In the media in the last few months there have been some controversial topics raised. I hope to shed some light on them so you can make more informed decisions yourself.
First is the calcium controversy. I wrote an article about this in 2011 and if you look at the websites of Life Extension Magazine you will see their rebuttals to the media over the last 10 years and it plays like a broken record. This controversy is resurfacing just as it did in 2012 and the rebuttals are the same.
Calcium is required for healthy bones in the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures. Too little calcium can itself accelerate atherosclerosis so the key message that I give my patients is that naturopathic physicians never give calcium without magnesium, vitamin D and more recently, vitamin K2. Even now you will find calcium chocolate wafers marketed as well as antacid medications that only contain calcium carbonate without any co-factors. These are the forms I would definitely avoid.
In the book Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, written by Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue B.Sc. ND, she outlines the importance of vitamin K2 to direct calcium in the body to metabolize properly and not end up calcifying arteries. The best form of Vitamin K2 is the menaquinone (MK-7) found in natto, goose liver pate, hard cheeses (Dutch Gouda style) and soft cheeses (French Brie style) as well as free range eggs. Most comprehensive mineral combinations of calcium and magnesium will often have this form of vitamin K2 (MK7) as part of the formula. It can also be taken separately.
Second is the vitamin D controversy. There was research in the last year that stated that taking extra vitamin D did not prevent osteoporosis and in fact caused increased risk of hip fracture. In this study 500,000IU’s of vitamin D were given in one dose which is not the way the body can absorb this vitamin. Dr. Mercola in Feb 2014 wrote a thorough rebuttal and Dr. Alex Vasquez N.D in his article published in April 2015 “Iatrogenic Induction of Vitamin D Deficiency” explains the robust body of research indicating the absolute need for vitamin D to prevent chronic diseases. The common theme is that researchers are using RDA dosages of 400-800IU’s per day that are not clinically relevant. Dosages that are required to get 25(OH) vitamin D levels in the blood to disease prevention levels of 125-150nmol/l are dosages of 4000-6000 IU’s per day or more. Vitamin D will also make sure calcium gets to the right places in the body.
Third: Supplement Industry: Are you getting what you’re promised? CBC loves to hate the field of Functional Medicine. I am all for making sure that the remedy I prescribe for a patient has the active medicinal ingredients that I am counting on to help the patient. I recommend certain brands because I am confident in the third party testing and quality control that these companies use. That is my job. What the public needs to be reminded is that natural remedies don’t kill people. Prescription medications kill people. Ten thousand Canadians die in the hospital and another 10,000 die in their homes every year due to prescription medications.
In January of this year I referred to an excellent article written by Tom Blackwell, National Post, Jan. 16 2015, “Inside Canada’s Secret World of Medical Error.” In this article he lists yearly deaths caused by prescription drugs province-by-province. It is not until you have a family member die at the hands of doctors that you really look at this issue. It has happened to me and to Terence Young who wrote an article in Common Ground, January 2012 “Facts on Prescription Drug Deaths and the Drug Industry.” The other fact to understand is that many of the drug companies now own supplement companies and I find some of these supplements to be irrelevant because their dosages are too low.
There is no question that herbal and nutraceutical supplements are useful in treating my patients. The question is dosage, quality and type of formulations. Vitamin K2 MK7 has far reaching health benefits so it behooves you to add this to your foundation for health. According to Dr. Rheaume-Bleue it is the most important anti-aging nutrient for fighting wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and osteoporosis and promoting straight cavity free teeth and strong bones in children. In the case of vitamin D, if you are not testing, you don’t know if you are getting enough. Most have the erroneous belief that the sun gives them enough to last them all year.
Dr. Ingrid Pincott, naturopathic physician, has been practicing since 1985 and can be reached at 250-286-3655 or www.DrPincott.com