Sunday, December 21, 2008

Soy vs. Whey Protein: Which is Better?

Although I get asked, “Which is better, soy or whey protein?” …my question back is, “Better for what?” Each one is an excellent sources of protein, and each one has its own benefits. I suggest to use at least both sources of protein in order to obtain the benefits each provide. We need to consume protein in order to make and replace protein; and athletes and body-builders are very familiar with whey protein as an excellent source of “bio-available” protein.

Protein is essential for producing antibodies, hormones, new muscle tissue, and the oxygen-carrying protein in blood, hemoglobin. All protein lost or destroyed within the body must be replaced by bio-available protein in order for new tissue to be constructed.

Our bodies are able to manufacture many of the amino acids that are used to produce protein; however, there are nine “essential” amino acids that we cannot manufacture, but must obtain from the protein in our food. Not all protein sources provide these essential amino acids. For example, whey is an excellent source of glutathione and the branched chain essential amino acids L-leucine, L-valine and L-isoleucine.

The protein in most beans and vegetables may contain all the essential amino acids, but they are not naturally concentrated in foods, and thus vegans often do not readily obtain adequate amounts of protein, particularly the branch-chained amino acids. However, this can be compensated for by consuming concentrated protein sources, such as found within quality meal-replacement drinks.

Almost daily, I drink one or two nutritious meal-replacement drinks. These drinks not only contain a blend of both soy and whey proteins, they also contain protein from two additional sources, that of rice and pea. By obtaining a blend of proteins from these four sources one is obtaining all the essential amino acids and the benefits that each provide.

Soybeans contain high amounts of protein. Soy protein and soy isoflavones have been found to help reduce the symptoms of menopause, help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and to help prevent a number of hormone-related diseases, such as endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. (Neither soy nor soy isoflavones increase the risk of breast cancer; in fact quite the opposite, they help maintain breast health.)

In addition, soy has been observed to help maintain heart health. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated 25 grams of soy protein per day can reduce the chances of developing heart disease.

Soy protein has also been shown to help the thyroid, which can help with obtaining a leaner body. In the case of a soy allergy, the opposite would be true …reduced metabolism and weight gain.

If you are not allergic to soy, there are very few side effects to including soy in your diet. The most common side-effect of soy is the production of intestinal gas. Flatulence is a common side-effect of all beans (including soy), due to the bowel bacteria’s fermenting effect on the indigestible sugars contained within beans. Humans do not have the enzyme alpha-galactosidase necessary to break down the sugars that the bowel bacteria feast upon and produce gas.

Beano, purchased over-the-counter, contains alpha galactosidase, and regular use may be able to reduce gas production by breaking down the oligosaccharides (bean sugars) before the bacteria in the large bowel has a chance to ferment the sugar.

For those who are allergic to soy, gas would not be the only problem present, but significant diarrhea and abdominal bloating, hives, skin rash, and worst case, breathing problems. Soy isoflavones are not the same as pure soy protein; and even if one is allergic to soy it wound not mean they were allergic to soy isoflavones, as soy protein (the allergen of the allergy) is not found in soy isoflavones.

Whey protein is used by athletes and body builders because of the higher level of essential amino acids, particularly the branched chain amino acids that are metabolized in the muscle not the liver. Protein is critical in repairing not only muscle, but many other body tissues. Whey is helpful for weight loss and building muscle in those who work out, but will do little to help build muscle in those with sedentary lifestyles.

Whey protein affects the digestive tract in much the same way as yogurt. Therefore, it is considered to be a natural remedy for many intestinal issues. In fact, it is often used in Sweden to help prevent bowel problems, gas, and constipation. However, since whey is obtained from a dairy source (it is the liquid by-product of curdled milk … the solid becomes cheese, and the liquid protein part is dried as a source for whey). Therefore, those who are lactose intolerant should avoid whey protein, and steer towards soy protein only, as gas, constipation, and bloating can be significant. Over-the-counter Lactaid is available to help provide the enzyme necessary to break down dairy-derived lactose sugar found in whey products.

Since both soy and whey protein may lead to constipation, it is important to find a meal-replacement drink that provides adequate fiber to overcome this side-effect.

Whey protein makes a good alternative to those who are allergic to soy, and vice-versa, but the blend of soy and whey will render the user with the benefits of each, particularly if blended with adequate fiber, as mentioned. While companies selling protein supplements tout the benefits of whatever they’re selling as “the best,” whether it is soy, whey, or a combination of rice and pea protein, which together the last two alone hit numbers between 85 to 90% bioavailable protein, it is good to know that at least one company was wise enough to combine all four protein sources in their meal-replacement drinks, along with fiber, low-glycemic sugar, and vitamins and minerals. The balance is its greatest strength as a perfect meal replacement.

A summary of the benefits of Soy and Whey Proteins, and that you can have BOTH:

Soy Protein

  • Soy protein has been found to be higher in non-essential amino
  • The consumption of 25-50 grams of soy protein daily may enhance production of thyroid stimulation hormones that regulate the metabolic rate, thereby making it easier for us to lose both body weight and fat and create a leaner body
  • Soy is good for athletes: in a study from Romania endurance athletes experienced lean body mass, increased strength, and decrease fatigue while training. (Revue Roumaine de Physiologie 29, 3-4:63-70, 1992)
  • It contains more protein by weight than beef, fish or chicken, and contains less fat (especially saturated fat than meat).
  • The FDA has approved the following statement: ”Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
  • Other studies show that soy protein isolate has the ability to effectively lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood
  • Soy may improve kidney functioning

Whey Protein

  • Whey protein assists in losing excess weight and maintaining optimal weight
  • Whey protein, combined with resistance training, even those who have immunosuppressive disorders (AIDS) can increase body cell mass, muscle mass and muscle strength, according to a study in AIDS (15, 18:2431-40, 2001).
  • Whey protein is superior to other proteins when it comes to anabolic response. It has consistently been shown to stimulate the anabolic hormones after a workout. In other words, whey protein improves athletic performance
  • Whey mixes well and is low in fat and lactose, and has a superior amino acid profile
  • Whey protein lacks no essential amino acids. It needs no fortification or additive to make it complete. It is complete in its natural form
  • Whey enhances the immune system because it raises glutathione levels. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps our immune cells stay charged to help ward off cancer, bacterial infection and viruses. In other words, it helps improve the immune system.
  • Whey is also very high in glutamine and the branch chain amino acids L-leucine, L-valine and L-isoleucine, important aminos for repairing muscle
  • Whey acts as a natural antibacterial or anti-viral
    Whey reduces the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Whey reduces liver damage
  • Whey improves blood pressure
  • Whey improves the function of the digestive system
  • Whey reduces gastric mucosal injury seen in ulcerative colitis

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Pharma: Statin Drugs vs. Antioxidants

I was concerned several years ago as the American Heart Association, backed by the pharmaceutical companies, continued to make and revise recommendations regarding how low doctors should reduce their patients' LDL cholesterol levels. At first LDL cholesterol levels were "normal" if they were 130 or below, then the standard was 100 or below, and finally, 70 or below became what we now consider medically "acceptable." With each recommendation the number of people who instantly had the made-up disease of "high cholesterol" increased, and more and more patients were prescribed statin drugs to lower their LDL cholesterol levels. Statin drugs are the top-selling drugs in the world, bringing in more money for Big Pharma than any other class of drugs. It was this con of convincing the public that high cholesterol was the cause of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke that caused me to write the first edition of my book, The Cholesterol Conspiracy, in 2004. It has since been updated (2006) and is in its Second Edition; however, after the latest news from the American Heart Association conference in New Orleans on Nov. 8th, 2008 it appears that I will need to update my book again.

My contention has always been that it is NOT high cholesterol that is the main cause of plaque formation, heart disease, and stroke, but rather it is the OXIDATION of LDL cholesterol and the INFLAMMATION of the arterial lining (called the endothelium) that is the culprit to the number one cause of death for both men and women. As I discuss in my book, more than half of people who die of heart disease have NORMAL LDL cholesterol levels, ...thus it is NOT high cholesterol that is killing them, but the CONDITION of the LDL cholesterol and the inflammation of the endothelium that leads to the deadly disease. Likewise, there are cases of people with high cholesterol levels who show no signs of arterial plaque due to their high intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the essential fatty acids that reduce the oxidation to LDL cholesterol and inflammation to the endothelium. What's more, antioxidants reduce endothelial inflammation an LDL oxidation better than any drug, ...and without the side effects.

The recent study reported at the American Heart Association in New Orleans, known as JUPITER, proved my case: if you reduce oxidation and inflammation you can reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke! However, unlike the JUPITER study, which proposed the way to do it is with statin drugs, I believe the best course to reduce LDL oxidation and arterial inflammation is with nutritional supplements.

If you were to believe the JUPITER study and what is being suggested by the doctors who spoke at the American Heart Association conference on Nov. 8, 2008 in New Orleans you would have to believe that "EVERYONE," young and old, sick and healthy, those with high cholesterol and those with normal cholesterol levels ALL should be on the "life-saving, miracle drugs of this or any other generation" …the statin drugs!

The JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention) Study, funded by AstraZeneca, makers of Crestor, was unveiled to the delight and awe of doctors and pharmaceutical companies. The study showed that 20 mg of Crestor cut in half one’s risk of heart attacks and stroke, whether they had high cholesterol or not! In other words, healthy people without elevated cholesterol levels ... could now be "saved" by the statin drugs, and like the IRS, the pharmaceutical companies are "here to help."

Doctors and pharmaceutical representatives got on the stage to proclaim that because statin drugs have been shown (in this study of just under two years) to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in HEALTHY people (those without signs or symptoms of heart disease and normal cholesterol levels) that governments around the world should push the campaign to put every single person on statin drugs.

As has been proposed earlier (documented in my book), they again proposed at this conference that we "drip statin drugs into our water supply" as the best way to get everyone on these "all-important" drugs. They want to take the decision out of our control and force these drugs, which ...oh, by the way, have dangerous, even deadly side effects, upon us ....and of course, run up a huge national medical cost.

Statin drugs are already the number one-selling drug in the world with over $18 billion dollars in sales, and now due to this study, they will likely double in sales. USA Today calculated that the ever-increasing prescribing of statin drugs which this study will generate would add $10 billion a year to the U.S. national debt. ( )

BUT, what are the facts of this study; what about the risks of such widespread use of statin drugs, particularly in healthy people? …and, more importantly, what about alternatives to statins? Interestingly enough, one of the authors of this study also appeared as an author on another study released the same week of the announcement of this study, showing that vitamin E and vitamin C did NOTHING to reduce the risk of heart disease; fact vitamin E, they reported, might increase the risk for hemorrhagic stroke. So, in a one-two punch knock out …. Big Pharma apparently established that statin drugs are the ONLY salvation for the number one cause of death.

Now, not only are antioxidants NOT the answer, according to Big Pharma, they are the problem. It must be that we, as human beings, are born deficient of statin drugs, ….some kind of an "inborn error of metabolism," and that it is not nutrients that we lack today, but drugs! Apparently Big Pharma is not satisfied with treating the sick, they want to provide “therapy” to the healthy, by actively putting more drugs into our drinking water …as if there are not enough drugs swirling around in the water supply already.

Again, I would like to point out that this JUPITER study proves my point made in my book, The Cholesterol Conspiracy , ....that heart disease (atherosclerosis) is not caused by high cholesterol, but rather oxidation of LDL cholesterol and inflammation of the arterial lining. In my book, I make a case (backed up by medical research) that oxidized LDL cholesterol and homocysteine-induced nicking and inflammation of the arteries leads to arterial plaque and inflammation.
C reactive protein (CRP) is an indirect measure of arterial inflammation (or any inflammation). The more oxidation and inflammation of the arteries, NO MATTER WHAT THE LDL CHOLESTEROL LEVEL (normal or not), the more plaque will build within the arterial lining (known as the endothelium). By reducing oxidation and inflammation (which can be measured directly with lipid peroxides, or indirectly with CRP levels) there is less damage to the LDL cholesterol and the endothelium, and less plaque will form. Less plaque means less heart disease and death.

Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 essential fatty acids have all been shown to decrease CRP, homocysteine, and lipid peroxides levels, and in some cases restore endothelial function ….without any toxic side-effects (unlike statin drugs).

Although I discuss CRP in The Cholesterol Conspiracy, as a review, CRP is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Any condition that leads to inflammation will cause the production and release of CRP. Smoking, genetics, stress, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, high blood pressure colorectal cancer, the aging process, and damaged and an inflamed arterial endothelium will all cause an elevation of C reactive protein. It is an indirect, non-specific measurement of inflammation and oxidation. Statin drugs have been shown to exert an anti-inflammatory effect, and it is the modest anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory effect that is responsible for a reduction in oxidized LDL cholesterol and arterial inflammation. Less oxidized LDL cholesterol and less arterial inflammation, the less plaque that will build up within the arterial endothelium.

However, natural antioxidants, vitamin C, turmeric extract, essential fatty acids (fish oil) do more to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol and arterial inflammation and lower CRP than cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, AND without the dangerous side-effects of statins (liver, nerve, muscle, and heart damage, ….let alone death). The B complex vitamins and betaine (tri-methly-glycine) lower homocysteine levels, which means less “scratching up” of the endothelium, i.e., less arterial inflammation, and lower CRP levels.

The JUPITER study showed how important it is to lower inflammation of the arteries in order to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, ….as measured by CRP levels, and that people are susceptible to heart attack and stroke even with normal LDL cholesterol levels because oxidation and inflammation. So, let’s look at the facts and my concerns of the JUPITER Study:

Facts of the JUPITER STUDY:

1. Nearly 18,000 men and women with low LDL cholesterol levels (median 108 mg/dL), and C reactive protein levels (CRP) greater than 2.0 mg/L were placed on 20 mg of Crestor or a placebo, and followed for just under 2 years.

2. The group on 20 mg of Crestor decreased their cholesterol levels EVEN FURTHER (to as low as 53 mg/dL), reduced their triglyceride levels, and cut their risk of nonfatal heart attacks by 55%, a 48% reduction in nonfatal strokes, and a 47% reduction in hard cardiac “events” (a composite of nonfatal and fatal heart attack and stroke).

Concerns about the JUPITER STUDY:

1. What are the long-term effects of lowering one’s LDL cholesterol to such low levels? There is already concern about depression, violent behavior, suicide, etc. from lowering one’s LDL cholesterol below 70 (see my book, The Cholesterol Conspiracy). However, what other problems may arise from such low LDL cholesterol, given that the body REQUIRES LDL cholesterol to function properly? Having high LDL cholesterol levels in and of itself is not a problem, it is the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (lipid peroxides) and the inflammation of the endothelium (from homocysteine) that leads to plaque formation.

2. With the study only being 2 years long, AstraZeneca virtually eliminated discovering the long-term effects of such low LDL cholesterol levels AND the long-term effects of statin drugs in this population. However, we do know the long-term of statin drugs, and they are not pretty, ….dangerous and severe side-effects; occasional deadly.

3. Was the study designed to yield the desired results and minimize negative outcomes that would have been revealed had it gone on longer?

4. There was a higher incidence in insulin resistence and type 2 diabetes among those who took Crestor than in the control group. And, this was all happened within 2 years. As mentioned, what other complications would we have seen had the study gone longer than 2 years, ...especially since now all people, even those with normal cholesterol levels, are "supposed" to be on statin drugs for the REST OF THEIR LIVES? It would be good to know what people can expect.4. According to Stanford University cardiologist Dr. Mark Hlatky, about 120 people would have to take Crestor for two years in order to prevent a single heart attack, stroke or death; and how many people would then suffer moderate to severe side-effects over the long-term? Again, as people would be encouraged to be on these drugs for the rest of their lives!

5. Crestor gave clear benefit in the study, but with so few heart attacks and deaths occurred among these low-risk people that treating EVERYONE in the U.S. alone with statin drugs would cost up to $10 billion a year.

6. Big Pharma presents statin drugs as the only choice to reduce CRP levels, when this is not the case.

What We Can Learn From This Study:

1. It is important to lower C Reactive Protein levels as a means to lower inflammation, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

2. This study confirms that it is NOT the lowering of LDL cholesterol that is key to reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, but the reducing of inflammation, as is evident by the lowering of C reactive protein (CRP). Therefore, what about all the studies that show alternative means (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids) for lowering CRP, inflammation, and lipid peroxidation without any adverse effects?

What Can You Do?

1. Know, and lower your high-sensitivy CRP levels (as mentioned in my book): a. CRP less than 1.0 mg/L = Low Risk for CardioVascular Disease (CVD) b. CRP of 1.0 – 2.9 mg/L = Moderate Risk for CVD c. CRP greater than 3.0 = High Risk for CVD 2. Know, and lower your Homocysteine levels: a. Homocysteine less than 6.5 = Low Risk for CVD b. Homocysteine 6.6 to 8.0 = Low-Moderate Risk for CVD c. Homocyseine 8.1 to 10.4 = Moderate-High Risk for CVD d. Homocysteine greater than 10.4 = High Risk for CVD 3. Know, and lower your Lipid Peroxides a. This test is not commonly performed by most labs, but can be obtained. b. Keep Lipid Peroxidation low (according to print out on lab results)

How You Can Lower CRP, Homocysteine, and Lipid Peroxidation to Reduce Heart Attack & Stroke:

1. Statin Drugs: expensive; dangerous and sometimes deadly side-effects. a. See list of side-effects in The Cholesterol Conspiracy.
OR, .... even BETTER:
2. Lifestyle Changes: inexpensive, non-dangerous, …and it promotes health! a. Maintain a Healthy Weight b. Maintain a Low-Glycemic Diet (plenty of vegetables) c. Exercise d. Don’t Smoke e. Reduce Stress f. Adequate Sleep g. Drink Plenty of Pure Water h. Maintain Gum Health (brush, floss, and use Co-Q10) i. Use Full-Range Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants, and Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: (a few examples of many vitamins and antioxidants are shown below, though I personally recommend a full-range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids):

Vitamin C 2000 mg/day (vitamin C alone reduces CRP similar to statins)

B Complex Vitamins

Fish Oil (4000 mg per day)

Vitamin D (1000 to 5000 IU/day)

Turmeric Extract (400 to 800 mg/day)

Olive Extract (75 to 200 mg/day)

Grape Seed Extract and Resveratrol (200 to 400 mg/day)

Co-Enzyme Q10 (200 to 400 mg/day)

Betaine (TMG) (1800 to 3000 mg/day)

Magnesium (400 mg/day)

To see references (please see

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lead in Our Food? Now THAT's a Heavy Meal!

by Ladd McNamara, M.D.

Lead, a mineral for which the body has no use, is naturally found in the earth; in rocks, soil, rivers, lakes, seawater, and even the dust in the air. It has no taste or smell. It is the heaviest of all non-radioactive metals. It is found in virtually everything you eat, drink, and breathe. In a perfect world we would not be exposed to lead at all. In a perfect world there would be no lead in our food, water, or air. However, though we should minimize lead consumption, there will always be a background level of lead that naturally exists. Therefore, the real questions are how much is too much; i.e., how much is toxic, and what can we do about it?

For over 2500 years humans have worked with lead; made utensils, cups, plates and weapons with lead. The real contamination of our planet occurred during the 20th Century with the use of coal, leaded gasoline, metal work (brass and steel), lead paint, production and (improper) disposal of batteries, lead plumbing carrying our drinking water, lead from solder used to seal the seams of cans containing food, leaded pottery, and leaded glassware.

From 1920 to 2000, over 300 million tons of lead was mined and distributed in our environment. It was distributed throughout the atmosphere via combustion, burning of fossil fuels (coal), burning rubber, metal and battery production factories, etc., and has settled as a coating on the entire surface of the earth, land and sea. Tetraethyl and tetramethyl lead placed in gasoline began in 1923, with billions of tons of lead released into the atmosphere from car and truck exhaust. Lead-based gasoline was phased out in 1971 in the U.S. and most other countries. Some countries have lowered the levels of lead in gasoline, while other countries (particlularly in Africa) still use leaded gasoline with impunity.

Over the last three decades the U.S. and many other countries have been slowly cleaning up lead contamination mostly by banning its use. Dangerous areas of lead are mostly limited to soil and air around mines, landfills, old city lands, and manufacturing facilities producing batteries, recycling plants, and munitions.

Children under the age of 5 are most susceptible to lead because they put objects in their mouths, such as toys (and even dirt itself) that have been on the floor or ground. Prior to 1951, lead was used in paint in the United States, and children swallowing paint chips, or soil filled with microscopic paint chips from homes painted with lead-based paint caused permanent neurological problems, leading to today’s concern about lead. In a clean environment, a child putting toys that have been on the ground into their mouths would not be a problem. Yet, eating dirt should be discouraged because dirt and soil have 10 to 100 times the amount of lead than what is found in food. (Sorry folks, Dr. McNamara says the "three-second rule" does not apply, for many reasons. That is, food that is on the ground or in the dirt for three-seconds is considered "untainted" by some, but that's a fallacy, not only due to lead, but also from bacteria.)
I guess, I should first describe a few designations for measuring lead content. One is the proportion of lead to all other components in any material, …in terms of parts per million (ppm). One part per million corresponds to 1 milligram per gram (1/1000 of a gram), or one microgram per gram (1/1,000,000) of material. The other major measurement of lead is the total amount present, in grams or micrograms, depending on the amount present.

We eat, drink, and breathe lead every day. The majority of lead entering our body is from food. We can reduce it, but we cannot escape it. We also eliminate lead everyday; in our feces (lead that is ingested but not absorbed), in urine, sweat, hair, skin, nails, and via the gall bladder through the breakdown of hemoglobin that binds to lead. Usually the amount going in our bodies equals the amount going out. If we have more lead entering our body than we can eliminate then it can build to toxic levels. Lead is found throughout the body, in the blood, soft tissues, but mostly lead accumulates in the bones. Ninety percent of the lead in our bodies is found in our bones. The human body contains lead …the question is, how much is dangerous? The answer is the level that may cause cancer, miscarriages, or neurotoxicity in children.

As the environment has been cleaned up, the amount of lead in our food and water has declined. In controlled drinking water (safe levels), the level of lead is currently limited in the U.S. to 0.015 ppm (0.010 in California). That’s water; but most foods (particularly grains) cannot get to such low levels. Plants take up the lead from the soil. Most of the lead in our diet comes from plants (fruits, vegetables, and grains …particularly whole grains), and less so from meat.
The World Health Organization established the “tolerable weekly intake” level for lead obtained from food at 1.5 mg (1500 micrograms), corresponding to a daily lead intake of just over 0.2 mg (200 micrograms). Although many parts of the world have not yet met these standards, most first-world countries have.

In the U.S., current lead levels found in food range from 0.1 ppm to 0.3 ppm. This amount of lead is not thought to cause much harm, and certainly the lower the better. The average American adult that consumes about 1 kg of food (the average daily intake), with a lead level of 0.1 to 0.3 ppm in “clean food,” consumes between 0.1 to 0.3 mg (or 100 to 300 micrograms) per day. (In the future, “acceptable levels” of lead that is consumed daily will be lowered to less than 50 micrograms per day, ...less for pregnant woman, and less still for children ...but these lower levels can only be attained as the environment is cleaned up.) In the meanwhile, the more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the more the lead consumed. The more junk food and sugary beverages one consumes the less lead is consumed, however, the health risk is greater for sugar and processed flour than it is for the amount of lead obtained from eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. In other words, you're better off eating fruit, vegetables, and whole grains even though that is your greatest source of lead, than you are consuming high-glycemic, processed foods.

For those who eat healthy, particularly whole grains (fiberous, low-glycemic foods, whether in drink formulations or not), the good news is the body can eliminate the amount of lead that is consumed each day, preventing lead from concentrating and causing harm. There is a certain level of lead that is always in the body, but this does not mean that it is enough to cause disease and disorders. Only high lead exposure leads to neurological problems in children, miscarriages in pregnant women, and high blood pressure in adults.

Smoking cigarettes is a concerning source of lead. Five hundred micrograms of lead is found in each inhalation of cigarettes, and 1000 micrograms of lead is contained in one pack of cigarettes. (Most of it is immediately exhaled, but a concerning amount is obviously getting absorbed through the lungs.)

Avoid eating foods grown by the roadside, or grown in gardens near older homes, as these soils are generally more contaminated with lead than other soils. Even the cleanest soil still has lead in it, and that lead is taken up by plants. In particular, whole grain foods contain more lead than meat protein, beverages, and especially water. We need whole grains for a healthy diet, but along with whole grains comes more lead. BUT, is it dangerous to eat whole grains, fruit and vegetables? No, not grains grown in “safe soils.”

What about meal replacement drinks? It is the same as food. If there is more fiber, i.e., low-glycemic carbohydrates, then there would naturally be more lead than beverages made with simple sugars (and no fiber). If there is less fiber, and high-glycemic (simple) sugars then less lead would be present; possibly below the ability to test for its presence (but it would still be present). The drink that contained all high-glycemic sugary carbohydrates (and no fiber) is most likely to cause fat production and oxidative damage through spiking of insulin levels. However, which is better, to obtain harmless levels of lead (less than 100 micrograms per day) by consuming low-glycemic, high-fiber foods, or to eat a poor diet with high-glycemic foods? High-glycemic foods cause weight gain and oxidative damage. Other than smoking, obesity and high-glycemic foods are the biggest contributors to nearly every major chronic degenerative disease today. Our true enemy in our food is not the lead, but the combination of calories, trans fats, and refined, simple sugars.

Now that you understand that there is generally a “non-harmful” background level of lead in all foods, do NOT stop eating fruits, vegetables, and grains (except those grown in contaminated soils) and low-glycemic, high fiber meal replacement drinks. For example, even IF a particular healthy meal replacement drink were to contain 6 to 7 micrograms of lead per serving, and if that person were to consume that drink two to three times per day, for a daily total of 14 to 21 micrograms, that is still FAR LOWER lead consumption than the average 100 to 300 micrograms per day of lead obtained in the average American diet.

It is important to understand, consuming such a meal replacement drink would thereby be protecting you from consuming higher amounts of lead that you would eat from your regular foods.

The really good news is that you can further reduce your absorption of lead through the consumption of specific supplements. Calcium and vitamin C, to name just two nutrients, block the absorption of lead in your intestines. So, make sure you take a quality, balanced, pharmaceutical-grade supplement with healthy levels of calcium (with at least 1000 mg per day) and vitamin C (at least 1000 mg/day).

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rebuttal to the Recent FLAWED Report that Antioxidants Shorten Lifespan

Here we go again. It was predicted and expected ....more "bad news" for those taking supplements in the form of a recent "study" indicating that vitamins (antioxidants) may decrease your lifespan. ....Well, not so fast! I have included an article from Life Extension Foundation (see below) addressing the flawed analysis of this study ...and more importantly the lack of "cause and effect" between antioxidants and premature death. (What is so absurd about all this is that the opposite truly exists, ... that is, an association between antioxidants and the reduced risk of premature death.) Before I get to that, I have my own editorial.

Believe it or not, there is a war of information regarding the supplement industry and the pharmaceutical industry. This was not the first, and it will not be the last that some "study" comes out telling us that we, who take supplements, are going to die, or in this case not live as long due to taking antioxidant supplements. Our alternative is not to take any supplements, and therefore become eligible to take prescription drugs (which course, have side effects, incluing death ....over 100,000 people die each year in the U.S. alone DIRECTLY FROM TAKING PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS ....and this is under the supervision and management of doctors and nurses).

This is NOT the case for nutritional supplements. People are not dying of premature deaths from their nutritional supplements, ...but, somehow we accept that drugs are more "acceptable" than supplements in maintaining health. It makes no sense at all. It is true, that the formulation and amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants matter .... not in their risk of death, but in regard to the true benefits they can provide. For example, there is a BIG difference between taking 60 to 120 mg of vitamin C in the ascorbic acid form, and 1300 mg per day of vitamin C in the vitamin C ascorbate form. With the first, one will do little more than prevent scurvy, whereas with the later, one may prevent the onset of chronic degenerative disease and possibly extend one's longevity.

There is a difference between taking 15 to 30 IU/day of vitamin E in the dl-alpha tocopherol form, vs. 400 to 800 IU/day of vitamin E in the mixed tocopherol (d-alpha tocopherol, gamma tocopherol, delta tocopherol) and tocotrienol formulation. The first will ....well, I'm not sure what 15 to 30 IU of vitamin E does, but I do know what the studies on using the natural mixed tocopherol form of vitamin E indicates ....less risk of many types of cancer, decreased risk of heart disease, AND decreased mortality.

In regard to extending one's lifespan, the single BEST way to increase longevity is NOT TO DIE!

I have studied the medical literature, and one of the biggest frustrations regarding studies on supplements (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) is that they were never meant to be taken in isolation. Supplements are meant to be taken in the proper ratios, amounts, and balance. Formulations make a difference; and most of these "reports" (meta-analyses) are comparing apples and oranges.

The authors of this latest round of anti-supplement propaganda (like prior anti-supplement reports) cherry picked their studies, leaving out some powerful studies showing a decrease in heart disease, cancer, and death from any cause. Again, if we are to live longer we must not die of a chronic degenerative disease. The studies exist, but they weren't included because it did not support the aim of this meta-analysis.

My hope is that people will not be so swayed by the sensationalism of a poorly designed and selectively biased report, or meta-analysis (summary of selected studies) that in the end will NOT hold up to true medical research scrutiny. Sometimes I believe that these researchers know that their report will not hold up to scrutiny, but in the war of information it ultimately does not matter. The damage will be done because the media has already announced the "bad news," creating doubt in the minds of the less informed, ...including the minds of many doctors who do not take the time to look at the solid studies on the benefits of supplements, but rather listen (and believe) all the information doled out to them by the pharmaceutical reps who visit their office on a daily basis.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cataracts: Reduced Risk with Vitamin E, Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Grape Seed Extract

In recent study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology (Arch. Ophthalmol. 2008;126:102-9) gathered from the Women's Health Study, vitamin E and the carotenoid lutein were both found to be associated with a reduced risk of cataracts.

The Women's Health Study (WHS) was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial involving nearly 40,000 women health professionals aged 45 years and older at inception of the study in 1993.

In this recent study gathered from the WHS, the researchers assessed the antioxidant intake (from food and supplements) of 35,551 women and followed them for an average of ten years. They divided the women's intake into 5 groups, ...groups with the lowest intake, to the next highest intake, to the next highest intake, etc. When women with the highest intake of lutein/zeaxanthin (mean intake of 6.7 mg/day) were compared to the group with the lowest intake (mean of 1.2 mg/day) they found an 18% decrease in the risk of cataracts.

Similarly, when women in the highest intake group of vitamin E (mean 262 mg/day, or 390 IU/day; 1 mg alpha-tocopherol = 1.49 IU) were compared to women in the lowest intake group of vitamin E (mean 4.4 mg/day, or 6.5 IU/day), there found a 14% decrease in cataracts.

This study adds to existing observational studies that xanthophyll carotenoids lutein (and its stereo-isomer, zeaxanthin) may delay cataract formation. (BTW, in animal studies, grape seed extract has been found to reduce the formation of cataracts as well.) Lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate in the tissues of the eye, ...including the lens and retina.

Personally, I take a broad spectrum multi-antioxidant and minerals in chelated form, fish oil, grape seed extract, and additional lutein/zeaxanthin and bilberry extract supplement (for a total lutein intake of 13 mg per day, ...well above the mean intake of the top fifth group of this study). In addition, I take an additional vitamin E supplement, that has the full family of vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol, d-gamma tocopherol, delta tocopherol, and the tocotrienols), for a combined total of 600 IU/day.

For optimal eye health of the lens and retina (macular degeneration is the number one cause of blindness after the age of 40), as well as maintaining health in a time of increasing risk of chronic degenerative disease, I recommend an optimal intake of various antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ladd McNamara, M.D. "Vitamin E Deficiency"

The Untold Epidemic Vitamin E Deficiency by Ladd McNamara, M.D.

It is clear that there is an epidemic vitamin D deficiency (see posting about vitamin D below). Few people are aware that there is also a serious epidemic deficiency of vitamin E. An editorial that accompanied the largest study on vitamin E in medical history (Am J Clin Nutr 2006 Nov;84(5):1200-7) stated 93% of American men and 96% of American women do not obtain the [pathetically low] recommended dietary allowance of 15 IU of vitamin E per day. It is clear that we should be taking at least 30 to 50 times that level (400 to 1000 IU/day) to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Taking this much vitamin E in the correct form and balance with other vitamins, is both safe and effective; more than the pharmaceutical companies would have you believe. However, it is in the economic interest of pharmaceutical companies to dissuade the public from taking supplements so that they can be on medications which often do little to nothing to reverse disease. Other health practitioners make their living by “educating” others that they can get everything they need from their food alone. The medical research indicates otherwise. The amount of vitamin E, as well as other important vitamins, required to reduce the risk of chronic diseases can only be obtained through supplementation.

Tragically many doctors and the lay person have the misconception that vitamins, such as vitamin E supplementation may be harmful. There seems to be continued misinformation put out in news media and health magazines, regarding the “dangers” of supplementation. Either they are not aware of the medical research, or they are purposefully misleading the public for their own gain. This non-stop attempt to persuade people not to supplement, but to get all their antioxidants from their food alone is at minimum unethical, at worst dangerous. Vitamin E seems to be in these detractors line of fire more than any other nutrient, probably because it is the most common supplement used today. With the thousands of medical studies showing the benefits of supplemental vitamin E, how is it that there is still controversy and confusion? The doses of vitamin E that research has shown to be of benefit can ONLY be obtained through proper supplementation.

Almost weekly a new study about the benefits of vitamin E is published. Almost all show health benefits or potential health benefits. Because vitamin E is one of the most popular supplements, it is only when a medical study or report showing a possible negative effect it is reported by the media, either to make headlines, and/or to scare people away from taking this incredible vitamin. The negative findings regarding vitamin E of a few medical reports have either shown to be excessively biased, restricting other important vitamins that work synergistically with vitamin E, poorly designed, or bearing no cause and effect of vitamin E to a detrimental health impact. The studies of vitamin E that have shown a true potential negative impact are few, but of more importance it has given us clarity regarding the synergistic impact of various vitamins as well as the importance of the formulation of vitamin E.

Vitamins must work together for optimal benefit:

Studies published many years ago showed that for vitamin E to continue to function as an antioxidant within the body, adequate levels of vitamin C must be present to regenerate (donate more electrons) to vitamin E so that it can continue to prevent oxidation of lipids. Any study about vitamin E that restricts the participants from also taking vitamin C is setting up the study to show nothing more than how vitamin E is quickly “used up,” and not regenerated to continuously provide an antioxidant benefit. It tells us nothing about the real benefits that can be obtained from proper supplementation.

The correct formulation of vitamin E is critical:

Vitamin E is a family of nutrients; alpha, delta, and gamma-tocopherols and tocotrienols. There is a difference between the synthetic (petroleum-derived) vitamin E, dl apha-tocopherol , and the natural (food-based ) vitamin E, d alpha-tocopherol. Gamma-tocopherol is a critical form of vitamin E needed to reduce the oxidation of lipids (cholesterol) in conjunction with alpha-tocopherol. (J Am Copll Cardiol. 1999 Oct:34(4):1208-15, Pro Natl Acad Sci USA, 1993 Mar 1:90(5):1771-5) In addition, studies have shown that people who supplement solely with vitamin E in the alpha-tocopherol form are at risk to lower the blood levels of a critical form of vitamin E, gamma-tocopherol. (J Nutr. 2003 Oct:133(10):3137-40; J Nutr.1985 Jun:115(6):807-13 ) The average American’s blood-stream is five times more rich in alpha-tocopherol than gamma-tocopherol, and that difference jumps 20-fold among people who take vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol without gamma tocopherol.

In 2007, a negative study about vitamin E (that lingers as the “justification” for the case against vitamin E) highlights the way the public can be mislead to make some poor decisions about supplementation. (JAMA Feb 27, 2007). This was a flawed study with flawed data that concluded that vitamins A and E “significantly increased the risk of mortality.” This meta-analysis (report) did very little to help us understand the benefits of vitamin E, but showed us just how data, and the public’s opinion, can be manipulated. The authors of this meta-analysis (which is not a study per se, but a review of previous published studies) considered 815 prior studies regarding antioxidants, but included the results of only 68 of these studies for analysis. Some of the studies excluded from their report showed significant benefits and reduction of mortality from taking supplements. Selection bias was glaringly evident. The authors essentially “cherry-picked” the studies they wanted, and ignored others, so that they could come to their desired conclusion: vitamin E can kill you!

The authors were unable to establish any cause and effect between supplementation with vitamin E and an increased risk of death, making this a poorly designed study. The elderly people who died could have just as easily died from accidents, medications, surgery, etc. …who knows? One noted researcher described this report a kin to “doing a cholesterol-lowering study without ever measuring cholesterol levels.” Furthermore, the average duration of the reviewed studies was 2.7 years, so the ridiculous conclusion that the authors wanted the public to believe was that vitamin E could kill you (somehow) in less than 3 years!

The others ignored many studies showing significant benefits derived from supplemental vitamin E. One such study that was ignored by these researchers was the November 10, 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which is the largest study on vitamin E in medical history measuring alpha-tocopherol in male smokers. (Am J Clin Nutr 2006 Nov;84(5):1200-7) This study followed 29,000 patients for over 19 years, and included over 13,000 deaths, …making possible a significant and fair analysis of vitamin E and the risk of death.

This study showed a significant reduction in overall mortality in those patients with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol. Specifically, over a 19-year period men with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol showed the following reduction in causes of death:
  • Prostate Cancer 32% Reduction of Death
  • Ischemic Stroke 37% Reduction of Death
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke 35% Reduction of Death
  • Lung Cancer 21% Reduction of Death
  • Respiratory Illness 42% Reduction of Death
The authors of this significant and powerful study stated: “As a primary fat-soluble antioxidant that protects lipids from peroxidation, alpha-tocopherol is able to scavenge mutagenic free radicals and inhibit the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, and the abilities have important implications for the prevention of carcinogenesis and atherosclerosis ….alpha-tocopherol also has several important functions that are independent of its antioxidant activity, including modulation of gene expression, enhancements of immune responses , an suppression of tumor angiogenesis.”
The researchers further elaborated that although the patients who enjoyed the greatest health benefits had higher blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, these same subjects also had the highest levels of gamma-tocopherol, meaning that these people were taking the natural formulation of vitamin E, not dl-alpha-tocopherol without gamma-tocopherol and the tocotrienols. This study, and other significant studies are ignored by the media, and obviously by doctors who are continually visited and educated by pharmaceutical companies.

Certainly, there are tens of thousands of studies reporting the benefits of various nutritional supplements. They are both safe and effective. If doctors and the public were simply made aware of the poorly designed analyses that denigrate vitamin E supplementation, and the significant studies about the benefits of taking vitamin E, in the form of alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol (along with delta-tocopherol and the mixed tocotrienols) along with vitamin C and vitamin K, which replenishes the antioxidant abilities of vitamin E, then I believe that not only would people need less medication and reduce the economic crisis in the health care industry, but more importantly people could enjoy the true health and happiness that can be obtained by eating right, exercise, and proper supplementation with a full spectrum of quality vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin E, in the natural form (as described above), appears to be safe up to at least 2000 IU per day. I personally take 800 IU per day of the full spectrum of vitamin E. When I was in medical practice, I recommended at least that much (if not up to 1200 IU of vitamin E) to patients with diabetes. The natural form of vitamin E, along with co-enzyme Q10, the red grape extract (grape seed extract and resveratrol) and a full spectrum of other antioxidants (quercetin, alpha lipoic acid, turmeric extract, olive extract, green tea extract, etc.), vitamins (B, C, D, and K), and minerals in the chelated form, all contribute to safely and significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, lung diseases, and almost every other chronic degenerative disease, as well as slow the aging process, all without the side-effects of drugs.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Co-Enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10), Statin Drugs, Heart Health and The Cholesterol Conspiracy

In my book, The Cholesterol Conspiracy, I emphasized how important co-enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) is in promoting heart health: preventing cardiovascular disease, and apparently even reversing the signs of cardiovascular disease. However, the benefits of Co-Q10 are not limited to the heart, but are extended to the entire body, in particular to the brain, the skin, and most importantly to the reduction of cancer development and apparently as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of cancer itself!

Co-Q10 is a cofactor (or co-enzyme) essential for the functioning of an enzyme system that creates 90% of the molecules needed for cellular energy (ATP molecules). Co-Q10 is the only fat-soluble vitamin produced by our body, however, as we get older we produce less and less. It is found in the mitochondria of cells where energy is created from oxygen and glucose (sugar). Organs that require more energy have more mitochondria, and therefore require more co-Q10, the heart requiring and using more energy, and thus requiring more co-Q10, than any other organ in the body.

The downside of creating ATP energy molecules within the mitochondria is the generation of free radicals, which if unchecked can wreak incredible damage through oxidation. Co-enzyme (Q10) is the first-line antioxidant in the defense against excessive oxidation both within and outside the mitochondria.

Patients with congestive heart failure are found to have a deficiency of co-Q10, and as mentioned above, our bodies make less co-Q10 with they age. (Skin health is affected by the amount of co-Q10 available, and as we age the levels decrease, elasticity is loss, along with an increased risk of skin cancer. A topic for another update.)

The theme of The Cholesterol Conspiracy is that statin drugs reduce co-Q10 levels (and nutritional supplements are an effective means to maintain heart health), and the consequences of co-Q10 deficiency can be devastating; one of which can be the development of congestive heart failure.

When statin drugs first came on the market in 1987 (the first being Mevacor, lovastatin), clinicians who followed co-Q10 levels of their patients saw a dramatic drop, and a worsening of heart functioning, including failure; one requiring a heart transplant. The patients showed an improvement in their co-Q10 levels and heart functioning once the statin drugs were discontinued. All statin drugs block co-Q10 production, and cause depletion in the body, and results in detrimental effects on the heart, as well as the rest of the body (fatigue, depression, foggy thinking, memory loss, and many other effects, including an apparent increase in cancer).

Do statin drugs reduce LDL cholesterol levels? Yes, they do, AND, they may reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 16 to 24%, but really only among men with heart disease. (They appear not to help those with high cholesterol and no heart disease or women in any category at all.) However, the studies showing any benefits to statin drugs ALSO show that those taking these drugs are having significant side-effects, beyond a decrease in cardiac function (congestive heart failure), some cases actually dying of causes other than repeat heart attacks. For example, the study a few years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine touting the “incredible, undeniable benefits of high-dose Lipitor” which was supposed to be the break-through treatment for those at risk for heart disease if looked at closely actually showed no net saving of lives at all! In this 2005 "TNT" study, 10,001 people received either high-dose Lipitor or low-dose Lipitor. High-dose Lipitor brought down LDL cholesterol levels to an average of 77 mg/dl, and the low dose Lipitor brought LDL down to just about 110 mg/dl. (N Engl J Med. 2005 Apr 4;352(14):1425-35)

Over the next 5 years 8.7% of the high-dose group had a repeat heart attack, and among the low-dose group 10.9% of the people experienced a repeat heart attack. There were 29 fewer deaths from high-dose Lipitor due to heart attack! So, one could conclude that everyone at risk for heart disease should go on high-dose Lipitor, right? Well, that’s exactly the campaign that Pfizer pushed upon physicians. However, this “benefit” was COMPLETELY offset by 31 MORE deaths from people taking high-dose Lipitor who died from OTHER CAUSES (not heart attacks). The conclusion: 80 mg of Lipitor did NOT save ANY lives; in fact maximum dose Lipitor INCREASED one's risk of death due to non-cardiovascular causes (10 of these deaths were from cancer)! Oh, and every one of the eleven authors of this study were either a Pfizer employee or a paid “Pfizer consultant.”

The worst part about this, ..the campaign by Pfizer to spin the information that prescribing statin drugs is not only safe but the BEST TREATMENT for all patients at risk for heart disease has still left a deep impression on physicians today, and is so entrenched in the medical psyche' that it is very difficult for doctors to even think that nutritional supplements have any place at all in the health maintenance or prevention of heart disease.

However to be fair, the medical studies do show that there is a 33% decrease risk of repeat cardiac events (heart attacks) in patients treated with low dose (10 to 20 mg) statin drugs among those at high risk of heart attack (those with coronary artery disease). However, since statin drugs can lead to decrease cardiac function (congestive heart failure) it is prudent for physcians to be aware to recommend that patients also take at least 100 to 200 mg of Co-enzyme Q10 (or an equivalent 60 to 120 mg highly absorbable gel formulation) to prevent the depletion of co-Q10 by statin drugs with the resultant cardiac muscle weakening and possible destruction.

However, one thing has become crystal clear of late, ....the very recent release of the results of the ENHANCE study, a two-year trial of people with high cholesterol taking Zetia or Zocor alone. (Zetia is the brand name for ezemtimbe, which is also found in Vytorin, ...and the results may very well apply to this drug as well.) Although Zetia, which is prescribed to about 1 million Americans at this time, did lower cholesterol, this study revealed it provided absolutely no benefit. Worse, not only did it not provide a benefit, but the rate at which arteries thickened with plaque almost DOUBLED with those taking Zetia (ezemtimbe, also found in Vytorin, which at least another million Americans are taking)!

In other words, this increased the rate of atherosclerosis, i.e., coronary artery disease! This study was just two years long, imagine the results over ten years use of this drug. The results were just announced so they are not yet published in a medical journal, but they were reported in several media outlets. Interestingly, it did not make a big splash on TV. If such “bad news” about vitamins would have been released it would have created a tidal wave on the “controversy” of nutritional supplementation, yet this “deadly news” barely made a ripple regarding the issue over cholesterol-lowering drugs’ dark side.

There have been 22 placebo-controlled studies of co-Q10 among people with congestive heart failure. Of those, only 3 studies have failed to shown significant benefit, which means 19 have shown significant heart benefits among those with failing hearts, …that is reversal of heart disease! So, why would three studies not have shown a benefit? One study failed to measure co-Q10 levels at all, so there was no way to even know if the patients even obtained therapeutic levels (Eur Heart J. 1992 Nov;13(11):1528-33). And, although the other two studies measured co-Q10 levels, the co-Q10 levels were sub-therapeutic; i.e., the patients did not get enough co-Q10 to be effective in improving heart function! Despite this, these three studies are the most often quoted in discounting the benefits of co-Q10! Why? (Med J Aust. 2001 Oct 15;175(8):447;author reply 447-8 and Ann Intern Med. 2000 Apr 18;132(8):636-40)

Why not refer to the 19 other studies showing the significant benefits of co-Q10? If these were studies done by pharmaceutical companies, they would more than qualify as good studies: the patients were given the correct therapeutic doses; and 19 powerful studies would be "proof positive" that co-Q10 improved congestive heart failure (among many other benefits) without negative effects. There would be no question for its use in patients with congestive heart failure. Why, it's almost as if there is some group with a financial interest who does not want us to know about the benefits of co-Q10 because they want us to remain uninformed and taking their products our detriment.

It is clear that therapeutic blood levels, i.e., in order to see improvement in heart functioning in those with congestive heart failure, the blood level of co-Q10 should be at least 3.5 micrograms/ml (mcg/ml) or greater.

Of all the studies showing cardiac benefits using co-Q10 there has been absolutely no harmful side-effects or negative drug interactions. Since this has been shown to be true, why aren't more doctors aware of this? The studies are there! All benefit, no harm. With the drugs, ...little benefit (or none in some cases), with much harm. Hmmm? Well, at least some people are getting the message, and others are delivering it.

Co-Q10 offers numerous benefits, not only for people with congestive heart failure, but also those with coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and those with cancer (again, a topic for another update). In a placebo-controlled study in 2007 of 38 patients using 300 mg /day of Co-Q10, researchers found an increased production of the powerful antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (which has been shown to reverse atherosclerosis, or plaque in the arteries), and vasodilation (blood vessel widening, …which allows blood to flow freely to the heart, brain, muscles, etc. to deliver oxygen to organs, rather than being constricted as with a heart attack). Eur Heart J. 2007 Jul 19;[Epub ahead of print.]

By the way, some highly absorbable gel formulations of co-enzyme Q10 is 1.8 to 2.0 times more abosrbable than "regular" co-enzyme Q10. Therefore, if you had a 30 mg gel capsule of this highly absorbable formulation of co-enzyme Q10, you would need about to take about 6 capsules per day to equate to the 300 mg that is referred to in the study above. Remember, they are referring to those with heart disease, not simply taking co-enzyme Q10 for the maintenance of cardiac health in a healthy person. Two of such capsules per day would be sufficient in the maintenance of heart health in a healthy person.

The people supplementing with 300 mg co-Q10 also showed increased peak consumption of oxygen and oxygen pulse, meaning more efficient and effective use of oxygen, which is significant for athletes and those with compromised hearts and lungs.

Regarding the effect of statin drugs on cholesterol, cholesterol on heart health, co-Q10 on heart health and the prevention of heart disease, there are many good books in addition to my own book, The Cholesterol Conspiracy. In my other books, Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer I write about the role of co-Q10 in cancer. There are so many benefits to co-Q10 for those who are concerned about these health issues, however, for those who are healthy (and for athletic performance enhancement) and just want more energy and vitality in life I would highly suggest considering looking into a high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade, highly absorbable gel formulation of co-Q10.

There is no known toxic dose to co-Q10, and it is clear that for maximum benefit in those with heart disease therapeutic doses must be achieved.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Health Benefits of TURMERIC EXTRACT (Curcumin)

Now, for the good news about TURMERIC EXTRACT:

Researchers have long been aware of the health benefits of the curry spice turmeric, which is the source of curcumin (or turmeric extract). In fact, in India where turmeric is used daily Alzheimer's disease is nearly absent in a country (per the population size). Curcurmin is the same thing as turmeric extract. It is a powerful antioxidant and it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is one of the most destructive processes that damage our cells and organs, leading to disease and aging.

Researchers have long studied the turmeric extract's application in fighting cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and reversing the process underlying Alzheimer's disease.

One of the most important activities in the human body is turmeric extract's ability to inhibit chronic inflammation (by inhibiting activation of transcription factor, nuclear factor-kappa B, NF-kB). What's the big deal? Well, NF-kB activation has been implicated in ALL stages of the development and propagation of cancer; and switching off the NF-kB genes, which turmeric extract seems to do has been a huge subject of intense research.

The National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. has funded numerous studies on turmeric extract (curcumin) because of the diverse benefits of this antioxidant spice. It affects virtually every organ of the body. The applications include the treatment of cystic fibrosis (the most common genetic disorder in Caucasians), autoimmune diseases, such as sceleroderma, the prevention and treatment of cancer, the prevention and treatment of heart disease, reverse the damage associated with high blood sugar (diabetes), the prevention and treatment of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and multiple sclerosis. It may help prevent cataracts; it shows promise as a treatment for skin disorders such as psoriasis; and it helps in the treatment of wounds.

Among other benefits, turmeric extract has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activities. This is not said lightly, and should not be overlooked as a minor benefit, particularly in wound healing.

Of all the benefits of curcumin or turmeric extract, it is the prevention and treatment of cancer that has most scientists in awe. One investigator wrote, "Curcumin ...has emerged as one of the most powerful chemopreventative and anticancer agents. It's biological effects range from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to inhibition of angiogenesis, and is shown to possess specific antitumoral activity." Cancer Res 2007 Mar 1:67(5):1988

Although anticancer drugs weaken the immune system, turmeric extract strengthens the immune system as it fights cancer at every step of cancer development and propagation.

For cancer to develop, it has to initiate ...turmeric extract stops this. It has to propagate (progression and promotion), ...turmeric extract stops this. New blood vessels have to be formed to feed the new cancer cells so they can survive (angiogenesis), turmeric extract stops this, ... and turmeric extract induces apoptosis, the self-destruction of cancer cells. It does all this while protecting the rest of the body from other diseases and inflammation. Turmeric extract seems to be the perfect designer substance. It appears that man could not design or develop a more perfect substance ....but, that doesn't mean it wouldn't stop them from trying.

Interesting, but not surprising to me, pharmaceutical companies are racing to try and come up with patentable compounds that mimic the actions of turmeric extract so they can make huge profits; when interesting enough the compound and benefits obviously already exist! Ah, the greed of mankind never ceases to amaze me. (But, we saw this with the benefits of the safety and effectiveness of grape seed extract and the eventual development of Vioxx and Celebrex, a Cox 2 inhibitor. How did that work out for Big Pharma? More importantly, how did it work out for the benefit of the patients?)

What specific cancers has turmeric extract (curcumin) been shown to benefit?

In 2007, scientists at the Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham published at report in the journal Cancer Research showing how turmeric extract (curmumin) reduced prostate cancer cells' production of a protein MDM2, which is associated with the formation of malignant tumors. Simultaneously, curmumin prompted cells to produce another protein associated with apoptosis (programmed cell death). Cancer Res 2007 Mar 1:67(5):1988

It's interesting that India has has one of the lowest incidence of prostate cancer rates in the world. The annual prostate cancer incidence rate in India is ranges from 5.0 to 9.1 per 100,000/year. In contrast, among white males in the U.S., the incidence is 110.4 per 100,000/year! More than ten times higher. For black males in the U.S., it is even HIGHER! Could it be due to the consumption of turmeric? The average intake of turmeric spice in India is 2 - 2.5 grams per day. Thus, it is to our advantage to obtain turmeric extract that would surpass that in its equivalency by at least 3 to 6 fold.

Curcumin (turmeric extract) has been shown to enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy agent, gemcitabine, in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. This chemotherapy agent loses it effectiveness as the cancer progresses, curmcumin (turmeric extract) helps prevent the tumors resistance to the drug.

Curcumin (turmeric extract) interferes with the proliferation of various types of colon cancer, and it enhances the efficacy of existing an existing chemotherapeutic agent, oxaliplatin in the fight against colon cancer.

Curcumin's effect against breast cancer is nothing short of amazing; both against a common variety of breast cancer cells, as well as a mutant line of breast cancer cells that have developed resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Turmeric extract exerts its effects on cell proliferation, cycling and death. Turmeric extract (or curcumin) seems able to adapt its anticancer activity according to need, including in multi-drug resitant tumors of the breast, prostate, and leukemia cell lines.

Lastly, turmeric extract is particularly beneficial in preventing cognitive decline, in the prevention or treatment of major disabling age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and stroke. Adv Ex Med Biol 2007;197

A few mechanism of action may account for such benefits. Turmeric extract appears to reduce lead toxicity by raising levels of the antioxidant glutathione, as well as bind to (chelate) heavy metals and remove them. Furthermore, turmeric extract is an antioxidant, protecting oxidative damage to neurons of the brain by promoting production of a protective enzyme hem oxygenase-1 (HO-1). This is a fundamental defense mechanism for neurons exposed to oxidation. (And, to think Pfizer wants us to use high-dose Lipitor to protect everyone from Alzheimer's disease.)

Memory loss begins by age 50, and by age 80, it predicted that half of us will advance to some form of dementia (Alzheimer's or not). Asian epidemiological studies found that those who consumed curry (with the turmeric spice) showed strong evidence of "better cognitive performance" and "less age-related dementia." Am J Epidemiol 2006 Nov 1;164(9):898

Okay, as always, "what about safety?"

Given that turmeric is a food that has been safely consumed for millennia (even by pregnant women), curcumin, or turmeric extract, would appear to be a perfect dietary supplement. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Sep'6 Suppl S62-6 In fact, one researcher wrote, "Curcumin has an outstanding safety profile and a number of multifunctional actions ..." Phase I clinical trials, using massive doses of curcumin, or turmeric extract (up to 8 grams/day for four months "did not result in discernable toxicities." Adv Exp Med Biol 2007;565:471

The myriad of benefits to be obtained from turmeric extract is emerging with a clear safety margin. Last week I wrote about the amazing benefits of obtaining at least 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D. (see posting below)

This week, I am going to suggest that you look to obtain at least 60 mg per day of turmeric extract, but may I suggest, that the benefits I am suggesting in this posting are going to be realized in the neighborhood of 600 to 1000 mg per day, if not even higher!

Personally, between the number of antioxidants per day I take, and the number of tablets of the "liver health maintenance product" (I take a few extra), and the product I take to help "maintain the health of my joints," I am obtaining approx. 800 mg of turmeric extract per day.

Add that amount of turmeric extract I take to the 1,200 IU/day of vitamin D I am obtaining, plus the full-range of antioxidants, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids I consume each and every day, and I think I doing okay.

Certainly, no nutritional supplement program is a guarantee against any disease, or even death. It's only about protecting our cells from oxidation and inflammation; helping them operate at their optimum, avoiding toxic substances as best we can, and then doing our best to live the best lifestyle we can.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


The purpose of this posting is to emphasize how critical it is to your health and longevity for you and your loved ones to supplement with a full range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants each day, and included in that, it is highly recommended that you supplement with 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day or more.

Now, that's well above the US RDA of 400 IU/day; the amount the government recommends, but quite frankly, the government recommendations are considerably out-of-date! At least, if you want to go by the powerful and undeniable medical research!

The bottom line: if you ignore this information your health could be in jeopardy.

At the bare minimum, recent research has shown a strong association between low blood levels of vitamin D (which most people have, often even among those who supplement with the government recommendation of 400 IU/day) and increased cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high triglycerides. Arch of Intern Med. 2007, Jun 11;167(11):1159

What is fascinating, and is critical for you to know is that there are well over 89 medical studies showing that high vitamin D blood levels (which can only be obtained by supplementing with more than 400 IU/day the order of 800 to 1,000 IU/day) reduce nearly all cancers, including cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, and prostate (some as much as 50%). Lancet 1989, Nov 18:2(8673):1176; Am J Clin Nutr 1991 Jul; 54(1 Suppl)193S; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2007 Mar;103(3-5):708; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005 Oct;97(1-2)P179; Cancer Res 2005 JKun 15;65(12):5470; Am J Public Health 2006 Feb;96(2):252; Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1995 Mar;77(2):85.

In fact, the studies are so numerous and convincing that it is now medically undeniable that the greater one's vitamin D levels (by supplementing with at least 1,000 IU/day or more) the less the risk of acquiring cancer of the breast, prostate, colon, esophagus, pancreas, ovary, rectum, bladder, kidney, lung, and uterus, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma! Anticancer Res 2006 Jul;26(4A):2573; Cancer Res 2006 Jul 15:66(14);7361; Carcinogenesis 2006 Mar;27(3):551; Arch intern Med 2007 May 28;167(10)1050; Cancer Causes and Control 2000 Oct;11(9):847; Lancet 2001 Aug 25;358(9282):641; Cancer 2003 Mar 1:97(5):1217; J Urol 2001 Jan:165(1)253 (and about 85 other medical studies that I do not intend to list in this email).

One study that I will cite in this posting is a recent ground-breaking double blind placebo-controlled study that was published this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this study involving 1,180 postmenopausal women, studying the effects of administering 1,000 IU of vitamin D (with calcium) or a placebo, the researchers found that after ONLY 4 years of taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D the risk of contracting ANY CANCER was reduced by 60% compared to the placebo group. This was astounding news, …., but it was about to get even better. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Jun;85(6):1586

When the researchers excluded the cancers that were diagnosed during the first year of this study, ….which made sense because that excluded cancers that were present before the study began (since cancers take a while to grow and be diagnosed since they are slow growing), …so, a more thorough and detailed statistical examination of the data revealed that 1,000 IU of vitamin D (plus calcium) reduced the risk of ALL CANCERS by a whopping 77% compared to the placebo group!

What does this mean? If we as a society were to take 1,000 IU of vitamin D each day (with calcium, let alone take supplement with other full spectrum pharmaceutical grade antioxidants, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids), as many as three-quarters (or more) of all cancers could be prevented in just four years! The impact of this double blind, placebo-controlled study is so profound that it is clear that EVERYONE should be taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D (or more) every day! (And, that the government recommendations of 400 IU/day are now irrelevant, just as the RDA of vitamin C, that of 60 mg, is irrelevant, unless your goal is simply to prevent scurvy.)

Even children can benefit from greater levels of vitamin D. New Engl J Med 2007 Jul 19:357(3):266; Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Jul;86(1):150

Furthermore, vitamin D has been shown to suppress inflammation by reducing cytokines (inflammatory modulating molecules). Thus, taking at least 1,000 of vitamin D or more per day helps protect against inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic muscle pain (fibromyalgia), congestive heart failure, diabetes, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. South Med J 2005 Oct;98(10):1024; ClinTer 2005 May;156(3):115; Mayo Clinic Proc 2003 Dec;78(12):1463; Diabetes Care 2005 Dec;28(12):2926; Am J Clin Nutr 2006 Apr;83(4):754

Okay, …..What About The Safety of “that Much” Vitamin D? How much is Too Much? Or, what about those who have been told, "My Doctor Told Me NOT to take more than the RDA level of 400 IU/day of vitamin D."

Frankly, most doctors are not aware of this ground breaking research over the past decade, let alone the double blind, placebo-controlled study published this year that put all this to rest, or what levels of vitamin D are safe. I’m not knocking doctors, because I am one, but since we have not been “geared” towards “nutritional medicine,” most doctors are not aware about the numerous studies suggesting that 100 of thousands of lives that could be spared just in the U.S. alone if every American took just 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day. (And, we haven't even touched on how many lives could possibly be spared if a full spectrum of the other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants were added to this regimen ...which would might push that number up even higher. My next news email will be about the benefits of turmeric extract, which is an amazing antioxidant/anti-inflammatory substance.)

So, let's alleviate the safety concern about taking higher levels of vitamin D. Is it possible to get take too much vitamin D? The answer is YES! But, how much is too much?

Vitamin D status can be assessed by a blood test. Be careful about the lab’s reference ranges, because sometimes they will compare you to the "normal population," which is DEFICIENT ... you don't want to be “normal” (or deficient in vitamin D). Optimal levels of vitamin D3 (25-hdroxyvitamin D) should be in the range of 30 - 50 ng/ml (or 75 - 125 nmol/L).

A study was performed to see how much oral vitamin D was required to increase one's vitamin D levels. Taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D orally only increases your blood level of vitamin D by 11.5 ng/ml (understand ….that is, it increases it by that much, it does not establish vitamin D at that level). The bottom line is this: A daily oral intake between 1,000 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D (depending upon your baseline vitamin D blood levels) is ideal.

Vitamin D toxicity does not occur until blood levels reach 150 ng/ml or more; which would generally take an oral dose of 50,000 IU per day! Therefore, doses up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day would appear to be safe, and certainly half that much (5,000 IU per day) would absolutely be safe! N Eng J Med 2007 Jul 19;357(3)266

To drive this concept home: In order to achieve an optimal serum blood level of vitamin D of approximately 60 ng/ml, a 154 pound (70 kg) person with a baseline vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml would have to take 5,000 of vitamin D to increase their blood level to the desired levels of 60 ng/ml. So, no one should be concerned with the safety of taking 1,000 IU to 1,200 IU of vitamin D! Instead, they should be concerned if they are not supplementing with that much vitamin D every day.

The authors of a review study in the July 19, 2007 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine calculate the rates of various diseases affected by vitamin D status and have come up with the following numbers: N Eng J Med 2007 Jul 19;357(3)266

78% Reduction in Type I diabetes in children taking 2,000 IU/day of vitamin D in their FIRST YEAR of life.

200% Increase in Type I diabetes in Vitamin D-deficient children

33% reduction in Type II diabetes in those taking 800 IU/day plus calcium

72% reduction in number of falls in elderly people taking high-dose vitamin D (that's well over 1,000 IU/day)

30-50% more cancers in vitamin D-deficient people (which can happen if you are taking 400 IU/day or less)

So, my friends, according to the medical research it is now clear that you should take high quality, broad spectrum supplements, and be adding up the amount of vitamin D in your antioxidants, fish oil capsules, and calcium-magnesium tablets, and be shooting for 1,000 IU of vitamin D or more per day.

Ladd McNamara,M.D.