Herbs & Supplements

The variety of vitamins and natural supplements available today can be confusing and overwhelming. The NorthStar blog on herbs and supplements provides the latest updates on what's out there, what works, what doesn't and why.

  1. Natural ways to lower blood sugar without dangerous drugs

    How much does a heart attack cost? Five hundred thousand dollars? A million dollars? Two million?

    Truth is, it doesn't really matter. GlaxoSmithKline will pay it. And they'll pay it willingly a thousand times over just to keep you taking their diabetes drug Avandia and hope you don't learn about natural ways to lower blood sugar. That's because even after the billions spent on lawsuits, damage control, and cover-ups, Avandia is still worth it for them. It makes a profit.

    Yes, Avandia appears to raise your heart attack risk. (And yes GSK knew about it and tried hard to cover it up). But you do have other options. And I'm not talking about taking one of those "safe" Avandia-replacement drugs advertised just about everywhere these days. I'm talking about non-drug options, natural ways to lower blood sugar.

    Safe, effective options for diabetes patients

    Without a doubt, there are natural ways to lower blood sugar without taking drugs. But it's not a quick, easy fix. It will take commitment. But I promise you; it's worth all the effort. You'll safely lower your blood sugar and you'll probably lower your risk of heart attack as well (instead of raise it, like Avandia does).

    Here's where you've got to start:

    STEP 1: Get off the sugar. And that includes throwing out any refined and processed flour products, such as white bread, rice, cookies, pancakes etc. The good news is that complex carbs such as 100 percent whole wheat, de-hulled barley, bran, and oats are all okay. Pasta is fine as long as it's made from spinach, artichoke, brown rice, or 100 percent whole wheat. It's heavy, so try angel hair pasta and don't serve as much. You won't need it.

    STEP 2: Fortify your overall health by taking a good multi vitamin that contains at least 25 mg of B3. I'd also double up on vitamin C to help detoxify your system. Go for 1,000 mg three to four times a day. If you start to experience diarrhea, back off by 1,000 mg increments.

    STEP 3: Then, I'd start looking at some natural ways to lower blood sugar. First off, I'd think about adding chromium to your daily regimen. Go for either chromium picolinate, or preferably chromium GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor). This trace mineral helps to support your body's overall metabolism. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels and convert glucose into energy.

    I'd also considering adding to the mix 400 to 800 mg of the Indian herb Gymnema Sylvestre (GS). It too helps support healthy blood sugar levels and glucose metabolism. Plus, some research suggests that GS even repairs special cells in the pancreas called beta cells.

    These cells are vital because they produce insulin and help control how much sugar gets dumped into your blood. But in diabetics, up to 80 percent of their beta cells aren't working. (In type-1 diabetes, none of their beta cells work.) In fact, these little cells are so critical to your health, scientists are even investigating ways to replace damaged beta cells in diabetics.
    Scientists from India actually just wrapped up the first-ever human trial using Gymnema Sylvestre with diabetics. It was a small trial using a patented version of GS, but the results look promising. After just 60 days of taking 500 mg of GS, 10 out 11 patients significantly lowered their fasting blood sugar levels. The patients also increased their insulin and c-peptide levels.

    If you are dealing with full-blown diabetes, I'd also suggest looking into taking small doses of vanadium (or vanadyl sulfate). This mineral has been shown in limited studies to improve how diabetics process sugar. But there's also some concern that high amounts of vanadium (far higher than 5 mg) may cause harmful oxidative stress in the body.

    So the question becomes: How much can you safely take? Unfortunately, there's no standard protocol here. So I'd only try vanadium under the careful guidance of a qualified naturopath.

    Safe and natural ways to lower blood sugar by 20 percent

    Cinnamon is another powerful, safe and natural way to lower blood sugar. Sprinkle it on apples, oatmeal, whole-wheat pancakes, or yogurt. This tasty spice improves how your body processes sugar. In fact, in one recent study, cinnamon significantly lowered blood sugar among diabetics.
    For the study, U.S. researchers divided diabetics into two groups. One group received one, three, or six grams cinnamon each day. The other group received a placebo. And the results--after just 40 days – were astounding!

    All three groups taking cinnamon made big improvements all around. They lowered their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent, slashed triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, and cut total cholesterol 12 to 26 percent. So even taking just ¼ to ½ teaspoonfuls each day made quite a difference. But it's important to keep it going because when the patients stopped taking the spice, their blood sugar levels rebounded. Not surprisingly, the patients who received the placebo didn't experience any improvements in the markers of their disease.

    But be careful what you wish for...

    There's no doubt in my mind that if you follow this regimen, along with a little exercise, your blood sugar will come down. But just be careful.

    These natural ways to lower blood sugar can be so effective that you MUST seek the guidance of a good naturopath or enlightened physician. In fact, it's possible to push your blood sugar down so far that you become hypoglycemic. So it's important that your doctor monitors your medications very closely and lowers them as your diet and supplements take effect.

  2. Reading the vitamin E bottle -- the right way

    Last week, in an article about the benefits of taking vitamin E, I sounded about as sharp as a bowling ball. I intended to give you some helpful hints in scouring the vitamin aisles. But a mistake occurred in the editing process and my directions didn't make much sense.

    In any case, here's what you should look for on the bottle, when buying vitamin E:

    Look for a gel capsule that contains 400 IU of 100 percent natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. This will provide will provide balanced antioxidant protection. At the very least, the bottle should say it contains d-alpha or D-alpha. Skip any bottle that says it contains Dl-alpha (note the different "Dl" prefix). This means it's a synthetic, cheap imitation of vitamin E.

  3. Nutrient-vitamin combo slows genetic vision loss

    Retinitis pigmentosa is a disease that affects the retina. Over time, the disease leads to the loss of peripheral vision. But a new study says that lutein and vitamin A may block the progression of this inherited disease. For the study, researchers recruited 225 healthy men and women between the ages 18 and 60 with retinitis pigmentosa. They randomly divided the participants into two groups. One group received 15,000 IU of vitamin A daily for four years. The other group received the same amount of vitamin A, plus 12 mg of lutein each day for four years. Then, at the end of the study, each of the participants took a vision test. Vitamin A and lutein adds 10 years of vision Researchers found that the patients who took vitamin A plus lutein didn't lose their peripheral vision nearly as fast as the control group did. In fact, the data suggested that a 40 year old who took vitamin A plus lutein would not lose peripheral vision until the age of 61. That's a significant improvement, when you consider that same 40 year old would normally lose most peripheral vision by age 51. And even though this isn't a cure for the disease, it's a big step in the right direction. Plus, it's completely non-toxic. You'll find vitamin A, the powerhouse for your eyes, in lots of bright, colourful vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Lutein is found in green leafy vegetables and eggs and is also taken to reduce the risk of macular degeneration. So you can easily stock up on this important combo, simply by making yourself a delicious summer salad.
  4. Support immune function naturally by taking spirulina for anemia in older adults

    If you're anemic, a new study should interest you. Scientists found that taking spirulina for anemia could help. Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae found in fresh and salt water. You can also take it as a tablet. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as essential minerals, like iron and potassium. For this study, scientists recruited 40 seniors with anemia to take 3,000 mg of spirulina for 12 weeks. According to Nutra-Ingredients USA, "The objective was to determine if the supplements could be effective in countering two conditions that frequently impact the health of older people: anemia and declining immune function." After 12 weeks, scientists ran CBCs (complete blood counts) on the volunteers. First off, the volunteers had higher white blood cell counts. These cells are your front-line defense against viruses, bacteria, and toxins. The volunteers also had more haemoglobin in their red blood cells. (Low corpuscular haemoglobin -- on the other hand -- means you're anemic.) Researchers also noted that older women responded particularly well to taking spirulina for anemia. Plus, this isn't the first time scientists used spirulina to improve anemia. A previous study showed that malnourished children and children with HIV who took spirulina improved their anemia and gained weight. As you'll recall from last week, you need to be careful when choosing your sources of iron. That's because inorganic forms -- like those found in most multivitamins -- can increase free radical formation. But organic iron doesn't. That's why spirulina is the perfect choice for your extra iron. Most of spirulina tablets sold on the market contain organic iron. Just check the label to be sure.
  5. Lumivella helps keep your skin looking plump and firm

    Collagen is a type of protein found in your tendons, your joints, your bones, and even your teeth. It's also found in your skin. In fact, it works hand-in-hand with elastin to help keep your skin looking plump, firm, and smooth. But as you age, your collagen breaks down. As a result, the skin on your hands feels paper-thin and your cheeks don't look like round rosy apples anymore. Without collagen, your lips even begin to thin. You may find yourself applying lipstick outside the lines of your mouth to create an illusion of fullness. This is when your Hollywood-type friends take more extreme measures. They turn to collagen injections. They want the full, round lips of Angelina Jolie and the tight, high cheekbones of Julia Roberts, so they just inject collagen into their skin...often with disastrous results. But why go to such extremes when there are natural ways to support you body's own collagen production? Lumivella may help support healthy collagen production. You see, collagen can't form properly without an amino acid called hydroxyproline. In fact, this amino acid is the main component of collagen. Ultimately, it helps stabilize the 3-D structure of collagen in the body. Plus, this amino acid may help your body produce more collagen. In fact, in one in vitro study, it seemed to stimulate cells called fibroblasts. (Fibroblasts are tiny cells that help the body produce collagen.) That's why Lumivella contains a patented form of this amino acid. Plus, Lumivella helps your body remove harmful toxins...

    Promote vibrant skin by removing harmful toxins

    Poor skin tone may signal a toxic problem. Toxins come from all sorts of sources, such as the environment, alcohol, and processed foods. Your liver tries to flush out toxins, but sometimes it can't keep up and your skin gets hit with oxidative stress. That's why I'm happy to report that Lumivella contains a powerful antioxidant called "The Great Protector." It helps protect all your cells -- especially the cells in your skin -- from toxins and even free radical damage. This can have a restoring effect on your skin tone. As you'll recall, researchers in Thailand found that 60 men and women who took 500 mg of "The Great Protector" for just 4 weeks improved skin tone. Plus, the dark spots on the right side of the face and left forearm responded particularly well to the antioxidant treatments. As an added bonus, the volunteers even experienced a modest "increase in skin evenness and a reduction in pore sizes." But that's not all. Lumivella also addresses...

    The world's oldest (and simplest) beauty secret

    In my opinion, this next ingredient is what makes Lumivella so inspired. This ingredient tackles the problem of getting enough beauty sleep...because let's face it...when you don't get enough sleep, you don't wake up looking your best. Anyone can tell you that -- over time -- lack of sleep adds years to your face. To help you get a good night's rest, NorthStar Nutritionals added 500 mg of Lactium® to Lumivella. Lactium is a milk protein that promotes relaxation and helps relieve occasional sleeplessness. In fact, one study sponsored by the makers of Lactium showed a lot of promise. Researchers recruited 32 men and women who had complaints about the quality of their sleep. They split the volunteers into two groups. One got Lactium and one got a placebo for four weeks. By the end of that period, the Lactium group's sleep improved by leaps and bounds (based on their scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index). In fact, the Lactium group fell asleep faster and enjoyed better quality sleep than the placebo group But there's more to know about Lactium... What's another beauty "don't" you read about in all the magazines? Stress, of course! Over the years, everyday stress can wreak havoc on your appearance. Well, Lactium might help with this too. In one study with 42 participants, Lactium appeared to help stabilized cortisol levels (a hormone released during stress). On the other hand, cortisol levels rose among volunteers who took the placebo. So with a solid night's sleep -- and a tool to help manage stress levels -- you're well on your way to feeling and looking rejuvenated.

    Nutritional answer to timeless beauty

    Lumivella is the nutritional approach to achieving timeless beauty. Finally, you can improve your skin's appearance from the inside out. To get all the details about this powerful nutritional solution to the visible signs of aging, follow this link. Plus, as a reader of my Guide to Good Health, NorthStar Nutritionals will offer you a very special risk-free guarantee that "your friends will notice a difference in your skin" or you money back. Check out NorthStar Nutritional's Auto-Delivery Service. You'll never pay shipping and never run out of Lumivella! Plus, you can cancel at anytime.
  6. Vitamin E "rescues" brain after stroke

    Last week, we talked about vitamin E and bladder cancer. But, really, we just scratched the surface. There's so much more to learn about this powerful antioxidant. According to a new study, vitamin E may protect you against brain damage following a stroke. Scientists say they've never seen anything like it. Even small amounts of the vitamin appear to protect precious brain cells following a stroke. Too much of a good thing... A stroke occurs when a blood vessel leading to your brain gets blocked or ruptures. Your body wants to repair the damage. But it overreacts and causes more harm than good. In fact, following a stroke, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called glutamate. In normal amounts, glutamate helps with learning and memory. But too much glutamate sets off a chain reaction that kills brain cells. And this sudden loss of brain cells is what's to blame for most of the long-term damage from a stroke. This is also why time is of the essence when responding to a stroke. The faster you remove the blockage, the less glutamate flooding into the brain, the fewer brain cells killed. But scientists from the Ohio State University (OSU) have recently found another way to block the damage caused by excess glutamate in stroke victims' brains. You got it: vitamin E. Not just any vitamin E will do... As you'll recall, vitamin E is a collection of eight different molecules. We don't know a lot about the roles each of these molecules play in human health. And we probably know the least about the one fraction of vitamin E called alpha- tocotrienol. And that's exactly the fraction that OSU scientists used in their recent stroke experiments... First, OSU scientists divided lab mice into two groups. The first group of mice got no vitamin supplementation. The second group of mice received a daily regimen of alpha-tocotrienol. (But they didn't get a lot. In humans, it would be like cutting your vitamin E supplement into 10 pieces. If you took just 1 piece of it each day, you'd get the equivalent of what the second group of mice received.) Next, the scientists injected all the mice with glutamate (to simulate what occurs in the brain following a stroke). In the non-vitamin group, the glutamate triggered the release of a toxic enzyme called cPLA2. This toxic enzyme poisoned the animals' brain cells, causing massive brain cell death. But how did the mice given alpha-tocotrienol do? Saving brain cells...without a drug in sight The glutamate injection still triggered the release of cPLA2 in the second group of mice. But it caused much less damage. In fact, the mice who took alpha- tocotrienol reduced their glutamate and cPLA2 levels by 60 percent following the stroke. As a result, these mice saved four times as many brain cells than the group without alpha-tocotrienol. Just think about that...four times as many brain cells saved! In humans, would that make all the difference in saving your ability to speak? Or being able to feed yourself? Here's how the study's lead researcher summed up their results: "Our research suggests that the different forms of natural vitamin E have distinct functions. The relatively poorly studied tocotrienol form of natural vitamin E targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury...So what we have here is a naturally-derived nutrient, rather than a drug, that provides this beneficial impact." Imagine that! A mainstream scientist going on record that a vitamin, not a drug, can protect you against brain damage following a stroke. And believe it or not the National Institutes of Health funded the study! Maybe we are starting to make small inroads into mainstream medicine, after all? Now, if only we could get rid of all that garbage on TV during football season telling you to take a drug to lower your risk of stroke! Keeping it natural Sure, we've still got a long way to go before proving vitamin E does the exact same thing in humans. But believe it or not, mice and human have a lot in common. Our brains react in the exact same way when exposed to glutamate. Plus, OSU scientists believe that vitamin E will protect human brains in the same way it helped the mice. Now... As you'll recall from last week, it's pretty tough to get enough vitamin E from your food sources. You'd have to eat a lot of almonds and wheat germ oil to get what you'll find in just one vitamin E supplement. I recommend finding a high-quality gel cap that contains all eight molecules. On the label, look for a blend of "mixed" tocopherols and tocotrienols. (They should be listed on the bottle as: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherol; and alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocotrienol.) You'll also want to make sure only to take the natural forms of vitamin E, not synthetic. There's a little trick I can teach you for spotting a synthetic. Just look back at last year's Guide to Good Health.
  7. You are supposed to go to sleep, not on a drive

    Last month, a man from a small town near Boise, Idaho hit a number of mailboxes and ran into several parked cars before getting pulled over. The local policemen took the man to the hospital because he appeared to be intoxicated. Turns out, the man wasn't drunk, though he had no memory of the previous five hours. Believe it or not, the man was "sleep driving." He had taken an Ambien earlier in the evening and could not remember anything from his wild ride. I wasn't surprised to learn about this man's story. Ambien may cause all kinds of crazy side effects. In fact, on the Ambien website, it warns users that: "Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with memory loss for the event, as well as abnormal behaviors such as being more outgoing or aggressive than normal, confusion, agitation, and hallucinations may occur." Thankfully, no one was hurt in Boise, Idaho. But nevertheless, the very real risk of "sleep driving" is enough to place Ambien in "you've-got-to-be-nuts-to-take-it" category. Sleep: No joking matter All jokes aside, I know why the Boise man took the Ambien in the first place. He wasn't nuts. He just needed to get some sleep. And that's understandable. Getting a good night's sleep ranks as high as proper nutrition and regular exercise in determining your overall health. But according to Harvard scientists, most of us don't get enough. In fact, 75 percent of men and women experience sleep problems at least a couple of times a week. You may go to bed tired, but your mind just won't shut off. You end up tossing and turning, trying not to look at the clock. Or maybe you fall asleep just fine; it's staying asleep that's the problem. Plus -- insomnia can be worse at certain times in your life. Times of stress obviously can disturb your sleep. In addition, women going through menopause often experience bouts of insomnia. Unfortunately, long-term sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your overall health. Scientists now know that sleep is critical to keeping your memory sharp, your weight down, your immune system charged, your mood up, and heart pumping strong. The good news is, there's plenty you can do to improve the quality of your sleep without resorting to a drug like Ambien, or even something milder like Tylenol PM. Safely and naturally improving your sleep You know to avoid caffeine (even in the morning), napping during the day, and TV-watching in the bedroom. You know not to exercise before bed. And you know drinking alcohol before hitting the sheets often makes things worse. So what else can you do to improve the quality of your sleep without resorting to drugs? Here are a few suggestions: 1. First off, you may try upping your daily magnesium. Go for 500 mg capsules at bedtime. If you also suffer from mild anxiety, this amount of magnesium may also lessen your symptoms. 2. If you're under the age of 40, you should also try using l-tryptophan. It's an essential amino acid (meaning your body doesn't produce it, so you must get it from your food). You'll find l-tryptophan in foods like turkey, chicken, milk and eggs. But you'd have to eat something like 15 servings of turkey to get as much of this beneficial amino acid as you'd get in one supplement. L-tryptophan supplements were favored for years among naturopaths to treat sleep disorders as well as hyperactivity, obsessive-compulsive syndromes, depression, migraines, and even the tremors of Parksinson's disease. Then in March of 1990, the FDA banned l-tryptophan from sale in the U.S. after linking a single bad batch of the supplement to a rare blood disorder that caused 37 deaths. Why didn't the FDA just recall the bad batch, like it has done for plenty of contaminated drugs over the years? I have my hunches. In fact, just four days after the FDA ban of l-tryptophan, Newsweek ran an article praising the development of a new wonder drug called Prozac. Coincidence? I think not! Here's why… You see, your body converts l-tryptophan into serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter in the body responsible for regulating your sleep as well as your mood. On the other hand, drugs like Prozac (as well as Paxil and Zoloft) only enhance the performance of the serotonin already present in your bloodstream. They don't help you to produce more serotonin, like l-tryptophan can. Thankfully, the ban on l-tryptophan has been fully lifted. Now, you and I can once again use it as a natural sedative (at bedtime only). It works gently in the body to induce sleep and won't cause morning-after fogginess. Unfortunately, if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you may have more difficulty absorbing l-tryptophan. 3. I've also seen excellent results using melatonin supplements. But melatonin is a hormone, so I don't recommend taking it if you're younger than 40. But as we get older, our melatonin production slows down so there's less of a chance of you getting "too much" by taking it as a supplement. Go for the smallest dose to start: 1.5 mg at bedtime for ages 40 to 50 or 3 mg for people over the age of 50. With higher dosages, you might wake up drowsy. If that's the case, you know you've taken too much. 4. After a certain age, many of us wake up every night to visit the bathroom. If a full bladder is what's causing your nighttime wakefulness, there's a plant extract call three-leaf caper (crateva nurvala) that just might help. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, three-leaf caper helps to strengthen and tone the bladder wall so it can fully empty. You'll find three-leaf caper, along with several other herbs that support bladder function, in a NorthStar Nutritional product called UroLogic. To learn more about three-leaf caper and UroLogic, read this: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/UroLogic.htm. For men interested in a product that supports bladder as well as prostate function, consider ProSense by NorthStar Nutritionals: http://www.northstarnutritionals.com/p/ProSense.htm. It's a safe, natural, and effective way to address both bla dder and prostate health. 5. Lastly, is it possible that you're just a "light sleeper"? Do you get woken up by sounds in your environment and then have trouble getting back to sleep? If so, you may try putting a "white noise" machine in your room. The machine's gentle swooshing sound will drown out any noises that might wake you through the night. A good one runs about $50. Just remember, sleep is your body's time to refresh and reboot. It's vital for your overall health. So if you're not getting at least 8 hours of restful z's each night, go ahead and give one of these natural sleep aids a try.
  8. Muscle damage: More reasons to avoid statin drugs

    It's not uncommon to hear someone who takes a statin drug (like Crestor, Lipitor or Zocor) complain of muscle aches and pains. But that's a fairly benign trade-off, right? After all, these drugs help lower your cholesterol. Well, not so fast. Statin drugs are far more dangerous than Big Pharma wants you to know. In fact, even those "benign" aches and pains could be much more serious than you think. According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, statin drugs may actually cause structural damage to your muscles. Plus -- the damage may be irreversible. So even if you stop taking the drug, the muscle pain and weakness doesn't go away. Defining muscle pain Here's the deal. About 10 to 15 percent of people taking statin drugs reportedly experience minor muscle aches and weakness called myalgia. A smaller percentage of people taking statins experience severe weakness or pain that doesn't go away. This is called myopathy. You're more likely to suffer from myopathy if you take a statin drug and:
    • You're over 65
    • You take certain types of prescription drugs
    • You follow a rigorous exercise regimen
    Oh yes -- and you're more likely to suffer from muscle pain or weakness by taking higher doses of statin drugs. Connecting the dots The authors of recent study wanted to see if this type of statin-induced muscle pain was an indication of a bigger problem. They biopsied muscle samples from 44 men and women who suffered from statin-induced myopathy. Prior to the biopsy, the patients had been taking a variety of different statin drugs, including: Zocor, Pravachol, Lipitor, Lescol, and Crestor. According to the results, almost 57 percent of the biopsied samples (in 25 out of 44 patients) had confirmed structural damage to the muscle fibers. And in case you're wondering -- their muscles didn't necessarily repair themselves once they stopped taking the statin. In fact, the study included several samples from patients who had stopped taking their statin drug at least three weeks prior to the study. So even though these patients no longer had statins in their blood stream, their tissues still reflected structural damage. This led the researchers to conclude that not only could statin drugs cause damage, but in some patients they may also inhibit the body's ability to repair damaged muscles. Predictable results… So why do the results of this study not surprise me? Well, you may recall that in 2001 the statin drug Baycol was pulled off the market. Any guess why? You got it. It caused muscle damage. In fact, Baycol was linked to 52 deaths due to rhabdomyolysis, a rapid deterioration of muscle tissue. It's no small stretch to assume that the other statin drugs on the market (which perform similar chemical actions in the body) would cause similar -- perhaps not fatal -- damage to your muscle tissue. Now onto kids… The results of this latest study have me particularly angry, especially when I think of all the kids who may suffer irreparable muscle damage. As you'll recall, last year the American Association of Pediatricians (the most ill-informed docs on the planet, in my opinion) recommended that children as young as 8 years old get screened for high cholesterol. If their numbers are high, their pediatrician should get them on a statin, according to the AAP. But if these drugs can cause irreversible damage to adult muscles, imagine what they might do to young children with growing muscles! Healthy tickers without statins There's plenty you can do to prevent a heart attack without taking a statin drug for the rest of your life. The first step is to stop smoking (if you smoke). The second step is to give your diet an overhaul. Cutting out processed and fried foods is a must. The third step is to get moving. Just a 10 minute walk every day that raises your pulse will make a big difference. Lastly, in additional to a quality daily vitamin, consider adding these heart-wise supplements to your regimen: 1. 1,000 mg L-Carnitine 2. 100 mg Coenzyme Q10 3. 500 to 800 mg Magnesium 4. 400 to 800 IU Vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols) In closing, if you currently take a statin drug and experience muscle pain, I seriously hope you'll reconsider your options. Seek the advice of a qualified naturopath to help you map out a personalized plan that doesn't include a statin drug.
  9. The Vitamin A Secret Known for 30 Years

    Every man I know worries about getting prostate cancer. And that's understandable. According to the National Cancer Institute, it's the second most common cancer among men. Almost 200,000 men this year alone will learn they have prostate cancer. And nearly 30,000 men a year will die of it. In most men with prostate cancer, the disease progresses very slowly. Watchful waiting is often the prescribed treatment. But in some men, the disease is much more aggressive. Treatment options for this group -- ranging from radical prostatectomy to radiation therapy -- often come with life-changing side effects which can include incontinence and sexual impairment. Even with so-called "nerve-sparing" techniques commonly used today, up to 60 percent of men will experience devastating sexual problems following their prostatectomy. Wouldn't it be great to avoid prostate cancer all together? That's why a new study out this month caught my attention. Scientists found that a man's vitamin A intake may play a role in preventing the aggressive type of prostate cancer that's often treated by removing the prostate gland. In this study, scientists looked at levels of retinol (an active form of vitamin A found in the blood) in 692 men who had prostate cancer and compared it to 844 men who didn't have the disease. While high concentrations of retinol didn't reduce a man's overall risk of developing prostate cancer, it did provide protection against the deadliest forms of the disease. In fact, the men with the highest concentrations of retinol in their blood had a 42 percent reduced risk of "aggressive prostate cancer" compared to the subjects with the lowest levels of retinol in their blood. Translation? Well, the men with the most vitamin A were 42 percent less likely to suffer from really aggressive prostate cancer. And that's huge, especially when you consider the type of treatment you're often facing when they discover your cancer is a fast-growing type. Interestingly, the study authors wrapped up their conclusions with this statement: "Our results suggest that higher circulating concentrations of retinol are associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Further research is needed to better understand the significance of elevations in serum retinol concentrations and the possible biological mechanisms through which retinol affects prostate cancer." Why scientists don't make good historians Of course, I had to laugh when I read this. The authors made it sound like they are the first to ever determine that vitamin A can reduce a man's risk of getting prostate cancer. The truth is, we've known for at least 30 years (maybe even 80 years) that vitamin A can be a man's best friend in preventing prostate cancer. According to Robert E. Willner, M.D., Ph.D. in his authoritative book The Cancer Solution, "Shortly after its discovery in 1922, Vitamin A was found to be effective in the prevention of cancer." Dr. Willner also reminds us of a massive vitamin A study conducted in 1974 by the National Cancer Institute. Scientists followed 25,000 men over the age of 50 for ten years to see if they developed prostate cancer. (Yes…25,000 men! That's a huge study with results you just can't ignore.) Surprise, surprise... they found a direct correlation between vitamin A intake and prostate cancer. In fact, the scientists at the NCI confirmed that the lower the level of vitamin A in the blood, the higher the risk of prostate cancer. And that was more than 30 years ago! Isn't anyone listening? In 1974 scientists knew that low vitamin A could put you at risk for prostate cancer. But this month scientists put out a study that "suggests" a connection between vitamin A and cancer? So what gives? Why isn't anyone listening? How many times do we need to turn up the same results before someone starts to listen? Heck, 2,000 years ago Hippocrates said: "Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food." If we all just followed his advice, there certainly would be fewer cases of prostate cancer today. Urologists should be handing out vitamin A, well, like candy! In any case, to get more vitamin A in your diet (and you should if you're a man who'd like to lower his risk of prostate cancer and possible prostatectomy), here are some good food sources:
    • Carrots (keep a cup of them out on your countertop; fill the bottom with a ½ inch of water to keep them fresh)
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Beef & chicken (another reason to keep some organic meat and poultry in your diet)
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Cantaloupe
    • Winter squash
    • Egg yolks
    Supplementing safely with Vitamin A Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and protects your cells against abnormalities. There are four things to be aware of when supplementing with vitamin A. First, you can technically get too much, though it's very rare. The symptoms of excess vitamin A aren't hard to spot: dry hair, headaches, etc. But I've found if you're supplementing with vitamin A in conjunction with vitamin C (at least 1,000 mgs 2x per day), you won't run into any problems. Secondly, beware of synthetic vitamin A. All the hype about vitamin A toxicity was due to synthetic A, which you should never take. Also, don't assume beta-carotene is the same as vitamin A. Go for natural fish oil vitamin A. Thirdly, the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A is too low, in my opinion. Many good supplements will include 10,000 IUs of A. But that's probably not enough if you're looking to treat a specific problem. Believe it or not, the starting threshold for the therapeutic use of vitamin A for acne, for example, is 50,000 IUs daily. (I usually recommend trying 100,000 IU for two to three months and if the acne improves, go lower.) Some practitioners who use vitamin A therapy with their cancer patients prescribe in the neighborhood of 1,000,000 IU per day (yep, a million). Lastly, there is a definite risk of birth defects due to high-dose A use during conception and the first trimester. So if you're a young woman of childbearing years, I would recommend exercising caution and, of course, working closely with your obstetrician or naturopath. I take 50,000-75,000 IUs a day of vitamin A and have for decades. It's just another safeguard we as men can -- and should -- take to protect ourselves against this all too common form of cancer.
  10. Get all your future Ivy Leaguers on multivitamins!

    Kids taking multivitamins get a cognitive boost on tests. That’s according to a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. This good news comes from researchers in England and Australia who studied the effects of taking a multivitamin on school children for 12 weeks. Scientists measured the children’s cognitive abilities three times during the study: once before supplementation began; another time several hours after taking the vitamin; and, one last time, after 12 weeks of daily supplementation. Any guesses on how well the kids responded? They did great. In fact…

    The kids showed an immediate and quantifiable boost in attention by taking vitamins.

    Not only did the kids perform better on cognitive and attention tests… they performed better right away. That’s right. The researchers noticed an immediate improvement in the children’s performance just three hours after the first dose on the first day. With such clear cut, positive proof that vitamins boost kids’ performance, we should make daily vitamins part of the school lunch program. Forget about mandatory milk. Give every child his or her multivitamin at lunch time (for maximum absorption, of course). In any case, make sure all the kids you know are getting their multis every day. It might just give them a mental edge.
  11. Forget about incontinence

    Despite the title of this article, I wish I had better news to share. It seems that several mainstream drug treatments for incontinence have been found to cause significant mental decline. U.S. Navy neurologist, Dr. Jack Tsao, decided to research these side effects after meeting with a 73 year old patient who’d started having memory problems and conversations with dead relatives shortly after adding an incontinence drug to her daily regimen. The incontinence drugs fall into a class of drugs called anticholinergics, which also include drugs for high blood pressure, asthma and Parkinson’s. They work by altering a chemical messenger called acetylcholine—a chemical responsible for nerve impulses (including those related to bladder control)…it’s also closely associated with memory and focus. In an analysis of 870 men and women with a mean age of 75 over the course of eight years, annual cognitive exams showed those who were using this particular class of drug had a mental decline rate that was 50 percent faster than those who weren’t using the drugs. Although the problems seemed to disappear once the drugs are discontinued, it begs the question, would it be better to control your bladder and give up memory and sharpness? Or wear a diaper and maintain your mental facilities? Prime time television ads for prescription drugs rattle off their potential side effects at the end. And it’s almost laughable how often the side effects are far worse than the problem they’re designed to treat. Obviously, I’m biased. But it’s been my experience that for just about every illness or ailment, nature has provided us with a remedy that comes with no side effects. A track record the mainstream would be hard-pressed to beat. But if you find yourself in a situation where your only option is a prescription drug, be sure to read the fine print…all of the fine print. And be sure to ask questions about anything that jumps out at you. Getting back to the topic of urinary incontinence, remember that the bladder is a muscle like any other muscle in the body. And that means there are both exercises and powerful muscle and nerve-supporting nutrients that have been shown to help strengthen the bladder and urinary tract. The herbs horsetail and crateva nurvala have an ancient history of use for toning and soothing the bladder. While minerals like calcium and magnesium play important roles in healthy nerve and muscle function. None of which have any known side effects! So, contrary to what the mainstream might have you believe…you can have the best of both worlds.

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