Author Archives: Alex Newell ND

Air Pollution and Disease: Can Air Filters Help?

air pollution from factory chimneyPollution is not just ugly and smelly; It is a serious health issue too. And it is not just about causing and exacerbating lung disease and sinus problems, but much more seriously there is now evidence that air pollution is a powerful factor in the causation of ADHD, autism and infertility.

We got to see just how serious air pollution could be back in the 1950s in smoggy old London. The smog was caused by the smoke from sulphur rich coal that was used in British fireplaces. The clean air act cleared the air and saved goodness knows how many lives too.

The change to burning a different type of coal and to using gas fires certainly did clear the air, but our pollution problems may actually have got worse since then.

Industry has moved on and is producing thousands of new chemical based products, many of them producing invisible vapours, which because we cannot see them seem to be innocent and inoffensive.

Modern pollutants appear as phthalates (silent “p”), plasticizers, Organophosphates, Bisphenol A and solvents. Even the names of these give me “the creeps!” and they will appear in future posts.

To tell whether or not our homes are safe now we need modern technology that can “sniff” the air in our home to check to see if it is safe and this technology is very expensive and complex to use and to interpret.

And it is not just these chemical vapours produced in our homes from the paint work, curtains and carpets that we and our family are breathing in but we are also breathing the pollution produced outside the home – emitted by vehicles and chimneys – all this spreads inside the home and cannot be kept outside.

No matter how clean you keep your home the burden of external air pollution cannot be avoided and can only be dealt with by a high quality air filter.

Air Filters For Every Use

There are various types of air filter. Yes they all filter out dust and pollution from the air but they do so with a level of thoroughness and deficiency depending on the technology they use and their price!

A basic filter will trap dust particles and remove them from being recirculated by the heating and ventilation systems again and again.

Particles come in different sizes and all filters will be able to deal with large particles and probably not be able to deal with the very small particles called “particulates”.

High efficiency filters are called HEPA filters, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and filter out even the tiny particles 1/3 of a micron in size.

Such HEPA filters can be built into vacuum cleaners and even high end cars and aircraft but are commonly used in portable standalone home appliances used in homes where someone has asthma or allergies to reduce the load of allergens that they breathe in.

The air filter mentioned in the video above has an extra unit to filter vapours from fragrances and volatile chemicals.

To read more about the IQAir® Filter go here and if you know of a retailer selling this at a lower cost please let me know and I can share the news right here. Thanks!

Photo Credit Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

What do the B complex vitamins do? | The ABCs of Vitamins

B complex made simple

You know by now if you have been following this series on The ABCs of the Vitamins that vitamins come in different forms and that is especially true of the B vitamins.B complex made simple

There are several of them…

It started with Thiamine

There was a widespread disease amongst sailors and prisoners – that is amongst people with a poor diet. The main symptoms were muscle wasting, irregular heart beat and mental confusion.

The disease was called Beriberi and was first noticed in China as early as 2600 BC but it was only explained as a vitamin deficiency and its actual identity found in the years from 1901 to the 1930s in a series of experiments.

The two most central scientists awarded a Nobel Prize for their achievements.

Thiamine, also written as thiamin, was the first of the B vitamins to be found and was called vitamin “B” because it cured Beriberi.

This was a disease that was widespread amongst people who eat white rice and was cured by eating brown rice or by continuing to eat white rice and take some thiamine.

What is wrong with white rice?

Grains of rice have an outer husk which is removed in milling to get whole rice or whole meal rice. If this brown rice is milled any further the rice germ and the bran are removed and the most important nutrients are lost.

The white rice that is produced is a nutritionally deficient non food or semi food broadly comparable to white bread.

Governments have recognised this by requiring that a small amount of the missing vitamins is returned as a powder and this partially repaired food is then called “fortified” or “enriched”. In truth it is still a deficient food and my advice is to avoid any food that is labelled “enriched” or “fortified”.

The wholemeal version of rice is far better. An occasional use of white rice in a particular recipe is OK but habitual use is not recommended.

One by one further members of the B vitamins were found and so as well as a unique chemical name such as thiamine or riboflavin they are also called B1 and B2 and so on.

At present we have B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12 plus some other vitamins who are unofficial members of the B vitamin family. Let's take a look at them one by one…

Vitamin B2, Riboflavin

Vitamin B2 was first found as a yellow pigment in milk. Now it is known to power a handful of important enzymes that help release and generate energy at a cellular level and to avoid deficiency diseases and symptoms.

 

  • Migraines – trials have shown that high doses of Riboflavin very effective at preventing migraine headaches. Lower doses may well be sufficient when used in intelligent combination with other vitamins and minerals such as magnesium citrate and CoQ10.

     

  • Cataracts – the evidence is mixed with some studies finding a connection between cataracts and others not finding a connection. Perhaps cataract formation depends on the absence of several anti-oxidants and enzymes and Riboflavin alone is not usually the key deficiency? I would expect diet to play a major role in the management of cataract and would advise a whole food plant based diet as well supplements of anti-oxidants and a B complex supplement containing of course riboflavin.

     

  • Cancer – not a disease one normally associates with Riboflavin, but studies in China show that low levels of Riboflavin are associated not just with breast cancer but with of Cervical cancer too. http://is.gd/tWYZpL

     

And this quote from a research paper caught my eye, “overt clinical signs of riboflavin deficiency are rarely seen among inhabitants of the developed countries. However, about 28 million Americans exhibit a common ‘sub-clinical’ stage “ Wiki; http://is.gd/saCfWx

The evidence base of big studies is growing but for you and me there is no need to wait – we can take safe and effective levels of these B vitamins now.

B3 Next

Now we get to Vitamin B3. It's chemical name is nicotinic acid, but it was quickly renamed as “niacin” because Doctors were scared that people would think that nicotine was good for them!

B3 was discovered during the search for a cure of the disease of Pellagra which was common in the 18th Century. Pellagra produces dermatitis and many other serious symptoms such as diarrhoea, confusion and even dementia.

Like many other B vitamins niacin works to help the body release energy from the food we eat. It also functions in detoxification pathways in the liver and in the regulation of blood sugar.

High doses of niacin produce a flushing sensation in the skin for some people which can last for several minutes. Other forms of B3 which do not produce this “niacin flush” are available – or you could just use lower doses or divided doses.

The reason that so many are interested in taking large doses of niacin is that some arterial problems – often called heart problems – respond to niacin therapy.

Niacin lowers high cholesterol and raises HDL – the so called good cholesterol. More to the point it reduces mortality – the chances of dying from heart disease.

And there is a form of niacin that works without the flushing effect. It is called Inositol Hexaniacinate. This increases blood flow and is used to reduce leg cramps caused while walking, intermittent claudication, and in the cold hands and feet disease, Raynauds.

After vitamin B3 you might expect B4 but in the history of vitamins some of the natural chemicals found in foods which were thought to be vitamins and given a number were later identified as other nutrients instead.

So we skip along to B6

Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine

All of the various members of the B vitamin family work together but if there is one star performer then it has to be B6. It helps more than 60 enzyme reactions in the body including the metabolism of amino acids – the building blocks of proteins and works with the Essential Fatty Acids – the Omega 3 and 6 acids.

Where to begin?

Several of the B vitamins help preserve the health of the skin and B6 does too. Without an adequate amount we may suffer eczema or dermatitis around the eyes, ears, mouth and even cracking of the lips and tongue.

Other disorders that may respond well to B6 therapy are PMS, carpel tunnel syndrome and some types of depression.

Like the other members of the “B team” vitamin B6 is water soluble and its level may vary a lot during a day making it useful for us to eat several foods rich in pyridoxine routinely.

Speaking of which…

brewer's yeast, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, soy beans and Walnuts are good food sources of B6.

Asthma is a chronic disease that is at epidemic levels especially amongst children. I suffered a lot from asthma during my childhood and even had some bouts of bronchospasm and wheezing as an adult.

Asthma studies vary. Here (http://is.gd/EWuZza) is a small study of steroid dependant asthma where high dose pyridoxine had no effect and here (http://is.gd/h7neGN) is a larger study in children where there was significant improvement. In my view it is best to work with an health care practitioner who is experienced in the use of nutritional therapies and can help you optimise your diet, pyridoxine and other lifestyle factors.

Autism is an exciting area of research. It is a wide term and there are probably many different types and causes of autism and using B6 may not benefit all those affected – in fact it may only help some 20% of autistic individuals. Nonetheless the ability of B6 to alter neurotransmitters and in particular serotonin does have benefits for some autistic kids, especially when used in combination with magnesium and riboflavin.

It's worth quoting the last sentence of this study, “The data suggest that these children with severe bronchial asthma had a metabolic block in tryptophane metabolism, which was benefited by long-term treatment with large doses of pyridoxine. ”

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Most people working with computers are familiar with this. A wave of awareness of this problem of overuse or wrong use of the wrist together with low intake of B6 combine to give pain in the wrist, tingling and numbness. Those who do not know of vitamin B6 go for surgery and those do know of nutritional therapy just take B6 at gradually increasing doses to see what works for them.

We'll end our tour of this versatile vitamin by looking at its role in the circulation and in heart disease.

First let's look at prevention which is always the best way to cure any disease! Those with low levels of B6 in their blood were found to have 5 times the chances of having a heart attack.

We need to mention a toxin next; it is called homocysteine and occurs in the body when the amino acid methionine is recycled unsuccessfully because it does not have enough B6 to do the job properly.

So the homocysteine is not removed from the blood and remainas there and as it circulates it damages the artery walls.

As a result of this damage cholesterol is used to repair the damage because it is like putty. As the cholesterol piles up on the wound it restricts the flow of blood and sets up a higher pressure.

This damage is not necessary and cholesterol is not an enemy. If there is an enemy it is homocysteine, but actually we can handle that by using B6 and probably a few of its B team buddies too.

The whole battle against cholesterol and all the blah blah about LDL and HDL is a result of lacking clear knowledge of the ABCs of Vitamins and especially the B complex vitamins – the B team.

We'll discuss homocysteine again fully in its own article but let's just end this discussion by saying that monitoring it and your C-Reactive Protein level is much more effective and important than keeping track of cholesterol data.

Finally we turn to PMS, which is something else that B6 is good with!

There are different types of PMS so it is a little complex. Nevertheless it is true that B6 alone will help most patients in the sense of reducing the symptoms and discomfort, pressure and pain involved.

In cases where extra help is needed a B complex supplement often helps and a substantial dose of magnesium too.

Nutrients work in teams and often research ends with no result precisely because the study is badly designed and is testing one nutrient against particular symptoms in order to be clear.

This is perfectly understandable from a research perspective but we want solid help here and not data so we use nutrients along with dietary reform and lifestyle changes such as relaxation and breathing exercises to get the best results.

Another big issue is dosage. Often a study uses a dosage that is too small or else uses a synthetic version of a nutrient that knowledgable Practitioners simply would not use.

To get the health changes you want it's vital to take the right dosage of the right version of the vitamin so let's close after we discuss that a little.

Dosage of Vitamin B6

I have taken 100 mg daily of pyridoxine along with the other B complex vitamins daily for more years than I care to remember and not experienced anything other than more energy.

The B vitamins are water soluble and are used by the body on the day you take the supplement. The doses we take in nutritional use are such that the vast majority of people experience only benefit and if any tingling or flushing is experienced then we simply stop for a wee while and try again.

Normal range of dosage is usually taken to be 50 to 100 mg daily from a high quality company – see below for a few suggestions.

Next we hop along to B7, B8, B9, B10, B11 B12 !

Vitamin B12

Most vitamins are small in size and simple in structure but this one is a biggie – it is based on a metal or mineral, called cobalt and so is called cobalamin.

B12 works along with B6 and Folate to detox homocysteine and so prevent it from damaging your arteries. As written above the B vitamins work together so you can see that just taking ONE vitamin by itself is not going to be enough to help us in most cases.

A deficiency of B12 results in a kind of anaemia, called pernicious anaemia. Mostly we think of Iron when we hear of anaemia but often it is the B complex vitamins that matter more. We may even have a high level of iron and be anaemic and in need of B vitamin therapy.

Cobalamin is only needed in trace amounts and is only made by bacteria. Most people will get tiny amounts from their diet but if you want an insurance policy that you are getting enough or want to use all the B vitamins as part of an anti homocysteine therapy then you'll need to get a B12 supplement which is derived from bacteria – neither plants nor animals can make B12.

B12 Supplements

Here is one good brand, although I would recommend that everyone check labels before buying since we are all unique and need to avoid whatever we are allergic to. This is a vegan supplement so apart from allergies it should suit most people.

3 forms of vitamin B12 in one bottle from Now Foods

And here is a very clever B12 from Now Foods. What caught my eye was that they have included 3 different froms of B12 so if your body does not quite like one form they have you covered. Again, read labels folks but this looks good.

And please bear in mind that Nature designed vitamins to work together so a B12 supplement is great but we also need a good B Complex supplement rather than taking a seperate B1s and B2s and all the rest of the B team. It does make good sense to take more a particular B vitamin when you find that you need more of it.

Here are some good B Complex supplements that may be worth using in your routine.

Vitamin B Complex tablet - active coenzyme form with added vitamin C

The best I could see is this B Complex from Now Foods. What I liked was that it had a nice dose of Lipoic acid and a little CoQ10 and even 60 mg of one of my fave forms of vitamin C – magnesium ascorbate on top of a good B complex.

And the vitamins are in an activated enzyme form that allows them to be useed more easily by your body.

All in a vegetarian and vegan tablet.

What's not to like about this?

OK, you want a capsule because you don't like tablets?

Try this Kosher B complex with vitamin C – it is a Kosher accredited vegetarian and vegan capsule which impressed me a lot by including a whole gram of vitamin C as well as healthy B complex vitamins and a non flush version of B3.

You can find it at Amazon but they don't show you the full ingredients there. Go direct to the Bluebonnet website to see a complete lablel and all the details.

Any questions?

Ask them either in the Comment section below or on my Facebook page.

 

 

 

How Vitamin F Cured Scaly Skin and a Lot More | ABCs of Vitamins

One of the biggest breakthroughs ever made in nutritional research occurred in 1923 when vitamin F was discovered.vitamin F graphic

Studies of groups of animals fed on experimental diets were going on and it was soon found that lacking this essential vitamin lead the poor animals used in these early experiments to quickly develop skin sores and lesions which were quite different from those caused by other vitamin deficiencies.

In fact the diet had vitamins A, B and D added to make sure that all necessary nutrients were in the diet but in spite of that the animals were losing their health and eventually dying.

Why?

Here is a short quote from the original research, “By the present work the authors have shown that if the young animal is subjected to a complete fat starvation over a period of several months, it develops a disease and soon dies.”

Why were they dying?

“When they were autopsied, the Burrs noted that the animals’ kidneys and urinary tracts bore significant signs of damage. ” http://is.gd/hoRy4w

Clearly something dramatic was going on – something essential to health and life was missing from the diet the animals were being fed…

And then the researchers – the husband and wife team, George and Mildred Burr asked the question, whether a special type of fatty acid is required by the animal which it is unable to synthesize from the diet consumed are unanswered questions.  http://is.gd/hoRy4w

This was the discovery of vitamin F; it was the dawning of a new era in Nutritional understanding and research in which for the first time the positive role of fats in our diet was appreciated and vitamin F was found to be 2 fats – later called omega 3 and omega 6.

Without these fats we sicken and die.

Nowadays we call omega 3 and omega 6 oils EFAs, that is “Essential Fatty Acids” and only rarely use the original name of Vitamin F and although we now know a lot about them we still know that foods containing them must be in our meals or our health will suffer

Choosing the “low fat” or “fat free” diet options may be very bad decisions indeed!

The new research horizons revealed that vitamin F consisted of omega 3 oils based on linolenic acid and omega 6 oils based on linoleic acid where the “lin” part of each name is from linseeds which contain both omega 3 and 6 oils.

The most well known of these is Omega 3 so let's start there.

Omega 3 Oil

Linseeds also called flax seeds have been used as food and for fibre since Babylonian times around 5000 BC. The seeds can be powdered and included in many types of meals – mixed into breakfast cereals, mashed vegetables or smoothies. The seeds and powder can even be baked into bread without any reduction in their health benefits, so it is very easy to get a daily dose of flax / linseed.

The major health benefit is its powerful anti-inflammatory effects which work in different ways to the actions of anti-inflammatory vitamins such as vitamin C.

This allows flax to play a major role in a healthy diet because most chronic disease is inflammatory in nature – including arthritis, diabetes, MS, heart disease and cancer.

When flax seeds are pressed flax oil / linseed oil is produced and that can be used as a salad oil but not to fry with because its delicate structure is damaged by the temperature reached in frying. In addition commercially available flax oil is seldom distributed chilled and I simply do not trust that flax oil is fresh and high enough quality to use.

Nowadays I only use and only advise powdered flax seeds. They not only keep fresh for several months but has a high content of lignans in addition to the omega 3 oil content.

What Are Lignans?

They are anti-oxidants and are similar to the healthy chemicals in tea. They are a major source of phyto-oestrogens / phyto-estrogens which protect us from environmental “Gender bending” chemicals.

And since there is a lot of scaremongering and confusion on the internet about phytoestrogens let's take a minute to clear out the nonsense.

Plant estrogens are very much weaker than the hormones we make in the body ourselves. Both males and females make and use so called male and female hormones – just in differing amounts.

We are all exposed to cancer causing toxins in the environment and we all need the protection that plant estrogens can give us. How they work is to plug into the places in our system which a toxin could find its way into.
So they deny toxins an opportunity to work and since the plant estrogens themselves are hundreds of time weaker than our own hormones they do not cause the same effect themselves.

They deny access to toxins – that is all they do. They are a superb health insurance policy and one we can all male and female, subscribe to daily by eating foods and herbs with plant estrogen content.

Such as flax and soya and red clover!

Omega 6 Oil

This is the other part of “Vitamin F” so it essential for our health. Just as omega 3 foods like Flax help power anti-inflammatory processes in the body omega 6 helps power inflammation itself.

This may seem odd or even crazy because all the major diseases have inflammation as a central feature but inflammation itself is an essential part of the defence system of the immune system and we must be able to respond to parasites with our inflammatory resources.

It is a matter of degree!

In the physical and social environment we have created and especially in our food chain we use a lot more omega 6 fats than omega 3 and alhtough we need both, in practise we need to be vigilant that we get our daily dose of omega 3 foods and we can effectiely ignore omega 6!

Why?

Because it is everywhere. Omega 6 oils pop up in corn oil, sunflower and safflower and thousands of foods with these ingredients.

Just eat flax and green leafy vegetables and walnuts and you are covered!

Last Words on the Omega Oils

As it happened vitamin F turned out to be a discovery of how important it is to get small amounts of special types of oils in our diet. In the average diet nowadays we get a massive oversupply of omega 6 oils and far too little omega 3 oils.

There is no requirement for any other omega oils – omega 7 or omega 9 or others, although these may be useful in particular circumstances

While we can take an omega 3 oil supplement it makes more sense to include omega 3 foods in our daily routine and the outstanding superfood to do that is linseed in the form of powdered linseeds / powdered flax seeds.

Many people think that they need to eat fish to get the omega 3 health bonus but this is a mistake. Yes, fish is a source of omega 3 oils but that is only because the fish feed on greens in their environment! The omega oils come from the greens and not the fish.

Going direct to the greens and to the powdered flax or linseeds cuts out the “middleman” and cuts out both the heavy metals such as mercury and other pollution that fish are exposed to.

How About Frying?

We can't leave any discussion of oils without mentioning frying!

Deep frying is never a healthy option and any recipe that calls for it just needs to be replaced and redesigned!

For shallow frying I advise olive oil and use either butter or olive oil to sauté mushrooms.

All other oils such as sunflower, corn oil, safflower etc. are rich sources of omega 6 and are best avoided since they will tip the balance in our body between omega 3 and omega 6 oils.

Olive oil is neutral and will not upset the balance in your body and comes in a variety of flavours.

It also helps if we avoid using other oils that may unbalance our oil intake. This includes any foods with trans fats which are synthetic, man made imitations of healthy oils.

good source of omega 3 oil - organic ground flaxseeds

We don't need imitation foods when we have the real thing.

Butter is a healthy source of oils and the stigmatisation of saturated fats like butter and coconut oil is out dated, commercially biased and simply wrong.

The health benefits of omega 3 oils whether as foods, supplements or oils are surprisingly deep and widespread, they are easy to use and even taste great.

Using them is one of the biggest and simplest changes we can make for our health.

 

 

Photo credit Roger Ward

 

Vitamin K, Strong Bones and Healthy Ageing

vitamin K1 vitamin K2

vitamin K1 vitamin K2Although discovered in 1929 it was not until 1943 that a Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of vitamin K.

The K in Vitamin K stands for “coagulation” or “Koagulation” as spelled in the Danish and German speaking areas in which the research was done and published.

And it refers to the ability of the blood to clot as part of the healing process that happens naturally when you cut yourself.

But the way in which vitamin K works is so complex that it is still being researched all these years later.

To steer us away from too much complexity let's stick to the facts and let's start with the basic truth about vitamins that they are needed in the diet to protect us from disease.

We're going to go through 10 important things you need to know about vitamin K

So we'll start with an obvious question – what does vitamin K protect us from?

1. A deficiency of vitamin K leads to bleeding

2. Because vitamin K does not cross the placenta new born babies sometimes have bleeding disorders and are given an injection of vitamin K

3. Here is the controversial bit – all babies in the US and UK get these injections now

4. Vitamin K is made by plants and bacteria although there are synthetic versions made by pharmaceutical companies too

5. Green leafy vegetables are the best sources for vitamin K and those with a diet lacking daily greens are at risk

6. Vitamin K1 is called phylloquinone and is found in Kale and other greens

7. Vitamin K2 is called menaquinone and is made is small amounts by bacteria in the gut – providing you don't kill them with antibiotics- and is the "Calcium controlling" version of Vitamin K

8. Overall, vitamin K1 controls coagulationand clotting, both od which are essential for healing and K2 is a traffic cop for calcium in the body; it tells the calcium where to go and where not to go. Without these instructions calcium can pile up in the arteries or the brain and with vitamin K whistling and waving at calcium so that it behaves well and builds up in and strengthens the bones.

9. Because vitamin K protects us from calcification – calcium build up in the arteries that occurs commonly with ageing and osteoporosis that also happens commonly with ageing it is gaining popularity as an all round antiaging vitamin

10. Vitamin K is blocked by some drugs such as Warfarin so if you are taking such drugs you need to consult with your health care provider so that your diet and supplements and medical drugs are not at odds with each other

Last words on vitamin K

In light of vitamin K being of major importance to bone, arterial and general health we need to take it much more seriously than has been the case. For most people the fact that Vitamin K is easily found in Kale, Greens, Broccoli and the like is exactly why they do not get an adequate supply.

For a pregnancy this is worrying. Most people are aware of the importance of Folate to the unborn but who realises the crucial issue of vitamin K? And who tells pregnant mums? Nobody judging from this research

“Almost all neonates are vitamin K deficient, presumably as a result of deficient vitamin K nutrition in the pregnant mother during the third trimester and because of the lack of colonization of the colon by bacteria that produce vitamin K in the neonate. ”

This is why babies get vitamin K injections. In my view this should not be automatic but looked at on a case by case basis.

In supplements form either as a stand-alone vitamin K or as part of a multivitamin I advise checking that it is the natural forms, phylloquinone and menaquinone that are listed and not one of the synthetics.

 

Brand Picture Notes
Top 3 Vitamin K Supplemen

Garden of Life Vitamin

Code Raw K-Complex

Go To Amazon

 

vitamins K1 and K2 in vegan capsules 60 day supply

K1 and K2 in vegan capsules

60 count

Now Foods Vitamin K-2

 

Go To Amazon

 

vitamin K2 in vegecaps

K2  only

vegecaps

100 Count

Life Extension Super K

with Advanced K2 Complex

Go To Amazon

 

vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 in softgels

K1 and K2 in softgels

90 count

180 count

And if the label does not state the exact form of K that it uses then assume it to be synthetic and avoid it or check with the supplier for details.

Any questions? Pop them in the comments section or on FaceBook

Thanks

 

Fertility, Cholesterol and My Vitamin E Rant

vitamin E graphic Vitamins protect – that's their whole function. They protect us from various diseases – so vitamin C protects us from weak bones and skin by helping the body make stronger collagen and vitamin E protects us from so many health issues that we're going to take this article to go through a few of them.

First of all we have to know what we are talking about – what is vitamin E?

Just like vitamin B is really not one vitamin but is a mix of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and so on…and that's why it is called B complex. Not because it is “hard” simply that it is a whole mix of different natural substances needed by the body.

Vitamin E is a complex too and we truly should call it “vitamin E complex”. For some reason though people still talk and write about vitamin E as if it is one thing and not 8 separate natural chemicals.

What Vitamin E Does

Looking at how a vitamin was discovered often throws a lot of light on its power and how best to use it.

In the case of vitamin E scientists found that when laboratory rats were fed on a very poor diet the rats were often sterile and when wheat germ oil was added to the rats' diet their apparent sterility was cured.

And that is how this vitamin was discovered – an unknown substance was found in the wheat germ and that was called vitamin E.

And that is how it got its reputation as an “anti-sterility” vitamin.

The scientific name was “Tocopherol” pronounced as “Tock”+”Off”+”er”+”ol” because “Tokos” means children and “pherol” means to bear.

So vitamin E made its name, literally as the Child bearing or Fertility vitamin.

8 Varieties of Vitamin E

Later it turned out that there are 4 versions of what was called vitamin E and then another 4 were discovered, so all together vitamin E is a mix or complex of 8 natural substances.

The eight types of vitamin E break down into 2 groups of 4. One group we've mentioned already – they are the 4 tocopherols.

The other 4 are the tocotrienols pronounced as “toco” + “try”+”en”+”ols”

This took a lot of time to work out and researchers got into a habit of just taking one of the 8 parts of vitamin E and doing experiments with it to see what it was capable of.

And calling THAT one “vitamin E” instead of “One of the 8 versions of vitamin E”!

A short rant starts here…

And just in case that seems stupid and even wrong headed, it gets even worse – often they did not even use one of the 8 naturally occurring parts of vitamin E they used a man made, synthetic imitation of vitamin E made by a pharmaceutical company and then publish the results of the research without even being upfront about this “Bait and Switch”.

I have no problem with companies making whatever they like and making a good profit too but when a study is published on Vitamin A or Vitamin E it should be on those exact molecules and not on a different artificial version cooked up in a test tube.

If science is to be taken as real and worthwhile it must be about telling the truth – the full truth.

Like this, “We used a synthetic version of vitamin blah blah supplied by Pharmaceutical company blah blah”.

That's all it takes to be honest.

And the reason I am beating this to death is that nearly all of the discussions of vitamin E are either on 1 of the 8 parts of vitamin E or on a synthetic imitation of vitamin E and no one is being clear about this.

Rant over – for now anyway!

The fact that vitamin E was found in wheat germ oil is important. It does not mean that we all have to use wheat germ oil on our breakfasts or on salads although those sound like yummy ideas to me – what it means is that vitamin E is oil soluble and can be used to reach and protect parts of the body that cannot be reached by vitamins B and C – the water soluble vitamins.

Vitamin E can protect the membrane around each and every cell. Cell membranes have a lipid layer – a thin layer made of a mix of fats and oils. And this layer on the outside of each of our body cells picks up damage from oxidation just like all parts of the body.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and so it protects us from oxidation, from what we might call “rust” on a car! When tissues get oxidised they are damaged and lose function and this is a major way in which we lose function as we get older.

There is nothing special or damaging about getting older – there is no basic reason that we have to lose function. Getting older just means getting more oxidation damage because we do not usually use supplements properly. We can, if we choose, reduce or remove the oxidation damage by carefully using vitamin E and other antioxidants.

So vitamin E protects – not just body cells – but also the cells in the blood from oxidation by heavy metals and chemical pollutants and solvents.

By protecting the white blood cells from damage it can protect the immune system from damage by oxidation during exposure to viral disease.

And now…the bogeyman!

Time now to mention…cholesterol. Truth is that the amount of cholesterol in the your blood does not matter. That was a false trail that was started back in the 1950s and people simply could not chasing Big Foot or Cholesterol, whatever you want to call it.

There is one basic problem in your bloodstream and it is not the AMOUNT of cholesterol but whether your precious cholesterol is OXIDISED or not.

Oxidised cholesterol will damage your arteries, THAT is the fundamental issue and we know already that vitamin E – real vitamin E – protects us against oxidation and that protection includes cholesterol.

So please adjust your view! Your LDL and HDL and all that are not all that important. It is the C-Reactive Protein measurement of your blood that is crucial because that is a measurement of inflammation. If C-Reactive Protein is high then your antioxidant protection is inadequate and you need to consult a Professional to help fill in the gaps in your armour!

By the way, one of the ignored parts of vitamin E is called gamma tocopherol is unique in protecting the body against Nitrogen reactive molecules. This may not sound all that significant but is crucial in the polluted environments in which most of us live.

Blood thinning Anyone?

One of the properties of vitamin E that was found pretty early on in its discovery in the 1940s by 2 Doctors who were brothers was that it was vital for the treatment of many circulation disorders including stroke, retinopathy and Intermittent Claudication.

Part of the healing effect of vitamin E was that it inhibited clumping of red blood cells produced by oxidation and therefore provided a kind of anti-coagulation effect, so that blood could flow easily along the blood vessels. This is also called “Blood thinning”.

Note – be very cautious of taking Blood thinning or anticoagulation medication if you are also taking a high dose supplement of vitamin E or you may get too much blood thinning.

The same caution holds for Aspirin too. If you are taking regular Aspirin for either pain relief or blood thinning I'd advise seeing a Naturopath to optimise your diet, supplements and medication.

The risk is that adding up 2 or 3 blood thinning medicines you may get internal bleeding, perhaps in the brain or the stomach!

Wheat Germ Oil

wheat germ oil as a source of vitamin EIn case you'd like to go back to the original food where vitamin E was discovered then this would be up your street…

Vitamin E Supplement

vitamin E supplement including all 8 parts of vitamin E

As above, most supplements include only 1 of the 8 varieties of the vitamin. Doing this may well be dangerous and I advise avoiding any vitamin E that only has alpha-tocopherol and of course avoiding synthetic forms like dl-alpha-tocopherol.

The best I managed to find is the “Life Extension Gamma E Tocopherol/tocotrienols”. It has ALL 8 of the parts of vitamin E contained in a softgel capsule.

The capsule is my only criticism because it stops those who follow a vegetarian diet or who are simply against cruelty to animals from using the gelatin and glycerine capsule.

For a vegetarian capsule try this “Vitamin Code, RAW Vitamin E” from Garden of Life which has 6 of the 8 types of vitamin E and is actually a multivitamin containing A, D, E and K vitamins!

vegetarian vitamin E supplement

If you know of a better vegetarian version please let me know and I'll update this advice!

Last Words on Vitamin E

We've been looking at some of the health benefits of vitamin E. These health befits can be ours simply by including foods or supplements with Vitamin E in our daily routine.

As an effective antioxidant vitamin E gives us some much needed protection against diseases with inflammation as a central feature. These include arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

That simple foods such as green leafy vegetables and sunflower seeds can give us so much is a source of wonder. I strongly advise you to include a vitamin E supplement and some vitamin E foods into your daily routine and get that health protection for yourself.

How to make your immune system Smarter

I have been learning about vitamin D for years and one of the experts that has taught me the most is Dr John Cannell who founded the Vitamin D Council. In this short interview he talks about the role and power of vitamin D and on its role in optimising the immune system.

A "must watch" 🙂

 

To test your blood level of your vitamin D check out my Helpful Lab' Tests page and to check out my recommended vitamin D supplement which is a drop or 2 of vitamin D3 liquid  on Amazon click on the picture to the left

For a vitamin D3 capsule the best I could find is Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW D3

vitamin D capsulesor go here to research for a selection of liquids, capsules and other forms of vitamin D such as this high potency vegetarian version made by Thorne Research

 

Vitamin D – Do you add the “Sunshine Vitamin” to Your Day?

sunshineAdding sunshine to your day is an attractive idea and in our ABC of vitamins we've got to vitamin D which is often called “The sunshine vitamin”.

Truth be told, vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but a hormone. That was not known in the early days when the vitamins were being discovered so now we have the slightly absurd situation where a vitamin is not a vitamin – it sounds like a teaser but it really is true.

That means that we can find vitamin D in foods and it does fight disease but because vitamin D is not really a vitamin we can actually get vitamin D from non-food sources.

That's where the sunshine comes in.

Just by allowing sunshine to shine on your skin we can make our own vitamin D. There are some caveats to this – the actual amount of vitamin D may be too small to be useful to you so in practise it is still important for some of us to take a vitamin D supplement – sorry! – and even to take a vitamin D test and more on both of these points below.

Vitamin D is the name given to a small group of naturally produced steroid like molecules. They are labelled as D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. The 2 important to us are Vitamins D2 and vitamin D3.

Vitamin D2

Found in mushrooms exposed to a ultraviolet light

Vitamin D2, has a chemical name of ergocalciferol and has a similar effect in the body.

Vitamin D3

Made in the skin when it gets enough sunshine vitamin D3 called the Sunshine vitamin by most humans and “Cholecalciferol” by Chemistry geeks is the active version of the vitamin used in the body and is the form best suited when taking a Vitamin D supplement.

How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?

That depends on the amount circulating in your blood at present and the healthy level of circulating vitamin D is controversial. A simple pin prick blood test can tell you what your current level at and you can get that either through your family Doctor or direct from the websites I have listed below and on the Resources Page on this website.

The amount regarded as acceptable in the past is 20 ng/ml but this is now regarded as hopelessly deficient and a consensus is building around the 50 to 70 ng/ml region as being healthy levels of vitamin D in the blood. It is vital when receiving your blood test that you get to know the actual number and not let yourself get false reassurance by being told that your level is “Normal” because the population is generally deficient and the “Normal” level is much too low.

Dosage therefore must be decided after a blood test and all you can do without that information is make an educated guess.

My Educated Guess

Even in sunny countries like Australia many are deficient in the sunshine vitamin. Most people spend nearly all their time indoors and receive little sun exposure. In addition there is widespread superstition about sunshine giving you cancer and this adds to the problem.

The net result is that for all practical purposes I advise that we all take a vitamin D supplement. In the summer that should be a minimum daily dose of 1000 iu, in the Autumn and Spring 2000 iu and in the Winter a dose of 3000iu. These numbers look large but they are quite small and you may need double or treble this dosage – but you can only find that out with a blood test.

Blood Testing For Vitamin D

Being able to find out if your blood level of vitamin D is too low for your health can be a game changer. If you have had pain for years or another disability then your vitamin D status could throw new light on old problems. I have put some useful information on this on a new page on this site so please go here to read more.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D came to light as a result of bone diseases such as rickets. One of the early discoveries was that vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium from the food we eat and that leads to better bone structure and along with other vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin K produces stronger bones.

Even more important in recent years is the discovery of the anticancer actions of vitamin D – especially against Breast and Colon cancers.

Far from being the bogey man that causes cancer sunshine which produces vitamin D now seems to be a major player in the body's ability to avoid cancer and perhaps we should be supplementing cancer patients with appropriately high levels of vitamin D.

For the rest of us here are some possible vitamin D supplements.

Tablets

I could not find a a high quality vitamin D tablet that was good enough to include here. If you know of one do please share in the comment section below or on my Facebook Page. Thanks 🙂

Capsules

vitamin d capsules vegetarian and 1000 iu per capsuleHere is a good brand, THORNE RESEARCH with 1000 iu per vegetarian capsule please click on the picture here on the right to read more.

Liquid

Lquid vitamin D supplement - drops of vitamins D3 and vitamin KIdeal for those who hate taking tablets and even prefer to avoid capsules – a few drops from the enclosed stopper either onto your tongue or into juice and you're done. You can get the dose you want by counting the number of drops you use.

 

 

Vitamin D Foods

And please don't skip healthy food sources either especially mushrooms – this lighthearted video of a Chef and a Dietician helps puts it all in perspective.

Photo credit Apollo1981

Trauma and Stress in Cancer

One of the early theories of the causation of cancer is the intrusion of a trauma into your life. Yes there are issues with pollution and toxins but without trauma and stress inhibiting your Immune system and detoxification system your body can handle the toxins – especially when you get proper dietary help from an expert.

In the video Chris Wark from Chris Beat Cancer and Dr Patrick Vickers from the Northern Baja Gerson Centre discuss this often neglected issue

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