Monthly Archives: June 2017

Biotin Messes with Your Thyroid Testing

Biotin Messes with your Thyroid Testing

References: NCBIEndocrine News

Everyone needs biotin. It’s been known since the 1920s but only understood since the 1970s. It is used in 4 enzymes in the mitochondria of your cell. You can make some biotin deficient by feeding them a diet of pure raw egg white (high protein) and despite that sounding odd, folks getting IV parenteral nutrition had a lot of egg white protein given IV and thus biotin deficiency was found. Skin rashes and hair loss were prominent symptoms. Hence, the connection with hair loss. The Institute of Medicine recommends some 30 micrograms a day and that’s what’s in most OTC vitamin pills.

Now, menopause is strongly associated with hair loss, as is thyroid disease. Considering how many Americans go through menopause (rumor has it that it’s more than half), the hair loss industry was born. And biotin plunked down in the middle of it. BEST PRODUCTS to prevent hair loss! It is widely “known” that you “need” biotin to prevent hair loss. Well, is it? And are there problems with that? If you look at the ingredients in most of the hair loss products, you will find 500 mcg of biotin and above in them. That’s 20 times the Institute of Medicine guidelines.
Considering that hair loss is associated with dysfunctional thyroid, mostly low, and low progesterone, many many women are caught in this conundrum, and want to fix their hair loss. And they find themselves on biotin, in one form or another.

What’s the problem? Biotin has now been found to conflict with thyroid measurements.
This should come as a relief to many folks who can’t understand why their thyroid tests keep fluctuating wildly. The problem comes in that biotin is used as an anchor to capture antibodies. Biotin sticks nicely to streptavidin, a protein reagent on the capture surface of the test device. That makes a lot of natural biotin floating around. When someone starts taking lots of extra biotin, it’s going to interfere with that testing process. With interference, you can have falsely elevated blood tests of total T4 and T3, with normal other tests making for combinations that don’t make sense.

You see the conundrum? You have hair loss and are trying to normalize your thyroid. But you are also taking biotin, in a form you didn’t even know about because the supplement you were taking for hair loss called it something other than biotin (Vitamin H is a common misnomer).

www. What will work for me. If I didn’t know 5 people with this situation, it wouldn’t be so notable. The upshot is that it takes some 3-5 years for hair to run through its natural cycle, and up to 6 months for anyone to notice that a real change has come about. Once it has fallen out, it takes at least 3 months (the telogen phase) before it starts growing again. It’s not that biotin is bad for you. It’s that it is used as a reagent in testing thyroid, and high blood levels mess up the testing. If that leads to dose changes, you have a problem. If you are on biotin, then don’t completely trust any test about your thyroid.

 

Pop Quiz:

  1.  Hair loss is affected most by what two hormones?                        Answer: thyroid and progesterone

2.    Biotin is related to vitamin C? T or F                             Oh, get over it and read it again. It’s a B vitamin, B7 to be exact.

3.    The reason biotin messes up your thyroid is?                                  Answer: it doesn’t. It messes up your thyroid test leading you to look like you are in trouble, when you are just peachy.

4.     If you are worried about your hair, how often should you let yourself make dose changes of your thyroid or progesterone?                                                                 Answer: probably at least 3 months before you change anything.

5.    Your thyroid is easily understood with your thyroid tests? T or F                 Oh, my goodness. You haven’t read much about reverse T3 or de-iodinase yet.

 

 

The Triage Theory by Bruce Ames

The Triage Theory by Bruce Ames

References:  AJCN 2009 AmesPNAS,

This topic is very important. It is how “wellness” and aging intersect.  Bruce Ames, a Professor of Biology and Molecular Biochemistry at Berkeley has been the chief proponent of it and has been articulating its implications since 2006. In essence, the theory maintains that populations of mammals, or creatures, on earth allocate micronutrients on a first-come-first-served basis. This serves the animal in the short term, but creates long term consequences and problems. The body “prioritizes” short term survival over long term health.

There are about 40 critical minerals, fats, vitamins and “micronutrients” that we depend upon for optimal health. Each of them can be “optimal” or play a role in being deficient. It is not until that nutrient is critically deficient that we get a short term “deficiency” disease. But because different organ systems may require different levels of the nutrient, short term disease may not reflect the risk of long term damage that ends up causing premature aging.

One of his examples is Vitamin K. When we take coumadin to make out blood thin, we knock out a bunch of other functions that Vitamin K does. In the short term, our blood being thinner and less clot-prone might be medically life saving because we have had a blood clot in our lungs, but in the long term, we end up with arteries that have calcified and “hardened”. You will see it on X-ray. Folks who have been on Coumadin for years have all their arteries visible in calcified outline.
Another example is Iodine. In severe deficiency, you get mental retardation. Iodine insufficiency is considered the number one cause of mental retardation in the worth by the WHO. It’s terribly important to protect the brain, and heaven knows, our thyroids need iodine. What gives? Breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease are both strongly linked to lower iodine intake. Optimal iodine intake is probably more on the order of 1-1.2 mg a day, whereas most Americans only get .250-.300 mg a day.
Alkalinity and acid give another example. Very high animal protein diets with excess protein result is “acid” biological ash, needing neutralization. The human body, evolving from plant eating backgrounds, is used to being vegetarian and only recently adopted a habit of eating meat (5 million years) so that we could get a bigger brain. Eat too much animal protein, and you have to sacrifice bone mass to neutralize the acid. American’s get an extremely high level of animal protein between meat, fish, bird and dairy and result in a uniformly acidic environment. One in eight American women breaks a hip, the disease of aging that then does 30% of them in. This raises the spector of the safety of the “Adkins Diet” to which I would suggest that one focus on the fat and not the meat.
The conundrum for wellness comes in the concept of “long term health”. It is easy to precipitate short term illness, and discover the minimal requirement to prevent a particular organ system from failing. In just weeks, you can show that a level of Vitamin D below 32 ngm in the blood results in decreased cathlicidin and lowered immune function as shown by the inability to kill tuberculosis. It takes over 10 years to show that a level of Vitamin D of 50 versus 30 results in 70% less cancer.
The web on nutrient interactions is marvelously complex and nuanced. That’s the fun of it all. We have so much more to learn. Thank you Dr Ames for opening this line of enquire. I want to live long enough to fully appreciate it.

WWW.What will work for me. I’ve referred to the triage theory several times in the past. Our column on zinc was the last one. This theoretical construct should guide our thinking on all 40 micronutrients. What is too much? Too Little? Just right? I take Vitamin D, K2, fish oil, zinc, magnesium all because of this concept. You likely should too.

Pop Quiz

1. The RDA of vitamins and minerals are well known? T or F                                                                       Unfair, trick question. They are well known only for short term disease states, not long term wellness.

 

2. Premature aging is precipitated by missing micronutrients? T or F                                                              True:  And that’s the Triage Theory stated backwards.

 

3. Vitamin B12 deficiency is key for the prevention of pernicious anemia. What else is it also critically important for?                                                                                              Not mentioned in this column, but if you have read anything in this news letter, you would have seen repeated references to its even more important role in………….brain health.

 

4. Taking coumadin to prevent short term blood clots results in………?                                                                       Long term arterial calcification.

 

5. Eating a pure cheese and meat diet (the all American fast food diet) results in what long term stressor effect on the body? Too much acid that has to be neutralized by borrowing calcium from? ……..         Bones.

 

LifeSpan versus HealthSpan

LifeSpan Versus Healthspan

References:  WEForum 2017Compreh Physiology 2012,  Med Sci-Fi Sport Exercise,

We are living longer. But are we living better? In the 20th century, we doubled our life expectancy with the miracle of antibiotics, clean surgical technique, X-rays, immunizations and clean water.  Babies being born today in advanced societies have a 50:50 chance of living to be 100. But living longer isn’t necessarily better. There have been some disturbing trends lately. Obesity has managed to reverse the climb to longer lifespan in some societies, namely the USA.

As we live longer, we have more choices about lifestyle, making research into factors affecting confoundingly complex. It becomes impossible to do “randomized, placebo controlled” studies over decades without limiting free choice and spending more money than could be allocated. This article, from the World Economic Forum this year, offers insight into the laboratory of fitness, namely masters athletes. I have a dozen or so men and women older than 60 in my practice who would qualify as exceptionally fit. And I see their lab results and their vitality. They are aging differently than those of us who are less active.

Sedentary behavior is being increasingly recognized as the driver of many of our modern conditions. Part of this discernment comes from the recognition that athletes, (high end performers) have a disproportionately share of good health. They don’t get in trouble. They still die, but their time of end-of-life disability is markedly compressed, compared to the majority of the sedentary population. They become a unique research cohort, one that we couldn’t duplicate with “randomized research”. In effect, what happens with athletes is that they reach their peak in their 30s, like all of us, but then don’t show much decline until close to the very end. The rest of us show inexorable, linear decline. “Patch, patch patch, after 40!,” we say.

At every age in life, starting exercise of any kind has benefit. And the risk of complications from exercise is far lower than the risk of remaining sedentary. The real risk is sitting. Considering computer games at home, TV, computers at work and cell phones in-between, we are mesmerized by electronic distractions that leave us sedentary. In fact, research in 2009 of 17,000 Canadians of all ages showed a dose relationship of sedentary behavior to all cause mortality, regardless of levels of exercise. That means 30 minutes in the gym does you no good if you are sitting the rest of the day. Bother.

The Author cites four strategies with references on each: 1) Move More (Just get started and move more), 2) Move Slow, (Aim for 10,000 steps a day) 3) Move Fast (Add some high intensity something, even for just 10 minutes) and 4) Move Heavy (Add some weights). Read those hyperlinks. It’s the best of our knowledge.

WWW.What will work for me. Sedentary behavior is the new smoking. If you want to live better, longer, you have to do it. Build it in every day. A day without exercise is as bad as a day of smoking.

Pop Quiz

1. Our grand-kids are likely to live to be 90+. T or F Answer: False if they are sedentary, but true if they get the exercise bug and take care of their diet.
2. Our society is becoming more active. T or F Answer: Mixed picture. But as a general rule, false. Bless those who make the answer slightly true.
3. 30 minutes at the gym has beneficial effects? T or F Answer: Sure, it helps. Its benefit may be completely erased by an 8 hour day of sitting.
4. There is a dose relationship between exercise and good health. T or F Bingo
5. Getting sweaty isn’t necessary. T or F Answer: False, if you want optimal results. Getting sweaty 3-4 times a week is much better for you.

 

Heart Disease is a Sulfate Deficiency Problem

Heart Disease is a Sulfate Deficiency Problem

References:  Theor Biol Med Mod,

Half of us, men and women, die of this scourge. I have spent a career battling heart disease in Emergency Medicine and now Functional Medicine. And I’m still puzzled why it happens. We explain, as best we can, that we think it’s caused by the agglomeration of small, dense LDLs into our arteries. White cells then come along and try to digest those packets of fat, and can’t do it. They die. Cholesterol accumulates. All this is the theoretical foundation of the cause of heart disease. And it falls short.

Stephanie Senneff from MIT, suggests a different consideration that fits all the present criteria better than the cholesterol hypothesis. We may have been barking up the wrong tree. Here is her construct.

It starts with the “structure” of water. In a glass, water flows freely. At the microscopic level, it has a tiny electrical magnetic orientation that adds up, making for slight stickiness at interfaces. This gets to be an issue on the surface of biological entities, like cell walls and the surfaces of arteries. Friction builds up and necessary movement is slowed down. We can’t have that in blood vessels. This is where cholesterol-SULFATE and SULFATED-glycosaminoglycans line the surface of blood vessels, creating a tiny electrical and magnetic charge that leads to what is being called “structured water”.

This is where it gets really interesting. Red blood cells, covered with electrically charged particles, moving through blood vessels lined with “structured water” create a tiny micro voltage. When you have moving voltage, you create a tiny magnetic field that becomes a signaling device – just like a radio, or an electric motor. (EVSP: electrokinetic vascular streaming potential) The lining cells of the capillary repel the red cells, and get the signal to release NO, nitric oxide. The capillary relaxes and the red cells gets pushed through to the other end of the capillary. Blood flows. Oxygen gets delivered. The organism thrives. (A topic for another day is that this magnetic field is then subject to outside low levels of electromagnetic radiation. Hmmm!)

Where does heart disease come in? With insufficient sulfate on the surface of arteries and red cells, a lower you have an alteration of the voltage potential, fixed with elevation of blood pressure. The natural result is a desperate search for sulfate to make the blood vessel and its environment slippery. Sulfated cholesterol, made by sun exposure, provides the sulfate. Cholesterol accumulates. Plaque develops. Eventually, heart attacks occur. The detail is much more elegant but the paper is fascinating. This sounds real, plausible and explains heart disease down to the molecule.

What is the takeaway? Heart disease isn’t caused by LDLs or cholesterol. If all this is true, heart disease is caused by sticky red cells being unable to pass through capillaries with a drop in nitric oxide and a scavenging of sulfated cholesterol as a means to garnish enough sulfate to keep blood flowing. Certainly cholesterol plays a role, but the problem lies in lack of sulfate, not excess of cholesterol. The accumulation of cholesterol is a secondary phenomenon.

To test this hypothesis, one would presume you could fix heart disease if you eased the lack of sulfated compounds. Here we circle back to Lester Morrison and his work in the 50’s and 60’s, reversing vascular disease with SULFATED-chondroitin. Did you get that? It’s been proven clinically already. This hypothesis has legs.

WWW:What will work for me. This is enormously satisfying to me. It feels right. We have the physics of fluid flow match the observation of biological compounds relationship to sulfated compounds, to external electromagnetic forces. It also fits that our diet, which has shifted to more manufactured, carbohydrate laden food, has lost the key food items that supplied us with sulfate: eggs, crucifers, alliums, garlic, animals. Eat the WHOLE animal. It’s cartilage that has sulfate in it.  Bone broth is rich in sulfate. Back to gnawing on chicken bones. I’m in.

Pop Quiz

  1. When you push two magnets against each other, and they push back against each other, you create the same effect as red cells lined with cholesterol sulfate have in capillaries.   T or F                                                    Answer: Bingo. You got it. That’s the key.
  2. Lack of sulfate leads to accumulation of cholesterol as a secondary, dysfunctional way of harvesting sulfate, needed to make an artery lining slippery. T or F                                                                                            Answer. If you answer true, you now have become an A student
  3. Cholesterol plays a role in heart disease. T or F                                            Answer. True. It plays a role but only as a garbage dump after it’s relinquished its sulfate, indicating that it’s the lack of sulfate that really drives the bus.
  4. It makes sense for me to take a statin to reverse my heart disease.   T or F

If you said true, read [the paper](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4456713/) three more times and then write on the blackboard 100 times: cholesterol is a secondary player. Then report back to the class.

  1. Bone broth has magical properties. T or F                                                       Answer.   No, not magical. Just good old fashioned Grandma’s food chemistry. We need the protein of meat, but also the sulfate of cartilage leached out be gentle simmering of bones all night, ……. or eggs, broccoli, garlic, onion, kale, cabbage.