Komaroff: Calcium supplements may not be right for men

Komaroff: Calcium supplements could not be appropriate for males
For the duration of 12 many years of follow-up, males who took much more than 1,000 milligrams (mg) of supplemental calcium per day have been twenty % far more very likely to succumb to heart condition than individuals who didn&#39t get calcium supplements. But there was no connection in between&nbsp…
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Editorial: Can you rely on dietary dietary supplements?
Regardless of whether buyers are buying brand-title or significantly less-costly, store-brand nutritional vitamins or supplements, they assume what&#39s within the bottle to match what&#39s on the label. But a controversial investigation by the New York attorney basic has raised fresh&nbsp…
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Low Vitamin D: A Global Concern

Recent studies suggest that vitamin D is much more important in fighting off disease than previously thought. Being deficient in this vitamin puts one at risk of diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis. Chances are that if you live in a northerly geographic region you do not get enough vitamin D. Persons who live a rather sedentary lifestyle and do not get outside for at least a 15-minute daily walk in the sun are in the same position. Latinos, African-Americans and others with dark skin tend to have much lower levels of vitamin D, as do people who are overweight or obese. All around the world millions of persons suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This phenomenon is so common that it affects persons on every continent, of all ethnic groups, and across all ages. Some surveys suggest that perhaps half of the world’s population has inadequate blood levels of vitamin D. Sadly, physicians, even in industrialized countries, are seeing the resurgence of rickets, the bone-weakening disease that had been largely eradicated through vitamin D fortification.

As with most research findings, there is plenty of debate. Indeed, as opposed to what many people think, there are few certainties in science; its nature is to be open to criticism, discussion, and revision. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in November 2010 which recommends a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU per day, for people ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU, for people over age 70—the report referred to persons living in the U.S. and Canada. The report also recognized the safety of vitamin D by increasing the upper limit from 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day, and acknowledged that even at 4,000 IU per day, there was no good evidence of harm.

Some in the scientific community believe the new guidelines are too conservative about the intake, and that they do not give due consideration to the latest findings about vitamin D and health. They contend that the new guidelines are not enough to prevent chronic disease, and they are not sufficient to help those who have problems with their bones. This is an important debate, and in order to understand it better it is necessary to know the origins of vitamin D and how it functions in the human body.

Vitamin D Sources and Function

Our body makes vitamin D and it is also a nutrient we eat. The body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, which itself is triggered by sun lighting on the skin. Yet many persons do not make enough vitamin D from the sun, persons with darker skin, those who are overweight, and persons who use products that block sunlight being among them. Correctly applied sunscreen reduces our ability to absorb vitamin D by more than 90 percent.

To be sure, not all sunlight is of the same quality and intensity: The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays—the so-called “tanning” rays, and the rays that trigger the skin to produce vitamin D—are stronger near the equator and weaker at higher latitudes. Indeed, persons who live in places prone to considerable cloudiness and rain can suffer from vitamin D deficiency. The other way we get vitamin D is to eat food that contains a lot of it. However, few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamins supplements.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retains calcium and phosphorus, which are critical elements for building bone. Laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, can increase muscle strength, and can help control infections. There may yet be other functions for vitamin D, and scientists continue to explore the many other uses for this important substance.

New Vitamin D Research: Beyond Building Bones

Vitamin D research has proved to be of considerable fecundity. Although there have been many reports issued over the years, there are only a few that offer enough evidence to constitute a clear medical breakthrough. Here we provide the more promising areas of vitamin D research, highlighting the complex role of vitamin D in disease prevention—and the many unanswered questions that remain.

Vitamin D and Bone and Muscle Strength

A number of random trials have shown that high doses of vitamin D supplements help reduce bone fractures. A summary of the evidence comes from a combined analysis of 12 fracture prevention trials that included more than 40,000 elderly people, most of them women. Researchers found that high intakes of vitamin D supplements—of about 800 IU per day—reduced hip and non-spine fractures by over 20 percent, while lower intakes (400 IU or less) failed to offer any fracture prevention benefit.

It has been shown that vitamin D may also help increase muscle strength, which can help prevent elderly persons from falling, a common problem that leads to increased rates of disability and death among them. A combined meta-analysis found that taking 700 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day lowered the risk of falls by 19 percent; the combined studies also show that taking 200 to 600 IU per day offered no such protection. Based on this data, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults over age 60 maintain vitamin D blood levels of 30ng/ml. This means that most people will need vitamin D supplements of at least 800 to 1,000 IU per day, and possibly higher, to reach these levels.

Vitamin D and Heart Disease

The heart, as a skeletal muscle, is a receptor of vitamin D. A number of studies have found that lack of vitamin D is linked to heart disease. The Health Professional Follow-Up Study observed the vitamin D blood levels in nearly 50,000 men who were healthy. They followed the same group for 10 years and found that men who were low in vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men who had adequate levels of vitamin D. Other studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased of heart failure, sudden cardiac death, stroke, overall cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death. There is some evidence that vitamin D plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure and preventing artery damage. This goes some ways in explaining the findings above. However, more research is needed before a sounder conclusion can be made.

Vitamin D and Cancer

Nearly 30 years ago, researchers discovered an interesting correlation between colon cancer deaths and geographic location. They found that people who lived at higher latitudes, such as in the northern U.S. or Canada, had higher rates of death from colon cancer than people who lived closer to the equator. The sun’s UVB rays are weaker at higher latitudes, and in turn, people’s vitamin D levels in these high latitude locales tend to be lower. Researchers formed the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency can lead to an increased risk for getting colon cancer

Some time has passed, but dozens of studies suggest a relationship does exist between low vitamin D levels and increased risks of colon and other cancers. The evidence is strongest for colorectal cancer, with observational studies have found that persons with lower vitamin D levels are at higher risk of getting such diseases. Vitamin D levels may also predict cancer survival, but there is as yet little evidence to support this. However, it is not yet certain that taking vitamin D supplements necessarily lowers the risk of contracting cancer. This latter idea will be tested in the VITAL trial. The VITAL trial will look specifically at whether vitamin D supplements lower cancer risk. However, it is likely to be years before the trial produces any results. Additionally, the VITAL trial could fail to detect a real benefit of vitamin D. There are several reasons for this. First, if people in the placebo group decide to take their own vitamin D supplements, the differences between the placebo group and the supplement group could be minimized. Second, the study may not follow participants for a long enough time to show a cancer prevention benefit; or study participants may be starting supplements too late in life to lower their cancer risk.

In any case, given the evidence now on hand, 16 scientists have circulated a “call for action” on vitamin D and cancer prevention. Given the high rates of vitamin D inadequacy in North America, the strong evidence for reduction of osteoporosis and fractures, the potential cancer-fighting benefits of vitamin D, and the low risk of vitamin D supplementation, these scientists recommend vitamin D supplementation of 2,000 IU per day. The Canadian Cancer Society has also recommended that Canadian adults consider taking vitamin D supplements of 1,000 IU per day during the fall and winter. They also recommend that people who are at high risk of having low vitamin D levels because of old age, dark skin, or geographic location take vitamin D supplements year round.

The New Vegetarians

Whether it’s to save the earth, money or their waistlines, more Americans are cutting back on meat. Should you elevate vegetables from sidekick to leading role? Here’s all you need to know to make meatless eating work for you.

Vegetarianism is having a moment

When former President Bill Clinton showed up to daughter Chelsea’s wedding looking slim and trim, he credited his strict vegetarian diet for his transformation. Meanwhile, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently gave up animal products, publicly declaring herself a vegan.

These two high-profit Americans have plenty of company in the meatless movement. Sure, countless others still hold onto childhood Brussels sprout biases; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 26.3 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times per day. But signs suggest that the number of herbivores in the U.S. is on the rise. For example, last November the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics issued its first-eve guidelines for dietitians who are counseling vegetarians. With efforts like Meatless Mondays, a campaign to cut meat consumption to improve personal and environmental health, gaining momentum, nearly 20 percent of households are eating more meatless meals, reports the Food Marketing Institute. Some cite saving money as the primary driver, but most say they’re cutting down on meat to improve their health.

Scaling back on meat won’t necessarily net you better health or a svelte body. And let’s be clear: Going meatless won’t miraculously melt off extra pounds. However, swapping plant -based foods for animal-based ones will often save you calories and fat grams, and may make meeting your goal weight easier. In general, vegetarians weigh 3 to 20 percent less than meat eaters, according to an analysis published in Nutrition Reviews. What’s more, other studies link a well-planned vegetarian diet with a lower BMI and a wealth of health benefits, including reducer risks for cancer and chronic disease. The emphasis here is on the phrase “well-planned”. If you end up substituting meat with high fat options like cheese, your health bonuses are nil.

With that, here’s some freshly picked info for exploring the veggie landscape in a way that’s healthy and delicious.

Get what you need

Afraid you won’t get enough nutrients if you cut out meat? Most lifelong carnivores feel they need meat and other animal products for god nutrition, but that’s not the case. You can get key nutrients (and promote good health) from these plant-based sources.

Nutrient: Plant-based sources
Protein: Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, nut butters, peas, whole grains and soy-based products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers)
Iron: Fortified cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, soy products, whole wheat breads and peas.
Omega-3s: Flax and other plant sources provide some, but not enough; if you don’t’ eat fish, consider an algae-derived DHA supplement.
Calcium: Fortified soymilk, cereals and orange juice; tofu made with calcium sulfate; dried beans and peas; nuts; seeds; some greens.
Vitamin D: Fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms (especially mushrooms treated with UV light, available in supermarkets), fortified cereals.

So you call yourself a Vegetarian?

The vegetarian spectrum runs the gamut from those who eat meat occasionally to raw foodists who will not consume anything cooked above certain temps. Below, a veggie glossary, from least to most extreme.

Flexatarian (Semi-vegetarian): Eats mostly plant-based foods; occasionally eats animal products as well as fish, poultry or meat.

Pollo-vegetarian: Eats poultry, such as chicken, turkey and duck.

Pescetarian: Eats fish and seafood, but no meat.

Lacto-ovo Vegetarian: Eats dairy products and eggs.

Lacto Vegetarian: Eats dairy products.

Classic Vegetarian: Eats diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts; no meat, poultry or fish.

Vegan: Follows a strict vegetarian diet that excludes animal-derived products like butter.

Raw Foodist: Eats no plant-based foods heated above 115 to 118 degrees.

The Importance of Calcium for Children

Here is the big problem – soda has displaced milk. Calcium deficiency is not likely to be a frequent problem until school age. It is well known that breast milk and cow’s milk formulas are both good food sources. Unless the source is not available, or there is an absorption or allergy problem, we should not worry about our normal children until they enter the “pop” age. Sodas can displace milk intake at far too early an age. Many teenagers and young parents may think of milk as being the stuff for little kids and may substitute juice or water for milk if they are convinced that soda is bad.

Adolescence is the time to build bones. The issue of calcium intake is something very important to think about, especially for girls in their teens. This is the time when the good bones of women in their forties and fifties are being predetermined. For a growing child over five years old, recommendations vary from 800-1,200 mg of calcium per day.

Dairy products are still a good calcium source, and cultured dairy is especially good. For example, 1.5 ounces of hard cheese provides 300 mg of calcium, the same as 8 ounces of milk or yogurt. Cultured milk products, such as buttermilk and yogurt, have many health advantages. And low-fat yogurt (low- not non-, since some fat is needed for the good bacteria to feast on) weights in at 415 mg per 8 ounces (over a third better than plain milk). Another ready source is 300 mg of any common calcium-based (usually calcium carbonate) antacid. If the daily recommendation is not met by the end of the day, take a tablet containing 300 mg after dinner. When the diet is heavy in acid-forming meat and other protein sources and light in alkaline-forming fruits and vegetables, more calcium is used to neutralize urine and lost from the body, leaving less for bone metabolism. Along with adequate vitamin D and exercise, calcium issued more efficiently and not as much is needed.

Other sources do not come up to the level of milk products, but coupled with other lifestyle factors they may prove adequate. These are: sardines (91 mg in two little ones, soft bones and all), sunflower seeds (4 ounces contains 33 mg of calcium but a whopping 100 mg of magnesium, half the daily requirement), and leafy green vegetables (10 ounces of raw spinach contains 202 mg calcium and half a cup of boiled has 139 mg but is relatively heavy in magnesium at 65 mg). Peanuts and dried beans offer much less calcium but are a moderately good source of magnesium. Soybeans deserve a special dispensation in that, depending on how they are prepared, they are relatively abundant in both calcium and magnesium. A half-cup of raw, firm tofu yields 258 mg of calcium and 118 mg of magnesium. A half-cup of dry roasted soybeans yields 232 mg of calcium and 196 mg of magnesium, which meets the daily requirement. Other sources of calcium and magnesium include almonds, whole grains, and figs. (We have given magnesium values at the same time as those for calcium because magnesium is required to aid the metabolism of calcium).

Truth About Women Taking Supplements

10 of the most popular vitamins, minerals, and herbs, and what they can – and can’t – do for you

It seems like a no-brainer: Pop a pill and – poof! – you can be on your way to stronger bones, a healthier heart, and thicker hair. Some supplement manufactures make it sound so simple. Not surprisingly, we’ve given up a lot during the recession, but we’re still downing vitamins and other supplements. We now spend more than $26 billion on them annually.

Taking supplements can be a smart move. Most American women, for example, fall short on calcium, and three-quarters of all Americans are low on vitamin D. But based on the analysis of research on 10 popular supplements many women take, some of the stuff you’re swallowing might be a waste of money – multivitamin included, which haven’t yet been shown to improve the health of the average person.

Many claims are overblown and unsubstantiated. Although supplements makers are legally bared from making durglike promises, some do anyway – and supplements don’t’ have to go through the same rigorous process as drugs to be proved safe and effective. Some ingredients have been linked to serious health risks or might cause dangerous interactions. If you take a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin and generic), for example, fish oil, ginger, ginkgo biloba, and other supplements can thin the blood, and other supplements can be risky because they can thin the blood, too. So ask your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking anything new.

What you need to know about Calcium

Calcium is an essential bone builder. It can also help with some PMS symptoms, and some early evidence indicates that it might do more for you, too – such as help lower the risk of colon cancer and possibly reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

Who should consider it – Many people, even those who regularly consume the recommended three daily servings of dairy products. It’s still a challenge to get enough calcium.

Howe much to take – For women younger than 50 the recommended daily intake is 1,000 milligrams, (A typical serving of dairy contains 200 to 400 milligrams). Women older than 500 need 1,200 milligrams daily; 9- to 18-year-olds are actively building bone and need 1,300 milligrams. Also, you should take it with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. If you take more than 500 milligrams, split the dose and take it at separate times during the day to improve absorption and minimize side effects such as bloating, constipation, and gas. And be sure to read labels; many foods are packed with extra calcium these days, so it’s easy to get too much. More than 2,500 milligrams daily can block the absorption of other nutrients and cause kidney problems.

Minerals and Calcium

Minerals

Many important bodily functions require certain minerals in order to operate correctly. Yet minerals, unlike vitamins, cannot be produced by our bodies. Therefore, adequate consumption of minerals is very important for your health.

At the same time, you cannot simply load up on these nutrients. Every mineral is required by your body in a specific amount. This precise amount depends on many factors including diet, mineral content of the oil in which your food is grown, medications, health, and the interaction of the mineral with other substances.

Minerals are divided into two groups: macro (or major) and micro (or minor). Macrominerals are required by your body in relatively high quantities. Generally, people need more than 200 milligrams of these nutrients a day. Calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium are all macrominerals.

Microminerals, on the other hand, are required by your body in trace amounts. Generally, people need less than 200 milligrams of these nutrients a day. Arsenic, boron, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, silicon, tin, vanadium, and zinc are microminerals.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, and an essential component of a healthy diet. It is important that everyone, regardless of age, consumes proper amounts of calcium, but most doctors advise people to increase their intake as they get older. However, your body can only absorb about 500 milligrams of calcium at a time, so your daily intake should be divided into separate doses.

Acid-Creating Foods

The average American diet includes many foods that, once eaten, create acid in your body. If you eat a majority of acidic foods and not enough alkaline foods, your body has to find alkalizing minerals elsewhere to neutralize its PH levels. It often has to resort to suing the calcium and protein in your bones. As a result, your bones can become weakened, possibly irrevocably, and your bodily systems can age at an accelerated pace, resulting in a slew of related problems. The following foods create particularly high acidity levels in your body.

• Chocolate, dairy products, such as butter, cheese, ice cream, milk and yogurt, drinks such as beer, black tea, coffee, and soft drinks, fish, such as haddock, fruit, such as blueberries, cranberries, and dried fruit, grains, such as barley, oats, rice, wheat, and white bread, honey, meat products, such as beef, chicken, ham, turkey, and veal, nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, processed soybeans, sugar, vegetables, such as corn and white vinegar.

Functions of Calcium in your body

• Activates numerous enzymes
• Helps cholesterol make sex hormones
• Needed for the absorption of vitamin B12
• Plays a crucial role in nerve impulse transmission
• Regulates iron transport in your cells
• Required (along with vitamin K) for blood to clot
• Used by muscles in energy production
• Vital for development of bones and teeth

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency (Hypocalcemla)

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Muscle spasms and twitching
• Osteoporosis (bone loss)

Symptoms of Calcium Toxicity (Hypercalcemia)

Since the body is limited in its ability to absorb calcium, there are few short-term effects (namely, constipation and kidney stones) of ingesting too much. However, long-term consumption of too much calcium can result in hypercalcemia – high levels of calcium in the blood. Additionally, combining excess calcium with excess vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, can be very dangerous. There are also several diseases, such as certain cancers, that can cause calcium toxicity. Blocked uptake of manganese, clogged arteries (which can predispose you to heart disease, constipation, decreased iron absorption, decreased magnesium absorption, decreased vitamin K production, decreased zinc absorption, kidney stones, and problems with your thyroid hormones.

Your body can only absorb 500 milligrams of calcium at a time. Therefore, to fully utilize your ingestion of calcium, the following suggestions for daily calcium consumption should be split into dosages. These amounts refer to your entire calcium intake, including what you eat and the supplements you take.

• Adults: 800 milligrams daily
• Menopausal women: 1,600 milligrams daily
• Premenopausal women: 1,000 milligrams daily
• Pregnant or lactating women: 1,200 milligrams daily

Diseases/disorders that can be treated with calcium – colon cancer, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, leg cramps, osteoporosis, preeclampsia, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Side effects and contraindications

• Decreases absorption of ciprofloxacin and most fluoroquinolone antibiotics
• Decreases aluminum absorption
• Increases the toxicity of digoxin
• Inhibits absorption of tetracycline
• Interferes with the absorption of thyroid medication
• May interfere with the absorption of magnesium, zinc, iron, manganese, and phosphorus

Other important factors

• Always use only pharmaceutical-grade supplements. Lower-grade products may be contaminated with lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, or cadmium.
• Calcium carbonate is not a good form of calcium because most of its calcium is not bioavailable.
• Calcium citrate and hydroxyapatite are both good sources of calcium. Bioavailability of calcium citrate is 2.5 times that of calcium carbonate.
• Milk is not the best source of calcium because pasteurization destroys up to 32 percent of its available calcium.
• Tums (antacids) are not a good source of calcium because the calcium they contain is poorly absorbed by the body.
• Vitamin C increases calcium absorption by 100 percent.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled USANA study assessed the impact of USANA Vitamins Body Rox Active Calcium Chewable on bone development and bone mineralization in 81 preadolescent girls. After 12 months of supplementation, girls receiving Active Calcium Chewable showed a net gain (1.41 percent) in bone mineral density, while girls in the placebo group showed a net decline (-0.94 percent). Gains in bone mineral content were also greater in the active treatment group than in the placebo group (5.83 percent versus 0.69 percent respectively).