Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Want more sperm - stop watching TV and start exercising.

You might not be aware that sperm counts are dropping throughout the western world. It is thought our slothful lifestyle could be the issue. A very interesting article just published indicates this:
Sperm concentration and total sperm count were found to be directly related to physical 
activity in an analysis of 189 young American men (18-22 years). The sperm concentration in men 
who participated in moderate to vigorous activity ≥15 hours per week was 73% higher than in less 
active men who participated in moderate to vigorous activity <5 hours="" nbsp="" per="" span="" week.="">Men who watched >20 hours of TV per week had a 44% lower sperm concentration than men who watched no TV. 
So watching TV kills your sperm. I can't help but wonder if it is also all that negative stuff on TV affecting the most sensitive parts of your body. But more likely the heating effect of siting cooks them.

Hat tip: NZ Fertility Research Review Issue 4 by Dr Mary Birdsall

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why changed my mind about fluoridation

In principle I don't like people adding stuff to mass medicate. For example I don't support fortifying flour with vitamins/minerals, which could seem at odds with my pro supplementation stance. However when you legislate mass medication, what you do is get the lowest cost product added into food. This lowest cost my have poor bio-availability and poor dose control. Fluoridation is especially problematic as it cannot be easily or inexpensively removed from water supply (you have to goto serious industrial water treatment to even have a chance). Therefore unlike chlorine you can't get rid of it once it is in the water.

This combined with a miss reading of analysis data (a risk being dyslexic) lead me to believe that fluoridation for water supplies was inappropriate. This was because I miss read the basal level of fluoride in the Waikato River and that dose level was higher than it actually is.

So in sitting down to write an article for a magazine about why fluoridation was wrong, I actually came to change my mind. The two key bits of information are:

The original study. This is the key study which demonstrated the effect of fluoride in water supplies. Each data point was the kids average cavities in that city. (Schutte, Trace Elements book)

Clarification of dose levels. I unfortunately got confused with units/levels, so thought that the fluoridation level was 10 units, so clearly over medicating, hence my opposition. At this high levels you could get impacts in young bottle feed infants, and older people who have spent decades accumulating fluoride into bone structures. However the NZ health regulations state the level is 0.7 - 1.0 PPM. Clearly this is the appropriate region compared to the graph.

Hence my change of heart!

So I do publicly declare that I support fluoridation in NZ water supplies. If you have data to argue otherwise I am always open to debate :) Let the data speak.......

PS for those who worry about the basal level of the Waikato river, it does have a reasonably high level, I do believe due to the geothermal power stations putting "waste" water into the river. This waste water is the condensed steam that is not pumped back into the ground, or vented to the atmosphere. (It is also a major source of arsenic which pollutes the down streams water supplies!) There is measurement systems in the Hamilton water treatment plant that monitors the fluoride level in what is effectively real time, and only doses the appropriate amount of fluoride to bring it up to the appropriate level. (For those paranoid people I have actually seen this equipment working with my one eyes)       

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scientific paper backs up my book

Nice to see my book being confirmed by an independent source. Maybe I should submit some of my book for publication. I like the bit
The most popular term “vitamine” was introduced by Casimer Funk in 1912 and was changed to “vitamin” by Cecil Drummond in 1920.
 Could have lifted that from my book! Goes on to say
These networks of dissemination still exert an influence on how scientific information about vitamins is communicated to the public today
Which is one of the central themes of my book!

Lastest American J of Clinical Nurtition

Unfortunately the full studies are behind a paywall. But they become free in time. But in the mean time the summaries are interesting.

Magnesium may lower HD risk. To summarize
Circulating and dietary magnesium are inversely associated with CVD risk
So if you have more magnesium then low risk of cardiovascular disease. Can say that supplementing with magnesium lows your risk, but I am very pleased that supplement with 75 mg of highly bioavailable Mg a day! However I do need to get it to 250 mg a day (after which decrease in CVD becomes non-linear). So was thinking about getting some Mg for the trees in the orchard. Now will definitely be sourcing some.

Vitamin K1 maybe good for your heart. Turns out:
Animal studies have shown that vitamin K treatment reduced vascular calcification... A significant interaction between low vitamin K1 and antihypertension medication use was detected... Hypertension medication users with low serum vitamin K1 were more likely to have extreme CAC progression than were medication users without extreme CAC progression... lthough the point estimate of our primary analysis suggests low serum vitamin K1 is associated with greater CAC progression, the difference was NS.
NS = not significant.
CAC = coronary artery calcium

Vitamin K is hard to get in your food. It is thought to be produced in your gut by bacteria. But knowing what we should eat, and what we do. I suspect our gut flora has been changed, and not likely for the better! 

Continue to supplement with folic acid throughout pregnancy. I didn't realize that the recommendation to supplement with folic acid was only in the first trimester. I know Tiffany took supplement before, during and after pregnancy (it helped her multi had the right level of  folic acid in it).  In summary:

Continued supplementation with 400 μg FA/d in trimesters 2 and 3 of pregnancy can increase maternal and cord blood folate status and prevent the increase in homocysteine concentration that otherwise occurs in late pregnancy. Whether these effects have benefits for pregnancy outcomes or early childhood requires additional study.
We know high homocysteine levels are bad and indicate increasing risk of CVD. So odds are that high levels in late pregnancy are not good for mum! 

Vitamin D and calcium supplements can help young mothers retain bone mass in pregnancy.
Some describe a growing baby in mum's tum as a parasite or leech. Hardly endearing terms, but to some degree they are accurate. Mum will sacrifice her bodies nutrients to make sure baby has what it needs. So when it comes to calcium / bone health mums can often lose significant bone density over a pregnancy/lactation. This study found with adolescent mothers:
Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy of adolescents with low calcium intake results in higher lumbar spine bone mass and a reduced rate of femoral neck bone loss during lactation.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

First post in a very long time

Have decided to start to post again. Thanks to the wonderful people at USANA who I am doing some training for, found my blog posts really helpful in tracking down the data I knew I had read someplace. So will be posting a bit more :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Scientific proof our tangelos are sweeter than shop produce

Purchased a refractometer a few weeks ago. This device uses the change in refractive index in liquids due to sugar concentration. A simple and elegant device it is very enjoyable to use.

Measured the sugar content (it has units of Brix) of two of our tangelos as we picked for Ooooby. The order was for 140 kg, so can't say that our testing was statistically valid. However both measurements came back at 16. Now commercially tangelos can be picked at 8.5 or 9.5 brix depending on country. Therefore our tangelos may have nearly double the sugar levels of products picked for the stores.

Interesting enough I also measured a grapefruit. It had a reading of 12. This means the grapefruit should be sweet. After juicing the grapefruit the juice is indeed sweet. It just has a bitter aftertaste. Paradigm shift for me, as I always thought that grapefruit were sour and needed sugar (or maybe I have tried grapefruit to early in the season). 

I hope to track and measure the Brix levels to see if I can increase them via great soil/tree management.    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Iowa Study and why it shows no benefit in supplementation

 The Archives of Internal Medicine has just published a paper in which the authors look at the Iowa Women's study and analysis the results with respect to supplementation. The conclusion to this analysis was:
In older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk; this association is strongest with supplemental iron. In contrast to the findings of many studies, calcium is associated with decreased risk   
As the media doesn't thoughtfully critic such articles it is highly likely that you will seen in the health section of your media headlines that scream "supplementation increases risk of death in women" or other such sensationalist, emotion creating bylines.

So lets dig a bit deeper and see if this conclusion is valid. Some background. The Iowa study was a massive study which studied 41 836 post menopausal women. This study was started in 1986 and had five follow ups over the next two decades (last follow up was 2004). The initial and five follow ups consisted of quite extensive questionnaires around lifestyle. Therefore this data gets "mined" regularly by scientists who are looking for impact of a behavior on mortality risk.

So know we know a bit about the study, why do I think that the conclusion "supplement increase mortality" isn't a valid conclusion?

[I also must confess at this point I haven't read the whole article, just the abstract. I am not motivated to purchase said article at US$30, just to more robustly critic it. I would much prefer to put this into my organic orchard that I am setting up. However if you want a more detailed analysis of the paper feel free to purchase a copy and send it to me!]  

The following reasons leap out at me:
  • Three data points. The supplementation question was asked in 1986, 1997 and 2004. Even though the Iowa study sounds impressive, which to some degree it is, the supplementation question has approximately a ten year interval. What this means is that there are errors due to peoples memory and accuracy of reporting. For instance can you remember exactly what supplements you were taking five years ago? I can tell you what multi I took, but couldn't tell you anything else even though I now I took more than just a multi. I am rather brand loyal, but wonder if the "average" person like my mum, who is post menopausal she has taken at least three different general supplements in the last 6 years. Therefore you can see how errors in studies such as this creep in. Know due to the studies size errors such as these may "average out" so that data may be trustworthy.  
  • Take them as sick. I got interested in various supplements as I had health issues. There must be a section of society, like me and my mum, who started to take supplements as their health was no longer optimal. I wonder if this effected the results. Being elderly something goes wrong, they try some supplements. These might help, might not, but soon they pass away. Therefore supplementation could be correlated with trying to get better once ill (which is harder to do, better to take supplementation preventativly, instead of re-actively, to stop body getting to the point were clinical symptoms are detected)      
  • Self reporting. I take my vitamins every day, day in, day out. However many people who I have sold them to, or know take them (including my wonderful wife who I berate regularly for not taking them to schedule) don't religiously take them. Therefore if you are supplementing say once every few days, this is going to be different from twice daily.    
  • Differences in nutrient levels. You need high enough values of a nutrient to make a difference. An example off the top of my head is vitamin C. For shortening the length of cold you need to be taking at least 1 000 mg (I think) daily before you get the cold for it to have a shortened infection time. A lot of studies in vitamin C, don't give a high enough dose to be significant ie they look at supplementing 60 mg. At this level it isn't going to make a big difference in your health. The same goes for other vitamins and some minerals. Therefore to ask "are you taking zinc?" is very difference from "are you taking 5 mg or 50 mg of zinc?" You cannot group both zinc takers as being the same, yet this study does so.  
  • No break down of bio-availability. Classic issue. For those of you who have read my book will know that I give a couple of examples of this. Copper for instance is often not in multi's. When it is it is often in a bio unavailable form as a copper oxide. Therefore if you take copper supplement (which was one of the mineral supplements asked about) is it one that you can absorb? There is differences in bio available of nearly all minerals and some vitamins. The bio-available wasn't studied the data and hence conclusions will be suspect.        
  • Break down of individual supplements. Saved the best to last. This is a MASSIVE concept. Let me give you an example. For some time I took a zinc only supplement to help with depression. I found this helpful in my journey to wellness. However I would never every recommend zinc to someone with depression. Why? A high quality multi is the first thing to take for any health improvement. The biochemistry for serotonin/melatonin creation is complex. Sure zinc is part of the process but first you need a high quality multi to cover the bases, so to speak, before increasing specific nutrients. Therefore without a high value multi there is no point is recommending zinc to people with depression. Now when a media article comes out "zinc helps depression"  everyone runs down to the supermarket/health food shop, buys zinc. For the majority of people it doesn't really help..... from memory there is about 8 essential minerals/vitamins/ nutrients in serotonin production. So have about 1 in 8 odds of zinc helping. But anyone who is low on zinc is likely to be low in other minerals, so any improvement would be small compared to improvement with high nutrient. So breaking down supplements to individual minerals / vitamins defeats the purpose    
If you have further questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

Hat tip: Keith Lightfoot Hardwick Enterprises for the heads up