By Dr. Mercola
GrassrootsHealth in conjunction with the University of California San Diego has recently released a series of Vitamin D continuing education training courses and certifications you won't want to miss.
Whether you are a health care professional or a layperson looking to increase your knowledge, these presentations are sure to be of benefit to everyone — and they're offered free of charge!
Today I'm also offering a live webinar in which I'll discuss a number of other essential nutritional strategies for optimal health. If you have not yet registered for this webinar, you can do so in the webinar section below.
Free Vitamin D Education for the General Public
Free education sessions for the general public can be found on the University of California Vitamin D for Public Health page. Here you will learn about the science of sunshine exposure and vitamin D, the health conditions affected by vitamin D, how to optimize your vitamin D levels, and much more.
Thousands of studies have been done on the health effects of vitamin D, and research shows that it is involved in the biochemical function of all cells and tissues in your body, including your immune system and function.
When you're deficient in vitamin D, your health can deteriorate in any number of ways, because your cells actually need the active form of vitamin D to gain access to the genetic blueprints stored inside the cell.
It's been estimated that if vitamin D levels were raised among the general population, it could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly one million lives throughout the world each year!
So please, take advantage of this fabulous opportunity to get this vital education free of charge, and share it with everyone you know so they can be empowered too.
Besides addressing your diet, optimizing your vitamin D level is perhaps one of the most potent ways you can improve your health.
Free Certification Courses for Health Professionals
For health care professionals, each course provides one AMA continuing education credit.
- Level 1 D*Certification: Public Health Initiative: Meeting the Vitamin D Requirements of the Pregnant Woman and Improving Health Outcomes is taught by Dr. Carol Wagner, a neonatologist with the Medical University of South Carolina
- Level 2 D*Certification: Vitamin D, Sunshine, Optimal Health: Putting it all Together is led by one of the leading researchers in the field of vitamin D, Dr. Robert Heaney of Creighton University
You can sign up for these classes on GrassrootsHealth's Free Online CME page.
Upon completion of these courses, you can fill out a form to be listed on GrassrootsHealth's website as a Certified Vitamin D practitioner. Practitioners are also encouraged to enroll their pregnant patients in the Protect Our Children NOW! project, which is now running nationwide.
Health outcomes of mothers and children will be tracked to demonstrate the results of vitamin D optimization during pregnancy and to monitor for any unusual conditions, and the results of the program will be reported in the scientific literature and to the community.
How to Enroll in Protect Our Children NOW!
Protect Our Children NOW! seeks to resolve vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and children, and the campaign will also raise global awareness about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency.
Among other items, the projects expected impact is likely to be a reduction in preterm births (in some cases up to a 50 percent reduction). If you are 12 to 17 weeks pregnant, at least 18 years of age, and currently reside in the US, you may enroll in this fully sponsored project at no cost to you. Participation in the program includes:
- Free vitamin D blood tests
- Your and your newborn's new questionnaire entries
- Reporting of results directly to you
- Free vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D Is Crucial for Optimal Health
Optimizing your vitamin D level is vital for health, and compelling research shows there's typically a significant reduction in disease risk, no matter what disease is under investigation. Several forms of cancer appear to be reduced by 40 to 50 percent or more, for example.
Vitamin D can also reduce your risk of heart attack by about 50 percent. And, beware... research suggests that if you have a heart attack while being vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying from that heart attack is upwards of 100 percent!
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, asthma, and allergies are also impacted by your vitamin D levels, as are virtually all autoimmune diseases, and many neurological disorders as well, including Alzheimer's disease. But there are also a number of other proactive strategies that will help you optimize your health, several of which I'll address in today's webinar.
Day Two of My Live Webinar Today!
Yesterday, my live talk centered around the five items needed to help reverse illness. In today's webinar (10 am CST), I will highlight a number of essential nutritional strategies. If you have not yet registered for this webinar, you can access it by clicking on the button below. Three really essential nutritional tools to maintain health are:
- Maintaining the proper balance of gut bacteria
- Obtaining high quality omega3 fats
- Maintaining your CoQ10 levels
In addition to these three key strategies, today's talk will also cover:
- Core Strategies for Optimal Wellness
- Gaining the Necessary Nutrients with Confidence
- The Power of Antioxidants
- Additional Every Day Tips
- Ensuring the Proper Balance for Bone Health
- Getting the Most from Vitamin D
- Addressing Health Concerns Specific to Men and Women
- A Plan for Prostate Health
- The Advantages of L-Arginine
- Making Breast Health a Top Priority
- The Importance of Iodine
Key Strategy #1: Maintaining the Proper Balance of Gut Bacteria
Your body's microbiome — colonies of various microbes that reside in your gut and elsewhere in and on your body — is one of the primary factors that drive your genetic expression, turning genes on and off depending on which microbes are present. A number of health conditions and chronic diseases have been linked to the makeup of your microbiome, including depression, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Crohn's disease, brain diseases, autism, and allergies. It's also a critical component for a well-functioning immune system, which is your primary defense against virtually all disease.
Your microbiome is as unique to you as your fingerprint, and can be rapidly altered based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, and exposure to toxins and antibiotics. While there are no good or bad bacteria per se, potentially harmful microbes become dangerous once they start to take up too much real estate, outnumbering the more beneficial ones. This is why maintaining the proper balance of gut bacteria is so important.
The good news is that supporting your microbiome isn't very complicated. However, you do need to take proactive steps to implement certain key strategies while actively avoiding other factors. To optimize your microbiome both inside and out, consider the following recommendations:
Do: Avoid: Eat plenty of fermented foods. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass-fed organic milk such as kefir, natto (fermented soy), and fermented vegetables. If you ferment your own, consider using a special starter culture that has been optimized with bacterial strains that produce high levels of vitamin K2. This is an inexpensive way to optimize your K2, which is particularly important if you're taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary (and when you do, make sure to reseed your gut with fermented foods and/or a probiotic supplement). And while some researchers are looking into methods that might help ameliorate the destruction of beneficial bacteria by antibiotics,1,2 your best bet is likely always going to be reseeding your gut with probiotics from fermented and cultured foods and/or a high-quality probiotic supplement. Take a probiotic supplement. Although I'm not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception if you don't eat fermented foods on a regular basis Conventionally-raised meats and other animal products, as CAFO animals are routinely fed low-dose antibiotics, plus genetically engineered grains loaded with glyphosate, which is widely known to kill many bacteria. Boost your soluble and insoluble fiber intake, focusing on vegetables, nuts, and seeds, including sprouted seeds. Chlorinated and/or fluoridated water. Especially in your bathing such as showers, which are worse than drinking it. Get your hands dirty in the garden. Germ-free living may not be in your best interest, as the loss of healthy bacteria can have wide-ranging influence on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Exposure to bacteria and viruses can serve as "natural vaccines" that strengthen your immune system and provide long-lasting immunity against disease.
Getting your hands dirty in the garden can help reacquaint your immune system with beneficial microorganisms on the plants and in the soil. According to a recent report,3 lack of exposure to the outdoors can in and of itself cause your microbiome to become "deficient."
Processed foods. Excessive sugars, along with otherwise "dead" nutrients, feed pathogenic bacteria. Food emulsifiers such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan gum also appear to have an adverse effect on your gut flora.4 Unless 100% organic, they may also contain GMOs that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides such as glyphosate. Open your windows. For the vast majority of human history the outside was always part of the inside, and at no moment during our day were we ever really separated from nature. Today, we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors.
And, although keeping the outside out does have its advantages it has also changed the microbiome of your home. Research5 shows that opening a window and increasing natural airflow can improve the diversity and health of the microbes in your home, which in turn benefit you.
Agricultural chemicals, glyphosate (Roundup) in particular is a known antibiotic and will actively kill many of your beneficial gut microbes if you eat and foods contaminated with Roundup. Wash your dishes by hand instead of in the dishwasher. Recent research has shown that washing your dishes by hand leaves more bacteria on the dishes than dishwashers do, and that eating off these less-than-sterile dishes may actually decrease your risk of allergies by stimulating your immune system. Antibacterial soap, as they too kill off both good and bad bacteria, and contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistance.
Key Strategy #2: Obtaining High-Quality Omega-3 Fats
From my perspective, based on medical experience and overwhelming scientific evidence, making sure you're getting enough omega-3 in your diet, either from wild salmon or a high-quality omega-3 supplement like krill oil, is absolutely crucial for optimal health. While a helpful form of omega-3 can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 – containing two fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease – can only be found in fish and krill.6
Unfortunately, nearly all fish, from most all sources, are now severely contaminated with toxic mercury, which is why I have amended my previous recommendations to consume fish on a routine basis. It's simply not advisable for most people any longer. About the only exception to this rule is wild caught Alaskan salmon. Avoid farmed salmon, as they contain only about half of the omega-3 levels of wild salmon. Farmed salmon may also contain a range of harmful contaminants, including environmental toxins, synthetic astaxanthin, and genetically engineered organisms from the grain feed they're given.
My latest recommendation for a source of high-quality omega-3 fats is krill oil. The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it. It also naturally contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant — almost 50 times more than is present in fish oil. This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue. To learn more about the benefits of krill versus fish oil, please see my interview with Dr. Rudi Moerck, a drug industry insider and an expert on omega-3 fats.
Key Strategy #3: Maintaining Your CoQ10 Levels
Coenzyme Q10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body, and is therefore vital for good health, high energy levels, longevity, and general quality of life. It also helps protect against cellular damage from free radicals. Unfortunately, one in four Americans aged 45 and over are now taking a statin drug, which depletes your body of CoQ10, thereby speeding up progression of heart disease... If you're in this group, you simply must replenish your CoQ10 with a supplement. You cannot get enough from food alone.
There are two forms of CoQ10, and the better, far more effective alternative is its reduced form, called ubiquinol. This is the form your body actually uses to achieve it benefits, and substantial research shows that if you are over 25, this reduced form is superior for your health in a number of ways. Even if you're not a statin user, ubiquinol may offer valuable health benefits. For example, studies have shown ubiquinol has a positive effect on:
- Inflammatory processes
- "Anti-aging" effects
- Cardiac arrest recovery
- Stroke recovery
- Periodontal disease (including gingivitis and dry mouth)
A common concern by producers of ubiquinol, scientists, and consumers alike, is whether or not supplementing with ubiquinol may negatively affect your body's own production of it. Fortunately, several studies have shown that this is not the case. Even at very high levels of ubiquinol — upwards of thousands of milligrams a day for a considerable period of time — natural production has remained unaffected. The safety profile for ubiquinol is also excellent. Even at very large doses, no adverse effects or drug interactions have ever been found or reported.
Dosage Suggestions for CoQ10/Ubiquinol
If you're on a statin drug, you MUST take at least 100 to 200 mg of ubiquinol or CoQ10 per day. If you're not on a statin drug, the amount of CoQ10 or ubiquinol you might need depends on how sick you are. The sicker you are, the more you need. If you don't take any form of CoQ10 at all and you're just starting out with ubiquinol, start with 200 to 300 milligrams a day. Within a two- to three-week period your plasma levels will typically plateau to its optimum level.
After that, you can go down to a 100 mg/day maintenance dose per day. This dose is typically sufficient for healthy people. If you have an active lifestyle, exercise a lot, or are under a lot of stress due to your job or "life" in general, you may want to increase your dose to 200 to 300 mg/day.
Since you're replenishing natural cellular energy that is used up through physical activity and/or stress, and counteracting the natural drop in production levels that come with age, you will typically feel a difference in energy levels when you start taking it. Ideally, you'll want to split the dose up to two or three times a day, rather than taking it all at once, as this will result in higher blood levels.
Take Control of Your Health!
Health is actually not as complicated to obtain and maintain as you might think. Your body is actually remarkably efficient when it comes to healing and regenerating itself, provided you feed it and care for it properly. Perhaps one of the simplest health directives you could ever come across is to just EAT REAL FOOD (whole, unadulterated/unprocessed, and ideally organic).
Eating real food automatically eliminates nearly all of the tens of thousands of chemicals that are never tested for safety but included in your food due to loopholes in the food laws. Besides nutritious food, you also need physical activity, and sensible sun exposure to help optimize your vitamin D. These are lifestyle habits that cost little to nothing in terms of money, but pay plenty of dividends in terms of health and longevity.