On July 29, 2010, the British Medical Journal published a flawed study of the usage of calcium supplements and associated risk of heart attack. The study misleadingly concluded that use of calcium supplements increases the risk of heart attacks by 27% and has no significant effect on overall mortality. The authors advise that the use of calcium supplements in treating or preventing osteoporosis should be reconsidered. Some in the media are broadcasting this study as a reason to stop using calcium supplements.
Please don’t stop your calcium supplements before reading more about the serious flaws in this study!
A major problem with this study is that it excluded people taking vitamin D, magnesium, and other common ingredients in bone protection products. As a result, the study participants generally had low levels of nutrients that are associated with lower risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease and are directly tied how calcium is used in the body. These nutrients all work together to keep calcium in the bones where it belongs, rather than building up calcium deposits in the vascular system and heart that can contribute to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Most adults who are getting regular preventive healthcare are familiar with the lipid panel performed as a routine check for cholesterol levels. What they may not know is that the standard lipid panel can only identify about 40% of the people who are at high risk for heart disease. The result of this is that many adults mistakenly believe they have reduced their heart attack risk when they are actually carrying around ticking time bombs that could be defused with improved treatment.
While the exact treatment for blood lipid problems varies, doctors seldom consider any such treatments without the test data to justify them. You could argue that the conventional cholesterol test actually increases the risk for heart attacks by leaving people unwisely complacent because of incomplete and inaccurate information about the nature of the fats in their blood. For instance, the LDL cholesterol number for “bad” cholesterol in the conventional tests is just a calculated estimate, not a direct measurement. It could be off significantly.
The VAP Cholesterol Test
A newer procedure called the VAP™ Blood Test (for Vertical Auto Profile) helps improve the ability to identify blood lipid patterns associated with heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Atherotech, the company providing the test, estimates that it can identify twice as many patients at high risk for heart attacks than regular cholesterol lipid panel tests and also identify patients likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease that may not lead to heart attacks.
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is an inexpensive and highly absorbable form of the amino acid cysteine which has numerous health benefits. Previously, I’ve written about several applications for NAC:
Furthermore, there is solid evidence that NAC helps boost the body’s levels of glutathione, one of the main antioxidants produced by the body. In particular, glutathione is critical to liver health. Many people suffer from elevated homocysteine levels, an amino acid that is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Several studies indicate that NAC can significantly lower homocysteine levels. Finally, if you sometimes drink alcohol and get a hangover, you’ll be interested to know that NAC plus vitamin B1 (thiamine) may help the body reduce the severity of hangovers. There are many other lesser known uses for NAC. I’ll discuss more of these at the end of the article.
Available Forms of NAC
NAC is often sold in capsule form containing 600 mg per capsule, but the bulk powder form of the supplement can be much less expensive. NAC is also the primary ingredient in some pharmaceutical products including a product called Mucomyst that is used to treat mucus build-up by inhalation of a sterile liquid solution of NAC.
This article reviews the 1Fast400 N-Acetyl-Cysteine, NAC sold in bulk powder form. It is priced less than 1/2 the price of the 600 mg capsules from inexpensive reputable makers such as Puritan’s Pride and NOW Foods. Thus the bulk powder form of NAC is a good choice for people who use large quantities of it. Such people might include those with families with several people who use it for general health, immune system boosting, detoxification from mercury and heavy metals, and especially people who use it for mental health care applications similar to clinical testing being done with dosages of 2000 mg per day or more.
If you’re taking advantage of the buy 1 get 2 free sale at Puritan’s Pride and buying $25 or more of products, enter the coupon code 200903 during your checkout to get another $5. That’s enough to cover the standard $4.95 shipping amount with a nickel to spare. The coupon code is claimed to last until September 30, 2009, but the buy 1 get 2 free sales is over September 19, 2009.
Puritan’s Pride carries a huge variety of dietary supplements, vitamins, amino acids, skin care formulas, and other products for your well-being. Some of our favorite Puritan’s Pride products useful to a lot of people are their Vitamin D3 5000 IU softgels and 5-HTP 100mg mood and sleep aid capsules.
With the increasing worldwide news coverage of widespread vitamin D deficiency and the high rates of associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and autism, you may wonder just how much vitamin D is too much? Many doctors are clueless about vitamin D toxicity and believe that 2000 IU per day of vitamin D3 on a daily basis could be deadly, and 100,000 IU in one dose would surely kill you. Surprising to some, these common beliefs of doctors are grossly mistaken. New research argues for 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 on a daily basis for long periods being the upper recommended limit for adult dietary intake and that single doses of 100,000 IU are helpful for rapidly building up levels of vitamin D in the body.
A recent study by the National Institutes of Health explored the connection between telomere lengths in the human immune cells known as leukocytes (white blood cells) and the use of multivitamins. The data used came from 586 participants in the Sister Study of healthy sisters of breast cancer patients. The women’s ages ranged from 35 to 74 years. Women who used multivitamins on a daily basis had leukocyte telomeres on average 5.1% longer than those who did not use multivitamins.
(This article was updated on May 22, 2009, to add more on the growing mainstream consensus to reduce widespread vitamin D deficiency [around 40% to 60% of US population!] via dietary supplements and on the Marshall Protocol and related research which disputes this position.)
The last year has seen the release of numerous studies and articles about the wonders of vitamin D. The reports are quite convincing and consistent that most people don’t get enough vitamin D and that low levels of it increase the risk of health problems of a wide range of diseases ranging from common cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression to less common multiple sclerosis and autism.