By Dr. Mercola
I was recently invited as a guest on The Dr. Oz Show for the third time.
The show airs in the Chicago viewing area today, Wednesday January 4th.
(For Dr. Oz's show schedule in your local area, just enter your zip code on his station finder page.
You can check out the preview for my appearance at DoctorOz.com.)
It's a great privilege to dialogue with someone like Dr. Oz, who has such a great impact on spreading the message of natural health.
Unfortunately, there are some challenges with participating in this type of media presentation, because most of the answers must be condensed into very short and easily digestible sound bites.
Therefore, I'd like to expand on some of the questions raised on the show. Dr. Oz's format really does not allow for much more than a 20 second sound bite for an answer, which is typical of nearly all major media... If you had a chance to view the two segments on Dr. Oz, I felt it would be helpful to provide additional information that time did not allow for five of the topics discussed on the show… I've also linked to additional resource articles that provide more in-depth information.
Vitamin D is one of the most crucial nutrients for a healthy life. The powerful "sunshine vitamin" is becoming increasingly well-known for its many phenomenal benefits, including protection from colds and flu, diabetes, MS, cancer, and a wide variety of other ailments.
- But what's your best source for vitamin D?
- How do you get your levels within the healthy range?
- And, what's the ideal range?
Vitamin D Sources
While a lot of the focus on vitamin D ends up being about vitamin D supplementation, the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D levels is not by taking a pill, but rather allowing your body to do what it was designed to do—create vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure. In a recent interview, Dr. Stephanie Seneff really brought the importance of getting your vitamin D from sun exposure to the forefront. While I've consistently recommended getting your vitamin D from regular sun exposure whenever possible, her input really convinced me of the wisdom of this natural strategy.
She believes that when your skin is exposed to sunshine, it synthesizes not only vitamin D3, but also vitamin D3 sulfate.
Your sulfur levels are intricately tied to your cholesterol levels, and play an important role in the prevention of heart disease. So getting regular sun exposure has much greater health ramifications than "just" raising your vitamin D levels and preventing infections. Sun exposure also appears to play a role in heart and cardiovascular health, and much more!
The sulfated vitamin D formed in your skin in response to sun exposure is water soluble, unlike an oral vitamin D3 supplement, which is unsulfated. The water soluble form can travel freely in your blood stream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called "bad" cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. Dr. Seneff's suspicion is that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D may therefore not provide all of the same benefits as the sulfated form, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate...
As I said on the Dr. Oz show, if you cannot get your vitamin D requirements from sun exposure, I recommend using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight, while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It will definitely be better than no vitamin D at all.
Vitamin D Serum Levels and Dosages
Some 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world currently agree that the most important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level. So you really should be taking whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.
However, while there is no specific dosage level at which "magic" happens, based on the most recent research by GrassrootsHealth—an organization that has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on vitamin D through their D* Action Study—it appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml. This is significantly higher than previously recommended! For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight.
At the time GrassrootsHealth performed the studies that resulted in this increased dosage recommendation, the optimal serum level was believed to be between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml.
Vitamin D Study Participants Needed
D*Action is a worldwide public health campaign organized by GrassrootsHealth, aiming to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic through focus on testing, education, and grassroots word of mouth. And while one paper has already been published, this GrassrootsHealth study is still ongoing and accepting participants.
When you join D*action, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $60 fee each 6 months ($120/year) for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a complete new test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey." To join now, please follow this link to the sign up form.
Additional Vitamin D Information
For more in-depth information about vitamin D, please see the following web pages:
If you're over 25, your body becomes increasingly challenged to convert oxidized CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Why is that important? Well, ubiquinol is one of the single most crucial nutrients for energizing every cell in your body. It is especially useful for protecting your mitochondria, which supply most of your body's energy currency in the form of ATP. I believe virtually everyone over 30 benefits from supplementing with this but is imperative for anyone taking statins to be on it.
Ubiquinol is the active form of CoQ10 needed to help your cells take fat and other substances and convert them into usable energy. But if your body cannot convert Co Q10 to ubiquinol, you can come up short on some or all of its benefits. To learn more about ubiquinol and Co Q10, all the potential benefits, and why they're essential if you're taking a statin drug, please see the following articles:
Hypertension and High Blood Pressure Medications
It's important to understand that uncontrolled high blood pressure is a very serious health concern. It can lead to heart disease and increase your risk of having a stroke. It's estimated that high blood pressure affects 90 percent of Americans at one time or another. Like statin drugs, blood pressure drugs are pervasive, with one in three Americans taking them. Of those, an estimated 25 percent are falsely diagnosed! They have what we call "white coat hypertension," meaning they suffer temporary anxiety when at the doctor's office, and as a result, their blood pressure goes up. However, they don't truly suffer from hypertension. When they're given a drug to treat a condition they don't have, it can only cause them harm...
Again, I believe very few people really need them.
Natural strategies are absolutely crucial to address the underlying cause of high blood pressure. Make sure you're getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3-fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg may lower your total cholesterol and triglycerides, and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol. You'll also want to dramatically reduce grains and sugars in your daily diet, especially fructose, replacing it with healthful fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, organic pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats.
Getting the right amount of regular exercise is another key factor.
If you are currently taking any medications to control your blood pressure, please understand that these drugs are not placebos and most work very effectively to lower your blood pressure. But they don't do it in a way that addresses the cause. So if you stop them, there is a chance your blood pressure will rise very high, and sometimes high enough to cause a stroke. So only wean yourself off your blood pressure medications while under careful professional supervision.
For more information relating to hypertension, from how to reduce your blood pressure by effectively addressing stress… exercising… normalizing your weight… and which foods to eat and which to eliminate, and much more, please see:
The majority of people who use statin drugs for lowering cholesterol are doing so because they've been told it will help prevent heart attacks and strokes. However, just the opposite may be true. There are some 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk. Many statin drugs have been linked to defects in heart muscle function and even increases in strokes. One study found that statin therapy was associated with decreased myocardial function. This decreased heart muscle function could lead to heart failure.
Dr. Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon and treats many patients that suffer from the complications of coronary artery disease, and as such is convinced that some people benefit from statins. I take a different position and think that there are only a tiny segment that might benefit, typically those with genetic issues like familial hypercholesterolemia (a condition that causes your body to produce too much cholesterol) or those with very high risk factors. But there is some compelling evidence to suggest that even these groups may not benefit from taking them.
Learn more about why I believe statins are so risky… including an interview with former astronaut, Dr. Duane Graveline, whose health was seriously damaged by a statin drug… and an article by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist and researcher at MIT…
When it comes to the use of antidepressant medication, Dr. Oz is still in somewhat of an allopathic mode—the idea that for nearly every disease or symptom there is a pill that will likely cure it. The conventional approach to treating depression is to prescribe an antidepressant (or two). I firmly believe that antidepressants do more harm than good in most cases of depression.
Dr. Oz seeks to apply natural alternatives like St. John's, SAMe, or tryptophan in lieu of more hazardous antidepressants, but while such supplements are certainly safer, and sometimes effective, you're still not treating the underlying cause of depression. Some will argue that if you're low in serotonin, you might benefit from some tryptophan. But while this may indeed help, you're still not addressing the reason for why you're low in serotonin. There are reasons for that, and once you eliminate the root cause, you won't have to take pills of any kind... I think it's really crucial to address these underlying issues.
As for antidepressants, there's startling evidence and countless research studies that strongly suggest antidepressant drugs simply do not work. Meanwhile, every year, psychiatric drugs kill an estimated 42,000 people—that's an astounding 12,000 more people than commit suicide due to depression.
Rooting Out the Causes of Depression
There are a number of very powerful strategies to address depression. One that has been proven more effective than antidepressants in a number of studies is exercise. Exercise not only relieves depressive symptoms but also appears to prevent them from recurring. Unfortunately, since no one is going to be making tens of billions of dollars on encouraging you to exercise, it has not received the amount of funding for studies that antidepressant drugs have received. However when the studies are performed, exercise continually comes out on top, demonstrating benefits above and beyond what antidepressant drugs can achieve.
Three key mechanisms appear to be that exercise:
- Improves insulin receptor sensitivity
- Regulates serotonin and norepinephrine, two key neurotransmitters in your brain, and
- "Switches on" genes that increase your brain levels of galanin, a neurotransmitter that helps lessen your body's stress response
Your diet is another key factor that must be addressed. There are well-documented studies showing that animal-based omega-3 fat (DHA) is very useful. I'm a firm believer in krill oil, which is far more effectively absorbed than fish oil. You also want to make sure to optimize your diet, meaning removing sugars, grains and processed foods, and replacing them with healthy fats. Why is your diet so important for your emotional and mental health?
The Gut-Brain Connection that Can Help Explain Many Cases of Depression
One of the reasons that dietary changes work is because it helps alter your gut flora in very beneficial ways. The beneficial bacteria in your gut have a profound influence on your health, including your mental health. They produce substances that your body needs. And, your gut actually produces more serotonin than your brain does!
Your gut is frequently referred to as 'the second brain,' and when you consider the fact that the gut-brain connection is recognized as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, and that there's no shortage of evidence of gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of neurological diseases, it's easy to see how the balance of gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well. With this in mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave, because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.
Last but certainly not least, is finding a skilled psychotherapist who can help you work through some of the contributing emotional challenges. But optimizing your physiology with the physical approaches mentioned is probably the best marriage of an approach that has a high likelihood of success.
Here's additional information everyone should read… whether they're experiencing depression, or have a friend or loved one who is trying to deal with it, or just want to be better informed about antidepressants and depression.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."