Friday, September 17, 2010

Magnesium (Mg)

In a recent study, 75% of Americans were found to be deficient in magnesium because our soil has been depleted of his important mineral. Drugs such as diuretics and steroids lower our magnesium. It functions as a catalyst in over 1000 of our enzyme systems. This is the mineral, rather than calcium, that prevents and treats osteoporosis. It helps in PMS, mitral valve prolapse, kidney stones, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and migraines. Deficiency causes apathy, depression, kidney stones, disorientation, muscle weakness and spasms, poor memory, irritability, tremors, arrhythmias and seizures. Although magnesium can be found in foods including chard, pinto beans, avocados and oatmeal, I recommend supplements. rather than food since our modern farming methods produce magnesium poor crops.

The most commonly taken supplement is the inexpensive Magnesium Oxide, a poorly absorbed inorganic salt. Better would be the chloride salt. My choice would be Magnesium chelates. These are organic salts such as glycinate, malate, and lactate are much better absorbed. One of the better products is magnesium citrate which comes in a capsule or powder. Calm by Peter Gillam is particularly good. It comes in a variety of citrus flavors and is effervescent. I recommend 3 teaspoons a day, usually at night for better sleep, As the name implies it does relax the mind. Occasionally some get a little diarrhea with this dose. If this be the case, back off a little to 2 and a half teaspoons. This substance can be use with some absorption on the skin such as Epsons Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) or in a variety of lotions.

In general, magnesium is very safe. In fact, have never seen an overdose or toxic patient (hypermagnasemia) with this supplement. In that this is a intracellular ion, a serum test is not useful. I occasionally recommend the cellular magnesium test which is done by an under-the-tongue scrapeing as this reflects the true body amount. The RDA is 400 mg daily and our diet supplies only half of that. No prescription is needed to obtain this wonderful mineral

Monday, September 6, 2010


Cholesterol is only part of the story. Most heart attacks occur in folks who have not only normal cholesterol, but decent levels of its subtypes, HDL (Healthy Dynamite Lipids) and LDL (Lousy Darn Lipids). Also some who have elevated cholesterol and LDL with a low HDL have no cardiovascular disease. Actually it is the oxidized LDL that is the villain. But there is more to the tale. There have been new, more comprehensive lipid tests available to doctors in the last 10 years and most don’t even know about, let alone use them. There are two Labs that do these: the VAP test (short for Vertical Auto Profile), developed at the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) Medical Center, and the LPP (Lipoprotein Particle Profile) test offered by SpectraCell Laboratories in Houston. 

These tests are a boon for doctors and better for their patients who do not want to be just treated for heart disease, but rather prevent it. More information is needed if we are to utilize blood lipids as a reliable risk assessment. Thanks to medical science, we now have better studies that can break down the many components of cholesterol, and most importantly, single out the most dangerous fractions. You can now get a much more accurate picture of what may or may not be a cholesterol problem. 

Here are just a few of the key readings these tests give you that the old ones do not. Your LDLs are considered to increase the risk of heart attack and necessitate treatment. But LDL, for the most part, is really a good guy-a sheep slapped with a wolf's reputation. Your basic cholesterol is mostly LDL, a fatty substance produced in the liver and wrapped in a protein coating (Lipoprotein) that allows it to circulate in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is essential in the body as a raw material. Enzymes convert it to vitamin D, steroid hormones (like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol), bile acids needed for digestion and as part of our cells membranes. It also makes up 28% of our Brain!

LDL can be bad or good. The new tests identify if your LDL is bad or not. LDL becomes dangerous when it is oxidized or overly present as a small dense particle as opposed to a larger, fluffy more "buoyant" particle (Pattern A}. 
The small dense LDL is nefarious and if too many is labled Pattern B. B for Bad!! This is because the smaller Beebe like particles are more easily able to penetrate the endothelium. There also is a Pattern I, for intermediate, IDL and indicates that most LDL particles are very close in size to the normal gaps in the endothelium (26 nm).

The tests also indicates a subtype of LDL called Lp(a). When this substance rises abnormally in the bloodstream, the result of genetics, it can increase the risk of heart attack up to 25 times. This is a highly inflammatory and thrombotic molecule. There is no conventional medication for Lp(a), but niacin (vitamin B3), high dose vitamin C with Proline, and N-Acytel Cysteine (NAC) may help. When using Niacin beware that Homocysteine, another risk factor in the blood does not build up and hence should also be monitered. I also recommend a small dose of aspirin and acetomenaphin as a blood thinner. 

A high level of HDL-the so-called good cholesterol-is generally associated with protection against heart attack. We now know that HDL is further classed into HDL2 and HDL3. The difference between the two is HDL2 is far superior to HDL3 in providing protection for the heart. Triglyceride level, are of course measured too and anything above 100 (fasting) is considered abnormal. With these tests, various triglycerides are singled out.

The one to be concerned about is called VLDL3, the most inflammatory triglyceride, considered a prime indicator for coronary artery disease progression, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes. Triglycerides are fat globules in the bloodstream. In a concentrated form, they create the fatty "love handles" around your midsection. This then increass HsCRP that “rusts” our arteries. A better test incorprated in the VAP is the PLAC-2, which, more specifically, reveals not only how much plaque we have, but how stable it is. Unstable plaques rupture causing a sudden heart attack or what is even worse, A STROKE !!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thick and Thin Bacteria

The most important biomass on the planet for us is our individual intestinal population of bacteria. It influences many physiologic, immunologic and nutritional processes, including how fat we are.

The stomach and early small intestine with acid conditions and rapid flow contains only 100 bacteria per gram (20 drops) of content. Immediately before the large intestine, there are 300 and in the large intestine where the bacteria multiply and ferment, there are over 1,000 bacteria per gram. These intestinal bacteria evolved independently from us. They perform functions such as the breakdown of indigestible sugars and production of fats. When these bacteria are not functioning at their best it can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance and even diabetes!

The intestinal flora is a 12 lb. adaptable metabolic organ. Many diseases are caused by a disordered state of our microbiological ecology. The term for this is Dysbiosis. Our gut flora is more than just friendly and hostile bacteria: it’s a changing population of living organisms that can help or harm. Not only do they use our foodstuff for their own sustenance, but produce messengers that govern much of our body’s functions. Inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders, atopic dermatitis, food allergies, unexplained fatigue, mental/emotional disorders, arthritis, breast and colon cancer, and malnutrition are caused by Dysbiosis. One of the main causes of Dysbiosis is gluten, when eaten by the 30% of us who are intolerant. We, then, develop leaky guts and a variety of disorders including acne, fibromyalgia, (including body myopathy), migraine, celiac coronary artery disease, seizures, autism, ADHD, Alzheimers, multiple sclerosis, and peripheral neuropathy, to name a few.

Dr. P. J. Tutbaugh (Nature,12/21/06) reviewed the science of germs and obesity. Various classes of bacteria metabolize large molecular sugars (polysaccharides) into simple sugars and short chain fatty acids. These are easily absorbed and go directly to the liver where they are converted to the storage form of fat. Moreover, Firmicutes secrete a chemical called lipoprotein lipase activator that helps the fat cell to become fatter with these newly produced fats.
Contrarily, another group of bacteria (Bifido) is a poor producer of these fat makers. In ancient times with famines, these floral reverse ratios were life savers, but in modern times, with too much food and too little activity, it is a killer. Therefore, a high B/F ratio causes weight loss and a low ratio, weight gain.

In both mice and men, natural, healthy methods (pre and probiotics) alter our microbes for weight without changing diet or exercising. Folks who are put on a low carb and/or low fat diet and avoid Gluten successfully lose weight and increase their B/F ratio. Thin people have a higher B/F ratio than the obese.