Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Vitamins You Might Be Overdoing

5 Vitamins You Might Be Overdoing,...........or may not be

Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, of the Cleveland Clinic who authored this post, is a registered dietitian who has been helping people reach their nutritional goals for more than 12 years. This article was posted on Yahoo! Health and can be found here.

Americans aren’t eating as many fruits and vegetables as we should be. In fact, Americans nationwide are significantly below the fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the USDA.

Enter supplements. As people seek alternative sources of crucial vitamins and minerals, supplement intake has skyrocketed. Supplements can be helpful, but getting nutrients in a pill rather than food is not always the best way to improve your health. In some cases, it can even hurt.

Here are five vitamins and minerals you may be overdoing if you pop them as pills.

Iron and Copper

Iron plays a key role in younger women’s diets for menstrual cycles and pregnancy, but the recommendations for iron after menopause decrease significantly. Despite the lower guidelines (8 mg per day after age 50) many postmenopausal women still take supplements that contain iron. The risks of getting too much iron include a condition called hemochromatosis, which can damage your organs. Further, a 2010 study linked excess iron and copper to increased incidence of alzheimers disease and heart disease.

MyAchingKnees Comment: Taking Iron in a supplement form or worse yet in a multi-vitamin can inhibit the body's ability to abosrb other nutrients. You need to get your Iron from fresh food sources.

“Getting nutrients in a supplement rather than food is not always the best way to improve your health. Here are five vitamins and minerals you may be overdoing if you pop them as pills.”

Best bet: If you’re over 50, ditch the multivitamins with iron and copper unless a doctor instructs you to take them.

MyAchingKnees Comment: Better advice would be to suggest taking high quality, pharmaceutical grade supplements, which won't have iron in them.


Beta-carotene and vitamin A — which is formed by beta-carotene — is easy to consume. If you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, anything orange (carrots, sweet potatoes) for lunch and then a multivitamin or supplement for eye health, you’ve probably consumed too much. Too much beta-carotene has been associated with increased risk for lung cancer and overall increased risk of death.

Best bet: Skip the supplement and stick to food sources such as sweet potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, red bell peppers, carrots and spinach.

Vitamin C

When most people think of vitamin C, they think of oranges. But if your first thought is a vitamin C pill, you may be overdoing it. A recent study found that men who took vitamin C pills had higher risk for developing kidney stones.

Best bet: Enjoy the culinary delights of vitamin-C rich foods such as papaya, strawberries, brussels sprouts and kale. But don’t take extra unless a doctor advises you to.


While calcium is important for strong bones, data suggests getting too much of it can strain your heart. Studies have suggested that women who take high amounts of calcium increase their risk of cardiac death and moderately increase their risk for heart attack.

Best bet: To avoid overdoing it, get your calcium through food sources such as dairy, tofu, sardines, broccoli and almonds. If you think you need supplemental calcium, talk to a doctor before buying a bottle.

The recommended daily allowance for any vitamin or mineral will depend on your age, medical conditions and other factors, and a doctor or registered dietitian can help you fine-tune your intake.

You may also notice a common theme here: Most vitamins and minerals are best obtained and absorbed through real food. To ensure you’re getting enough — but not too much — of any vitamin or mineral, avoid supplements that contain “mega doses” unless your doctor recommends them for medical reasons.

MyAchingKnees Comment: The common theme I notice is an anti-supplement bent from the author.  A person just cannot get the required amount of nutrients from fresh food or whole sources. And what most nutritionists think of as "mega doses" are anything over the RDA - which again was established over 70 years ago in an era where we did not see these epidemic numbers of degenerative disease like we see today.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trouble Sleeping?

MyAchingKnees comment:  A reader sent me this article from the web on sleeping problems.  It's pretty much right on the mark as sleep deprivation, unfortunately self caused most of the time, and leads to a host of health issues. 

Poor sleep results in tiredness, poor concentration, reduced quality of life, compromised immune function, and an increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Sleep deprivation has also been linked with increases in markers of oxidative stress and decreases in levels of antioxidant enzymes (e.g., SOD, glutathione reductase, etc.) in the brain, liver, and heart. Another analysis of sleeping pill studies from 2007 (financed by the National Institutes of Health) found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata reduced the average time to go to sleep by just under 13 minutes compared with fake pills — hardly a major improvement. Yet, the participants believed they had slept longer, by up to one hour, when taking the pills.

This may actually be a sign of a condition called anterograde amnesia, which causes trouble with forming memories. When people wake up after taking sleeping pills, they may, in fact, simply forget that they had been unable to sleep!

You would be far better off putting your money toward authentic solutions to help you sleep than on sleeping pills, as it’s now clear that they do next to nothing to help you sleep – in fact, they may actually make it more difficult for you to get a good night’s rest naturally – and may significantly increase your risk of dementia.

Sleeping Pills are NOT a Safe Solution for Sleepless Nights

Please understand that resorting to sleep medications is risky business, and that these pills do not address the underlying reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping in the first place.

In addition to the long-term problems already discussed, there are other serious, not to mention bizarre, risks involved.

For starters, these pills are notorious for being addictive, which means that once you want to stop taking them, you’ll likely suffer withdrawal symptoms that could be worse than your initial insomnia. Some, such as Ambien, may also become less effective when taken for longer than two weeks, which means you may find yourself needing ever higher dosages.

Ambien may also make you want to eat while you’re asleep — and I don’t mean sneaking down to grab a piece of fruit. The sleep eating can include bizarre foods such as buttered cigarettes, salt sandwiches, and raw bacon.

Sleeping pills, and again Ambien in particular, are also known to increase your risk of getting into a traffic accident. Ambien actually ranks among the top 10 drugs found in the bloodstreams of impaired drivers, according to some state toxicology labs.

MyAchingKnees comment:  Lunesta listed possible side effects as "abnormal behaviors include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations and confusion. In depressed patients, worsening of depression including risk of suicide may occur",.....nice!

Among the elderly, using sleeping pills may increase the risk of nighttime falls and injuries, and anyone who takes them may find they wake up feeling drowsy if the effects of the drug have not worn off yet.

You’re far better of finding safe and natural solutions that will actually address the underlying causes of your sleepless nights instead of just cover up the resulting symptoms.

If you are having trouble sleeping, please do not ignore the problem or simply wait for it to go away. Quality sleep just as important as your need for food, water, and pure air — and there are very simple methods to help you get yours.

A Stanford University Medical School study found that after 16 weeks in a moderate-intensity exercise program, subjects were able to fall asleep about 15 minutes earlier and sleep about 45 minutes longer at night. However, don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake.

Stress is another major reason why people have trouble sleeping, which is why I suggest you start to wind down from your day at least an hour before your bedtime (but preferably two or more).

Calming activities such as journaling, meditating, sipping herbal tea, washing your face, using the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or reading a book may soothe your mind and help you unwind. Be sure your phone, email, and television are all off during this time.

Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable and conducive to sleep.

This includes keeping the temperature cool, adding in some white noise if you need it and making sure your room is pitch-black. If there is even the tiniest bit of light in the room it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. For this reason, I highly recommend adding room-darkening drapes to your bedroom, or if this is not possible wearing an eye mask to block out any stray light.

MyAchingKnees comment: I am grateful that I have no trouble sleeping. However sometimes my wife has trouble falling sleep and when she does she is often awoken in the middle of the night, wide awake, and unable to get back to sleep until real fatigue sets in.  We have tried a pharmaceutical grade Melatonin product that contains 2 mg of Melatonin which of course is a naturally occurring hormone synthesized in the brain that regulates normal sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin levels naturally start to rise in the evening and remain elevated for most of the night, signaling to our body that it is time to sleep. As melatonin levels rise, we become less alert and feel drowsy. I have tried it since I wanted a personal experience with this product in case someone asked me about it or needed it. I tried 1/2 tablet (1 mg Melatonin) and woke alert and refreshed, but could not positively attribute it to the Melatonin. I tried a 2 mg dose and awoke 5.5 hours later, and only because of my kamikaze alarm clock. I was pretty groggy but I was not tired. My wife routinely uses 2 mgs of Melatonin and sleeps 8 hours commenting that she really had a good night's sleep.  So if you going to use pills, consider Melatonin, but you may have to experiment with the right dose. 

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Toxins in Supplements - Exactly What I've been saying

Exactly What I've been saying,.........an article by Alison Young, from USA Today, titled "Popular sports supplements contain meth-like compound", highlights the problems with off the shelf, food grade supplements. This is a long article, but one worth reading as it illuminates the fact that you don't know what you are getting with food grade supplements,....could be toxins, impurities or, like in this case, just plain bad ju ju.

Alison's article begins:  A sports supplement featured in a USA TODAY investigation is now found to contain a methamphetamine-like chemical that could put people's health at risk.

A popular and controversial sports supplement widely sold in the USA and other countries is secretly spiked with a chemical similar to methamphetamine that appears to have its origins as an illicit designer recreational drug, according to new tests by scientists in the USA and South Korea.

The test results on samples of Craze, a pre-workout powder made by New York-based Driven Sports and marketed as containing only natural ingredients, raise significant health and regulatory concerns, the researchers said.

The U.S. researchers also said they found the same methamphetamine-like chemical in another supplement, Detonate, which is sold as an all-natural weight loss pill by another company: Gaspari Nutrition.

"These are basically brand-new drugs that are being designed in clandestine laboratories where there's absolutely no guarantee of quality control," said Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the analysis of Craze samples being published today in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

"It has never been studied in the human body," Cohen warned. "Yes, it might make you feel better or have you more pumped up in your workout, but the risks you might be putting your body under of heart attack and stroke are completely unknown."

Craze, which is marketed as giving "unrelenting energy and focus" in workouts, was named 2012's "New Supplement of the Year" by Bodybuilding.com. A USA TODAY investigation published in July reported on other tests detecting amphetamine-like compounds in Craze.

While Walmart.com and several online retailers have stopped selling Craze in the wake of USA TODAY's investigation, the product has continued to be sold elsewhere online and in GNC stores. In recent weeks, Driven Sports' website, which offers Craze for sale, has said the product is out of stock. Detonate is sold by a variety of online retailers.

An attorney for Driven Sports, Marc Ullman, said the company had no comment on the latest findings that the compounds are actually more closely related to methamphetamine.

"We have previously provided USA Today with a plethora of data from a DEA Certified Lab indicating the absence of any amphetamine-like compound in Craze," Ullman said in an e-mail. "In light of USA Today's decision to ignore the data we have provided, we respectfully decline to comment for your story."

Officials at Gaspari Nutrition in Lakewood, N.J., did not respond to interview requests.

Because of the government shutdown, officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees dietary supplements, could not be reached for comment. Calls to the Drug Enforcement Administration also weren't returned.

Cohen said researchers informed the FDA in May about finding the new chemical compound in Craze. The team found the compound — N, alpha-diethylphenylethylamine — has a structure similar to methamphetamine, a powerful, highly addictive, illegal stimulant drug. They believe the new compound is likely less potent than methamphetamine but greater than ephedrine.

"There are suggestions about how it's tweaked that it should not be as addictive as meth," Cohen said. But because it hasn't been studied, he said, its dangers aren't known. The team said it began testing Craze in response to several failed urine drug tests by athletes who said they had taken Craze.

Driven Sports has issued repeated statements in recent months that Craze does not contain any amphetamine-like compounds, including posting test results on its website that it says prove the product is clean. In July, a USA TODAY investigation revealed that a top Driven Sports official — Matt Cahill — is a convicted felon who has a history of selling risky dietary supplements, including products with ingredients linked to severe liver injury and at least one death. Cahill is currently facing federal charges in California involving his introduction of another supplement, Rebound XT, to the market in 2008 that contained an estrogen-reducing drug, and this spring a grand jury was also investigating, USA TODAY has reported.

The newspaper's investigation, which focused on several products sold over the years by Cahill's changing series of companies, reported that tests by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in June 2012 and a government-affiliated forensic lab in Sweden in April 2013 had detected undisclosed amphetamine-like compounds in samples of Craze.

A month after USA TODAY published its report about Cahill and Craze, a team of South Korean scientists published an article in a journal of the Japanese Association of Forensic Toxicology saying they had found a methamphetamine-like compound in samples of Candy Grape flavor and Berry Lemonade flavor Craze.

The researchers, from the National Forensic Service in South Korea and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, noted that the compound found in Craze was the same as that found in a crystalline powder seized by narcotics agents in December 2011 as a suspected illicit designer drug. In that case the powder was found in an unclaimed lost package shipped from Vietnam to South Korea, according to an earlier journal article published by the team in late 2012. "It appeared that the recipient of this article sought to abuse this chemical in the same way as amphetamines. There is a possibility that this chemical will be widely abused for recreational use in the near future," they wrote at the time.

Instead, the same team soon found the compound in Craze.

The researchers noted that the compound had been patented in 1988 by Knoll Pharmaceuticals with claims of psychoactive effects, such as enhancing mental activities and pain tolerance. While it was never developed into a medicine, the patent described tests on animals and suggested an intended oral dose of 10 mg to 150 mg, with a target of 30 mg.

A suggested serving size of Craze yielded a dose of the compound of about 23 mg, the Japanese journal article said, and "it could be assumed that NADEP was added to the supplements intentionally for its pharmacological effects without adequate labeling."

The U.S. research team also found the meth-like substance at levels of 21 mg to 35 mg per serving in each of the samples tested from three separate lots of Craze.

Craze's label does not disclose the compound found by the researchers. Instead it says the product contains dendrobium orchid extract that was concentrated for different phenylethylamine compounds. Phenylethylamines include a variety of chemicals "that range from benign compounds found in chocolate to synthetically produced illicit drugs," according to the U.S. researchers.

The U.S. researchers noted that an "extensive" search of scientific literature does not find any evidence that the compound listed on Craze's label has ever been documented as a component of dendrobium orchid extract. The U.S. research team included Cohen; John Travis, a scientist at NSF International, a Michigan-based testing and standards organization that has a dietary supplement certification program; and Bastiaan Venhuis of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands.

Although not part of the journal article being published today, NSF International announced that in separate testing they also have detected the same methamphetamine-like compound in the weight-loss supplement Detonate sold by Gaspari Nutrition. "Regulators may want to consider taking action to warn consumers," NSF International said in a statement. Gaspari markets Detonate as containing "dendrobium extract."

Last year Driven Sports posted a series of blog items on its website alerting customers that counterfeit versions of Craze were being sold. "Could there be counterfeit products, of course," Cohen said. "Chances are this is more likely an effort by the manufacturer to distract regulators and consumers from what's really going on here."

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Anti-Oxidants - You Need Them!

Infographics are rapidly becoming a popular way to impart information as many of us absorb information better through a mix of pictures, graphics and text.

One of the better ones I've seen regardless of topics is an infographic explaining Free Radicals and why Anti-Oxidants are important to fight off the damaging effects of free radicals, that being oxidative stress, which causes damage that is responsible not only for a vast array of degenerative disease but the earlier and earlier onset of these quality of life shortening diseases.

One of the factoids in this infographic is the Japanese Scientist Yuike Niwa states that 85% of chronic and degenerative disease is caused by free radical damage.  This is consistent with some of the studies I've seen that say only 20-25% of degenerative disease is genetic, that the largest percent of these diseases are from our environment - our nutrition (or poor nutrition) and constant exposure to toxins.

Some of the benefits from getting sufficient anti-oxidants are:

A 40% reduction in cancer.

A 46% lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

A 29% decrease in heart disease risk.

This infographic goes on to remind us that anti-oxidants are everywhere,..Vitamin C and E being two of the most commonlyu known anti-oxidants, but we can find others in drinks, foods, vitamins with some of the common sources being:

Kidney Beans
Granny Smith Apples
Red Wine
Olive Oil

The problem with getting a sufficient daily dose of anti-oxidants is that our food supply is compromised. With GMO foods replacing naturally grown foods; with the reduction of nutrients in the fresh foods we buy today due to soil nutrient depletion; with processing issues which practically force manufactuerers and suppliers to use preservatives; and the over whelming selection of processed foods that have practically all their nutrients sucked out of them, we have to devote time and care to ensure we are eating good foods. You can't rely on foods alone. You have to ensure your body gets the requisite nutrients for your immune system to fight off free radicals. You really have to take a quality nutritional supplements with advanced doses of vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Osteoporosis and Prevention

MyAchingKnees received a request to post an article on Osteoporosis prevention and what foods to eat and what foods to avoid. Well, I'll give it a try.

Osteoporosis, means porous bones, and is a condition where a person loses too much bone mass making the bones weak and prone to breaking from minor falls, or in the case of my Mother, fracturing a bone from attempting to move a piece of furniture. And we have all heard stories from friends about their elderly relatives who fell down and broke hip or leg.

I have read articles that state that Medical Professionals are now seeing Osteoporosis in children, pre-dominantly girls, as young as 11 or 12 years old. Be that as it may, Osteoporosis is not something you have to accept as inevitable as you age. But what can you do about it?

Most Osteoporosis Prevention sites will tell you to: 1 - Ensure you get enough calcium and vitamin D; 2 - Eat a well balanced diet and include fruits and vegetables; 3 - Get regular exercise including weight lifting; and, 4 - Quit smoking and minimize drinking alcohol.

Green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and turnips can provide Calcium. Potatoes, artichokes and spinach for instance can provide Magnesium.

Consuming dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk (cow and soy) can provide Calcium and possibly Vitamin D. Fish, fresh and canned, such as salmon and sardines, etc., also provide Vitamin D and Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Excessive salt can prevent you from absorbing calcium even if you get enough.

All good advice, but I believe even the best of us cannot get enough nutrients in the needed amounts from foods. And don't use the Required Daily Allowance (RDA). The RDA, of course, is the government's recommended level of a nutrients considered sufficient to meet the requirements of approx 96% of the population, without considering age and gender or any other factors. Besides, the RDA was developed in 1941. Let me say that again,...the RDA was developed in 1941!

Even if the RDA, in 1941, was sufficient, what's changed since then? Well, basically our society has changed, demanding fast solutions to everything including foods. Processed foods dominate our lives. Include the development of GMO foods and other strains of crops which may be more hardy against the ravages of the weather, but provide much less nutrients. Add the massive amount of toxins prevalent in our lives and you have recipe where no one is getting, nor probably can get, the required daily nutrients through foods.

While eating right - maximizing the good foods and minimizing the bad foods are one cornerstone of my healthy lifestyle plan, taking quality nutritional supplements in amounts necessary to provide protection against today's early onset of degenerative disease is another cornerstone and really the only consistent part of my healthy lifestyle plan.

Avoiding toxins, is yet another cornerstone, or what I call a "leg on the chair of health".   Cigarette's and alcohol are a mortal enemy of not only your general health, but your bone health as they help enable Osteoporosis. Hello? Quit smoking and drinking to excess. Two to three drinks a day is not "in moderation".

And if you're going to drink, don't drink Bud Light or Sailor's Scotch. At least a quality red wine can provide some anti-oxidants, which most people are sorely in need of.

Exercise, especially weight lifting can help prevent Osteoporosis. A person also needs protein in the diet, but an excessive amount of Omega 6 in our diet with a corresponding lack of Omega 3's can increase free radical damage which often manifests itself in joint pain in my opinion.  Osteoporosis is not something you have to accept as inevitable as you age.......do something about it!

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