Saturday, February 22, 2014

Faulty Research on Vitamin D

Faulty Research on Vitamin D from Yahoo News, a article titled "No health shield from vitamin D pills: study" came out stating that Vitamin D supplements have no significant effect on preventing heart attack, stroke, cancer or bone fractures, according to a review of scientific evidence published.

Researchers led by Mark Bolland of the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at 40 high-quality trials to see if supplements met a benchmark of reducing risk of these problems by 15 percent or more.

Previous research had seen a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and poor health in these areas.

But the new study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, strengthens arguments that vitamin D deficiency is usually the result of ill health -- not the cause of it.

MyAchingKnees comment:  Think of this last sentence,....this is what they are saying:  "If you are ill, you will have a Vitamin D deficiency.  But if you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you will not get sick."

Its authors say there is "little justification" for doctors to prescribe vitamin D supplements as a preventive measure for these disorders.

"Available evidence does not lend support to vitamin D supplementation and it is very unlikely that the results of a future single randomised clinical trial will materially alter the results from current meta-analyses," they write.

Vitamin D is a key component for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. It is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight or derived from foods such as oily fish, egg yolks and cheese.

In March last year, British scientists, in a comparison of 4,000 women, found that vitamin D supplements taken in pregnancy made no difference to the child's bone health.

And in September 2012, researchers at New York's Rockefeller University saw no evidence that vitamin D supplements lowered cholesterol, a factor in heart disease, at least over the short term. In contrast, a November 2012 investigation into pregnant women who lived in high-latitude, northern hemisphere countries with long, dark winters found a link between low levels of natural vitamin D and an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) in their offspring.

For these women, taking vitamin D supplements to offset the effects of long periods without sunlight could be advisable, according to that research.  

MyAchingKnees Comment: The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH), recently completed a study that suggest Vitamin D just might be key to help a person recover faster from workouts. The study revealed that increased levels of vitamin D taken before a workout helped decrease muscular weakness. Additional research has revealed that vitamin D supports healthy bones, heart and immune function, muscle strength, and even healthy glucose levels in the normal range. Herein lies the rub - Vitamin D can be obtained from the sun during your outdoor activities, but exposure to the sun doesn’t mean you’re getting the right amount of Vitamin D. Deficiencies in Vitamin D are common during the summer months as people neglect vitamin D supplementation but still don’t get enough vitamin D-producing sunlight.

As far as Physicians or researchers giving Vitamin D to test subjects, no mention is made of the source, purity or efficacy of whatever form or manufacturer the Vitamin D came from. Most of the manufacturers of not only Vitamin D but all supplements do not produce these supplements in the nutrient doses necessary for optimal health nor produce in a process to assure the quality.

I think I'll just continue to take the 3,000 IU of Vitamin D each day. But I don't rely on Vitamin D alone.  I take a well rounded amount of all nutrients as you can't just pick the latest supplement of the month, take that exclusively and expect optimal health.  

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Why We Need to Sleep,.......and Sleep Good

From an article, by Jennifer Welsh on Business Insider titled - Scientists Have Finally Found The First Real Reason We Need To Sleep. We know we need to sleep. We know our brains and bodies work better after sleep. But what we didn't know, until now, was why.

Scientists have just reported the first major mechanical reason our brains need to sleep — certain cleaning mechanisms in the brain work better when we shut the brain down. Just like how dump trucks take to the city streets during the pre-dawn hours because there's less traffic, our brain's cleaners also work best when there's less going on.

"This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake," study researcher Maiken Nedergaard, of the University of Rochester said in a statement. "In fact, the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness."

We've known that our brains consolidate memories during sleep and perform other important functions. There are also benefits to the body during sleep — resting allows our muscles, bones, and organs to repair themselves. It also keeps our immune system healthy.

We know that sleep has all of these benefits, but until now we didn't know any of the specific changes that bring about these sleep benefits.

Charles Czeisler, a sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Science Magazine's Emily Underwood that this is the "First direct experimental evidence at the molecular level" for why we need to sleep. The paper was published in the journal Science on Oct. 17.

Toxic cells

All of our cells accumulate waste while they are working, and these waste products can be toxic. If they aren't removed they can build up and kill our cells. Throughout the rest of the body the lymphatic system washes these waste products away, but the brain is cut off from these actions because of the blood-brain barrier.

The team just discovered the brain's unique trash disposal system last year — the find was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Aug. 15, 2012. It works like a plumbing system.

The brain itself is bathed in a special clear liquid called cerebrospinal fluid, which doesn't mix with the blood and lymph system of the rest of the body. In the study from last year, they found that this fluid travels through special channels and washes the brain out.

There are two types of cells in the brain — the neurons that send signals and the glial that keep them healthy. They found that these glial cells seem to create these cleaning channels around the neurons.

It washes away toxic proteins and removes them from the brain's circulatory system. They are transferred to the general circulatory system, where the liver can remove them.

Sleeping mice

When mice sleep, Fluid-filled channels between neurons expand and flush out waste. By studying this newfound pathway in mice trained to sleep on a microscope, the researchers found that this system was 10 times more active during sleep than it was while the mice were awake.

They injected the mice with colored toxic proteins to see the system at work — when the mice were sleeping, these toxic proteins were removed from the brain twice as quickly as when they were awake.

In the new study, they found that while the brain is sleeping, the neurons shrink by about 60% and the channels between these cells grow and fill with fluid. The glial cells then activate their pumping system to push the brain's cerebrospinal fluid through these extra spaces and flush out the area around the neurons.

When we wake, these channels squeeze shut again as the cells plump up, and the cerebrospinal fluid is once again found mostly around the surface of the brain, not deep inside it. While awake, this washing process acts at only about 5% of its performance during sleep.

All of this fluid movement is energy intensive, which is why the researchers think it can only happen effectively during sleep. Normally, all of our brain's energy is busy doing normal brain activities that support every thing we do — all of our movements, our thoughts, creating memories, and analyzing the signals that come in through our senses. By shutting these processes down, our brains are able to switch into cleaning mode.

Understanding sleep

The toxins that this pathway removes are the kind responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Understanding this pathway not only helps us understand our need for sleep, and possibly control it better with drugs that turn it on and off, but could also lead to new ways to treat and prevent these diseases.

Alzheimer's brain cells and plaques

The buildup of toxic waste proteins causes brain cells to die in Alzheimer's disease. In a Perspectives article in Science Magazine about the study, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a brain researcher at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, even suggested that this build up of toxins is what turns on our need to sleep and makes us sleepy.

The mice in the study were woken up after 60 minutes of sleep, so we don't yet know how the amount or kind of sleep humans get affects the washing process.

While it sounds counter-intuitive, this could even explain why some small-brained animals need more sleep than large-brained animals. For example, bats sleep up to 20 hours a day, while elephants sleep four. Why? Because bigger brains have more space to store these toxins before they build up to dangerous levels and need to be flushed.

Understanding how "brain structure and function changes in the two different states (sleep-wake) suggests that we can start to think about how we can manipulate the two states," Nedergaard told Business Insider in an email. Manipulations could include ways to put this cleaning system into "hyperdrive" so we could sleep less, but that's way in the future. comment:  My wife and I occassionally take a high quality Melatonin.  She takes 1 mg and can get a good 9 hour sleep.  I usually only sleep five hours a night, so on the occassion I do take a Melatonin, I only take half a tablet which is .5 mg.  If I don't sleep the usually five hours and get up earlier, I'll feel a little groggy. 

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Top Six Vitamins You Should Not Take - Really?

From the article "The Top Six Vitamins You Should Not Take". The evidence against supplements continues to pile up, says Steven Salzberg on Forbes. Great! another article misleading the population about supplementation. Oh well, let the consumer beware.

Recently I created a list of The Top 5 Vitamins You Shouldn’t Take. Now I’m expanding that list to include vitamin D, which is taken by almost half of older adults. Now, two new studies in latest issue of The Lancet show that most of these people are wasting their money.

The first study is a large review by Philippe Autier and colleagues, who found that taking supplemental vitamin D has no effect on a wide range of diseases and conditions. After looking at over 450 studies, the authors conclude:

“The absence of an effect of vitamin D supplementation on disease occurrence, severity, and clinical course leads to the hypothesis that variations [in vitamin D levels] would essentially be a result, and not a cause, of ill health.”

So it appears that we’ve been getting cause and effect backwards, at least as far as vitamin D is concerned. Autier looked at non-skeletal disorders, including heart disease, weight gain, mood disorders, multiple sclerosis, and metabolic disorders, all of which have been linked to lower vitamin D. In trial after trial, supplemental vitamin D had no beneficial effect on any of these conditions. Autier et al concluded that:

“associations between 25(OH)D and health disorders … are not causal. Low 25(OH)D [vitamin D] could be the result of inflammatory processes involved in disease.”

Instead, the researchers found, in study after study, that low vitamin D was the result of poor health, not the cause.

The Autier study didn’t look at the biggest supposed benefit of vitamin D: protection against osteoporosis. We’ve long known that vitamin D is associated with bone health. Fortunately, in the same issue of The Lancet, Ian Reid and colleagues looked closely at this question. They reviewed 23 studies with 4082 participants, all designed to determine at whether supplemental vitamin D improves bone density. Their findings? It doesn’t help. They concluded:

“Continuing widespread use of vitamin D for osteoporosis prevention in community-dwelling adults without specific risk factors for vitamin D deficiency seems to be inappropriate.”

Vitamin D supplements, to put it plainly, are a waste of money.

(For those concerned about osteoporosis, the widely used drug alendronate (Fosamax®), has been shown to increase bone density by about 5%, as explained in a 2011 article by Dr. Sundeep Khosia. But Fosamax has side effects.)

It’s pretty easy to get enough vitamin D in a normal diet. Or, as Dr. Mark Gillinov explained in the Huffington Post last week, just 10 minutes of sunlight gives you about 4 times your daily recommended vitamin D requirement.

So here’s my expanded list of the Top Six Vitamins You Shouldn’t Take, with the newest entrant at the end:

1.Vitamin C
2.Vitamin A and beta carotene
3.Vitamin E
4.Vitamin B6
6.Vitamin D
You can read more about the first five, some of which can be downright bad for you, in the original list.
What’s left? Well, if you don’t have a deficiency, there’s no reason to take any supplemental vitamins at all. As my Hopkins colleagues Eliseo Guallar, Lawrence Appel, and Edgar Miller wrote last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine : “Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.” As they wrote, after looking at three more large studies just published last month, ““most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.”

Save your money. Or better yet, if you must spend it, buy a bit more fresh fruit. You’ll be healthier for it.

MyAchingKnees Comment: Again, let the buyer beware. I would ask the researchers these simple questions: "Should we stay away from all Multiple Vitamins? Or just the ones that are manufactured under food grade standards and without the nutrient levels that are necessary? How about pharmacuetical grade supplements? Are those okay to add to your healthy lifestyle? 

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