High Vitamin D levels are associated with a reduced risk of premature death from all causes

 Vitamin D supplementation is known to benefit conditions associated with the skeletal system such as rickets, fractures and falls, as well as a range of diseases including multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, infections, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Non-skeletal benefits of vitamin D supplementation are still currently being debated in many cases.

In a new meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal (1), researchers analyzed the possible association between a higher blood level of vitamin D and a reduced risk of all- cause mortality. The review included 73 observational population studies that reported vitamin D serum levels and the cause of death among 849,412 men and women over a follow up period up to 29 years.

When comparing adults with the lowest one-third of vitamin D levels to those in the highest third, subjects had a 35% higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease or any cause over the follow-up period. Adults with the lowest levels also had a 30% greater risk of non-vascular, non-cancer death, and a 14% higher risk of death from cancer.

Evidence from these observational studies found significant inverse associations between serum vitamin D levels and risks of death from cardiovascular disease, lymphoma, upper digestive tract cancer, and respiratory diseases. In addition, when the form of vitamin D supplementation was taken into account, vitamin D3 significantly reduced all-cause mortality by 11%. Vitamin D2, on the other hand, did not appear to have any significant effect on mortality.

Researchers noted that further studies should be done to determine the optimal dose and duration of supplementation and to further confirm whether vitamin D3 affects the mortality risk differently than vitamin D2.

How you produce Vitamin D from Sunlight

First, it’s important to understand that vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone. It’s formed when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun (or a safe tanning bed). When UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative in your skin into vitamin D3.

Not any sunlight will do though, it must be strong enough for the UVB rays to penetrate deep into the skin.  An easy way to gauge the intensity of the sun is make sure that it is higher than 45 degrees in the sky. If you don’t remember your high school geometry, just stand out in the sun and look at the length your shadow (or any other object) if your shadow is shorter than you are tall, then the sun is strong enough to produce vitamin D. If it is longer then you can stand naked in the snow all day and you won’t produce any vitamin D.

Some times of they year the sun may be at that angle only mid day, in the middle of summer though it may be high enough in the sky for hours.

If you’re on statin drugs to reduce cholesterol or proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec or Prevocid, than will also lower the amount of cholesterol available to be converted into vitamin D.

Now that you’ve made Vitamin D, don’t wash it down the drain

However, the vitamin D3 that is formed is on the surface of your skin does not immediately penetrate into your bloodstream. It actually needs to be absorbed from the surface of your skin into your bloodstream.

The critical question then is: how long does it take the vitamin D3 to penetrate your skin and reach your bloodstream?

If you’re thinking about an hour or two,  you’re wrong. Because new evidence shows it takes up to 48 hours before you absorb the majority of the vitamin D that was generated by exposing your skin to the sun!

Therefore, if you shower with soap, you will simply wash away much of the vitamin D3 your skin generated, and decrease the benefits of your sun exposure. So to optimize your vitamin D level, you need to delay washing your body with soap for about two full days after sun exposure.

Now not many people are not going to bathe for two full days.

However you really only need to use soap underneath your arms and your groin area. , so this is not a major hygiene issue. You’ll just want to avoid soaping up the larger areas of your body that were exposed to the sun.

Vitamin D Supplementation

For most people who work 9-5 indoors and especially in the winter the only other alternative to basking in the sun on a tropical island is to take vitamin D supplements. These are safe and inexpensive and reduce the dependance on sunlight and the avoidance of showers. Recommended amounts vary from a small amount up to 5,000 or 10,000 IU per day, but you need to have regular blood tests to monitor your blood vitamin D levels. You want at least 50 to 90 ng/ml

(1) Rajiv Chowdhury et al.  Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies. BMJ 2014;348:g1903 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g1903 (Published 1 April 2014).

Want to look better and feel better? Drink water

Drink water for your healthAnyone who’s attempted to improve their health has heard the golden rule: drink more water.

That sounds easy, right?

Even right now, I’ve got my trusty  water bottle sitting at my desk. Halfway through the day, and I’ve already refilled it three times to stay properly hydrated, because apparently, this is key to my health. But why?

After digging through some research, I can tell you exactly why keeping your H2O levels in check is so important for your health.

Now grab a fresh glass of water and drink it down as we explore how you’re helping your body in more ways than you thought.

Why Water?

Water makes up about 60 percent of your total body weight, meaning your body really depends on the stuff. Actually, pretty much every system in your body relies on water to keep things running smoothly.

These functions include regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting and moistening body organs and tissues, regulating digestion, carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, and dissolving nutrients and minerals to make them accessible to the body.

Maybe the most important function of water is helping out your kidneys. Body fluids transport waste in and out of cells, and the main toxin in the body is blood urea nitrogen, a water-soluble waste that is able to pass through the kidneys to be excreted in your urine.

So drinking water regularly helps to flush out these toxins and lighten the workload for your kidneys. Without sufficient water intake, you’re not doing your kidneys any favors and actually putting yourself at a higher risk for kidney stones as a result of extended dehydration.

Speaking of dehydration, it’s something you really want to avoid. Obviously, it will diminish the processes mentioned above, but it can also throw off your electrolyte levels. This may cause muscle weakness or heart rhythm disturbances due to overly low or high levels of important chemicals like potassium and sodium.

How Much is Enough?

OK, you get it: water is super important. Now let’s talk about how much is enough.

You’ve probably heard the commonly used recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. It’s not the worst guideline to stick with, but it might not be the best, either. Things like height, weight, food consumption, outside temperature, and physical activity all play into how much water an individual should consume.

The best way to determine your hydration level is to pay attention to your body. First of all, if you feel thirsty, that’s your body telling you it needs water, and you shouldn’t ignore it. Be mindful that if you’re always waiting until you feel thirsty, your body might already be partly dehydrated, so always try to address your thirst before you feel it.

Next, take a look at your urine. I know, it sounds a little gross, but it’s a really great indicator to tell if you’re sufficiently hydrated. When you’re getting enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in color, and free of odor. When your body is not getting enough fluids, urine concentration, color, and odor increases because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions.

Ways to Drink More

Many of you might already know most of this information, but you still aren’t drinking enough water. Maybe you think the taste is boring or you’re forgetful. Heck, you might just be a little lazy.

When it comes down to it, these are all just excuses. Drinking water is vital to your health, and it’s an easy, inexpensive habit to adapt.

Take a look at some of these helpful tips to incorporate more water into your diet.

  • Before your morning coffee or tea, drink a glass of water right when you wake up to help replace fluids lost during your sleep.
  • Keep a water bottle with you throughout your day so that you have something tangible in front of you to remind you to keep sipping on water.
  • Add some natural flavor to your water with a slice of lime, lemon, or whatever your favorite fruit is.
  • Try to drink a glass of water before each meal to help keep you from overeating and help with the digestion of your food.
  • Most importantly, make a goal to replace soda, juice, and coffee with water whenever possible. Many times, these drinks are loaded with calories and sugar and can often dehydrate you. If you simply can’t go without, try to limit yourself to one non-water beverage each day.



You Fertilize your Lawn and Garden, don’t you? Amazing what added nutrients will do.

green and red healthy foodWhen you look at your lawn and has lost its lush green what do you do?  When your roses aren’t as beautiful as they could be, what do you do? When your vegetable garden isn’t producing like it should, what do you do? Of course, you fertilize it. We all know you’ll see great results a few days, or weeks, after applying a good fertilizer.

When you look at a fertilizer it is basic nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other minerals. Isn’t fertilizer like a multivitamin for your plants?

I talk to many people who say they get all the nutrients from the food they eat. Isn’t that like your lawn and garden? Shouldn’t they be able to get all the nutrients they need from the soil? Many people walk around like your garden. The plants are still growing. They are still producing flowers and fruit, so they are doing OK, but you know with some good fertilizer they’ll do much better.

We can easily get enough nutrients from a good healthy diet to prevent the diseases of deficiency   like beri beri, scurvy, pellagra, rickets, etc., but, like your garden, you can be much healthier.

So how does better nutrition and health manifest in us?  We aren’t plants, but imagine every cell of your body, every organ, every skin cell, your eyes, etc. having all the nutrients they need to operate at their best. Here are some ways:

  • If you’re immune system can do its best possible job, would you get sick less?
  • If your brand new skin cells have every nutrient they need when they are formed, how would they look when they become your “Skin” we see a month or two later?
  • If your skeletal system had all the nutrients it needs and in the right proportions to build stronger bones, would it?
  • What about that one cell that mutates and becomes a cancer cell, how could your immune system and the rest of your body deal with it? Could it stop it from growing larger, or at least greatly slow it down?
  • How much better could your organs function? Brain, heart, liver, eyes, kidney, etc,

You are like your garden, you may be doing OK, but how much better could you feel if you had all the nutrients you needed to be at your absolute best health. That is what a very high quality multivitamin and other phytonutrients can do for your body. You’ve heard the term a “Healthy Glow” that is what you’ll see on the outside, and if you could look inside, you’d see every organ with a healthy glow.


Staying Healthy – The Hard Part

Eating right. Exercising. Remembering to take those supplements. In my mind, these are the three things I have to do every day to stay healthy.

It seems simple, and it is. But “simple” doesn’t always mean “easy.”

So, what’s the hardest part of staying healthy? Here’s my thought process and how I overcome my mental blocks.

The Hard Part: Starting a Routine

Starting a routine is definitely the hardest part of staying healthy. Stop living in the past and instead think about what you want for your life tomorrow.
Starting a routine is definitely the hardest part of staying healthy. If you’ve been eating poorly and haven’t been working out regularly for the past few months, then skipping the gym today and going out to eat tonight won’t hurt, right?

This mentality gets a lot of us in trouble.

Once we’re out of a healthy routine for a while, bad habits become the norm, and we end up putting on a few pounds, feeling tired from everyday stresses, and not having the energy to work out. Even worse, at this stage, desserts and other tempting foods seem to sneak into our homes and our mouths without our knowledge.

How to Get Over It:

It’s time to stop living in the past. Instead of focusing on what you did (or didn’t do) yesterday, think about what you want for your life tomorrow. If you’re going to want to work out tomorrow, eat right tomorrow, and take all your supplements tomorrow (it’s always tomorrow, right?), then do those things today, too.

Forget yesterday — it’s old news. Start changing today, even if it means baby steps. If you can’t complete a workout like you used to, do half. Just a little sweat will remind your body of how good it feels to be active, and you can start rebuilding your will power to pass on dessert, down more water during the day, and get back on that treadmill for good.

The Hard Part: Continuing a Routine

Continuing your healthy routine is totally the hardest part of staying healthy. If you’ve been good for months, why do you have to work out today, too? Why do you have to skip dessert today, too? Working out just isn’t as fun or exciting as it was when you first started, and maybe you don’t feel like you’re getting the same results you did when you first started. What’s the point?

How to Get Over It:

When you’re in the middle of pursuing a goal, like you’re halfway to losing 20 pounds or you can run five miles but you want to run 10, it’s important to remind yourself how far you’ve come.

Remember: You’re pursuing your goals, not the goals of someone else. Judge yourself against yourself.
Just because you can “only run a mile” while others run 26.2 in one morning doesn’t mean a thing. Think back to when you couldn’t run a mile at all. Or think about all the people who don’t run at all — one of the phrases I’ve seen lately is, “No matter how slow you’re moving, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.” The sentiment is true. You’re pursuing your goals. Judge yourself against yourself and no one else.

And remember that every day you eat right and exercise, you’re one step closer to your ultimate goal…although…

The Hard Part: Reaching Your Goals

The hardest part of being healthy is after you’ve done the work and reached your goals. What now? Your blood, sweat, and tears have all paid off and you’ve dropped the weight, run the race, or got your blood pressure or cholesterol levels down. There’s no motivation to continue, and you’re afraid you’ll fall back into your old ways.

How to Get Over It:

Make a new goal. Find a new challenge. Reaching your goals doesn’t mean giving up — it means you have a chance to find an even loftier ideal to strive for.

The point is, no matter where you are in your life or what your health goals are, it’s all going to be difficult, and there will always be challenges. But ask yourself this: Is giving up ever really an option? My vote is no. This is your life. Make it what you want it to be, every day.

Joggers live longer and are happier! So lace up those shoes.

For those who diligently lace up their running shoes and brave the elements to jog at least an hour a week, there is a very real reward — an average of six more years of life, Danish researchers found.

Jogging was associated with a 44% reduction in the relative risk of death over 35 years compared with deaths among non-joggers, according to Peter Schnohr, MD, chief cardiologist from the Copenhagen City Heart study.

And the benefit was observed for both men and women.

That reduction translated into an “age-adjusted survival benefit of 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women,” Schnohr reported here at EuroPRevent 2012.

And that longer life is often a happier life, he said, since joggers reported an overall sense of well-being.

“This is definitely good news, especially for those who have questioned whether simply jogging could be beneficial,” said Ian Graham, MD, of Dublin’s Trinity College, who co-chaired the program committee for the meeting.

“The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health,” Schnohr said in a prepared statement. “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

Moreover, even elderly people can add years to life by jogging. “A 70-year-old will benefit and I think the benefit may be even greater for older people,” Schnohr said in an interview.

In this analysis the optimum benefit was realized for those who jogged at a slow-to-average pace between an hour and two and half hours done in two to three sessions over the course of a week.

The key, Schnohr said, appears to be moderation, much like the benefit observed with alcohol.

The jogging benefit is just the latest in a long list of studies from Schnohr and colleagues — more than 750 papers — mined from the 19,329 participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which is a prospective cardiovascular population study begun in 1976.

When the study began, participants ranged in age from 20 to 79.

All participants underwent examinations over 2-year time frames beginning in 1976, 1981, 1991, and finally in 2001. In addition to assessments of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI, patients were also asked about smoking, alcohol consumption, education, and income.

The 1,878 participants in the jogging substudy (1,116 men) were also asked about jogging frequency and pace.

The researchers tracked the data using a personal identification number in the Danish Central Register. The authors compared deaths in joggers to deaths among non-joggers from the main study cohort.

During 35 years of follow-up there were 122 deaths among joggers versus 10,158 deaths among non-joggers.

source: European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation & MedPage Today
Source reference:  Schnohr P “Jogging — healthy or hazard symposium: Assessing prognosis: a glimpse of the future” EuroPRevent 2012.

Spice Up Your Diet And Do Your Body Good

Though spices and herbs are often spoken of as one-in-the-same, they’re not. Spices are aromatic seasonings from the bark, buds, roots, seeds, berries or fruit of various plants and trees. Common spices include cinnamon, which comes from bark; cloves from buds; ginger from a root; cumin from seeds; black peppercorns from berries; and paprika from the fruit of a plant. Herbs, however, only come from the leaf of a plant. Familiar herbs include basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage and chives.
Spices and herbs offer health benefits in addition to flavoring food, but there are currently no specific recommendations for how much to include in your diet.
Spices and herbs:
  • Contribute to lowering sodium intake when used to flavor food in place of salt.
  • Offer protective antioxidant benefits by destroying free radicals that can cause cell damage. Spices and herbs carry even higher antioxidant content than fruits and vegetables.
  • Provide anti-inflammatory protective benefits against many chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

The benefits of combining multiple spices and herbs are often greater than the benefit of a single one. One research study found that turmeric and black pepper together decreased breast cancer stem cells. Herbs and spices added to salad dressing increase the antioxidant content of a vegetable or fruit salad.
When finding ways to add herbs and spices to your diet, using fresh is best, but dried herbs and spices may be more convenient. Fresh herbs have higher antioxidant levels than the dried versions. Fresh garlic, for example, has one and a half times more antioxidants than garlic powder. Replace dried herbs and spices in your kitchen each year to maximize their flavor and health benefits.
Not only will your cuisine taste good when flavored with spices and herbs, it will be good for you. Though the research is still inconclusive in terms of which and how much of a specific herb or spice to include in your diet, be adventurous and try new seasonings.
Here are potential health benefits of several common herbs and spices:
  • Curry powder is a golden yellow spice currently gaining a lot of favor. The curcumin in turmeric, the primary ingredient in curry powder, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes in obese mice. In other animal studies curcumin has been shown to lower the incidence of heart failure and stopping the growth of cancer cells. There is also evidence it may protect against arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. Perk up chicken salad and steamed rice with a sprinkle of curry powder along with nuts and chopped fresh or dried fruit also considered superfoods.
  • Rosemary added to meat marinades may block heterocyclic amine or dangerous carcinogens from forming during cooking. Interestingly, while rosemary was found to cut the HCA in grilled steak by 87 percent, the meat did not have a strong rosemary flavor. The aroma of rosemary has also been linked to improvement of mood and pain management. Add rosemary to sauteed vegetables or sprinkle over baked bread brushed with olive oil.
  • Cinnamon stirred into oatmeal, sprinkled on toast or over coffee, or mixed into a streusel topping for a fruit crisp may contribute to lowering blood sugar for those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome from the polyphenols which are naturally present. There is some evidence cinnamon also may help lower triglycerides and cholesterol.
  • Capsaicin in cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes and paprika may be helpful to those looking for a metabolism boost for weight loss. The spicy red peppers in prepared foods may make them less tempting to those prone to overeating and contribute to feelings of satiety. When creating your own spiced dry rub for grilled meats include cayenne or paprika. Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes over your favorite pizza or add the flakes to your favorite stir fry combination, but use caution in how much you add for maximum enjoyment.

The full benefit of these and other spices and herbs comes from consuming them daily, or preferably multiple times per day. For most of us that is nearly impossible. Thankfully a few high quality nutritional supplements add the extracts of many herbs, fruits, green tea, etc. so you can get the benefits daily.
Portions courtesy of Dell Rae Moellinberg, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.  M2 Communications 

Do you have any idea what is in your fast food hamburger?

Here is an amazing story from Natural News:

Window cleaning chemical injected into fast food hamburger meat

(NaturalNews) If you’re in the beef business, what do you do with all the extra cow parts and trimmings that have traditionally been sold off for use in pet food? You scrape them together into a pink mass, inject them with a chemical to kill the e.coli, and sell them to fast food restaurants to make into hamburgers.

That’s what’s been happening all across the USA with beef sold to McDonald’s, Burger King, school lunches and other fast food restaurants, according to a New York Times article. The beef is injected with ammonia, a chemical commonly used in glass cleaning and window cleaning products.

This is all fine with the USDA, which endorses the procedure as a way to make the hamburger beef “safe” enough to eat. Ammonia kills e.coli, you see, and the USDA doesn’t seem to be concerned with the fact that people are eating ammonia in their hamburgers.

This ammonia-injected beef comes from a company called Beef Products, Inc. As NYT reports, the federal school lunch program used a whopping 5.5 million pounds of ammonia-injected beef trimmings from this company in 2008. This company reportedly developed the idea of using ammonia to sterilize beef before selling it for human consumption.

Aside from the fact that there’s ammonia in the hamburger meat, there’s another problem with this company’s products: The ammonia doesn’t always kill the pathogens. Both e.coli and salmonella have been found contaminating the cow-derived products sold by this company.

This came as a shock to the USDA, which had actually exempted the company’s products from pathogen testing and product recalls. Why was it exempted? Because the ammonia injection process was deemed so effective that the meat products were thought to be safe beyond any question.

What else is in there?
As the NYT reports, “The company says its processed beef, a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips, is used in a majority of the hamburger sold nationwide. But it has remained little known outside industry and government circles. Federal officials agreed to the company’s request that the ammonia be classified as a ‘processing agent’ and not an ingredient that would be listed on labels.”

Fascinating. So you can inject a beef product with a chemical found in glass cleaning products and simply call it a “processing agent” — with the full permission and approval of the USDA, no less! Does anyone doubt any longer how deeply embedded the USDA is with the beef industry?

Apparently, this practice of injecting fast food beef with ammonia has been a well-kept secret for years. I never knew this was going on, and this news appears to be new information to virtually everyone. The real shocker is that “a majority” of fast food restaurants use this ammonia-injected cow-derived product in their hamburger meat. It sort of makes you wonder: What else is in there that we don’t know about?

“School lunch officials and other customers complained about the taste and smell of the beef,” says the NYT. No wonder. It’s been pumped full of chemicals.

There are already a thousand reasons not to eat fast food. Make this reason number 1,001. Ammonia. It’s not supposed to be there.

You can get the same effect by opening a can of dog food made with beef byproducts, spraying it with ammonia, and swallowing it. That is essentially what you’re eating when you order a fast food burger.

It’s almost enough to make you want to puke. If you do so, please aim it at your windows, because ammonia cuts through grease like nothing else, leaving your windows squeaky clean!

Sources for this story include:
NY Times:

ABC News:

Dietary Zinc Intake Correlates with DNA Strength

Zinc is an essential mineral with a known role in maintenance of DNA integrity. However, until recently, no human studies have directly examined the role of zinc status on DNA damage in healthy adults.

A study published in the August 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of varying levels of zinc intake on DNA damage in healthy adult males. Nine healthy men with reported mean daily zinc intakes of 11 mg/day were subjected to three different dietary periods.

* Days 1-13 = baseline period (11 mg zinc/day)
* Days 14-55 = zinc depletion (0.6 mg zinc/day for 1 week, then 4 mg zinc/day for 5 weeks)
* Days 56-83 = zinc repletion (11 mg zinc/day for 4 weeks with 20 mg supplemental zinc for the first 7 days)

Blood samples were collected on days 1, 13, 35, 55, and 83, and three key metrics were analyzed (DNA damage in peripheral blood cells, plasma oxidative stress, and antioxidant defense biomarkers).

As expected, dietary zinc depletion was strongly associated with increased DNA breakage in peripheral blood cells (day 13 compared with day 55, P < style="border-bottom: 1px dashed rgb(0, 102, 204); cursor: pointer;" class="yshortcuts" id="lw_1255669723_2">DNA strand breaks during the entire zinc depletion period (P = 0.006).

This study provides strong evidence for dietary zinc intake being a critical factor in maintaining DNA integrity in humans.

Song Y, Chung CS, Bruno RS, Traber MG, Brown KH, King JC, Ho E. 2009. Dietary zinc restriction and repletion affects DNA integrity in healthy men. AJCN 90(2):321-8.

Coming down with the flu?

With the onslaught of swine flu throughout the global community, there is a new push towards acquiring and stockpiling drugs that can be used to treat potentially lethal strains of influenza.

According to medical science there is a pharmaceutical treatment option available called Tamiflu, that they say will treat swine flu.
But little do consumers know that there is a natural component within this mass-produced pharmaceutical. And what is this powerful ingredient? None other than the common herb star anise.
In fact, most people are unaware that over 40% of all pharmaceutical medications come from plant botanicals, including everything from common aspirin to powerful cancer-fighting medications such as tamoxifen.[1]

The Origins of Star Anise

Star anise, or Illicium verum, is a native plant of Asia, commonly used in traditional societies to spice food, reduce intestinal gas, aid in digestion and act as a powerful diuretic medicinal herb. It is also known to promote vitality and vigor in the human system, and is a common ingredient in the French liqueur Pernod. This fragrant, licorice-spiced plant is now playing a starring role in one of the most sought-after drugs on the planet: Tamiflu.

How Star Anise Oil Can Help

One of the best ways of preventing the flu is to keep your overall health at optimum levels, through a proper diet and regular exercise routine. Star anise, in its natural form, can help the body’s immune system fight off many strains of flu, as well as many other health challenges.
To help maintain your health at optimal levels you should take a high quality nutritional supplement in addition to a well balanced diet.