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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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Basic Supplements for Everyone

[spoiler alert: I’m giving you a BIG discount below!]

In order to be healthy and function optimally, the cells, tissue, and organs of the body must get the nutrients they need. First and foremost, this comes from eating nutritious food. However, because of

  • unique individual needs we each have, or
  • toxins in the body, or
  • damage to our body through the years, or
  • poor farming methods that do not keep vital nutrients in the soil and our food,

it is appropriate for everyone to take additional supplements to ‘supplement’ those nutrients.

Every body should be consuming a potent multivitamin.

Because calcium and magnesium take up so much room in a capsule or tablet, it is virtually impossible to take enough to supplement these important minerals. In typical supplements, calcium and magnesium are at low levels unless you take 4 to 6 per day of a multivitamin.

I recommend a multivitamin that has 500 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium, in three tablets taken twice each day. My recommended multivitamin is also strong in B vitamins and vitamin C.

Essential fatty acids are not made in the body, so they must be ingested like vitamins. In fact, they are called ‘essential’ because the body cannot make them, just like vitamins are ‘vital’ to the body because the body does not make them either. I prefer flax seed oil to supply omega 3 oils because it contains the parent compound alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is needed in cell membranes in order for cells to function properly. ALA is broken down in the body into the downstream products EPA and DHA, which are found in fish oils. Unfortunately, fish oils do not contain ALA.

‘Vitamin’ D is technically not a vitamin because the body makes it. However, it does not make enough to give us the optimal protection with the immune system and other organ support we need. I recommend that everyone take up to 5000 IU daily, in addition to the small amount in the multivitamin. A blood level is easy to obtain and can tell you for sure if your body has enough or if it needs more.

I’ll be sending you information about different supplements and how they can be used to fortify your body against the onslaught of breakdown and disease.

For your convenience these are all available on my website, keystohealing.net. Just click on the supplement button above. You can order at a 20% discount through November 30, 2014. Just place the coupon code THANKS and the discount will be in your shopping cart checkout. We’ll be eager to ship you your top quality, highly potent vitamins!

To your dynamic health and energy,

Dr. Stan

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma. I am wondering about alternative approaches to fight this cancer. Also are there known food that help fight this cancer. I assume ridding the body of sugar would be a good thing to do and adding many more veggies to the diet.

Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that, fortunately, does not metastasize, but grows locally. This certainly gives you time to try alternative approaches rather than immediate excision.

You need to start with being basically healthy–eat real food (no sugar, processed, soda pop), take supplements, sleep and exercise.

Then you may want to build your immune system.

1. shaitake and maitake mushrooms as supplements,

2. curcumen

3. Resveratrol, Green tea extract, antioxidants (vitamins C, E), vitamin D.

Locally you may want to try a new product that has both killing power on cancer cells and builds the immune system, called ASEA.  This can be sprayed locally on the lesion.  You can obtain the spray bottle through this website.  ASEA for internal use is a powerful tool, and can be obtained at this website:

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Thyroid

My husband has graves disease. His thyroid is up again and his eyes are sore and very red. What would you recommend. I have been told iodine and lithium in small doses have been beneficial. What do you think? We would like to stay a way from cordisone, if possible.

Graves disease means your husband’s immune system is attacking his thyroid gland.  This may cause

  • hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone),
  • hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) or be
  • euthyroid (normal thyroid hormone).

Iodine and lithium have been found to help reduce the autoimmine attack and stabilize the thyroid gland.  Additionally, careful attention to the diet is critical, as sugars and processed foods interfere with the immune system.

Toxins may also interfere with the immune system, and need to be identified and removed as much as possible.  As I don’t believe any of us can get all the nutrients we need from even the best of food, basic supplements like a potent multivitamin, essential fatty acids and vitamin D are also necessary.

Most of the patients I see that get on board with the complete program have negative thyroid antibody tests within 1 to 2 years.

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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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Nutrition improves learning

From Medial News Today:

After twelve months, children in Australia who received the drink with the nutrient mix showed higher blood levels of these micronutrients, which means that their bodies were taking up the nutrients. In addition, they performed significantly better on tests measuring their learning and memory capabilities compared to children in the other groups.

We live in a vitamin deficient society.  It makes sense that these children were positively affected by the increase in their nutrition.

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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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Confusion About Magnesium Stearate

Please let Dr. Gardner know that I had been very happy with the vitamins.  Today; however, during my research, I came across some information on magnesium stearate. As I read about it and its potential damage to the digestive system, I was feeling grateful that I was taking high quality vitamins. However, after I finished on the computer, I went to look at my bottle of vitamins and found that (yikes!) there IS magnesium stearate in my vitamins.

For that reason, I’ve decided to discontinue my vitamin subscription.  Thank-you for your services and please let me know if any vitamins are produced without magnesium stearate.

Your confusion and concern about magnesium stearate is easy to understand, especially given the “controversy” that abounds on the internet.  First, let me set your mind at ease, and then I’ll explain the truth about magnesium stearate.

There is no research in humans that shows any negative effect of magnesium stearate in the human population.  It is unclear if the companies marketing “magnesium stearate-free” nutritional supplements are based on misunderstanding or willful misinterpretation of data, but they clearly are trying to gain a marketing advantage and not trying to disseminate the truth.  Anyone who has had any anxiety about the use of magnesium stearate in my Primivia supplement line can relax and be confident of its high quality.

Magnesium stearate is used in the production of foods, cosmetics, medications and nutriceuticals. Stearic acid is an 18-carbon chain saturated fatty acid, and the stearate form is a safe isomer of the fatty acid.  Although not mentioned, magnesium palmitate is also used for the same purpose, and is a higher concentration than stearate.  Palmitate is a 16-carbon chain saturated fatty acid.  Both the stearic and palmitic acids in magnesium stearate are derived from natural, edible sources.  The normal ingestion of stearic acid in food on a daily basis is about 7,000 mg.  If you were to take 20 tablets of nutritional supplements that weighed about 1,000 mg each, you would ingest 300 mg of stearic acid, less than 5% of a normal daily intake.

There have been some rat studies and in-vitro studies (in test tubes) with magnesium stearate that showed two potential problems.  One is that it affected the immune system.  However–and this is a big however– although rats are usually tested before humans because so much of their physiology is like humans, this is not so with the stearic acid.  Rats do not have the enzyme to break down stearic acid into the 18-carbon oleic acid with one double bond.  This means the stearic acid builds up to toxic levels in rats in these studies.

The other potential problem with intake of fat is that it could slow down the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including supplements.  Two randomized studies done on the medications propranolol and metoprolol with three levels of magnesium stearate levels in the product showed no difference in bioavailability.

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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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Sugar and Raw Honey: A Comparison

What is the difference between sugar and raw honey? And is there a difference between raw honey and processed honey?

Raw honey contains a combination of sugars, including fructose and glucose, and smaller amounts of sucrose and maltose. It also contains Continue reading Sugar and Raw Honey: A Comparison