Monthly Archives: May 2008

Vitamin D3 is Safe in Kids!

Vitamin D3 is Safe in Kids!  We can extend our recommendation

Competency # 15 Vitamins

Reference: Barclay and Vega, J Clin Endo and Meta May 2008

It’s official.  It’s safe to give kids down to age 10 2,000 Units of a day of Vitamin D.  We haven’t had the research to prove it up till now.  Well, not in an official dosing study.  We have had Hyponnen’s research from Finland where newborns were given 2,000 U a day for the first year of life from 1945 till 1969.  In retrospect, it was found that those kids had an 80% lower rate of insulin dependent diabetes.  But that was a retrospective study based on population events after the fact.  Couldn’t quite say it passed the rigors of a closely watched population.  Well, now we have a closely watched population.

This study was done both short and long term by Drs Vega and Barclay and published just this last week.  The kids were, on average, about 13.7 years old, and were given either 1400 U or 14,000 U a week for eight weeks and studied intensively, or for a full year and studied every few months.  What they found was very simple.  There was no rise in serum calcium in either group.  Their Vit D blood levels rose from 15 ng to 19 ng if they got 1,400 U a week and from 15 ng to 36 ng if they got 14,000 units a week.  No one got kidney stones.  There was no observed toxicity.

What this suggests is clear and simple.  1400 U a day raises your Vit D blood level by only 4 ng.  You are still below the important threshold of 32 ng.   Fourteen hundred units a week is only 200 a day.  That’s the official recommendation in a vitamin pill.  It’s not enough!  Fourteen thousand units a week is 2.000 units a day.  That got the kids to a blood level of 36.  That’s just barely enough.

If you live in the tropics and get sun year around, your blood level would be 60.  In Wisconsin, our blood level gets up into the 40s and 50s during the summer, depending on how much sun we get.  Young kids, with young skin will make 15-20,000 Units of Vit D if they get about 20-30 minutes of sun.  So it doesn’t make intuitive sense to fear giving more than 200 Units a day.  But that’s where our official recommendations have been stuck for years.

It’s time to raise your personal recommendations.  For kids in your family, you can safely now prescribe 2,000 Units a day will full confidence.  Knowing the Finnish research, we need to be considering our newborns soon too.  I would give it to mine. If you have pigment in your skin, you may need much more.  If you are overweight, ditto.

WWW.  What will work for me.  Listening to the radio this morning on the way to work, Dr. Oz from the Oprah show was talking about Vit D.  If it’s on Oprah and Public Radio, time for it to be on your kitchen table.   Then, tell your kids to eat their vegetables and go play outdoors.


Alkali Diet: Part II – The Minuet of Minerals

The Alkali Diet Part II:  The Minuet of Minerals

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference: : First International Symposia on the Alkaline Diet, Feb 2008, Journal of Nutrition, Arnett, T, J. Nutr. 138: 415S–418S, 2008.

Last week we learned that fruits and vegetables are loaded with potassium and magnesium.  Meat and refined carbohydrates are not.  A lemon, as sour and acidic as its taste is, is actually an alkali in its end waste products.  That’s all because of the way our body breaks down nutrients and excretes the extra ones.  Because fruits and vegetables are just loaded with potassium and magnesium, our kidneys are really very happy with the bicarbonate they end up making.  We give our kidneys lots of potassium to work with as they can exchange poisons and clean up our blood.   The bicarbonate that our kidneys can use, when we eat lots of fruits and vegetables, gives our blood an ever so slight shift to being alkali.  That extra bicarbonate that’s made is actually critical to our metabolism.

Now, here is the interesting rub.  Protein is, in effect, acidic.  You can only use so much protein a day.  Any extra and you have to break it down.  We can’t store protein like we can store fat.   Proteins are made of amino acids strung together in long strings.  Did you get that?  Acids!  The amino acid group on each amino acid is an acid you have to get rid of when you break down a protein into its constituent parts.  And you get rid of that acid by balancing it with alkali.

Eating too much protein, and not enough potassium, magnesium and calcium means your acid/alkali balance is out of whack.  You have to borrow from somewhere to make up the difference.  And where you borrow from is from your bones, or from your muscles.  Your kidneys just have to have something to exchange for the extra acid you eat in your diet.   You can make your urine more acidic.  That’s one way to make the balance work.  You can breath a little deeper.  That’s another way for a short-term balance adjustment.  But in the long run, day in and day out, if you keep eating too much acid, you end up breaking down your bones and your muscles to get extra alkali to balance everything out.  You lose muscle mass and bone mass.  Bit by bit, your muscles lose mass and your bones get softer.

And then there is salt.  Sodium is a potassium, magnesium and calcium killer.  As crucial as salt is to your health and well-being, too much of a good thing is a problem too.  We used to have diets with much, much more potassium and magnesium.  Some estimates are as high as 8 molecules of potassium for every one of sodium in our “Paleolithic diet” days.  Now days, we eat 1 molecule of potassium for every 4 of sodium.  That’s a big problem too.  That would be a 32-fold shift in ratio of sodium to potassium.  When your kidneys try to sort out the new environment of so much sodium from all the salt in our diet, they get overwhelmed and just dump out potassium and magnesium.  That makes the acid – alkali problem worse.

Where do we go from here?  Next week we’ll add it all up in method to show you how to balance the acid and the alkali.  It’s a new way of looking at your diet that will help you immensely hang on to muscle and bone for the long haul.

WWW: What Will Work for Me?  I’m thinking about the importance of this new concept: the alkali in my diet.  It gives me a new appreciation of how many times I add salt to my food, and how that upsets my acid-base balance.  I’m trying to add extra pepper instead.  It’s interesting to watch myself get used to the spicy flavor instead of the salty flavor.  You can do it too.  And I’m still counting to 9 servings, each and every day, of fruits and vegetables.  Lots of mighty minerals.  Maybe a bit more in balance.

The Alkaline Diet: Part I. The Molecular Minuet of Mighty Minerals

The Alkaline Diet:  Part I.  The Molecular Minuet of Mighty Minerals

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference: James Dowd and Diane Stafford in “The Vitamin D Cure”  Published 2008

Alkali?  Ever heard of that term?  Alkali is the opposite of acid.  If you measure alkali with a pH meter, it’s anything over pH 7.0 from a technical explanation.  From your body’s point of view, alkali is essentially bicarbonate.  We are going to run a 4 part series on alkali over this next month so that you understand the concept.  It’s important to understand for several reasons.  One, it may be the secret to keep your muscles from wasting as you age.  Two, it will keep your bones stronger.  Three, it may very well participate in lowering your cancer rate.  Four, it may well make arthritis much better in the long run. Finally, it will likely lower your chronic state of inflammation.   Wow!  That’s a lot of claims.  Let’s try to convince you. (We love a good argument!)
Here’s how we start.  We are not talking about the acid you eat, but the acid you excrete.  When you eat food, your body pretty quickly breaks it down into a variety of basic components.  You need a tiny amount of vitamins every day, a regular supply of essential fatty acids, a regular and steady supply of protein, and then you need energy in the form of carbohydrate or fat. Throughout our history, we’ve sought high energy density foods when we could get them.  Our tongues and appetites love sweet, fat, rich foods.  When we couldn’t get them, we fell back on boring old vegetables, roots, high fiber foods which were not as energy dense, took a lot work to eat and find, just barely satisfying our appetites. The paleo-anthropologists tell us that we ate about 150-200 grams of fiber a day in our distant past.  Now, middle-class Americans eat some 15-20 grams of fiber a day, and poorer folks eat 5-10 grams of fiber a day.

We’ve always focused on the calories, fat and fiber.  But the acid/alkali story is about the minerals and breakdown products.  When you eat a lemon, it’s as sour as it can be.  That’s acid tasting.  But it’s not an acid food from your body’s point of view.  That’s because after you have digested it, a lemon is loaded with potassium and magnesium.  When you have finished digesting it, the pH of the break down products is not acid, it’s basic or alkali.  Now, go down the list of vegetables and you will find that they are all loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium and very little sodium.

Meat, on the other hand, has protein in it.  You can only use so much protein.  The rest has to be broken down into basic amino acids.  That amino group, a nitrogen molecule at heart, has to be excreted.  And your body has to secrete that as acid.  That makes your body slightly acidic till you get rid of it.

Get it so far?  Veges are alkali and loaded with potassium and magnesium. That’s good. Next week.  How the balance works.

WWW:  What Will work for me.  The DASH Diet is, at heart, 9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.  I’m getting better counting every day.  Practice counting yours this week.

The Best Predictor of How Long You Will Live: Mastery of Stress

The Best Predictor of How Well You Are 35 years Down the Road!

Competency # Competency #’s 20  “Cuisines of the Long Lived”

Reference: Journal of Behavioral Medicine Vol 20, p 1-13, 1997

At age twenty, I can make a pretty accurate guess to how well you will be in your 50s.  Being in my 50s right now, I’m thinking about these things and grateful that I’m in pretty good shape.  Few parts missing and not working so well, but for the most part things are okay so far.

So, it caught my eye when an article from the Harvard Mastery of Stress Study came out that shows data about predicting health 35 years down the road.  This is the longest running study that I can find in the literature that looks at the predictive ability of long and healthy life.  Thirty-five years is enviably long.

Readers of this column will likely think I’m going to say something to the effect of waistline, or exercise, or blood sugar.  If so, that’s what I would have said and you would have been accurate in your guess.  But that’s not what Dr. Russek and Schwartz reported on.  They looked at the Harvard Mastery of Stress study from the 1950s in which Harvard undergraduate men were extensively studied for their emotional state of mind, because they didn’t have any illnesses and were all considered to be in great shape.  And what they found should set us all to pondering.

The most accurate predictor of how well you will be 35 later in life is the level of loving and caring relationship you have with your mother and father.  Those who answered the question No and No to “Do you have a loving and warm relationship with your mother and father” had a 92% chance of having some midlife major illness like coronary artery disease, cancer, alcoholism hypertension.  If you had a good relationship with just one parent, mother or father, the odds were about 70%.  If you had a good relationship with both father and mother, it was 45%.  That’s half of 92%.

The numbers were too small to predict the effects of other friends, social environments, pets, or other measures of life stress and social support behaviors, but the authors conjecture that the intangibles are all difficult to measure.  Good sleep behavior, family dinners, social support, resources for good health habits, vacations…all may be related.

This is the season of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  Going forward, think about what a gift you can give to your parents by letting them know you appreciate the loving support you got from them.  And if it wasn’t so ideal, help define it as being loving by starting to create opportunities for relationship and support.

WWW.  What will work for me.  I’m a parent and a son.  It goes both ways.  My offspring are no longer children.  But I remain their biggest fan.  And I’m confident that my parents are my eternal advocates.  What a gift!  Regardless of how old we are, it’s our social networks, our loving and caring relationships might just be the best thing we have going.


Alkali Diet, Part III: The Acid Base Balance Table

The Alkali Diet Part III: Acid Base Balance Table

Competency # 16 Minerals

Reference: James Dowd and Diane Stafford’s “The Vitamin D Cure” Published 2008 John Wiley and Sons

Reference for Renal Acid Load: Remer T, Manz F.  Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH.  J Am Diet Association. 1995 July: 95(7):791-7.

Ok, so how do I figure out where I am with the alkali in my diet?  10,000 years ago, humans ate a diet that was dramatically alkali.  Our bodies evolved eating more potassium and magnesium than sodium, and thereby ended up with much more alkali.  Our excreted end products in our urine didn’t have to deal with acid.  Now, in our modern world we do.  Our diet has changed drastically in the last 10,000 years.  Each and every change has added an increment more acid.  We call those increments “milli-equivalents” because that’s what the chemist can measure and calculate.  James Dowd, in his great book “The Vitamin D Cure” calls them simply points.  His formula helps you to figure out home “acid” or how “alkali” your diet it.  The goal is to be neutral, at least.  That way, your body will have the natural chemical environment it was designed to have.

So, what’s new in the last 10,000 years?  Here is a rough translation of how James Dowd has converted the results of your metabolism into acids and bases.

ACID POINTS : The multipliers reflect the rough amount of acid each type of food makes when it’s digested.

1.  Bread.                Take each serving of bread in the last day =       ______  x’s 2 =______

(We didn’t domesticate wheat until 10,000 years ago.  So, it’s new)

2.  Breakfast cereal is more “refined”.      How many servings    = _______x’s 8 = ______

(Again, made from grains but all the fiber polished off and germ removed)

3.  Pasta.                                                    How many servings =   _______ x’s 6 = ______

(Pasta is wheat made into flour, add egg……)

4.  Meat and Fish                                                            Servings= _______x’s 9 = _______

(Remember, meat has amino acids, becomes acid)

5.  Beans (includes peanuts)                                          Servings= _______x’s 4 =_______

6.  Nuts                                                                          Servings=________x’s 7=_______

7.  Cheese (except cottage which counts as meat)        Servings=_______x’s 20=_______

SALT: Do you add salt more than 3 times a week?  If yes, add 3 points               _______

SATURATED FAT: More than 3 servings butter, cream, ice cream, or

Processed meats.                           Add 3 points                                      _______

TOTAL ACID Points                                                                              _______



1.  Fruit servings        (1/2 cup = serving)                      Servings=_______x’s 3= _______

2.  Vegetables                                                                  Servings=_______x’s 3=_______

TOTAL ALKALI Points                   NEGATIVE POINTS                   ( ______)


Score:  Add up all the acids – then all the alkali and TOTAL the two:              _______

Less than zero.  You are a rare American.  Your body chemistry loves you

You are 90% there.  This will be easy

You are on tilt.  You need help

>30.  Your body needs help.  And you didn’t even know it!  Most folks are here. The foods we eat have put our internal chemistry in a place never seen before until just this century.  Next week, we will discuss the reasons to change and how it will affect your health.

WWW:  What Will Work for Me?  Whew.  I’m like a car battery.  Pure acid.  James Dowd’s fix seems radical.  But the benefits are immense.  I need to learn them in detail or I can’t make these changes.  So, that’s next week.  My goal: convince you, my dear skeptical friend, why it’s good for you.  Meanwhile, nothing but apples for lunch today to make up for ………  You wouldn’t believe how much delicious Greek Yogurt I can go through when there are no witnesses.  It’s divine.   (–2 points per serving)  And for the spinach buffs, spinach stands all by itself at –14 points.  Popeye was really much smarter than you think!