• A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A US study describes a new antibiotic against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a lysin-based antibacterial agent. Physicians have been looking for years for a solution regarding the increasing antibiotic resistance problem. But several attempts in the past have failed. Staphylococcus … [Read More...]

  • Hair Style Products are Mostly Safe

    Hair Style Products are Mostly Safe

    A recent study concluded that hair style products are mostly safe when it comes to causing cancer. In the past there was some concern that the dyes for hair coloring could cause cancer. In a previous blog I mentioned that hair stylists are at a greater risk for developing bladder cancer.  But in customers who had … [Read More...]

  • Tesamorelin Reduces Fat Content of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

    Tesamorelin Reduces Fat Content of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

    A new study showed that tesamorelin reduces fat content of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This substance and its effects are explained later in this article. Notably, the publication came out in the journal JCI insight on July 23, 2020. For one thing, with the world-wide obesity problem fat deposits in the … [Read More...]

  • How to Manage Clot Formation with Covid-19

    How to Manage Clot Formation with Covid-19

    A publication in the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes how to manage clot formation with Covid-19. A significant amount of cases among Covid-19 patients come down with clotting problems. This means that an infection with SARS-CoV-2 (or Covid-19 coronavirus) may initially present with a fever and cough. … [Read More...]

  • Health Benefits from Vitamin C Supplements

    Health Benefits from Vitamin C Supplements

    Notably, there are health benefits from vitamin C supplements as I will explain below. A recent publication in the Journal of Intensive Care stated that vitamin C may lower ventilator time for sick patients in the ICU. In this case, researchers performed  a meta-regression analysis. It is important to realize that … [Read More...]

  • New Alzheimer’s Blood Test Is Promising

    New Alzheimer’s Blood Test Is Promising

    A new Alzheimer’s blood test is promising according to a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) July 29, 2020. Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurological illness where people lose memory and judgment. If affects about 5.8 million Americans above the age of 65. Specialists are … [Read More...]

    Sep
    26
    2020

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A US study describes a new antibiotic against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a lysin-based antibacterial agent.

    Physicians have been looking for years for a solution regarding the increasing antibiotic resistance problem. But several attempts in the past have failed.

    Staphylococcus infections are the most common bacterial infections of human skin, of soft tissue, joints, bones, and pneumonia. In addition, it can cause endocarditis (=infection of heart valves) and lead to blood poisoning (septicemia).

    Staphylococcus aureus is the underlying bacterium behind staph infections. With the introduction of new antibiotics  it takes only 1 to 2 years before this bacterium learns to become resistant. Researchers noticed that the bacteria start to produce lysins and suddenly they are resistant to the latest antibiotic. Further research zeroed in on lysostaphin, which was active against resistant Staphylococcus bacterial strains.

    Deimmunized lysostaphin

    Lysostaphin is an antibacterial peptide described here in detail. But there still was some interference with immunologically active surface antigens that scientists were later able to overcome. Researchers succeeded lately in removing some of the surface antigens and develop deimmunized lysostaphin. This is what this publication is all about.

    It describes how T cells cannot detect the surface antigen properties of deimmunized lysostaphin. This way none of the strength of deimmunized lysostaphin gets lost in the fight against resistant staphylococcus that normally form anti-drug antibodies. Researchers pointed out the importance of the deimmunization process to make deimmunized lysostaphin invisible to the T cells of the immune system.

    Vigorous testing of deimmunized lysostaphin

    The researchers who investigated the efficiency and safety of deimmunized lysostaphin did the following tests.

    • Although lysostaphin was deimmunized, it retained potent in vitro and in vivo anti-staphylococcal activity. In vitro studies involving Petri dishes with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus showed the effectiveness of deimmunized lysostaphin. In vivo testing in a mouse and rabbit model also showed effectiveness.
    • Deimmunized lysostaphin showed reduced immunogenicity in vivo. Researchers tested this in mice and compared the results to regular lysostaphin, where there was a swift immunological response.

    More points regarding deimmunized lysostaphin

    • Immune evasion allows for repeated efficient dosing of deimmunized lysostaphin. This means that the physician can administer the antibiotic (the deimmunized lysostaphin) to fight the methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus with several daily doses.
    • The deimmunization process allows deimmunized lysostaphin to evade the immune response that occurs to regular lysostaphin. This prevents future resistance development. It also prevents that the immune responses weaken the anti-methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus response.
    • Researchers showed in a difficult rabbit endocarditis model that deimmunized lysostaphin treats MRSA infection successfully. Endocarditis is an infectious disease, which is both difficult to treat in rabbits, but also in humans. For this reason, rabbits are often used as a model when new antibiotics are developed. If they are successful in the rabbit model they often get approval later for human treatments.

    Deimmunized lysostaphin in humans

    Unfortunately, we are still a few years away from using deimmunized lysostaphin in humans. After successful use of lysostaphin in mice and rabbits the next logical application is to launch human clinical trials. I am convinced that this will be the next step and very likely will be successful.

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    A New Antibiotic Against Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Conclusion

    Researchers found a new antibiotic against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a lysin-based antibacterial agent. This peptide has surface antigens that scientists had to removed to make it more effective. The end result was a deimmunized lysostaphin. Researchers tested this new antibiotic that is effective against many antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria successfully in mice and rabbits. The next step is testing in humans. This involves several phases of clinical trials. These clinical trials have to show that there is a lack of toxicity. In addition, they have to show that the new antibiotic is effective against resistant bacteria. I estimate that this process can still take about 5 years from now before the clinician can use this antibiotic routinely. As the new antibiotic is a polypeptide, it the patient cannot take it orally, as the gut is digesting it. The patient has to take it by injection.

    Sep
    19
    2020

    Hair Style Products are Mostly Safe

    A recent study concluded that hair style products are mostly safe when it comes to causing cancer. In the past there was some concern that the dyes for hair coloring could cause cancer. In a previous blog I mentioned that hair stylists are at a greater risk for developing bladder cancer.  But in customers who had their hair colored this was more difficult to prove. The new study reviewed by CNN was based on a large cohort of 117,200 female nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

    These 30-55-year-old nurses were observed for 36 years. Detailed information about hair coloring was part of the study.

    Results of the hair coloring study

    Women with light and medium use of hair dyes did not develop non-melanoma skin cancers, hematopoietic cancers or squamous skin cancers. The same was true for bladder cancer, melanoma, estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, progesterone receptor positive breast cancer and hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Furthermore hair coloring did not cause brain cancer, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer and lung cancer. 5% of women who ever used hair dyes did develop basal cell skin cancer; there was a total of 22,560 basal cell cancers that occurred.

    The BJM showed that women who colored their hair regularly (termed “cumulative dose”) developed 24%-31% more breast cancer. This breast cancer was estrogen negative breast cancer (31%) and progesterone negative breast cancer (24%). They also developed 24% more ovarian cancers and 17% colorectal cancer than controls who did not dye their hair. Myeloid leukemias were also more common in the heavy use hair coloring group with 29% and follicular lymphomas with 13%. Other forms of leukemia were not more frequent.

    Discussion

    50% to 80% of women and about 10% of men ages 40 and older are using hair dye regularly in the United States and Europe. The above cited cancer frequencies were based on women with dark hair and a cumulative dose of more than 200 applications of permanent hair dye. Translated into years of application of hair dye this means coloring your hair for 16 to 17 years, if you color your hair once a month. The study is very powerful due to the large number of women examined and the amazingly long time of 36 years of observation.

    Heavy use, medium and light use of hair dyes

    It is interesting to note that only the heavy use of hair dye resulted in a few significant cancer figures. The light use (1 to 99 times) and medium use (100 to 199 times) of hair dyes did hardly lead to any cancer. There were some exceptions where light use of hair dye led to 34% more bladder cancer and to 67% more follicular lymphomas. These were oddities, because the lighter use of hair dyes led to higher amounts of these cancers than medium and heavy use. This is not what the researchers expected.

    Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer

    Hodgkin’s lymphoma was about 3- to 5-fold more common in all hair coloring categories compared to non-use of hair dye. The authors discussed subgroups of women as well. They noticed that black women using permanent hair dye had a higher risk to develop breast cancer than white women who only had a borderline increased risk. Estrogen negative, progesterone negative and hormone negative breast cancer was more likely to be caused by heavy use of hair dyes.

    No association between the following cancers and hair dye use

    The present study could not find an association between ever using hair dye and the following. The study found no association with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer. In addition there also was no association with  kidney cancer, lung cancer, and brain cancer. But it found a slight increased risk (5%) of basal cell carcinoma.

    The study contains no information regarding the specific ingredients in hair dye that are carcinogenic. In the US supervision of permanent hair dyes by the FDA is rather loose. This leaves the manufacturer mostly in charge regarding the composition of the hair dyes. This is different in Europe and in Japan. Here manufacturers removed several carcinogenic substances from hair dyes because of regulations by the local regulatory bodies. This could have a cancer-lowering effect in these countries.

    Hair Style Products are Mostly Safe

    Hair Style Products are Mostly Safe

    Conclusion

    This large study from the British Medical Journal, published Sept. 2, 2020 explains the relationship of cancer risk to permanent hair dyes. The study lasted 36 years and involved 117,200 female nurses. More than 96% of the women were Caucasians. This study showed that for most people who use permanent use hair dyes there is no association with most cancers. However, there was an association between a few cancers and the use of hair dyes. These were in 5% basal cell skin cancers. But breast cancer (31% estrogen receptor negative, 24% progesterone receptor negative), ovarian cancer (24%) and 17% colorectal cancer were among these too. There was also an increased risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

    Effect of screening by FDA regarding carcinogenic substances in hair dyes

    All this data was based on the hair dyes used in the US. Supervision of permanent hair dyes by the FDA is rather loose, with the manufacturer being mostly in charge. This is different in Europe and in Japan. Here local regulatory bodies instructed manufacturers to remove several carcinogenic substances from hair dyes. This could have a cancer-lowering effect in these countries.

    Sep
    12
    2020

    Tesamorelin Reduces Fat Content of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

    A new study showed that tesamorelin reduces fat content of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This substance and its effects are explained later in this article. Notably, the publication came out in the journal JCI insight on July 23, 2020.

    For one thing, with the world-wide obesity problem fat deposits in the liver became more frequent. To clarify, the medical profession calls this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). 20-30% of all adults in the US suffer from this liver condition. By all means, currently there is no treatment for this condition. Chronic inflammation often leads to liver fibrosis. This in turn can progress to liver cirrhosis, which potentially is fatal. A small percentage can even develop hepatocellular carcinoma, which often ends the patient’s life because of multiple metastases.

    Reduction of liver fat in HIV patients

    The endocrinologist Steven Grinspoon, MD, is the chief of the MGH Metabolism Unit. MGH stands for Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Grinspoon published a study on HIV patients that showed that tesamorelin can reduce liver fat of HIV patients.  In the same study he also showed that tesamorelin could halt progression of fibrosis in the liver. Tesamorelin (brand name: Egrifta) is a human growth hormone releasing factor. It has been approved by the FDA for fat accumulation in the livers of HIV patients. HIV patients take several medications to cure their HIV. One of the side effects is a lipodystrophy, as doctors call this fat accumulation in their liver. Dr. Grinspoon published the results of a clinical trial with HIV patients that showed that tesamorelin successfully treated the fatty liver condition in HIV patients.

    Mechanism of tesamorelin

    The mechanism of tesamorelin on the liver metabolism is depicted in this image. You can see that tesamorelin, a growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) analogue, augments pulses of growth hormone (GH) secretion of the anterior pituitary gland. We know from other literature that growth hormone melts away fatty tissue, builds up muscle strength and provides extra energy. Specifically, when it comes to liver tissue, GH reduces inflammation and increases oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. The mitochondria are the energy producing sub particles in every body cell. This is where oxidative phosphorylation takes place, a biochemical reaction that produces energy. Normally hepatocellular carcinoma has a poor prognosis. But in the presence of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who receive tesamorelin have an improved outlook. IGF-1, a hormone produced by the liver in response to HG increases as well, which strengthens muscles and gives you energy. 

    Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in HIV patients and patients without HIV

    I indicated before that in HIV patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) the substance tesamorelin can reduce the extra fatty tissue in the liver. The original investigation took place over 1 year. Dr. Grinspoon is currently investigating the effects of tesamorelin in obese patients who do not have HIV. Preliminary clinical data are encouraging, but Dr. Grinspoon is conducting more investigations.

    Effect of tesamorelin on several gene sets

    The researchers did liver biopsies in both the treatment arm with tesamorelin and the placebo group over 1 year. These samples underwent a gene analysis. Researchers found that tesamorelin influenced 14 genes significantly. For example, oxidative phosphorylation was upregulated in tesamorelin treated patients, but downregulated in placebo patients. Inflammation was influenced by 5 gene sets that were downregulated in the tesamorelin patient group, but upregulated in the placebo group. Tesamorelin also stimulated several genes affecting the immune system. The authors discuss that they found decreased phosphorylation in the mitochondria of patients with NAFLD. On the other hand, when they administered tesamorelin oxidative phosphorylation recovered in the mitochondria.

    Progression of NAFLD to cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma

    The researchers suggest that mitochondrial impairment may play a key role regarding fat accumulation in the liver. When the mitochondria do not work optimally, toxic lipid metabolites can accumulate in the liver that destroy liver cells, lead to inflammation, increase oxidative stress and cause fibrosis. These are the key elements that allow NAFLD to progress to cirrhosis of the liver and hepatocellular carcinoma.

    Side effects of tesamorelin

    The patient administers tesamorelin (Egrifta) by injection once a day at bedtime. The dosage is 0.2 to 0.3 micrograms subcutaneously. There can be redness or itching at the injections site, depression and muscle aches or spasms. Sleep problems and night sweats are also possible. In addition, there may be nausea, vomiting or stomach pains. Overall patients tolerate the medicine is relatively well. But it is expensive. A one-month treatment costs about 1000 $. Not everybody can afford that.

    Tesamorelin is an epigenetic gene therapy

    Tesamorelin therapy is a new type of treatment modality. It increases growth hormone production in the pituitary gland. As explained above there is upregulation or downregulation of about 14 various genes leading to a slow disappearance of NAFLD fat in the liver. This was originally described in HIV patients, but subsequently  also found in non-HIV patients as well. As the genes have not been altered, but the expression of the genes has changed, this is considered an epigenetic therapy similar to good lifestyle factors. It is not gene therapy, because the genes have not been permanently changed.

    Tesamorelin Reduces Fat Content of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

    Tesamorelin Reduces Fat Content of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

    Conclusion 

    Tesamorelin reduces fat content of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.Tesamorelin is a growth hormone releasing hormone analogue that augments pulses of growth hormone (GH) secretion of the anterior pituitary gland. We know from other literature that growth hormone melts away fatty tissue, builds up muscle strength and provides extra energy. There are 14 genes that tesamorelin effects, some by upregulation, some are downregulation. But this new epigenetic therapy is what can remove excessive fat accumulation in the liver as is seen in NAFLD. This is an example of causative treatment versus symptomatic treatment, what conventional medicine normally engages in. Time will tell whether other side effects will come up that researchers have not yet noted.

    Sep
    05
    2020

    How to Manage Clot Formation with Covid-19

    A publication in the Canadian Medical Association Journal describes how to manage clot formation with Covid-19. A significant amount of cases among Covid-19 patients come down with clotting problems. This means that an infection with SARS-CoV-2 (or Covid-19 coronavirus) may initially present with a fever and cough. But a few days later it can suddenly turn into a dangerous disease with severe clots, multiple organ failures and death.

    Clot occurrence with Covid-19

    It is important to realize that most patients with SARS-CoV-2 do not need hospitalization. But physicians admit 10 to 15% of patients to the hospital. Of these 20% end up with treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Of all the hospitalized patients between 5% and 30% develop some form of thrombotic event. Notably, complications of clot formation can be a stroke, a heart attack, a pulmonary embolism or a deep vein thrombosis in the leg. In a recent study from the US 400 random hospitalized patients with Covid-19 144 patients were admitted to the ICU. 4.8% had radiologically confirmed deep vein thrombosis. Overall there were 9.5% with thrombotic events that developed during the hospital stay.

    How does a coagulopathy develop with Covid-19?

    Truly, SARS-CoV-2 enters the body cells through an interaction of its viral spike protein with the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. To explain, numerous organs and tissues express this receptor. This includes lung alveolar type 2 epithelial cells, endothelium, the brain, heart and kidneys. To emphasize, ACE2 leads to angiotensin II degradation. With the SARS-CoV-2 stimulation of the ACE2 receptor there may be an accumulation of angiotensin II, which causes a procoagulant state. Injury of the endothelium explains inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels in multiple organs. Commonly affected organs are lungs, heart, kidneys and intestines. The inflammatory reaction is what can lead to clot formation. When part of an organ has died off because of mini clots that destroyed part of the organ, this process can eventually lead to organ failure. Lung failure, heart failure and kidney failure can develop in these sick patients.

    Adequate vitamin D blood levels are important for the immune system

    By all means, vitamin D is very important for the integrity of the immune system. With vitamin D blood levels below 15 to 20 ng/mL (37.5–50 nmol/L) the immune system is paralyzed, and any viral or bacterial infection tends to overwhelm the body. Of course, this is the reason why the mortality due to Covid-19 coronavirus is highest in patients with these low vitamin D blood levels. People with secondary illnesses (diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer) and patients above the age of 60 have the lowest vitamin D blood levels and have the highest mortality rates. This publication describes this in more detail.

    Best vitamin D blood level is in the upper normal range (50-80 ng/mL)

    Above a vitamin D blood level of 30 ng/mL (=75 nmol/L) a patient’s immune system is functioning normally. However, the immune system is strongest at a vitamin D blood level of 50–80 ng/mL (125–200 nmol/L), which is the upper range of the normal level for vitamin D in the blood.

    Keep in mind that vitamin D toxicity occurs only above 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L).

    Specific effects of vitamin D on Covid-19

    There are three major effects that vitamin D has.

    1. A strengthening of the epithelial barrier not allowing the coronavirus to penetrate into the lung tissue as easily.
    2. Release of defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides that eradicate any virus in the system.
    3. Interruption of the “cytokine storm”, an overwhelming inflammation which is responsible for viral pneumonia to develop. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs and people do not need treatment in the ICU. This is particularly important for people above the age of 60 and for people with pre-existing diseases.

    In like manner, with the stabilizing effect of vitamin D regarding the immune function more severe forms of Covid-19 can turn into less severe forms with a better outcome.

    Treatment of patients with Covid-19 who have clotting problems

    Patients need to be assessed with respect to their risk of developing clots. This publication describes that high risk patients have elevated D-dimer levels. When blood clots dissolve the body produces D-dimer, a protein fragment. Normally the D-dimer test is negative in a person that does not produce clots. But in sick patients with Covid-19 who form clots this blood test typically shows D-dimer >2500 ng/mL. In addition the tests show high platelet counts (more than 450 × 109/L), C-reactive protein (CRP) >100 mg/L and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) >40 mm/h.

    Indeed, with this constellation of blood tests in a severe Covid-19 case in the ICU setting, the physician uses heparin intravenously or subcutaneously to counter clot formation. However, this needs to be balanced against the risk of causing severe internal bleeding.

    Separate from the anticoagulant effect, heparin seems to also suppress inflammatory cytokine levels. In addition, heparin suppresses neutrophil chemotaxis and migration. Physicians rescued many patients from death using heparin therapy.

    Risk versus benefit clinical trials of heparin therapy are required

    At this point there are only retrospective clinical trials available to describe risk versus benefit of heparin therapy. Some show no difference, others do. There are two international clinical trials on their way to shed more light on this situation. Until the results of these clinical trials are available, physicians need to treat patients to the best of their knowledge.

    How to Manage Clot Formation with Covid-19

    How to Manage Clot Formation with Covid-19

    Conclusion

    Clot formation in sick Covid-19 patients is responsible for many deaths in Covid-19 patients. The SARS-CoV-2 (or Covid-19 coronavirus) causes a cytokine storm with injury to the lining of the arteries. This can affect multiple vital organs and the condition may lead to organ failure. This activates the clotting system and causes clots all over the body. When this process occurs, patients get very sick and the death rate climbs. Physicians were able to rescue some patients with heparin therapy. Two international clinical trials are on the way. Hopefully  these trials answer questions about this newer treatment method. The downside of heparin therapy is the complication of massive bleeding, which causes deaths as well. When it comes to Covid-19, don’t rely on curative medicine. Strengthen your immune system by preventative therapy like vitamin D3 that can interrupt the cytokine storm.

    And even with a “well-prepared” immune system it is extremely important to follow all the guidelines of distancing, disinfecting and wearing face masks. We need all the help we can get!

    Part of this was previously published here.

     

    Aug
    29
    2020

    Health Benefits from Vitamin C Supplements

    Notably, there are health benefits from vitamin C supplements as I will explain below. A recent publication in the Journal of Intensive Care stated that vitamin C may lower ventilator time for sick patients in the ICU. In this case, researchers performed  a meta-regression analysis. It is important to realize that higher doses of vitamin C changed the need for ventilation. Vitamin C given intravenously or by mouth significantly reduced the need for ventilation in sick patients. To explain, the researchers pooled eight clinical trials and compared them to a control group who did not receive vitamin C treatment. In detail, the researchers noted that there was a 14% reduction with regard to ventilator use in the treatment group. To clarify, they had received vitamin C infusions while patients who did not receive vitamin C infusions served as controls.

    Five of the clinical trials involved patients who received 10 hours or more ventilation treatment. Certainly, these patients were sicker than the average ICU patients. They experienced a 25% reduction of ventilator time after receiving between 1 and 6 grams of vitamin C. The physicians gave this intravenous or orally.

    History of Mega doses of vitamin C

    Indeed, in the 1940’s mega doses of vitamin C were given intravenously in an attempt to treat polio. Eventually, in the late 1960’s Linus Pauling called high doses of vitamin C the “healing factors for diseases”. But subsequent clinical investigations showed that vitamin C had limitations. The Oregon State University website reports that some of the claims about vitamin C in the past went overboard. Here are some points about vitamin C that we need to remember.

    • Vitamin C is an important cofactor in many enzymatic reactions, such as the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine and neuropeptides. In addition, the regulation of gene expression requires vitamin C and vitamin C is an important antioxidant.
    • A prospective cohort study showed that higher vitamin C blood levels lowered the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and strokes.

    More effects of vitamin C

    • Patients in need of a surgical procedure benefitted from vitamin C. Researchers showed that vitamin C was a valuable adjunct to conventional medicine in cardiovascular disease  Vitamin C reduced arrhythmia and myocardial injury following cardiac procedures.
    • There is insufficient evidence that regular vitamin C intake prevents cancer. Randomized controlled clinical trials reported no effect of vitamin C on cancer.
    • 10 grams per day of vitamin C has no association with toxic or adverse effects in most people. However, some adults are more sensitive to vitamin C and develop gastrointestinal disturbances and diarrhea with megadoses of vitamin C. For these people physicians recommend  taking up to 2 grams per day of vitamin C.

    Vitamin C and disease prevention

    Several clinical trials involving vitamin C supplements showed significant positive effects on patients. Below I am briefly reviewing these clinical trials.

    Endothelial function

    Endothelial function was improved with doses of above 500 mg of vitamin C. This likely is the reason that there is a reduction of cardiovascular disease in people who consume 1000 mg of vitamin C daily.

    High blood pressure

    Vitamin C at 500 mg daily lowers high blood pressure. A clinical trial found that 500 mg of vitamin C daily lowers the systolic blood pressure by 3.84 mm mercury and the diastolic blood pressure by 1.48 mm mercury. Over several years’ time this can prevent premature heart attacks and strokes.

    Vitamin C and the immune system

    Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It can neutralize reactive oxygen species, which are produced when the immune cells fight viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes are all supported by vitamin C. Vitamin C and E co-operate in their antioxidant functions. Vitamin C is essential for a strong antibody response with bacterial or viral infections. I take 1000 mg of vitamin C once daily.

    Heart failure, strokes and heart attacks

    Many studies showed some effects on reduction of heart attacks, strokes and congestive heart failure. With respect to strokes there was a 42% risk reduction over 9.5 years when the highest vitamin C plasma level was compared to the lowest level. But results regarding heart attack prevention and prevention of CHF were only marginal.

    Cancer and vitamin C

    Stomach cancer: there was a 45% reduction of stomach cancer when high vitamin C plasma level cases were compared to low plasma level cases.

    Colon cancer: A pooled study based on 13 prospective cohort studies showed that vitamin C supplementation reduced colon cancer risk by 19%.

    Large B cell lymphoma: After 11 years of follow-up the Women’s Health Initiative found that vitamin C supplementation reduced diffuse large B cell lymphoma by 31%.

    Researchers could not show significant effects of vitamin C on other cancers.

    Type 2 Diabetes (=adult onset diabetes)

    A large European study going on for 12 years showed a strong inverse relationship between blood levels of vitamin C and the onset of diabetes. Patients with the highest vitamin C blood levels had a 62% lower risk of developing diabetes. Physicians compared this to low level vitamin C controls.

    Mortality reduction with vitamin C supplementation

    In the EPIC-Norfolk prospective study a clear inverse relationship was found with higher vitamin C blood levels and a reduction in risk of all-cause mortality.

    Recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C

    The official dietary recommendation for vitamin C in adults is 90 mg daily for males and 75 mg daily for females. However, in view of the above mentioned clinical trials I would recommend the following. Supplement with 500 mg to 1000 mg of vitamin C daily to have enough vitamin C reserves. The reason I say this is that the official dietary recommendation was based on preventing scurvy, the historic insufficiency disease of vitamin C. In addition, as mentioned before, vitamin C is safe to take up to 10 grams per day. Many physicians recommend taking a smaller amount of vitamin C found to prevent strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, improve endothelial function and strengthen the immune system.

    Health Benefits from Vitamin C Supplements

    Health Benefits from Vitamin C Supplements

    Conclusion

    In my review I discussed health benefits from vitamin C supplements. Briefly, doctors noted that severely sick patients on respirators in the ICU setting were able to reduce the ventilator use.  This was significant after they received between 1 and 6 grams of intravenous or oral vitamin C. However, patients with the highest vitamin C supplementation had a 62% lower risk of developing diabetes than low level vitamin C controls. Vitamin C lowered high blood pressure moderately and prevented strokes by 42%. Vitamin C stimulates the immune system together with vitamin D, A, E and some trace minerals. There are many more health benefits from vitamin C supplements. The official dietary recommendation for vitamin C in adults is 90 mg daily for males and 75 mg daily for females. However, I take 1000 mg of vitamin C daily as the evidence shows that this is healthier.

    Aug
    22
    2020

    New Alzheimer’s Blood Test Is Promising

    A new Alzheimer’s blood test is promising according to a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) July 29, 2020. Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating neurological illness where people lose memory and judgment. If affects about 5.8 million Americans above the age of 65. Specialists are estimating that there will be 14 million Alzheimer’s cases by the year 2050.

    For many years pathologists found amyloid plaque and tau tangles in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains, which accounted for their memory loss. Researchers developed a simple, inexpensive blood test, called phospho-tau217 (p-tau217). This is one of the tau proteins that is present in both plaques and tangles of living Alzheimer’s patients.

    Plaques and tangles in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients

    Many research papers describe that senile plaques are part of the cortex of brains of Alzheimer’s patients. They consist of beta-amyloid substance and of neurofibrillary tangles.

    To put it simple: This protein material is like glue, which prevents the neurons from working properly. It also causes the memory loss and the confusion so typical for Alzheimer’s patients. Over the years the question then arose, where this glue substance ”beta-amyloid” came from. Dr. Yasojima et al. pointed out that for many years it was thought that this abnormal protein would have come from the liver and was then deposited in the brain. However, this research group presented evidence that the beta-amyloid actually comes directly from the cells in the brain where it is found and also deposited.

    Beta-amyloid has antioxidant function

    The amyloid-beta precursor protein is important for normal membrane function in the brain. It also has a very important antioxidant function in normal brains and keeps lipoproteins, an important chemical substrate of the brain, from getting oxidized. Recent research from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine linked these plaques with a loss of nitric oxide production in the brain, which would lead to a reduction of perfusion of brain blood vessels. This in turn can lead to a loss of oxygen and nutrients in the brain tissue.

    Alzheimer’s patients have a regulation problem of amyloid-peptides

    The Alzheimer’s patient’s brain appears to have a regulation problem where through some genetic or other mechanism, the auto-regulation of amyloid-peptides and other similar peptides appears to have been lost. There seems to be an overproduction of these peptides until they are no longer soluble. The insoluble surplus of these beta-amyloids is then deposited as the glue-like senile plaques that clog up the patient’s thinking, and reactive oxygen species are also released in these plaques damaging nerve tissue.

    Back to why the new Alzheimer’s blood test is promising

    Oskar Hansson, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Memory Research at Lund University, Sweden, stated the following. “While more work is needed to optimize the assay and test it in other people before it becomes available in the clinic, the blood test might become especially useful to improve the recognition, diagnosis, and care of people in the primary care setting.” The p-tau217 blood test mentioned at the beginning of this review correlates with the clinical condition of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers evaluated the test in 1302 patients. Some had cognitive impairment others did not. The participants came from 3 large studies in Arizona, Sweden and Columbia. The Arizona branch provided 81 participants, Sweden provided 699 and Columbia 522.

    Accuracy of the p-tau217 blood test

    In the Arizona branch researchers could distinguish between with or without a “high likelihood of Alzheimer’s with an accuracy of 98%.

    The Swedish BioFINDER Study discriminated between Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases with an accuracy of 96%.

    Finally, in the Columbia branch of the study researchers distinguished between mutation-carriers and non-carriers. They could predict who would develop Alzheimer’s  20 years before patients developed cognitive deficits.

    All of the facts are not out yet about Alzheimer’s, but it is exciting to see the recent progress both in terms of early diagnosis and Alzheimer’s treatment. On the long-term prevention, as always in medicine, will prevail as the most effective method regarding diminishing the frequency of this disease.

    10 steps that everybody can do today to minimize the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

    1. take 2000 IU of Vit. D3 per day
    2. get a T3 and T4 blood test to rule out hypothyroidism (doctors often do not order T3)
    3. Measure lead and mercury levels in urine and stool, particularly if you have more than 3 amalgamate tooth fillings
    4. If you test positive for mercury, go for intravenous chelation therapy, which specifically removes heavy metals (including mercury) from your system.
    5. People who do regular exercises and follow good nutrition get less Alzheimer’s disease. As Alzheimer’s patients are deficient in magnesium intake, it is wise to take a magnesium supplement as discussed in Ref. 22.

    Further steps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

    1. Omega-3-fatty acids (molecularly distilled Omega-3 or cod liver oil capsules etc.) and/or fish help you to preserve brain cells.
    2. Take the nutrient phosphatylserine (PS) 100 mg once daily for prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
    3. Cutting out sugar and starchy food by following a low-glycemic diet brings elevated insulin levels back to normal.
    4. Mayo Clinic research recently showed that computer-based memory exercises in seniors will lead to significantly less Alzheimer’s disease in the years down the road.
    5. Progesterone cream (only bio-identical, from compounding pharmacy) has anti-Alzheimer effects. Women would incorporate this into their bio-identical hormone replacement schedule following menopause. Men would utilize the brain rejuvenating effect of testosterone into their hormone replacement routine following andropause.

    Both also take small amounts of oral DHEA and pregnenolone, but have blood or saliva tests from time to time to measure hormone levels.

    New Alzheimer’s Blood Test Is Promising

    New Alzheimer’s Blood Test Is Promising

    Conclusion

    Alzheimer’s disease is a severe, disabling neurodegenerative disease of the brain. At this point there has not been an early diagnostic test. But a recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) describes a simple blood test, called phospho-tau217 (p-tau217). This is one of the tau proteins that is present in both plaques and tangles of living Alzheimer’s patients. A clinical trial showed that when this test is positive, it predicts up to 20 years from now that this patient likely will come down with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on this publication there will soon be a simple blood test that diagnoses Alzheimer’s disease early and reliably with an accuracy of between 96% to 98%. Lifestyle interventions may then be able to prevent the deterioration of cognitive functions. Further therapeutic interventions may come about through more research.

    Part of the text was published before under the link indicated.

    Aug
    15
    2020

    Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

    An article in the Lancet describes that vitamin D helps combat the Covid-19 coronavirus. A publication in the Lancet (diabetes and endocrinology) on Aug. 3, 2020 reviewed randomized controlled trials between 2007 and 2020. The authors of the study wanted to see whether vitamin D had curative effects on Covid-19 coronavirus infections. Indeed, Dr. Adrian R Martineau and Dr. Nita G Forouhi pointed out that researchers examined vitamin D already in the 1930’s. In other words, at that time they showed that supplementation with cod liver oil prevented absenteeism in various industries. Notably, the active ingredient in cod liver oil was later found to be vitamin D. Vitamin D stimulates the immune system to overcome flu infections.

    How Vitamin D overcomes Covid-19

    The meta-analysis by Dr. Adrian R Martineau and Dr. Nita G Forouhi showed that vitamin D has several effects on Covid-19. In the early stages vitamin D stimulates host responses of the immune system against SARS-CoV-2 (= Covid-19 coronavirus). This involves the release of antimicrobial peptides, which have powerful antiviral effects making it more difficult for the virus to attack. Other publications showed that vitamin D stimulates autophagy, the process of “self-eating”. Cells that have been damaged by the virus or due to older age are removed by phagocytizing cells (monocytes, macrophages). This allows for new cells to take the place of the damaged cells.

    Symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to the symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Certain population groups are at a bigger risk, including older persons, obese individuals and persons Black ethnic or Asian ethnic background.  Several studies showed that supplementation with vitamin D3 became protective, preventative and therapeutic against Covid-19.

    Vitamin D has specific effects

    There are three major effects that vitamin D has.

    1. A strengthening of the epithelial barrier not allowing the coronavirus to penetrate into the lung tissue as easily.
    2. Release of defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides that eradicate any virus in the system.
    3. Interruption of the “cytokine storm”, which is responsible for viral pneumonia to develop. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs and people do not need treatment in the ICU. This is particularly important for people above the age of 60 and for people with pre-existing diseases.
    4. With the stabilizing effect of vitamin D regarding the immune function more severe forms of Covid-19 can turn into less severe forms with a better outcome.

    Severe Covid-19 cases and vitamin D blood levels

    There were two studies that have indicated that low vitamin D blood levels have a strong association with severe cases of Covid-19.  Extremely low vitamin D blood levels were found in severe Covid-19 cases in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. .

    The authors concluded that any case of Covid-19 should receive adequate vitamin D3, but it is particularly important to the severe cases.

    Two facts evolved from these studies: first, with low vitamin D blood levels there is a greater susceptibility to get Covid-19. Secondly, Covid-19 severity increases when the patient has low vitamin D blood levels.

    What levels of vitamin D in the blood are required to fight Covid-19 coronavirus?

    Vitamin D is very important for the integrity of the immune system. With  vitamin D blood levels below 15 to 20 ng/mL (37.5–50 nmol/L) there is a paralysis of the  immune system. Any viral or bacterial infection tends to overwhelm the body. This is the reason why the mortality due to Covid-19 coronavirus is highest in patients with these low vitamin D blood levels. People with secondary illnesses (diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer) and patients above the age of 60 are at the highest risk. They have the lowest vitamin D blood levels and have the highest mortality rates. This publication describes this in more detail: Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths.

    Above a vitamin D blood level of 30 ng/mL (=75 nmol/L) a patient’s immune system is functioning normally. However, the immune system is strongest at a vitamin D blood level of 50–80 ng/mL (125–200 nmol/L), which is the upper range of the normal level for vitamin D in the blood.

    Keep in mind that vitamin D toxicity occurs only above 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L). There is a wide margin of safety between 80 ng/mL (200 nmol/L, which is the upper range of normal) and the toxic level, which is 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L). In any case it is important to have a blood test which gives information about the vitamin D3 blood level.

    Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

    Conclusion

    A new publication in the Lancet (diabetes and endocrinology) performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials between 2007 and 2020. The authors found that a low blood level of vitamin D predicts that these patients are in trouble. They will have a severe form of Covid-19 when they get exposed to the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Patients with higher normal vitamin D blood levels (50–80 ng/mL or 125–200 nmol/L) get very few symptoms of Covid-19 and have a low mortality. The reason is that their immune system is strong and they wall off the coronavirus at the epithelial barriers. Their immune system also releases polypeptides that eradicate the virus in the system. In addition, the “cytokine storm”, which is responsible for viral pneumonia is interrupted by vitamin D. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs and people do not need treatment in the ICU.

    Supplementation with vitamin D3 is safe

    It is safe to supplement with vitamin D3 to bring the blood level into the upper range of normal. This keeps the immune system at its optimal functional level. There is a wide margin of safety between 80 ng/mL (=200 nmol/L, which is the upper range of normal) and the toxic level, which is 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L).

    Part of the text was published here before.

     

    Aug
    08
    2020

    Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

    A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group stated that poor diets threaten Americans and cause diseases. More than 500,000 people in the US are dying every year because of poor nutrition. 46% of adults have unhealthy diets; but children have even more, namely 56%. In 1979 the US healthcare cost was 6.9% of the gross domestic product. Compare this to 2018 when the US healthcare cost was 17.7% of the gross domestic product.

    The Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group states: “Poor diets lead to a harsh cycle of lower academic achievement in school, lost productivity at work, increased chronic disease risk, increased out-of-pocket health costs, and poverty for the most vulnerable Americans.”

    You can improve your diet quality 

    When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other. Use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil instead for cooking and on salads.

    How does poor quality food affect your health?

    Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans-fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020.

    Japanese trans-fat study (Alzheimer’s disease)

    This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans-fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans-fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

    Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

    It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits. Note that it is not only your dietary habits that determine this, but in addition, several lifestyle factors.

    Cardiovascular disease

    Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack. It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

    Cancer

    90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking. Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, consuming too much alcohol causes cancer of the colon and rectum in both sexes.

    Diabetes

    There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

    We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

    Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

    Chronic diseases

    Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

    Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into your system and adds to chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

    Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

    Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

    Conclusion

    A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group has been formed, which noted that many Americans follow very poor diets. 46% of adults in the US have unhealthy diets; but children have even more poor diets, namely 56%. This is of concern, because in time this causes a variety of diseases discussed here. Instead of just treating the symptoms of these diseases, it is important to improve the diet people are on, which prevents the development of these diseases. A well-balanced diet not only prevents diseases, it also leads to longevity and healthy aging without Alzheimer’s disease. Take care of what you eat, and be sure it is healthy!

    Part of this text was published before here.

    Aug
    01
    2020

    Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

    Research on white women aged 70 years or older found that eating fish protects the brain from air pollution. Dr. Ka He from the Columbia University of New York published the new study on July 15, 2020 in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

    1,315 women who did not have dementia at the start of the study enrolled in it. Researchers measured the air pollution of the areas where the women lived. They also measured their omega-3 fatty acid blood levels. They found that women from polluted areas who ate the lowest amounts of fish and had the lowest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, had the highest amount of brain shrinkage.

    Methods of determining brain shrinkage, omega-3 fatty acids and pollution

    The amount of brain shrinkage was determined with MRI scans of the brain. The amount of white brain matter was measured, particularly the size of the memory-sensitive hippocampus. Blood omega-3 fatty acid content was determined in red blood cells. Pollution was determined by the fine particulate matter in air pollution at the address where the patient lived. Every woman in the study received a diet questionnaire regarding fish consumption. From this information the researchers determined the average fish consumption per week. This included broiled and baked fish, non-fried shellfish, canned tuna, tuna casserole and tuna salad. Deep fried fish was not part of the list, because other studies showed that deep-frying damages omega-3 fatty acids.

    More details regarding the study

    The researchers adjusted the study according to age, smoking status, and other factors that could affect brain shrinkage. Women with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had the highest volume of white matter in their brains as MRI scans showed. Specifically, the researchers noted the following findings:

    • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid level had 410 cubic cm white matter
    • Women with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid level had 403 cubic cm white matter
    • Each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by 11.52 cubic cm in those women with low omega-3 fatty acid consumption
    • In women with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by only 0.12 cubic cm
    • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake had the highest volume of the hippocampus

    Comments by the lead author of the study

    Dr. Ka He stated: “Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution.” But Dr. Ka He cautioned: “It’s important to note that our study only found an association between brain volume and eating fish. It does not prove that eating fish preserves brain volume. And since separate studies have found some species of fish may contain environmental toxins, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what types of fish to eat before adding more fish to your diet.”

    Limitations of study

    The study was involving older white women. This means that the results cannot be generalized to Afro Americans, Hispanics or Asians. The researchers examined exposure to pollution only later in life, not in early life or midlife. Hopefully future studies will examine what happens with lifelong exposure to pollution.

    How to limit mercury exposure when eating fish

    Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly present in fish. It has plaque-reducing properties and also reduces the risk for abnormal heart beats. Overall this means less cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends a 3.5 oz. serving of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring or sardines) twice per week.

    Mercury and other pollutants

    Pollution of the air, soil and rivers is causing accumulation of mercury and other heavy metals in ocean water.

    This affects fish that live in the ocean. There is a pecking order of predators with the larger fish feeding on the smaller fish. The bigger the predator fish, the more mercury and other pollutants they accumulate. According to this link the safest seafood is wild salmon, pollock and oysters.

    High mercury content of predator fish

    Tuna is too high in mercury, so is swordfish, and shark is even worse. I only consume fish from freshwater lakes or rivers, as well as salmon, oysters and shrimp. This way I get the lowest exposure to mercury. Why is mercury bad for you? It is a neurotoxin. It can harm your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and the immune system. Specific symptoms can include loss of peripheral vision and lack of coordination with balancing problems. There may be impairment of speech and hearing. The key is to avoid mercury exposure.

    Smaller fish low in mercury

    The first line of defense is to stick to the smaller fish. They are they prey of the large predator fish. The following fish/mussels belong into the low mercury group (alphabetical order): anchovies, catfish, clam, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, herring, mackerel, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, squid, trout and whitefish.

    Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid supplements

    You may want to supplement your omega-3 fatty acid intake by fish oil capsules. It is important that you choose the more expensive higher potency products. A molecular distillation process that removes mercury, PCB and other heavy metals creates these higher potency products. This way you only get the enriched omega-3 fatty acids in pure form. EPA and DHA in one capsule should be in the 900 mg to 1000 mg range, not less. I take 2 capsules twice per day as a daily supplement. This helps you to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which cuts down any inflammatory process (from too many omega-6 fatty acids) in you.

    Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

    Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

    Conclusion

    A new study from the Columbia University of New York has shown that women older than 70 can preserve the white matter of their brains by consumption of fish. This included the hippocampus which is crucial for memory. The researchers measured the recent exposure of these women to pollution. They noted that the women who were exposed to the highest amounts of pollution had the best protection of the white matter of their brains by the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, but when enough omega-3 fatty acids are part of the nutrition, the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio switches towards anti-inflammation and health.

    How to consume omega-3 fatty acids safely

    Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish and seafood. Unfortunately, mercury is contaminating these foods. But when you stick to the smaller fish and use molecularly distilled omega-3 supplements you can largely avoid this problem.

    Parts of this text has been published before here.

    Jul
    25
    2020

    The Immune System Changes With Age

    When we are young, we do not think about our immune system, but the immune system changes with age. When we are older than age 60, we notice that we may be taking longer to recover from a flu.

    How does the immune system work?

    There are two parts to the immune system, the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system works to protect us from bacteria, viruses, toxins and fungi from the time we are born. The adaptive immune system uses B lymphocytes from the bone marrow to produce antibodies against viruses. This provides often lifelong immunity against this specific virus, but takes 3 to 5 days to kick in. Vaccinations can also trigger antibody production to protect us from viruses in the future. Both the adaptive and the innate immune system work together closely.

    What are the ingredients for a fully functioning immune system?

    The immune system consists of various immune organs that are distributed throughout the body. The bone marrow produces lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, eosinophils and basophils. The adenoids in the back of the nasal passages and the tonsils in the back of the throat contain a lot of lymphocytes that are ready to protect us from colds and flus. We have lymph nodes throughout the body and they are connected with lymphatic vessels. The lymph nodes filter the lymph fluid that travels in the lymphatic vessels.

    Other sites of lymphocyte production

    The small intestine contains the Peyer’s patches, a collection of lymphocytes that protect our gut from invading bacteria or viruses. The spleen is located in the left abdominal cavity under the diaphragm. It removes old red blood cells and provides lymphocytes for the immune system. The thymus gland is located between the breast bone and the trachea. It changes bone marrow derived lymphocytes (B cells) into T lymphocytes that can process antigens from viruses and pass them on to the adaptive immune system for a full antibody response.

    Cellular interactions between various players of the immune system

    Back in the 1970’s it was already known that there were bone marrow derived B lymphocytes and thymus processed T lymphocytes. We knew then that B cells were involved in antibody production (adaptive immunity). T lymphocytes were thought to turn into killer T lymphocytes to kill cancer cells. But some T cells were T helper cells to process antigen and present it to B lymphocytes for antibody production.

    More research since then refined what we know about the cells of the immune system.

    Natural killer cells (NK cells)

    Natural killer cells (NK cells) are part of the innate immune system. They attack cancer cells and cells that are infected by viruses. It takes about 3 days for their full action to develop. NK cells utilize the cell surface histocompatibility complex to decide whether to destroy a cell or not. T cell lymphocytes do not have the ability to do that. In the Covid-19 coronavirus situation NK cells play an important role to combat the disease right away.

    Monocytes

    They are large white blood cells that can differentiate further into macrophages and dendritic cells. Monocytes are part of the innate immunity, but they have an antigen presenting capability, which makes them also part of the adaptive immunity.

    Memory T cells

    The immune system learns to adapt to viruses and bacteria that we have come in contact with. The reason for the memory of the immune cells are the memory T cells. They replicate like stem cells, which keeps a clone of T lymphocytes, T helper cells and cytotoxic T killer cells in the background. They circulate through the body including the lymph glands and the spleen.

    Immunosenescence as we age

    There are several factors that come together, which age our immune system. The term for this is “immunosenescence“. There are genetic differences and differences due to the sex hormones. Estrogens increase the response of the immune system. In contrast, progesterone and androgens (including testosterone) decrease the immune response. This may be the reason why women tend to live longer than men.

    As we age there are more and more memory T cells (both cytotoxic T cells and T helper cells). This weakens the formation of the natural killer cells (NK cells) of the innate immune system. Even the initiation of the adaptive immune system can be slower when we age and also the response to the flu vaccine. In addition, this can pave the way to autoimmune diseases.

    The immune system changes with age: Evidence of immunosenescence

    The following 3 factors show whether a person has immunosenescence:

    • The immune system has difficulties to respond to new viruses/bacteria or to vaccines
    • Accumulation of memory T cells crowding out cells of the rest of the immune system
    • Low-grade inflammation that is chronic and persists (“inflamm-aging”)

    The process of immunosenescence starts with the involution of the thymus gland around the time of puberty. At that time the sex hormone secretion is highest. At the same time a growth factor from the bone marrow and the thymus gland decreases. It has the name interleukin-7 (IL-7). The end result is a slow decrease of the innate immune system with age and a more substantial weakening of the adaptive immune system due to a lack of naïve T and B cells. 

    Chronic viruses can weaken the immune system further

    The varicella herpes zoster virus causes chickenpox. In some people the chickenpox virus can persist, but the immune system actively keeps it controlled. In the 60’s or 70’s when the immune system is weakened from aging, there can be a flare-up as shingles, a localized form of the chickenpox virus.

    Another virus, the human cytomegalovirus can cause a chronic infection that often persists lifelong. In this case the immune system is chronically weakened because of a massive accumulation of T memory cells, which keeps the human cytomegalovirus infection at bay.

    What we need when the immune system changes with age 

    Vitamin A

    Both the innate and adaptive immunity depend on vitamin A and its metabolites. The skin cells and mucosal cells function as a barrier, which is important for the innate immunity. The skin/mucosal lining of the eye, the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts help the innate immunity to keep viruses and bacteria out of the body. Vitamin A is important to support macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer (NK) cells. In addition, vitamin A supports the adaptive immune system, namely T and B lymphocytes, so that the body can produce specific antibodies against viruses.

    I do not take vitamin A supplements as I eat diversified foods like spinach, vegetables, poultry, Brussels sprout, fish and dairy products that contain vitamin A and carotenoids.

    Vitamin C

    This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant. It can neutralize reactive oxygen species, which are produced when the immune cells fight viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes are all supported by vitamin C. Vitamin C and E co-operate in their antioxidant functions. Vitamin C is essential for a strong antibody response with bacterial or viral infections. I take 1000 mg of vitamin C once daily.

    Vitamin D

    The immune system is very dependent on vitamin D as the immune cells all contain vitamin D receptors. People who have less than 10 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood are vitamin D deficient. They have much higher death rates when they get infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

    Vitamin D regulates the expression of target genes. At the center is the vitamin D receptor, which is a nuclear transcription factor. Together with the retinoic X receptor (from vitamin A) the vitamin D receptor binds small sequences of DNA. They have the name “vitamin D response elements” and are capable of initiating a cascade of molecular interactions. The result is a modulation of specific genes. Researchers identified thousands of vitamin D response elements that regulate between 100 and 1250 genes.

    You need enough vitamin D for your immune system

    When enough vitamin D is present in the blood (more than 30 ng/mL) the immune system releases the peptides cathelicidins and defensins, which effectively destroy bacteria and viruses.

    Vitamin D has mainly an inhibitory function regarding adaptive immunity. It inhibits antibody production from B cells and also dampens the effect of T cells. Researchers reported that vitamin D3 is useful in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

    I am a slow absorber of vitamin D3 as repeat blood vitamin D levels showed. I need 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to get a blood level of 50-80 ng/mL (=125-200 nmol/L). This is the higher range of normal. Everybody is different. Ask your physician to check your blood level of vitamin D. Toxic vitamin D blood levels are only starting above 150 ng/mL (= 375 nmol/L).

    Vitamin E

    This is a vitamin that is fat soluble and helps the body to maintain its cell membranes. But researchers found that vitamin E also stimulates the T cell-mediated immune response. This is particularly important for the aging person to prevent respiratory tract infections. I take 125 mg of Annatto tocotrienols per day (this is the most potent form of vitamin E).

    Vitamin B6

    This vitamin is important for antibody production by B cells. Vitamin B6 regulates the metabolism of amino acids, which in turn form proteins. Antibodies and cytokines require vitamin B6. The T helper immune cells that initiate an adaptive immune response depend on vitamin B6 as well. I take a multi B complex vitamin (Mega B 50) twice per day, so I supplement with a total of 100 mg of vitamin B6 daily.

    Folate

    Folic acid is a coenzyme for the metabolism of nucleic acids and amino acids. Studies in humans and animals have shown that folate deficiency leads to increased susceptibility to infections. People with folate deficiency develop a megaloblastic anemia with immune weakness that leads to chronic infections. With my B complex supplement I get 2 mg of folic acid daily.

    Vitamin B12

    Methylation pathways depend on vitamin B12 as a coenzyme. Vitamin B12 is also involved as a coenzyme in the production of energy from fats and proteins. In addition, hemoglobin synthesis depends on vitamin B12. Patients with vitamin B12 deficiency develop pernicious anemia. These patients also have a weak immune system due to natural killer cell activity suppression and because circulating lymphocyte numbers are significantly decreased.

    Treatment with cyanocobalamin reverses the immune weakness rapidly and treats pernicious anemia at the same time. I take 50 micrograms twice per day as part of the Mega-B50 multivitamin tablet. But I also inject 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 every 6 months subcutaneously to be sure it is absorbed into the body. In older age the intrinsic factor from the stomach lining, which is required for absorption of vitamin B12 in the small intestine, can be missing, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency despite swallowing supplements.

    Minerals required for a good immune response

    Researchers identified five minerals that are essential for a strong immune system. They are zinc, iron, selenium, copper and magnesium.

    Zinc

    Zinc is important for a normal function of the innate and adaptive immune system. As zinc cannot be stored in the body, taking regular zinc supplements (30 to 50 mg daily) is important. I take 50 mg of amino acid chelated zinc daily.

    Iron

    Iron is important for cell oxygen transport and storage, DNA synthesis and for mounting an effective immune response. In particular it is the T cell differentiation and proliferation where iron is needed. Iron deficient people get a lot of infections because the immune system is paralyzed. I eat one spinach salad or steamed spinach daily, which gives me enough iron supply per day.

    Selenium

    Selenium is a trace mineral that is important for a normal immune response and for cancer prevention. When selenium is missing, both the adaptive and innate immune system are suffering. In this case viruses are more virulent. With selenium supplementation cell-mediated immunity is improved and the immune response to viruses is more potent. I take 200 micrograms of selenium per day.

    Copper

    Deficiency in copper results in a very low neutrophil blood count and causes susceptibility to infections. Copper is a trace mineral that participates in several enzymatic reactions. It is important for the innate immune response to bacterial infections. A well-balanced Mediterranean diet contains enough copper, which is why I do not supplement with extra copper.

    Magnesium

    An important cofactor for vitamin D in the body is magnesium. Magnesium participates in many enzymatic reactions. Between vitamin D and magnesium, the immune system is strengthened. I take 150 mg of magnesium citrate twice per day. By the way, magnesium also helps us to get a restful sleep, if we take it at bedtime.

    Other dietary factors that strengthen the immune system

    Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body and help to modulate the immune system. I take 1800 mg of omega-3 (EPA/DHA) twice per day. I also like to eat fish and seafood at least 3 times per week.

    Probiotics benefit both the innate and the adaptive immune system. They strengthen the epithelial gut barrier, which is an important innate immune defence. Probiotics also lower the risk for Clostridium difficile gut infections. I take one probiotic every morning.

    The Immune System Changes With Age

    The Immune System Changes With Age

    Conclusion

    The immune system consists of different organs like the bone marrow, the spleen, lymph glands, Peyer’s patches in the gut, the thymus gland and more. There is the innate immune system, which responds immediately to a virus like the Covid-19 coronavirus. The adaptive immune response involves antibody production against, for instance, the measle virus or the mumps virus. With the aging process the immune system slows down (immunosenescence). This involves an accumulation of memory T cells and a depletion of natural killer cells (NK cells). This means that the innate immunity is getting weaker as we age and chronic inflammation occurs more often. This is the reason why people above the age of 65 get more severe symptoms from the Covid-19 coronavirus. They are also more affected by influenza-type illnesses.

    Take supplements to strengthen the immune system

    I reviewed the cofactors of a healthy immune system in some detail. It is important that you pay attention to these, particularly the vitamin D3 intake. With a strong immune system, we can survive viral infections better, including the current Covid-19 coronavirus. Future research will likely detect how to reactivate a sluggish immune system in older people. This way vaccination responses following flu injections will become more reliable in seniors.