Dr. Phil Shares: 5 Quick + Easy Ways To Incorporate Wellness Into Your Week

With all of the go, go, go that comes with being a busy, working woman, sometimes our own health falls to the wayside. We get it, not everyone has the time to hit a two-hour Pilates class every day…we certainly don’t! We’re all about striking a balance here and figuring out simple ways to improve our health on the daily. Let’s keep it simple and dive right into our five quick and easy wellness tips to improve your week.

easy wellness tips

Increase Your Intake of Hydrating Foods

Every wellness article you read is going to tell you to drink your body weight in water, and you should! But just in case you’re not the best at guzzling gallons of water in one sitting, try snacking on it! Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchinis are about 95 percent water. Increase your intake of these tasty snacks and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. We also love mixing in a shot of this hydrating inner beauty boost into our water!

Micro-Dose Your Vitamin D

Set a timer on your phone, write it on your to-do list, do whatever you need to do to incorporate fresh air into your day. Before lunch each day, head outside for a 15-minute walk and soak up the sunshine. Fifteen minutes may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get your blood pumping and also shift your mindset. Pencil in a minimum of one walk per day, but if you can swing more, do it!

Eat Mindfully

So many of us (*guilty hand raised*) eat like it’s just something else to check off our to-do list. We often eat our lunch at our desk in front of a computer, or at home in front of the television. This often leads to overeating or mindless snacking! When it’s time to eat a meal, choose somewhere intentional to sit that doesn’t involve devices with screens. This will help you feel mindful as you eat, breathing between bites, and taking note of when your body is satisfied.

Try Dry Brushing

Never heard of dry brushing? It has a surprising number of benefits, including lymphatic system stimulation. The lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and transporting waste to the blood. Dry brushing can stimulate the lymphatic system as it stimulates and invigorates the skin. It helps with everything from improving the appearance of skin to supporting digestion. Try our favorite brush here

Do Bedtime Yoga

This is one of our favorite ways to end the day. You literally do yoga in your bed, what could be more relaxing? We follow this routine, but feel free to find one that you look forward to doing each night!

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura – The Sunshine Vitamin

What you don’t know about vitamin D

If you live in Canada and don’t supplement, you are likely deficient in vitamin D.  How much to supplement and for how long is very individual. It is based on things like the  natural colour of the skin, immune status, food intake and time spent outdoors in the summer.

The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet light. About 20 min of unprotected exposure mid day in the summer months in Ontario will produce about 1000IU of vitamin D.

Small amounts of vitamin D may be found in food sources such as fish, egg yolk, beef liver, however, when sunlight is inadequate (no exposure or seasonal variance), supplementation is essential.

Vitamin D helps:

  • the body absorb calcium and phosphorous
  • build bone mineral matrix
  • the nerves and muscles function
  • boost the immune system
  • modulate autoimmune diseases

Vitamin D deficiency can be suspect in multiple sclerosis, cancer, pancreatic deficiency, Crohn’s, Colitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic low back pain, or severe muscle weakness.

Check your Vitamin D Status

Vitamin D levels have an optimum range, with increased risks for health disease when deficient or in excess.

OHIP no longer pays for vitamin D testing mostly because they found everyone to be deficient and suggest we all should supplement, at least through October to March. How much to supplement depends on the individual.

Recent research shows that people supplementing may have overdone it and now there are risks showing up for people who are taking vitamin D in excess. Protect from overdose by getting enough vitamin A (liver, organ meats, cod liver oil) and K2 (brie cheese!) in the diet.  Sometimes if levels are high enough, it means lowering the dose or stopping supplementation for a while.

Levels are best monitored by a blood test, then with the advice of your doctor you can be sure you are taking the amount that is right for you.

You may pay (about $45) for a basic vitamin D blood test with your Naturopathic Doctor. You may book your appointment (fees in addition to the blood test) today to investigate further.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Laura: Nutrition for the New Year!

Kick the New Year off right – reset your diet, your health and invigorate your life!

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND offers Naturopathic Medicine with a Functional Medicine approach. She helps people better digest their food and the world around them. She is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is engaged in a year long training module at the Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine.

Achieve Optimum Health

Why wait until disease sets in? A visit to Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help you identify nutritional deficiencies before disease sets in. With a physical exam and intake that looks at your hair, skin, nails, sleep, stress and diet, Dr. Laura may identify nutritional deficiencies that, if left alone may lead to a number of common problems:

  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • dry skin
  • acne
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • leg cramps
  • peripheral neuropathy
  • poor workout recovery
  • poor memory and concentration
  • brittle, cracked or peeling nails

Food Sensitivity Testing

Sometimes we can be sensitive to foods and not even know it. Testing helps identify what foods may be bothering your system. Using blood or electro dermal screening test will help identify foods that need to be rotated, avoided or eaten occasionally. Knowing your personal food fingerprint may help reduce or even eliminate skin conditions, depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, joint pain and more.

  • Electro Dermal Screening Tests
  • Blood Tests

Nutritional Analysis

Naturopathic Medicine is a comprehensive framework for medicine that looks at the body as a whole and integrated biological web of physiological function. Dietary analysis helps see if you get the ratio of fats, carbs and protein that best suits your individual requirements.

Clinical and laboratory testing is used to evaluate optimum levels for your best health. Most conventional interpretation use metrics that diagnose disease… but why wait until then? Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can evaluate:

  • Physical evaluation of the health of the hair, skin, nails
  • Dietary analysis helps identify meal timing and preference, macronutrient balance
  • Blood tests are available to evaluate status of nutrients like iron, B12, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, Vitamin D.
  • Electrodermal screening will help identify an imbalance of a given nutrient.

Kick off the new year with an overview of your nutritional status and find your optimum health. Call 519.826.7973 to book your appointment today.

Dr. Phil Shares: The Unexpected Reason We Tend To Be Healthier In The Summer

SHUTTERSTOCK / RIDO

Seasonal changes in gene activity mean that the immune system revs up inflammation in the winter, researchers found. This may help explain why the symptoms of inflammation-related conditions — such as heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis — often worsen in winter, and why people tend to generally be healthier in the summer.

“Our results indicate that, in the modern environment, the increase in the pro-inflammatory status of the immune system in winter helps explain the peak incidences of diseases that are caused by inflammation, by making people more susceptible” to inflammation’s effects, said study co-author Chris Wallace, a genetic statistician at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

In the study, researchers examined genetic data from blood samples and fat tissue of more than 16,000 people who lived in both the northern and southern hemispheres, in countries that included the United Kingdom, the United States, Iceland, Australia and The Gambia.

The researchers found that the activity of almost a quarter of all human genes — 5,136 out of 22,822 genes tested in the study — vary over the seasons. Some genes are more active in the summer, whereas others are more active in winter, the researchers found. [11 Surprising Facts About the Immune System]

These seasonal changes in gene activity also seem to affect people’s immune cells and the composition of their blood, the researchers found.

For example, during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, the immune systems of the people living there had pro-inflammatory profiles, and the levels of proteins in their blood that are linked to cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases were increased, compared with their levels during the summer.

This may explain why the incidence and symptoms of some diseases tied to increased inflammation — including cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and psychiatric disease — peak in winter, according to the study.

In contrast, one gene, called ARNTL, was more active in the summer and less active in the winter. Previous studies on mice have shown that this gene suppresses inflammation, which may also help explain why people’s levels of inflammation tend to be higher in the winter than in the summer, the researchers said.

The seasonal variation in the immune system’s activity may have evolutionary roots, Wallace said. “Evolutionarily, humans have been primed to promote a pro-inflammatory environment in our bodies in seasons when infectious disease agents are circulating,” she told Live Science. This pro-inflammatory environment helps people fight infections, Wallace added.

“It makes sense that our immune systems adapt to cope with variation in infections as these are thought to be the main cause of human mortality for most of our evolutionary history,” Wallace said.

But even though this immune response helps fight off infection, it worsens other conditions related to inflammation.

It is not clear what mechanism brings about the seasonal variation of human immune system activity, the researchers said. However, it may involve the body’s so-called circadian clock, which helps regulate sleeping patterns and is partially controlled by changes in daylight hours, the researchers said.

“Given that our immune systems appear to put us at greater risk of disease related to excessive inflammation in colder, darker months, and given the benefits we already understand from vitamin D, it is perhaps understandable that people want to head off for some ‘winter sun’ to improve their health and well-being,” study co-author John Todd, a professor in the department of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement.

The new study was published today (May 12) in the journal Nature Communications.

By: Agata Blaszczak-Boxe
Published: May 12, 2015 01:05pm ET on LiveScience.

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

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Happy New Year! This year, what do you say we all skip the New Year’s resolution? About half of North Americans make them, and most start out strong but come February or March, many have already thrown in the towel.

Overall, it’s estimated that 92 percent of Americans fail to achieve the goals they commit to on New Year’s Day.1 And so, I’m proposing this instead: in place of a New Year’s resolution, make a commitment to simply live better this year.

This is an ongoing process, a lifestyle change, not an impulsive resolution that you blurted out at midnight and have all but forgotten by morning. It’s also not something you can achieve overnight. Rather, this is a plan you can live by.

10 Steps to Changing Your Life for the Better in 2016

It’s the start of a new year — what better time to start fresh with some positive changes? The 10 that follow are the crème de la crème of lifestyle tricks you can use to live better and be happier — and isn’t that really what virtually all of us are after?

Below follows a brief introduction to the 10 points I suggest you commit to this year. In the coming months, stay tuned for an updated comprehensive nutrition plan, which is scheduled for release in 2016.

It will include these points in detail along with a plethora of additional recommendations, tips, and strategies to help you live the best life possible.

And, starting next week, look for forthcoming articles in the newsletter, which will cover each of these topics in depth. Are you ready to start fresh in 2016? Then keep on reading.

1. Give Up Soda

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis, and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption. No wonder nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet.2

If you’re not yet among them, commit to swapping your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water, and, occasionally, tea and/or organic black coffee.

When you consume soda your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain — a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.

This explains why so many people find it difficult to give up their daily soda “fix.” But, it can be done and you’ll feel better for it.

2. Eat Two Meals a Day, Within an Eight-Hour Window

Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way allows you to restrict your eating to a window of six to eight consecutive hours each day, while avoiding food for at least three hours before bedtime.

As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.

Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide.

This type of intermittent fasting has numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function, and preventing cellular damage from occurring.

3. Get Eight Hours of Sleep Each Night

I used to think I was immune to needing adequate sleep. I would routinely get less than six hours a night and thought I could function this way. But, I’ve since realized that most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night.

What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many.

Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness,3 which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.

Sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.4

Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep.

This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction). Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin.

The resulting increase in hunger and appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Not to mention, poor or insufficient sleep is actually the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.5

Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.

If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed).

If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene

4. Eat More Healthy Fats and Fiber

Public health guidelines condemn healthy fats from foods like butter and full-fat dairy, and recommend whole grains and cereals — the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy.

The latest science suggests healthy fats (saturated and unsaturated fats from whole food, animal, and plant sources) should comprise anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of your overall energy intake. Healthy fat sources include coconut and coconut oil, avocados, butter, nuts, and animal fats.

That’s right; butter need not be shunned and, in fact, is a beneficial source of healthy saturated fats, especially when it’s raw, organic, and grass-fed. In addition to eating more healthy fats, most Americans need to eat more fiber. A high-fiber diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, likely because it helps to reduce your risk of some of the most common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

When it comes to boosting your fiber intake, be sure to focus on eating more vegetables, nuts and seeds (not grains). Organic whole husk psyllium is a great fiber source, as are sunflower sprouts and fermented vegetables, the latter of which are essentially fiber preloaded with beneficial bacteria. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also excellent fiber sources.

5. Eat Fermented Vegetables

Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.

In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including helping with mineral absorption and producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2. They may also play a role in:

  • Preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption
  • Lowering your risk for cancer
  • Improving your mood and mental health
  • Preventing acne

In the US, imbalances in gut flora are widespread due to diets high in sugar and processed foods as well as exposure to antibiotics, both in medicine and via CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) meats in your diet.

The solution is simple — in addition to cutting back on sugar and antibiotics, consuming fermented foods will give your gut health a complete overhaul, helping to clear out pathogenic varieties and promoting the spread of healing, nourishing microorganisms instead.

Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health. You can even start a new tradition by getting together with friends and family to make big batches of fermented vegetables together.

6. Sit Less and Walk More, Work on Your Flexibility

On average, a U.S. adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting,6 which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout can’t counteract its effects.7

While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature. Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day.

Your body is made to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead.

Setting a goal of taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6 to 9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement and less sitting into your life. This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have.

In addition, stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. Meanwhile, make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are options to help increase your flexibility.

7. Have Your Vitamin D Level Tested

It’s incredibly easy to boost your vitamin D levels, so there’s no reason to put your health at risk from low status. Yet, researchers such as Dr. Michael Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. If you’re among them, your risk of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and other chronic disorders may be significantly increased.

In a study of more than 100 people, those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight.8

Dementia is also directly linked to vitamin D. Seniors who have low vitamin D levels may double their risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.9 As noted by the authors, “This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of vitamin D in nonskeletal conditions.” Incidence of several types of cancer could also be slashed in half if more people increased their vitamin D levels.

One of Dr. Holick’s studies showed that healthy volunteers taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day for a few months upregulated 291 different genes that control up to 80 different metabolic processes.

This included improving DNA repair to having effect on autoxidation (oxidation that occurs in the presence of oxygen and /or UV radiation, which has implications for aging and cancer, for example), boosting your immune system, and many other biological processes.

If you don’t know what your vitamin D level is, get tested. The vitamin D test you’re looking for is called 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is the officially recognized marker of overall D status and is most strongly associated with overall health.

The other vitamin D test available, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25[OH]D), is not very useful for determining vitamin D sufficiency. While sunlight is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D, winter and working indoors prevent more than 90 percent of those reading this article from achieving ideal levels.

A high-quality tanning bed is your next best option, but if your circumstances don’t allow you to access the sun or a high-quality tanning bed, then you really only have one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D3 supplement.

Regular testing is crucial in this case to keep your level within the optimal range. If you live in the U.S., January and February are ideal months to find out if you’re vitamin D levels are low.

vitamin d levels
Sources

8. Eat Nutrient-Dense Protein (Quality not Quantity)

Protein is essential for your health as it’s a structural component of enzymes, cellular receptors, signaling molecules, and a main building block for your muscles and bones. But, eating excessive amounts of protein could actually be worse than eating too many carbs. Excessive protein can stimulate two biochemical pathways that accelerate aging and cancer growth.

For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. In this formula, you must first determine your lean body mass. To do that, subtract your percent body fat from 100. For example, if you have 30 percent body fat, then you have 70 percent lean body mass.

Then multiply that percentage (in this case 0.7) by your current weight to get your lean body mass in pounds or kilos. As an example, if you weigh 170 pounds; 0.7 multiplied by 170 equals 119 pounds of lean body mass. Using the “0.5 gram of protein” rule, you would need just under 60 grams of protein per day. Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and nuts.

The quality of the meat you eat is just as important as the quantity. As a general rule, the only meat I recommend eating is pastured, grass-fed, and grass-finished, ideally organically raised meats (and of course, the same goes for dairy and eggs). Wild-caught Alaskan salmon and sardines are also excellent protein sources.

You can also get plenty of protein from plant foods. Consider hemp seeds (hemp hearts), chia seeds, spirulina, sprouts, and bee pollen, for instance.

9. Meditate for 5 to 10 Minutes a Day

Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux, and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome may account for up to 70 percent of the average US physician’s caseload.10 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the US, after only heart disease and cancer. New research suggests, however, that such costs could be cut drastically simply by becoming more relaxed.11

Both meditation and mindfulness are excellent for stress relief and relaxation, as are prayer, keeping a gratitude journal, and the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).   One simple way to incorporate such relaxation techniques into your life is to meditate first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.

10. Help Others and Be Active in Your Community

Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.

In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who did not.12 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.13

The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.

Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.

Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.

Remember, most New Year’s resolutions do fail for one reason or another. So this year, try making a simple commitment to live healthier from here on out. Start slow and small as little changes can make a huge overall difference in your health. And, when you commit to a lifestyle, it’s no longer about meeting a particular goal, like losing 10 pounds. It’s about living a little bit differently, a little bit better, so that ultimately you’re happier and healthier for it.

By Dr. Mercola @  http://www.mercola.com

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health

Do you need more vitamins?

What drug should you avoid taking with vitamin C? Why could your feet be tingling? Long term use of Metamucil make you deficient in a what B vitamin? Easy bruising and bleeding could be a sign of what vitamin deficiency?  What vitamin is made by bacteria?

This is Part 2 of 2 on vitamin deficiency. It covers information on vitamins B5, B6, B12, C, D,E, & K.

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Vitamin B5: Pantothenic acid (B5) is used in metabolic cycles is key to the body’s production of energy, cholesterol, heme and acetylcholine. Cholesterol is used as the back bone of many hormones. Heme is used to carry oxygen in your blood. Acetylcholine is controls involuntary functions mediated by the activity of smooth muscle fibers, cardiac muscle fibers, and glands.

Some body signals that you are low in B5: burning, numbness or tingling in the feet, muscle weakness, swollen tongue (glossitis), cracks at the corner of your mouth (chilosis), recurrent upper respiratory tract infections (colds), fatigue, postural hypotension, hypochlohydria, GERD/heartburn, and depression.

Sources of B5:  whole grains, broccoli, kale, cabbage family of vegetables, mushrooms, legumes & lentils, avocado, eggs, milk, poultry and organ meats.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine/pyridoxyl/pyridoxamine) is involved in over 50 enzymatic reactions and potentially effects the function of cardiovascular, skin health, blood production, nerve function, healthy pregnancy, blood sugar regulation and cognitive function. Signs of deficiency include anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, confusion, abdominal pain, weakness, seizures, anemia, and poor immune function. There is even a rare form of B6 deficient epilepsy.

B6 requirements increase with diseases that affect absorption such as Celiac disease. The increased prevalence of hydrazine and hydrazide compounds as found in aerospace fuels, anti-toxicants in the petroleum industry, plating materials in metal manufacturing and ripening agents used on plants. B6-zapping hydrazine is also found in tobacco smoke, tartrazine (FD &C yellow food dyes). There are numerous drugs that deplete B6 and lead to common sides effects such as neuralgias, depression and anxiety.  Those with Parkinson’s disease should consult a medical expert before supplementing with B6 as it can interfere with L-dopa when taken without carbidopa.

Food sources of B6 include potatoes, bananas, meat, poultry, fish and whole grains.

Vitamin B12: Methyl or Hydroxyl cobalamin. Measured via B12 serum levels. Falsely elevated B12 levels may exist in those with renal failure or hepatitis. Those with vegan diets are at increased risk of deficiency as major food sources are animal based.

Pernicious anemia is the result of loss of intrinsic factor, a protein that is excreted by the stomach and helps B12 absorption in the small intestine. If the stomach has low acidity as in long term use of proton pump inhibitors (a lot of medications ending in “-prazole”, presence of H.pylori, aging or damaged parietal cells as in autoimmune disease, or the small intestine mucosa is damaged as in Celiac or Crohn’s disease, B12 absorption will be reduced. Additionally those on long term use of psyllium (Metamucil) will be at increased risk of B12 deficiency. Large amounts of orally dosed B12 may help compensate by allowing for absorption by diffusion. Intramuscular injection (IM) of B12 (available with Dr. Laura) by passing the need for intrinsic factor. IM or intravenous B12 is also more helpful than oral supplementation for those with a defect in the transportation system of B12 to the brain or a an accelerated breakdown of B12 in the brain tissue. Signs of B12 dependency are dementia, depression, headaches, insomnia or chronic fatigue.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is important in immune function, collagen formation (for skin and connective tissue), neurotransmitter formation, plays a role in fighting viruses and bacteria and is a key anti-oxidant. Scurvy is the severe form of vitamin C deficiency. Fatigue, depression and anxiety of health are acute signs preceding the diagnosis of scurvy. Signs are bleeding abnormalities due to poor connective tissue formation and possible vitamin C deficiency include bleeding nose, easy bruising, bleeding gums, bone pain, osteoporosis, arthralgias (pain stiffness and joint swelling), myalgias (muscle aches and pains), edema (swelling), and symptoms of suggestive of cardiovascular disease or mimicking peripheral vasculitis, or venus thrombosis.

Dose limiting symptoms of vitamin C are diarrhea and cramping.  Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron this is good for those with low levels of iron/anemia. Vitamin C also seems to help the absorption of aluminum, which isn’t so good as it builds up in the bone, brain and liver and may contribute to the development of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Avoid taking vitamin C at the same time as antacids, or aluminum hydroxide compounds. Chewable vitamin C may erode your dental enamel (it is an acid). Vitamin C supplementation can help or hinder the function of various medications; check with your medical practitioner for details.

Good sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, potatoes. Vitamin C is lost in high temperature and prolonged cooking.

 Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunshine or ultraviolet light. About 20 min of unprotected exposure mid day in the summer months in Ontario will produce about 1000IU of vitamin D. Small amounts may be found in food sources such as fish, egg yolk, beef liver, however, when sunlight is inadequate (no exposure or seasonal variance), supplementation is essential.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, builds bone mineral matrix, helps the nerves and muscles function, boosts the immune system, and modulates autoimmune diseases. When the supplemental D3 taken with K2, vitamin D helps get calcium out of the blood stream and into the bones. Vitamin D deficiency can be suspect in multiple sclerosis, cancer, pancreatic deficiency, Crohn’s, Colitis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic low back pain, or severe muscle weakness. You may purchase D3+K2 drops at Forward Health.

Vitamin E: There are 8 different kinds of vitamin E – each a different type of tocopherol. Vitamin E is known as an antioxidant and the most potent, bioavailable form is alpha-tocopherol. When supplementing it is best to have a mixed or blend of tocopherols. Vitamin E is also involved in anticoagulation (inhibits platelet aggregation), is anti-inflammatory and stabilizes the cell membrane. Those with fat malabsorption issues at risk for deficiency. Vitamin E is also depleted in those with a high consumption of fatty foods, as thermally oxidized vegetable oil depletes vitamin E status. Good food sources of vitamin E include almond oil, wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, whole grains, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin K: There are actually four different kinds of Vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is what is often tracked so closely for those on warfarin because warfarin is an anticoagulant and affects the INR – the measurement we use to factor coagulation, or thickening of blood. Vitamin K1 is found in lots of leafy greens. K1 is also given to newborns to help prevent hemorrhage; a newborns’ intestinal tract is not yet making its own Vitamin K. K2 is made by some bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, and by bacteria in some foods, like brie cheese. K2 helps Vitamin D3 get Calcium into the bones, so is useful in those suffering with osteoporosis or steroid induced bone loss and also can help lower total cholesterol in people on kidney dialysis. K3 and K4 still have much research pending. Those with Celiac disease not on a gluten free diet, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants or antibiotics may be at risk of vitamin K depletion, most likely due to the disruption in the bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract.

Good food sources of Vitamin K include dark leafy greens and to maximize absorption are best eaten with a source of fat (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados). Olive oil actually is a source of vitamin K1 so it’s on double duty! Cheese, especially brie, egg yolks and fermented soy beans (natto) are also sources of Vitamin K.

Again, emphasize a diet with a full variety of  fresh wholesome foods, rather than supplementation. There are cases however where supplementation for the short term, and sometimes even the long term, is necessary for optimum health status. A naturopathic doctor has the training and resources to help you decide what is best for your individual requirements.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Source:

Gaby, A. (2011) Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perlberg Publishing. Concord, NH.