The Kite Runner
- Created on Monday, 15 July 2013 02:59
We’ll take a break from health tonight so that I can tell you about this movie I just saw, The Kite Runner. It affected me greatly, and there aren’t that many movies that affect me greatly.
The story begins in Kabul, Afghanistan in the 1970s, and it involves two boys, Amir and Hassan, who were about 13. They were best friends, but it was an unusual friendship because Hassan and his father were servants to Amir and his father. There were no mothers involved. Hassan and his father were of the Hazara community, considered lower class. Best pals Amir and Hassan were often badgered and threatened by a gang of older boys led by Assef. These boys hated Hassan for being Hazara, and they hated Amir for befriending a Hazara and treating him like a human being. It almost came to blows once until Hassan pulled out his slingshot- with which he was expert- and threatened to take out Assef’s eye. So, the older boys backed off. But another time, they trapped Hassan in an alley alone, and they brutally beat him, and then Assef anally raped him. Hassan didn’t know it, but Amir was there, hiding. He saw the whole thing, but out of cowardice, he did nothing.
Everything changed after that. The friendship between Amir and Hassan collapsed. It wasn’t Hassan’s wish at all, but Amir was stricken with soul-battering guilt. And eventually, Amir took devious and cunning action to have Hassan and his father banished from his father’s house. It worked, although not exactly in the way he planned.
Amir wasn’t fundamentally bad- far from it. His nature was to be kind, respectful, and good, and you see it throughout the movie. It’s just that he was in pain from the guilt, and he thought that making Hassan go away would make his pain go away. Of course, it didn’t work out that way.
But then, the Soviet/Afghan war broke out, and Amir and his father had to escape to Pakistan. On the way, there was an incident in which a Russian soldier tried to force himself on an Afghan woman, and it was Amir’s father who stood in the way. But, witnessing his father’s courage – to defend a perfect stranger- only heightened Amir’s self-loathing for having abandoned his friend.
Then, it jumps ahead to where they have immigrated to America. Amir and his father are living in Fremont, California, where there is, apparently, a large Afghan community. They went from being wealthy Afghans to ordinary, working class Americans- but at least they survived the war. Amir is a fine young man who is very devoted to his father, who is ailing. And he is pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a writer, a novelist. He has graduated from community college, and he seems rather Americanized – he speaks English perfectly- but, he is still attached to his Afghan roots. He falls in love with a beautiful Afghan woman from a well-respected family, and they have a traditional wedding. His father dies soon afterwards. It’s a good marriage, but they are unable to conceive children. He does succeed as a writer, and Amir has definitely made a life for himself, but there is a perennial sadness about him, and the viewer, of course, knows the reason why. The burden of his guilt over what happened with Hassan he wears like an albatross around his neck, and he has no one in whom to confide.
Some years later, Amir receives a call from his father’s best friend, Rahim, who still lives in Pakistan. This man was like an uncle to Amir growing up. Rahim tells Amir that he is dying, but that he would like to see him before dies, and that he has something very important to tell him. So, Amir travels alone to Pakistan, and Rahim informs him that Hassan is dead- killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. But, Hassan had written a letter to Amir, which he entrusted Rahim to deliver. So, trembling, Amir reads the letter from his childhood friend, and from the letter, and from some other things that Rahm tells him, Amir realizes that there is something that he has to do. It’s for Hassan; it’s for his father; and it’s also for himself- a second chance to do the right thing in the face of grave peril. So, he travels into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan on this mission, and to say that it was harrowing doesn’t begin to do it justice. At this point in the story, you are going to be riveted to your seat. I’m not going to say any more about it because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But, let’s just say it’s a story of rising to the vicissitudes of fate, and a story of redemption.
If you’re wondering about the title, it had to do with the sport of kite fighting, which is very popular in Afghanistan. It’s where two kite flyers are maneuvering their kites so that the string of one cuts the string of the other. And when the loser’s kite floats down, the winner gets to keep it. And there’s a team effort involved, consisting of a main combatant who handles the string and an assistant. And one of the things the assistant does is run to retrieve their opponent’s fallen kite which is now theirs, hence the title: the kite runner. Hassan was Amir’s kite runner.
Acid inhibitors promote heart disease
- Created on Sunday, 14 July 2013 20:21
Drugs that are commonly prescribed- and taken without prescription- to treat acid reflux have been linked to a devestating side effect — cardiovascular disease.
That’s the conclusion of a disturbing new report by researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital, Stanford University and Imperial College London.
The researchers found that these drugs — known as proton pump inhibitors or PPIs — can cause the constriction of blood vessels. And their regular use can lead to hypertension and a weakened heart. Common examples include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid.
"The surprising effect that PPIs may impair vascular health needs further investigation," said Dr. John Cooke, the study's chief investigator.
"Our work is consistent with previous reports that PPIs may increase the risk of a second heart attack in people that have been hospitalized with an acute coronary syndrome.
"Patients taking PPIs may wish to speak to their doctors about switching to another drug to protect their stomachs, if they are at risk for a heart attack."
About 1 in 12 Americans take proton pump inhibitors.. They are among the pharmaceutical industry's biggest sellers and most profitable moneymakers.
PPI drugs are activated by specialized cells in the stomach and stop the movement of protons into the intestine, lessening acid levels.The researchers used samples of human cells and mouse models in reaching their conclusions.
"PPIs interfere with the ability of blood vessels to relax," lead author Yohannes Ghebramariam said.
"They have this adverse effect by reducing the ability of human blood vessels to generate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide generated by the lining of the vessel is known to relax, and to protect, arteries and veins."
The report is the new issue of the medical journal Circulation, published by the American Heart Association.
If you have a problem with acid reflx, you had better find a better solution. The very princple of destroying stomach acid is wrong. You need your stomach acid. You can' t digest your food properly without, and it helps protect you from infectious diseases. Your stomach is supposed to be acid, so don't be looking to fix an abnormality by creating an abnormality. Two wrongs do not make a right: not in life and not in health. The most important thing is to straighten out your lifestyle: your diet, your weight, your exercise, and your habits (ditching coffee, tobacco, and alcohol). To get relief, try mastic gum, deglycerrated licorice, orange peel extract, or other natural substances. But avoid the phamaceuticals for this. It is not the way to go.
What is the Sodium/Potassium Ratio of your diet?
- Created on Saturday, 06 July 2013 01:19
It better be leaning heavily towards potassium because otherwise, you have a greater risk of dying, according to a new study. It found that people who eat high sodium, low potassium diets have a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or from any cause. The study, which appears in the July 11, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, adds to the already-substantial evidence that high salt diets have negative effects on health. And it highlights a key dietary change people should make: Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium—and eat less bread, cheese, and processed meat, since these and other processed foods are high in sodium and low in potassium.
When it comes to the heart, sodium and potassium have opposite effects. High sodium increases blood pressure, ultimately leading to heart disease, while it also has a directly hardening, stiffening effect on blood vessels. High potassium, on the other hand, helps relax blood vessels which lowers blood pressure. Our bodies need far more potassium each day than sodium, and the latest guidelines say that most Americans should limit their sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, the amount in about two-thirds of a teaspoon of table salt. But the typical US diet— being low in produce and high on processed foods—is just the opposite: Americans average about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day while only getting about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day. They’re consuming more sodium than potassium, which is deadly!
The newest study, which is based on diet reports from participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, followed just over 12,000 men and women for an average of 15 years. Sodium intakes averaged about 4,300 milligrams per day in men and 2,900 milligrams a day in women. Potassium intakes averaged a good bit lower (3,400 milligrams and 2,400 milligrams), and substantially lower than the 4,700 milligrams per day that the US government recommends. (7)
People with the highest sodium intakes had a 20 percent higher risk of death from any cause than people with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes. But what may be even more important for health is the relationship of sodium to potassium in the diet: People with the highest ratio of sodium to potassium in their diets had double the risk of dying of a heart attack than people with the lowest ratio, and they had a 50 percent higher risk of death from any cause.
The US government and European governments have started working with the food industry to lower sodium levels. Finland and the UK have done the most, and in the US, the Institute of Medicine has recommended that the FDA regulate the amount of salt in commercially prepared food. Some manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to cut back on sodium by 20 percent over the next five years, but Campbell Soup announced in early July 2011 that it was raising sodium levels in some of its soups, blaming its previous salt reduction for sagging sales.
Ultimately, regulatory efforts will be futile because consumers can always add salt to their food. If the soup tastes bland to them, they’ll just add salt at home.
But, what consumers need to realize is that you adjust to a lower salt intake over time, that initially the food tastes bland to you because you’re used to that jolt of salt, but eventually you learn to appreciate the more subtle flavor of the foods without salt or with less salt. Your taste buds can return to a more pristine state of savoring food without salt. It’s worth the effort to do this because high-salt is deadly.
Fiddler on the Roof
- Created on Friday, 07 June 2013 15:40
Fiddler on the Roof is a wonderful musical, and I would like to share a few impressions about it with you- and there is a health angle. Of course, I saw it years and decades ago and more than once. But, I hadn’t seen it in a long time until I saw it recently, and I liked it just as much. I consider it a masterpiece, a spectacle of storytelling and fun, but the thing about it that is absolutely genius is: the music.
The composer, Jerry Bock, is not a household name like Rogers and Hammerstein, nor like Irving Berlin, but he is up there with them. His songs are absolute gems, and I have every expectation that a thousand years from now people will be listening to and singing, Sunrise Sunset, If I Were a Rich Man, To Life, Matchmaker and more.
For me, musical genius is the most intriguing kind of genius, and I am referring to composers. Of course, there have been a lot of great composers, but very few of this caliber. I would say that it is a one-in-a-million talent, except that that isn’t scarce enough. It’s more like one in a hundred million or maybe one in two hundred million people who can compose like this.
And it wasn’t just his songs. Even the instrumental dance numbers were very sophisticated and musically accomplished. It’s breathtaking to realize that one person wrote all that.
The story was supposed to take place in the fictional Jewish village of Anatevka in Russia in 1905, but my impression is that it would have been in modern-day Ukraine, since they kept mentioning Kiev as the big city. But, it was actually filmed in Croatia in 1971, which was part of Yugoslavia, which was part of the Soviet Union. And as you know, Communism was still in force then, as was the Cold War. So, I’m sure it took some haggling to get this Western movie made in a Communist country. And what I notice is that Communism is well represented in the movie. What I mean is that it is not maligned. The bad guys in the story are definitely the tsarists- not the commies. And the young zealot, Perchik, who is infused with socialist idealism, speaks of it as the path to freedom. And when he is arrested by the tsar army, he is sent off to Siberia. Isn’t that where the gulags were that Solzhenitsyn wrote about? How ironic! But here’s what I think: I think the Yugoslav government must have insisted that the impending Communist revolution in Russia be presented in a favorable light; otherwise they would not grant permission to film in that country.
I mentioned there is a health angle. There was a lot in the story about food, and it was mostly animal food. There were a lot of references to slaughtering animals. Five chickens were given as a wedding present- “one for each of the first five Sabbaths of their wedded life.” Slaughtering cows was discussed. You see activity in a butcher shop. Tevye, the leading character, was a milk man. And besides producing the milk and delivering the milk, he also had time to make cheese. I’d say it was an impossible amount of work output for one man and his family. But, I also found it interesting that he was frequently delivering milk to people, but nobody ever paid him. You never saw him collect so much as a ruble. No wonder he complained of poverty!
But, speaking of poverty, I want to point out a glaring contradiction: Tevye kept bemoaning being poor although he never seemed that poor. He had all these animals. He had a big place. He looked well-fed, as did his family. And they were all nicely dressed. Nobody was in rags. And they were eating a high animal food diet.
A high animal food diet is inherently NOT a poor diet. It is a rich diet. That’s because the conversion of plant foods to animal foods involves a great deal of caloric waste. For whatever calories of plant food you feed to animals, you only get back about 15% of it as animal food. So, it takes a vast abundance of plant food to maintain a high animal food diet. So, these people were not as poor as they thought themselves to be.
In the story, you see them cleaning chickens and fish for meal preparation, and you also see them baking bread. But, they didn’t show any vegetables. There was a bowl with some apples at the wedding- but that is as far as it went for fresh produce.
And otherwise in the story, you see some smoking going on, but not by Tevye, and not so much by any of the Jews but rather by the gentiles. But, there is a lot of drinking- by everybody. Following the agreement that Lazar Wolf would marry Tevye’s daughter Zeitel, the two men start drinking heavily. It was probably supposed to be vodka because it was clear as water, and I’m sure it was water. But, they were putting it down in an amount that could have produced acute alcohol intoxication.
Of course, the whole idea of the story is that they lived according to “tradition” but the traditions were being challenged by all the changes going on in the world. Tevye even says at the beginning that: “In Anatevka, we have traditions for everything, how to eat, how to sleep…” etc. You definitely get the impression that it was an agriculturally-rich area with a relatively mild climate: undoubtedly cold in the winter but with a long enough warm season to produce ample crops. So, the practice of eating all that animal food and making it so prominent in the diet was definitely just a tradition; it wasn’t necessary- not there.
And today, because of commerce and technology and distribution, it really isn’t necessary anywhere. Plant foods are abundant everywhere, and plant foods are what people should be primarily eating. I don’t say people have to be strict vegetarians, but they should definitely be MOSTLY vegetarian- if they are going to eat wisely. Loading up on animal foods is an antiquated practice- nutritionally speaking.
But, watch Fiddler on the Roof if you haven’t seen it because it is delightful. I have seen it many times, and I will see it more times because it is a spectacle of genius and talent and accomplishment. It is one of the greatest musicals of all time.
Vitamin C vs. TB
- Created on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 23:19
I found a new report interesting where researchers discovered that Vitamin C can kill multidrug-resistant TB germs (tuberculosis) in the lab. The study authors from Yeshiva University in Israel made the revelation in Nature Communications, and they think the same action may be possible form giving vitamin C to humans. Lead investigator Dr William Jacobs, professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, says, "We have only been able to demonstrate this in a test tube, and we don't know if it will work in humans and in animals. This would be a great study to consider because we have strains of tuberculosis that we don't have drugs for, and I know that in the laboratory we can kill those strains with vitamin C. It also helps that we know vitamin C is inexpensive, widely available and very, very safe to use. At the very least, this work shows us a new mechanism that we can exploit to attack TB."
This does sound promising, and I hope they pursue it. For the record, I don’t take megadoses of Vitamin C in my daily life, and I don’t desire to do so, even if this turns into something terrific. And the reason is that I wouldn’t want to condition my body to getting a super-high dose of Vitamin C all the time. If I did it all the time, my body would adapt to it by getting lazy about absorbing Vitamin C; it would accelerate the breakdown and degradation of Vitamin C; and it would do other things to neutralize the effect I was trying to achieve. So, when I’m healthy and fit and doing fine, I want to take a generous but not exorbitant amount of Vitamin C. To my mind, that means taking no more than 1000 mgs of Vitamin C a day in supplement form, and otherwise eating a lot of Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. That’s as high as I’m willing to go on a daily basis. But, if I were in a situation where I was fighting an infection or had some other health problem, I would be entirely open to temporarily taking much more Vitamin C, either orally or intravenously, depending on the circumstances. And I mean, perhaps, for several weeks. And so far, thankfully, I haven’t been in that situation so I haven’t had to do it or consider doing it. So, I have never actually done it. But, I would certainly be open to it if my circumstances changed for the worse.
When it comes to therapeutics, my attitude is that when you can do something which may be helpful, and where it is entirely safe and can’t possibly hurt you, which is certainly true of taking Vitamin C, then it pays to do it. And that’s another reason why I don’t want to do it all the time because I suspect it will have greater potential to help if I am conservative with Vitamin C in the day to day.
But, everything is relative. According to the government 90 mgs of Vitamin C is all you need, and they only raised it under pressure. The RDA used to be 60 mgs. But, living in a state of ideal Nature where fresh produce comprised a large percentage of your diet, you would naturally get many hundreds of milligrams of Vitamin C every day, and that is the natural order for a human being. So, I can’t imagine that 60 or 90 mgs is optimal. I definitely want to get close to if not over a gram a day, and I do. But, I’m not willing to enter the Linus Pauling realm of Vitamin C intake. And what’s interesting is that the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, which is devoted to nutritional research, lauds Vitamin C, but they don’t actually recommend the high doses that he took. Word to the wise.
Diuretics for high blood pressure- I don't like 'em
- Created on Saturday, 18 May 2013 09:28
I wrote an article bashing diuretics for my retreat website:
That was some years ago, but I have not changed my mind or softened my position. Taking diuretics does not solve anyone's problems. It only adds a new problem to the ones they already have, which is pharmaceutical dehydration. It is a doctor-induced abnormality which guarantees more trouble down the road.
So, please read the above article.
But, now I want to discuss a recent research study about the use of diuretics for high blood pressure. Specifically, it compared the effectiveness of two popular diuretics: chlorthalidone and HCTZ. Which is better for treating high blood pressure? Well, they determined that they were both about the same at preventing death and cardiovascular catastrophes, but HCTZ incurred fewer hospitalizations for diuretic side effects: hypokalemia (low blood potassium) hyponatremia (low blood sodium) heart rhythm disturbances, and other problems. So, the gist of it was that HCTZ is the better choice.
But, I want you to realize how presumptuous the whole thing was. My contention is that diuretics do not prevent any deaths from high blood pressure, and therefore I wanted to pick apart that aspect of the data. But that they glossed over, insisting that patient outcomes were about the same in both groups. But traditionally in medical research, they include a “control group“ that doesn't get the treatment so that you can see what happens to people who don't get the drug at all. Usually, they just give them a placebo- a fake, inert pill.
So, did they use a placebo-control in this case? No, they didn't. I don't know that they ever have.
In this case, they glossed over the effectiveness of either drug, but digging deep I found it. Among patients taking either drug, about 3 and ½ out of 100 suffered a major cardiovascular event which resulted in hospitalization or death per year. So, at the end of the first year, 3 and ½ were so affected; by the end of the second year about 7 were affected; by the end of the third year, over 10% were affected, etc.
Are those good results? They assumed that they were. But, compared to what? They didn't say. And, they don't sound like good results to me.
"After adjustment for baseline differences, the patients treated with chlorthalidone and those treated with HCTZ did not differ in the primary study outcome: a composite of death or hospitalization with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or ischemic stroke.”
So, they didn't differ, but how did taking diuretics compare to doing nothing? Again: they didn't say.
But notice that above they admitted that people taking diuretics for high blood pressure continue to have heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. Therefore, I have to ask: what good are they?
“However, patients treated with chlorthalidone were approximately 3 times more likely to be hospitalized with hypokalemia and approximately 1.7 times more likely than those prescribed HCTZ to be hospitalized with hyponatremia.”
So, this wasn't really a comparison of the benefits from diuretics; it was a comparison of the harms. And they decided that one was more harmful than the other. But, the idea that taking a diuretic, any diuretic, is a good thing was just presumed and was never tested.
When a person has high blood pressure, there are certain abnormalities that are responsible for it. Taking a diuretic corrects none of the abnormalities. It usually lowers the blood pressure some, but that's because the resultant dehydration reduces the blood volume some. But, it doesn't usually lower it that much, and that's why in the majority of cases doctors decide that the diuretic drug isn't enough, and they give the patient another blood pressure drug to go along with it.
By itself, a diuretic drug might lower the blood pressure about 10 points. It might knock a 150 blood pressure down to 140. Is it worth it to endure the harms from the diuretic to get that 10 point drop? I don't think it is, and they, the medical establishment, refuse to test it by doing placebo-controlled studies.
But, let's remember that in real life, people aren't limited to taking a drug or a placebo. They also have the option of doing constructive things to correct their high blood pressure. That would include ditching harmful substances that cause blood pressure to rise, such as salt, alcohol, and caffeine. It would include taking off excess weight, that is, shedding excess body fat and getting down to lean body weight. It would include exercising. It would include switching over to a high fruit and vegetable diet; eating mostly plant foods and severely restricting animal foods. And it might also include taking natural supplements that can safely help to lower blood pressure, such as magnesium, resveratrol, CoQ10, fish oil, melatonin, and more.
How do you think that would affect the death rate compared to taking a diuretic? They are never going to do a medical research study to find out, but I can just imagine the results.
The vast majority of people with hypertension have “walking hypertension” where they don't have symptoms from it, and the doctor just tells them that their blood pressure is high. These people do not need drugs. They do not need diuretics, and they don't need any other drugs. They need the above regimen that I laid out. Throwing drugs at them may lower the pressure some, but it will not restore them to health, and it will not reduce their risk of future problems. It is simply the wrong way to go.
So, if you are discovered to have high blood pressure, so long as it's not an emergency situation, it's time for you to say Sayonara to your regular MD and get started on a real health program. Forcing the pressure down with drugs only creates the illusion of improvement; it is not a real health improvement. It does not restore normality. In reality, it just digs you in deeper and guarantees more trouble down the road.
So, I wouldn't do it; I wouldn't recommend it. Stop everything if you have to and just attend to your health through natural means. Just say no to the medical monkey-business, because that's all it is.
Men: Your Prostate Gland- Leave it Alone; Don't Mess With It
- Created on Sunday, 05 May 2013 17:54
The American Urological Association- an organization of board-certified urologists- is now condemning the routine use of PSA testing for prostate cancer, and for two reasons: 1) it's not that accurate, and 2) treating prostate cancer, even when it's confirmed, is often ill-advised. It is usually ill-advised.
Remember that the whole idea is to stay alive, and the data shows that men with prostate cancer who do nothing live as long as those who undergo radical treatment. So, what's the point? And the treatment is never harmless. It often results in impotence and/or incontinence and other harms.
It also results in pain, distress, risk of complications from the surgery, radiation, etc., and the surgery may even help spread cancer cells around. The tendency to get some cancer cells in the prostate gland is almost universal among men. In men who are in their 80s or older, the presence of such cells is almost guaranteed. But, they usually stay put in the gland and cause no trouble until the man dies of something else.
Basically, if you are an older man, and you are excreting your urine alright, and you're not in any pain, and there is no outward sign of trouble, then you shouldn't allow any prostate interventions. Forget about it.
Regarding the PSA test, it's just a blood test, so it's harmless in itself. So, if you really want to do it, you can. But, stick to the rule above regardless of the results.
I don't really recommend a passive approach. On the contrary, I think you should assume that prostate cancer is inevitable, and your goal is to minimize the risk of it, with the hope you never have to undergo drastic measures. A preventative program should include foods that have been shown to cut the risk, and they're all plants. I'm referring to foods like cruciferous vegetables, blueberries, and pomegranates. Eat tomatoes and tomato products to get the lypopene. Eat these high-antioxidant foods because they are likely to either prevent prostate cancer completely or keep it toned down and non-aggresive. And either of those outcomes are fine.
But, there is more that you can do. Taking high-dose VItamin D3 is a very good idea as a prostate cancer preventive. I recommend at least 5000 IUs daily.
Taking melatonin at night is a good idea for prostate cancer prevention. Melatonin is anti-mutagenic. I found this from the University of Maryland Medical Center: "
"Studies show that men with prostate cancer have lower melatonin levels than men without the disease. In test tube studies, melatonin blocks the growth of prostate cancer cells."
Other supplements can help too, such as resveratrol, which has the potential to inhibit prostate cancer cells. Good food and good supplements constitute a powerful double whammy against prostate cancer.
But, there is more yet that you can do. Keep your weight down. Getting heavy- especially in the abdomen with a pot belly- is very bad. It adds mechanical pressure which can impede drainage from the prostate, resulting in morbid accumulations.
And exercise- a lot- because when you exercise, you also relieve congestion in the prostate.
And have sex regularly- even as you get older- because it too relieves congestion in the prostate.
So, what I am saying is that, by all means, think of yourself as a prostate cancer patient and take all the lifestyle and nutritional measures that are proven to fight it. But, unless you have a urinary obstruction or are in pain or have a major clinical development, do not allow any conventional treatment. And if you skip the PSA test completely, it's fine with me.
Is Calcium off the hook?
- Created on Sunday, 17 February 2013 21:31
The Life Extension Foundation recently reported on a study that found no increased risk of heart disease in those taking calcium supplements. Some previous studies had claimed to find for that. '
It was a big relief to the LEF people and I suppose to all who take calcium. But, I still think it warrants being cautious with calcium. I take very little in supplement form- just the little bit that is in my multivitamin, and no calcium tablets, per se.
We have known all along that if your Vitamin D and hormone levels are in balance, that your blood calcium is going to be in the normal range no matter how much or how little calcium you consume. If necessary, the body will extract calcium from the bones in order to maintain the blood calcium- it being so crucial to so many vital functions, including the pumping of the heart itself.
But, we also know that from the blood, even with normal saturation, calcium can wind up in lots of other places besides bone. It is a pathological process, and it is also to some extent universal. Do you think there is anyone my age, 62, who doesn't have some pathologic calcinosis? I doubt it. I'm sure there is a wide range of severity, but I'll bet you that everybody has some, at least a little.
Does the amount of calcium coming in feed the process, that is, towards the pathological depositions? That is where the controversy lies, but I have to think that it weighs down on it to some degree. After all, every milligram of calcium you ingest has to go somewhere. Of course, some of it is excreted, since your urine contains calcium. But, whatever tendency you have to lay down calcium in soft tissues could only be increased by taking more calcium. How could it decrease it when it provides more of the substance being deposited?
But, there are several things you can do to inhibit pathological calcifications- besides not going overboard on calcium.
First, go light on sodium. There is a connection. The more salt you use, the more calcium is going to be misdirected.
Two, maintain optimum levels of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2. Both help in the proper metabolizing of calcium. Vitamin D3 helps you to absorb calcium effectively from the gut to maintain the blood level, and Vitamin K2 helps to send it to bone and keep it out of arteries and other soft tissues. There are a lot of people who are walking around with deficient levels of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2, and I'm sure that includes a lot of vegetarians too.
Three, keep up your magnesium intake. Magnesium seems to inhibit pathologic calcinosis. And there is no pathologic magnesiosis.
But, what about calcium in relation to osteoporosis? You have to realize that osteoporosis is a much bigger problem than just too little calcium. Osteoporosis is the equivalent of sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle wasting.
I recently had a visit from an older man who has been a father figure to me. He's 88 now, and I hadn' t seen him in years. And I noticed right way his significant muscle wasting. Of course, 88 is getting up there. But, I had heard that osteoporosis is one the problems that he has. Well, the thinning of his bones is just an extension of the thinning of his muscles. They go together. It's all one continuous degenerative process- the unity of disease, as Shelton used to say. How much is taking calcium going to slow it down? Not much. You wouldn't expect it do anything for the muscles, although calcium is involved in muscle contraction. And by itself, is it really likely to inhibit the bone wasting? All I can say is: not much.
I believe the current recommendation is for elderly women to take 1500 mgs of calcium a day, and that I oppose. That is more calcium than the human race has gotten throughout its long history on Earth. And remember that there's also calcium in food. Even a crumby diet provides a few hundred milligrams, and if a person makes a point of eating calcium-rich foods in addition, it could put them well over 2000 mgs/ day, and that's just unnessary and wrong.
So, I think that people should eat healthy, and that doesn't mean dairy products. It means lots of calcium-rich plant foods, such as raw salad greens, steamed green vegetables such as broccoli and kale, almonds, figs, and all kinds of beans.
Then, I'm getting 150 mgs calcium from my Extend Core multi, which I feel is plenty for me. But, if it was woman with low weight and slight features- the classic candidate for osteoporosis since her reserves of bone are low to begin with- I would be entirely OK with her doubling that to 300 mgs of supplemental calcium. But, I would not be inclined to go higher.
And make sure you have a fair chance to absorb your calcium. For instance, don't eat an ultra-low fat diet- unless you want to give your minerals to the fish, if you catch my drift. Low-fat/high-fiber = poor mineral absorption.
Of course, getting good hard exercise and regular sun exposure is highly recommended- although the latter depends on where you live and your circumstances. The period of effective sunlight is very short in a lot of places.
And last but not least, and of very great importance to me, consider taking anti-aging hormones. For instance, I take 25 mgs of DHEA every morning and have for years. I usually recommend 10 mgs to women. I use my HGH spray morning and night and have for years. I also take pregnenolone 30 mgs. If you want to do something good for your bones, to prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia, keep your hormones high. If you are concerned about the safety of it, then have your blood levels checked once a year as I do. I do it every Spring, so I'll be doing it soon. The Life Extension Foundation offers a great sale on blood tests every Spring, and I take advantage of it.