intestinal tract. A damaged lining called “leaky gut” allows toxins and organisms to get into blood circulation and reduces nutrient absorption. Many experts think that when leaky gut is present there is also a “leaky blood/brain” barrier. Cancer risk increases in tissues that are deprived of nutrients and exposed to toxins.
  • Back to your sister-in-law. Since we can’t help get her off the drug retroactively, blaming her would be unkind. Sadly, she is unlikely to do well under the care of doctors who do not have a clue about these connections. I’ve known of many stage 4 cancers that were reversed with functional-medicine/integrative/alternative methods. If she is open to that idea, there is a lot of information about cancer and links to doctors in the Library of this site. I pray she is guided in the right direction.

Science Marches on Part 1

Recently I’ve received questions from show callers, listener emails and interesting news. A quick review seems in order. This is Part 1:

Toxic Aluminum / Autism and Alzheimer’s: Aluminum is believed to be toxic to the nervous system and is suspected as a contributor to breast cancer. Journalist Jon Rappoport has written two enlightening blogs. Part 1 discusses the high levels of the metal found in autistic brains and in vaccines. Part 2 talks about Alzheimer’s and the idea of lowering aluminum levels with drinking water that contains silicon. (Dr. Einsohn introduced me to a product to protect bones and structure. Maybe it has a fringe benefit: Orgono Mineral Silica Liquid. It’s a more effective delivery system than pills and has no taste.)

More on Autism plus Polio-like Infections in children: Bill Sardi wrote an impressive article relating those conditions to Arsenic and Glyphosate (agricultural weed killer). ARTICLE. Note: it is now horrifying that now one child in 59 is on the autism spectrum. The rate has been increasing by 6-15% per year. E.g. in 2000 the rate was 1 in 150.

Dry Eyes: On the Dec. 1 show Dr. Jeffry Anshel discussed that topic and many others related to eye health. A caller who didn’t get on air wanted to know if castor oil was good for dry eye. Dr. Anshel says “no”. During the show he had recommended biotears.com.

Leaky Bladder? A listener in Albuquerque asked about this problem. Here is a link to information from the Mayo Clinic. They say it may help to avoid: Alcohol, Artificial Sweeteners, Caffeine, Carbonated Beverages, Chocolate, Citrus Fruits, Spicy Foods and Tomatoes. The problem can also be aggravated by vitamin D deficiency and by taking some Medications (for blood pressure, sedatives, and muscle relaxants). Elsewhere Mayo suggests weight loss and special exercises. If the problem is mainly one of starting to go just before reaching the commode, you might try training the brain. Go before the need becomes urgent and wait a minute before giving the signal. I had my mom do that and repeat this in her head: “I wait to pee until I sit and count one, two, three.” It helped her.

Next week I’ll discuss prevention of colon polyps; how heartburn drugs can cause cancer; ozone for tooth whitening; and among other things, I’ll put drug deaths into an understandable perspective.


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