Author Archives: Noah Gray

Vitamin B6 for Colon Cancer: Another Potential Benefit from This Critical Nutrient

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Colon Cancer"Last year, researchers in Scotland demonstrated that increased blood levels of vitamin B6’s active form, pyridoxal 5´-phosphate (PLP), were correlated with a decreased incidence of colorectal cancer. (Theodoratou E, et al. Dietary vitamin B6 intake and the risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.;17[1]:171-82)

This year, scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed similar results in a prospective study that involved nearly 15,000 people. (Lee J, et al. Prospective study of plasma vitamin B6 and risk of colorectal cancer in men. Cancer Epidimiol Biomarkers Prev. 18[4]:1197-1202)

These studies suggest that increased intake of vitamin B6 may decrease the risk for acquiring colorectal cancer—a disease that accounts for nearly 500,000 deaths worldwide every year—by as much as 50%.

Since vitamin B6 in its several forms (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine) is not present in high amounts in many foods, and since it is lost in cooking and in the refining of foodstuffs, B6 is not the easiest vitamin to obtain in high amounts from food sources. (Elson M Haas. Staying Healthy with Nutrition: Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine). Celestial Arts, 121-124)

And, because many Americans eat a lot of processed foods, the average U.S. citizen may be missing the anti-cancer benefits conferred by higher levels of PLP in the bloodstream.

How Does Vitamin B6 Protect Us from Colon Cancer?

While the precise anti-cancer mechanism of vitamin B6 has yet to be described (the vitamin manifests its influence in protean ways) the anti-inflammatory and free-radical scavenging actions of PLP may play a role.

Harvard researchers found a positive correlation between blood levels of PLP and blood levels of folic acid and cobalamin, two other B vitamins. Further, PLP levels are inversely correlated with homocysteine, C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-6, all of which are inflammatory molecules or markers for inflammation.

Thus, higher intake of vitamin B6 leads to higher blood levels of its active form, PLP, which is in turn associated with lower levels of inflammatory molecules. Although this might seem serendipitous at first, these associations become clearer when one understands that PLP plays a vital role as a coenzyme in metabolizing harmful inflammatory molecules, such as homocysteine, to less toxic substances.

It is intriguing that the majority of colon cancers express the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme, which is not only instrumental in helping the cancer to grow and metastasize, but is also responsible for creating a variety of prostaglandins and other inflammatory molecules.

What are Good Food Sources of Vitamin B6?

While vitamin B6 is widely available in nature, not many foods contain high levels. Nor is this vitamin replaced in enriched flour products.

  • Meats, particularly organ meats (e.g., liver and heart), and whole grains are the best sources of vitamin B6. Wheat germ is one of the richest sources.
  • Since vitamin B6 is vital for the formation and metabolism of proteins, other protein-rich foods contain reasonably good levels, too: peanuts, walnuts, eggs, fish, poultry, and legumes are all good sources.
  • Raw sugar cane and unrefined sugar contain some vitamin B6, but refined sugar has none.
  • Good vegetable and fruit sources include collard and mustard greens, bell peppers (ripened), cabbage, cauliflower, avocados, spinach, potatoes, garlic, turnips, prunes and bananas.
  • Mushrooms also contain vitamin B6.

Supplementation with Vitamin B6 and Recommended Daily Intakes

Needs for vitamin B6 change in a variety of situations. Higher protein intake necessitates a higher dosage; stress, hormonal status, alcohol consumption, pregnancy, illness, and other variables also increase one’s need for PLP.

In general, 10 – 15 mg of vitamin B6 daily is a quite reasonable adult dose (since B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, fairly large doses can be tolerated without any ill effects in most individuals). Doses up to 1,000 mg daily can be tolerated for short periods of time (a few weeks), and many people supplement with 500 mg daily on an ongoing basis.

Vitamin B6 should be taken with other B vitamins and adequate magnesium to avoid imbalance and provide optimal benefit.

The National Academy of Sciences established age-related, daily Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin B6:

  • Infants, 0 – 6 months 100 mcg
  • Infants, 7 – 12 months 300 mcg
  • Children, 1 – 3 years 500 mcg
  • Children, 4 – 8 years 600 mcg
  • Males, 9 – 13 years 1.0 mg
  • Males, 14 – 50 years 1.3 mg
  • Males, over 50 years 1.5 mg
  • Females, 9 – 13 years 1.0 mg
  • Females, 14 – 50 years 1.2 mg
  • Females, over 50 years 1.5 mg
  • Pregnant women, any age 1.9 mg
  • Lactating women 2.0 mg

Some scientists have long questioned whether these recommendations were high enough. Given the information that higher blood levels of PLP, B6’s active coenzyme form, may prevent colon cancer, it is possible that new RDAs will be forthcoming.

Deficiency of Vitamin A

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "vitamin a deficiency"Deficiency of vitamin A is not common in the United States; however, it is a serious public health problem in some other countries. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin which plays a role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division, normal growth, and maintenance of healthy skin in humans. This compound also has a function in the production and activity of white blood cells for the immune system.

Vitamin A has an important role in the maintenance of mucous membranes and surface lining of many systems of the body.

Every year a quarter to a half million children in developing countries become blind because of vitamin A deficiency. Moreover, millions of children die in these countries each year from infectious diseases such as measles because of diets which are deficient in the vitamin and inadequate availability of immunizations.

Vitamin A deficiency may lead to decline in resistance to infection, night blindness, poor growth in children, weak bones and teeth, inflammation of the eyes, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. There is an association between pneumonia and deficiency of the vitamin. In the United States, vitamin A deficiency does occur in alcoholic patients, and it occurs in children as a subclinical form with no symptoms.

The use of vitamin A supplementation in patients with alcoholism is problematic because these clients tend to have liver problems from their consumption of alcohol. Since vitamin A stores in the human liver, this would place too much burden on that organ. Hence, they should obtain vitamin A from their food intake in conjunction with cessation of alcohol use.

Subclinical vitamin A deficiency

The subclinical form in the United States involves low storage of the vitamin in the liver. Children who live in areas of the country with poor access to health care are at risk for this condition. Toddlers and preschool age children may develop it as well. Pediatric patients who live in poverty or in areas where nutritional deficiency is prevalent are also at risk for the asymptomatic form of vitamin A deficiency.

Children in the United States who are recent immigrants or refugees from developing countries where deficiency of vitamin A or measles is quite prevalent may have the subclinical form. Moreover, children with diseases of the liver, pancreas, intestines, or problems with the absorption or digestion of fat are at risk for subclinical vitamin A deficiency.

The subclinical form of vitamin A deficiency is not as severe as symptomatic cases of the condition. In fact, patients with subclinical deficiency still have some liver storage of vitamin A though in smaller amounts than a person with normal supply of the vitamin. Nevertheless, patients with subclinical vitamin A deficiency will still encounter the same or similar health problems that individuals with severe vitamin A deficiency will have.

Vitamin A deficiency occurs in the United States when a person is under strict dietary restrictions. In general such restrictions will accompany deficiency of zinc, and that will impair the body’s ability to mobilize vitamin A from liver stores to other tissues.

Vegetarians require additional vitamin A because the supply that they receive from plant food does not absorb through the gastrointestinal tract as well as vitamin A from animal sources. Therefore, strict vegetarians who do not consume eggs and dairy products require at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day to meet this need.

Patients with malabsorption problems of the gastrointestinal tract such as celiac disease or Crohn disease are at risk for vitamin A deficiency.

Food sources of vitamin A

To obtain enough vitamin A one must understand that it occurs in two forms from food sources. Animal sources supply retinol, or preformed vitamin A, which is almost ready for use by the human body after absorption from the gastrointestinal system. Eggs, milk, liver, margarine, some fortified food products, meat, cheese, kidney, cod, and halibut fish oil contain animal or preformed vitamin A.

Vitamin A from plants occurs as beta carotene, and one can obtain this from colorful fruits and vegetables such as carrots, canteloupes, sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, broccoli, peaches, apricots, mangos, kale, and pink grapefruit. The advantage of plant vitamin A is that it converts to preformed vitamin A in the small intestine, and it does not appear that one can obtain too much beta carotene.

Animal or preformed vitamin A, however, may become toxic if one consumes large amounts of it from unnecessary supplementation.

One of the first clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency is night blindness, and it is interesting to note that in ancient Egypt, people treated this medical condition with the consumption of liver.

Can Taking a Vitamin D Supplement Help Prevent Breast Cancer?

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Breast cancer"Breast cancer is a major health concern. This article explains how Vitamin D might help prevent breast cancer, based on a study by Garland (et al).

This article does not deal with rickets, calcium, bones and teeth, electrolytes or general nutrition.

Explaining Garland’s Pooled Study on Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

A “pooled study” reviews previous studies to “pool” the data from those sources. Any findings are more credible because more data was collected, by more original researchers with different methodologies and biases.

Garland’s pooled study, “Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: Pooled analysis” reviewed relevant research published from 1966 through 2015, on any relationship between blood Vitamin D levels and the risk of breast cancer.

They reviewed the level of one vitamin D metabolite, “25(OH)D”, in the blood. A low value is 10 ng/ml (nanograms of “25(OH)D” per millilitre of blood); a high value is 50 ng/ml.

Garland found two studies to support the following:

If a woman were to increase her blood level of “25(OH)D” from 10 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml, she would reduce her risk of breast cancer by 50%. A rise from 10 to 32 ng/ml provides risk reduction of 31%. The difference in “25(OH)D” levels “accounted for 90% of the variation in risk of breast cancer”.

Garland also found one previous study that had a similar result for a different metabolite of Vitamin D, and two that did not find any relationship.

What are Safe Levels for Vitamin D?

The American government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes several recommendations about Vitamin D in “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D”. This fact sheet notes that Vitamin D may aid resistance to cancer (and some other diseases), but also that excessive sunlight leads to skin cancer. The recommended daily Vitamin D dosage varies from 400 to 800 IU.

The fact sheet says that “studies to date do not support a role for vitamin D, with or without calcium, in reducing the risk of cancer”. This contradicts Garoland’s study.

The toxic threshold of “25(OH)D” is about 200 ng/ml: four times the highest level in Garland’s study. The NIH reports that other health risks rise at levels as low as 30 ng/ml., including a higher risk of some other cancers.

The NIH also says that 97.5% of the population has adequate Vitamin D if their blood level is 20 ng/ml. Lower levels increase the risk of deficiency diseases.

Sunshine, Food and Supplements are Sources of Vitamin D

People make Vitamin D when their skin is exposed to sunshine. The NIH claims that sunshine does not lead to a Vitamin D overdose, but they do warn about skin cancer. We all should use common sense about sunburn and long-term skin damage.

Dairy products, fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna, and some fortified margarines are dietary sources of Vitamin D.

A supplement dosage of 1,000 IU raises the blood level of “25(OH)D” from 10 to 20 ng/ml, but the effect decreases at higher starting levels. The American maximum supplement was 2,000 IU per day. It is difficult to accidentally get a toxic Vitamin D overdose with any reasonable amount of diet supplements.

Known Medical Issues About Vitamin D

The NIH fact sheet adds:

  • Vitamin D is important for the body to use calcium for bones and to avoid “hypocalcemic tetany”: muscle spasms due to a calcium electrolyte imbalance
  • Some dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, milk allergies, or a vegan diet, may lead to low Vitamin D intake
  • Vitamin D is absorbed with fat, so Crohn’s disease (and others) may cause low Vitamin D levels
  • Gastric bypass surgery can reduce Vitamin D absorption
  • Some diet drugs such as Orlistat, and cholesterol drugs such as Cholestyramine, reduce fat absorption and so may reduce Vitamin D levels
  • Some other drugs also change Vitamin D’s effectiveness
  • Obese people store more Vitamin D in their fat, so less is available for their blood levels

In “Vitamin D: Are higher doses needed?”, Milosevich points to hyperparathyroidism as a contra-indication for taking Vitamin D. He also explains that Vitamin D toxicity symptoms include dizziness, dry mouth, headache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

How to Use Vitamin D to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Ask your doctor about using Vitamin D to help prevent breast cancer:

  • Check your current blood level for the “25(OH)D” form of Vitamin D, and explain why you are interested
  • Discuss any risks or concerns based on your own health, allergies, medications, diet and lifestyle
  • Ask about the risk trade-off if you decrease your risk of breast cancer but increase other risks

Then buy Vitamin D if your doctor agrees, and take it as directed.

Can taking a Vitamin D supplement help prevent breast cancer? The answer is a cautious “Probably, in moderate doses”.

Vitamins for Women: Which Supplements Do Women Really Need?

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Vitamins for Women"Vitamin C. Folic acid. Vitamin D. Consumers encounter these substances through food and drug advertising so frequently that they may not give a second thought to what they are or why they’re needed. Unfortunately, due to a diet high in processed foods and the fact that even farmed foods are of lower nutritional quality than they were even a few decades ago, many Americans may not be getting the vitamins they need—women in particular.

Because of hormonal differences between women and men, particularly where reproductive health is concerned, women have specific nutritional needs and specific vitamin requirements. Vitamins are chemicals that can’t be produced by the body but that we need for the variety of functions they perform, from strengthening the immune system to helping blood clot to aiding in the absorption of other nutrients that we eat. In women, they aid in fetal development as well as personal growth and development, keep our bones strong and skin healthy, and can act as antioxidants to reduce cancer risk.

Getting familiar with the six kinds of vitamins (including all the B vitamins) can help you to determine which ones you might not be getting enough of. In most cases, a multivitamin is recommended for women, as taking vitamins simultaneously can enhance absorption. But certain populations, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women or those taking other medications, may require additional supplementation.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamins A, D, E, and K, are absorbed via lipids in the intestines during digestion. Because they remain in the body once digested, there is a risk of toxicity, so it’s important to stick to recommended daily guidelines.

Vitamin A plays a role in keeping the eyes healthy as well as in regulating oil production in the skin (retinol, popular in skincare products, is a form of Vitamin A) and maintaining bone health. It’s found in fortified milk and egg yolks; beta carotene, a related nutrient often packaged with Vitamin A, is found in dark-green leafy vegetables and dark-orange produce. Adult women should aim for up to 5,000 IU/day (pregnant women should not exceed this amount).

Vitamin D has lately been front and center for its role in bone health, as it aids in calcium absorption. It’s also been linked to reduction of PMS symptoms. Vitamin D is found in milk, soy milk, fortified cereals, and some fish like salmon and sardines. Adult women (up to age 50; also pregnant and breastfeeding) require 200 IU of Vitamin D a day.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help prevent heart disease and cancer. It also fights cell damage, making it a go-to anti-aging nutrient. Vitamin E is found in nuts, wheat germ, and spinach. Adult women (pregnant women included) should aim for 30 IU daily.

Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting and is also linked to bone health. It’s found primarily in leafy greens. Adult women (pregnant women included) require up to 90 micrograms of Vitamin K daily.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

The water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). Because they dissolve easily in water, an excess of these vitamins is typically excreted from the body via urine; therefore toxicity is uncommon. Below is a discussion of Vitamin C and perhaps the three most important B vitamins for women: B6, B9, and B12.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant best known for its role in boosting immune response. It’s also essential for healthy skin as it maintains tissue by manufacturing collagen and may repair sun damage. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, bright-colored vegetables, and leafy greens. Adult women should get 75 milligrams daily (85 for pregnant women as it aids in folic acid and iron absorption).

Vitamin B6 aids in the production of hormones and chemicals in the brain, so it’s essential for women on hormonal birth control, who experience PMS symptoms, or who suffer from depression. It can be found in chicken, fish, and lean red meat as well as in potatoes, bananas, whole grains, beans, and seeds. Adult women (pregnant women included) should take 2 milligrams a day.

Vitamin B9, which is more often referred to as folic acid, is important to the growth and reproduction of body cells and prevents birth defects, making it an essential supplement for pregnant women. It is found in leafy greens, orange juice, wheat germ, and fortified grains. Adult women need 400 micrograms; pregnant women require 600 micrograms.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods and can help prevent heart disease, the number one killer of American women. It also aids in the development and maintenance of nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 can be found in extra lean red meat, poultry, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products. Adult women need 2.4 micrograms per day; pregnant women need 2.6.

If you are on medication or have a health condition, it’s a good idea to consult your physician as to any potential interactions or contraindications. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in particular should always talk with a doctor about vitamin dosages. For everyone else, if you’re not getting a variety of the foods described above, a multivitamin should meet your daily nutritional requirements.

Improve Hypertension with Vitamins and Supplements

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Vitamins and Supplements"According to the American Heart Association, about one in three adults have high blood pressure but one-third of those don’t realize they have it because the symptoms are often not noticeable. This is why hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer. If left untreated it can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and death. If your blood pressure reading is above 140/90 it is likely that your health care provider will place you on a blood pressure medication to help lower it. It is very important to follow the medical treatment prescribed for you by your provider.

What Else Can You Do For Yourself?

Vitamins and supplements can play an important role in heart health and controlling hypertension. Here are some that are known for their benefits to the cardiovascular system.

  • Vitamin B3 or Niacin is known for lowering blood pressure and triglycerides (bad cholesterol), and may help people with heart disease due to its beneficial effects on clotting. It also may help prevent second heart attacks in men.

Niacin can be found in lean red meat, fish, organ meats, pork, as well as milk and other dairy products. Other niacin rich foods include almonds, beans, wheat products, rice bran, leafy green vegetables, carrots, and celery.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 14-20 mg . This small amount is usually easily absorbed from the average diet. One side effect from taking a niacin supplement is possible uncomfortable flushing of the face and body.

  • Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid may help lower high blood pressure by calming an overactive central nervous system according to the Washington Post article published about an Italian study. It also reportedly relaxes the small blood vessels, reduces clotting, helps convert cholesterol to bile acids and protects the arteries from damage.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, kiwi, mango, papaya, blueberries, pineapple and even a baked potato. The RDA is 60 mg per day.

  • Vitamin D deficiency has been noted in patients who have heart disease and high cholesterol. Taking Vitamin D along with eating a low fat, high fiber diet can assist in lowering your bad cholesterol and raising the good cholesterol to the proper levels.

Vitamin D is made by our bodies naturally when exposed to sunlight and we make up to 70-80% of our needs. Older people in nursing homes or people who live in northern climates with less sunlight can easily become deficient. Vitamin D can also be found in fortified milk, juice and cereal. The RDA is 600 IU daily.

  • Vitamin E helps relax and protect the arteries, prevents the blood from becoming sticky and causing clots and helps lower blood pressure.

Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ oil, eggs, vegetable oils, meat, poultry, and cereals. The RDA is 15 IU for adults.

  • Magnesium: According to the National Institute on Health there have been several small studies suggesting that magnesium supplementation may improve clinical outcomes in individuals with coronary disease.

Magnesium can be found in halibut, legumes, broccoli, squash, leafy green vegetables, almonds and even chocolate. The RDA is between 320-420 IU.

  • Calcium plays a role in lowering high blood pressure. In areas where there is a low calcium intake there are higher rates of hypertension.

Calcium can be found in dairy products, canned salmon and fortified orange juice, spinach, collard greens, celery and black strap molasses. The RDA is 1000-1200mg.

  • L-Arginineis an amino acid. According, to WebMD, there is evidence to show that it may help improve blood flow in the arteries of the heart. It may also improve symptoms of clogged arteries, chest pain or angina, and coronary artery disease.

Foods that are rich in L-Arginine are dairy products, meat, fish, carob, chocolate, wheat germ, coconut and oats. There is no RDA for L-Arginine because the body usually produces all it needs in most cases. Therapeutic doses range from 3-20 mg per day but there is not a standard RDA.

  • Potassium: Eating foods rich in potassium can help protect some people from developing high blood pressure. It can prevent certain people from developing heart disease and stroke.

Foods high in potassium are citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, broccoli, dairy products and fish. The RDA for potassium is 4700mg per day.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acidsor Fish Oil According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, several clinical studies suggest that diets or fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. An analysis of 17 clinical studies using fish oil supplements found that taking 3 or more grams of fish oil daily may reduce blood pressure in people with untreated hypertension

Best sources for Omega 3’s are cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, and herring. An RDA for Omega 3 Fatty Acids have not been established.

Visit The American Heart Association to educate yourself on heart health and high blood pressure and discover what you can do to prevent or treat them.

Always talk to your doctor before taking a dietary or herbal supplement. Some could interact with prescribed medications that you may be using or might have harmful side effects.Taking high dosages of vitamins and supplements can be as detrimental to your health as being deficient. Consult your doctor.