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.

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.

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

Research Shows Those Who Take Vitamin, Nutritional Supplements Are Healthier

Vitamin, Mineral and Nutritional Supplements May Boost Health, According to Study

By: Pamela Egan, NP, ABAAHP Diplomat, CDE

Research indicates that taking a single, daily multivitamin is not adequate to ensure optimal health. What’s more, not taking taking nutritional supplements at all may actually be harmful to your health. This according to a new study consisting of hundreds of individuals that was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of California, Berkley, Out Lady of Mercy Medical Center in New York and the Shaklee Corporation of California.

The results showed that the more vitamins and nutritional supplements individual participants took, the healthier they were. Those who took the most nutritional supplements had better concentration of homocysteine, C-Reactive protein, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as lower risk of prevalent elevated blood pressure and diabetes. Supplement use showed that when a cell is nourished nutritionally by adequate levels in the blood serum, the optimal concentration reduced chronic disease that results from starvation of the cell.

It is significant to note that the supplement takers took more than just a daily multi-vitamin. They consumed a lot of tablets every day. More than half of them took, a B-Complex, vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E, calcium with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, co-enzyme Q10, reservatrol, glucosamine, and an herbal immune supplement. A majority of women consumed gamma linolenic acid, a probiotic, whereas men consumed additional saw palmetto, soy protein and zinc supplements.

According to the conclusion of the abstract:

This group of long-term multiple dietary supplement users consumed a broad array of vitamin/mineral,
herbal, and condition-specific dietary supplements on a daily basis. They were more likely to have optimal concentrations
of chronic disease-related biomarkers, and less likely to have suboptimal blood nutrient concentrations, elevated blood
pressure, and diabetes compared to non-users and multivitamin/mineral users.

The study was published in Nutrition Journal. The full text may be freely accessed at http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-6-30.pdf.

How to Indentify Quality Vitamin and Nutritional Supplements

Not All Supplements Are Created Equal

By: Pamela Egan, MN, NP, CDE, ABAAHP Diplomat

With regard to vitamins and the many various other nutirtional supplements, expert nutritionists have long stressed the importance of supplement quality in terms of both ingredients used to manufacture a given supplement as well as the manufacturing process used to make the supplement. While many health-conscious individuals by now have hear or read that ‘not all supplements are created equal’, for many such a statement is too vague to have any real meaning in terms of understanding which supplements are worth the investment, which are not and how to discern the difference between high-quality and low-quality nutritional supplements.

How is one supposed to know a “trash” vitamin from a “whole food nutrient?” Most of the nutritional supplements that are readily available to the average consumer both in America and abroad are low-grade chemicals stuffed with fillers that contain little-to-no nutritional value to humans when ingested orally (the standard method of ingestion). While the consumer may never know the difference, the overwhelming majority of the so-called “affordable” supplements found in drugstores and major retail chains (or most anywhere else typical health-conscious consumers shop for vitamins and supplements) are not adequete to ensure proper nutrition and avoid or reverse nutritional deficiencies.

“The word is out (that) it pays to take your vitamins”, said Lyle McWilliams, author of the highly esteemed Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. McWilliams is an author, educator, and biochemist. In his Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, McWilliams graded 1500 nutrients on absorption, bio-availability, lack of chemicals, dyes, fillers, and if the product is anti-allergenic.

The bottom-line according to McWilliams is that nutritional supplements should be manufactured to pharmaceutical-model GMP, rather than to the food-model GMP that most U.S. supplement manufacturers use. Compliance with pharmaceutical-model GMP gives consumers assurance that the supplements they consume meet stringent pharmaceutical standards for content, potency, and dissolution, and do not contain unwanted impurities.

Amazingly, the nutrients that most Americans have access to have virtually no nutritional value. Some of these include: Centrum, One-a-Day, Equate, Kroger, Members Mark, Nature Made, Puritan’s Pride, Rexall, Rite Aid, Walgreens.

The top-rated products offering the most nutritional value are medical grade and mainly found in clinicians’ offices. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t have access to these without a doctor’s referral. The top-rated supplement brands include Creating Wellness Alliance, Douglas Laboratives, Egan Wellness Clinic, TrueStar Health and USANA. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of people who actually do take supplements on a regular if not daily basis as a means of promoting good health have never even heard of any of the aforementioned brands which actually DO offer high-quality, readily absorbable and bioavailable nutrients.

The good news is that high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade nutritional products are becoming easier to obtain, and no longer require a doctor’s visit and subsequent referral just to get access to them. One place everyday health/nutrition-conscious consumers can find high-quality nutrients is the vitamins and nutritional supplements shop at the Egan Wellness Clinic. Egan carries only those brands considered to be of an elite level of quality as determined by the objective criteria set forth in McWilliams’ supplement guide.

When considering the countless numbers of people who waste big money on our hair and nails, justifying doing so by attempting to make up the difference by saving a few pennies buying cheap supplements from major retailers and even brand-name nutrition shops (where cheaply-made supplements cost a fortune but are substantively no better than the grocery store brands). From a wellness or preventative medicine standpoint, the notion that a person would think nothing of blowing a small fortune on vanity items and/or services while skimping on the quality of nutrients that person ultimately puts into his or her body as a means of promoting good health is beyond rational explanation and defies logic — at least when it involves a person who claims to care about his or her own health.

If your cells are starving to death nutritionally, they will age prematurely, hence disease sets in. When that happens, there will be little to show for all the money spent on looking good while feeling less-than-ideal.

To learn more about the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements and/or how to learn what to look for in discerning effective supplements versus those that are a waste of money, check out the official website of the Comparative Guide: http://www.comparativeguide.com/.

The Role of Prevention in Medicine

Guest Post by Peter F. Egan Jr. (Pam’s Eldest Son)

Pam has been unusually busy lately, so I’ve taken the liberty of filling in for her while she’s away from her blog. You may periodically see posts from me when my mother is particularly busy. I regret the inconvenience, but vow to do my best to keep the content at the same, exceptionally-high level of quality when I do fill in. I hope you enjoy what hopefully will not become a regular appearance.

To Prevent, Or Not To Prevent? That Is The Role Of Medicine

There are a lot of people out there who seek general, all-around care by a physician who will consider all aspects of their lifestyle – factoring in such things as nutrition and diet – when assessing a patient. A good number of Americans (I don’t have a scientific percentage handy) expect their doctor to help them prevent the onset of illness rather than treat it after the fact, and unfortunately too many primary care doctors (though not all) leave much to be desired in this regard.

That said, there are undoubtedly many, many good one out there. It is a reality though that too many doctors place too little emphasis on prevention, preferring instead to deal almost exclusively with post-symtomatic diagnosis, and post-diagnostic treatment. As a patient, you owe it to yourself to do your research and look around until you find someone you’re comfortable with – both in terms of the person as well as his or her outlook on caring for the patient.

For those who hold a more broad view of the role of medicine (and see a role in prevention as well as post-diagnostic treatment), my advice to them would be to consider seeing a nurse practitioner. Nurse Practitioners traditionally have been more inclined than physicians to embrace the concepts of wellness and preventive medicine, focusing on the overall health of the patient and on prevention until symptoms arise. Obviously, at this point the focus would shift to diagnosis and treatment. However, the goal of preventive medicine practitioner (and many nurse practitioners) is to prevent and/or delay things reaching the diagnostic stage (with symptoms present) for as long as possible.

The risk of illness is reduced when the body and immune system is healthy, and the risk of injury is reduced when the bones and joints are healthy. Point being, when the body is healthy, injury and illness tend to occur less frequently on a general scale and are generally less severe when they do occur. Preventive medicine practitioners (again, often nurse practitioners) have a reputation for being cognizant of this, and for determine plans of care accordingly.

FTR: Yes, that is supposed to be a cheesy Shakespeare reference in the title.