Category Archives: vitamins

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How Nutrients Communicate: How Your Body Talks

How Your Body Talks:

How Nutrients Communicate

Stan Gardner, MD, CNS

With all of the conversation online and everywhere about nutrients, we might find our heads spinning, or find ourselves getting bored. So many options! So little definitive information!

Perhaps we might think there can be nothing more boring, yet there is nothing more important for our health, than to talk about and understand nutrients.

What this article is NOT:

  • This article is not about dieting, but it is about understanding what the various components of food ultimately do in our body.
  • This is not a treatise on the benefits of each individual vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid (which would take up volumes), but rather it is a simplified overview of major nutrients and their importance.

What is a Nutrient?

A nutrient is a biochemical substance the body needs for the normal functions of growth, reproduction and to maintain health. These are substances the body cannot make, so they must be ingested. Food is the best source of all nutrients. Supplements supplement our food; they supplement critical nutrients that have been identified.

The six traditional categories of nutrients include:

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • proteins
  • fats
  • carbohydrates
  • water

I am also going to include fiber’s important role in the body.

Vitamins and Minerals

In my office in Cleveland, Ohio, we had 3 biochemistry charts on the wall that were 2 1/2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The small print had all the known biochemical pathways with known enzymes and co-factors responsible for the reactions to take place. Those biochemical reactions are extremely slow unless there is an enzyme. An enzyme is a protein that accelerates (acts as a catalyst) the reaction, near the reaction site. Co-factors are needed so the enzyme works efficiently, or works at all. And guess what the majority of the co-factors are called? Vitamins and minerals!

There are over 300 reactions on the chart that require magnesium. It is fascinating to see where each of the B vitamins participates and is needed for optimal functioning. You can see where vitamin K fits into the clotting mechanism, vitamin A helps with night vision, and molybdenum and copper fit in with iron metabolism.

Proteins

Proteins are made up of amino acids, some of which cannot be made in the body (essential) and others that are made in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of enzymes, hormones, all of the proteins in the body and most tissues in the body. All organ tissue repair requires amino acids as building blocks.

Fats

The proper role of fats has been muddied by 30 years of anti-fat marketing, cholesterol fears and heart disease. A short review of how the body uses fat includes:

  • transports fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K
  • healthy skin
  • eyesight
  • nerve and brain develop and maintenance, including the myelin sheath
  • source of energy
  • regulates production of sex hormones
  • forms protective cushion for internal organs (although some of us have too much)
  • muscle movement
  • forms prostaglandins (hormone-like), which regulate inflammation

Each of our 75 trillion cells has a cell membrane with thousands of phospholipids composing the cell membrane. Each phospholipid has 3 strands coming out of a base (glycerol) that connects them. I call it a “threek.” For years our family has called three-pronged forks “threeks” (instead of a four-pronged “fourk”). Typically, two of the three strands of the phospholipid are made up of saturated fats, while the third strand has an omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid) or omega-6 (linoleic acid) fatty acid. These are the parent compounds and not the downstream products of DHA and EPA found in fish oils. The proper ratio of saturated fats to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important to maintain the proper fluidity and functioning of each cell.

Trans fatty acids, partially and fully hydrogenated oils are seen by the body as omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids and are placed into the ‘threek’ (phospholipid) in the cell’s membrane. Unfortunately, they do not function the same. The cell membrane becomes stiff and no longer functions optimally. The hormones don’t work as well, energy is not produced well, glucose does not enter the cell properly, cell-to-cell communication does not take place, and the list goes on.

Carbohydrates

There is no daily minimum requirement of carbohydrates as there is for fats and proteins. We get plenty of carbohydrates in the normal eating of grains, fruits and vegetables, so we do not need to worry about the amount we eat. Carbohydrates are a good source of glucose for production of energy, especially needed in the brain.

Whole grains not only have carbohydrates, but the hull also contains the vitamins and minerals necessary for their metabolism, in addition to fiber that slows down absorption. “Refined” grains means that those critical nutrients in the hull have been polished off, and the breakdown of the carbohydrate into glucose necessitates depleting vitamins that are in storage. This is what happened in Japan when white rice was introduced and beri-beri, a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), occurred. Because of the immediate and long-term effects of refined sugar in our body, sugar should be treated as a toxin and avoided.

Water

With all the trillions of dollars of research money spent, there is no solid science behind the recommendation of how much water to drink on a daily basis. The critical nature of proper hydration and the devastating effects of dehydration on the body are well known. Every organ of the body and every cell needs water to function properly. Perhaps the best guide to determine if we are getting enough is to note the color of the urine (darker yellow means dehydration) and perhaps the frequency and volume of urine output. However, these are also dependent on other factors.

The quality of the water we consume is important, because water can carry toxins that are brought into the body and interfere with function. All tap water for drinking should at least have a filter. Distillation and reverse osmosis are much more effective at eliminating toxins from the water supply.

Supplements

We live in a society where many in the farming and marketing industries are more interested in color and visual appeal of their products and less with nutrient value. Herbicides and pesticides are heavily used and remain on the surface (and deeper) in the food. Crop rotation is not practiced like it was 100 years ago. Fruits and vegetables are often picked before the ripening season so they can be transported thousands of miles. Sometimes they use ripening retardants to preserve food products until they reach market. We are being exposed to a greater number of toxins in the environment, so our need for nutrients for detoxification purposes is greater.

In view of the above concerns, and the fact that we do not have good inexpensive laboratory measures that are clinically significant of the vitamins and minerals we need, and because each of us has different needs of each nutrient (biochemical individuality), I recommend that we all need basic supplements to help ensure we get the nutrients we need.

Recommendations

  • Potent multivitamin (4 to 6 per day), vitamin D, essential fatty acids
  • 60 grams of protein per day (about deck of card size of meat, legumes, eggs). Emphasis should be on legumes for our protein sources.
  • Omega-3 oils—2 to 4 grams per day, both flaxseed and fish oil, omega-6 oils—2 to 4 grams per day
  • No sugar, no processed food
  • Whole grains (if not allergic)
  • At least 6 to 8 cups of water per day; more if indicated

If you would like to order high quality, custom-formulated supplements, or learn more information about Dr. Gardner and his practice in Sandy, Utah, call Keys to Healing Medical Center at (801) 302-5397

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Blood Pressure, Vitamins

Two Questions: My husband is taking Amlodipine Besylate 5 mg per day for blood pressure.  After taking it he feels hot.  What do you recommend taking? He also was diagnosed 8 years ago with autoimmune hepititus which they think is due to taking the antibiotic Avolox.

Also, do you know about Young Living Products?  We have been taking the vitamins, but they are so expensive.  I came across your supplements but I need some advice on what we need.  My Dr. says I need to increase my Vitamin D and say Sams club has their brand that is 3000 I.U.  My LDL Cholesterol is 142, total Cholesterol is 236 and Triglycerides are 185.  She says I am beginning to have Osteopenea.

Amlodipine  besylate is an anti-hypertensive that blocks the intake of calcium into the muscle of the arteries. The influx of calcium is what causes muscle to contract. This means it relieves whatever constriction the blood vessel muscle was having on the artery. This will dilate the blood vessel, permitting more blood to flow, which may cause a feeling of heat, and may also drop the blood pressure. I think conventional medicine is too aggressive with medication use with blood pressures. Although he would need supervision of a practitioner such as myself to monitor him, usually I shift patients from medications to high doses of magnesium (which also functions as a calcium channel blocker like amlodipine), CoQ10 and hawthorne.

As far as basic vitamins for general use, I recommend everyone be on a potent multivitamin, essential oils and vitamin D.  My website has a product called Vital Primivia which combines the potent multivitamin with appropriate dosages of essential oils in a convenient packet taken twice each day. Add 5,000 IU of vitamin D to it, unless your levels or vitamin D are already above 40.  For osteoporosis, you may want to add strontium and silicon also.

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Nutritional Supplements: What to Look For

You have mentioned using “good” vitamins and herbs. Could you tell me what brand(s) you suggest? Thank you!

There seem to be an endless number of supplement companies out there, and your question is a good one. A couple of years ago, as I explored the options to make recommendations to my patients, I had the same question, which led me to personally formulate my Vital Primivia brand that is available on this website.

In making your decision, you have at least 3 issues to consider:

1. Does the supplement have in it what the label says it has?

2. Are there toxins added or not removed in the processing of the supplement?

3. Does the supplement have the ability to break down, either in the stomach or the intestinal tract, so it can be absorbed by your body?

In the case of supplements, you truly “get what you pay for.”  Generally, the higher end supplements will fulfill all these criteria.

The higher end supplement companies only sell their products to health care professionals; this is why it is difficult to find a quality product at your local store.  Some network marketing companies have quality supplements, and a few of them will sell directly to the public.

Most of what is available in health food stores falls into an intermediate category; I would term these “good,” but they are not optimal.  They are often less expensive, but do not usually have quite as good quality control.

Poor quality supplements do not break down well in the body and often contain higher levels of toxic metals–mercury, lead, aluminum. These should be avoided. Generally, I do not recommend supplements from grocery stores, warehouse stores, or pharmacies. Sometimes you can find good supplements on the internet, but it is difficult to know which are which.  (Obviously, I suggest the Primivia brand from my website 🙂  I know the quality and I know the company that follows my formulation.  Many folks are reporting excellent results, with higher energy levels, less illness, and illnesses of a much shorter duration when they are on the supplements.

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If You Have Difficulty Swallowing Vitamin Pills…

I started my vitamin program Sunday, but my problem with swallowing large pills has made it impossible to continue, unless it is possible to crush the pills and add to either applesauce or juice.  Can you advise me on this.  Thank you.

A few people have trouble swallowing large tablets, but have less difficulty swallowing capsules of the same size.  The laboratory that produces my unique vitamin, Vital Primivia, can only put ½ the contents in a capsule that they can put into a tablet, and some people already think they are taking too many ‘pills’ as supplements.  So I have elected to go with tablets.  Because of the high calcium and magnesium content, they will be very difficult to crush.  You might try blending them in a high powered blender, such as a Blendtec or a VitaMix, along with fruit juices or sauces to disguise the flavor.  Because of the high B vitamin content, the taste will not be good.  But crushing the tablets will not change the potency or be a problem at all from a potency standpoint, so go ahead and try it.  If you and others are interested in making the capsule form available, recognizing that it will take more capsules to get the same potency, let me know and I will look seriously at the options.

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Vitamin Water Marketing and Sugar (?!)

Wall Street Journal

Coca-Cola Co. faces a deceptive claims law suit from The Center for Science in the Public Interest for its VitaminWater bottle. Coca-Cola claims the vitamins reduce the risk of chronic disease and support immune function. The opposing side claims the sugar content will promote obesity, diabetes and read more »