Posts Tagged ‘vitamin D’

Do Supplements Really Boost Your Health?

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Supplementing with vitamins has become big business. Americans spend an average of $17 billion per year on their supplements. I have been among them until recently. I took a break from my vitamin regimen after I learned that I was not properly absorbing my nutrients and was deficient in several areas. I wondered how that could be…

It seems that those of us with Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition in which the lining of the intestines becomes more permeable than it should be, tend to be malnourished. Food molecules that normally wouldn’t pass through the intestinal wall, slip by and alarm our immune system. Consequently, microphages come to the rescue and attack the foreign invader and we develop antibodies as a result. The next time that same food passes through our system, whether it slips through the intestinal wall or not, our body says, “There’s that foreign invader again!” and goes in for the attack. More and antibodies develop until we have a whole slew of food sensitivities—but that is a subject for another day.

I have been wondering how a foodie like me, who eats whole grains, beans, greens, fresh fruits and vegetables could become malnourished. Ironic, huh? Well, after much reading and discussion with my functional medicine and osteopathic physicians, I have a few answers.

When people with Leaky Gut take supplements, their digestive systems work about as well with vitamins as they do with food. Some of the nutrients get metabolized and reach their intended destination and some fail. According to my doctor, it is the metabolic pathway that is to blame. If that isn’t functioning properly, we seem to get stuck in a rut of compromised health. He explained that going after the resulting food sensitivities and allergies is like trying to catch the fragments once a bomb has gone off. You may get some, but many more will elude you and you will go around and around chasing after them.

The key is healing the underlying malfunction of the system. That takes probiotics, targeted supplements to heal specific areas in the metabolic pathway, and an increase in certain vitamins. Most of us don’t get nearly enough of the nutrients our bodies’ desire from our food or multi-vitamins. Years of single crop farming, pesticides and synthetic fertilizer have left our crops fairly malnourished as well. And, like us, in their compromised state, they require intervention to keep them from dying. Fortunately, we can get tested for our nutritional deficiencies and specifically target them with the correct supplements.

It seems that the quickest way for someone with food sensitivities to get their fair share of nutrients is by juicing. Max Gerson, MD, discovered after World War II a regimen that could literally cure cancer. Of course everyone is different, and it can’t cure all forms and all people, but it seems to have prolonged the life of many patients. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte, has continued his work both in the US and in Mexico. I decided to take a page from their nutritional book and began juicing carrots and apples every day during the holidays. My husband and I continue to drink a delicious, 8-ounce glass of organic juice to raise our level of nutrients every day. Next, we will add in a daily greens juice with an apple to make it more palatable.

As for the vitamins, I’ll take my C, B, minerals, magnesium, calcium, and fish oil, as well as a multivitamin. I need whatever nourishment can get through my system. I won’t rely solely on any one source, though. I am also careful to make sure I know what is in each supplement I take, so I don’t get lots of synthetic fillers that my body doesn’t recognize or use.

The bottom line is that we are an undernourished overweight society. Convenience and easy access has cost us much more than our dollar. It has long-term health costs and consequences we are only beginning to understand. We would probably all do well to take a page from Gerson’s book and nourish ourselves back to health through whole fresh foods, juicing and targeted nutritional supplements.

SAD? Four Easy, Natural Steps to Boost Mood

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The arrival of Fall is always bitter sweet for me. I love the changing leaves and fresh, crisp air. My long-haired dogs get more spring in their step. Yet, as the days get shorter and cooler, I can feel melancholy about the end of lazy summer days…

If seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a mood-related reaction to less sunlight, is something that puts a damper on your spirits this time of year, a few simple and natural activities can help.

Sunlight used to be something we were exposed to on a daily basis when we were agricultural societies. Now that we are indoors a good deal of the time, many of us barely get enough light in summer, let alone winter. Indoor lighting that imitates daylight is a quick fix for the winter doldrums. Depending on need, you can also purchase a light box to give you the extra sunlight your body craves.

The vitamin D that we gain from sunlight on our skin improves mood, resistance to infection and cancer, and facilitates a myriad of other bodily functions. I get tested for vitamin D levels and supplement with a carefully chosen form of the vitamin. I want to be sure I’m not getting “filler,” which can be just about anything beyond the required 20 percent of the vitamin advertised as determined by FDA regulations. A guide to watch for is GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) on the label. This means the supplement company met basic quality standards in their manufacturing.

Most of us, whether we choose to act on it or not, know by now that exercise boosts our mood. It may raise seratonin levels in the brain when the exertion is at a high enough level to cause fatigue. I’m adamant about choosing exercise that we enjoy, otherwise our best intentions will dwindle away to an occasional outing, if we continue to exercise at all. When weather permits, I love to walk at a fast clip with my dogs, taking in the squirrel gathering nuts or the birds swooping down to settle on a branch overhead. Another favorite is bicycling, so I can see something different while I’m moving.  My backup when it’s raining is a Nordic Track while viewing an old Peter Gabriel DVD. What do you love that you could incorporate into exercise?

Another significant way to boost mood is through nutrition. Interestingly, it’s not just about the balance of nutrients that a whole food diet gives us. We can actually manage a predisposition to low seratonin through our food. For example, researchers found that chickpeas supply a hefty enough amount of tryptophan to raise our seratonin levels. This means eat your hummus! It is delicious, provides protein and makes you feel better. Of course, eating fresh, clean, whole foods that are pesticide-, GMO-, and radiation-free will supply the basic nourishment our bodies need to stay healthy and strong.

A last food-related way to improve mood is to become free of refined sugar–especially if you crave it! Sweets may seem to improve mood, but they always let you down with a crash (when you blood sugar takes a dive). For more information about how to get off sugar with a five-day freedom detox, join my free teleseminar, Sweet Success, on Tuesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. EDT. Watch for details and registration on my website,