By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Stephanie Seneff is a senior scientist at MIT where she's conducted research for over three decades, and has published hundreds of papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

She also has an undergraduate degree in biology from MIT, and a minor in food and nutrition.

I've previously published two articles detailing Dr. Seneff's groundbreaking views on sulfur and cholesterol?both of which are important in relation to the discussion in this segment about statin drugs.

If you missed the previous two segments, I highly recommend reviewing them now in order to get a more complete picture of how vitamin D, dietary cholesterol, and statin drugs work in tandem to affect your health, for better or worse.

What makes Dr. Seneff uniquely qualified to talk about statins is not clinical experience but rather her expertise in mining and evaluating the available research to reach conclusions about health.

Why it's So Difficult to Learn the Truth about Statin Drugs...

One of the papers Dr. Seneff wrote was on the detrimental impact of low cholesterol and statin drugs on Alzheimer's disease.

"I was very interested in the connection between Alzheimer's and low cholesterol... and statins in particular because they lower cholesterol, [which is] going to make that problem worse," she says.

Her paper was summarily rejected.

"Part of the grounds of rejection had to do with the mention of statins," Dr. Seneff explains. "So we took out all the mentions of statins and resubmitted the paper to a different journal, and then it got accepted. You can read this paper in the European Journal of Internal Medicine."

This is a classic example of what's wrong with the current paradigm. The pharmaceutical industry effectively controls the entire health care system, from research to publication to education.

"I think many people are aware that they cannot get their paper published in one of the high end journals if it mentions something negative about statins," Dr. Seneff says. "It's extremely difficult to get such papers accepted by these journals because of the influence of the statin industry on the journal. I think that's a very serious problem."

Many Doctors are Shockingly Ill- or Misinformed about Statin Risks

Shockingly, one in four Americans over the age of 45 is now taking these drugs, and few are properly warned about the related health risks. Part of the problem is that many doctors are not even aware of all the risks. Needless to say, this is not entirely surprising when you consider how difficult it is for any researcher to publish negative findings about this class of drugs!

A study published last spring highlighted this dilemma.

Most disturbingly, the researchers found that physicians were lacking in awareness of the teratogenic risksi (ability to cause fetal malformations) of statins and other cardiovascular drugs they prescribed for their pregnant patients. The study followed an earlier reportii, which had concluded statins should be avoided in early pregnancy due to their teratogenic capability. An even earlier 2003 studyiii had already established that cholesterol plays an essential role in embryonic development, and that statins could play a part in embryonic mutations or even death...

Indeed, it's difficult to look at these facts and not reach the conclusion that the pharmaceutical industry is quite willing to sacrifice human lives for profit. Statins are in fact classified as a "pregnancy Category X medication"iv; meaning, it causes serious birth defects, and should NEVER be used by a woman who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

"It disturbs me greatly that they are prescribing statins to women in their reproductive years and the doctor doesn't even bother to tell the woman that statins are class X for pregnancy, just like thalidomide," Dr. Seneff says. "[Statin drugs] cause severe damage to the neural tube in the embryo?likely leading to a miscarriage if you're lucky, because otherwise you'll have an extremely disabled child. I don't understand why they're not making this clear to women!"

Cholesterol is Essential for a Healthy Pregnancy

Besides the direct harm caused by the drug, it's also important to understand that cholesterol sulfate is essential for babies in utero, and this is one of the reasons Dr. Seneff states that you do not want your cholesterol levels to be too low.

A woman has about 1.5 units of cholesterol sulfate normally in her blood. When she gets pregnant, her blood levels of cholesterol sulfate steadily rise, and it also begins to accumulate in the villi in the placenta?which is where nutrients are transferred from the placenta to the baby. At the end of pregnancy the cholesterol sulfate in the villi rises to levels of about 24 units?a dramatic rise! This is also why it's especially important to get plenty of sun exposure before and during pregnancy, to make sure you're optimizing not only your vitamin D levels, but also your sulfur levels, as the two are connected.

Did You Know? Statins Can Also Cause Diabetes and Heart Failure...

Another discovery is that statins can cause diabetes. One of the most recent pieces of evidence for this came from a meta-analysis published in September last year.v The analysis looked at 72 trials which together involved close to 160,000 patients. It found that statin treatments significantly increased the rate of diabetes and liver damage.

But that's not all. Dr. Seneff also points out that statins make you age faster in general, causing muscle weakness, arthritis, mental decline, and even heart failure. It's worth noting that "heart failure" is a different disease category from "cardiovascular disease," despite the fact that both involve your heart.

"That's why I think they keep talking about cardiovascular disease," Dr. Seneff says. "They're careful to use that term? which is very convenient because then people don't realize it's the statins that are causing the heart failure!"

Indeed. Few would assume that a drug taken to prevent cardiovascular disease would be a major cause of heart failure, but that's exactly what appears to be happening. Considering the fact that conventional medicine has been telling us that heart disease is due to elevated cholesterol and recommends lowering cholesterol levels as much as possible, Dr. Seneff's claims may come as a complete shock:

"Heart disease, I think, is a cholesterol deficiency problem, and in particular a cholesterol sulfate deficiency problem," she says.

Heart Disease More Likely Caused by Cholesterol Deficiency Rather than Excess!

Through her research, Dr. Seneff has developed a theory in which the mechanism we call "cardiovascular disease" (of which arterial plaque is a hallmark) is actually your body's way to compensate for not having enough cholesterol sulfate. To understand how this works, you have to understand the interrelated workings of cholesterol, sulfur, and vitamin D from sun exposure.

Cholesterol sulfate is produced in large amounts in your skin when it is exposed to sunshine. When you are deficient in cholesterol sulfate from lack of sun exposure, your body employs another mechanism to increase it, as it is essential for optimal heart- and brain function. It does this by taking damaged LDL and turning it into plaque. Within the plaque, your blood platelets separate out the beneficial HDL cholesterol, and through a process involving homocysteine as a source of sulfate, the platelets go on to produce the cholesterol sulfate your heart and brain needs. However, this plaque also causes the unfortunate side effect of increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

So how do you get out of this detrimental cycle?

Dr. Seneff believes that high serum cholesterol and low serum cholesterol sulfate go hand-in-hand, and that the ideal way to bring down your LDL (so-called "bad" cholesterol, which is associated with cardiovascular disease) is to get appropriate amounts of sunlight exposure on your skin.

She explains:

"In this way, your skin will produce cholesterol sulfate, which will then flow freely through the blood?not packaged up inside LDL?and therefore your liver doesn't have to make so much LDL. So the LDL goes down. In fact... there is a complete inverse relationship between sunlight and cardiovascular disease ? the more sunlight, the less cardiovascular disease."

What this also means is that when you artificially lower your cholesterol with a statin drug, which effectively reduces the bioavailability of cholesterol to that plaque but doesn't address the root problem, your body is not able to create the cholesterol sulfate your heart needs anymore, and as a result you end up with acute heart failure...Backing up this theory is the fact that in the first decade statin drugs were on the market, from 1980 to 1990, the incidence of heart failure doubled. And heart failure keeps going up right along with the increased use of statins...

"It is very clear to me that statins are causing heart failure," Dr. Seneff says.

Statins Impair Numerous Biological Functions

Statin drugs also interfere with other biological functions, including an early step in the mevalonate pathway, which is the central pathway for the steroid management in your body. Products of this pathway that are negatively affected by statins include:

  • All sterols, including cholesterol and vitamin D (which is similar to cholesterol and is produced from cholesterol in your skin)
  • All your sex hormones
  • Cortisone
  • The dolichols, which are involved in keeping the membranes inside your cells healthy
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which is critical to the energy generation in the Krebs cycle in the cell

Why You MUST Take a CoQ10 Supplement if You're on Statin Therapy

The depletion of CoQ10 is particularly troublesome, and may be one of the primary driving mechanisms behind many of the more horrific side effects of statins. CoQ10 is used by every cell in your body, but especially your heart cells. Cardiac muscle cells have up to 200 times more mitochondria, and hence 200 times higher CoQ10 requirements, than skeletal muscle. So if you take a statin drug, taking a CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced version) supplement is absolutely imperative in order to limit the damage. As mentioned by Dr. Seneff, premature aging is a side effect of statin drugs, and it's also a primary side effect of having too little CoQ10. Deficiency in this nutrient also accelerates DNA damage, and because CoQ10 is beneficial to heart health and muscle function this depletion leads to fatigue, muscle weakness, soreness and, again, heart failure.

As for dosage, Dr. Graveline, a family doctor and former astronaut, made the following recommendation in a previous interview on statins and CoQ10:

  • If you have symptoms of statin damage such as muscle pain, take anywhere from 200 to 500 mg
  • If you just want to use it preventively, 200 mg or less should be sufficient

In my view it is medical malpractice to prescribe a statin drug without recommending one take CoQ10, or better yet ubiquinol. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to inform their patients of this fact.

If You're Over 25, the Reduced Form of CoQ10 May be Better

If you're under 25 years old your body is capable of converting CoQ10 from the oxidized to the reduced form. However, as you age, your body becomes more and more challenged to convert the oxidized CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Aside from aging, numerous other factors can also impact this conversion process, including:

Increased metabolic demand Oxidative stress Insufficient dietary CoQ10 intake
Deficiency of factors required for biosynthesis and ubiquinol conversion Potential effects from illness and disease Age-related changes in your genes

If you're over 40, I would highly recommend taking the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 because it's far more effectively absorbed by your body. Some reports say your CoQ10 level decline becomes apparent as early as your 20's, however, so I generally recommend it from age 25 and beyond. If you're younger than 25, your body should absorb regular CoQ10 just fine.

References:


  • i Teratogen Use in Women of Childbearing Potential: An Intervention Study, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, May to June 2011: 24(3); 262-71, K. A. Morrical-Kline, et al.
  • ii Defects in Cholesterol Synthesis Genes in Mouse and in Humans: Lessons for Drug Development and Safer Treatments, Drug Metabolism Reviews, February 2011: 43(1); 69-90, S. Horvat, et al.
  • iii Early Embryonic Lethality Caused by Targeted Disruption of the 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Gene, The Journal of Biological Chemistry, October 31, 2003: 278; 42936-42941, Ken Ohashi, et al.
  • iv Statins and Pregnancy, eMed TV.
  • v Adverse Events Associated with Individual Statin Treatments for Cardiovascular Disease: An Indirect Comparison Meta-Analysis, QJM, February 2012: 105(2); 145-57, M. Alberton, et al.


Sources:


Related Articles:

  Dr. Stephanie Seneff on Sulfur

  Dr. Stephanie Seneff on Cholesterol

  The Dark Truth About the "Wonder Drug" Millions Swear By

 Comments (44)

By Dr. Mercola

I was recently invited as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show for the third time.

The show airs in the Chicago viewing area today, Wednesday January 4th.

(For Dr. Oz's show schedule in your local area, just enter your zip code on his station finder page.

You can check out the preview for my appearance at DoctorOz.com.)

It's a great privilege to dialogue with someone like Dr. Oz, who has such a great impact on spreading the message of natural health.

Unfortunately, there are some challenges with participating in this type of media presentation, because most of the answers must be condensed into very short and easily digestible sound bites.

Therefore, I'd like to expand on some of the questions raised on the show. Dr. Oz's format really does not allow for much more than a 20 second sound bite for an answer, which is typical of nearly all major media... If you had a chance to view the two segments on Dr. Oz, I felt it would be helpful to provide additional information that time did not allow for five of the topics discussed on the show? I've also linked to additional resource articles that provide more in-depth information.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most crucial nutrients for a healthy life. The powerful "sunshine vitamin" is becoming increasingly well-known for its many phenomenal benefits, including protection from colds and flu, diabetes, MS, cancer, and a wide variety of other ailments.

  • But what's your best source for vitamin D?
  • How do you get your levels within the healthy range?
  • And, what's the ideal range?

Vitamin D Sources

While a lot of the focus on vitamin D ends up being about vitamin D supplementation, the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D levels is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it was designed to do?create vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. In a recent interview, Dr. Stephanie Seneff really brought the importance of getting your vitamin D from sun exposure to the forefront. While I've consistently recommended getting your vitamin D from regular sun exposure whenever possible, her input really convinced me of the wisdom of this natural strategy.

She believes that when your skin is exposed to sunshine, it synthesizes not only vitamin D3, but also vitamin D3 sulfate.

Your sulfur levels are intricately tied to your cholesterol levels, and play an important role in the prevention of heart disease.  So getting regular sun exposure has much greater health ramifications than "just" raising your vitamin D levels and preventing infections. Sun exposure also appears to play a role in heart- and cardiovascular health, and much more!

The sulfated vitamin D formed in your skin in response to sun exposure is water soluble, unlike an oral vitamin D3 supplement, which is unsulfated. The water soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. Dr. Seneff's suspicion is that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide all of the same benefits as the sulfated form, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate...

As I said on the Dr. Oz show, if you cannot get your vitamin D requirements from sun exposure, I recommend using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight, while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It will definitely be better than no vitamin D at all.

Vitamin D Serum Levels and Dosages

Some 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world currently agree that the most important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level. So you really should be taking whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.

However, while there is no specific dosage level at which "magic" happens, based on the most recent research by GrassrootsHealth?an organization that has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on vitamin D through their D* Action Study?it appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml. This is significantly higher than previously recommended! For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.

At the time GrassrootsHealth performed the studies that resulted in this increased dosage recommendation, the optimal serum level was believed to be between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml.

Vitamin D Study Participants Needed

D*Action is a worldwide public health campaign organized by GrassrootsHealth, aiming to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic through focus on testing, education, and grassroots word of mouth. And while one paper has already been published, this GrassrootsHealth study is still ongoing and accepting participants.

When you join D*action, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $60 fee each 6 months ($120/year) for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a complete new test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey." To join now, please follow this link to the sign up form.

Additional Vitamin D Information

For more in-depth information about vitamin D, please see the following web pages:

Ubiquinol/Co Q10

If you're over 25, your body becomes increasingly challenged to convert oxidized CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Why is that important? Well, ubiquinol is one of the single most crucial nutrients for energizing every cell in your body.  It is especially useful for protecting your mitochondria, which supply most of your body's energy currency in the form of ATP. I believe virtually everyone over 30 benefits from supplementing with this but is imperative for anyone taking statins to be on it.

Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10 needed to help your cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy. But if your body cannot convert Co Q10 to ubiquinol, you can come up short on some or all of its benefits.  To learn more about ubiquinol and Co Q10, all the potential benefits, and why they're essential if you're taking a statin drug, please see the following articles:

Hypertension and High Blood Pressure Medications

It's important to understand that uncontrolled high blood pressure is a very serious health concern. It can lead to heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It's estimated that high blood pressure affects 90 percent of Americans at one time or another. Like statin drugs, blood pressure drugs are pervasive, with one in three Americans taking them. Of those, an estimated 25 percent are falsely diagnosed! They have what we call "white coat hypertension," meaning they suffer temporary anxiety when at the doctor's office, and as a result, their blood pressure goes up. However, they don't truly suffer from hypertension. When they're given a drug to treat a condition they don't have, it can only cause them harm...

Again, I believe very few people really need them.

Natural strategies are absolutely crucial to address the underlying cause of high blood pressure. Make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3-fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol. You'll also want to dramatically reduce grains and sugars in your daily diet, especially fructose, replacing it with healthful fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, organic pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats.

Getting the right amount of regular exercise is another key factor.

If you are currently taking any medications to control your blood pressure, please understand that these drugs are not placebos and most work very effectively to lower your blood pressure. But they don't do it in a way that addresses the cause. So if you stop them, there is a chance your blood pressure will rise very high, and sometimes high enough to cause a stroke. So only wean yourself off your blood pressure medications while under careful professional supervision.

For more information relating to hypertension, from how to reduce your blood pressure by effectively addressing stress? exercising? normalizing your weight? and which foods to eat and which to eliminate, and much more, please see:

Statin Drugs

The majority of people who use statin drugs for lowering cholesterol are doing so because they've been told it will help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, just the opposite may be true. There are some 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk. Many statin drugs have been linked to defects in heart muscle function and even increases in strokes. One study found that statin therapy was associated with decreased myocardial function. This decreased heart muscle function could lead to heart failure. 

Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and treats many patients that suffer from the complications of coronary artery disease, and as such is convinced that some people benefit from statins.  I take a different position and think that there are only a tiny segment that might benefit, typically those with genetic issues like familial hypercholesterolemia (a condition that causes your body to produce too much cholesterol)  or those with very high risk factors.  But there is some compelling evidence to suggest that even these groups may not benefit from taking them.

Learn more about why I believe statins are so risky? including an interview with former astronaut, Dr. Duane Graveline, whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug? and an article by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist and researcher at MIT?

Antidepressants

When it comes to the use of antidepressant medication, Dr. Oz is still in somewhat of an allopathic mode?the idea that for nearly every disease or symptom there is a pill that will likely cure it. The conventional approach to treating depression is to prescribe an antidepressant (or two). I firmly believe that antidepressants do more harm than good in most cases of depression.

Dr. Oz seeks to apply natural alternatives like St. John's, SAMe, or tryptophan in lieu of more hazardous antidepressants, but while such supplements are certainly safer, and sometimes effective, you're still not treating the underlying cause of depression. Some will argue that if you're low in serotonin, you might benefit from some tryptophan. But while this may indeed help, you're still not addressing the reason for why you're low in serotonin. There are reasons for that, and once you eliminate the root cause, you won't have to take pills of any kind... I think it's really crucial to address these underlying issues.

As for antidepressants, there's startling evidence and countless research studies that strongly suggest antidepressant drugs simply do not work. Meanwhile, every year, psychiatric drugs kill an estimated 42,000 people?that's an astounding 12,000 more people than commit suicide due to depression

Rooting Out the Causes of Depression

There are a number of very powerful strategies to address depression. One that has been proven more effective than antidepressants in a number of studies is exercise. Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms but also appears to prevent them from recurring. Unfortunately, since no one is going to be making tens of billions of dollars on encouraging you to exercise, it has not received the amount of funding for studies that antidepressant drugs have received. However when the studies are performed, exercise continually comes out on top, demonstrating benefits above and beyond what antidepressant drugs can achieve.

Three key mechanisms appear to be that exercise:

  1. Improves insulin receptor sensitivity
  2. Regulates serotonin and norepinephrine, two key neurotransmitters in your brain, and
  3. "Switches on" genes that increase your brain levels of galanin, a neurotransmitter that helps lessen your body's stress response

Your diet is another key factor that must be addressed. There are well-documented studies showing that animal-based omega-3 fat (DHA) is very useful. I'm a firm believer in krill oil, which is far more effectively absorbed than fish oil. You also want to make sure to optimize your diet, meaning removing sugars, grains and processed foods, and replacing them with healthy fats. Why is your diet so important for your emotional and mental health?

The Gut-Brain Connection that Can Help Explain Many Cases of Depression

One of the reasons that dietary changes work is because it helps alter your gut flora in very beneficial ways. The beneficial bacteria in your gut have a profound influence on your health, including your mental health. They produce substances that your body needs. And, your gut actually produces more serotonin than your brain does!

Your gut is frequently referred to as 'the second brain,' and when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there's no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it's easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well. With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Last but certainly not least, is finding a skilled psychotherapist who can help you work through some of the contributing emotional challenges. But optimizing your physiology with the physical approaches mentioned is probably the best marriage of an approach that has a high likelihood of success.

Here's additional information everyone should read? whether they're experiencing depression, or have a friend or loved one who is trying to deal with it, or just want to be better informed about antidepressants and depression.




 Comments (5)

By Dr. Mercola

I was recently invited as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show for the third time.

The show airs in the Chicago viewing area today, Wednesday January 4th.

(For Dr. Oz's show schedule in your local area, just enter your zip code on his station finder page.

You can check out the preview for my appearance at DoctorOz.com.)

It's a great privilege to dialogue with someone like Dr. Oz, who has such a great impact on spreading the message of natural health.

Unfortunately, there are some challenges with participating in this type of media presentation, because most of the answers must be condensed into very short and easily digestible sound bites.

Therefore, I'd like to expand on some of the questions raised on the show. Dr. Oz's format really does not allow for much more than a 20 second sound bite for an answer, which is typical of nearly all major media... If you had a chance to view the two segments on Dr. Oz, I felt it would be helpful to provide additional information that time did not allow for five of the topics discussed on the show? I've also linked to additional resource articles that provide more in-depth information.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most crucial nutrients for a healthy life. The powerful "sunshine vitamin" is becoming increasingly well-known for its many phenomenal benefits, including protection from colds and flu, diabetes, MS, cancer, and a wide variety of other ailments.

  • But what's your best source for vitamin D?
  • How do you get your levels within the healthy range?
  • And, what's the ideal range?

Vitamin D Sources

While a lot of the focus on vitamin D ends up being about vitamin D supplementation, the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D levels is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it was designed to do?create vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. In a recent interview, Dr. Stephanie Seneff really brought the importance of getting your vitamin D from sun exposure to the forefront. While I've consistently recommended getting your vitamin D from regular sun exposure whenever possible, her input really convinced me of the wisdom of this natural strategy.

She believes that when your skin is exposed to sunshine, it synthesizes not only vitamin D3, but also vitamin D3 sulfate.

Your sulfur levels are intricately tied to your cholesterol levels, and play an important role in the prevention of heart disease.  So getting regular sun exposure has much greater health ramifications than "just" raising your vitamin D levels and preventing infections. Sun exposure also appears to play a role in heart and cardiovascular health, and much more!

The sulfated vitamin D formed in your skin in response to sun exposure is water soluble, unlike an oral vitamin D3 supplement, which is unsulfated. The water soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. Dr. Seneff's suspicion is that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide all of the same benefits as the sulfated form, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate...

As I said on the Dr. Oz show, if you cannot get your vitamin D requirements from sun exposure, I recommend using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight, while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It will definitely be better than no vitamin D at all.

Vitamin D Serum Levels and Dosages

Some 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world currently agree that the most important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level. So you really should be taking whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.

However, while there is no specific dosage level at which "magic" happens, based on the most recent research by GrassrootsHealth?an organization that has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on vitamin D through their D* Action Study?it appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml. This is significantly higher than previously recommended! For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.

At the time GrassrootsHealth performed the studies that resulted in this increased dosage recommendation, the optimal serum level was believed to be between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml.

Vitamin D Study Participants Needed

D*Action is a worldwide public health campaign organized by GrassrootsHealth, aiming to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic through focus on testing, education, and grassroots word of mouth. And while one paper has already been published, this GrassrootsHealth study is still ongoing and accepting participants.

When you join D*action, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $60 fee each 6 months ($120/year) for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a complete new test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey." To join now, please follow this link to the sign up form.

Additional Vitamin D Information

For more in-depth information about vitamin D, please see the following web pages:

Ubiquinol/Co Q10

If you're over 25, your body becomes increasingly challenged to convert oxidized CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Why is that important? Well, ubiquinol is one of the single most crucial nutrients for energizing every cell in your body.  It is especially useful for protecting your mitochondria, which supply most of your body's energy currency in the form of ATP. I believe virtually everyone over 30 benefits from supplementing with this but is imperative for anyone taking statins to be on it.

Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10 needed to help your cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy. But if your body cannot convert Co Q10 to ubiquinol, you can come up short on some or all of its benefits.  To learn more about ubiquinol and Co Q10, all the potential benefits, and why they're essential if you're taking a statin drug, please see the following articles:

Hypertension and High Blood Pressure Medications

It's important to understand that uncontrolled high blood pressure is a very serious health concern. It can lead to heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It's estimated that high blood pressure affects 90 percent of Americans at one time or another. Like statin drugs, blood pressure drugs are pervasive, with one in three Americans taking them. Of those, an estimated 25 percent are falsely diagnosed! They have what we call "white coat hypertension," meaning they suffer temporary anxiety when at the doctor's office, and as a result, their blood pressure goes up. However, they don't truly suffer from hypertension. When they're given a drug to treat a condition they don't have, it can only cause them harm...

Again, I believe very few people really need them.

Natural strategies are absolutely crucial to address the underlying cause of high blood pressure. Make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3-fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol. You'll also want to dramatically reduce grains and sugars in your daily diet, especially fructose, replacing it with healthful fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, organic pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats.

Getting the right amount of regular exercise is another key factor.

If you are currently taking any medications to control your blood pressure, please understand that these drugs are not placebos and most work very effectively to lower your blood pressure. But they don't do it in a way that addresses the cause. So if you stop them, there is a chance your blood pressure will rise very high, and sometimes high enough to cause a stroke. So only wean yourself off your blood pressure medications while under careful professional supervision.

For more information relating to hypertension, from how to reduce your blood pressure by effectively addressing stress? exercising? normalizing your weight? and which foods to eat and which to eliminate, and much more, please see:

Statin Drugs

The majority of people who use statin drugs for lowering cholesterol are doing so because they've been told it will help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, just the opposite may be true. There are some 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk. Many statin drugs have been linked to defects in heart muscle function and even increases in strokes. One study found that statin therapy was associated with decreased myocardial function. This decreased heart muscle function could lead to heart failure. 

Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and treats many patients that suffer from the complications of coronary artery disease, and as such is convinced that some people benefit from statins.  I take a different position and think that there are only a tiny segment that might benefit, typically those with genetic issues like familial hypercholesterolemia (a condition that causes your body to produce too much cholesterol) or those with very high risk factors.  But there is some compelling evidence to suggest that even these groups may not benefit from taking them.

Learn more about why I believe statins are so risky? including an interview with former astronaut, Dr. Duane Graveline, whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug? and an article by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist and researcher at MIT?

Antidepressants

When it comes to the use of antidepressant medication, Dr. Oz is still in somewhat of an allopathic mode?the idea that for nearly every disease or symptom there is a pill that will likely cure it. The conventional approach to treating depression is to prescribe an antidepressant (or two). I firmly believe that antidepressants do more harm than good in most cases of depression.

Dr. Oz seeks to apply natural alternatives like St. John's, SAMe, or tryptophan in lieu of more hazardous antidepressants, but while such supplements are certainly safer, and sometimes effective, you're still not treating the underlying cause of depression. Some will argue that if you're low in serotonin, you might benefit from some tryptophan. But while this may indeed help, you're still not addressing the reason for why you're low in serotonin. There are reasons for that, and once you eliminate the root cause, you won't have to take pills of any kind... I think it's really crucial to address these underlying issues.

As for antidepressants, there's startling evidence and countless research studies that strongly suggest antidepressant drugs simply do not work. Meanwhile, every year, psychiatric drugs kill an estimated 42,000 people?that's an astounding 12,000 more people than commit suicide due to depression.

Rooting Out the Causes of Depression

There are a number of very powerful strategies to address depression. One that has been proven more effective than antidepressants in a number of studies is exercise. Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms but also appears to prevent them from recurring. Unfortunately, since no one is going to be making tens of billions of dollars on encouraging you to exercise, it has not received the amount of funding for studies that antidepressant drugs have received. However when the studies are performed, exercise continually comes out on top, demonstrating benefits above and beyond what antidepressant drugs can achieve.

Three key mechanisms appear to be that exercise:

  1. Improves insulin receptor sensitivity
  2. Regulates serotonin and norepinephrine, two key neurotransmitters in your brain, and
  3. "Switches on" genes that increase your brain levels of galanin, a neurotransmitter that helps lessen your body's stress response

Your diet is another key factor that must be addressed. There are well-documented studies showing that animal-based omega-3 fat (DHA) is very useful. I'm a firm believer in krill oil, which is far more effectively absorbed than fish oil. You also want to make sure to optimize your diet, meaning removing sugars, grains and processed foods, and replacing them with healthy fats. Why is your diet so important for your emotional and mental health?

The Gut-Brain Connection that Can Help Explain Many Cases of Depression

One of the reasons that dietary changes work is because it helps alter your gut flora in very beneficial ways. The beneficial bacteria in your gut have a profound influence on your health, including your mental health. They produce substances that your body needs. And, your gut actually produces more serotonin than your brain does!

Your gut is frequently referred to as 'the second brain,' and when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there's no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it's easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well. With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Last but certainly not least, is finding a skilled psychotherapist who can help you work through some of the contributing emotional challenges. But optimizing your physiology with the physical approaches mentioned is probably the best marriage of an approach that has a high likelihood of success.

Here's additional information everyone should read? whether they're experiencing depression, or have a friend or loved one who is trying to deal with it, or just want to be better informed about antidepressants and depression.




 Comments (272)

By Dr. Mercola

I was recently invited as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show for the third time.

The show airs in the Chicago viewing area today, Wednesday January 4th.

(For Dr. Oz's show schedule in your local area, just enter your zip code on his station finder page.

You can check out the preview for my appearance at DoctorOz.com.)

It's a great privilege to dialogue with someone like Dr. Oz, who has such a great impact on spreading the message of natural health.

Unfortunately, there are some challenges with participating in this type of media presentation, because most of the answers must be condensed into very short and easily digestible sound bites.

Therefore, I'd like to expand on some of the questions raised on the show. Dr. Oz's format really does not allow for much more than a 20 second sound bite for an answer, which is typical of nearly all major media... If you had a chance to view the two segments on Dr. Oz, I felt it would be helpful to provide additional information that time did not allow for five of the topics discussed on the show? I've also linked to additional resource articles that provide more in-depth information.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most crucial nutrients for a healthy life. The powerful "sunshine vitamin" is becoming increasingly well-known for its many phenomenal benefits, including protection from colds and flu, diabetes, MS, cancer, and a wide variety of other ailments.

  • But what's your best source for vitamin D?
  • How do you get your levels within the healthy range?
  • And, what's the ideal range?

Vitamin D Sources

While a lot of the focus on vitamin D ends up being about vitamin D supplementation, the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D levels is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it was designed to do?create vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. In a recent interview, Dr. Stephanie Seneff really brought the importance of getting your vitamin D from sun exposure to the forefront. While I've consistently recommended getting your vitamin D from regular sun exposure whenever possible, her input really convinced me of the wisdom of this natural strategy.

She believes that when your skin is exposed to sunshine, it synthesizes not only vitamin D3, but also vitamin D3 sulfate.

Your sulfur levels are intricately tied to your cholesterol levels, and play an important role in the prevention of heart disease.  So getting regular sun exposure has much greater health ramifications than "just" raising your vitamin D levels and preventing infections. Sun exposure also appears to play a role in heart and cardiovascular health, and much more!

The sulfated vitamin D formed in your skin in response to sun exposure is water soluble, unlike an oral vitamin D3 supplement, which is unsulfated. The water soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. Dr. Seneff's suspicion is that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide all of the same benefits as the sulfated form, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate...

As I said on the Dr. Oz show, if you cannot get your vitamin D requirements from sun exposure, I recommend using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight, while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It will definitely be better than no vitamin D at all.

Vitamin D Serum Levels and Dosages

Some 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world currently agree that the most important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level. So you really should be taking whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.

However, while there is no specific dosage level at which "magic" happens, based on the most recent research by GrassrootsHealth?an organization that has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on vitamin D through their D* Action Study?it appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml. This is significantly higher than previously recommended! For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.

At the time GrassrootsHealth performed the studies that resulted in this increased dosage recommendation, the optimal serum level was believed to be between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml.

Vitamin D Study Participants Needed

D*Action is a worldwide public health campaign organized by GrassrootsHealth, aiming to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic through focus on testing, education, and grassroots word of mouth. And while one paper has already been published, this GrassrootsHealth study is still ongoing and accepting participants.

When you join D*action, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $60 fee each 6 months ($120/year) for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a complete new test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey." To join now, please follow this link to the sign up form.

Additional Vitamin D Information

For more in-depth information about vitamin D, please see the following web pages:

Ubiquinol/Co Q10

If you're over 25, your body becomes increasingly challenged to convert oxidized CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Why is that important? Well, ubiquinol is one of the single most crucial nutrients for energizing every cell in your body.  It is especially useful for protecting your mitochondria, which supply most of your body's energy currency in the form of ATP. I believe virtually everyone over 30 benefits from supplementing with this but is imperative for anyone taking statins to be on it.

Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10 needed to help your cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy. But if your body cannot convert Co Q10 to ubiquinol, you can come up short on some or all of its benefits.  To learn more about ubiquinol and Co Q10, all the potential benefits, and why they're essential if you're taking a statin drug, please see the following articles:

Hypertension and High Blood Pressure Medications

It's important to understand that uncontrolled high blood pressure is a very serious health concern. It can lead to heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It's estimated that high blood pressure affects 90 percent of Americans at one time or another. Like statin drugs, blood pressure drugs are pervasive, with one in three Americans taking them. Of those, an estimated 25 percent are falsely diagnosed! They have what we call "white coat hypertension," meaning they suffer temporary anxiety when at the doctor's office, and as a result, their blood pressure goes up. However, they don't truly suffer from hypertension. When they're given a drug to treat a condition they don't have, it can only cause them harm...

Again, I believe very few people really need them.

Natural strategies are absolutely crucial to address the underlying cause of high blood pressure. Make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3-fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol. You'll also want to dramatically reduce grains and sugars in your daily diet, especially fructose, replacing it with healthful fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, organic pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats.

Getting the right amount of regular exercise is another key factor.

If you are currently taking any medications to control your blood pressure, please understand that these drugs are not placebos and most work very effectively to lower your blood pressure. But they don't do it in a way that addresses the cause. So if you stop them, there is a chance your blood pressure will rise very high, and sometimes high enough to cause a stroke. So only wean yourself off your blood pressure medications while under careful professional supervision.

For more information relating to hypertension, from how to reduce your blood pressure by effectively addressing stress? exercising? normalizing your weight? and which foods to eat and which to eliminate, and much more, please see:

Statin Drugs

The majority of people who use statin drugs for lowering cholesterol are doing so because they've been told it will help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, just the opposite may be true. There are some 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk. Many statin drugs have been linked to defects in heart muscle function and even increases in strokes. One study found that statin therapy was associated with decreased myocardial function. This decreased heart muscle function could lead to heart failure. 

Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and treats many patients that suffer from the complications of coronary artery disease, and as such is convinced that some people benefit from statins.  I take a different position and think that there are only a tiny segment that might benefit, typically those with genetic issues like familial hypercholesterolemia (a condition that causes your body to produce too much cholesterol) or those with very high risk factors.  But there is some compelling evidence to suggest that even these groups may not benefit from taking them.

Learn more about why I believe statins are so risky? including an interview with former astronaut, Dr. Duane Graveline, whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug? and an article by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist and researcher at MIT?

Antidepressants

When it comes to the use of antidepressant medication, Dr. Oz is still in somewhat of an allopathic mode?the idea that for nearly every disease or symptom there is a pill that will likely cure it. The conventional approach to treating depression is to prescribe an antidepressant (or two). I firmly believe that antidepressants do more harm than good in most cases of depression.

Dr. Oz seeks to apply natural alternatives like St. John's, SAMe, or tryptophan in lieu of more hazardous antidepressants, but while such supplements are certainly safer, and sometimes effective, you're still not treating the underlying cause of depression. Some will argue that if you're low in serotonin, you might benefit from some tryptophan. But while this may indeed help, you're still not addressing the reason for why you're low in serotonin. There are reasons for that, and once you eliminate the root cause, you won't have to take pills of any kind... I think it's really crucial to address these underlying issues.

As for antidepressants, there's startling evidence and countless research studies that strongly suggest antidepressant drugs simply do not work. Meanwhile, every year, psychiatric drugs kill an estimated 42,000 people?that's an astounding 12,000 more people than commit suicide due to depression.

Rooting Out the Causes of Depression

There are a number of very powerful strategies to address depression. One that has been proven more effective than antidepressants in a number of studies is exercise. Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms but also appears to prevent them from recurring. Unfortunately, since no one is going to be making tens of billions of dollars on encouraging you to exercise, it has not received the amount of funding for studies that antidepressant drugs have received. However when the studies are performed, exercise continually comes out on top, demonstrating benefits above and beyond what antidepressant drugs can achieve.

Three key mechanisms appear to be that exercise:

  1. Improves insulin receptor sensitivity
  2. Regulates serotonin and norepinephrine, two key neurotransmitters in your brain, and
  3. "Switches on" genes that increase your brain levels of galanin, a neurotransmitter that helps lessen your body's stress response

Your diet is another key factor that must be addressed. There are well-documented studies showing that animal-based omega-3 fat (DHA) is very useful. I'm a firm believer in krill oil, which is far more effectively absorbed than fish oil. You also want to make sure to optimize your diet, meaning removing sugars, grains and processed foods, and replacing them with healthy fats. Why is your diet so important for your emotional and mental health?

The Gut-Brain Connection that Can Help Explain Many Cases of Depression

One of the reasons that dietary changes work is because it helps alter your gut flora in very beneficial ways. The beneficial bacteria in your gut have a profound influence on your health, including your mental health. They produce substances that your body needs. And, your gut actually produces more serotonin than your brain does!

Your gut is frequently referred to as 'the second brain,' and when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there's no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it's easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well. With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.

Last but certainly not least, is finding a skilled psychotherapist who can help you work through some of the contributing emotional challenges. But optimizing your physiology with the physical approaches mentioned is probably the best marriage of an approach that has a high likelihood of success.

Here's additional information everyone should read? whether they're experiencing depression, or have a friend or loved one who is trying to deal with it, or just want to be better informed about antidepressants and depression.




 Comments (275)

By Dr. Mercola

In terms of health risks from eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, most people think of vitamin B12 deficiency, as vitamin B12 is present in natural form only in animal sources of food.

But while this is a real risk -- studies show insufficient amounts of vitamin B12 can elevate your homocysteine levels, potentially increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke -- it is not the only one.

New research suggests that excluding all animal foods from your diet leads to a low dietary intake of protein and sulfur amino acids, which increases vegetarians' risk of heart disease.

Eating Only Plant-Based Foods Might be BAD for Your Heart

See Dr. Stephanie Seneff
and Me Speak in November

We are both scheduled to speak at the Weston Price Foundation Conference Nov 11-13th.

Please click here for more details.

Plant-based foods like vegetables are obviously excellent for your heart and your overall health, so there is absolutely no reason to worry if you eat loads of plant foods as this is a healthy goal that most of us should ascribe to. The risks come in if you also exclude all animal proteins from your diet, as these are also valuable sources of nutrients that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Research published in Nutrition shows that people who eat a strictly plant-based diet may suffer from subclinical protein malnutrition, which means you're also likely not getting enough dietary sulfur. Sulfur is derived almost exclusively from dietary protein, such as fish and high-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry. Meat and fish are considered "complete" as they contain all the sulfur-containing amino acids you need to produce new protein.

Needless to say, those who abstain from animal protein are placing themselves at far greater risk of sulfur deficiency and its related health problems.

Sulfur also plays a vital role in the structure and biological activity of both proteins and enzymes. If you don't have sufficient amounts of sulfur in your body, this deficiency can cascade into a number of health problems as it will affect bones, joints, connective tissues, metabolic processes, and more. As Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist at MIT, discusses in the video above, areas where sulfur plays an important role include:

  • Your body's electron transport system, as part of iron/sulfur proteins in mitochondria, the energy factories of your cells
  • Vitamin-B thiamine (B1) and biotin conversion, which in turn are essential for converting carbohydrates into energy
  • Synthesizing important metabolic intermediates, such as glutathione
  • Proper insulin function. The insulin molecule consists of two amino acid chains connected to each other by sulfur bridges, without which the insulin cannot perform its biological activity
  • Detoxification

Researchers also concluded that the low intake of sulfur amino acids by vegetarians and vegans explains the origin of hyperhomocysteinemia (high blood levels of homocysteine, which may lead to blood clots in your arteries -- i.e. heart attack and stroke) and the increased vulnerability of vegetarians to cardiovascular diseases.

Heart Disease May be a Cholesterol Deficiency Problem...

The other misconception plaguing the vegetarian community (and actually conventional nutrition recommendations as well) is the notion that animal foods are bad for your heart because they contain cholesterol. Conventional medicine tells us that heart disease is due to elevated cholesterol and recommends lowering cholesterol levels as much as possible, including in your diet. But according to Dr. Seneff, it's difficult to get "too much" cholesterol in your diet, particularly in the standard American diet. But you may very well be getting too little, especially if you eat only plant foods, and that can cause problems.

She states:

"Heart disease, I think, is a cholesterol deficiency problem, and in particular a cholesterol sulfate deficiency problem..."

She points out that all of this information is available in the research literature, but it requires putting all the pieces together to see the full picture. Through her research, she believes that the mechanism we call "cardiovascular disease," of which arterial plaque is a hallmark, is actually your body's way to compensate for not having enough cholesterol sulfate.

She explains:

"The macrophages in the plaque take up LDL, the small dense LDL particles that have been damaged by sugar... The liver cannot take them back because the receptor can't receive them, because they are gummed with sugar basically. So they're stuck floating in your body... Those macrophages in the plaque do a heroic job in taking that gummed up LDL out of the blood circulation, carefully extracting the cholesterol from it to save it ? the cholesterol is important ? and then exporting the cholesterol into HDL ? HDL A1 in particular... That's the good guy, HDL.

The platelets in the plaque take in HDL A1 cholesterol and they won't take anything else... They take in sulfate, and they produce cholesterol sulfate in the plaque.

The sulfate actually comes from homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine is another risk factor for heart disease. Homocysteine is a source of sulfate. It also involves hemoglobin. You have to consume energy to produce a sulfate from homocysteine, and the red blood cells actually supply the ATP to the plaque.

So everything is there and the intent is to produce cholesterol sulfate and it's done in the arteries feeding the heart, because it's the heart that needs the cholesterol sulfate. If [cholesterol sulfate is not produced]... you end up with heart failure."

So, in a nutshell, high LDL appears to be a sign of cholesterol sulfate deficiency?it's your body's way of trying to maintain the correct balance by taking damaged LDL and turning it into plaque, within which the blood platelets produce the cholesterol sulfate your heart and brain need for optimal function.

So is it Healthier to Eat Meat?

From a clinical standpoint, I do believe virtually everyone benefits from some animal protein. However, this doesn't have to be meat, as there are other healthy animal proteins like raw organic dairy and organic pastured eggs. The evidence suggests that raw organic milk is actually one of the healthiest options as it has the highest biologic value and utilization of any protein. The only caution is that it is loaded with lactose, which can disrupt insulin sensitivity, so I would advise to consume it cultured in yogurt or kefir where the bacteria will predigest the lactose and also help optimize your gut flora.

If you are sincerely objective and honest in seeking to understand what diet is best for you it will be important to trust your body to guide you. It is my recommendation to abandon any previously held convictions you might have about food and instead carefully listen to your body as you experiment with different food ratios and including or excluding animal foods.

So let me make it clear that I'm not advocating that everyone should, or even needs to, eat meat. However, there are health consequences of abstaining from animal protein entirely.

Further, if you do eat meat one of the primary questions you need to ask is how was it raised? This makes all the difference in the world when it comes to nutritional content and the health benefits of meat.

There's no question in my mind that we should all avoid factory-farmed meat from CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), as the harm likely outweighs the benefit for most. Factory farming is not only inhumane in the extreme, but it also produces inferior meat. Organically raised, grass-fed and free-range meats are a whole other animal. Nutritionally, they're just not the same. And you certainly cannot compare the stress- and disease levels between a pastured cow and one stuck in a feedlot.

So, when eating meat the following three factors need to be considered:

  1. How it's raised, i.e. factory farmed or raised organically. Conventional meat is loaded with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals and should be avoided.
  2. Whether or not it's grass-fed. This is an essential requirement of healthy meat.
  3. Whether or not it contains nitrates, preservatives linked to cancer. Processed meats are not a healthful choice for anyone and should be avoided entirely, according to a review of more than 7,000 clinical studies examining the connection between diet and cancer.

Next, how you cook the meat will also influence its health benefits because any time you cook meat at high temperatures, dangerous chemicals are created, including:

  • Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs): These form when food is cooked at high temperatures, and they're linked to cancer. In terms of HCA, the worst part of the meat is the blackened section, which is why you should always avoid charring your meat, and never eat blackened sections.
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): When fat drips onto the heat source, causing excess smoke, and the smoke surrounds your food, it can transfer cancer-causing PAHs to the meat.
  • Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs): When food is cooked at high temperatures (including when it is pasteurized or sterilized), it increases the formation of AGEs in your food. When you eat the food, it transfers the AGEs into your body. AGEs build up in your body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

To sum up, eating factory farmed, grain-fed beef that's been charred to a crisp will NOT improve your health. In order for meat to be its healthiest, it should be organic and grass-fed, and it should be cooked as little as possible. You can, for example, quickly sear the meat on both sides, leaving the inside quite rare. This gives the illusion that you're eating cooked meat, while still getting many of the benefits of raw.

Can You Get Enough Dietary Sulfur if You Don't Eat Animal Protein?

It's important for your heart health to have adequate dietary sulfur, and this comes almost exclusively from dietary protein. As such, high-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry are ideal complete sources, but if you don't eat meat you can also get sulfur from coconut oil and olive oil. Other dietary sources that contain small amounts of sulfur IF the food was grown in soil that contains adequate amounts of sulfur, include:

Organic pastured eggs Legumes Garlic Onion
Brussel sprouts Asparagus Kale Wheat germ

As for supplements, methylsulfonylmethane, commonly known by its acronym MSM, is an option. MSM is an organic form of sulfur and a potent antioxidant, naturally found in many plants. Keep in mind, however, that if you're a vegetarian who relies on grain-heavy processed foods in lieu of animal protein, you're likely not getting all the sulfur you need. Any diet high in grains and processed foods is likely to be deficient in sulfur because once whole foods are processed, sulfur is lost.

If You Avoid Animal Protein Because You Think it's Healthy, You Should be Avoiding THIS Instead

Many of the health problems attributed to fat and cholesterol in animal foods are in fact caused by SUGAR, not fat!

Your liver can make cholesterol, but it requires effort. As Dr. Seneff points out, it's a complex process involving some 25 to 30 steps. Now, one factor that most people are unaware of is that when your liver is busy processing fructose (which your liver turns into fat), it severely hampers its ability to make cholesterol. This is yet another important facet that explains how and why excessive fructose consumption is so detrimental to your health.

According to Dr. Seneff:

"If you're eating a high fructose diet, which most people in America are, one of the things your liver is going to have to do is to turn that fructose into fat... and it needs cholesterol to store the fat but it can't make cholesterol while it's processing fructose... So when there are high levels of glucose in the blood, your liver is kind of caught in a hard place because it can't make the cholesterol it needs to store the fat that it is producing from the fructose...

I think in many cases, people are facing a cholesterol deficiency because they don't have it in the diet, [and] because the liver is working overtime on other things."

This cholesterol deficiency can lead to plaque formation to compensate for cholesterol sulfate deficiency, which in turn increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. So if you are a vegetarian because you believe it to be healthier for your heart, you have been led astray. Limit your intake of fructose instead and your heart will thank you.



Sources:


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  Angelina Jolie - The Mistake that Almost Killed Her

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