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Posts Tagged ‘vitamins’

In a previous article, I wrote about the importance of protein and how much one should consume on a daily basis. Now I’m going to be a bit more specific.

The most abundant protein in the body is collagen. Also, collagen makes up about ninety-percent of connective tissue. This is important for a number of reasons, not the least, musculoskeletal health. If “musculoskeletal health” seems vague, think: degenerative joint disease, degenerative (spinal) disc disease, disc herniations (or “slipped” discs), tendonitis/osis, osteoporosis, sprains and strains, etc.. Collagen essentially provides the tensile strength of tissues. If you don’t have enough collagen or your collagen is “weak” or poorly formed, you’ll be susceptible to injuries and all types of musculoskeletal disorders; among other problems that I’ll touch on briefly as well.

There are twenty-nine types of collagen throughout the human body. Collagen is a major component in many tissues, especially bone, cartilage (including intervertebral discs), tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, blood vessels, lung tissue, and even the cornea of the eye. Now you can see how the integrity of your collagen is so vital to the functioning of your body. Remember, structure determines function, and collagen is a major part of your structure. So now let’s discuss how to make and maintain strong collagen.

First, you need (to digest and absorb) adequate amounts of protein in order to supply the raw materials. Remember, the building blocks of protein are amino acids. Any amino acids can be used in some areas on the collagen molecule, but the key ones are proline, lysine, and glycine. You shouldn’t have to be concerned with eating large quantities of food that contain these specific amino acids in high levels. Focus on getting an adequate amount of protein from a variety of sources and that should cover your bases. Although, vegetarians and vegans may want to seek out foods high in these amino acids to be sure. And, those with injuries and/or chronic musculoskeletal conditions may want to ensure higher than typical amounts of these amino acids.

Now I’ll discuss the synthesis of collagen. First, in order for your DNA to begin the process (I’ll keep it simple), you need zinc. There is an important zinc-dependent enzyme, DNA polymerase, that allows for the proper function of DNA. This is why zinc is an extremely important mineral in general. The proper function of DNA is an absolute necessity for every cell in your body; especially cell growth.

As mentioned above, the amino acids lysine and proline are necessary. These amino acids then need to be hydroxylated (which means adding an -OH group). For this reaction to occur, you need iron, vitamin C, and alpha-ketoglutarate. Focus on the iron, vitamin C, getting enough protein and you shouldn’t have to worry about the alpha-ketoglutarate (for the most part).

The next step in forming collagen is known as glycosylation (adding glucose basically). This requires available glucose (or galactose) along with vitamin A and manganese. Now don’t go out consuming pure glucose in order make sure this step happens. But do make sure you have good blood sugar metabolism in order to have it available for the cells to use. I have written several articles related to blood sugar. Click here to read my article on “what” to eat, and here to read about “how” to eat.

After glycosylation, pro-collagen is eventually formed which is/are basically chains that are linked with the help of sulfur. So sulfur is essential for collagen formation, but it does have other roles in the body as well. In supplement form, sulfur can be obtained from “MSM” (or methylsulfonylmethane). Additionally, there are “sulfur-amino acids” that can be taken as supplements or gotten from food. These amino acids are cysteine and methionine. Foods that are especially high in sulfur include kale, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, garlic and eggs.

Pro-collagen then requires transport outside of the cells which again requires vitamin A and zinc.

At this point pro-collagen is converted to collagen and then strengthened by cross-linking the fibers (or fibrils) with the help of copper-dependent enzymes. Please note that this enzyme can be inhibited by high levels of the amino acid homocysteine. If you’re not familiar with homocysteine, I have written about it in another article linked here. If homocysteine inhibits this enzyme, the strength of the collagen fibers may be compromised resulting in weak or dysfunctional collagen. This is extremely problematic and may thwart the whole effort. See my article linked above for the “antidotes” to homocysteine. It will “save” more than just your musculoskeletal health.

That essentially covers the formation of collagen. To recap, here is a list of the most important nutrients: protein (esp. the amino acids: proline, lysine, and glycine), zinc, vitamin C, iron, vitamin A, manganese, sulfur, and copper. Don’t forget healthy blood sugar metabolism. And you can also include the nutrients that are necessary to metabolize homocysteine.

Before I finish, I want to touch on another point. Collagen can form adhesions, so to speak. This is the result of excessive cross-linking of collagen. Essentially, when this happens, the fibers don’t glide along one another smoothly. Adhesions can result in decreased range of motion in a joint; and it can be caused by decreased range of motion (usually post-injury or post-surgery). Adhesions in other structures that require collagen (such as blood vessels) may affect their function as well. The key nutrients for preventing this excessive cross-linking (thus aiding in normal cross-linking) are bioflavanoids. In nature, bioflavanoids are found in the white, pithy part of citrus fruits under the rind. They’re also contained in most fruits and vegetables as well as green tea. So in addition to structural treatments designed to increase range of motion, bioflavanoids may be particularly helpful. These can be obtained from supplements as well as food.

I’ll give you an example of how helpful bioflavanoids can be, as well as collagen formation in general. A 42-year-old patient who had undergone a double-mastectomy was referred to me for herniated discs in her neck as well as shoulder and rib pain (in addition to hip and knee pain). I surmised that most of her symptoms were a result of scarring and adhesion formation from the surgery (in addition to a lack of regeneration or degeneration of collagen in her neck/discs, hip and knee). The reason I felt this was because she had never injured any of those areas and there was no history of “overuse” as in repetitive sports. The surgery can be considered an injury, but regardless, she didn’t recover well if pain and decreased range of motion persisted.

I treated her structurally to get her muscles, ligaments, joints, and even skin functioning optimally. In thinking about the nutritional component of her pain and realizing this concept of adhesion formation and collagen; I instructed her to take a bioflavanoid supplement containing dried fruits and vegetables; and she also began juicing fresh fruits and vegetables (even better!). I also had her take a specific mineral related to sulfur metabolism. After about one month of treatment she reported “I feel better”, “I finally feel good”. After about two months, she was doing great and reported a “75%” improvement in her neck, shoulder, and rib pain and was able to walk long distances without pain in her hip or knee. This is a significant improvement, especially after undergoing surgery, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation. I recently saw her after a three-to four-week hiatus and she reported that a fair amount of the pain and discomfort had come back. Sure enough, the holiday season and her busy schedule interfered with her juicing and taking the supplements which allowed the adhesions to reform and decrease her range of motion, while increasing her pain. It may be unfortunate that she’s currently relying on supplements to remain pain-free, but it sure beats pain medication. With more time and consistency, she should be fine on a well-rounded, whole-food diet.

In conclusion, the array of nutrients necessary for collagen formation and maintenance helps explain why a well-rounded diet is so important. And remember, collagen is important for more than your musculoskeltal health. It’s absolutely vital for your (cardio)vascular system. Oh right, and something as simple as anemia (iron or folic acid/B12 deficiency) and hypochlorhydia can (and most certainly will) affect your musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health. You see, it does all fit together if you can find the missing pieces.

Also, remember that skin is dependent on collagen (among other things), and without sufficient amounts, wrinkles will result. I wonder if those collagen injections people get could be used for more than just vanity. And when the visual effects wear off, does the body “steal” it from (say) the lips to put it where it’s more important for survival? I hope so.

Source: http://www.metabolics.com/

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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“Added value” is in quotes because it is the title of an article written by Sarah Murray, and published in the “Health” magazine of yesterday’s (9/16/09) Financial Times newspaper. The subtitle is: “Public-private partnerships in food fortification are an efficient and sustainable way of improving the health of the world’s poorest”. I will speak about the health related topics. This article is intended to explain the value of nutritional supplements of human health.

Many people believe that supplements are not necessary and some go as far as saying that the body won’t utilize supplements for the intended purposes, basically saying they don’t work. I imagine these people would agree that supplements derived from whole foods (dried and ground into a tablet, capsule, or powder) will work. However, I’ll be referring to both natural supplements and those synthesized in a laboratory; which end up as the exact molecule (vitamin, mineral, or amino acid) contained in food; or even further, it’s activated form (i.e.: the form the body converts it into to make it usable at the cellular level). Let’s begin with some information contained in Murray’s article.

In 2007, health specialists evaluated students in Beijing, and concluded that their ability to learn was not hampered by mental factors, but in fact physical. “Many of the children had iron-related anemia and were deficient in vitamins A and B.” The children were then fed a diet fortified with these nutrients. As Murray states: “The impact was dramatic. There was a fall in the anemia rate from 13.7% to 2.5%, and vitamin B1 deficiency dropped from 24.8 to 4.5%, while vitamin B2 deficiency fell from 17.7% to 7.9%. As a result, the children’s attention rates increased considerably and their performance improved markedly.” The rest of the article speaks mainly about helping feed and nourish the world’s poorest, and the economics of it. This clearly illustrates that supplementing one’s diet (through fortification in this instance) can have a marked, measurable change on a person’s health and functioning. I do not recommend my patients eat fortified food however, because they are often highly refined and processed. And they may even require the body to use up extra nutrients (those that were provided by nature and removed by man) in order to be properly metabolized.

images-1I would also like to bring attention to a book written by Gary Null, Ph.D., titled “The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Healing – The first comprehensive guide to scientific peer reviewed studies of natural supplements and their proven treatment values“. The inside cover reads: “Covering more than 1.3 million studies, Null looked at each of the primary nutrients found in both foods and herbs as well as in supplemental and higher therapeutic dosages”. Null’s book contains 857 pages of text, but then again the 1.3 million studies says it all. I don’t know the process which he went through to analyze these studies, however, I do know he is probably one of the brightest individuals in the world; and I believe he is a researcher and certainly knows the process well. Also, Appendix C contains “toxicity studies” – this section makes up 21 pages of the 857 pages of text (not including table of contents or index). PS: I bought mine when it was first released, there are now updated versions available (I have no financial connection with this product).

I have one quick word on therapeutic dosages and toxicity. If you are taking supplements at less than therapeutic dosages or less than recommended time, you may not see any change in your health or health condition. Therefore, it would not be “fair” to say that supplements don’t work, or that you don’t need that supplement. Additionally, if you are taking dosages that are above therapeutic ranges, you may potentially experience side effects. Obviously, therapeutic dosages will vary individually. Remember, too much of anything, including water, can actually actually kill a person. A quick note about myself. My doctor (and one of my mentors), Tim Francis, DC, DIBAK who practices in Las Vegas, NV once prescribed me 180 mg of zinc (in a single dose) for about 6 months before decreasing it. Studies vary tremendously on toxicity levels with some reporting as low as 75mg, some saying 500-1,000mg, and one reporting 10,ooomg or more in one single dose resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea from zinc. The higher doses were reported from the highly reputable National Research Council. The information was obtained here. I only noticed beneficial effects and “watched” excessive levels of lead, mercury, and copper “pour” out of me (via lab tests). And, in case you were wondering; yes, I make it point to travel there at least once a year, consult with him throughout the year, and get treated structurally and emotionally by local doctors.

Here is some information prescription drugs. According to this reference (the article was first released in 2004): “Over 100,000 people are hospitalized each year with GI complications caused by NSAID use, and an estimated 16,500 patients die from NSAID induced GI bleeding. This is far more people than die of AIDS (13,500). In fact, such GI bleeding is the 14th leading cause of death in this country, according to the CDC”. Examples of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are ibuprofen and naproxen (of which one brand name is Aleve®). Let us not forget the complications with Vioxx® and the enormous experiment on the female population with hormone replacement therapy (and it’s devastating effects). There are many, many more examples of death from drugs I choose not to explore. They should be easy to find. One more thing about Null. He co-authored an amazing study with other medical doctors titled “Death by Medicine”. The study begins by saying; “These statistics contained in this report confirm that American medicine is the number one cause of death in the United States”. Additionally, it reports that outpatient adverse drug reactions total 199,000 deaths and $77 billion in cost per year.

Let’s forget about statistics, and go back to why I feel supplements are usually necessary. First, I do believe we should get our nutrients from whole, organically-grown foods. However, I feel it can be close to impossible to correct certain nutrient deficiencies through food alone; especially if you are already suffering from a health concern related to nutrient deficiencies. Also, your condition may not necessarily be “related” to a nutrient deficiency, but high levels of nutrients may be necessary to correct its problem. For example, excessive toxic metals in my case. That may be considered a toxic exposure and not a nutrient deficiency case, however, I can’t figure out how I would have gotten those metals out in that amount of time without supplementing (with high doses of zinc). And I also don’t consider more than 6 months of supplementation very quick. Could it have been done through diet, maybe. Do you realize how many oysters I would have had to eat on a daily basis to get that same amount of zinc. And I really don’t care for oysters. And I’m just like you; how much time are you really willing to wait before you feel better?

I’ll finish off with some simple examples of how nutrients get used up quickly during normal lifestyle activity.
1) The mineral molybdenum is required to detoxify aldehydes. You are exposed to aldehydes every time you smell perfume or cologne, and smell the wonderful fragrances when you walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. Here is a patient example for you: after not getting adequate results from treating a woman’s chronic neck pain structurally; I probed deeper into her lifestyle and asked her to avoid spraying perfume on her neck. And sure enough, she no longer noticed that neck pain. This example did not require supplementation; however, if she insisted to continue with perfume, that would have been the next step. I will continue to look deeper to find out if supplementing with molybdenum may help other aspects of her health; as I don’t really think she consumes enough through her diet. This could easily be considered “toxic exposure”, but if her molybdenum stores were optimal, and she was able to detox the aldehydes, would you still call it that?

2) Every time we smell diesel fumes from the trucks that go by, our anti-oxidant stores and depleted. By the way, they are depleted from many other environmental toxins we may not even be aware of. And, you may not have enough stores in the first place. Or they may be used up through the body’s natural and normal production of them to run biochemical cycles. Also, exercise increases free radical production.

3) The alcohol that might be enjoyed at celebrations requires a zinc-dependent enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, to be metabolized properly. Don’t forget you may need that zinc to detox heavy metals; and definitely for the enzyme DNA polymerase (necessary for EVERY CELL in the body to grow properly).

There are plenty of more examples. Diet is primary, supplements are secondary. However, supplements are often necessary based on the conditions I see in my patients. If you don’t have a particular health concern, you may consider using supplements for prevention purposes. Here’s another article on wrote on my top 5 recommended supplements for overall health. And another article on why it may be necessary to supplement. Lastly, one great way to get your nutrients through food is by drinking organic green vegetable juices daily. Thanks for reading!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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The word inflammation comes from the Latin word inflamatio, which translates into: “to set on fire”. It is a term that describes the biological response to an injury or protection from a microbe. Essentially, this “injury” can only come from about 5 things: 1) physical trauma (e.g.: ankle sprain, etc.); 2) allergic reactions; 3) infections; 4) chemical toxins (e.g.: toxic metals, environmental chemicals. etc.) and 5) ionizing and UV radiation (e.g.: x-ray, sunlight, etc.). The”hallmarks” of inflammation are a change to the micro-circulation and build-up of inflammatory cells in the damaged area. The five key signs of inflammation are pain, redness, edema (or swelling), heat, and loss of use. You may not have all five, but in the most extreme case they all exist. These five signs are generated by the biochemicals which respond to any sort of tissue damage.

The biochemicals released are designed to help heal the damage that has taken place. They help clean up the debris from the damaged cells, bring more blood to the area to restore new growth, and improve the drainage. There is much controversy over when to “artificially” (through ice, nutrients, or medication) reduce inflammation. However, it’s generally accepted that acute (24-72 hours) inflammation is necessary to begin the healing process. Inflammation (that is one or all of the five key signs) that persists for longer than this time (that is sub-acute or chronic) may indicate an inability to repair properly; appropriately coined a “cumulative repair deficit” by Dr. Stuart White. Therefore, intervention in the sub-acute or chronic stages is usually necessary and certainly desired by the patient.

Let’s now discuss some natural ways to deal with chronic inflammation, considering that it is normal to have inflammation in the acute (and sometimes sub-acute) time-frames. First and foremost, the source(s) of inflammation needs to be avoided. For example, exposure to food allergies/sensitivities, chemicals, toxic metals, radiation, etc.. Additionally, if the inflammation is the result of a structural impediment, you may need muscle and joint re-balancing done by a doctor. If the source is not avoided or addressed, you are simply “painting over the rust” and dealing with symptoms as opposed to the cause.

The main natural remedy to alleviate inflammation would be Omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve often used Omega-6 fatty acids also; particularly gamma linoleic acid or GLA (found in black currant seed, evening primrose oil, and borage oil) with great success in patients that have chronic musculoskeletal inflammation. Generally speaking though, most people have too many Omega-6 fats compared to 3’s in their diet; so Omega 3’s are generally recommended more often. Omega 3’s are best found in fish and krill oil. Flax oil does contain Omega 3’s, however, many biochemical steps need to occur before they are converted into to EPA (the anti-inflammatory substance). And very often, these steps can be disrupted through faulty sugar metabolism, alcohol, and trans-fats. As a result, it’s quite possible that you’ll never achieve the potential anti-inflammatory effects you are looking for. Fish and krill oil on the other hand need no conversion, as they actually contain EPA. I do not recommend that you eat fish unless you absolutely know it’s “clean”, click here to read why.

Other natural anti-inflammatory compounds include turmeric, resveratrol, ginger, quercetin, garlic, onion, boswellia, rosemary, vitamins C + E, and should also be considered. However, keep in mind that no one ever has an “herb-deficiency”. Therefore, make sure you’ve covered your nutritional bases first; that is essential Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C +E at a minimum. There may be other natural anti-inflammatory compounds as well, but the ones I mentioned should be more than enough.

Additionally, don’t forget that you need certain nutrients to rebuild the damage that has occurred from the inflammation. For this, think about rebuilding collagen, the most abundant connective tissue in the body. Therefore make to sure you have a sufficient amount of protein and vitamin C (the most basic nutrients) to build collagen. Some other nutrients for collagen formation would include: zinc, manganese, iron, vitamin A, sulphur, copper, and perhaps others indirectly.

In conclusion, it’s usually not apparent when you have chronic inflammation. The 5 key signs more often accompany acute inflammation and often are not observed with chronic inflammation if you don’t have pain or some sort of loss of function. This is especially true when there is inflammation in the arteries, which can lead to hardening of the arteries and ultimately cardiovascular disease. I most commonly see chronic inflammation as a result of poor dietary choices, environmental chemicals (and metals), and sub-clinical infections. Inflammation was the topic of a front-page article in Time Magazine titled “Inflammation: The Secret Killer”. It mentions the links between chronic inflammation and heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. So make sure you are getting anti-inflammatory compounds on a daily basis, through diet and/or supplements.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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These days cholesterol still gets all the attention when it comes to heart disease. In fact, I think way too much attention. There are other, often better predictors of heart disease than standard cholesterol tests. And these are routinely missed, even when the patient’s (and doctor’s) motive is to assess the potential risk of future cardiovascular events. I’ll talk about one very important one of those risk factors now. It is an amino acid called homocysteine.

Homocysteine was discovered by a man named Dr. Kilmer McCully. He is a Harvard Medical School graduate; and discovered this amino acid was responsible for arteriosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) while researching a rare condition called homocysteinuria, forty years ago. He was researching two cases where an eight year-old child and and a two-month old child both had arteriosclerosis. Through further research he eventually made a connection between homocysteine and arteriosclerosis. Unfortunately though, when he first voiced this discovery, he was shunned by just about every medical professional. In 1976, the (“new”) chairman at Harvard said the “elders” at the school “felt” he had not proved his theory; and unless he could get grant money he would lose his position. They went as far putting his lab in the basement so he would have no contact with others, and then he decided to leave. For the next 27 months he could not find a single position in North America that would allow him to continue his research. McCully was later told that Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital did not want to be associated with his work, because it did not go along with the conventional wisdom that cholesterol and fats caused heart disease. You can read more about that story in an interview with McCully here. By the way, one main reason that he was discredited might be because one of the most common ways to treat excess homocysteine levels is through nutritional supplements.

Anyhow, homocysteine is naturally produced in the body through the necessary breakdown of the essential amino acid, methionine. However, just because it is naturally produced does not mean that it is benign. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded this: “An increased plasma total homocysteine level confers an independent risk of vascular disease similar to that of smoking or hyperlipidemia” (or high blood lipids/fats). There are many more studies in existence that speak of the risk of high homocysteine levels in relation to (cardio)vascular disease so I won’t bore you with repeating this information.

Homocysteine causes several problems. For instance, it can oxidize cholesterol (making it harmful to blood vessels), cause scarring inside the lining of blood vessels, and increase blood clotting. Essentially, high levels of homocysteine will ultimately damage cells and the walls of the blood vessels. As a result, cholesterol will get deposited in the arteries in an attempt to “patch” up the damage. That is why cholesterol can “cause” cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. Also, this damage can lead to peripheral arterial disease, usually in the legs and feet, which in a worst case scenario can eventually result in the need for amputation like in diabetics. So does cholesterol really “cause” vascular problems? Well, that can be argued, but it is really the body’s attempt to heal. Hmmm, I guess cholesterol is not so bad to begin with. I will talk about that in another article. By the way, there are many causes of blood vessel damage.

High homocysteine levels have been implicated in coranary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

So what’s the solution? Some fancy well-marketed drug? No, B-vitamins of course! That’s right vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid (in addition to other biochemicals) will metabolize homocysteine properly and prevent high levels in the bloodstream. Folic acid and B12 will recycle homocysteine back into methionine and B6 will convert it down to cystathionine (and then hopefully down into cysteine and sulfate). So if these vitamins lower homocysteine levels, then a deficiency in them can cause high blood levels. McCully also reports other causes such as imbalances in thyroid and “female” hormones, in addition to kidney problems.

Please don’t get me wrong, many doctors are aware of homocysteine, but not enough in my opinion. I have seen blood tests from patients with known peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular complications without reporting their homocysteine levels. Also, some patients show me their blood tests with normal cholesterol levels (but no homocysteine); and report that their doctor has told them they don’t need to be concerned with heart disease. Also, look at a recent blood test of your own and (depending on the lab) you may find that they claim to determine your heart disease risk factor based on cholesterol levels alone.

One more thing, measuring homocysteine can also be used to find out if you have a deficiency in these B-vitamins. Again, there could be other causes, but it’s as simple as doing a follow-up test after supplementation for a few months.

PS: One common sign I have discovered in patients, which stems from high homocysteine (perhaps B-vitamin deficiency) is easy bruising. Bruising is basically damage to blood vessels. This is true even in those who “should” be bruising like some of the professional aerial acrobats (or intense athletes) I work with; but it’s also common in people who are not extremely active. The flip side to easy bruising would therefore also mean an inability to heal the vessels as well. And interestingly your body will not produce collagen (a main component of blood vessels and other structures) properly if your homocysteine levels are too high. But that concept, along with the other necessary nutrients to make proper collagen is for another discussion. Now don’t go trying to judge your homocysteine levels based on if you bruise easily or not; that’s just one observation I’ve made working with patients. It is worth asking your doctor to run this test – and remember those B-vitamins are necessary for a lot more functions than homocysteine metabolism.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Choline is in the B-vitamin family. Additionally, it is classified as an essential nutrient by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine; technically meaning that one must acquire the nutrient from their diet as the body cannot manufacture it through other biochemicals. This must be a technicality, as you actually can make choline in the body, though most believe not in sufficient amounts.  If it was truly essential, it would have a number to it, like B12, etc.. OK, let’s get into the more important technicalities.

Choline is made in the gut by the natural, good bacteria that reside there. Some good bacteria, you may have heard of, that reside in the gut are acidophilus and bifidus. Now, keep in mind, you can be “deficient” in these good bacteria and have a “sterile” gut for many reasons. The most common reasons being: drinking chlorinated water, taking antibiotics (currently or in the past), consuming food additives (esp. food preservatives), and consuming foods from animals that were given antibiotics. Additionally, digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis may affect the natural intestinal production of choline. Definitely consider those points as a reason you may not be making sufficient amounts of choline.

OK, now for the reasons and timing of choline supplementation (or maybe consuming abundant food-derived amounts).

Essentially, choline will “feed” the acetylcholine neurons (brain cells) in the developing fetus and newborn.  These acetylcholine neurons are involved in learning and memory.  According to a Duke University study: “choline “super-charged” the brains of animals that received supplements in utero, making their cells larger and faster at firing electrical “signals” that release memory-forming chemicals.”  Additionally, the study says: “These marked brain changes could explain earlier behavioral studies in which choline improved learning and memory in animals”.  Lastly, I want to include this from the study: “The implications for humans are profound, because the collective data on choline suggests that simply augmenting the diets of pregnant women with this one nutrient could affect their children’s lifelong learning and memory. In theory, choline could boost cognitive function, diminish age-related memory decline, and reduce the brain’s vulnerability to toxic insults.”

I would like to add another point.  Choline seems to affect the brain’s spatial awareness capacity.  That is, the ability to “look around” and “take in” information properly. So it will affect sensory perception, and obviously the reaction(s) to what is perceived.  This is according to my virtual mentor from the UK, Chris Astill-Smith, DO.

Now about timing.  Again, according to Chris Astill-Smith, DO (feel free to research embryology on your own!); the baby’s (fetus’) brain/nervous system is totally developed by the first 16 weeks (4 months) of pregnancy. In addition, during the child’s first 2-3 months after birth he/she acquires spatial awareness. That is, the child’s eyes are opening and closing, and looking around and “taking in”. This is because the “acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter) nerves” are beginning to function. Hence, these are the most vital times to have sufficient stores of choline, as a (pregnant or nursing) mother. Also, this study from the journal, Neurochemical Research found that “serum choline levels decreased by about 40% or 60% after having a child-birth either by vaginal delivery or caesarean section, respectively.” The study also states: “These observations show that serum choline levels increase during pregnancy and decrease during stressful situations in humans”. Why do serum (blood) choline levels increase during pregnancy? Well, regardless of your (and my) thoughts, it seems apparent that pregnant women need to have enough choline in order for the increase in serum choline to happen in the first place.

It may never be too late also, and worth taking if nursing or giving a child more choline, if spatial awareness problems are noted. The “take home” message is that women (well really their child) need sufficient amounts of choline during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy and the first 2-3 months after birth, if nursing – in order for proper/optimal brain development.

I could not find references related to the amount of supplemental (or food-derived) choline necessary or sufficient to achieve optimal results in your child. Please consult your physician on dosage.

Healthy children make for a healthy future!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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Let’s talk about two common types of anemia I see in my patients.  They are self explanatory like iron-deficiency anemia.  Megaloblastc anemia refers to a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B12, and pernicious anemia refers to B12-deficiency specifically.

Every single cell in your body requires folic acid and vitamin B12 in order to “mature” and therefore function properly.  All cells start off immature (and large in size) and become smaller when they mature.  Thus, the term “megaloblastic” refers to the fact the cells stay large in size (mega) without these vitamins. “Macrocytic anemia” is also a term for this condition.

In regards to folic acid deficiency, we run in to some of the same situations as in iron-deficiency – when asking the question: Why is their a deficiency?

The answers are either: a) insufficient consumption of foods containing folic acid; b) lack of absorption; c) an inability to convert folic acid to its active form, and d) complications of its utilization from certain drugs.

In regards to answer “a”, you must obviously consume folic acid through the foods you eat. Some of the best foods that contain high amounts of folic acid (or folate as it is referred to when in food) are: lentils, beans peas, broccoli, spinach, collards, okra, asparagus, and citrus fruits.

As far as answer “b”, regarding absorption – this could result from:

1) Your intestinal villi are literally clogged up due to poor food choices, thus not allowing for absorption of folic acid (and most definitely other nutrients as well).  To “fix” this, you would need to change your diet, and probably have to take supplements that would help detoxify the small intestine.  Examples would be a whole food diet and/or fiber (to “scrub” them clean), bentonite clay (to absorb the toxins), and/or mucilaginous herbs that could help “dissolve” out the toxins.

2) Digestive conditions that can compromise the absorption of folic acid (and any nutrients) are: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, colon cancer, and perhaps others.

Now for answer “c”.  Folic acid (or folate) needs to be converted to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) in order to actually perform its necessary functions at the cellular level.  This inability to convert usually results from a genetic defect. If there is a genetic defect, you may have to take a dietary supplement that contains the converted form.

The medications that interfere with folic acid utilization are: anticonvulsants (dilantin, phenytoin, and primidone), metformin (for diabetes), sulfasalizine (for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), triamterine (a diuretic), and barbituates.

Wait!  A few more things regarding less common causes (that I see) of folic acid deficiency are: alcohol abuse, kidney dialysis, and liver disease.  And as you’ll see below, more is required during pregnancy and lactation to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus; and for the growing baby.

Let’s now discuss vitamin B12 deficiency.  Why would someone be deficient?  The answers here are either: a) insufficient consumption of foods containing vitamin B12; b) failure to properly absorb B12; c) lack of a substance called intrinsic factor in the stomach (related to absorption); and d) inactive or oxidized B12.

Let’s start with answer “a”. Please be aware that B12 is only contained naturally in animal foods!  You can get certainly get it in vegetarian food sources, but that means it has been “fortified”.  Also, even though the algae product known as spirulina lists B12 on the label; apparently it is simply an analogue of B12 and may actually cause you to become even more B12 deficient.  Read this is you are concerned.  Foods high in B12 are basically every animal product known.

Answers “b” and “c” relate to an inability to absorb B12.  One possibility is for the same reasons as folic acid.  See above. Additionally, vitamin B12 requires a substance called intrinsic factor which is produced by (parietal) cells in the stomach, in order for proper absorption.  Stomach tumors, atrophic gastritis, pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, resection of the part of the small intestine that absorbs B12, autoimmunity towards the stomach cells or intrinsic factor itself, and an excess consumption of alcohol may be prevent B12 absorption through intrinsic factor complications.  See a reference here on the above.  “Pernicious anemia” refers to B12-deficiency anemia when the cause is specifically related to atrophic gastritis/destruction of parietal cells or destruction of intrinsic factor (usually from an autoimmune reaction).

Lastly, I’ll talk about “d”.  Vitamin B12 is known as cobalamin.  This is because the mineral cobalt a necessary part of the B12 complex.  B12 needs to be converted to methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin to actually get used properly, which depends on genetic factors.  If this conversion does not occur, B12 will be inactive.  Also, a person under oxidative stress (too many free radicals) may cause cobalt to become oxidized and again not allow B12 to work properly.  In this case, it’s possible to have normal B12 levels on blood analysis, but it will be inactive at the cellular level and thus not work. These people will need to decrease their exposure to free radicals; and mostly likely have to supplement with antioxidants and B12 also.

RDA’s for folic acid and B12 are in the following charts provided by the National Institutes of Health:

Folic Acid

Age
(years)
Males and Females
(μg/day)
Pregnancy
(μg/day)
Lactation
(μg/day)
1-3 150 N/A N/A
4-8 200 N/A N/A
9-13 300 N/A N/A
14-18 400 600 500
19+ 400 600 500

Vitamin B12

Age
(years)
Males and Females
(μg/day)
Pregnancy
(μg/day)
Lactation
(μg/day)
1-3 0.9 N/A N/A
4-8 1.2 N/A N/A
9-13 1.8 N/A N/A
14-18 2.4 2.6 2.8
19 and older 2.4 2.6 2.8

In conclusion, symptoms of folic acid deficiency are as follows: fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, and high blood levels of homocysteine (to be discussed in another article).

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are: fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.

Blood tests can be run to determine folic acid and B12 status.  Especially a complete blood count (with “random distribution of weight” or RDW; and “mean corpuscular volume” or MCV) to check for the red blood cells’ size and associated anemias.  A blood test can also confirm a problem with the gene associated with failure to convert folic acid to its active form.

Vitamin B12 can be measured in blood, but remember if your cobalt has been oxidized, it can show normal levels when in fact the B12 isn’t working.  Methylmalonic acid is a good test (and rarely or never run) for B12 status.

And finally, homocysteine levels can spot a folic acid and/or B12 deficiency.  Homocysteine is related to cardiovascular and neurological problems.  Again, I’ll discuss that in another article.

I also use in-office, applied kinesiology muscle tests when I suspect deficiencies in these vitamins. HOWEVER, I still consider it prudent to use blood tests to see exactly what my patient’s levels are.

ANOTHER VITALLY IMPORTANT POINT! The blood lab’s ranges are often too wide to pick up sub-clinical deficiencies in these vitamins, that may still be causing your symptoms. I use narrower functional ranges for myself and my patients.

Proper food choices and quantities and/or supplements can correct deficiencies.  HOWEVER, do not take more than 1,000 micrograms of folic acid without B12.  This is because folic acid supplementation this high can trigger B12 deficiency symptoms.  In particular, it can cause IRREVERSIBLE nerve damage because of B12 deficiency.  Most supplements contain both vitamins together to prevent this. And the only supplements I’ve seen with 1,000 micrograms (and NO B12) in one tablet or capsule are prescription only. Go figure.

Well, that’s a lot to consider for just two vitamins.  But then again, they are obviously extremely important!

Some information in this article was derived from the National Institutes of Health website.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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If you are a patient of mine, you know that I don’t “shotgun” any supplements.  That is, I don’t ever just give out supplements because they’re “good for you” or because the “the book” or “experts” say they are the best for a particular condition.  You know that I am extremely specific to my patient’s needs.  I’m able to be extremely specific because I use muscle testing.  Muscle testing allows me to have a “window” into the nervous system.  Therefore, I can find out what nutrients my patients will respond to best, based on the outcome of the test.

That said – I’m still willing to talk about what I feel are the top 5 supplements for overall well-being.  Please keep in mind that the order of importance for any given person will vary, even if they are just being used for general health.  That’s because everyone lives a different lifestyle and is exposed to different stressors.  Let’s begin:

#1 – Probiotics – These are more specifically known as acidophilus and bifidus, or “good” bacteria.  There are in fact many different names for probiotics, as there are many different strains of good bacteria.  The term probiotic means: pro- “for”  biotic- “life”.  Sounds like it should be in the top 5, doesn’t it?  Essentially, we have hundreds of strains of bacteria in our intestines.  Some of them are helpful, some are harmful.  For optimal health, we need to strive for a balance between the helpful and harmful.  Unfortunately, most people have too many harmful ones.  The function of these good bacteria helps all of the following: the immune system; proper digestion and absorption; food allergy/sensitivity reduction; production of certain vitamins and nutrients- such as vitamin K, choline, fatty acids, and more; and prevention of bad bacteria/pathogens from overpopulating the gut.

#2 –  Antioxidants – You’ve probably heard of these compounds.  They essentially “quench” free radicals that are formed inside the body.  Free radicals are unstable molecules (because of an unpaired electron in the outer shell) that can cause a domino-effect of damage to the cells.  Free radicals will damage your DNA – the blueprint your genes use to express themselves healthfully.  They are formed naturally through normal metabolic processes; however more sources of free radicals include poor food choices, certain prescription medications, environmental pollution, tobacco smoking (including second-hand), stress, ultraviolet light, oxygen and radiation.  Also, don’t forget that a lack of sufficient antioxidant levels will perpetuate the damage from existing free radicals by failing to neutralize them.  There are dozens of antioxidants.  Some are even essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A,C,E, and the minerals selenium and zinc to name a few.  Some of my favorite antioxidants are grape seed extract, turmeric, rosemary, green tea extract, and alpha-lipoic acid.

#3 – Omega 3 (or 6) Fatty Acids – By now, everyone is talking about Omega 3’s, usually referring to fish oils. Keep in mind that there are plant-based sources also. Fish (and krill) is more easily used by the body, and we’ll discuss why that is another time.  Your medical doctor may even be talking about fish oils.  Why?  Well, one reason is that they are essential fatty acids.  “Essential” refers to the fact that they are essential to human health, but your body cannot make them with other nutrients you’ve eaten.  They MUST be consumed in the diet, unlike certain other fatty acids which can be manufactured inside the body.  Essential fatty acids have been found to be important for proper functioning of the immune, cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems.  Also, did you realize that our brains are made up of roughly 60% fat – another great reason to make sure you’re not deficient in this vital nutrient.  Most people consume enough (really too many) carbohydrates.  Many people consume enough essential amino acids (protein).  Very few people consume enough essential fatty acids, without supplementing. By the way, some people may need Omega 6 essential fatty acids more so than 3’s – don’t ever “shotgun” it, remember. Get checked!

4 – Vitamin D – This is another one of those supplements that is causing a lot of M.D.’s to jump on the band wagon.  Well frankly, good for them, and more so for their patients.  Relatively recently, this has been found to be an almost pandemic deficiency – especially in areas where people are not exposed to the sun for much of the year.  Research on vitamin D seems to be growing at a rapid pace these days.  So far it has been shown to treat or prevent osteoporosis (it’s necessary in absorbing calcium), infections (including colds and flu), diabetes, tuberculosis, inflammation, depression, and neurological disorders.  That list barely gives vitamin D the credit it deserves.  Get your blood levels checked!  And get out in the sun, before summer is over.

5) – A Multi-mineral supplement – You must have noticed how I didn’t say a multi-vitamin supplement, although that would be fine to add as well.   In my practice, I find that minerals are a much more common deficiency than vitamins.  Minerals act as catalysts in the body.  Essentially that means they drive chemical reactions.  They do this partly by activating enzymes.  So they are responsible for converting one chemical into another, which is really what makes all biochemical processes go around.  If there were no minerals to drive reactions, our bodies would essentially stop in their tracks.  In fact, they are even necessary for vitamins to work effectively because they help convert them from their inactive to their active form; so those vitamins can actually perform their proper biochemical role.  I find deficiencies of all different types of minerals, daily.  But if I had to choose only two, they would definitely be zinc and magnesium.

The 5 supplements above have been reviewed for general health.  However, they can obviously address specific ailments for certain people.  Again, if you have a specific health concern, it is most important to figure out exactly what you are deficient in, instead of throwing the whole kitchen sink at the problem.  I do this through highly specific muscle tests, along with blood, urine, and saliva tests for all my patients.  When people simply look things up in books (and “shotgun” their supplements), they often don’t work.  Then, unfortnately, people lose faith and decide that supplements or alternatives are ineffective across the board.  Figure out what your body needs, and you’ll see amazing results. Check back for more specific information on all of the above!
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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