Vanadium

Glycation of Sugars

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the most important and under-recognized causes of accelerated aging is a chemical process called “glycation” (also known as “glycosylation”). Best thought of as a reaction between sugar and protein (and sometimes fat). Glycation can be thought of as a type of caramelization, a candy making technique that creates a characteristic confectionary quality that candy cooks have exploited for centuries. During the caramelization process, sugar is heated to high temperatures until it turns brown. And it’s not just candy that caramelizes, or glycates. The same phenomenon occurs when bread is toasted, or onions or potatoes are grilled. French toasted bread, fried onions and French fried potatoes, also are among culinary delights that are carmelized.

Glycation of sugarsIn the body, caramelization/glycation of sugars can occur in conjunction with proteins, and as with caramelization of foods this can manifest itself as browning and subsequent degradation of various structures. Smaller systems are especially likely to be damaged; most especially tiny blood vessels and capillaries. Glycation is a leading cause of blindness and kidney diseases. Both structures are packed with thousands of miles of microscopic circulatory vessels. The net effect of this kind of damage can result in pockets of oxygen deprived, nutritionally starved, and toxin drenched tissue. Not good!

Even worse, there an important relationship between glycation and oxidation, which is thought to play an important part in accelerated aging. As it turns out, glycated proteins can be a source of free radicals that are responsible for the oxidation, which can be thought of as a type of “biological rusting”. In an article published in the journal “Glycobiology”, researchers claimed that glycated proteins produce 50 times more free radicals than non-glycated proteins. According to the article, free radicals amplify the production of inflammatory peptides and the net result is not only rapid aging of organs and tissues, but also many health challenges including diabetes, neuro-degeneration, and kidney failure.

The best way to protect yourself from glycation is to keep your blood sugar concentration as low as possible. There should only be around one (1) teaspoonful of sugar floating around in the blood at any given moment. It’s not uncommon for blood sugar concentration to double after a carbohydrate-laden meal. Reducing your intake of refined carbs (flour, fruit juice, cereals, dessert, etc.) should be a priority, making sure you’re taking in lots of water, especially after drinking a soda pop or indulging a sweet or a starchy bread-filled meal. Supplements can also be beneficial. The B-complex stands out in importance, especially Vitamins B1 and B3. Use a B-100 or something like Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine. Vitamin C is important too, 1000mg maybe. Minerals like Magnesium Glycinate, Zinc , Selenium, Chromium, and Vanadium are known to help the body process sugar. Arginine and Taurine are two amino acids that improve sugar metabolism and the B-vitamin-like substance choline can be helpful, too.

*Did you know that the sugar beet and sugar cane are excellent sources of many of the nutrients that the body needs to process carbs?*

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

“Obesity Gene” a Ploy of Big Pharma

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Some time ago, scientists from King’s College in London proudly proclaimed success at finding an obesity-causing gene. It’s linked to diabetes and functions as a “master switch” in controlling other genes that are involved in obesity and obesity related disease. While some may feel like congratulations are in order, others, including myself, are taking the approach that the obesity epidemic that is currently raging across the planet (100 million obese or overweight in America and 500 million worldwide) would be more appropriately treated as a biochemical breakdown due to poor lifestyle choices than as a genetic malady.

Obesity GeneIt can be instructive to recall that research requires funding and drug companies are always on the lookout for data that can support and lead to profitable pharmaceutical treatments. Scientific manipulation of DNA can provide a cornucopia of potential drug treatments and pharmaceutical companies love research that studies the genetic links to disease. Even in today’s unfavorable economic climate, there are lots of dollars available to researchers who are willing to participate in the genetics-causes-disease hypothesis.

Clearly, weight and obesity issues are significant health problems. However, while obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10% of medical spending in the United States, what are needed are not more pharmaceutical remedies. For most people, weight loss can be easily and simply accomplished through effective nutritional strategies.

The most important of these involves taking advantage of the glycemic index (GI), which measures how much carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI value cause a surge of the hormone insulin and this is one of the most significant causes of weight gain issues. The so-called fat-insulin axis has been regarded as a key component of the body’s obesity-inducing mechanism for over a decade. In fact, it is now recognized that fat tissue actually secretes hormones that have an impact sugar metabolism.

Nutritional supplements that improve blood sugar control can and should also be included in a nutritional weight loss-based program. Chromium and vanadium are two such mineral supplements.

Chromium is a component of the glucose tolerance factor, which is a dietary agent that is involved in sugar control. Taking 200 mcg with every meal is probably a good idea.

VanadiumVanadium is an insulin-supporting mineral. Some research suggests it may even act to replace insulin in some cells. There is a a lot of research currently being conducted on vanadium’s use as a blood sugar control agent. I’d suggest at least 200-400 mcg a day.

The B-complex of vitamins, especially thiamin and niacin, play an important role in sugar metabolism. You can take as much of these as you want and err on the side of extra. The B’s are non-toxic and because of their important role in helping the body process all food material including sugars, you want to take these around mealtime.

Magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body, helps improve blood sugar control. Take at least 1000 mg a day. The mineral zinc is involved in several hundred chemical reactions in the body. Some of these involve sugar control and 50 mg a day is a standard daily dose.

The genetic connection to disease is a red herring that serves to distract us from the real issues confronting us in the fattening of America (the title of an interesting book by health economist Eric Finkelstein). As always, good nutritional behaviors should be the first place we look to improve our health.

The obesity crisis we’re confronting can be corrected without genetics, medicine or academic posturing. It’s simply a question of the lifestyle choices we make. The correct application of dietary and nutritional strategies are a healthy, non-medical route to blood sugar control, and weight loss that can play an important non-pharmaceutical role in alleviating the obesity epidemic.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Mental Health, Sugar and Insulin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the most important mental health references in my library is called “Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry”. It was published in the 1950’s and it provides ample evidence of how critical changes in blood sugar chemistry are for mental and emotional well-being. There are chapters with titles like “Biochemical Changes in the Brain Occurring During Insulin Hypoglycemia” , “Insulin Therapy in Schizophrenia” and “Trends in Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry” that provide proof positive that manipulations of blood sugar can play a crucial, non-pharmacological role in improving mental health.

Mental Health, Sugar and InsulinInsulin is an anabolic (growth) hormone with many properties, the most striking of which is its ability to encourage fat cells to absorb sugar (glucose) and store it as fat. But what was recognized by old-time medical researchers, many decades ago, was the fact that this same hormone, as well-known as it was for its role in blood sugar control, was also a potential tool for psychiatrists treating various mental disorders.

Why is this so important? Well, the average American is ingesting over 140 pounds a year of sugar and another 60 pounds or so a year of high fructose corn syrup. In 1960 the amount Americans consumed was less than 100 pounds a year of sugar and zero pounds of high fructose corn syrup. If it is indeed true that there is an insulin connection to mental illness, considering the seeming epidemic in mental disorders 21st century Americans are confronting, one is forced to question how much is related to insulin and associated issues with blood sugar.

This question becomes especially significant in the case of children who are the most obvious and notorious consumers of the sweet stuff. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at any given time one out of five American children are suffering from some kind of mental illness. That’s anywhere from 7.7 to 12.8 million kids! 30 to 40 percent have ADHD, 10% suffer from an anxiety disorder, and at any given time, 1 out of thirty three will be clinically depressed and 3 out of 1000 will be diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The statistics for adults are no less alarming. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in four Americans over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder.

If you go to a physician or psychiatrist and leave with diagnosis of depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD or some other mental health issue, it’s unlikely anyone will be questioning your diet or suggesting nutritional supplements. In fact, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to get a prescription (or two or three) for a psychotropic drug. In a one year survey period from 2006 to 2007 there were 472 million mental health prescriptions written. That’s almost 10 percent of the total annual number of prescriptions written in the U.S.. There are over 170 prescription drugs used for mental health and there are more on the way. According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, there are 313 new drugs in research and development that are designed specifically to treat a variety of mental health concerns.

If you are suffering from some kind of mental illness, or you or your children are on a prescription drug that you want to get off of, or if you are being pressured by a well-meaning physician or loved one to start taking a prescription drug, please understand that you have options. And one of the most important ones involves (surprise, surprise) blood sugar and insulin.


Insulin Treatment In PsychiatryInsulin Treatment In Psychiatry

Contributing Authors Include Hans Hoff, Joseph Wortis, Ivan Bennett, And Many Others. Proceedings Of The International Conference On The Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry Held At The New York Academy Of Medicine, October 24-25, 1958.

Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry


Laying off the sugar and refined carbohydrates is the obvious first step. But “just say no” doesn’t usually work. Will-power is relatively useless when it comes to resisting sugar. The best way to wean yourself blood sugar and insulin spiking foods is to increase intake protein and essential fatty acids. It’s probably a good idea to start off all meals with a protein powder drink and 3 to 9 Omega6/Omega 3 capsules or a couple of teaspoonful of a good EFA liquid like Udo’s Choice. Then make sure you’re getting all the nutrients that help the body process sugar. The B-vitamins in liquid form are very important. Vitamins B1 and B3 have specific sugar-metabolizing properties. (Interestingly, Dr. Abram Hoffer used to use these two nutrients as medications in his protocol for treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.). Taking 50mg a day of Zinc picolinate and 2000 mg of chelated Magnesium would probably be wise. And, the minerals Chromium and Vanadium are well known for improving insulin response and blood sugar levels. There are many more supplements available for stabilizing blood sugar, and ultimately improving and helping maintain mental health. We’ll be getting to those in future posts.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health