Thursday, June 26, 2014

Joint Supplements for Dogs?

Tim wrote into MyAchingKnees with this comment and question: "Well thanks for such a nice blog. It's precise and to the point. I'm looking for some glucosamine supplements for my dog and I came across a couple of sites which said that human glucosamine could not be give to dogs because it might be harmful to them. I've checked out a new glucosamine supplement at Amazon but I'm not sure if I can give it to my dog without consulting the vet....can you please help me?? "

MyAchingKnees response: Tim, you are an animal lover same as me. Most people won't even give their dog's the recommended vaccines let alone provide them supplements as needed or indicated.

I have given three of my dogs Glucosamine. Even though my Vet recommended Rimadyl to control joint related pain - this is just masking the symptoms and does nothing to build joint or connective tissue health. Same as when us humans take Motrin or something stronger.

The problem I see with the product (on the Amazon link you sent) which is K9 Joint Relief is that 1 - it contains Chondroitin which does nothing for joint health; and, 2 - it contains MSM which is a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory - and I like to minimize pain relievers on my dogs since it can masks the pain and they can injure that joint worse.

The good ingredients on the product are Glucosamine and Grape Seed Extract. Glucosamine is believed by researchers to directly help cartilage health (both heal and build) while Grape Seed extract is a powerful anti-oxidant.

However, unless manufactured under a Pharmaceutical Grade Good Manufacturing Process, the potency and purity of the product are suspect. This product, K-9 Joint Relief, advertises that they are made under GMP which is a food grade process and not guaranteed. They also list that they are FDA inspected, kidding everyone is, but are you a FDA registered lab? It looks to not to be the case. They also state they are recommended by Veterinarians. The product I use for myself and my dogs are recommended by over 100 Vets, most prominently Drs. Rick Lusk and Scott Echols in Texas.

For my joints I take three tablets a day of totaling the following nutrients and doses: Glucosamine (1500 mg), Vitamin C (225 mg) , Manganese (5 mg), Magnesium (43 mg), Potassium (94 mg), and Meriva (Bioavailable Curcumin) (247 mg). On a couple of my dogs, I give one tablet per 40 lbs of body weight. One dog gets two tablets a day the other dog, just one tablet.

Even if the K-9 Joint Relief and what I take were the same quality, I pay $27.95 for a 28 day bottle and the K-9 Joint Relief is $37.95 for what would be a 32 day supply for me.

If you are interested in seeing more about the product I take, contact me back with your e-mail and I'll send you a video and a pdf file explaining how nutrients can help joint health. Oh, the picture at top is one of my dogs who is on the supplements. He's about 70 lbs and lays on the couch during the day time, and in bed with my wife and me at between naps, which is 80% of the dog's life as you know, he chases rabbits.   

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blood Pressure History May Affect Brain Function in Old Age

Blood pressure is an often overlooked diagnostic tool for a person's overall health.  This article, from Kathleen Doheny a reporter for Health Day, helps keep blood pressure in focus, albeit from a different perspective.  

For years, doctors have preached that the lower the blood pressure, the better for preventing heart disease and stroke. But a new study suggests that having low blood pressure in later years may be linked with worse memory, at least in those diagnosed with high blood pressure in middle age.

On the other hand, researchers linked high blood pressure in later life with greater risk of brain lesions for people who didn't have high blood pressure in their middle years. Brain lesions indicate damage and boost stroke risk. "Our findings bring new insight into the relationship between a history of high blood pressure, blood pressure in old age, the effects of blood pressure on brain structure, and memory and thinking," said study researcher Lenore Launer, chief of neuroepidemiology at the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

History of high blood pressure appears to be the critical element in the link between blood pressure in old age and brain function, according to the study, published online June 4 in Neurology. It is also important to note that the research reveals links, not cause-and-effect relationships, between blood pressure levels, brain changes, and memory and thinking.

The research suggests two take-home points, said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

First, those who develop high blood pressure later in life can benefit from treatment, said Kennedy, who was not involved in the study. Second, those with high blood pressure in midlife who take medication to lower it should keep monitoring blood pressure in later life, he said. If the pressure becomes low, this study suggests it might put you at risk of dementia, he said.

The study didn't look at the mechanism, but Kennedy suspects the thinking and memory problems linked with lower blood pressure in old age may be linked with a decline in oxygen to the brain. However, Kennedy cautioned against simply stopping your blood pressure medicine. "Check with your doctor," he said.

For the study, researchers measured the blood pressure of more than 4,000 adults in middle age, aged 50 on average. All were dementia-free at that time. The men and women had blood pressure measured again, at 76 years on average. At that time, MRIs assessed any damage to small blood vessels in the brain. The researchers also tested memory and thinking skills.

It's known that the relationship between blood pressure levels at middle age and later brain problems, including dementia, is complicated, Launer said. Blood pressure levels tend to decline with age, and also decline when people experience dementia. Launer's team decided to look at midlife blood pressure and track the effects of both high and low blood pressure on the brain. The researchers found that those who had high blood pressure in middle age but low diastolic pressure -- the bottom of the two readings -- in later life had brain shrinkage. They scored 10 percent lower on memory tests.

Meanwhile, those without high blood pressure in midlife who had high diastolic pressure in later life were 50 percent more likely to have severe brain lesions than those with low diastolic pressures. Diastolic pressure measures pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Systolic pressure, the top number, measures pressure when the heart beats. Blood pressure readings at or below 120 over 80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) are viewed as normal.

Experts suggest treatment with medication when blood pressure reaches 140/90 mm Hg. An expert panel last year recommended looser guidelines for most people age 60-plus, suggesting medication not be prescribed until readings reach 150/90 mm Hg. Until more research is in, Launer offers this advice to keep the heart and brain healthy: "Monitor blood pressure, exercise, control your weight and eat healthy."

MyAchingKnees comment:  I had high blood pressure in my 30's and 40's.  My average blood pressure was 138/96.  These numbers alarmed my medical providers, especially the diastolic rate which again is the resting (between heart beats) pressure on the arteries.   This was during the peak of my physical life, lifting weights, running and swimming.   About 9 years ago when I started on a healthy life style journey my blood pressure is routinely 118/76 - all without blood pressure medications.  It seems to be true that one of the side effects of eating better and getting your nutrients is a more normal blood pressure - at least in my case.      

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

I was happy to see this well written article on Vitamin D Deficiency and the symptoms explained from Natural News. I take about 5,000 IU daily in supplement form as I think Vitamin D is very important for the immune system and bone strength which helps maintains good joint health. A good quality Vitamin D supplement is actually pretty cheap and easy to take (small tablet). I'd like to see more senior citizens being placed on Vitamin D by their primary care managers. I'll just bet it would help reduce bone injuries related to falls and other trauma, as well as good for heart disease, blood pressure and joint pain.

I'm 55 years old with a usual BP in the range of 118/74.  I am told by my Doctor that I am in the bottom 1/6th of the population for risk of heart disease.  I haven't been sick in 9 years.  So even a skeptic would have to believe that there is a benefit to consuming high quality supplements which would include Vitamin D.        

The importance of vitamin D is well known. As far back as the 1930s, doctors first recognized the link between a vitamin D deficiency and the skeletal disease called rickets. Rickets causes a softening of the bones and teeth. Even if someone's diet has adequate levels of calcium, without enough vitamin D to properly control calcium and phosphate levels in the blood stream, demineralization of the bones can take place. The symptoms of rickets include bowed legs, bone pain, dental problems, a widening of the wrists, frequent bone fractures and skull deformities.

Because rickets is seldom seen in first-world countries, it's easy to think that vitamin D deficiencies are a thing of the past. However, new research has recently shed light on other, more subtle, symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency. Many illnesses which, at first glance, seem totally unrelated to something as physically obvious as rickets actually may have their roots in a lack of vitamin D.

Just what is vitamin D?

The term vitamin D, according to the Mayo Clinic's Drugs and Supplements site (1), actually refers to several different forms of the vitamin, including D2, which comes from our diet, and D3, which is manufactured by our skin when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D's main purpose in the body is to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous.

The sunshine vitamin?

It's actually hard to get enough vitamin D from a normal diet. It's found at the highest concentration in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon. Some mushrooms are also high in D, and their level of the vitamin actually increases when exposed to ultraviolet light.

While our skin does manufacture some of the vitamin D that we need daily, sun exposure alone is usually not enough. Factors such as the time of year, the angle of the sun, cloud cover, pollution levels and even the use of sunscreen can greatly limit the amount of D made by our skin.

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms explained: the top 9 warning signs

Some people who have a vitamin D deficiency have no immediate symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may experience restless sleep, muscle cramps, general fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain or weakness, inability to concentrate, headaches, constipation or diarrhea, and bladder problems. Here are nine other serious medical conditions that have been linked to a vitamin D deficiency.

1.  Asthma - Vitamin D supplementation of 1,200 IU daily has been shown to lessen asthma attacks and reduce their severity.

2.  Depression - Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Even a woman getting enough D during pregnancy has been shown to lessen the chances that her unborn child will develop mental illness later in life.

3.  Heart disease - An article published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (2) reports that cardiovascular disease is much more common in people deficient in vitamin D. Some children, according to the article, with severe heart failure have also responded well to vitamin D treatment.

4.  High blood pressure - High blood pressure has been associated with deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D.

5.  Rheumatoid Arthritis - RA is a devastating disease that causes systemic inflammation, severe pain and joint damage. Studies have shown that vitamin D can ease the pain and stiffness associated with RA.

6.  Multiple sclerosis - Studies have shown that geography matters when it comes to the odds of getting MS. The farther from the equator you live -- and the less sun exposure you get -- the more likely you are to develop the disease. This suggests a strong link between MS and vitamin D.

7.  Cancer - Several different kinds of cancer have been linked to D deficiencies, including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. The causal link is so strong, in fact, that the Mayo Clinic  lists separate recommended dosing levels of the vitamin for both cancer prevention and prostate cancer treatment.

8.  Periodontal disease - This inflammation of the gums can cause pain, bleeding and tooth loss. Vitamin D helps in the formation of defensins and cathelicidins which, in turn, can lower the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

9.  Diabetes - An article from World's Healthiest Foods (4) lists poor blood-sugar control as a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. This, in turn, can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Why Vitamin D deficiency may be killing you

This article came out on Natural News with the long title: "Why vitamin D deficiency may be killing you: how cancer, heart disease and diabetes are all made worse when you lack vitamin D".

Most clinicians and even many people understand that getting the right amount of vitamin D is important for good bone health. In fact, up until the 1930s, the bone disease rickets was a serious health threat, thanks to inadequate levels of the D vitamin. But until recently, few understood the other significant roles that vitamin D plays in maintaining good health and preventing diseases.

To date, low levels of the vitamin have been linked with increased risks of cancer, heart disease, immune system disorders, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Multiple studies have been conducted to examine why vitamin D deficiency may be playing such a major role in these serious health problems, and what researchers have found is surprising.

The Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Cancer

Researchers have been interested in the role of vitamin D in preventing cancer for years, ever since epidemiological studies revealed that people who lived in southern latitudes where sun exposure was more prevalent also had lower levels of certain cancers. Because exposure to UV rays helps the body synthesize vitamin D, researchers theorized that it was these increased levels of vitamin D that helped prevent the development of cancer.

Scientific studies of the effects of the vitamin on cancer cells have found that vitamin D acts in several ways, including decreasing the growth of cancer cells and stimulating the death of those cells.

Other studies have shown a direct link between levels of vitamin D and the development and prevention of colorectal cancer, and some clinicians recommend that cancer patients take vitamin D supplements in order to improve their chances of fighting the disease.

The Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Heart Disease

Several studies have been conducted linking low levels of vitamin D to an increased risk of heart disease including heart attack, peripheral artery disease, congestive heart failure and atherosclerosis, and many studies have also shown that taking vitamin D supplements may play a role in reducing that risk. For instance:

•  A study conducted by researchers at Harvard found that people who had low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who had adequate levels of the vitamin.

•  Researchers in Utah looked at vitamin D levels and heart disease in nearly 30,000 men and women and found that those with lower levels of the vitamin were more likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with adequate levels.

To date, the cause-and-effect mechanism between vitamin D and cardiovascular disease remains unclear, but researchers believe that the vitamin may work to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by preventing some of the symptoms and conditions that cause it, such as helping to control blood pressure and preventing damage to the arteries.

The Role of Vitamin D in Preventing Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes occurs when the body has difficulty managing and using sugar intake. Left unmanaged, type II diabetes can cause loss of vision, poor circulation, high blood pressure and other health issues, and it can contribute to the development of heart disease.

Several studies have supported a link between adequate levels of vitamin D and better tolerance and management of blood glucose, or sugar. Although researchers are not entirely clear how vitamin D accomplishes its role in preventing diabetes, they believe it may have to do with the vitamin's ability to help the body synthesize calcium, which plays a major role in glucose and insulin regulation.

Ignoring your vitamin D intake can result in an increased risk of many diseases, so making sure that you're getting enough is important. To make sure that you're getting enough, eat foods that are high in vitamin D (fatty fish are the primary source). Sun exposure can also help the body produce vitamin D on its own, but prolonged exposure to UV rays comes with its own set of risks, and during the winter months, getting enough sunlight can be problematic for most people.

Because of the limited natural sources of vitamin D, many men and women find that they can enjoy the benefits of adequate vitamin D levels by taking a supplement. When choosing supplements, make sure that they're from a reputable source to ensure that concentration levels are stable and correctly represented.

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