B Vitamins

The Magic of Manganese

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the least well-known essential trace minerals is manganese. This metallic nutritional element, which derives its moniker from the Greek word for magic, is present in almost all diets in low concentrations. Although these days it is mostly used as an alloy in stainless steel for its rust protection properties, manganese’s essential role in human nutrition should not be overlooked.

The Magic of Manganese

Black-Eyed Peas Curry, rich in manganese. (akshayapatra.blogspot.com)

The average human body contains about 10 milligrams of manganese, mostly concentrated in the liver, bones and kidneys. While deficiencies of manganese are typically uncommon, its highly charged electrical nature make this critical mineral unstable to milling of grains and other modern food processing techniques. According to Dr. E. Blaurock-Busch of Trace Minerals International, patients being fed intravenously may also be at risk for manganese deficiency, although some say there is some controversy surrounding the inclusion manganese to parenteral protocols. High doses of Manganese have been associated with neurotoxicity and Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms and current opinion regards the addition of manganese to parental solutions as unnecessary.

What is not open to debate, however, is the issue of the loss of manganese due to soil depletion. An unfortunate by-product of modern agricultural technology, mineral impoverishment of farmlands must be considered as foods grown in soils with low levels of the silvery-grey essential nutrient may have their manganese content reduced.

Manganese is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine, so patients with a history of digestive distress may be at risk for manganese deficiency. Absorption of manganese may also be adversely affected by diets high in iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and soy protein. Deficiencies of this important mineral may result in impaired growth, poor wound healing and other skin issues, as well as loss of hair color or reduced hair growth. Women with osteoporosis have been shown to have low levels of plasma manganese. And, it’s been known for almost 50 years that many epileptics are at risk for manganese deficiency.

Manganese functions as a critical co-factor for several vitamins. Under deficiency conditions, Vitamin C and some of the B-vitamins, including Vitamins B1, biotin and choline cannot be used efficiently. Manganese also has a function in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. And, several reports indicate involvement of manganese in the synthesis of steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Manganese may also play an important role in the health of diabetics.

In their chapter in the highly regarded textbook, “Manganese in Health and Disease”, Doctors Baly, Walter, Jr., and Keen suggest a relationship between manganese and carbohydrate metabolism. One anecdotal report which they discuss involved the case of an insulin resistant diabetic patient who dramatically reduced his blood glucose levels from 350 mg/dl to 100 mg/dl by drinking manganese containing alfalfa tea. Further research showed that intravenous manganese chloride also lowered blood glucose levels rapidly.

Manganese functions as a structural constituent and activator of numerous enzyme systems, including those involved with energy production, protein metabolism and detoxification. And, its link to enzymes associated with lipid metabolism, are responsible for its aforementioned importance in helping the body maintain adequate levels of cholesterol and fatty acids and steroid hormones. Finally, manganese is an important actor in the production of enzymes involved in collagen synthesis and thus may have a part to play in anti-aging nutrition.

The best manganese-containing foods include liver and other organ meats. Pecans and almonds, brown rice, pineapples, and navy beans are good vegetarian sources of manganese and teas of all kinds are especially good beverage sources. Manganese is also available in supplemental fashion and most often found in combination with other nutrients in joint health and bone-building formulations.

The origin of the name manganese is complex. In ancient times, two black minerals from Magnesia (located within modern Greece) were both called magnes from their place of origin, but were thought to differ in gender. The male magnes attracted iron, and was the iron ore now known as lodestone or magnetite, and which probably gave us the term magnet. The female magnes ore did not attract iron, but was used to decolorize glass. This feminine magnes was later called magnesia, known now in modern times as pyrolusite or manganese dioxide. Neither this mineral nor elemental manganese is magnetic. In the 16th century, manganese dioxide was called manganesum (note the two Ns instead of one) by glassmakers, possibly as a corruption and concatenation of two words, since alchemists and glassmakers eventually had to differentiate a magnesia negra (the black ore) from magnesia alba (a white ore, also from Magnesia, also useful in glassmaking). Michele Mercati called magnesia negra manganesa, and finally the metal isolated from it became known as manganese (German: Mangan). The name magnesia eventually was then used to refer only to the white magnesia alba (magnesium oxide), which provided the name magnesium for the free element when it was isolated much later. [Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Some Thoughts on Vitamins

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

When the subject of nutrition comes up, oftentimes the conversational spotlight gets focused on the term vitamins, which gets tossed around as an all-inclusive, catch-all term for all nutritional supplements. In the interests of accuracy, it’s important to keep in mind that the term vitamins refers only a single component of the nutritional supplement world, which includes protein, essential fats, minerals, water, fiber, and carbohydrates, and accessory nutrients like NAC and alpha lipoic acid and probiotics.

The word vitamin is actually a slang term for nutritional substances that are more technically called “co-enzymes”. These being biomolecules that assist enzymes in their work of making biological chemistry happen.

The body is a seething, bubbling factory of chemical reactions. Every cell in the body, of which there are many trillions is capable of producing somewhere on the order of 10 thousand to 100 thousand chemical reactions per second!! To put it in even more dramatic, (if incomprehensible) terms there are quadrillions (!) of individual chemical reactions occurring in our bodies every minute we are alive. And each one of these chemical reactions depends on the action of enzymes and, in-turn, each one of these enzymes requires the assistance of coenzymes some of which are the vitamins. Considering most of our vitamin needs are met by foods or supplementation, in other words, they are not made by the body, the stupendous importance of making sure we are giving our body generous quantities of these critical molecules through the diet and through nutritional supplements become obvious.

There are two classes of vitamins, those that dissolve in water and those that dissolve in oil, the so-called water soluble vitamins, which are the B-complex and Vitamin C and the fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K. The water soluble vitamins critical as they may be are easier to work with than the fat soluble vitamins. You can and should take a lot of B-complex and vitamin C, they are multi-functional and used and excreted rapidly. The best way to make sure your getting enough of the water soluble vitamins is to take generous amounts, in water all day long, i.e. by drinking them. The fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K are much trickier to work with. Optimal assimilation of the substances requires a healthy and well-functioning digestive system including especially the liver and gall bladder. And, because they are transported around the body in the lymphatic system if things aren’t moving well in the lymph, fatty vitamin activity may be impaired. The same is true if you have liver problems or gall bladder problems, especially if you’ve had your gall bladder removed or if you have pancreatic health issues. If this is the case, you’re going to want to take the fatty vitamins with meals that include fatty foods. Digestive enzymes can help so can apple cider vinegar and perhaps pancreatin which contains digestive enzymes. You can also use se bile salts, maybe lecithin and you might want to consider including some choline which the body can use to make lecithin.

Take home message:

Use generous amounts of the B-complex and Vitamin C throughout the day. Put them in water or some other liquid medium and drink them down slowly for best results

Take fatty vitamin D, E, A and K supplements with meals that contain some kind of fatty foods. If you are dealing with digestive health issues i.e. those that involve the stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder or pancreas, you can improve the absorption of these fatty vitamins by taking them with digestive enzymes, pancreatin, bile salts, apple cider vinegar, lecithin and choline.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Your Heart

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The human heart beats over 100,000 times a day, 40 million times a year 3.5 billion times in a typical  lifetime, pumping blood over 60,000 miles of circulatory highway.  It generates an electrical field 50 times stronger than the brain, that can be measured several feet outside the body.  It’s got brain cells in it, it produces hormones and most of us never even give this incredible biological system a thought.  That is, unless it gets sick.  And, unfortunately, the odds of that happening are higher than you may think.  Heart disease, is now the leading cause of death in America and as of 2006,  81 million people had some form of it, whether it be hypertension, angina, stroke, MI or heart failure.  That’s almost one out of 4 Americans.  Over 1/3 of deaths are caused by heart disease, so clearly this is something we want to be looking at.  The good news is overall mortality has been declining as we begin to understand the impact of our lifestyle choices on our circulatory systems and our heart.  Heart and its Blood VesselsThe good news is that as our understandings around improve, so can our overall mortality.  In a study of almost 43,000 men that was published in the journal “Circulation” it was found that men who adopted all of the low-risk behaviors were 87 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease during the study period compared to men who adopted none of the behaviors.  Furthermore researchers estimated that 62 percent of all “coronary events” that occurred during the study period may have been prevented if all members of the study population adopted the lifestyle factors.  Now folks we don’t need research and we don’t need studies to prove to us that the health of the heart as with the health of the body can be enhanced by lifestyle choices.  That means exercise, watching what we eat,  no smoking,  relaxation and of course nutritional supplementation.  With an emphasis on nutritional supplementation!  Indeed, there’s no organ system in the body that has evidenced the powers of nutritional supplementation more than the cardiovascular system.  You want some tips for your ticker?  OK well, here ya’ go!  There’s probably no more important group of nutrients for your heart than the B-complex.  Now probably most of you have heard about the B-complex, but here’s a couple of things you probably didn’t know.  You never want to take individual B vitamins without taking the group.  The B-complex is, as the name implies a complex.  They work together.  While sometimes it’s instructive to talk about each of the B-vitamins and their roles individually, it important to never lose track of the fact that they appear in nature together, and they work together.  They each support each other. So if , for example you want to work with blood fats, triglycerides and cholesterol and your taking Vitamin B3, niacin which has been shown to have some dramatic effects on lowering cholesterol and triglycerides, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need Vitamins B1 Thiamine, Folic acid and Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B5 among others of the  of the B complex.  They all work together as a team.  Same idea if you’re taking Vitamin B12 for energy or as anti depressant or Vitamin B5 for treating acne.  Each component of the complex acts to support each of the other components.  And here’ another point to keep in mind.  When your body attempts to excrete a particular B-vitamin it tends to do it in a complex.  So if, for example, you’re taking Vitamin B3 for your triglycerides, when your body excretes the B#, it will do it with any B1, B2, B5, B12 etc that’s in the system.  If you’re not taking additional amounts of these vitamins, you can actually cause deficiencies.  So make sure you’re taking the entire B-complex. And taking it in generous amounts.  It’s water soluble so you’re gonna be urinating out what’s not used right away, so you’re levels may not be where you need them to be if you’re only taking a B-vitamin pill once or twice a day.  That’s why I like my patients to be using B-complex powders and liquids that can be sipped on throughout the day.  We want to be careful about using nutrients like we use pharmaceuticals.  Oh you have arthritis, take niacin.  Menstrual cramps take B6, you’re depressed take B12.  That’s called allopathic nutrition and it’s just another way we try to monetize good nutrition.  Sure Thiamin, Vitamin B1 helps with insulin and blood sugar.  Riboflavin, Vitamin B2 deficiency is associated with migraine headaches.  B6, pantothenic acid is great for stabilizing excess skin oils, B6 is well known for helping woman who are experiencing female problems, be they estrogenic cancers, premenstrual breakout or morning sickness.  And of course the well documented link between mood and energy levels and Vitamin B12.  But remember friends, they’re all working together as a complex and they are excreted together as a complex.   And they are found in nature as a complex.  So, you want to make sure, even if you’re taking high doses of one B-vitamin for a specific reason, that you’re taking generous amount of the entire complex.

Then there’s that good old standby Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is like that spouse or relationship that you have that you just don’t appreciate, cause it’s there very day.   You see most of us get enough Vitamin C to prevent full blown deficiency disease.  This makes us take our relationship to Vitamin C for granted.  What I mean to say is that while we may have an OK relationship with Vitamin C, a relationship that keeps us out of dramatic trouble, hardly anyone gets the amount of Vitamin C that’s required for optimal functioning of multiple systems in the body.  Vitamin C is so critical for the functioning of a cell, that it actually has a doorway on the membrane of a cell so that it can access the inside of cells.  That is an amazing fact that underscores the vital nature of this powerful nutrient that most of us don’t appreciate or get nearly enough of.  Dr. Mathias Rath has written extensively about this in several books including one with the very catchy title: “Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks, But People Do”.  Dr. Rath, who is a highly renowned physician and a colleague of the famous Vitamin C pioneer Dr. Linus Pauling says that animals don’t get heart attacks because they produce large amounts of Vitamin C.  That’s right, for some unknown reason only humans, gorillas and certain types of guinea pigs don’t make Vitamin C.  All the other creatures in the animal kingdom make large amounts of this vital nutrient.  Under normal circumstances the daily amount produced by animals , adjusted for comparison to a 150lb human, is somewhere between 3,000 mg and 15,000 mg, with an average of 5,400 mg.  And yet the RDA for adults in this country is 60mg.  Are you kidding me??!!  60mg??!!  A mouse produces the adjusted equivalent of 2300mg a day and when it’s under stress it produces the equivalent of 20,000 grams a day!!!  So now, let me ask you something do you think it’s possible that maybe the typical American who’s not supplementing and getting his Vitamin C from arrange juice (a glass of orange juice, by the way, has around 80 or 90 mg of Vitamin C) may be deficient.  And given all the roles Vitamin C plays in the body, especially in cardiovascular health, you can begin to C why we may have a hidden nutritional deficiency going on here.  And by way, so much for getting all your nutrients from food!  Vitamin C is absolutely critical for the production of collagen.  Without it you simply can’t make collagen.  And without enough you simply can’t make enough collagen.  Collagen is required for vascular health, because blood vessels maintain their strength and elasticity largely on the strength of this vital protein.  In fact, when collagen in arteries and veins becomes old or weakened that’s when we’re at highest risk of stroke aneurysms and other cardiovascular issues.  Oh, by the way, on of the bodies mechanisms for patching up weak vessels is to use cholesterol as a glue.  That’s why elevated cholesterol levels sometimes, not always, but sometimes precede heart attacks.  And please pay no attention to the silliness around cholesterol lowering drugs and reduction of heart disease.  The facts according to the Framingham study, which is a 50 year study that’s produced over 1000 scientific papers are: now listen up here: for each “1% mg/dL drop in cholesterol there was an 11% increase in coronary and total mortality”. So, don’t be talking to me about lowering cholesterol to protect the heart.  I’ve said it many times on this program: to poison the body to stop it from producing chemistry is just plain BAD MEDICINE and BAD SCIENCE!!  If you cholesterol levels are high there are simple and natural ways to lowering them that do not involve drugs.  Permit me to repeat:  You don’t need cholesterol lowering drugs!  We’ll address that whole can of worms in a posting to come…

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in 5 Americans is dealing with some form of heart disease. Much of this is needless suffering and can be alleviated with appropriate life style strategies.

Exercise is important. So is making good food choices and being a non-smoker. But there is nothing more important than getting on a good nutritional supplement program. Last post we listed the first part of the top 12 supplements for cardiovascular health.

Heart NutrientsWe conclude with Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2 below. For more detailed information make sure to listen to The Bright Side on the Genesis Communication Network, daily 8 to 9 PST, 11-12 EST (The Bright Side).

Omega 3s –thin the blood and relax blood vessels allowing for more blood flow and oxygen to the heart. Provide well-researched and dramatic protection against cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks. Reduces inflammation and may improve blood fats and cholesterol too. Fish oil works but Krill Oil may be
even better.

CoQ10 –super vita-nutrient for the heart. Used by cardiac cells to produce energy and as a defense against rogue oxygen “sparks”. Thousands of studies show protection against all forms of heart disease.May help lower blood pressure too. Look for oil-soluble gel caps.

B Vitamins –protection from cardio-toxic homocysteine. Intimate involvement in energy production chemistry make these nutrient absolutely indispensable for protection against all forms of heart disease. Vitamin B3 helps lower triglycerides and cholesterol too. Water-soluble format leads to rapid excretion and potential deficiencies.Dissolve in liquid and drink them all day long for maximum benefits.

Carnitine – take as L-Carnitine or for maximum cardiac benefits as Propionyl L-Carnitine. A must-have supplement for all form of heart disease.Critical for the production of energy from fat (fat-burning) by cardiac cells.Numerous studies demonstrate benefits for coronary artery disease as well as myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart).

Vitamin E – provides vital cardiac protection from oxidized (rancid) cholesterol plaques.Thins blood and helps maintain heart oxygenation.Reduces free radical activity in heart.Take as both tocopherols and tocotrienols (mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols) in mixed format for best results.Especially important for smokers and as protection from a second heart attack.

Chromium – low levels associated with increased risk of heart attacks.Chromium deficient diabetics especially at risk for heart attacks.Critical role in sugar metabolism provides benefits for the cardiovascular system.May improve high blood pressure too.Niacin bound form (chromium polynicotinate) most effective for protection from heart disease.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition