Monthly Archives: March 2011

Vitamin D is Strongly Associated with Reduction in Heart Disease Risk

Vitamin D is Strongly Associated with Reduction in Heart Disease Risk

March 26, 2009

Reference:  American Heart Association Meetings  March 15, 2010

The Newsletter is back.  I have had some issues at work as to whether I owned my own intellectual property.  I do.  And I may continue to email my friends.  Here we go again!  Let me know if you want to be off this list.  Otherwise,  almost every week……

I have to start with Vitamin D.  The momentum is growing. If you haven’t started taking D yet, this week should push you over the edge.  The large, widely publicized and authoritative medical journals are starting to carry stories about Vitamin D that demonstrate it’s utility.

The evidence is growing about how D works at the cellular level.  Each and every cell needs it to turn on the genes that make that particular cell into a mature cell.  Heart disease is really a disease of the “endothelium” or lining of blood vessels.  We know that the endothelium is an incredibly biologically active interface between the blood and the muscle lining of the arteries.  Vit D cools off the portfolio of genes that boost up inflammation.  And inflammation is the core dysfunction that sets off the cascade of damage.  Current state of the art theory argues that metabolic syndrome results from that inflammation, and from metabolic syndrome comes hypertension and diabetes.  When we treat hypertension and diabetes, we are jumping on the haywagon when the horse is already out of the barn.  It’s inflammation we need to be treating.  So, Vitamin D is one of the foundational strategies for preventing heart disease at its source, the inflamed and dysfunctional artery lining where plaque is growing and arteries are narrowing.  So, what’s the newest research?

From Utah, Dr. Brent Muhlestein, (Intermountain Medical Center) followed 31,000 patients over one year and found those with the lowest vitamin D levels had a 170-per-cent greater risk of heart attacks than those with the highest levels. Those with the lowest vitamin D levels also had an 80-per-cent greater risk of death, a 54-per-cent higher risk of diabetes, a 40-per-cent higher risk of coronary artery disease, a 72-per-cent higher risk of kidney failure and a 26-per-cent higher risk of depression.   Which of those would you like to choose?  It gets better!

Dr. Muhlestein took 9,400 patients from that group and gave them vitamin D, finding a 30% reduced risk of death in just one year.  Just one year!   If a drug company did this, the ads would be on every night on TV from 5 pm till midnight.

He did not think it was ethical to withhold vitamin D in a placebo control group, in order to do a randomized controlled trial.  And that is also huge.  We have now reached the point where established researchers are stating that it is not ethical to withhold treatment from those who are deficient.  That means that letting someone remain at a low blood level is unethical.

So, here is the formula that I have found that will get you to a healthy blood level.  First of all, if you have not been taking any, your blood level, now at the end of winter is likely less than 20 ng and possibly below 10 ng.  (Mine was 9 when I started 6 years ago).  Your fat tissue soaks up D like a sink so you need a loading dose to get started.  Most folks need about 300,000 IU over a month to get a good loading dose.  That’s 10 K a day for a month.  A single 100,000 IU dose will raise your blood level 15 ng and there is medical literature to show that will raise your blood level about 15 ng in a day or two.  It is safe and not toxic to the vast majority of folks.  (A few tiny number of people will be extremely sensitive – apparently folks with sarcoid are quite sensitive.)  Then, 5,000 IU a day for the rest of your life will get the majority of people to a blood level of about 60 ng .  So, you can get there in about a month.  If you just start on 5K a day, it will take you a year to get up to 60 ng.  So, do a loading dose.

Where can you buy it for cheap?  Sam’s Club has 5K capsules, 400 for $ 10.

WWW: What will work for me.  I’m taking 10 K a day and that has my blood level around 60.  I don’t need to measure it any more.  If I miss a day, I double up the day after.  You can take it once a week if you want.  And yes, I give it to my dog too.  We are all more cheerful!

Iodine for a Nuclear World: What’s the Skinny On Iodine?

Iodine for a Nuclear World:  What’s the Skinny On Iodine?

Nuclear power plants that “melt” can spew out radioactive iodine by the ton, and generate a huge cloud of it.  With 5-7,000 cases of thyroid cancer in the Ukraine caused by the iodine from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, many are asking the question, “How can I keep myself safe?” as a cloud of nuclear debris drifts our way.

Here is the skinny on why you get in trouble with iodine.  First of all, your body needs it desperately and you soak it up avidly whenever you come across it.  The Midwest soils in Wisconsin have no iodine whatsoever, so our daily food has none in it.  It has been added to salt with the consequence that we eat about 140 mcg a day (NHANES).  That’s enough to keep us from getting a thyroid goiter, which is what you develop when you are absolutely deficient.  However, if we get showered with radioactive iodine, we will avidly soak that up too, and concentrate it in our thyroid glands.  Thyroid hormone has 4 iodine molecules attached, so your thyroid gland is always ready to gobble up iodine, especially if it is deficient.  We are deficient.

How can you tell if you are deficient?  Easy.  You do a simple loading test of 50 mg of iodine and then collect your urine for 24 hours.  If you excrete 90% or more of the iodine, you have enough in your body.  If you excrete less than 90% (say 12% – like me), you are very deficient and would benefit from supplementation.  Once you are loaded up, your body will very likely not absorb near as much new iodine, thereby protecting you from any radioactive iodine that comes along.  There: that’s the skinny.  That’s why we pass out iodine tablets when there is concern for a nuclear disaster.  The extra iodine competitively blocks out the trace amounts of radioactive stuff.  It’s only because we avidly concentrate iodine in our thyroids that makes the trace amounts from nuclear disasters a problem.

But here is what is really interesting in the current mess in Japan.  The Japanese are one of the few countries in the world that consumes seaweed as a vegetable, and because of that they average 13 mg a day of iodine intake (100 times what we consume in America).  They are protected from their own nuclear disaster!  They are already loading up their bodies with adequate iodine.   They could take extra to really “top off” their tanks, but they are already sufficient.  But what is equally fascinating is that the Japanese have about 95% less breast cancer and very little fibrocystic breast disease.  That has been linked by epidemiological studies to their iodine intake.  In America, some 46% of breast cancer patients have a thyroid disorder, and the thyroid glands of American women tend to be about 90% larger in size than those women who have normal, non-fibrocystic breasts.  That’s not direct proof of anything, but it sure smells like something interesting.  The conclusion is that our breast tissue also needs more iodine than we are currently getting to be healthy.

WWW: What will work for me.  The World Health Organization lists iodine as one of the worlds leading nutritional deficiencies and the cause of mental retardation world wide.  We hardly talk about it in America.  Maybe we should be talking about it, measuring it and supplementing with it.  I personally have tested myself and took a supplement until I was loaded up.  It’s one of those reasons taking a multivitamin every day is a good idea.  But you don’t get enough to saturate yourself.  To be scientific, you can get test kits from ZRT laboratories, or from Doctor’s Data.  MD Custom RX pharmacy in Brookfield carries iodine tablets and the kits to test yourself with ZRT.   In the meantime, don’t do anything right now.  There isn’t enough iodine coming out of Japan to hurt anyone, and we are a very long ways away.

Uric Acid and Heart Attacks

Uric Acid and Heart Attacks

Reference:  Current Opinion Rheumatology 2011;23(2):174

Uric acid and heart attacks?  What has that got to do with heart attacks?  Uric acid has been all about gout!  You have a high uric acid in your blood and you are likely going to have an aching big toe and have a gout attack.  That’s what we thought uric acid was all about.  So, what’s the connection to heart disease?  I have images of old Englishmen clutching their big toes going off to Bath to soak in the hot mud and relieve their pain.  We now know they had gout from being lead poisoned by Port wine that came in clay jars from Portugal, the first historical proof of lead toxicity.

This paper by Sokolove is very interesting.  He weaves together all the evidence that has emerged in the last 10 years from animal models and small human studies to show that uric acid is an independent and equally valid marker of risk for heart disease.  There has been a bit of trouble showing this, because there are so many risks for heart disease and they all travel together.  Teasing one out from the others is tricky.  But the first hint came with our national nutrition study called NHANES in 1992 when 5926 subjects with high uric acid were shown to demonstrate a 77% increased risk of heart disease if their uric acid was over 7 mg/dl compared to those under 5.4 mg/dl (men).  In women, it was a 300% risk difference.  That’s big!

The human evidence is short term but also interesting.  For example, a study following 9924 veterans with gout on uric acid lowering therapy showed that they reduced their mortality 77% by lowering uric acid.  Another study on folks getting heart surgery showed that allopurinol, the drug that lowers uric acid, reduced risk of death around heart surgery.  Or, 65 people with stable angina, given allopurinol and then tested again with a treadmill test, all had an improvement in their stress tests with the allopurinol.  In folks with high blood pressure, uric acid lowering therapy lowers their blood pressure, but also improves the function of a dilated, damaged heart.  Goodness.  Virtually every risk group of hearts gets better.

This is all cool stuff.  It seems to be making the case that uric acid is a marker for risk for heart disease.  It may not be causal, but it sure looks like something we have to watch.  And just what is the connection to take home?  Remember last week’s email about fructose and sugar causing hypertension?  It did it by raising uric acid. Remember that?  (Of course you do!)  Well, here is the linked hypothesis.  If these guys would just talk to each other!  Sugar, fructose in particular, raises your uric acid.  And the fructose researchers are showing that when that happens, the uric acid wipes clean the Nitric Oxide in your blood.  Nitric oxide is the chemical your blood vessels use to relax and dilate.  That lowers your blood pressure, lowers the work of your heart.  Getting rid of uric acid is getting rid of the sponge that is wiping out the uric acid.  See the connection?  So, it’s not just taking allopurinol that will lower your risk.  Sure, you can lower your uric acid by taking another pill.  But you can do it also be eating less sugar.  Get the point!  Eating less sugar pops up again.

WWW: What will work for me.  This is another nail in the coffin of sugar.  I’m going to get my uric acid checked next time I have my annual physical exam.  My goal is to keep it down in the 3-5 range.  And I will be sorely disappointed if it’s not down there naturally because I eat very little sugar.  Well, there were those 4 Dove chocolates last night.  Oh dear.  Forgot.  I stand corrected.  I eat LESS sugar than I used to.  I need to practice cutting down on Dove chocolates.  How about 2 next time?  Perfect practice makes for perfect.