Vitamin D Deficiency and Schizophrenia Risk

Vitamin D Deficiency Doubles Risk of Developing Schizophrenia

A new meta-analysis of observational studies focused on the possible relationship between vitamin D serum levels and the odds of developing schizophrenia has concluded that a strong association exists between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia.vitamin d deficiency and schizophrenia risk

The research was conducted and authored by Doctors Ghazaleh Valipour, Parvane Saneei, and Ahmad Esmaillzadeh of the Food Security Research Center and Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food
Science, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Isfahan, Iran, respectively. The analysis involved a comprehensive review of 19 previous studies involving in excess of 2,800 total participants. The original article outlining the research debuted recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The researchers defined schizophrenia as a group set of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, confused thinking and disorganized speech.

vitamin d schizophrenia

Upon careful review of 19 previously conducted studies from around the world, the researchers concluded that individuals who suffer from vitamin D deficiency (vitamin D serum levels deemed lower than is considered healthy by accepted medical science) are more than twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than their vitamin D sufficient (healthy levels of vitamin D serum) counterparts. Specifically, the scientists found that inadequate levels of vitamin D increased the risk of developing schizophrenia by 2.16 times that associated with an individual whose vitamin D levels are within a healthy range.

Of those who had already been diagnosed with the mentally debilitating psychiatric condition, 65% were found to have insufficient levels of vitamin D.

The researchers stopped short of declaring that vitamin D supplementation may help to reduce the risk of developing the condition. Rather, they cautioned that more research would be necessary to observe the effects of supplementation on schizophrenia and its manifestation in previously healthy individuals. They also stopped short of declaring supplementation a means of treating existing schizophrenia, again alluding to the need for further study.

The abstract of the study can be viewed here: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jc.2014-1887.

Vitamin D3 and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

Vitamin D3 Supplements May Help Slow ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

According to one of several studies unveiled at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, mixed in between a pair of studies further confirming how Vitamin D helps delay the process of neurological decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease was a potentially groundbreaking bit of research, the cognitive treasure of Chafic Karam, a fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Vitamin D3 and ALSKaram and associates authored a study entitled “Can Vitamin D Delay the Progression of ALS?” The study was conducted throughout the 2011 calendar year.

The study involved 37 patients, all of whom suffer from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). All 37 were examined for a nine month period leading up to the point at which the testing of the hypothesis began. Twenty of the ALS patients were administered 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, while the other 17 were administered no vitamin D.

The patients were reexamined every three months. During the nine months leading up to the administration of what I can only presume were relatively well-made, top-shelf vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements, both groups showed similar progression in the ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). However, upon the administration of the vitamin D supplements that began to change.ALS

At the three, six and nine month reexamination intervals, the group being administered the supplements showed slower rate of decline than the test group, which was being given no supplementation.

This suggests a possible relationship between down-the-road ALS treatment regimens and a possible role for vitamin D supplementation therein.

With the seemingly endless list of diseases and conditions which can be prevented or the symptoms of which lessened with regular sun exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation, it wouldn’t come as a major surprise if ALS is just the latest debilitating condition the name of which can be added to the aforementioned list. Or so we hope…

Source:  Karam C, Scelsa SN. Can Vitamin D Delay the Progression of ALS? Med Hypothesis. 2011;76(5):643-645

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, also known as SPD, is a common health condition that causes extreme pain in the hips, back, groin and legs of pregnant women. This painful pregnancy symptom is a result of the aptly named hormone Relaxin. Relaxin helps to naturally make ligaments relaxed and stretchy in order for the baby to ease its way into the world. Many times, relaxin does its job too well, causing the pelvic ligaments to become too loose too soon. As a result,the pelvic joint becomes unstable, causing moderate to severe pain and instability.

Symphysis Pubis DysfunctionAs many as 1 in 3 pregnant women may have this condition to some degree, and may not even recognize it as a condition all its own. More often than not, it is overlooked, as women do their best to endure it as another major discomfort of pregnancy.

Pelvic girdle pain can be anything from a minor ache to a searing sensation that wraps around the back and travels down below the belly. Most women will experience this at some point or another during their pregnancy. As the ever-expanding tummy puts ever-increasing stress on the  bones, joints, and muscles in the pelvis-the pain can hit at almost any point in the pregnancy, and the impact can range from minor aches and pains to debilitating and unbearable misery.

Apart from the lower abdomen and pubic pain and discomfort, SPD may also appear in the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain that tends to get worse when you lift your legs for getting into bed or car.
  • Difficulty to move the lower part of your body when you wake up in the morning.
  • Pain that gets worse when you lie on your back.
  • Reduced range of movement of the hip bones, causing difficulty walking.
  • Pain shooting down your buttocks and legs (sciatica).
  • A clicking sound near the pelvic area while in motion.
  • Urinary incontinence (rare cases).

If you think you may be suffering from this condition, do some research and talk to your Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction 2doctor. Never just endure the pain. Many things can be done to help lessen the symptoms of SPD. Acupuncture is an increasingly  popular way to alleviate all kinds of pregnancy ills, including pelvic girdle pain. Your doctor will almost always instruct you to purchase (and wear) a pelvic support girdle, aka a maternity belt with a special pelvic support built into it.

V2 Supporter

While there are alternatives (albeit none that really measure up in terms of effectiveness, appearance or even cost), the increasingly popular choice for dealing with moderate-to-severe pain of this nature is a product known as a V2 Supporter, or a variation thereof. The V2 Supporter is sold as a standalone compressive therapeutic undergarment, and can also be purchased as a 2-in-1 combo support undergarment such as the Prenatal Cradle Plus V2 Support and the Hip Brace Plus V2 Supporter.

V2 SupporterThis undergarment will  provide much needed support for your belly (and relief for your pelvis). These same products are also used to treat a very common condition during pregnancy called vulvar varicosities, which is effectively vulvar or vaginal varicose veins. While more common among women who are pregnant, many women who are not pregnant and some who’ve never even been pregnant occasionally come down with this most unfortunate condition characterized by painful swelling of the vulvar region.

Back to Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, heating pads and ice have been known to offer significant relief. Choose the right sleeping  position — lie on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep hips aligned. Do what works  best for you and your body. Try doing KEGEL Exercises. Yes, our old friend can do wonders in this  situation. These handy little workouts strengthen the entire pelvic floor, the muscle that stretches  like a hammock across our abdomens and essentially holds all our organs up. The stronger it is, the  better it holds up the growing baby and uterus and the less everything presses on those already  weakened bones. If the pain is severe, ask your practitioner about pregnancy-safe pain relievers (never take any medications unless specifically okayed by your practitioner). Remember, do what  makes you comfortable and what makes you feel better. Work together along with your doctor and  family to make this special experience as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. More tactics to try: Sit  down to get dressed, and avoid heavy lifting and pushing (which you should be doing anyway). Do your best to stay off your feet and try to be patient until the baby comes. For most moms, once the baby is born and relaxin production ceases, your ligaments (and your dance moves) will return to normal in no time.

 

Video: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

 

The Probiotic Prescription

The Probiotic Prescription

Probiotics: Listen To Your Gut

November 08, 2013

Let’s start with the facts behind what probiotics are. The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and biotic, meaning “life.” The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Yes, they are actually alive, and most of these microorganisms are bacteria. Most people think of antibiotics and antibacterial products when you mention bacteria. Both of those kill bacteria so why would you want to consume anything that has live bacteria in it? It’s all about balance.

Increasing the number of good bacteria in the GI tract by taking probiotics supplements Probiotics Supplementsand eating foods that contain the “good bacteria” may help combat a number of health problems, a growing number of scientists say. New research indicates that specialized strains of these good bacteria could also help alleviate some mood and anxiety disorders.

When University of Toronto researchers gave chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers three daily doses of a Lactobacillus strain for two months, it boosted their levels of good bacteria. “At the same time, we reduced their anxiety,” says lead researcher A. Venket Rao, PhD. When the patients stopped taking the probiotic, their symptoms reverted as well, he says.

Probiotics from YogurtOur stressed-out lifestyle may be our stomach’s biggest enemy. According to María Gloria Domínguez Bello, PhD, a professor of microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico, society’s hectic pace, which leads to our reliance on junk food and overuse of anti­biotics, is throwing our internal ecosystem out of whack; she believes that there’s a link between our gut bacteria and the rise of food allergies and autoimmune diseasesCrohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis among many others — in the industrialized world. “When there is a loss of balance in the different types of intestinal bacteria, they send signals to our immune system to overreact and become inflamed, leading to disease,” Domínguez Bello says.

See, when it comes to mood, it’s not all in your head — it’s in your gut, too. “The brain influences the digestive tract and vice versa,” says Rebekah Gross, MD, a clinical gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. In fact, new research has found that our esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon have a big say in how our minds and bodies function and how happy we feel. “The gut is a critical group of organs that we need to start paying more attention to,” says Steven Lamm, MD, the author of No Guts, No Glory. “Doing so may be the secret to improving our overall wellness.”

ProbioticsIf it seems as if your stomach sometimes has a mind of its own, that’s because it does. The gut’s lining houses an independent network of hundreds of millions of neurons — more than the spinal cord has — called the enteric nervous system. It’s so complex and influential that scientists refer to it as “the second brain.” In addition to being in charge of the digestive process, your gut lining is the core of your body’s immune system and defends you against such foreign invaders as viruses and bacteria.

Cells in the gut lining also produce 95 percent of the serotonin in our bodies. (The rest occurs in the brain, where the hormone regulates happiness and mood.) In the gut, serotonin has a range of functions, including stimulating nerve-cell growth and alerting the immune system to germs.

Thanks to serotonin, the gut and the brain are in constant contact with each other. Chemical messages race back and forth between the brain’s central nervous system and the gut’s enteric nervous system. When we’re stressed, scared, or nervous, our brain notifies our gut, and our stomach starts to churn in response. When our digestive system is upset, our gut alerts our brain that there’s a problem even before we begin to feel the symptoms. Scientists suspect that our moods are negatively affected as a result. “The gut is sending messages that can make the brain anxious,” Dr. Gershon explains.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products.

Although more research is needed, there’s encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:

  • Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reduce bladder cancer recurrence
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections
  • Prevent and treat eczema in children
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu

Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain probiotics to their diet.

Nutrition and Disease Prevention: Poor Nutrition linked to Chronic Disease

Nutrition and Disease Prevention

By: Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP, MN

Prioritizing life and health maintenance is essential to achieving health and longevity. Diet, exercise, stress reduction and the avoidance of toxins are all key elements of health.

To operate optimally, the body needs a number of different vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The 13 essential vitamins are divided into two groups, fat soluble and water soluble. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and can be stored by the body. B vitamins and vitamin C are water soluble – with the exception of vitamin B12 and they cannot be stored.

Medical foods represent an entirely different scientific and medical approach to managing health conditions. They are formulated with macro-and micro-nutrients that are recognized by scientific principles to support the dietary management of a disease or condition, and are to be administered under the supervision of a physician or license healthcare practitioner. Furthermore, they must be specially formulated and processed to provide nutritional support as part of an ongoing doctor-supervised dietary management program to treat a specific therapeutic or nutritional need. Medical foods contain nutrients in therapeutic amounts that typically cannot be acquired through normal dietary measures.

High quality nutrients are different that low quality nutrients such as those that you find inHigh-Quality Multivitamin, Mineral Supplement the drug store or over the counter.

Many of the negative vitamin studies reported throughout the course of the past decade were conducted using extremely low quality, drugstore and supermarket brand vitamins and nutritional supplements. Medical foods that are manufactured and packaged under GMP-certified conditions assure the highest quality and clinical reliability. Nutrisearch by Lyle MacWilliams is a good comparative guide to nutritional supplements or the lack thereof. The effectiveness of medical food programs have been evaluated in numerous clinical intervention and observational studies and published in well-known healthcare journals.

Medical whole food nutrients have been designed to support the management of a variety of chronic conditions including those associated with:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Atopic disorders

For questions or more information relating to this article, Ms. Egan can be reached at 985-892-3031 or www.pamelaegan.com.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), BPA, Leptin Resistance and Other Unknown Health Risks

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), BPA, Leptin Resistance & Low Vitamin D Represent New, Relatively Unknown Health Risks

By: Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP

What Some of the More Surprising and Unknown Health Risks Facing Humanity in the 21st Century?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Some of the newer research is showing that plastics are major hormone disruptors. Plastics are being blamed for conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which is an insulin-resistant state. There is a growing body of evidence that technological advancements, particularly as it relates to food packaging, may be having grave and unintended consequences on humans’ hormonal function.

BPA (Bisphenol A) and Dioxins Disrupt Hormone Function

Polycystic Ovarian SyndromeEvery time you microwave a lean cusisine or TV dinner, the heat from the microwave radiates the plastic, releasing BPA (Bisphenol A, an ingredient found in Polycarbonate plastics as well as epoxy resins) and dioxins, both of which disrupt hormone function.

Ask yourself when was the last time you were in the grocery store and observed grape juice being sold in a glass bottle. Everything is packaged in plastic these days! Baked chickens bask in plastic containers under heaters in the grocery stores. Restaurants cover hot casseroles with plastic wrap. Milk sits in plastic under grocery store lights in coolers until someone buys it. Cases of plastic water bottles sit out in the sun all day gas stations and thrift stores, not to mention your car! Some people bake chickens inside of a plastic bag! Many microwavable junk food treats RECOMMEND in the directions that the person about to EAT the food contained within the plastic leave it wrapped in plastic while microwaving it!

PCOS

This author isn’t going to name names, but if you’ve ever been to the grocery or eaten prepared foods you should be well familiar with those products and brands being mentioned herein.

Electromagnetic Radiation

In addition to plastics, pesticides, electromagnetic radiation from computers, cell phones, tablets, electronic notebooks (trying not to use brand-names), et al are also major hormone disruptors.

Leptin Resistance

Leptin Reistance is also fairly new, and a significant health threat that far too many women remain unaware of. Leptin is a hormone that acts in the regulation of energy intake and metabolism. Leptin levels can be easily checked via a simply blood test that can be performed at virtually any diagnostic lab (ask your doctor or nurse practitioner) to indentify whether or not one has leptin resistance.

Vitamin D Deficiency

ViVitamin D3 from Sunlighttamin D3 is a hot topic since the majority of Americans are vitamin D3 deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is also a major factor in obesity, insulin resistance, the development of Type 2 Diabetes and about 50 or so other major diseases and illnesses, albeit in many cases science has declined to issue a definitive statement of causality despite overwhelming evidence of a causal relationship between low levels of vitamin D and an increased likelihood of developing any one (or combination) or the four dozen-plus illnesses, diseases and conditions for which indisputable evidence exists linking an increased rate-of-diagnosis with insufficient levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood of diagnosed individuals.

Vitamin D deficiency can be identified by way of a simple blood test, and those suffering from inadequate levels of the nutrient can correct the deficiency through safe sunbathing, or even better, a high-quality and high-potency vitamin D3 supplement.

The reason most scientists believe such a vast majority of the entire population is so dangerously low in vitamin D has to do with the fact that human civilization has evolved to the point of spending the vast majority of time indoors, where the sun cannot make contact with skin, initiating the process through which vitamin D is produced.

On a side-note, anyone seeking to prevent or reverse vitamin D deficiency through the use of supplements should make sure the supplements contain vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol as opposed to ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2. The reason is that the former is far better absorbed and processed for use by the body than is the latter, the usefulness of which as a human nutritional supplement is the subject of much heated debate.

Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP

Egan Wellness and Anti-Aging Clinic + Egan Skin Care Spa
1116 W. 21st Ave.
Covington, LA 70433
985-892-3031

Areas Serviced: Covington, Mandeville, Madisonville, Abita Springs, Slidell, Goodbee, Lacombe, Folsom, Franklinton, Bogalusa, Pearl River

Zinc Supplements Help Curb Infant Diarrhea in Developing Countries

Mothers in Developing Nations Should Take Zinc Supplements Throughout Pregnancy

By: Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP
July 17, 2011

In the developing world, childhood diarrhea is a serious problem with often fatal consequences. Many throughout the western world would be surprised to learn that in 2009, the World Health Organization estimated that childhood and infant diarrhea kills over 1.5 infants and toddlers each year worldwide.

The good news is that there is hope on the horizon. A recent study has shown that of all things the mineral zinc can help to reduce and prevent instances of infant diarrhea in the developing world. The occurrence of diarrhea in newborn babies and infants may be dramatically reduced when mothers take zinc supplements throughout the course of their pregnancy, according to a new study spearheaded by Dr. Laura E. Caulfield, of the Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The study took place in Lima, Peru, and involved 421 pregnant women, 214 of whom took sinc supplements during pregnancy and 207 of whom took a placebo. The former group took supplements consisting of 15 mg of zinc, as well as folic acid and iron supplements. The 207 women in the control group took only folic acid and iron supplents, to go along with a similar-looking placebo in place of the zinc supplement.

Infant and childhood diarrhea is a severe and often fatal problem throughout much of the developing world, including countries such as Peru, which is where the study’s efforts were concentrated. A lack of readily available clean water is often a leading cause of the bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea.

Zinc Deficiency Rampant Throughout the Developing World

Zinc deficiency is also a common health problem throughout the developing world. This often compounds the problem as it related to childhood and infant diarrhea.

The mineral zinc is widely renowned for bolstering human immunodefence systems, and consequently helping to stave off disease and illness. Zinc deficiency dramatically increases the risk of death from diarrhea-related illnesses, as well as a number of other health maladies plaguing the developing world, including pneumonia, malaria and a myriad of other diseases of various natures.

The World Health Organization has now issued a doctrine recommending zinc supplementation in conjunction with rehydration therapy as a means of treating acute diarrhea, as past studies have indicated that zinc therapy can help one get over severe bouts of acute diarrhea more quickly when supplementing with zinc.

It is recommended by this author that those taking zinc supplements do so after eating, as taking zinc on an empty stomach can quickly lead to an upset stomach and ptentially even vomiting.

The study was initially published in the The Journal of Pediatrics in March of 2010.

Meningitis is Contagious, Can Be Deadly

Meningitis is the infection and inflammation of the membranes (also known as meninges) and fluids (cerebrospinal fluid) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The most common causes of meningitis are bacteria and viruses, and the victims of the infection are typically children under the age of five. Bacterial meningitis is typically more severe in nature than the viral variety.

The early symptoms of meningitis are often mistaken for those of influenza (the flu). Thus, people experiencing severe symptoms similar to those of the flu should consider seeking medical attention, particularly if the person is a child younger than five years of age, in which case the child’s parents should bring him or her to a doctor to be examined.

Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should seek immediate medical care:

  • A high fever resulting in the loss of appetite
  • Severe, intense and/or worsening headaches
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy/Fatigue/Drowsiness
  • Stiff Neck
  • Skin rash (particularly near the armpits, on the hands or on the feet)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Small subepidermal hemorrhages
  • Shock, coma or convulsions

Some types of meningitis are contagious. A person can be exposed to the bacteria when someone with meningitis coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can also spread through kissing, the sharing of utensils, cigarettes, etc. Living or working in the immediate vicinity of someone with the disease may also pose a significant risk of contacting the disease.

Meningitis strikes suddenly, usually accompanied by a high fever, severe headache and vomiting. As the disease progresses, the brain swells and may begin to bleed. The disease is potentially lethal, resulting in fatalities in about one in every ten cases.

Many of those who survive meningitis may have serious long-term neurological complications such as vision and/or hearing loss, brain damage and loss of the ability to speak.

The disease occurs most frequently in young children under the age of five, young adults ages 18-24 and senior citizens. The predominant theory is that this is largely due to the congregation tendencies of those individuals.

College students living in dormitories, personnel on military bases, boarding schools and daycare centers are all at an increased risk of meningococcal meningitis, largely because infectious diseases tend to spread quickly when large groups of people congregate.

There have been studies suggesting that smoking and drinking alcohol may increase one’s risk of meningitis. The theory at play here is that those activities may suppress a person’s immune system, thereby making him or her more susceptible to the disease.

The definitive diagnosis of meningitis is usually made by way of analysis of a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which is extracted through a procedure known as a spinal tap (lumbar puncture).

Acute bacterial meningitis requires immediate treatment with intravenous antibiotics which help ensure recovery and reduce the risk of complications. The antibiotic or combination thereof used depends upon the type of bacteria causing the meningitis. Corticosteroids are often administered to help prevent hearing loss — one of the most common long-term complications of the disease.

Mild cases of viral meningitis are are usually treated with bed rest, plenty of fluids and sometimes analgesics to help reduce fever and body aches.
If the herpes virus causes the meningitis, antiviral medication may also be prescribed.

Reducing risk factors for meningitis starts with avoiding exposure to unnecessary upper respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Something as simple as careful handwashing is among the best ways to stave off infection and thereby reduce the risk of meningitis.

Parents should teach their children to wash their hands often and thoroughly. Getting enough rest, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are all ways to boost the immune system, which in turn helps to prevent diseases like meningitis.

Vaccines are now available for hemophilus influenza and pneumococcal meningitis, and can be administered starting at around two months of age. Another vaccine exists that offers some degree of protection against meningococcal meningitis.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College Health Association recommend the vaccine for college students.

Related Articles:
Parents Need to Know About Meningococcal Meningitis Vaccine
Most Patients Recover Fully From Viral Meningitis
Bacterial Meningitis Can Be Life Threatning