Bone Density – A Quality Issue

D is for density as in bone density – a statistic that many women are concerned with. Bone density is a measure of the quantity of bone, not the quality. I like to make a distinction here, because bone quality is an important concern that is being overlooked by many.
Bone quality concerns reduced risk of fracture which should be distinguished from bone quantity as expressed as bone density. The conventional way to deal with osteoporosis is to keep old bone from being torn down by using estrogen and prescription drugs such as Fosamax and Actonel along with calcium and vitamin D supplements.
The problem with this approach is that bone is living tissue. It is constantly being built up and torn down. The modern approach just works at keeping old bone from being torn down and using just calcium which does not greatly strengthen bone such that it resists mechanical stresses. The result may be increased bone density, but the quality of the bone is poor and tends to be brittle.
Calcium alone does not build strong bone. Healthy bone is a matrix of minerals which includes manganese, boron, silica along with calcium and magnesium. It is the minor minerals that help make up the bone matrix that gives a degree of flexibility to bone, increasing bone quality such that fracture risk is reduced.
One of the best forms of calcium for increasing bone quality is the hydroxyapatite form. Hydroxyapatite calcium is the actual form of calcium found in bone tissue. It produces a more prolonged calcium balance than do soluble calcium salts. It helps the bone forming cells to become receptive to its components and to build bone tissue.
Other important factors in bone health include vitamin K, vitamin B6 and zinc. These cofactors are significant in that if they are absent, the calcium will go into bone spurs, arthritis and other calcifications of the tissues and joints. If these cofactors are present, the calcium will go into rebuilding bone. Good supplements for osteoporosis will have the proper forms of calcium along with the cofactors.
I cannot write an article on bone health without mentioning the importance of pH. pH is the measure between acid and alkaline. Many things in our diet make our bodies too acid. When the body is too acid, bone must be torn down so that the alkalizing minerals contained in the bone will buffer the acid. The conventional approach is to use pharmaceuticals to keep the bone from being torn down in this acid environment.
While it is important to keep bone from being torn down unnecessarily, I find that balancing pH is more valuable in the long run because of the other systemic benefits. When the pH is balanced, our bones tend to be healthy, we become more energetic, our mineral absorption is normalized, our digestive system works better, we have significantly more tissue oxygen, and we feel better.
Remember that while bone quantity is important, bone quality is what actually reduces risk of fracture. Bone quality is supported by having the right nutrients and a balanced ph.

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Mental Clarity and Memory – Keep Yours

Mental Clarity and Memory are two things that most people assume that they will lose with age. Many people suffer memory loss due to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain. The brain along with every other cell in the body is fed by our blood, the “life” of the body. If proper nutrients aren’t getting to the brain, they either aren’t in the bloodstream, or there is a problem with the blood delivery system. Also consider that some substances in the blood could be toxic to the brain.
One of the most important factors in brain health is omega 3 oils which are absent from the average diet. Deficiencies of these oils can cause impaired ability to learn and recall information. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a particular omega 3 fatty acid that is a fundamental building block for cellular membranes, most notably neuronal membranes in the brain.
B vitamins help maintain the health of our nerves and brain. Some cases of Alzheimer’s disease have been found to be due to B-12 and B-complex deficiency. Our ability to assimilate B-12 is sometimes impaired so it is helpful to supplement with either high-absorption or sublingual formulas.
Problems with the blood delivery system caused by clogged arteries and/or high cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood sugar could interfere with the brain’s ability to get nutrients. Natural agents that help increase circulation will help the brain work better – these include the Omega 3 oils, ginkgo biloba, and lecithin. It is important to change your habits (diet and exercise) so that you lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar if they are problems for you.
Ginkgo biloba is a powerful antioxidant herb that benefits the brain, retina and cardiovascular system. Studies show that ginkgo has a positive and measurable effect on dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease and people recovering from strokes. Other studies show that it enhances concentration and improves memory. Ginkgo is used in many formulas for enhanced mental clarity, better circulation and also for attention deficit disorder. Other herbs used for mental clarity and learning include gotu kola and bacopa. My favorite combination has all three.
Also notable for brain and nerve health are the following: lion’s mane mushroom, which helps repair nerves by stimulating nerve growth factors, supporting normal cognitive function and muscular coordination and response; and phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine which are phospholipids that have shown substantial benefits with neurological disorders, memory loss and depression. They are available either separately or in brain and nerve combinations.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that acts specifically on the brain and nerves, helping protect nerve cells from stress and deterioration which may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Acetyl-l-carnitine also naturally increases energy to the brain and helps relieve depression. Several studies have shown increased memory and better ability to solve complex problems when taking acetyl l-carnitine.
It is also important to avoid substances that are known to be toxic to the brain and nerves. These include the class of substances known as excitotoxins that excite the nerves to death. The most common excitotoxins are the artificial sweetener aspartame and the flavor enhancer MSG. Read labels of foods and diet products and make sure you are avoiding these toxins in order to maximize the health of your brain.
I hope this will get you thinking.

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Iodine

Iodine is an essential trace mineral that we normally obtain in our diet from iodized salt. Deficiency of iodine results in goiter or enlarged thyroid gland. Goiter is usually accompanied by hypothyroid conditions such as fatigue, coldness, constipation, weight gain and poor memory.
In 1924, iodine was added to table salt to remedy the massive iodine deficiency that was occurring in the United States. Iodine is normally supplied by things from the sea, such as fish and seaweed. Up until the late 1960’s, dough conditioners that contained iodine were commonly used, increasing the average daily intake of iodine to more than four times the current RDA of 150 mcg.
In the late 1960’s, these dough conditioners were replaced with bromine which interferes with the absorption of iodine. We also get exposed to bromides from many different chemical sources. So even if we get enough iodine in our diet, we end up deficient due to other factors that limit our uptake of iodine.
Traditionally, iodine has been linked to thyroid issues, but recent research has linked iodine to other conditions including cracked skin on the hands and feet, frequent sinus infections, cysts of the ovaries, uterus and / or breasts, fibroids, hot flashes, and emotional changes during cold weather.
Women tend to need more iodine than men. Breast and ovarian tissue uptake iodine at about the same rate as the thyroid. One iodine researcher found that about one woman in seven is iodine deficient. This is very close to the ratio of breast cancer in women.
Iodine desensitizes estrogen receptors in the breasts resulting in less cell growth while promoting cell death of malignant cells. Kelp, a natural source of iodine has been studied to show its anti-tumor effect. Females on thyroid hormone replacement and no iodine have about twice the risk for breast cancer as females on thyroid hormone replacement and supplemental iodine.
Supplemental iodine can be very beneficial to those with chronic auto-immune issues such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or even cancer.
Iodine supplementation works well only if you are deficient in iodine. A great test of iodine status is to paint a spot of iodine on your skin and see how long the stain stays there. If the stain is intact in 24 hours, you have sufficient iodine and do not need to supplement. However, if the stain is gone to significantly faded, you might benefit from supplemental iodine.
Potassium iodide made the news in the last few years as we all watched the Japanese nuclear plant after the disastrous earthquake. Iodine was “the remedy” for the radiation that leaked from the nuclear power plant because it would tie up the receptors in the thyroid gland and prevent it from taking on the radiation.
The protocol for using potassium iodide for protection against radiation involves taking relatively high doses for short periods of time. Taking any nutrient in large doses over long periods of time results in imbalance. If you take supplemental iodine, do a skin test periodically and/or monitor thyroid function to make sure you are not getting too much.

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Weight Loss – Common Sense

Reducing or losing weight is a topic I get a lot of questions about. Many of you already know that I don’t believe in diet pills or magic solutions that simply melt off excess weight without proper changes in diet and exercise.
That being said, let’s talk about weight loss. As we age our metabolism begins to slow and it becomes harder to take off that extra weight. What I notice in particular is that our habits become more ingrained and we get busier so that we don’t have the time to do what we know makes us lose weight. Here are some steps that will help.
Step 1. Drink water – lots of it. Start at 2 quarts. You may find that when you start giving your body enough water that you want more. It’s O.K. to drink more and get your system flushed out. Limit other drinks to one cup of coffee or tea per day.
Step 2. Stop consuming sugar. Yes, just stop. Now is a great time because there is plenty of fresh fruit available. Sugar is a major problem food because it is addictive – meaning the more you eat, the more you want. Sugar substitutes aren’t much better. Aspartame and Splenda both have problems associated with them. It is best to get your taste buds retrained so that they do not have to have something sweet.
Step 4. Stop eating bread, crackers, pasta and anything else made out of wheat. Wheat is inflammatory to almost everyone and tends to make you retain fluid and excess weight. I am not recommending a low-carbohydrate diet. There are plenty of good carbohydrates such as beans, brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potatoes that will help satisfy the appetite without adding to inflammation or blood sugar reactions.
Step 3. Eat at least 4 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. Again, this is a great time to do this since summer vegetables are beginning to come out of the garden. Make sure that at least 2 of these are raw. You can eat more non-starchy vegetables, up to 8 servings per day. For weight loss, raw is better, but there are some things that are just better cooked – for example, green beans.
Step 4. Eat 2 servings of fresh fruit per day. Grapefruit is a good choice since it helps burn fat; however, since it is not in season, you can eat cantaloupe, peaches, plums, apples, cherries, watermelon, apricots, etc. Fruit is best on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes prior to a meal.
Step 5. Start walking at least 30 minutes per day. Walk briskly, but slow enough that you can still talk. A good goal is to walk at least 4 of the 7 days of the week.
Step 6. Remember to eat lean protein at each meal. This can be chicken, fish, turkey, lean cuts of beef, low fat cottage cheese, or plain yogurt. There are some good vegetarian combinations that work such as beans and Ezekial bread or beans and brown rice.
With these steps in place, there are a few supplements that will help speed up weight loss. L-carnitine is one that helps to mobilize fat and turn it into energy. Conjugated linoleic acid or CLA is another supplement that helps turn fat into muscle.
I also recommend Citrimax (also known as garcinia) – a mild weight loss supplement that increases metabolism while decreasing appetite. My favorite weight loss supplement contains both Citrimax and l-carnitine along with other nutrients that help burn fat and stop cravings.  Green tea and yerba mate tea both give an energy boost and help suppress appetite. One cup of either green tea or yerba mate in the afternoon helps get you through the day with plenty of energy and no cravings. And, it’s much better for you than a soda.
Try these steps and see how you do.

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