Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fibromialgia, zinc and magnesium

Fibromialgia is one of those illusive disease that has multitude of different symptom grouping around pain, lark of restful sleep and exhaustion. I suspect that there is multiple reasons for fibromialgia just like there is a multitude of reasons for headaches.

If there are multiple ways to develop this disease it means that there are multiple ways to overcome it. And most importantly some nutritional treatments will only work for those who that specific nutrient problem. Thus increase a nutrient for one person that makes a massive difference may not work for someone else.

This seems to be best shown in vitamin D status. There is conflicting results on increasing vitamin D and decrease in pain symptoms. Some studies show great results other no result at all.

So with this in mind zinc status seems to be inversely associated with number of pain points and magnesium inversely correlated with fatigue.

So if you haven't tried increasing your zinc or magnesium intake, it would be a good thing to try. So the obvious questions are how much should you take ?! Firstly a multimineral would be better than just two nutrients so that your body is still in balance. Secondly remember that amino acid chelates are better than metal salts which are better than oxides.

Zinc in the region of 10mg (5-15mg) is where I would start. The magnesium should be taken with calcium - twice as much calcium and magnesium. If my memory serves me well Metagenics do a calcium/magnesium specifically for large doses of magnesium so find some of this and use as directed.

Hope that this may help !

Friday, December 25, 2009

Did you get an amphetamine high over Christmas?

It would appear that spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and anise have precursors to amphetamine in them. Amphetamine makes you feel perky and mentally more alert. It is in the same family as methamphetamin, or P as it is commonly known as.

It is hypothesized  that the cooking process might takes these compounds and turn them into amphetamine! Thus giving you a natural high and helps you feel good when you eat products that are high in these spices. 

This might explain why I really enjoy aniseed, both aniseed wheels and liquorish, which ironically often has very little liquorish root and lots of aniseed. I also enjoy nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. I wonder if we could somehow cook these spices then take them and make alcoholic drink like a liqueur out of them thus getting two types of "high".  

However it can't be ruled out that the smell of these spices are associated with pleasant memories so the smell of the spices, not the amphetamine makes you feel good. Either way this is a great excuses to use more of these wonderful spices. 

Photo credit: Michelle Meiklejohn

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mental health and feeling pain

Since going on antidepressants many changes have occurred with my body. One of these is that my pain threshold has increased. To the point where I have gone from the worlds greatest wimp to having my last filling done without anesthetic (it was a small filling). 

Serotonin is involved in pain system, with low serotonin levels increasing sensitivity to pain. I have read that people with depression have a much higher probability of back pain. The study concluded that most people who are depressed have back pain because they have a low pain threshold.

Another study has just come out looking a females, pain sensation and emotional "wellness". This was done with the cold pressor test which involves plunging the arm into a bucket of ice cold water. The time elapsed before pain is first felt and when the pain becomes unbearable are measured. This gives an indicator of pain threshold. The results show that women who are emotional "well" experience less pain than those who are less emotionally healthy.

Thus again we see the connection between emotions and the body. This connection is part of the mystery of the body where our mind/heart/emotions are interrelated to the physical body. Thus if we ignore the emotional connection in sickness and wellness we miss a very important area.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If you love anyone over 65 share this post with them - they need to suppliment vitamin D

Hot off the science press supplementing with >700 IU vitamin D reduces falls in those over 65 years of age. Falls have a major effect on the elderly. If/when they fall they are more likely to damage themselves with broken or damaged bones. Thus they have restricted movement while the bones heal. Not only is the healing time longer than youthful people, it also impacts there whole body. This is because their movement is less. This less movement results in less muscle control and strength. Lower control and strength results in higher probability of falling and breaking a bone. Thus the downward cycle continues. This is exactly how my Grandfather died. He had a fall (in Bolivia!) and broke his leg(?). He never really recovered from this and the next few years were a sliding down into death with more falls and complications. So you can see how preventing falls is very important.

A review of the studies on vitamin D and falls gives some very insightful data. The following pointers are very useful in helping choose the best supplement:
  • Need to supplement with greater than 700IU of vitamin D. Below 700IU there was no decrease in falls. However 700-1000IU of vitamin D resulted in significant drop of 19% in falls. This means that what was 5 falls, now became 4 falls. This is a big reduction. 700-1000IU is above the RDI for elderly which is 400-600IU. Therefore you need to supplement with a higher dose than the RDI 
  • The supplement of 700-1000 IU was on-top of what the elderly either ate or got via the sun. 
  • Supplement with Vitamin D3. Vitamin D comes in a handful of shapes (Isomers). They found that vitamin D3 reduced falls by 26% but vitamin D2 reduced it by only 12%. There is debate around which form of vitamin D is the best, interestingly enough most complimentary medicine people prefer vitamin D3.
Reference: Heath V., Nutrition: Preventing falls in the elderly—benefits of vitamin D supplementation revealed.  Nature Reviews Endocrinology 6, 1 (January 2010) | doi:10.1038/nrendo.2009.227. Photo credit.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Sowing and reaping

    One of the the things I love about gardening is that once you have done the work, you can leave the plants and come back sometime later and harvest yummy food. It is amazing how things grow without your input.

    Hadn't had a feed of berries for a few days so went out picking. A big bowl of very bright red strawberries much riper and reder than what you get in the store, so hence much more sweeter. A handful of small white wild strawberries - infinitely sweeter than any other berries I have ever tasted. A handful or raspberries and a bowl of thornless boysenberries.

    Hmmm what a wonderful way to end dinner - fingers stained with red berry juice.

    Why there are issues when Pharmac changes suppliers

    A very short, and not wellness focused blog post today. If you have ever wondered why when NZ changes from drug A to drug B an drug B doesn't work - think of catafalque over asthma med changes   as well MacDoctor has the answer

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Empathy - real emotional and physical pain.

    Empathy is a very important human trait to nurture. I have read about how repeat or psychotic offenders lack the ability to empathize or have empathy for people. Thus they cannot fathom how their actions hurt people. Thus they cannot understand why their actions were wrong. Empathy, to cry when others cry and to laugh when others laugh is a very human, and loving, ability.

    Picture thinkers/dyslexic's/learning "disability" people often have a deep empathy (or ironically enough very poor empathy). I remember in one of my dyslexia books a story about a young kid who would cry when seeing a ambulance racing through the streets as (s)he felt the pain of the people in the ambulance. This is not to surprising as picture thinkers have the ability to put themselves into the situation. (which is why dyslexics often make good actors).

    Well it turns out that some people who observe and/either emotional or physical pain actually feel the emotional or physical hurt. Brain scans showed that the parts of the brain for emotional or physical pain lite up when observing emotional or physical pain. Thus showing once again that the mind is an amazing organ, that we can expereince others pain as ours.

    Personally I experience a large amount of empathy emotionally. It is not the done thing in NZ culture for blokes to have empathy about feelings. So this was kind of beaten out of me through my experiences in life and am slowly bringing to value this gift and be comfortable with it. Part of my depression was that I was not being true to my emotions and pretending that I didn't have empathy. Long term this was not a good idea.

    I don't think I experience physically empathy. I get nausea when talking and thinking about gory bloody things. Which annoys me no end, but it seems automatic. Interestingly enough if I am presented with blood (cuts is worst I have had to deal with) I don't have a problem. 

    Reference: Osborn and Derbyshire. Pain sensation evoked by observing injury in others. Pain :doi:10.1016/j.pain.2009.11.007   

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Thank goodness - heart attacks on Monday mornings is not a urban myth

    I think critics are very important. They show up were your thinking or beliefs are not 100% correct as they will find the chink in your amour. Often males who are older than 40 when finding out what I do, ask if I have formal qualifications of a doctor or a nutritionist. Up to today I have always answers no. This "no" answer has resulted in myself being written off as a quack of no importance, just another mad hatter who has no credibility. It has only taken me about a dozen or so interactions like this for me to figure it out! Thus I will side step the question an say I have training in the biochemistry of cellular and enzymatic processes. This is true and clearly gives me creditability that I know what I am talking about. (As an aside a significant number of major innovations come from outside a field or on the periphery because these people haven't been indoctrinated with the assumptions that under-gird that industry)

    Last night I had an interaction with a critic. Once he had asked the question and figured out that I had no formal training in nutrition that all I said was up to be challenged. So when I trotted out that heart attacks are more common on a Monday morning he counted with that he had been a doctor for 20 years and if there was any variation between days of time he would have noticed it. He had not noticed any variation in heart attacks, thus I was wrong.

    I was mortified.  I have included this as an example in a appendix of my book talking about how emotions effect our health. I realized that I had no references to back up my comments. It was a statement that I had heard so many times and repeated so many times I assumed that it was true. Thus I have been looking online today to see if this was an urban myth. Well the good news is that I can still use the example in my book! Like anything in health/wellness it is not as clear cut as one would like, but we can conclude that:
    • That in the mornings Saturday to Monday and the months October to January (Study done in Italy in the Northern hemisphere) are high risk times for heart attacks that kill you within 1 hour. The times of 5:00, Monday and November are also have significantly higher probabilities within this group
    • Another Italian study showed mornings had higher risk than evenings, and that heart attacks increased significantly for non smokers on Monday. 
    • An Auckland study showed the mornings were higher risk, and that Saturday was higher risk for deadly attacks and Monday higher risk of survived heart attacks.  
    • A Fresh study showed hat mornings were higher risk of heart attack. 
    • That monkeys are at more risk of heart attacks when under stress. And that life threatening evens such as earthquakes increase heart attack risk 6 fold and that anger and sex also increase risk of heart attacks.
    • A Tawinise study showed that mornings were high risk and Sundays were low risk for heart attacks
    There are other papers but I think I have made my point. Emotions effect your health and there is an increased risk of heart attacks in the morning with some studies pointed out Monday morning as a high risk time. Got to love critics if I had not had the conversation wouldn't know if it was just a urban myth or based on science. Much better to have this issue raised in a friendly one on one situation than in another setting. 

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Fear not ! fear not the phone and cancer

    Humans seem prone to fear. I fear that I don't eat well enough, fear that I might become obese, fear that I will get diabetes, fear that I am not doing enough to keep my wellness. And this is only in one area of my life.

    People seem to also fear what they don't know or what they don't understand. I remember debating as a form 1 student (year 7) my teacher who was afraid of radiation from microwave. Tried to communicate that microwaves had not nuclear radiation but in my youth couldn't quite articulate why she was wrong.

    Well here is another fear that you can lay to rest. McDoctor has done a excellent post about how cell phone usage does NOT cause brain cancer (and one could also infer that cordless phones do not cause brain cancer).

    So this is one thing that you don't have to fear about. I am learning to fear less, by refocusing on the positive in my past.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Peeing out vitamin B12 is related to total urine volume not vitamin B12 intake

    Doesn't a title like that make you grateful that you are not a nutritional scientist. Imagine collecting nearly 300, 24hour urine samples. When ever I think I might have a grotty task to do I remember when I went through a local testing laboratory and talked to a women who did the fecal analysis for various compounds!

    The background that you should be aware of is that the water soluble vitamins, that is the B family, C, biotin an Choline are pee-ed out of the body in proportion to your daily intake. This is because the body has very little storage, so the theory is that any vitamin intake above what your body needs is removed into the urine. Now this is only partially true. Because as you increase your dose of these water soluble vitamins your urine level does increase. However your retention also increases. However most nutritional experts will point to the increase in urine output and say that this shows you don't need that level of water soluble vitamin. However what they don't tell you is that your intake and use also went up with the increased dose.

    Well it appears that vitamin B12 in urine is not increased by increasing intake. Furthermore the removal of vitamin B12 from the body is related to the total urine produced. This mean that the more you pee the more you loose.

    Now this study was done in both young women and elderly women in Japan so it might not apply to you. However I suspect it would be the same across cultures. Also the dose of the vitamin was 1.5mg. This is a high dose the RDI for vitamin B12 is 6 micro grams, or 0.006mg, so 1.5mg is about 500 times larger. (it was a once off dose)

    How much did the urinary extrication go up by - only by 30%! This tells me that an intake of 6 micro grams, the RDI, is no enough to supply what your body needs.

    Yet another study that shows our RDI's are not giving our bodies what they need.

    Reference: Urinary excretion of vitamin B12 depends on urine volume in Japanese female university students and elderly Nutrition Research. Volume 29, Issue 12, December 2009, Pages 839-845

    It is finished

    Apologies for no posting over the last 6 days. Have been highly focused on finsihing my book late last week and over the weekend. The great news is that it is done! 60 000 words approx 250 pages. I have also picked up a job helping move computers around. Very happy to have paid employment while my other lines of business have there seasonaly lull.

    So postings will be less frequent over the next month or so.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Home grown food

    Working flat out on the book at the moment. So I needed a simple and easy dinner, and a dinner that could be served whenever the girls got home from dancing. Their lessons are a bit longer now near the end of term. Was pleasantly surprised at what I cooked up:

    Free range (organic?!) chicken in the slow cooker, then closer to time grated in section of home grown pumpkin and zucchini. I have bad child hood memories of zucchini and the kids don't like pumpkin. So though good way to get us eating the things we avoid and learning that there not bad. Flavored with lemon thyme, lemon balm and a squeegeed lemon to provide some flavoring. I have to admit I also put in a packet of onion soup for thickening the sauce and adding flavor.

    This was served on brown rice and fresh asparagus (not home grown, but put plants in this year).

    So all and all a very simple meal with minimal prep, maximum flexibility, tasted really good and tender plus high in nutrition.

    Should taken a photo! Sorry didn't think about it at the time

    Massive variation in vegetable minerals

    Variation is a fact of life, think about how many shades of green there are in nature. Trace element variation in food is made worse as they only contain the trace elements that are found in the soil. So if the soil is depleted of these elements then the food produced on that soil is also depleted. As trace elements are not deemed "essential" to cropping they are often depleted in our soils, either by the soil already having a low level, or after decades of cropping the minerals have been removed from the soil. The following graphs show the maximum and minimum levels found in common veges for boron, manganese and iron. As you can see the variation is massive, from the vegetables virtually having no trace elements to a much higher level. The bottom of the line is the lowest mineral content, with the highest being the top of the line.

    You can see how much iron spinach does have (and tomatoes for that matter!) however the spinach you eat to get some iron may have almost no iron in it! For the technical people the change is over two orders of magnitude (which to the rest of us means its big). Again for your technical people you will be asking how many standard deviations this is, regrettably my source does not give means or standard deviations.

    Once again we cannot trust our fresh fruit and vegetables to have the minerals in them that we need. You have two options to get these minerals. (1) Start growing your own fruits and vegetables and make sure you use a high quality trace element mix (one that has iodine and selenium which is not included in the cheaper brands of trace element mixes) or (2) supplement 

    Reference: Thorsons complete guide to Vitamins and Minerals. All you need to know about vitamins and mineral for your health by Leonard 220