cinnamon sticksA 12-week London study was recently conducted involving 58 type 2 diabetics with hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels over 7 percent. Hemoglobin A1c is a marker for long-term glycemic control in diabetics.

After 12 weeks on 2g of cinnamon per day, study subjects had significantly lower HbA1c levels, as well as significantly reduced blood pressures (systolic, SBP and diastolic, DBP).

The researchers’ conclusion:

“Intake of 2g of cinnamon for 12 weeks significantly reduces the HbA1c, SBP and DBP among poorly controlled type 2 diabetes patients. Cinnamon supplementation could be considered as an additional dietary supplement option to regulate blood glucose and blood pressure levels along with conventional medications to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

In related news, a new study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill points to a connection between magnesium in the diet and lowered risk of diabetes.

According to Reuters:

“It’s plausible that magnesium could influence diabetes risk because the mineral is needed for the proper functioning of several enzymes that help the body process glucose.”

Researchers studied magnesium intake and diabetes risk in about 4,500 men and women aged 18 to 30. None of the participants were diabetic at the start of the study.

Over the ensuing 20 years, 330 of the test subjects developed diabetes. The people with the highest magnesium intake – about 200 milligrams for every 1,000 calories consumed – were almost 50 percent less likely to develop diabetes than men and women who consumed about 100 milligrams per 1,000 calories.

The study also revealed that as magnesium intake increased, inflammation levels decreased, as did insulin resistance.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Reuters reports one wildly inaccurate conclusion: that consuming whole grains (which are high in magnesium) is associated with lower diabetes risk.

This is simply not true.

If you’re looking for ways to increase the magnesium in your diet, avoid grains and opt for healthier choices like avocados, almonds, certain types of beans and peas.

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

As I discussed in yesterday’s article on the insanity of Avandia, drugs are not the answer for type 2 diabetes. In that article, I described the natural and most effective way to address type 2 diabetes. If you haven’t already read this article I would strongly encourage you to do so.

The two reports above are related in the sense that they demonstrate the power of natural therapies – as opposed to drugs — to combat this epidemic problem.

However, like drugs, supplements such as cinnamon or magnesium should not be misconstrued as cures. They are safer alternatives than drugs, but you cannot properly address your diabetes if you still maintain a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet — with or without helpful supplements.

How Cinnamon Can Benefit Diabetics

Researchers have investigated the “insulin-like” effects of cinnamon for a number of years now, and as the latest study in Diabetic Medicine shows, cinnamon keeps proving it’s a viable contender in the fight against diabetes.

Among this spice’s most impressive health benefits is its impact on blood sugar and ability to improve glucose control.

For example, just half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day has previously been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Another study found that the spice increased glucose metabolism by about 20 times, which would significantly improve your ability to regulate blood sugar. Cinnamon has even previously been indicated as a potential insulin substitute for those with type 2 diabetes due to a bioactive component with “insulin-like” effects.

Interestingly, cinnamon lowers your blood sugar by acting on several different levels.

It slows the emptying of your stomach to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar following meals, and improves the effectiveness, or sensitivity, of insulin.

It also enhances your antioxidant defenses. A study published last year stated that “polyphenols from cinnamon could be of special interest in people that are overweight with impaired fasting glucose since they might act both as insulin sensitizers and antioxidants.”

Yet another bioflavanoid compound called proanthocyanidin may alter the activity of insulin signaling in your fat cells.

Researchers have suggested people with diabetes may see improvements by adding 1/4 – 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to their food, and I see no reason not to give this a try if you enjoy cinnamon (along with doing the other essentials to improve diabetes, including eliminating fructose and grains from your diet and exercising daily).

Other health benefits of cinnamon include:

  • Supporting digestive function
  • Relieving congestion
  • Relieving pain and stiffness of muscles and joints
  • Anti-inflammatory compounds that may relieve arthritis
  • Helping to prevent urinary tract infections, tooth decay and gum disease
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort
  • Blood-thinning compounds that stimulate circulation

Clearly, adding ample amounts of cinnamon to your diet is an incredibly inexpensive and great tasting tool for diabetics, and the likelihood of this food causing any long-term complications is very small.

Just remember that unless you’re adding it to a proper diet – high in vegetables and extremely low in fructose and grains — you likely will not experience any benefit whatsoever.

Whole Grains Do NOT Lower Your Diabetes Risk!

Reuters makes a grave mistake when claiming that “the results may explain in part why consuming whole grains, which are rich in magnesium, is associated with lower diabetes risk.”

The results they’re talking about is that people who consumed the highest amounts of magnesium, from foods and vitamin supplements, were half as likely to become diabetics over two decades as those who consumed the least amount of magnesium, according to a recent study.

According to the researchers, magnesium may decrease your diabetes risk because magnesium is required for the proper functioning of enzymes involved in glucose processing.

This has nothing to do with whole grains, and does not support the claim that whole grains are good for diabetics.

In fact, if you’re diabetic or want to avoid becoming diabetic, then grains – including whole grains — are at the TOP of the list of foods to AVOID, right after fructose and other sugars.

Why?

Because just like sugar, grains  typically are a primary cause of insulin insensitivity, which is at the root of diabetes.

Healthful Sources of Magnesium

As for magnesium, the study found that those who consumed about 200 mg of magnesium for every 1,000 calories consumed were 47 percent less likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes, compared to those who consumed half that amount of magnesium.

In addition, the researchers also discovered that as magnesium levels rose, markers of inflammation decreased.

Magnesium serves many important metabolic functions in your body, but if you want to increase the magnesium in your diet, please stay away from grains and opt for healthier choices, such as:

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach
  • Raw broccoli
  • Black beans
  • Peas

Other Great Anti-Diabetic Foods

Aside from cinnamon and magnesium-rich fare, other foods shown to be particularly beneficial for diabetics include:

For more information about diabetes, and the full guidelines for preventing and treating diabetes, please see this link.

Related Articles:

  Cinnamon Can Help Control Your Blood Sugar

  How to Finally Make Type 2 Diabetes Disappear

  Diet & Exercise Beat Drugs for Diabetes Heart Risk

 Comments (98)

vitamin b tabletLarge doses of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems. It may slow their progression toward dementia.

A two-year clinical trial was the largest to date into the effect of B vitamins on “mild cognitive impairment,” a condition which is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Reuters reports:

“[Researchers] conducted a two-year trial with 168 volunteers with MCI who were given either a vitamin pill containing very high doses of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, or a placebo dummy pill …

[O]n average the brains of those taking the vitamin treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76 percent a year, while those taking the dummy pill had an average brain shrinkage of 1.08 percent.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

We are in the midst of an Alzheimer’s epidemic. Odds are absolutely overwhelming that you personally know someone with this disease or who has recently died from it.

In the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans.

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report for 2009, 5.3 million people in the U. S. now have the disease, which bumps it up to the sixth leading cause of death.

Reuters reports:

“Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects around 16 percent of people aged over 70 worldwide and is characterized by slight problems with memory loss, language or other mental functions.

MCI does not usually interfere with daily life, but around 50 percent of people diagnosed with it go on to develop the far more severe Alzheimer’s disease within five years.

Alzheimer’s is a mind-wasting disease for which there are few treatments and no cure, and which affects 26 million people around the world.”

Absolute Best Way to Treat Alzheimer’s

Believe me, I don’t mention these statistics to frighten you, but to warn you, because this is a bugger of a disease to beat when you have it.

You want to avoid this disease for sure, and the BEST way to “treat” it is to lead a lifestyle that will prevent it in the first place. And I can confidently assure you that this is possible.

I have absolutely no doubt that I will successfully avoid this disease as my lifestyle prevents it.

It is important to understand that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is NOT a normal part of aging, which makes the steady rise in dementia cases all that more frustrating.

Clearly, determining the underlying causes of these brain disorders is imperative if we’re going to slow down or reverse this troubling trend.

In this latest PLoS study, extremely high doses of B vitamins were successful in limiting brain shrinkage, which is a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to one of the co-authors:

“This is a very dramatic and striking result. It’s much more than we could have predicted. It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer’s in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.”

This is good news, but there are certain factors that must be considered here, and I believe there are other, more effective strategies to combat Alzheimer’s, which I’ll review at the end of this article.

B Vitamins for Optimal Brain Health

B vitamins are indeed important for optimal brain health, and may even serve as an adjunct to “emergency” medicine in some cases. For example, vitamin B3 (niacin) may be helpful in your neurological recovery after you’ve experienced a stroke.

In a previous study on the impact of B12 on brain wasting, seniors with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study also had a greater decrease in brain volume at the end.

Those with the lowest B12 levels had a six-fold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels!

Interestingly, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 — they just had low levels within a normal range.

This goes to show that “normal” is not necessarily the same as “optimal” when you’re talking about nutrients. You don’t have to be clearly deficient in order to experience a decline in health. The study’s lead researcher commented on this, saying:

“Our results suggest that rather than maintaining one’s B12 at a level that is just above the cut-off for deficiency, it might be prudent to aim to keep it higher up than normal range.”

This is really important to hear, as most people would assume that if their levels are within the normal range, they’re fine. In reality, you cannot always count on the “normal” reference ranges that come with your blood tests.

Vitamin D is another example of a test that lists “normal” ranges that are nowhere near adequate to keep you healthy

Here, in this latest PloS study, the participants received very high doses of B vitamins. The vitamin pills, which are so potent you can only obtain them with a prescription, contained:

  • 800 micrograms (mcg) folic acid — US RDA is 400 mcg/day
  • 500 mcg B12 (cyanocobalamin) – US RDA is only 2.4 mcg/day
  • 20 mg B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) — US RDA 1.3-1.5 mg/day

As one of the researchers stated, this is actually “a drug-, not a vitamin intervention.”

The study was based on the presumption that by controlling the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, you might be able to reduce the amount of brain shrinkage, which tends to precipitate Alzheimer’s.

High levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s, as well as heart disease, and stroke.

B vitamins are homocysteine suppressant, and vitamin B12 in particular is known as essential for neurological function.

It seemed to work. After two years, those who had received the vitamin B regimen suffered significantly less brain shrinkage compared to those who had received a placebo.

According to Reuters,

“People who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial benefited the most from the treatment, with their brains shrinking at half the rate of those on the placebo.

Although the trial was not designed to measure cognitive ability, the researchers found those people who had lowest rates of shrinkage had the highest scores in mental tests.”

What Do We Know about the Causes of Alzheimer’s?

Some believe that we need to wait for the ultimate placebo controlled randomized trial to “prove” an approach before recommending it. I believe that is an absolutely foolhardy approach when we are in the midst of an emergency.

People are losing their minds at an alarming and increasing rate, and we need to act now.

So it makes sense to use natural approaches, which are essentially without any side effects and are very inexpensive. Many of them, like exercise, only cost you time.

So, what do we actually know?

Well, we know that risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, and as already mentioned, brain shrinkage typically precipitates the more serious forms of dementia. If you have followed this newsletter you know we are constantly reviewing lifestyle changes to address these risk factors.

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic form of dementia that results in severe memory loss and eventually death. The average lifespan of someone with Alzheimer’s is only about eight years, although many can, survive up to 20 years with proper care.

The primary genetic risk factor is the presence of the Apo lipoprotein E epsilon4 (APOE e4) allele, which is more common among Africans, Inuits, Amerindians, Northern Europeans than southern Europeans.  

But genetics certainly cannot account for the vast majority of Alzheimer’s cases. Something else is affecting us…

The exact causes and mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s disease are still not entirely clear, but the disease has been linked to a number of other health conditions, nutritional deficiencies, and environmental toxins.

Health conditions associated with Alzheimer’s:

  • Obesity, especially increased belly fat
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes – Diabetics have up to 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
  • Elevated uric acid levels
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Intracellular T3 (immune system cells) deficiency
  • Heart disease

Nutritional deficiencies associated with Alzheimers:

  • Insufficient omega-3 fats
  • Elevated homocysteine levels due to vitamin B6, B12 and folate deficiencies
  • Vitamin K deficiency

Environmental toxins associated with Alzheimer’s:

  • Aluminum toxicity
  • Mercury toxicity

One of the factors that I believe are among the most important of all is insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance and/or diabetes is a major factor in elevating your blood pressure, as well as for gaining excess weight; elevating your lipids, blood sugar and uric acid levels; and developing heart disease.

If you are producing too much insulin, you’re going to be at risk for all of these health problems-along with brain atrophy and Alzheimer’s as well.

Yes, once you begin to see the circular cause and effect relationships between these common health problems, it becomes easier to understand how you can prevent nearly ALL disease, including something as tricky as Alzheimer’s.

Special Notes About Vitamin B12

Should you decide to boost your B12 intake with a supplement, please be aware that oral or sublingual B12 tablets do not work very well. Injectable B12 is considered the gold standard, however sublingual sprays are just as effective as the injectable versions and far more convenient and less painful to use.

You also need to beware of the fact that certain common drugs can cause you to become deficient in B12.

Prilosec (omeprazole), for example, has been clearly shown to decrease B12 absorption. This might be because it decreases your production of intrinsic factor, which is needed for proper B12 absorption.

Other medications may have similar adverse effects as well.

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Without Drugs

As you probably know, the primary treatment strategy employed by conventional medicine is drugs. Unfortunately, drugs such as Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl, may do more harm than good.

This class of drugs is known to provoke slower heart rates, significantly increasing your chances of getting a permanent pacemaker, as well as increasing your risk of hip fracture.

Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that ginko biloba is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. One study published in 2006 found that the herb works just as well as Aricept (donepezil) in treating mild or moderate Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

It’s important to realize that ginko biloba will not cure the underlying problem, however but it is certainly safer to use compared to conventional drugs.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to significantly reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

While effectively preventing associated health risks, such as obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and heart disease, these simple lifestyle changes can also help keep your brain in optimal working order well past your 60’s.

  • Optimize your vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure, a safe tanning bed and/or vitamin D3 supplements.
  • Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate. Ideally you’ll want to design your diet around your nutritional type. Everyone, however, regardless of nutritional type will want to avoid fructose as much as possible.

    Strict vegetarian diets have been shown to increase your Alzheimer’s risk, whereas diets high in omega-3’s lower your risk.  However, vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.

  • Eat plenty of high-quality omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. I recommend avoiding most fish, however, because although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish stocks are now severely contaminated with mercury.

    High intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. Researchers have also said DHA “dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer’s gene.”

  • Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. There is no question that insulin resistance is one of the most pervasive influences on brain damage, as it contributes massively to inflammation, which will prematurely degenerate your brain.
  • Avoid and remove mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings are one of the major sources of mercury, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed.

    Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed. Please be careful as you could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire like I did if you see a conventional dentist to do the exchange. ONLY see a high quality biologically trained dentist, or your health could be seriously affected.

  • Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, etc.
  • Exercise regularly. According to one study, the odds of developing Alzheimer’s were nearly quadrupled in people who were less active during their leisure time, between the ages of 20 and 60.  I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique  for my specific recommendations.
  • Avoid flu vaccinations as they contain both mercury and aluminum!
  • Eat plenty of blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
  • Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Avoid anticholinergic drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain night-time pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

    A recent study found that those who took drugs classified as ‘definite anticholinergics’ had a four times higher incidence of cognitive impairment. In those who were not carriers of the specific gene, APOE e4 allele which I mentioned earlier in this article, the risk was over seven times higher.

    Regularly taking two of these drugs further increased the risk of cognitive impairment.

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estrogen pillsThe drug company Wyeth used ghostwriters to emphasize the benefits and downplay the harm of hormone replacement therapy in medical journal articles.

Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, paid a company called DesignWrite $25,000 to ghostwrite articles on clinical studies, including four regarding Prempro, the company’s combination estrogen-progestin therapy.

Reuters reports:

“… [T]he articles were intended to mitigate concerns that hormone replacement therapy raises the risk of breast cancer, and to support the unfounded idea that the drugs offer some protection against heart disease.”

Meanwhile, prescription drug use in the United States has been rising steadily over the past 10 years. The trend shows no signs of slowing.

A study published by the CDC states that the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug has risen from 43.5 percent to 48.3 percent.

According to WebMD:

“The use of two or more drugs increased from 25.4 percent to 31.2 percent over the same decade, and the use of five or more prescription medications jumped from 6.3 percent to 10.7 percent.”

There is also a new drug problem emerging in the United States — a national epidemic of prescription drug abuse that has become so widespread it’s being called “Pharmageddon.” Some have defined Pharmageddon as “the prospect of a world in which medicines and medicine produce more ill-health than health, and when medical progress does more harm than good.”

In just 20 years, deaths from accidental drug overdoses have increased five-fold. Unintentional overdoses have now replaced car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

According to CBS News, there are definite signs someone could be addicted to prescription drugs:

“Activities abandoned or reduced … Dependence on the drug … Duration or amount greater than intended, intra-personal consequences — that they can’t cut down or control it. And when it becomes time-consuming.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Americans are a pill-popping population, as nearly half are taking at least one prescription drug. Even children are taking their fair share, with one of every five U.S. kids using at least one prescribed medication.

Among seniors, as you might suspect, drug use is beyond epidemic. Nine out of 10 older Americans are taking at least one drug, with more than 76 percent over 60 using two or more and 37 percent using five or more!

The biggest issue here is what all of the drugs are doing to your health, but the cost cannot be ignored either. U.S. spending for prescription drugs more than doubled from 1999 to 2008 to just over $234 billion.

Unfortunately, the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on prescription drugs is not giving Americans the good health they desire. Instead we’re seeing massive increases in chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and obesity rates are at an all-time high.

As drug spending continues to increase, Americans’ health continues to decline, and that is not a coincidence.

Drug Companies are Not Looking Out for Your Health

Pharmaceutical companies have kept the wool pulled over Americans’ eyes for many years, and had many convinced that they were working fervently to develop safe medications that would cure and prevent virtually every disease plaguing the world.

But these modern-day messiahs are not the saints they would have you believe . not even close.

The drug companies that manufacture some of the best-selling drugs in the world have committed some of the greatest crimes against human health. For instance:

  • Pfizer, maker of one of the biggest selling cholesterol drugs Lipitor, paid out the largest health care fraud settlement in history — $2.3 billion — for illegally promoting uses of four of its drugs. Pfizer engaged in illegally promoting one of these drugs, Bextra, for off-label use despite their knowledge that it was associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
  • Another top seller, Plavix, which is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and used to help prevent strokes and heart attacks, also has serious side effects you many not be aware of. When combined with aspirin, the drug nearly doubled the death rate from heart disease among patients who had not had heart attacks but were at risk for them.
  • Diabetes drug Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is still on the market despite research showing a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 64 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death compared to patients treated with other methods.
  • Merck, the maker of the painkiller Vioxx that killed 60,000 people, ignored research that reflected unfavorably on their drug, and they concealed heart attacks suffered by three patients during a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. They also deleted other relevant data before submitting their article for publication.
  • Drug company Wyeth, who is now owned by Pfizer, paid ghostwriters to write articles promoting hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and downplaying its risks, for medical journals. Now it’s widely known that synthetic HRT increases risks of heart disease, breast cancer and other serious health problems.

The truth is, drug companies continuously display blatant disregard not only for federal laws but also for public health by aggressively developing and marketing drugs even when they know they will cause harm. They continue to do this because they are unlikely to suffer much of a consequence for their crimes.

Most people have no idea just how shielded these huge drug companies really are.

Even under the BEST circumstances — such as with a drug that has gone through unbiased, stringent, long-term testing — when it is released into the uncontrolled environment of your body, literally anything can happen — and only a tiny fraction of the possibilities have been “tested for” in a lab.

Unfortunately, those circumstances are a rarity. Studies are frequently biased, results are skewed, and drugs are put on a fast-track to be approved long before anyone knows whether they’re safe — and sometimes even when it’s known that they’re not.

“Pharmageddon” Overtaking U.S. Baby Boomers

The drug industry has successfully turned our society into a “pharmacracy” where every twitch and hiccup is deemed treatable with another prescription.

Unfortunately, treating disease symptoms with drugs will invariably create other health problems, which lead to yet another prescription to counteract the side effects from the first one, followed by another one, and another. It’s an evil circle that is now leading to a rash of prescription drug addictions and overdose deaths dubbed “pharmageddon.”

Pharmageddon is “the prospect of a world in which medicines and medicine produce more ill-health than health, and when medical progress does more harm than good” — and it is no longer a prospect but fully upon us.

Those most at risk from dying from this new drug crisis are people you would least expect: baby boomers whose doctors are only too happy to prescribe multiple medications.

As a result, in the last 20 years deaths from accidental drug overdoses have increased five-fold and, as CBS News reported, unintentional overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

So we’re seeing a mounting death toll directly attributable to prescription drugs.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adverse drug reactions from drugs that are properly prescribed and properly administered cause about 106,000 deaths per year, making prescription drugs the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Compare this to the death toll from illegal drugs — which is about 10,000 per year — and you begin to see the magnitude of the problem, and the magnitude of the coverup.

We are indeed a nation of drug addicts, and just like old-fashioned street junkies, we’re spending every penny we have to feed the beast. Unfortunately, now people are dying in droves because of our dependency on a quick, but dangerous, fix.

Should You Put Your Health in the Hands of the Drug Companies?

Drugs should typically not be your first choice when dealing with a health problem. I realize that it takes a massive shift in thinking to realize that your body can heal itself, and that often drugs only hinder the process.

But I can’t stress enough the importance of the most basic principle of HOW to resolve an illness: finding the underlying cause of the problem. Masking it with a drug that lessens your symptoms does not fix anything.

For example, all of the following conditions can be treated or prevented with LIFESTYLE CHANGES, yet if you go to a typical doctor, you will likely be prescribed a potentially dangerous drug instead:

Disease can only be resolved by addressing its root cause, so that is what you should strive for. Remember, leading a common sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to produce a healthy body and mind, and increase your longevity.

So first and foremost I encourage you to follow these basic health tenets if you want to avoid these and other terrible diseases.

Next, seek out a physician or health coach that understands your body’s innate ability to heal, who will provide guidance into natural and truly safe treatment methods that go above and beyond a bottle of pills.

In the event your doctor or coach suggests you take a drug, research it before you take it. Do not believe for one minute that your physician will have all the answers and all the latest research findings at his or her fingertips. They won’t. Most physicians will have little to offer you aside from the lines they learned from their drug reps.

Also, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the very real fact that drug companies are ALLOWED to continue making drugs despite being caught lying, defrauding, and even knowingly killing its customers time and time again.

Then take a look at the frequently devastating side effects that are listed on the drug’s label. Remember that even if it lists a side effect as rare, it can still happen to you.

Also remember that a large number of drugs are vastly over-prescribed and unnecessary. They’re frequently referred to as “blockbuster drugs.” If several people you know are on it, ask yourself, “why?” and “what alternatives do I have?”

More often than not, you will discover there are numerous non-drug alternatives to help you not only resolve your health complaint, but go on to reach true optimal health.

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pregnant womanA new study finds that women who develop a severe form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D. The condition is known as early-onset severe preeclampsia, and it contributes to about 15 percent of preterm births in the U.S. each year.

Researchers found that vitamin D levels were generally low among 50 women with early severe preeclampsia. Their average vitamin D level in the former group was a very low 18 nanograms per milliliter.

Reuters reports:

“If vitamin D is involved in preeclampsia risk … then it might help explain why African American women are at greater risk of the complication than other racial groups … Vitamin D is naturally synthesized in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. This process is less efficient in people with darker skin.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

If you or anyone you know is pregnant, PLEASE make sure that you get your vitamin D levels (25 hydroxy D) regularly checked during your pregnancy.

We know today that your levels need to be above 50 ng/ml to protect you and your baby from some of the most serious complications of pregnancy such as premature delivery and preeclampsia — but most obstetricians will NOT automatically check your levels for you.

Please do not assume that your levels have been tested in with the routine pregnancy blood work you receive. You will need to specifically ask to have your vitamin D tested. It is very likely that it will be considered malpractice to not check pregnant women’s vitamin D levels in the near future, but for now it is not standard practice.

Unfortunately, by the time health policy catches up with the research, many pregnant women today will have missed out on the chance to provide their unborn babies with sufficient vitamin D during pregnancy — but this needn’t happen to you or your loved ones.

Vitamin D is Crucial for Preventing Many Serious Pregnancy Complications

Preeclampsia is a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid accompanied during pregnancy. Early-onset severe preelcampsia is especially dangerous as it occurs before the 34th week of pregnancy. Because the only “cure” for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby, it is responsible for 15 percent of preterm births in the United States.

Preeclampsia and related disorders are thought to cause 76,000 maternal and 500,000 infant deaths every year — deaths that could potentially be prevented by simply optimizing vitamin D.

According to the latest research, women with early severe preeclampsia were more likely to have low vitamin D levels than women with healthy pregnancies. In fact, the women with preeclampsia had vitamin D levels that averaged just 18 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) — a serious deficiency state.

You see, vitamin D is far more than “just a vitamin.” Rather it’s the only known substrate for a potent, pleiotropic (meaning it produces multiple effects), repair and maintenance seco-steroid hormone that serves multiple gene-regulatory functions in your body, including during pregnancy.

The researchers speculated that vitamin D may affect the regulation and function of proteins in the placenta, which are believed to be involved in preeclampsia. Even a 10-ng/mL increase in vitamin D was found to lower the women’s risks of preeclampsia by 63 percent!

Research Shows Vitamin D Benefits for Preeclampsia, Premature Birth and More

U.S. researchers Drs. Hollis and Wagner also found that the “core morbidities of pregnancy” — diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia — were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took high-dose vitamin D, amounting to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D a day (ten times the RDA of 400 IU).

Their findings were discussed at an international vitamin D research conference in Brugge, Belgium, and also included other promising benefits including:

  • Mothers who took 4,000 IUs of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half
  • Premature babies born to women taking high doses of vitamin D were reduced by half at both 32 and 37 weeks
  • There were also fewer babies who were born “small for dates”
  • Women taking high doses of vitamin D had a 25 percent reduction in infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu, as well as fewer infections of the vagina and the gums
  • Babies getting the highest amounts of vitamin D after birth had fewer colds and less eczema

Most Pregnant Women are Vitamin D Deficient

Unfortunately, the study by Drs. Hollis and Wagner found that over 87 percent of all newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state. As a result, the researchers recommended that all mothers optimize their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their babies’ health.

This finding could also help to explain the disproportionately high numbers of poor outcomes among African American births along with the increased risk of preeclampsia among African American women, as deficiency is extremely common among people with darker skin colors.

African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups; the darker your skin is, the less likely it is that you will produce adequate vitamin D levels from sun exposure alone.

Again, this is why it is just so important that you get your levels tested.

Government Vitamin D Recommendations — and Reference Ranges — are Far Too Low

Current guidelines recommend pregnant women consume from 200 IU to 400 IU of vitamin D a day, an amount that is far too low; most adults will need from 5,000 to 10,000 units every day to reach therapeutic levels unless they are spending one or more hours a day in the sun with most of their skin uncovered.

Based on the latest research, many experts now agree you need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight. This recommendation is the same for adults, children, the elderly and pregnant women.

But, remember that vitamin D requirements are highly individual.

Your vitamin D status is dependent on several factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you’re exposed to on a regular basis. So, although these recommendations may put you closer to the level of what most people likely need, it is virtually impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone.

The only accurate way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested, and then be aware that the reference ranges from the lab may say your levels are normal when in fact they are still too low.

Ideally, you’ll want to maintain a vitamin D level of at least 50 ng/ml and perhaps as high as 80-90 ng/ml year-round.

For in-depth information about safe sun exposure, dosing and other recommendations to safely and effectively optimize your vitamin D levels, please watch my free one-hour lecture on vitamin D.

Calling All Pregnant Women: A Simple Way to Monitor Your Vitamin D

GrassrootsHealth is looking for pregnant women, lactating women, and infants to participate in their Grassrootshealth D*action study, which is aiming to further prove the links between vitamin D levels and healthy babies.

If you’re interested you can save 15 percent off your vitamin D testing simply by being a Mercola subscriber.

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vitamin d against cancer, sunlightVitamin D influences more than 200 genes. This includes genes related to cancer and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D affects your DNA through the vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome.

Reuters reports:

“Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known risk factor for rickets, and some evidence suggests it may increase susceptibility to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes, as well as certain cancers and even dementia.”

Sources:

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Reuter’s information is actually a bit misleading as other scientists have identified a total of nearly 3,000 genes that are upregulated by vitamin D. The particular study referenced above identified 200 genes affected, but it’s not clear if that is in addition to the ones already identified, or if they simply confirmed many of the ones found by others.

One thing’s for sure: Vitamin D is one of the major keys for disease prevention and for optimal health.

The Astonishing Power of Vitamin D to Transform Your Health

In recent years vitamin D has emerged as a star of the “vitamin” world. For example, there are currently over 800 studies showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can literally cut your risk of several cancers by 50 percent!

Further, middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent.

How Does Vitamin D Do What it Does?

Vitamin D is actually a “prohormone,” which your body produces from cholesterol. Because it is a prohormone, vitamin D influences your entire body — receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.

So what modern science has now realized is that vitamin D does more than just aid in the absorption of calcium and bone formation, it is also involved in multiple repair and maintenance functions, touches thousands of different genes, regulates your immune system, and much, much more.

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 anti microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.

This is one of the explanations for why it’s so effective against colds and influenza.

In addition, since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it can prevent an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease for example.

When you consider the fact that you only have about 25,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D has been shown to influence nearly 3,000 of them, the bigger picture of its true impact on your health can be easily understood.

It may, in fact, have literally thousands of health benefits!

However, it’s also very clear that unless you have taken specific measures to address it, the odds are overwhelming that you are deficient in this important nutrient.

Are You Vitamin D Deficient?

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases. There are a few reasons for this trend.

First, most people spend far too much time indoors during daytime hours. You may also have also been seriously misled by “expert'” recommendations to avoid all sun exposure, and to slather yourself with sunscreen whenever you do go outside. Please understand that sunscreen will virtually eliminate your body’s ability to produce any vitamin D because it blocks the UVB radiation that causes your skin to produce it naturally.

As a result, in the United States the late winter average vitamin D is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state.

In fact, new studies show that about 85 percent of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient. This is primarily related to the recent appreciation that your levels of vitamin D should be MUCH higher than previously thought.

Consider the following vitamin D facts:

  • Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in adults of all ages who have increased skin pigmentation, such as those whose ancestors are from Africa, the Middle East, or India, who always wear sun protection, or who limit their outdoor activities.
  • African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups.
  • 60 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency.
  • Studies showed very low levels of vitamin D among children, the elderly, and women.
  • One nationwide study of women revealed that almost half of the African American women of childbearing age might be vitamin-D deficient.

Winter, when sun exposure is at its lowest, is the time of year when you need to be most concerned about the amount of vitamin D you are receiving, as your vitamin D levels can drop by up to 50 percent in the winter.

Of course, if you have the tendency to spend the summer months indoors, out of the sun, or you only go outside with sunscreen on, then you would need to be concerned during the summer months as well.

The Many Health Benefits of Vitamin D

It’s absolutely tragic that dermatologists and sunscreen manufacturers have done such a thorough job of deterring people from the sun — your optimal source for natural vitamin D.

Their widely dispersed message to avoid the sun as much as possible, combined with an overall cultural trend of spending more time indoors during both work and leisure time, has greatly contributed to the widespread vitamin D deficiency seen today — which in turn is fueling an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases, including:

Cancer Hypertension Heart disease
Autism Obesity Rheumatoid arthritis
Diabetes 1 and 2 Multiple Sclerosis Crohn’s disease
Cold & Flu Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tuberculosis
Septicemia Signs of aging Dementia
Eczema & Psoriasis Insomnia Hearing loss
Muscle pain Cavities Periodontal disease
Osteoporosis Macular degeneration Reduced C-section risk
Pre eclampsia Seizures Infertility
Asthma Cystic fibrosis Migraines
Depression Alzheimer’s disease Schizophrenia

Vitamin D Against Cancer

A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths — which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States — could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.

Other studies showed that you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.

Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:

  • Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
  • Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
  • Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
  • Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous

When is the Best Time to Go Out in the Sun, and for How Long?

The optimal time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is as near to solar noon as possible. That would be between roughly 10:00am and 2:00pm.

During this time you need the shortest exposure time to produce vitamin D because UVB rays are most intense at this time. Plus, when the sun goes down toward the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the dangerous UVA.

When you’re out in the sun, be very careful about the length of your exposure. You only need enough exposure to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for some. Exposures any longer than this will not produce any more vitamin D but will accelerate photo aging and increase your risk for non-melanoma skin cancers like basal and squamous cell cancers.

Once you reach this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any additional exposure will only cause harm and damage to your skin.

Most people with fair skin will produce the maximum amount of vitamin D in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production. African-Americans need perhaps 20 percent more sun exposure time than whites.

And contrary to popular opinion, your body simply cannot make adequate vitamin D from the sun unless you have more skin area exposed than just your face and hands. In fact, at least 40 percent of your body should be uncovered to optimize your vitamin D production.

Another option is to use a safe tanning bed, again paying attention to not getting burned.

New Way to Protect Against Sunburn

A few months ago I found out that a carotenoid extracted from algae called astaxanthin can be extremely useful in preventing and eliminating sunburn.  Interestingly, this is the antioxidant in krill that prevents it from being damaged.

What current research is showing is that if you are on 2 mg of astaxanthin for a month, it becomes very difficult to get sunburned.

Additionally, it also appears to prevent the development of the most common form or blindness, age-related macular degeneration, as well as cataracts, and most likely protects you from EMF when you are flying or being exposed to diagnostic X-rays.

The key though is that it takes weeks to build up in your tissues, so you  can’t just swallow a few pills prior to your exposure and expect to receive any benefit. Astaxanthin is also fat soluble and needs to be taken with some fat or you simply won’t absorb it.

Vitamin D Supplements: How Much Should You Take?

It is wise to consider oral vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter months, or year-round if you haven’t time or sufficient access to the sun or a safe tanning bed.

However, the Reuter’s article above is years behind the research on their recommended dosage of 1,000 IU’s a day

It’s true, there are no definitive studies on the optimal daily dose of vitamin D, but based on studies on healthy indigenous peoples, many vitamin D experts now agree that most adults, including pregnant women, require about 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily for optimal health – or 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight, which is certainly well above the current RDA.

That said, although these recommendations may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone’s needs.

The ONLY way to determine how much you might need is by testing your blood level of vitamin D.

This is in fact a very important aspect of optimizing your vitamin D levels that you should not skip over.

Why?

Because while overdosing on vitamin D from sun exposure is highly unlikely as your body has a built-in “failsafe” feedback loop, which will tend to shut down production when your levels are healthy, it IS possible to overdose when taking supplements.

So you need to be careful when using oral vitamin D therapy and make certain you have your blood levels checked. Many of you may choose to ignore this warning, but I am telling you in no uncertain terms that while vitamin D has enormous potential for improving your health, it has significant potential to worsen it, if you use it improperly.

What Vitamin D Level do You Need to Stay Healthy?

The OPTIMAL value of vitamin D that you’re looking for has recently been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, with even higher recommended levels required for more serious disease prevention, as shown in the chart below.  The only caution is to use Lab Corp, as tests done at Quest are consistently falsely elevated due to a different assay. 
Vitamin D Levels - Hydroxy D

I hope you can see now some of the many benefits of vitamin D, and why it is so critical to make sure you and your family maintain healthy levels at all times.

Please take this opportunity to use one — or more — of the options I’ve suggested for getting your daily dose of vitamin D. Optimal vitamin D, however you get it, can literally make the difference between a lifetime of chronic disease and one of vibrant health and vitality.

For even more information about this essential nutrient, please peruse the links below.

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