Omega 3 Fatty Acids Reduce Inflammation and Support Bone Health

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom. Increasing bodies of research are pointing to the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids in modulating inflammation for bone health. A recent study (10/2011), adds to the science suggesting that fish oil supplements are an important factor, along with exercise, for strengthening bone mineral density (BMD). To study the effects of fish oil supplementation in combination with aerobic exercise, Iranian researchers from Urmia University, in collaboration with the University of Missouri in the US, enrolled 79 healthy post-menopausal women, and assigned them to one of four groups: group 1 received both the supplement and engaged in aerobic activity 3xweek–walking and jogging, achieving up to 65% of maximum heart rate group 2 engaged in aerobic exercise only 3xweek–walking and jogging, achieving up to 65% of maximum heart rate group 3 received a daily supplement of 1000 mg omega-3 for 24 weeks (as 180 mg EPA/120 mg DHA) group 4 was the control group with no supplements or exercise The results? After 24 weeks, the joint Iranian/Missouri University team found that the combined omega-3/exercise group increased BMD by15% in the lower back, and 19% in the thigh bone at the hip. Biomarkers of inflammation, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) among the combined omega-3/exercise group were reduced by 40%, decreased by 80% respectively. The attenuation of IL-6, and TNF, correlated to increased BMD. The research authors opined that the activity of bone building cells (osteoblasts), and cells that break down bone (osteoclasts) is regulated by inflammatory molecules (cytokines), and that reducing the inflammatory driven cytokine production may be beneficial for BMD. Similarly, other studies have linked...

Higher Dietary Vitamin K Intake Contributes to Higher Measures of Bone Mineral Density

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom A recent study (2/2011) that included both men and women, indicates that a diet rich in vitamin K was associated with superior bone health. An increase in dietary vitamin K (see table below), was significantly related to lower losses of bone mineral density and smaller increases in the porosity and elasticity attributed to aging, which helps to explain the previously described protective effect of vitamin K intake against osteoporotic fractures. The study, conducted at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain), analyzed vitamin K intakes of 200 elderly people with an average age of 67 years over two years. The average intake was calculated to be 334 micrograms per day for men, and 300 micrograms per day for women. Using ultrasound assessment, the researchers found that every 100 microgram increase in vitamin K intake was associated with 0.008 g/m2 increase in Bone Mineral Density(BMD). Vitamin K in Foods Table Food Serving Vitamin K (mcg.) Olive oil 1 tbsp. Approx. 7 Kale, cooked 1 cup Approx. 600-1100 Collard greens,cooked 1 cup Approx. 500-1000 Spinach raw, cooked 1 cup Approx. 500 Broccoli, cooked 1 cup Approx. 200-500 Swiss chard cooked 1 cup Approx. 500 Turnip, Beet, & Mustard Greens 1 cup Approx. 500-900 Brussel Sprouts, cooked 1 cup Approx. 200-300 Asparagus 1 cup Approx. 100-200 Lettuce, raw 1 cup Approx. 25-100 The researchers wrote: The results of the present study showed, for the first time, a direct association between dietary vitamin K intake and calcaneous (heel bone) quantitative ultrasound measurements, suggesting that vitamin K has a direct role in qualitative bone features along with bone mineral density.(1) In...

The Link of Vitamin D Deficiency to Higher Mortality Rates – Are You At Risk?

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom. There is a considerable body of research establishing the role of vitamin D in optimizing health. Besides its implicit role in calcium metabolism, bone health, and the prevention and treatment of osteopenia and osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency is linked to several types of cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular diseases, type 1 diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and neurological health. Now add a higher rate of mortality to the list. New evidence is now emerging that vitamin D deficiency could cut your life short. Vitamin D Deficiency & Mortality Several recent studies have shown a link between low serum vitamin D levels [25 (OH) D], and lower survival rates in the elderly. Just this month (11/2009), a study published in Nutrition Research revealed a link between Vitamin D deficiency and a “higher risk of mortality”. Vitamin D levels in 719 women, ages 70 to 79, and part of Women’s Health and Aging Studies I and II in Baltimore, Md., were analyzed over a 72-month period. The women with the lowest levels of 25 (OH) D (less than 15.3 ng/mL or 38.2 nmol/L), were at higher risk of death compared to women who with the highest levels of 25 (OH) D. (1) Another large cohort study* of 3,258 male and female patients examined the the link between vitamin D deficiency, cardiovascular disease and higher rates of mortality, revealed that low vitamin D levels were independently associated with mortality from cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality**. (2) The authors of the study reported that: “Low 25-hydroxyvitamin-D [25(OH)D], and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D [1,25(OH)D] levels seem to be...

Vegetables and Bone Health – Carotenoid Antioxidants Protect Against Bone Loss

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom. Vegetables are undeniably a prime source of bone building and strengthening nutrients. Leafy greens and many other vegetables contain a bounty of minerals and vitamin C that are vital to bone metabolism. Kale, collard greens and spinach, are rich in vitamin K; a key cofactor for mineralizing bone tissue. (Please read: Osteoporosis And Bone Health – Why The Optimal Intake Of Vitamin D and K Is More Important Than Calcium Supplementation-Part 2 article) Now, a new study (1-2009) reveals that there is yet another nutrient in fruits and vegetables that is beneficial for bone health. Carotenoids, a naturally occurring pigment found in many vegetables and some fruits, are beneficial for preventing bone loss in both men and women. Researchers from Tufts University, Hebrew SeniorLife, and Boston University examined dietary carotenoid intake in 334 men and 540 women with an average age of 75. The study was conducted over 4 years, and intakes of total and individual carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and lutein plus zeaxanthin was measured via a food frequency questionnaire. Hip and lumbar spine bone mass density (BMD)* was evaluated at the beginning and end, and the results showed a higher consumption of the carotenoid lycopene correlated to less bone loss in both sexes. Women had less lumbar spine bone loss, and men had greater bone mineral density in the hips. Better BMD in men was also linked to intakes of total carotenoids, beta-carotene, and lutein plus zeaxanthin. (1) While the protective mechanisms of carotenoids from fruit and vegetable intake on bone mass are not clear at this time, it is speculated...

Are You and Your Diet Too Acid?

  By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom We all know that good and lasting health starts with a healthy diet replete with wholesome foods. However, what is not well understood about what constitutes a healthy diet, is that it should be filled alkalinizing foods. So what are alkalinizing foods, and why is it so important to consume them? Most foods, after being digested, absorbed, and metabolized, fall into either an alkaline or acid category based on the alkaline or acid ash residue they produce in the body (See alkaline or acid food chart below ). The purpose of eating an alkaline based diet, is to maintain a healthy biological acid/alkaline environment, which is measured in terms of the pH scale-the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. If a diet, over an extended timeline, is skewed towards producing an acid residue and load, then the body must buffer that acidity by drawing on the internal stores of mineral buffers-i.e calcium. Those mineral buffers are in part taken from bone tissue which puts one at risk for bone loss. (Please read my articles in the Bone Health category for more information) However, balance is the goal in eating a more alkaline based diet. Acid producing foods are important too. The general consensus of what that balance in diet should be between 60 to 80% alkaline, and 20 to 40% acid forming foods. However, the obligations of work and family makes it very difficult for most to integrate a more alkaline tilted menu to one’s daily food choices. The good news is that there are great supplements that will not only...

Age-Related Macular Degeneration – The Problem, The Cause, The Solution

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom The Problem Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a progressive eye condition that affects the macula, the central portion of the retina, (see image below) where our sharpest central vision is enabled. The macula and central vision is needed for seeing fine detail and objects clearly. As the macular tissue is destroyed and central vision deteriorates, only the outermost, or peripheral vision remains. ARMD is associated with aging and is the most common cause of vision loss in the United States in those 50 or older. ARMD affects more than 1.75 million individuals in the United States with 200,000 new cases of ARMD reported each year. Owing to the rapid aging of the US population, this number is projected to increase to almost 3 million by 2020. While some sight is retained in most cases of ARMD, it remains the leading cause of legal blindness in people over the age of 65. Macular degeneration is diagnosed as either dry (non-neovascular) or wet (neovascular). The dry form comprises about 85-90 percent of ARMD. The latter is marked by gradual deterioration of the light sensitive cells (cones) in the macula and the tissue underlying it. The first visible changes associated with dry ARMD, are deposits beneath the retina made of fat and cellular debris referred to as “drusen”. The type an amount of drusen formation is associated with aging, the severity of ARMD, and the progression of dry ARMD to wet ARMD. The formation of drusen is not completely understood, albeit inflammation and oxidative stress processes are thought to be largely responsible. Drusen can also occur without impairment...

Cataract

Age-related cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world while cataract surgery has become the most frequent surgical procedure in people aged 65 years or older. This places a considerable fi nancial burden on our health care system. The development of cataracts is mainly an age-related phenomenon, however environmental and lifestyle factors appear to influence their development. Please upgrade your...

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. population. There are approximately two million cases of glaucoma in the United States. Only half may be diagnosed due to the fact that there are no distinct symptoms other than the slow progression of vision impairment. Chronic open-angle glaucoma is the most common type, accounting for 60-70 percent of cases and is the most likely form to respond to nutritional supplements. Please upgrade your...

Osteoporosis And Bone Health – Why The Optimal Intake Of Vitamin D and K Is More Important Than Calcium Supplementation Part 1

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom. An estimated 10 million Americans – 8 million women and 2 million men – have osteoporosis (porous bones). Another 34 million have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. (1) Osteoporosis and Osteopenia (low bone density)*, is related to many factors beyond calcium need and optimization. Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, manganese, boron and many more mineral cofactors, are important in healthy bone formation. Besides minerals, vitamin D, K, folic acid, vitamin B6, B12, phosphorus, and vitamin C are all shown to have a vital role in bone health. You need the complete spectrum of mineral supplementation to benefit from nutritional therapy. Certainly, the type of calcium, or for that matter, the “types” of supportive minerals can make a difference in absorption and healthy bone metabolism. I recommend a “true chelated” mineral product that is produced by Albion Labs. The minerals from Albion are chelated (bound to amino acids) that allows for superior assimilation in the digestive tract. However, calcium is far from the “answer” to bone loss as women and men age. Studies have indicated that higher amounts of calcium for the prevention of osteoporosis may not actually reduce risk. In countries where average daily calcium intake is low, bone fracture rates are low in comparison to those in the U.S and other western societies who consume high-calcium diets. (2) In fact, more important than your intake of calcium, is the optimal intake of vitamin D and K from supplemental sources. Vitamin D Vitamin D plays an important role in optimal health. Low vitamin D status is associated with several chronic diseases including...

Osteoporosis And Bone Health – Why The Optimal Intake Of Vitamin D and K Is More Important Than Calcium Supplementation Part 2

By Ralph Sanchez, L.Ac.,CNS,D.Hom Vitamin K, which is best known for its role in blood clotting, is also an essential nutrient for bone formation. Apart from playing a key role in bone health, vitamin K deficiency is linked to cardiovascular health, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease. In bone health, vitamin K and D are synergistic nutrients in calcium and bone metabolism. Without vitamin K sufficiency through dietary intake, and or supplementation, vitamin D therapy and its benefit in calcium optimization, may not adequately benefit bone calcification, and could lead to calcification of arteries and atherosclerosis. Osteocalcin Vitamin K helps promote strong bones by functioning as a cofactor (coenzyme) in a process that binds calcium and other minerals to the bone. Both vitamin K and D exert their benefits in regulating calcium and bone metabolism through a protein vital in bone mineralization-osteocalcin. Without these important vitamins, osteocalcin does not get modified or “carboxylated”, and does not function properly. The modification or change of osteocalcin is vital to bone metabolism. Without vitamin K’s influence on osteocalcin levels and function, bone mineralization and formation is not optimal. A multitude of studies demonstrate that vitamin K deficiency leads to decreased bone mass density and increases the risk of fractures How Vitamin K Benefits Bone Health Numerous studies provide evidence for an association between a low dietary vitamin K intake and an enhanced risk for fractures from osteoporosis. In a 10-year study of 72,327 women (Nurses Health Study), the highest dietary vitamin K (110 micrograms /day) intake correlated to a 30% reduced risk of hip fracture. (9) Similarly, a population of 800 elderly men...