Archive for February, 2012
A few years ago, folic acid was in the news for potentially increasing your risk of breast cancer as well as a variety of others cancers. And most recently, multivitamins were linked to an increase in mortality from all causes. While correlation doesn’t equal causation, these findings do present some concerns over vitamin supplementation. My goal in this post is not to present you with a doctoral dissertation about the usage of vitamin supplements, but rather to give you a brief explanation about how folic acid (and any mutlivitamins or fortified foods containing it) can raise your risk of developing some serious health problems.
I want to cut right to the chase here and tell you that your body has no requirement for folic acid, nor does it even recognize what to do with it. This is because folic acid is a synthetic compound that was first isolated in 1943; its use in food fortification and vitamin supplementation began in 1998. Folate, on the other hand, is an essential B vitamin found in moderate amounts in dark green leafy vegetables, liver, dairy products, eggs, and orange juice. Deficiencies in folate can cause high levels of homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease. During pregnancy, a lack of adequate amounts of folate in the diet can lead to neural tube defects and cleft palate in the developing fetus.
Because folic acid (the synthetic compound pteroylmonoglutamic acid) is cheap in comparison to actual folate (tetrahydrofolate) derived from food sources, nearly all supplement and food manufacturers use synthetic folic acid in their products instead of the natural foods-based folate. This is a problem because the human body often fails to metabolize synthetic folic acid, causing a buildup of folic acid in the circulatory system, even at dosages less than 400 mcg (100% of the RDA). This is a huge science experiment because we don’t quite know what all the repercussions of this include, but we are fairly certain that a buildup of unmetabolized folic acid does promote the growth of cancers.
Since you definitely do need adequate amounts of folate in your diet to prevent problems such as birth defects, cognitive decline, periodontal disease, heart disease, depression, sleep disorders, and cancer, it would be a great idea to include folate-rich foods in your diet on a daily basis. You can obtain the RDA of folate by consuming 7 cups of romaine lettuce, 2 cups of cooked spinach, 4 ounces of calf’s liver, just over a cup of lentils, ten medium-sized oranges, or about 3.5 cups of beets each day. Unless you are regularly juicing abundant amounts of leafy greens, beets, and/or oranges each day, or consuming either a cup of lentils or 4 ounces of liver on non-juicing days, you’re probably running low on folate.
Because of a mild to moderate folate deficiency, you might have elevated homocysteine (which doesn’t produce any symptoms but can raise your risk of developing heart disease), low energy levels, a failing memory, or an increased susceptibility to cancer. These are things that can largely go unnoticed for months or even years, until you’re suddenly diagnoses with a disease. For this reason, supplementation with natural folate might be a smart idea. By supplementing with the natural form of folate found in food, you can avoid the problems that can occur when you supplement with synthetic folic acid.
There are only a few companies that use natural foods-based folate in their formularies, mainly because synthetic folic acid is cheaper and partly because few consumers really know the difference between folic acid (synthetic) and folate (natural). One foods-based multivitamin that I really like and find to be a safe, effective, high quality formulation is the Designs for Health Multi with Copper (see below). Besides the fact that the nutrients in this supplement are foods based, rather than synthetic, the company also includes both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 in this multi, which is rare to find. (I have written about the benefits of vitamin K2 in the past, and how it serves a different purpose in the body than vitamin K1. Namely, it prevents calcification of the arteries and joints, while halting loss of calcium from bones.) Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more information on the Designs For Health Multi.
Another good supplement that provides a variety of B vitamins, including folate, is a grass-fed whey protein powder called PaleoMeal. It comes in several flavors that taste really good, and I like to use PaleoMeal when I can’t always obtain raw milk for breakfast. I just mix it with ice, frozen berries, a raw egg, sea salt, and about a tablespoon of coconut oil, and then make it into a smoothie using a cheap blender from Target.
DFH Complete Multi with Copper 180 vcaps
Serving Size: 6 Capsules
Servings per Container: 30
Amount per Serving
Vitamin A (as mixed carotenoids from palm tree fruit) 7142 IU
Alpha Carotene 24 mg
Beta Carotene 70 mg
Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) 600 mg
Vitamin D (as cholecalciferol) 1000 IU
Vitamin E (total natural tocopherols) 300 mg
as d-gamma 205 mg
as d-delta 60 mg
as d-alpha 25 mg/37.5 IU
as d-beta 10 mg
Vitamin K 550 mcg
(as vitamin K1-phytonadione 500 mcg; vitamin k2-menaquinone-7 50 mcg)
Thiamin (Vitamin B-1)(as thiamine HCl) 75 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2) 75 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B-3)(as niacinamide) 75 mg
Vitamin B-6 (as pyridoxine HCl) 50 mg
Folate (NatureFolate blend) 400 mcg
Vitamin B-12 (as methylcobalamin) 500 mcg
Biotin (as d-biotin) 500 mcg
Pantothenic Acid (as d-calcium pantothenate) 250 mg
Calcium (TRAACS calcium glycinate chelate) 100 mg
Iodine (as potassium iodide) 200 mcg
Magnesium 200 mg
(TRAACS magnesium glycinate chelate buffered)
Zinc 25 mg
(TRAACS zinc glycinate chelate)
Selenium (as selenium glycinate complex) 250 mcg
Copper (as TRAACS copper glycinate chelate) 2 mg
Manganese 1 mg
(as TRAACS manganese glycinate chelate)
Chromium 200 mcg
(as TRAACS chromium nicotinate glycinate chelate)
Molybdenum 100 mcg
(as TRAACS molybenum glycinate complex)
Potassium 100 mg
(as potassium glycinate complex)
Trimethylglycine 200 mg
Choline (as citrate) 100 mg
Inositol 100 mg
Quercetin DiHydrate 25 mg
Rutin 25 mg
Alpha Lipoic Acid 10 mg
Hesperidin 10 mg
Boron (as boroganic glycine) 2 mg
Vanadium 100 mcg
(as TRAACS vanadium nicotinate glycinate chelate)
Other Ingredients: Vegetable stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide.
Recommended Use: As a dietary supplement, take six capsules daily, two with each meal, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner.
If you keep up with the popular health news at all, you’ve probably seen quite a few reports on the benefits of probiotics. And if you’re a “foodie” like me, you’ve probably taken an interest in the growing popularity of probiotic foods and beverages, including lacto-fermented sauerkraut or kimchi (cultured veggies), kvass (cultured veggie juice), kefir (a yeast/bacteria beverage usually made from milk, coconut water, or sugar-water), kombucha (a yeast/bacteria beverage usually made from green tea), and the many varieties of yogurts, cheeses, and other fermented dairy products from all over the world.
These special probiotic foods have been used for centuries as essential components of a healthy diet among virtually every population of people ever studied by anthropologists and archaeologists. In Asia, cultured foods such as kimchi, natto, miso, and tempeh are consumed regularly. In Africa, taro, millet, and other local crops are fermented into healing beverages. In Peru, corn is chewed up and spit into a container, fermented for a few days, and then consumed. In Mediterranean Europe, raw milk is made into cheese and left to age in dark caves from a period of a few weeks to a year or longer! In Northern Europe, there is even a tradition of fermenting fish and fish liver for supposed health benefits.
Growing up in the 1980′s, I remember seeing commercials on TV advertising yogurt for its benefits for digestion. Supposedly, if you’re frequently constipated, you can simply reach for a cup of aspartame-sweetened Yoplait yogurt for breakfast each morning and achieve digestive regularity. Unfortunately, Yoplait fails to disclose that aspartame is a neurotoxin that may initiate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and possibly other neurological disorders, and the amount of beneficial bacteria in their yogurts by the time you purchase them at the store may actually be close to zero.
More recent research on probiotics clearly shows that “better digestion” is just the tip of the iceberg in the benefits you can obtain from supplementing with probiotics and probiotic foods at physiologically therapeutic dosages (AKA more than in a container of Yoplait). Indeed, an imbalance in your gut microbiota may actually cause weight gain, high cholesterol, insulin resisance (sugar cravings), leptin resistance (excessive appetite), and a weakened immune system. If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, drank chlorinated water, or been exposed to GMOs and herbicides found in conventionally grown foods, you have disrupted your gut “ecosystem” in a way that can have a negative impact on nearly every aspect of your health.
Studies have shown that when you supplement with a variety of the right kind of probiotics, this alone will cause your VLDL and LDL cholesterol to go down, your insulin sensitivity to increase (and sugar cravings decrease), your leptin receptors to increase (and your satiety after meals to increase), and your bodyfat setpoint to decrease. Just changing the bacteria in your gut can cause you to lose weight without having to make any change your diet or exercise regimen! (Of course, eating healthy Real Food, and getting adequate exercise in addition to supplementing with probiotics is most recommended for best results.)
Change your bacteria, change your life! The probiotic supplement that has been formulated with the bacteria that have been most studied and found to promote leanness in called Theralac and you can buy it online here.
Combine it with Greens First to get even more probiotics from food, plus a variety of digestive enzymes, antioxidants, and potent anti-inflammatory nutrients to increase your fat-burning potential and prevent chronic pain. I like to add a scoop of Greens First into a cup of raw milk, and then stir in an egg yolk, a dash of cinnamon, and a few drops of liquid stevia for a delicious, nutritious breakfast. I follow that up with one capsule of Theralac and I’m good to go with beneficial probiotics for the day! (For fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A and D, I also have a tablespoon of cod liver oil every day too.) I do this not because of theory or heresay, but because this is what works if you want to easily maintain your ideal body composition AND have great skin, lots of energy, and a balanced mind and mood.
I’m talking about pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). It was discovered in 1979 and found to be in certain foods, such as natto, green tea, and potatoes, which are commonly consumed by populations known to have a high incidence of longevity and robust health into old age. More recently, scientists have decided that PQQ is actually a vitamin, though there seems to not yet be a concencus over what type of vitamin it is (though many agree that it is a B vitamin because it is molecularly similar to vitamin B2 and B6).
One of the functions of PQQ in the body is that it works as an extremely potent antioxidant (up to 5,000 times more potent than vitamin C, according to researchers at the University of California – Davis). This doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand what an antioxidant is. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers, meaning they act like Pac-Man to free radicals, totally eating them up. You don’t want to have a bunch of free radicals in your body because these damage mitochondrial DNA, and damage to your mitochondrial DNA is one cause of aging. Translation: The more free radicals you have, the faster you will age. The fewer free radicals you have, the slower you will age. You can decrease the number of free radicals you have, and therefore slow down the aging process in your own body, by either eating abundant amounts of foods high in PQQ or by taking a PQQ supplement.
This is one reason why two people who are both 50 years old in chronological age can look completely different in age. One person can have “middle age spread” with a large amount of fat on the torso and lack of muscle tone in the limbs, combined with skin damage and lack of collagen in the face. This is partially caused by accumulation of a large number of free radicals on a daily basis for many years by smoking cigarettes, succumbing to stress, not eating foods rich in antioxidants, eating too many calories, not exercising at all or exercising too much, not getting adequate sleep, and many other factors including psychoemotional factors. In contrast, another person of the same chronological age can have very little accumulation of fat on the belly and torso, strong bones and musculature, and youthful skin. This is NOT caused by just “getting lucky” or having “good genes!” You can influence your own genetic expression by eating a species appropriate diet, getting adequate exercise and sleep, decreasing your exposure to toxins AND intelligently using supplements that can help you combat the ill-effects of living in a toxic world laced with nuclear radiation and genetically manipulated Monsanto crops.
PQQ has also been found to protect memory and cognition in animals and humans. It protects against neurotoxicity caused by mercury, aspartame, MSG, and other deadly neurotoxins, and works to BLOCK formation of amyloid-beta proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. But PQQ is not just important for prevention! It actually improves memory, attention, and cognition — especially in combination with supplementation of CoQ10. These benefits are achieved with a dosage of 10 – 20 mg/day.
I recommend picking one of the two PQQ supplements made by Pure Encapsulations that are listed below. You can click on the “buy now” link directly within this blog post to have either supplement shipped straight to your door.
PQQ with B Complex
Ultra B-Complex w/ PQQ 60 vcaps
With Metafolin® L-5-MTHF
Hypo-Allergenic Dietary Supplement
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
Servings per Container: 60
Amount per Serving
ascorbyl palmitate (fat-soluble vitamin C) 10 mg
thiamine HCl 125 mg
riboflavin (B2) 5 mg
riboflavin 5’ phosphate (activated B2) 10 mg
niacinamide 100 mg
inositol hexaniacinate (no-flush niacin) 10 mg
pyridoxine HCl (B6) 90 mg
pyridoxal 5’phosphate (activated B6) 10 mg
folate (as Metafolin®, L-5-MTHF) 400 mcg
methylcobalamin (B12) 1,000 mcg
biotin 400 mcg
panthothenic acid (calcium pantothenate) (B5) 100 mg
alpha lipoic acid (thioctic acid) 100 mg
luteolin 20 mg
BioPQQ™ pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt 10 mg
other ingredients: vegetable capsule
Recommendations: As a dietary supplement, take 1–2 capsules per day, in divided doses, with meals.
Warning: If pregnant, consult your physician before taking this or any other product.
This encapsulated product contains no hidden coatings, excipients, binders, fillers, shellacs, artificial colors or fragrance. Contains no dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, corn, sugar, starch, soy, preservatives or hydrogenated oils.
PQQ with CoQ10
SR-CoQ10 with PQQ 60 vcaps
Hypo-allergenic Dietary Supplement
Serving Size: 2 Capsules
Servings per Container: 30
Amount per Serving:
coenzyme Q10 (from MicroActive® CoQ10-cyclodextrin complex) 100 mg
BioPQQ™ pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt 20 mg
Other ingredients: potato starch, hypo-allergenic plant fiber, vegetable capsule
Recommend Use: As a dietary supplement, take 2 capsules daily, in the morning, with a meal.
Warning: If pregnant, consult your physician before taking this or any other product.
This encapsulated product contains no hidden coatings, excipients, binders, fillers, shellacs, artificial colors or fragrance. Contains no dairy, wheat, yeast, gluten, corn, sugar, soy, preservatives or hydrogenated oils.
Why I don’t use a vitamin D supplement
Astra 8 for energy and strengthening your immune system