Tag Archives: Dietary supplement

My Visit To Biotics Research

As many of you know, I have been lecturing quite regularly around the country for Biotics Research.  I lecture on the connection between neurologic conditions and nutrition.  We cover topics such as anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

While I’ve recommended Biotics supplements since I began practice 7(!) years ago, I never had the opportunity to see their corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in person. All that changed last weekend with my trip to Houston, Texas to lecture and to visit their amazing facility.

My journey began with a very early morning flight from Manchester to Houston by way of Detroit.  If you live in Vermont or New Hampshire you know that direct flights are a luxury most of us rarely have the pleasure of!

I arrived early in Houston at about 11.  By noon I was in Rosenberg, Texas – the base of operation for Biotics Research.  When I arrived I had lunch with the owners of the company and keeping with the healthy theme, we all had salads.

After lunch, I was given a tour of the entire operation.  What an experience! I have always recommended Biotics products to my patients for two reasons; they are very effective, and perhaps most importantly, they are the highest quality in the industry. My tour of the facility just confirmed my convictions.

From the moment a raw ingredient arrives at the manufacturing facility to the time the supplement ships to you, it is accounted for, cataloged, checked and re-checked to ensure safety and efficacy.

Raw ingredients arrive at the facility and are quickly quarantined so they can be logged and tested for safety.  Although all raw ingredients come with a certificate of analysis stating the identification of the raw ingredient and some safety specs, Biotics retests ALL of it.  They look for several things.  They first do a quick check to identify the substance.  They must make sure they are getting what they think they are getting! Then safety checks begin. This is NOT the industry standard. Most companies rely on the raw ingredient suppliers to check their products. This is, of course, a conflict of interest. Many of you have been frustrated by back-ordered products from time to time from Biotics, and this is almost always because Biotics was forced to reject a batch of raw ingredient because of contaminants.  This is for your safety. It is actually a good thing!

After a raw ingredient has been identified it undergoes safety and potency testing. Potency must be known because supplements with little or no potency are useless at best and harmful at worst.  In addition to potency testing, they test the raw ingredients for heavy metals, solvents and pesticides.  The FDA has set standards for minimally acceptable levels of contaminants in raw ingredients for supplements.  Biotics has its own standards that EXCEED what the FDA requires.  Pretty awesome stuff!

There are thousands of square feet of production rooms, each made with hardened stone floors and steel ceilings so they can be power washed between each run of production to prevent cross contamination. After all, Biotics can’t make all 300+ of their products at the same time.  They must rotate production runs and this requires that the same manufacturing rooms and machinery be used for your GTA and your PheniTropic! What they must do to clean the production machinery is even more amazing.  They wheel each machine out of the manufacturing room, disassemble it and clean every nook and cranny possible! Sometimes this must be done daily! All of this is done to make the Biotics supplements safe and effective for you.

Once a product is finished, safety checks are still not done.  Each lot is randomly tested for quality after it has been quarantined to make sure that it is safe for sale. Biotics is so concerned about quality control, they even catalog the labels on the bottles just as they catalog the raw ingredients! It is all to make sure nothing in your product is unaccounted for at any time!

The history of Biotics Research is even more fascinating.  From their involvement in helping uncover the devastating health consequences of Love Canal to being the first American company to bring CoQ10 to the market, Biotics Research isn’t just a supplement producer. Research truly is part of their heritage. If you’d like to know more about their history, give me a call and I’ll be happy to speak to you about it.

My trip to Houston was a great one. Not only was I able to speak to almost 50 doctors about how to help their patients with chronic neurologic issues, but my visit to Biotics strengthened my resolve that quality supplements are a critical part of a health program.

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Can Your Supplements Do This?

 

Recently, a patient told me their medical doctor stated emphatically that supplements were a waste of money. He was told supplements were not digested and passed out of his system without imparting any benefit.  Watch the video below to see what this is not true!

 

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Supplements Are A Leading Cause Of Liver Injury In U.S.

While the above statement may make some of you uncomfortable, a recent study found just that.  As high as 18% of liver injuries are linked directly to supplement use according to a recent review by the National Institutes of Health. On the surface this sounds very frightening until we consider some of the facts behind this study, not the least of which is that all the authors on the study have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.  Watch the video below for more information.

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Do Supplements Kill?

Nutritional supplements

Supplement Aisle

A study recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has concluded that taking multi vitamins and several other supplements was actually associated with an increased risk of mortality (or death).  We’ve seen these studies before and I have several thoughts on them.

First, I do not believe supplements will increase your risk of death.  Supplements are exceptionally safe.  They are so safe, in fact, that they are all sold over-the-counter.  However, supplements are also very effective in helping people with a wide variety of conditions.  With that power can come potential for unwanted side effects.  We must understand that if something has the power to do good it also has the power to do bad.  Let’s break down the study and see how the authors came to the conclusion that they did.

They assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in relation to total mortality in 38,772 older women in the Iowa Women’s Health Study; mean age was 61.6 years at baseline in 1986.  Supplement use was self-reported in 1986, 1997, and 2004.  Their conclusion to the study was as follows:

“In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk.”

I have several problems with this study. The first is that use of supplements was self-reported.  And the time frame with which they reported was years apart. This is a problem because you are asking people to remember what they are taking.  I do this every day in my practice and many of my patients can’t remember what they’re taking day-to-day and I see them on a monthly basis.

The study also only shows an association, not cause and effect.  This is dangerous because studies like this get huge headlines and inevitably the headlines shout about how dangerous supplements are when, in fact, they are very safe.

To show you just how flimsy an association link in a study may be here is a good example. Say you wanted to study breast cancer and you wanted to look at what is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. You might conclude that wearing make-up is associated with a much higher rate of breast cancer than not wearing make-up.  You came to this conclusion because you noticed that people who wear make-up get breast cancer at much higher rates that people who do not.  This sounds legitimate of the surface.  Perhaps there is something in the make-up that is carcinogenic.  Or perhaps people who wear make-up are much more likely to get breast cancer than people who do not for another reason. We know that breast cancer is far more common in women and they also happen to wear the most make-up.  An association can easily be shown between people who wear make-up and breast cancer, but it likely not for the right reasons.

Another shortcoming of the study is that the researchers did not know whether the women were taking the supplements for a specific health condition.  People often begin taking supplements because they do not feel well.  They may be experiencing sleep problems, low energy,  head aches or worse.  These symptoms may be signs of deeper problems. We cannot be sure these women did not die from the very condition they were trying to treat and not the supplements.

Thirdly, the increase in mortality was exceptionally small and likely is not clinically significant. What that means is that the results were so minuscule they have almost no observable effect.  It was also noted that the women who used the supplements were almost twice a likely to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) while going through menopause.  HRT is known to increase the rates of many cancers.

The researchers did take hormone therapy into account in their analysis, along with several other potentially mitigating factors (including age, educational attainment, body mass index, diet, and physical activity).  What I don’t see on this list is prescription drug use.  This must be known for this study to hold any water! Drugs are obtained via prescription for one reason and one reason only – they are dangerous!  They are a leading cause of death in the United States!  If they did not consider drug use then how can they possibly conclude it was the supplements that increased mortality rates?  They can’t!

While I don’t agree with the conclusion of the study, I agree that men and women should seek the advice of someone trained in nutrition and skilled at building a personalized program for each individual.  I never recommend going to the health food store and picking up one of everything and beginning to take them.  As a matter of fact, I rarely recommend multi vitamins.  Not everyone needs more of everything.  Targeted nutrition should be your goal.

Remember, supplements are extremely safe and just because one study concludes that there is an association between supplements and mortality does not mean you should stop taking them, especially if they’ve benefited you.

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Before you take that Ibuprofen, read this!

Ibuprofen Polka~Dots 2

Image by CLCsPics via Flickr

A recent study consisting of 116,000 people has supported other research that NSAIDs pack a dangerous risk for your heart.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a very popular class of drugs that are used for many things including fever reduction and pain management.  They are most commonly used to reduce the aches and pains of every day life such as headaches, back pain and arthritis.  Below is a list of NSAIDs that are approved in the U.S.

The names you will recognize are probably aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.  They are the best-selling of the NSAIDs.

This new research was a meta-analysis of 31 other studies that looked at prescription strength NSAIDs.  The data, however, likely applies to the over the counter NSAIDs one can buy right off the shelf.  It is very easy to take prescription strengths simply by taking too many of the over the counter version, something millions of Americans do every day.

What was found was that by taking these medications there is a significant increase in the risk of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular death.  The study did not take into account the known risk of bleeding associated with the entire NSAID class of drugs.  (Click here to read about “baby” aspirin and its dangers.)

So what do you do if you have pain?

The most important thing you need to do is consume an anti-inflammatory diet.  The principles of this diet work on the same metabolic pathways that the NSAID class of drugs does, but without the nasty side effects.  Plus, by changing your diet you get the added benefit of more energy, a better cholesterol profile and reduction in total inflammatory load.  These are things the NSAIDs could never claim to do.

How to eat an anti-inflammatory diet

There are also supplements that work quite well.  First, fish oil is a must.  It is potently anti-inflammatory and there are many studies to back up its usefulness in pain reduction.  Be sure to get a high quality fish oil.  Low quality fish oils are filled with toxins and will do more harm than good at worst and do nothing beneficial at best.

For pain reduction I recommend 6 grams (6,000 mg) per day of fish oil.  The number of capsules that will take depends on the potency of the brand you buy.  You will likely get more for your money if you buy the oil and take it by the teaspoon.

Other supplements that work quite well are the anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger and turmeric. When taken consistently, they significantly impact pain levels.  They are also available in many products over the counter.  I always recommend, however, that one sees a health care practitioner that is trained in functional medicine before trying this on your own.  Your results will be much better if you see a doctor who can manage your care with you.

Enzymes such as bromelain are also of benefit.  Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples.  It is potently anti-inflammatory.

NSAIDs are overly used and are often misused.  This, in part, leads to their problems.  If people could change their diet and use natural alternatives for pain management, heavy reliance on NSAIDs could be a thing of the past.  In my book, that would be a great thing.

 

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The Next Big Thing In Health and Nutrition!

Curly kale

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Usually I like to take information that I find from many different sources, put it together and give you my opinion on it here on my blog.  Well today I came across and article on Dr. Mercola’s health site, www.mercola.com, that was so good that I wanted to re-post it here on my blog in its entirety without commenting on it.  I think Dr. Mercola said everything about as well as it could be said.  This information is on vitamin K and it’s very well put together.  The article is a bit long but well worth the read! Please enjoy!

Dr. Mercola’s Article

Vitamin K may very well be “the next vitamin D” as research continues to illuminate a growing number of benefits to your health.

It is probably where vitamin D was ten years ago with respect to its appreciation as a vital nutrient that has far more benefits than was originally recognized.

And, according to Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin K – just like most are deficient in D.

Vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be done accurately, but the results are not necessarily helpful because they mainly reflect what you ate yesterday. Because of this, we will have to trust Dr. Vermeer on his assessment that most are too deficient to reap all of its health benefits. Vitamin K researchers across the world will acknowledge him as a leader in this field.

Most people get enough K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting, but NOT enough to offer protection against the following health problems—and the list is growing:

  • Arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease and varicose veins
  • Osteoporosis
  • Prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and leukemia
  • Brain health problems, including dementia, the specifics of which are still being studied

Vitamin K comes in two forms, and it is important to understand the differences between them before devising your nutritional plan of attack.

The Two Basic Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K can be classified as either K1 or K2:

  1. Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of K that infants need to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.) It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.
  2. Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately is not absorbed from there and passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K2 can convert to K1 in your body, but there are some problems with this, which I will discuss shortly. As a supplement, K1 is less expensive, which is why it’s the form used for neonates.

Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of vitamin K2.

MK8 and MK9 come primarily from dairy products. MK4 and MK7 are the two most significant forms of K2, and act very differently in your body:

  • MK4 is a synthetic product, very similar to vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK4. However, MK4 has a very short half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement. After reaching your intestines, it remains mostly in your liver, where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.
  • MK7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK4 or K1. MK7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called natto. You could actually get loads of MK7 from consuming natto as it is relatively inexpensive, and is available in most Asian food markets. Few people, however, tolerate it’s smell and slimy texture.

Let’s take a look at what scientific studies are showing us about vitamin K2.

Vitamin K Research has Come a Long Way

In 2008, a German research group discovered that vitamin K2 provides substantial protection from prostate cancer[1], which is one of the leading causes of cancer among men in the United States. According to Dr. Vermeer, men taking the highest amounts of K2 have about 50 percent less prostate cancer.

Research results are similarly encouraging for the benefits of vitamin K to your cardiac health:

  • In 2004, the Rotterdam Study, which was the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day[2].
  • In a subsequent study called the Prospect Study[3], 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Researchers found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet results in 9 percent fewer cardiac events.

Preliminary findings also suggest that vitamin K can help protect you from brain disease. However, it is too early to say exactly what types of damage it prevents—and how—but it is an area of intense interest to vitamin K scientists right now.

Vitamin K2 is CRUCIAL in Preventing Osteoporosis

The evidence suggests that vitamin K2 is essential for your bone health, but it is a nutrient the vast majority of you do not get in adequate amounts from your diet.

How does vitamin K lead to bone health?

Osteocalcin is a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation), and is utilized within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. However, osteocalcin must be “carboxylated” before it can be effective. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes the carboxylation of osteocalcin.

Vitamin K2 has been found to be a far more effective “activator” of osteocalcin than K1.

There has been some remarkable research about the protective effects of vitamin K2 against osteoporosis:

  • A number of Japanese trials have shown that vitamin K2 completely reverses bone loss and in some cases even increases bone mass in people with osteoporosis[4].
  • The pooled evidence of seven Japanese trials show that vitamin K2 supplementation produces a 60 percent reduction in vertebral fractures and an 80 percent reduction in hip and other non-vertebral fractures[5].
  • Researchers in the Netherlands showed that vitamin K2 is three times more effective than vitamin K1 in raising osteocalcin, which controls the building of bone[6].

Although your body can convert K1 into K2, studies show that the amount of K2 produced by this process alone is insufficient. Even if you are consuming enough K1, your body uses most of it to make clotting factors, leaving little remaining for your bones.

In other words, your liver preferentially uses vitamin K1 to activate clotting factors, while most of your other tissues preferentially use K2.

Vitamin K2 has also been found to offer you other benefits—besides your bones!

Vitamin K2 Lowers Your Cancer Risk

As mentioned earlier, we are also learning that vitamin K2 has a major role in preventing cancer.

The recent European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study[7], published in the October 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found high intake of vitamin K2—not K1—leads to reduced cancer risk, as well as a thirty percent lower risk of dying from cancer[8].

A study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that vitamin K2 might help reduce the risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 had a 45 percent lower risk for this type of cancer, compared to those with the lowest vitamin K2 intake[9].

Scientists attribute this to the important role that vitamin K2 plays in inhibiting inflammatory cytokines, which are related to this type of lymphoma, and vitamin K’s role the lifecycle of your cells.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K from Your Diet?

Eating lots of green vegetables will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally, especially:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

You can obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. However, natto is generally not pleasing to the Westerner’s palate, so the next best thing is a vitamin K2 supplement.

But remember, you must always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about overdosing on K2—people have been given a thousand-fold “overdose” over the course of three years, showing no adverse reactions (i.e., no increased clotting tendencies).

The Synergistic Effects Between Vitamin K and Vitamin D

It’s important to realize that vitamin K does not work alone. It needs collaborators—and vitamin D is an important one.

These two agents work together to increase MGP, or Matrix GLA Protein, which is the protein that is responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. In fact, MGP is so important that it can be used as a laboratory measure of your vascular and cardiac status.

The results of human clinical studies suggest that concurrent use of vitamin K2 and vitamin D may substantially reduce bone loss.

If you are concerned about your bones, you must balance this nutritional triad:

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Vitamin K
  3. Calcium

Increasing calcium is good for your bones but not so beneficial for your arteries, which can become calcified, but vitamin K protects your blood vessels from calcifying when in the presence of high calcium levels.

So you really must pay attention to the synergism of all three of these nutrients if you want to optimize your benefits.

I am convinced we are seeing just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vitamin K and its many valuable functions in your health. It’s truly an exciting area in nutritional science today.

In the meantime it is my STRONG encouragement to make sure you find some regular source of vitamin K2. This will mean eating about four ounces of fermented cheese a day (preferably raw) or taking a high quality vitamin K2 supplement.

It is my strong belief that in ten years time there will be as much passion and appreciation for this stealth vitamin as we have for vitamin D today.

References


  • [1] Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S and Linseisen J. “Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)” Am J Clinical Nutrition April 2008;87(4):985-992 http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/87/4/985
  • [2] Geleijnse JM, Vermeer C, Grobbee DE, Schurgers LJ, Knapen MHJ, van der Meer IM, Hofman A and Witteman JCM. “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study” November 2004; J Nutr 134:3100-3105 http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/134/11/3100
  • [3] Daniels, S. “Vitamin K2, but not K1, effective for heart health benefits: Study” NutraIngredients.com February 12, 2009 http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Vitamin-K2-but-not-K1-effective-for-heart-health-benefits-Study
  • [4] Vermeer C, Shearer M J, Zitterman A, Bolton-Smith C, Szulc P, Hodges S, Walter P, Rambeck W, Stocklin E, Weber P. “Beyond deficiency: Potential benefits of increased intakes of vitamin K for bone and vascular health” Eur J Nutr. December 2004;43(6):325-335
  • [5] Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. “Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” Arch Intern Med. 2006; 166: 1256-1261
  • [6] Schurgers LJ, Teunissen KJF, Hamulyak K, Knapen MHJ, Hogne V, Vermeer C. “Vitamin K-containing dietary supplements: Comparison of synthetic vitamin K1 and natto-derived menaquinone-7” Blood. 2006
  • [7] Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Kaaks R, and Linseisen J. “Dietary vitamin K intake in relation to cancer incidence and mortality: Results from the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)” Am J Clin Nutr (March 24, 2010) http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/abstract/ajcn.2009.28691v1
  • [8] Daniells S (March 30, 2010) “Vitamin D may reduce cancer risk: EPIC study” Nutraingredients.com http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Vitamin-K-may-reduce-cancer-risk-EPIC-study
  • [9] “Vitamin K may protect against developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma” (April 20, 2010) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/185923.php

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