The dairy industry has finally been given one big swift kick where they need it most, in the scientific credibility department where top officials have been falsely linking dairy and bone strength for decades. The study, published by the British Medical Journal, found that people don’t get stronger bones by eating dairy products or taking calcium supplements.
What interesting about cow’s milk is that the more people drink, the more likely they are to die or experience a bone fracture and other diseases. The risks are especially pronounced for women.
Taking into account studies from around the world, the systematic review and meta-analysis found that those who took calcium were just as likely to suffer from fractures as those who did not.
Dr Ian Reid from the University of Auckland in New Zealand stated that the focus on treating bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, needs to be elsewhere.
“I think we’ve actually misdirected a whole lot of effort into the use of calcium supplements, in particular in North America, where use has been higher for last 30 years,” he said.
The dairy industy has been hard at work the last 50 years convincing people that pasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese increases bioavailable calcium levels. This is totally false. The pasteurization process only creates calcium carbonate, which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent. So what the body does is pull the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process actually causes osteoporosis.
Pasteurized dairy contains too little magnesium needed at the proper ratio to absorb the calcium. Most would agree that a minimum amount of Cal. to Mag Ratio is 2 to 1 and preferably 1 to 1. So milk, at a Cal/Mag ratio of 10 to 1, has a problem. You may put 1200 mg of dairy calcium in your mouth, but you will be lucky to actually absorb a third of it into your system.
Over 99% of the body’s calcium is in the skeleton, where it provides mechanical rigidity. Pasteurized dairy forces a calcium intake lower than normal and the skeleton is used as a reserve to meet needs. Long-term use of skeletal calcium to meet these needs leads to osteoporosis.
Dairy is pushed on Americans from birth yet they have one of the highes risk of osteoporosis in the world. Actually, people from the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand have the highest rates of osteoporosis.
The research investigated putative mechanism by which calcium intake affects bone health namely by increasing bone mineral density (BMD). BMD is a surrogate endpoint for fracture risk that allows biological effects to be explored in randomised controlled trials of modest size.
Following old information
The results from the new study flies in the face of long-held beliefs that calcium makes for stronger, better bones.
For years, US guidelines have advised men and women to take anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day to help prevent fractures and improve bone density.
Reid said this likely lasted for so long due to an overreliance on studies from the 1970s and 1980s.
Now, there are more sophisticated bone density studies, and none have shown the need for anything more than 500mg of calcium per day for bone density health.
Going a step further, the study said too much calcium may cause build ups in the arteries or in the kidneys, which can cause ailments such as heart disease or kidney stones respectively.
“Dietary calcium intake is not associated with risk of fracture, and there is no clinical trial evidence that increasing calcium intake from dietary sources prevents fractures,” the study said.
“Evidence that calcium supplements prevent fractures is weak and inconsistent.”
Methodology of the study
The researchers looked at two studies, finding in one that increasing calcium intake from supplements increases bone density by 1% to 2%, something they said is unlikely to create a meaningful reduction in the risk of fracture.
“This is not a cumulative benefit,” Reid said. “It’s only 1% at any year. It’s a one off small gain. When you look at the fracture data in the large high quality studies carried out in the last 10 to 15 years, we found there is no total benefit to total number of fractures. There may even be an increase. I think we should really be deleting calcium as a significant tissue in management of osteoporosis.”
In another study, researchers found that dietary calcium is not associated with risk of fracture, with no clinical evidence finding that increase in consumption helps prevent fractures.
Professor Karl Michaelsson from Uppsala University in Sweden wrote in an accompanying commentary with the study that the although recommendations point to those over 50 taking calcium, most will not benefit by increasing their intakes.
“The weight of evidence against such mass medication of older people is now compelling, and it is surely time to reconsider these controversial recommendations,” he wrote.
Supplement Quality Key
While some dairy may be useful to help the elderly keep weight on their body as they get older, many low-quality calcium supplements appear to be ineffective for bone health.
Most supplements on the supplement market today contain calcium carbonate which is an inferior form of calcium and manufacturers attach a simple chelating agent like citric acid to make it more absorbable, however the end product is inferior to other calcium supplements such as calcium orotate, which is the only known form of calcium which can effectively penetrate the membranes of cells.
Many of these supplements are increasing the risk of kidney stones and abdominal problems and whose risks are greater than the benefits.
“They’ve been so entrenched and supported by industry for so long that it’s taking a while to turn around,” Reid said.
If you want to supplement for calcium intake you must seek a reputable and balanced calcium/magnesium formula. Researchers examined 21 formulations of calcium carbonate (both natural [i.e., oyster shell] and refined). Four out of seven natural products and four out of 14 refined products, including brand products, had measurable lead content. A research team in California found essentially the same contamination in calcium supplements.
Acid rebound. Calcium carbonate may cause acid rebound: the stomach overcompensates for the high dose of calcium carbonate, which is alkaline, by churning out more acid. For that reason, people with a history of stomach ulcers are advised that they may not tolerate it and may have to switch to calcium citrate.
Constipation. Calcium supplements can have a mild binding effect but by themselves don’t usually cause serious constipation. But if you’re taking another supplement or medication that binds the stool, the addition of calcium supplements could cause a problem.
Too much calcium. Although it doesn’t happen often, some people have taken so much calcium that it causes hypercalcemia, an above-normal level of calcium in the blood since most of the calcium carbonate is not absorbed. Hypercalcemia may cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, and other neurological symptoms.
The type of minerals in the formula determines the absorption levels: Opti-Cal/Mag with Vitamin K2 is a co-enzyme complex, heat-stabled molecules that must be associated with another enzyme for them to perform their function in the body. It is necessary in the utilization of vitamins and minerals for proper delivery to the cell nucleus. One study found that Opti-Cal/Mag complex is 8.79 times more absorbed into the blood than calcium carbonate and 2.97 times more than calcium gluconate.
6 WAYS TO BUILD STRONG BONES
1. Eat calcium rich foods
Eat foods high in calcium. The best food sources are non-pasteurized raw dairy sources such as raw milk/yogurt, as well as bony fish, such as sardines. Leafy green veg such as kale, broccoli and spinach are also rich in calcium. Dried herbs and dried fruits such as figs and currants are also good choices. Seeds such as sesame, chia and flax are also rich sources of calcium. Also, enjoy foods that contain sulfur such as garlic and onions.
2. Food selections/combinations are critical
Try not to eat whole grains and calcium-rich foods at the same time. Whole grains contain a substance that binds with calcium and prevents proper absorption. Some foods that contain compounds such as oxalic or phytic acids, such as sweet potatoes, beans, rhubarb, celery and beets, can also decrease the amount of calcium that’s absorbed when eaten at the same time as calcium-rich foods.
3. Avoid the causes of mineral excretion
Pass on phosphate-containing foods such as soft drinks. Phosphorus causes the body to excrete calcium. Limit or avoid high-protein animal foods. A diet high in protein causes calcium to be excreted from your body. Decrease caffeine consumption. People who smoke have significantly lower bone density, while drinking alcohol can also prevent your bones from absorbing the maximum nutrients from your food.
4. Get more Sunlight and Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Although some is found in oily fish, our main source comes from the effect of sunlight on your skin. It’s estimated that half of us have a deficiency because we don’t get outside enough or because we always use sunblock. It is especially important to maximize sun exposure between May and September to keep vitamin D levels topped up. Just 10 minutes of sunlight a day on bare arms and your face can cut your risk of bone fractures by a third. A half hour exposing your torso is equivalent to roughly 10,000 units of Vitamin D.
5. The right exercise
Another vital way to boost your bones is weight-bearing exercise –basically anything that has you upright and using your body weight. Good choices include squatting, rope skipping, aerobics, plyometrics, dancing or brisk walking. “Research shows that if you don’t exercise you end up weeing out all the calcium you take in instead of storing it in your bones,” warns Professor Dawn Skelton, an aging and health specialist at Glasgow Caledonian University. “Ideally we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. “Put simply, the more hours we spend on our feet, the fewer bone breakages we should have in later life.”
6. Avoid Medications and Medical Therapies
Acid-blocking medications used for heartburn and other gastrointestinal conditions can block the absorption of calcium through the stomach walls. Stomach acids break down food during the digestive process, allowing the nutrients to become absorbed into your body. Medications designed to stop acid production or decrease the amount of acids present in your stomach can have a negative effect on calcium.
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Heart disease and cancer can be easily branded as the two most notorious and common killers in the United States. However, there are other causes of death which are less common with the nation as a whole but are actually much more typical in specific states.
A new color-coded map has been created by the CDC in order to categorize the most likely causes of death for each of the 50 U.S. states.
According to Francis Boscoe, a research scientist at New York State Cancer Registry the most distinctive causes of death in majority of cases is not so surprising. In several northern states, including Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming the flu is considered as the most distinctive cause of death. In Alaska and Idaho the most distinctive causes of death is considered to be plane crashes or boat accidents. In mining states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky pneumoconiosis, a group of lung diseases caused by inhaling dusts, are branded as the most distinctive causes of death.
There were however, some unexpected findings. In New Jersey, Sepsis is categorized as the most distinctive cause of death and deaths by legal intervention. Surprisingly the most distinctive cause of death in New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon is that caused by law enforcement officers, excluding legal executions.
In order to determine the most distinctive causes of death for each individual state, the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiated a list of 113 causes of death.
Then, the researchers began determining the estimate of death from each cause, for each state and divided this by the rate of death from that particular cause in the United States as a whole. This theory allowed the researchers to observe which of the states had higher rates of death from certain causes than the rest of the United States.
In Alaska, for instance the rate of death for plane crashes and boat accidents was about 4 deaths per 100,000 people; whereas the national rate is 0.6 deaths per 100,000 people. This essentially proves beyond reasonable doubt that deaths from plane crashes or boat accidents are seven times more likely in Alaska than entire United States. According to Boscoe, this “distinctive” cause of death makes sense, since some parts of Alaska are accessible only by boat or plane.
In Florida, HIV was identified as the most distinctive cause of death, where about 15,000 people died from the disease. But in numerous cases, the most distinctive cause of death was still quite uncommon. Although Syphilis caused only 22 deaths in Louisiana, it is considered as the most distinctive cause of death in that particular state.
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Recent studies in chronobiology have indicated that melatonin supplements can help treat circadian sleep disorders as well as a variety of sleep-related issues. However, not all melatonin supplements are created equal. The way melatonin supplements are metabolized can have a huge effect on physiological levels and effects of this hormone.
Melatonin and the Circadian Rhythm
Melatonin, also known as the “mother hormone of chronobiology”, is a hormone made in the pineal gland due to cues from the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, which regulates the circadian rhythm. When the retinas stop sensing as much blue wavelength light, the suprachiasmatic nucleus senses this and induces the pineal gland to begin making melatonin. When early morning light is sensed by the retinas, melatonin production is ceased and hormones associated with wakefulness are made instead. This cycle helps to create a circadian rhythm, or 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin has a very short half-life, of about thirty minutes. Because it breaks down so quickly, it must be made continuously throughout the night in order to sustain restful sleep. In people with a healthy circadian rhythm, melatonin levels rise rapidly after dark and plateau throughout the night until early morning. These high levels are essential not just for falling asleep, but for sleeping deeply and restfully. Melatonin levels then drop sharply in the early morning to allow people to wake up in response to increasing light levels.
Melatonin Supplements and Sleep
Studies in circadian biology have shown how important melatonin levels are to maintaining a natural human sleep-wake pattern. In fact, studies have found that many sleep disorders improve significantly with melatonin supplementation. However, some people find that melatonin doesn’t work as dramatically as they expected. They may assume that melatonin is not a useful treatment for their sleep issues when in fact, they could be simply taking the wrong kind of melatonin supplement.
The most common types of melatonin supplements are fast release and slow release. Fast release melatonin causes a sharp spike in melatonin levels that drops off after an hour. People who use this type of melatonin supplement may find that they are immediately sleepy but have trouble remaining asleep or do not get high quality sleep. Slow-release melatonin, on the other hand, takes hours to build up to sleep-inducing levels and then does not wear off in the early morning. People who take slow release melatonin may have trouble falling asleep due to low melatonin levels, followed by difficulty waking up because the levels are unnaturally high.
Timed-Release Melatonin: A Better Option for Maintaining Natural Circadian Rhythms Timed-release melatonin is a supplement that is formulated to be released in amounts that mimic healthy, natural melatonin levels. It is metabolized so that levels rise sharply after the supplement is taken and then remain at a high plateau for several hours. Levels then drop sharply to allow for waking. This mimics the healthy, normal circadian rhythm cycles that are linked to restful sleep.
Research in chronobiology has shown that maintaining melatonin cycles is important not just to restful sleep but to overall health. For this reason, an increasing number of health experts are recommending timed-release melatonin as the ideal melatonin supplement. It more closely correlates to the natural levels of melatonin in a healthy brain. Maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm is important to health, so timed-release melatonin supplements are usually the best option.
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Depression and chronic pain are two common conditions that are also associated with poor sleep quality. While it is often thought that the sleep issues are secondary to these conditions, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama indicates that depression and pain due to osteoarthritis could be the result of poor sleep quality instead of the other way around.
Prior research has shown that people with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) are more likely to have insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and depression, than those without OA. The obvious relationship is that the arthritis pain affects sleep and makes people depressed. However, a 2012 study published in the journal SLEEP looked at sleep quality in people who were in chronic pain, including those with osteoarthritis and researchers found:
- The amount of pain that people were in before they went to bed had little to do with how well they slept.
- A person’s sleep quality predicted how much pain they were in the next day. People who slept poorly had more pain the following day.
Other studies have shown that poor sleep quality can trigger inflammatory pathways that make arthritis pain worse, and poor sleep also make people more sensitive to the feeling of pain from any cause.
To better examine the relationship between OA, pain, and depression, 367 patients with OA of the knee from a variety of sources were recruited to participate in a trial. The participants completed a detailed questionnaire that identified overall health, depression, pain, joint function, and sleep quality. One-year follow-up was available for 288 patients.
Analysis of the data collected from the questionnaires indicated that comparing the initial baseline with 1-year follow-up data, sleep disturbance at baseline was linked with increased depression and further loss of joint function, but interestingly not more pain.
Since the questionnaire used in the study was not specifically designed to identify the exact sleep issues in OA patients, further research is needed to more fully pinpoint what is abnormal about OA patients’ sleep. Nonetheless, the conclusion from the study is the disturbance in sleep definitely precedes the depression, loss of joint function, and likely increased pain associated with OA. Hence, the takeaway message is that improving sleep quality is a key goal in preventing the progression of OA as well as the associated depression.
Early on in my clinical practice, I realized that improving my patient’s ability to get a good night’s sleep was usually the quickest way to help them feel better in every way. Over the years I have used a number of natural products that can help to improve sleep quality. The specific product that I now recommend as a first step is the one that I developed: Tranquil Sleep from Natural Factors. This formula provides the combination of melatonin (3 mg), 5-HTP (30 mg), and L-theanine (200 mg) in a great tasting chewable tablet or soft-gelatin capsule. These three ingredients work together to decrease the time required to get to sleep and to decrease the number of nighttime awakenings. Here is a brief description of each ingredient as it relates to improving sleep quality. If you don’t use Tranquil Sleep, you can get the same effect by combining them on your own
Melatonin is the most popular natural aid for improving sleep quality. Supplementation with melatonin has been shown in several studies to be very effective in helping induce and maintain sleep in both children and adults and in both people with normal sleep patterns and those with insomnia. Typical dosage is 3 mg at bedtime.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is converted in the brain to serotonin – an important initiator of sleep. It is one step closer to serotonin than l-tryptophan and has shown more consistent results in promoting and maintaining sleep, even though used at lower dosages. One of the key benefits of 5-HTP is its ability to increase REM sleep (typically by about 25%) while increasing deep sleep stages 3 and 4 without lengthening total sleep time. Recommended dosage for improving sleep quality in combination with melatonin is 25 to 50 mg at bedtime.
L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea. Clinical studies have demonstrated that L-theanine reduces stress, improves the quality of sleep, diminishes the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome, heightens mental acuity and reduces negative side effects of caffeine. It is an excellent support agent to melatonin and 5-HTP. Recommended dosage is 200 mg at bedtime.
Parmelee PA, Tighe CA, Dautovich ND. Sleep disturbance in Osteoarthritis: Linkages with pain, disability and depressive symptoms. Arthritis Care Res. 2014 Oct 6. doi: 10.1002/acr.22459. [Epub ahead of print]
Dr. Michael Murray
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Contrary to News Headlines, Robin Williams Was on Drugs at the Time of His Death—Antidepressant Drugs
If news headlines were to be believed about the autopsy findings of beloved actor/comedian Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide nearly two months ago, no drugs were found in his system at the time of his death, as evidenced by headlines from USA Today, NBC News, the BBC and others proclaiming “no alcohol or drugs” were found. These headlines couldn’t be more wrong.
The medical examiner’s report cites an antidepressant drug was in Williams’ system at the time of his death. The particular antidepressant, Mirtazapine, (also known as Remeron) carries 10 international drug regulatory warnings on causing suicidal ideation.
According to the autopsy results, not only was Williams under the influence of antidepressant drugs, but the powerful antipsychotic Seroquel was also found at the scene and appears to have been recently taken by Williams. While toxicology tests apparently were negative for the antipsychotic Seroquel, the fact remains that a bottle of Seroquel prescribed to Williams on August 4th, just seven days prior to Williams’ suicide, was missing 8 pills. The Seroquel instructions advise to take one pill per day as needed. Side effects associated with Seroquel include psychosis, paranoid reactions, delusions, depersonalization and suicide attempt.
The question that has to be asked is why the press continues to promote the idea that no drugs were found in Williams’ system? At what point did mind-altering psychiatric drugs, which have side effects rivaling those of heroin or crack cocaine, stop being called drugs? And for those in the press who did “mention” the fact that Williams was found to have antidepressants in his system, the acknowledgement seems to promote the fact that “therapeutic concentrations” of prescription psychiatric drugs “improved his condition and kept him active until his death.”
This is a highly misleading take on the events leading to Williams tragic suicide, especially in light of the fact that not only was Williams receiving mental health “treatment,” he was under the supervision of a psychiatrist, was not abusing illegal drugs and had not “fallen off the wagon.”
The facts regarding antidepressant drugs are these:
- Food and Drug Administration’s Medwatch Adverse Drug Reports include 470,000 adverse reactions for psychiatric drugs between 2004-2012. The FDA admits only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them, so the actual number of reported side effects is assuredly much higher.
- Mirtazapine (also known as Remeron) carries the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) “Black box” warning for suicidality.
- There are ten warnings of suicide associated with Mirtazapine alone and suicide is among the top 2 side effects reported to the FDA on this particular antidepressant
- The FDA’s MedWatch drug adverse event reporting system recorded 411 attempted and completed suicides associated with the antidepressant Mirtazapine alone (and the FDA estimates only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them)
- 90,000 emergency room visits are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S.
- 23,755 suicides are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S. alone.
- In addition to suicidal ideation, documented side effects of antidepressants by international drug regulatory agencies include hallucinations, delusions, worsening depression, depersonalization, mania, psychosis, self-harm.
Given the above data, one can only wonder why Williams’ psychiatric drug use has effectively been dismissed by reporting organizations. A careful review of Williams’ psychiatric “non-drug” use paints a very different tragic story.
What was found in Williams’ system were prescription psychiatric drugs with side effects that not only rival illegal street drugs, but also carry the FDA’s “Black box” warnings—the federal agency’s most serious warnings—about increased thoughts of suicide.
The fact is that two of the drugs Williams had been prescribed list suicidal thoughts as possible side effects. The Seroquel he was prescribed (and appears to have taken in the week prior to his suicide), and the antidepressant that was still in his system at the time of his suicide. Moreover, considering the FDA’s Medwatch drug adverse event reporting system recorded 411 attempted and completed suicides associated with the antidepressant Mirtazapine alone (and the FDA estimates only 1% of side effects are ever reported to them), it becomes even more bizarre that the world’s press ignore even the possibility that these drugs could be involved in Williams’ suicide.
The much-loved comedian’s death is a great loss, but the tragedy is further compounded by the mainstream press glossing over the serious and well-known association between suicide and the psychiatric drugs Williams was taking. If only the sentiments from one of Williams’ finest roles in Awakenings had been taken literally in his personal life: “The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.”
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“Our results clearly show that there is a link between infections of herpes simplex virus and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This also means that we have new opportunities to develop treatment forms to stop the disease,” says Hugo Lövheim, associate professor at the Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, who is one of the researchers behind the study.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common among the dementia diseases. In recent years research has increasingly indicated that there is a possible connection between infection with a common herpes virus, herpes simplex virus type 1, and Alzheimer’s disease. A majority of the population carries this virus. After the first infection the body carries the virus throughout your lifetime, and it can reactivate now and then and cause typical mouth ulcer. The hypothesis which links the herpes virus and Alzheimer’s disease is based on that a weakened immune system among the elderly creates opportunities for the virus to spread further to the brain. There this can in turn start the process which results in Alzheimer’s disease.
Hugo Lövheim and Fredrik Elgh, professor at the Department of Virology, have now confirmed this link in two large epidemiological studies. In one study, which is based on the Betula project, a study on aging, memory and dementia, the researchers show that a reactivated herpes infection doubled the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This study had 3,432 participants who were followed for 11.3 years on average. In another study, samples donated to the Medical Biobank at Umeå University from 360 people with Alzheimer’s disease were examined and as many matched people who had not developed dementia. The samples were taken on average 9.6 years before diagnosis. This study showed an approximately doubled risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease if the person was a carrier of the herpes virus.
“Something which makes this hypothesis very interesting is that now herpes infection can in principle be treated with antiviral agents. Therefore within a few years we hope to be able to start studies in which we will also try treating patients to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Hugo Lövheim.
- Hugo Lövheim, Jonathan Gilthorpe, Anders Johansson, Sture Eriksson, Göran Hallmans, Fredrik Elgh. Herpes simplex infection and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease—A nested case-control study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.07.157
- Hugo Lövheim, Jonathan Gilthorpe, Rolf Adolfsson, Lars-Göran Nilsson, Fredrik Elgh. Reactivated herpes simplex infection increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.04.522