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Senile Dementia Linked to Common Nutrient Deficiency


This Week In HealthBeat News:

  • Senile Dementia Linked to Common Nutrient Deficiency
  • Valentine's Day: Why Flowers are Still The Perfect gift
  • The Surprisingly High Risk of Belly Fat
  • We Get Letters (Boy, Do We Get Letters!)
  • New Column: Laughter is Good Medicine

Senile Dementia Linked to Common Nutrient Deficiency

Here's something Big Pharma hopes you never learn: simple nutrient deficiencies are at the root of most diseases. Did you know that a single nutrient deficiency can cause everything from miscarriage and birth defects to cancer, heart disease, depression, hearing loss, osteoporosis and senile dementia? In the case of the above-mentioned maladies, the missing nutrient is folic acid, a B complex vitamin. You'll probably be reading in the news about a recently completed study that links folic acid deficiency to senile dementia, but this certainly not the first study to make this connection.

Folic acid, a water-soluble B vitamin, gets its name from the Latin "folium," meaning foliage, because dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of the nutrient. Folic acid is needed for nucleic acid (RNA and DNA) and red blood cell production. It is also required for energy production, especially in the brain and nervous system. Pregnant women have been advised to take folic acid because it is necessary for normal development of the spinal cord and central nervous system of the human embryo. This connection is so well-known that the U.S. government has mandated that foods be "fortified" with folic acid. In spite of this fortification, studies show that as many as 61% of the population may still be folic-acid deficient.

It's not just pregnant women and their developing babies that need folic acid. Folic acid, along with vitamin B6 and B12, keep homocysteine levels normal. homocysteine is an "intermediate" metabolic product that increases the risk of heart disease and premature brain aging when it occurs in high concentrations. Premature brain aging was the subject of this recent study, which continues to show a connection between folic acid deficiency and senile (age-related) dementia.

Researchers in the Netherlands evaluated the speed of thinking and memory, two functions known to decline with age. Over 800 subjects, ages 50 to 70, took 800 micrograms of folic acid daily for three years. At the end of the study, re-testing showed that the subjects who took folic acid had "significantly improved domains of cognitive function that tend to decline with age." In other words, mental function of the folic acid group didn't just remain the same, it actually got better over the course of the three year study. This is not the first study to connect folic acid with preserved mental function, but it is one of the largest and longest studies.

Folic acid deficiency is widespread in our culture due to the processing of grain and vegetables. Although it is found in green leafy veggies, cooking destroys folic acid. It is also present in organically-raised (grass-fed) beef liver, brewer's yeast and asparagus. (And how much of these foods do YOU eat?) Many experts feel that it is nearly impossible to get a recommended daily dose of folic acid from food alone, and several population studies have confirmed this. Big Government obviously agrees with this assessment since they have required fortification of our food supply with folic acid.

Supplementation is an easy an inexpensive "insurance policy" against the dangerous effects of folic acid deficiency, but most "one per day" vitamins contain too small a dose to do any good. The recommended optimal daily dose (NOT the "RDA" minimal daily dose), is 400-800mcg per day. Remember that folic acid is a B complex vitamin, and when one B vitamin is low, the rest of the B complex is also usually low and should be supplemented.

Is it any wonder that Big Drug Companies support the "push" to outlaw vitamin supplements, given how many drug-treated diseases are actually caused by nutrient deficiencies? You've been warned while vitamin supplements are still legal: Don't let a simple nutrient deficiency like low folic acid sneak up on you in the form of failing memory or heart disease. Supplement now, or face the prospects of declining years filled with prescriptions for (dementia Rx du jour / cardiac Rx du jour) as answers to the effects of folic acid deficiency, brought to you by Big Pharma. Face it: there's a real reason they hope you'll never learn about this important nutrient...

P.S. My Maxi Multi Optimal Dose daily multi vitamin/mineral/trace mineral/antioxidant formula has always contained 800mcg of folic acid, because the importance of higher levels of this vitamin is not "new news" in spite of yet another study. Learn more about Maxi Multi's here >>>

Valentine's Day: Why Flowers are Still The Perfect Gift

Ever wonder why people send flowers for just about every occasion you can name, from births to deaths, weddings to divorces, sickness, love, apologies and yes, Valentine's Day? After all, flowers seem like such an extravagant gift. You can't eat them (for the most part), most aren't medicinal, and after a week or so, they wither and die. Yet for thousands of years, humans have spent untold amounts of time and money cultivating these fleeting natural beauties. There has been no explanation for this "wasteful" behavior until recently, when scientific studies uncovered at least part of the reason for our fascination with flowers. With their artful palette of colors, shapes and scents, flowers appear to induce powerful, positive emotions in the human species. And since most humans are "positive emotion junkies," well, we just keep going back for more.

In one study, women always elicited the Duchenne or "true smile" when presented with flowers. The increased positive mood could be measured for three days or more after presentation. In another study, a flower given to men or women in an elevator elicited more positive social behavior than any other stimuli. A third study showed that flowers given to participants aged 55+ evoked positive moods and improved memory. Researchers conclude that "Flowers have immediate and long-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory for both males and females." Author's note: how do people find jobs like "flower researcher" and where can I apply?

I'll admit it, I love to send flowers to friends and family for any occasion and sometimes for no occasion. The delight it always seems to bring them is unmatched by other gifts I work a lot harder to find. Aside from their joy, the next best part of sending flowers is that I can choose, order and send people-pleasing bouquets from the convenience of my easy chair by using an online florist. My favorite online service offers hundreds of arrangements by occasion, price, color --- you name it. I can add balloons, chocolates, fruit, cookies, teddy bears, wine and cheese or even spa gifts. I love it --- customized flower and gift-giving nirvana without ever leaving home! My online florist has always given me excellent service (in the U.S.), and their prices are better than anything I've found locally. As an added bonus, most arrangements can be delivered the very next day (this has saved my bacon more than once, when I suddenly remember a birthday, anniversary or other important occasion at the last minute)!

Bottom line? I'm willing to wager that flowers will never go out of style as "the" gift of love and remembrance, and I'll be sending my nearest and dearest a healthy dose of same for Valentine's day. Have some fun window-shopping at my favorite online flower shop, because life's too short not to stop and smell the roses! Browse Valentine's Day Flowers >>>

The Surprisingly High Risk of Belly Fat

by Dr. Dana Myatt

Ever see a man or woman with normal-sized legs and lower body but with a belly that sticks out like they're nine months pregnant with triplets? I call this a "carbo belly" (some call it a beer belly), and it is the type of fat distribution that puts a person at MUCH higher risk for heart disease. It is even possible to be a normal weight for one's height yet still have a waist diameter that increases heart-risk. In fact, how much belly fat you carry is more important than how fat you are overall.

In a study done at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, researchers measured and followed the abdominal diameter of 101,765 men and women for nearly 12 years. Their study found that men with the biggest bellies had 42 percent higher rates of heart disease than men with smaller waist diameters. Women with the biggest bellies were at 44 percent higher risk. This risk was seen even in normal weight subjects with big bellies.

The take-home message: If you carry excess fat in your gut, you're at higher risk of heart disease than if you have, say, a big butt. (No extra charge for the rhyme). Fortunately, the cure for belly fat is simple: cut down (WAY down) on simple carbohydrate foods, increase your intake of protein, Omega-3 fats and non-starchy veggies. A day or two per week of The Super Fast Diet will jump-start your belly fat weight loss program and get you out of the heart-disease danger zone fast. Learn more about The Super Fast Diet >>>

We Get Letters (Boy, Do We Get Letters)!

Woo Hoo! Last week's lead article,
FDA Outlaws Vitamins: Closer By The Minute, really struck a nerve (in a good way) among our readers. From comments of agreement, to one exceptionally well-written article about the "CAFTA problem" (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and how it is accelerating degradation of our health freedom, to one sarcastic comment by an M.D./PhD who just happens to have ties to Big Pharma. Read the comments and my responses here >>>>

New Column: Laughter is Good Medicine

Subject: Montana Cowboy

A Montana cowboy was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and Versace tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"

The cowboy looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd
and calmly answers, "Sure, Why not?"

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular
RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet where he calls up a GPS
satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location, which he then feeds to
another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.

He next opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany. Within seconds he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.

Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet
printer, then turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."

"That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says the cowboy.

The cowboy watches in amusement as the young man selects one of the animals and stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?"

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"

"You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government," says the cowboy.

"Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"

"No guessing required," answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew to a question I never asked. You tried to show me how much smarter you are than me; and you don't know a thing about cows. This is a herd of sheep. Now give me back my dog." 


Senile Dementia Linked to Folic Acid Deficiency
1.) Effect of 3-year folic acid supplementation on cognitive function in older adults in the FACIT trial: a randomized, double blind, controlled trial. Lancet. 2007 Jan 20;369(9557):208-16. Su7mmary: Folic acid supplementation for 3 years significantly improved the types of cognitive function that typically decline with age.

2.) Effects of folic acid supplementation on hearing in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jan 2;146(1):1-9. Summary: Folic acid supplementation slowed the rate of hearing loss (speech frequencies) in aging population.

3.) Low folate status is associated with impaired cognitive function and dementia in the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Dec;82(6):1346-52. Summary: Low folic acid levels are associated with cognitive decline and food fortification with this vitamin is not sufficient to correct the problem.

4.) High homocysteine and low B vitamins predict cognitive decline in aging men: the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;82(3):627-35. CONCLUSIONS: Low B vitamin and high homocysteine concentrations predict cognitive decline.

5.) Homocysteine versus the vitamins folate, B6, and B12 as predictors of cognitive function and decline in older high-functioning adults: MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging. Am J Med. 2005 Feb;118(2):161-7. CONCLUSION: In high-functioning older adults, low folate levels appear to be a risk factor for cognitive decline. The risk of developing cognitive decline might be reduced through dietary folate intake.

6.) Homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B-12 in mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer disease, and vascular dementia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):114-22. CONCLUSIONS: Relative folate deficiency may precede Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia onset.

7.) Homocysteine and B vitamins in mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(10):1096-100. Summary: Subclinical folate deficiency appears to precede dementia.

Why Flowers are Still The Perfect Gift

8.) An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers. Haviland-Jones, Hale Rosario, R. McGuire, Evolutionary Psychology 3: 104-132, 17 April 2005.

The Surprisingly High Risk of Belly Fat

9.) Value of the sagittal abdominal diameter in coronary heart disease risk assessment: cohort study in a large, multiethnic population. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Dec 15;164(12):1150-9. Epub 2006 Oct 13. Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, Oakland 94612, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, CA, USA.

10.) Carbohydrate restriction alters lipoprotein metabolism by modifying VLDL, LDL, and HDL subfraction distribution and size in overweight men. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):384-9. Summary: weight loss which resulted from reduced carbohydrate intake decreased risk for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.

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