Vitamin B2 Benefits, Deficiency and Foods

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Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 is called Riboflavin but it should it be called The Fat Burner!

Why?

You need twice as much riboflavin to burn fat than carbohydrate.

But your body uses Riboflavin to burn anything for energy and in order to burn fat optimally, you need all the other B vitamins too.

Taking extra vitamin B2 is not going to turn you into a fat burning machine, but if you are losing weight burning more fat than normal, you absolutely need to increase or restore vitamin B2 levels to keep that fat burning training rollin!

Did you know that weight loss increases the need for riboflavin by 60%?

In addition, 20-50 minutes of cardio per day also increases the need for riboflavin by 60%!

And if you’re doing cardio and burning fat at the same time, then it more than doubles riboflavin requirements.

Combine that with not eating as much (which is what we do when we’re trying to lose weight), and you’ve got a full blown Vitamin B2 deficiency situation.

But Riboflavin is not just important for fat burning, it does several other amazing things.

Let’s talk about them…

Vitamin B2 Benefits

The Major Benefits of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) include:

  1. Supports Fat Burning & Metabolism’
  2. Reduces Oxidative Stress & Cell Damage
  3. Supports Mitochondrial Function (cellular energy)
  4. Reduces Neuroinflammation
  5. Supports Homocysteine Metabolism
  6. Helps to Defend Against Cancer

1. Supports Fat Burning & Metabolism

Riboflavin is the precursor of the coenzymes, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) [1].

FAD and FMN are essential to metabolism and the breakdown of fats.

This means that lipid (fat) metabolism is dependent on vitamin B2 status [2].

Several studies have demonstrated that deficiencies of riboflavin contribute to the accumulation of fatty acids in the blood stream.

So making sure that you maintain adequate vitamin B2 is important for fat metabolism and regulation.

2. Reduces Oxidative Stress & Cell Damage

Vitamin B2 prevents oxidative stress by acting as an antioxidant and controlling the presence of damaging free radicals [3].

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract their damaging effects through neutralization with antioxidants. 

Oxidative damage is the harm cells and tissues experience when they are unable to keep up with free radical production.

Vitamin B2 also reduces oxidative stress and damage by aiding in the production of one of the most important antioxidants called glutathione, which acts as a free radical killer and also detoxes the liver [3].

3. Supports Mitochondrial Function

Every single cell that makes up your body requires energy to function.

Over 90% of the chemical energy needed to survive come from tiny structures within the cells called mitochondria.

Mitochodrial dysfunction or disease is when the mitochondria stop producing energy causing all sorts of downstream dysfunctions.

Several scientific papers have demonstrated that high dose riboflavin therapy improves clinical outcomes in patients diagnosed with various mitochondrial disorders [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

4. Reduces Neuroinflammation

Just like any other part of your body that undergoes damage, the nervous system becomes inflamed when injured.

This inflammation, if left untreated, can then cause all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases such as:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Huntington’s Disease

It is well established that several inflammatory mediators such as NF-kB, COX2, TNF-A, NO, IL-1B and MCP-1 are all related to the vicious cycle of neuroinflammation.

Riboflavin has the ability to suppress all of these compounds [11]!

5. Supports Homocysteine Metabolism

Homocysteine is an amino acid that is naturally present in our bodies.

But too much homocysteine in the blood means you’re at an increased risk of CVD, including venous thrombosisatherosclerosis, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Most research indicates that a plasma homocysteine level less than 10 micromoles/L is associated with a lower risk of CVD.

Riboflavin has been shown to play an active role in the metabolism and proper maintenance of homocysteine levels [12. 13].

6. Helps to Defend Against Cancer

Recent studies have found that vitamin B2 intake is inversely associated with with some of the most common types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer [14, 15].

We know that vitamin B2 supports immune function because it acts as an antioxidant to control the presence free radicals.

Vitamin B2 is required for the production of an antioxidant called glutathione, which acts as a free radical killer and also detoxes the liver.

Free radicals are what age the body.

When they go uncontrolled, it can result in the development of various disease. Vitamin B2 plays a part in defending against disease by maintaining a healthy lining within the digestive tract, where much of the immune system is stored.

Vitamin B2 Deficiency

When your body starts to run low in B2, REALLY bad things start to happen.

The most obvious signs of riboflavin deficiency include:

  • Cracked edges of your outer lips
  • Red fissures develop around the lips
  • Your tongue and insides of your cheek start to get red, bloody and swollen
  • The skin might even get scaly, itchy, and red

But these are the obvious signs of frank deficiencies.

Other signs and symptoms of a B2 deficiency could include:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Nerve Damage or Irritation
  • Sluggish Metabolism
  • Skin inflammation and related disorders
  • Inflamed mouth and tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of the mucus membranes
  • Mood disturbance and depression

Vitamin B2 Foods

What foods contain vitamin B2 or Riboflavin?

Although it’s primarily found in meat and dairy products, there are several options for vegetarian or plant based peeps.

Vitamin B2/riboflavin is found in plant foods, including legumes, vegetables, nuts and grains.

Some of the best vitamin B2 foods include those in these food groups

  • Organ meats (especially liver)
  • Meat
  • Certain dairy products, especially cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Certain vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables
  • Beans and legumes
  • Certain nuts and seeds

The best foods to get adequate B2 for Vegans would include mushrooms, seaweed, sesame seeds, and wheat germ/bran.

How Much Riboflavin Do We Need?

The RDA or recommended dietary allowance offers official recommendations for how much of certain nutrients we need in a day.

The RDA for Riboflavin is 1.3 milligrams per day (mg/d) for men and 1.1 for women. Women require some extra during pregnancy and lactation, and children are adjusted down for bodyweight.

That said, our true needs are probably closer to 2-5 mg/d. The amounts wil depend on lifestyle factors that use up Riboflavin such as weight loss, exercise, sun or UVB exposure and environmental toxins.

For example:

  • Dieting and cardio will double the requirement by 60% each.
  • High-fat diets increase the requirement by 20-40% depending on how much fat you eat.
  • Exposure to sunlight and tanning beds increases your needs, but no one knows exactly by how much.

Best Ways To Get Riboflavin From Food:

  • You can get 2-5 mg for every 3-4 ounces of pasture-raised lamb liver imported from New Zealand.
  • You can get 1-2 mg for every 3-4 oz of kidney, heart, and almonds.
  •  You can get 0.4-0.5 mg for every 3-4 oz of red meat, cheese, eggs, salmon, mushrooms, seaweed, sesame, wheat germ and bran,

Vitamin B2 Supplements

Riboflavin has no known toxicity!

There are two types of supplements on the market:

  • Plain old normal cheapo riboflavin
  • Riboflavin 5′-phosphate, often called FMN or “activated” or “coenzymated” riboflavin

At the time of writing this article I can’t really say that there’s enough evidence to suggest that FMN is better than the cheap stuff.

I would suggest taking riboflavin supplements with a fatty meal and it’s best to supplement over time as opposed to one big dose.

Most people would benefit from a low-dose supplement of 2-5 mg/d on days where they can’t meet the requirement from food.

I don’t recommend using high doses unless you have a good reason to bu there is no evidence that doing so is unsafe. 100 mg per meal would be an example.

If you’re wanting to see if High Dose Riboflavin can treat a specific condition, then 100 mg per meal would be the place to start. These are the doses effective against migraines!

Again, I don’t recommend using high-dose riboflavin with no specific purpose, but trying it for off the wall, hard to figure out, strange and unexplained health problems wouldn’t hurt.

Just make a note that Riboflavin will turn your pee into neon yellow. It’s simply riboflavin leaving your body when you couldn’t activate it and start using it right away.

It doesn’t mean your dose was too high.

It doesn’t mean you’re wasting riboflavin.

Summary

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and finding a doctor willing to help you get there, I’d be happy to help.

To get started, simply visit https://www.drdaniel.com/membership

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Vitamin B1 Benefits, Deficiency and Foods

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Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is also called thiamine.

It’s the first of eight B vitamins overall and the first of seven B vitamins whose primary role is to extract energy from the food you eat to be used for the millions of reactions occurring in your body [1].

Vitamin B1 can be considered a sort of carb-burner because it’s the B vitamin that specializes in burning carbs.

Carbohydrates are the compounds you get from sweet or starchy foods, like fruit, potatoes, beans, and grains. 

The most unhealthy carbohydrates would be candy, soda and other sugary drinks.

You need thiamine to burn any kind of energy, including protein and fat.

And you need all the other B’s to burn carbs.

But here’s the thing:

  • You need TWICE as much thiamine to burn carbs as you need to burn fat.
  • No other B vitamin has such a special role in burning carbs.

The major take home message here is that eating more carbs won’t cause a thiamine deficiency, but not getting enough thiamine WILL prevent you from optimally breaking down or burning carbs.

Vitamin B1 Benefits

The Major Benefits of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) include:

  1. Healthy Metabolism
  2. Maintaining Nerve Function
  3. Supporting a Healthy Heart
  4. Boosting Immunity
  5. Prevents Brain Disorders
  6. Enhances Learning
  7. Defends against Stress
  8. Supports Eye Health
  9. Helps Recycle Other Vitamins
  10. Used to Create Cellular Materials

1. Healthy Metabolism

Because vitamin B1 helps with carbohydrate burning potential, not having enough B1 can impact metabolism and glucose regulation [2, 3, 4].

Specifically, glucose would start to accumulate in our blood creating a condition known as “glucose intolerance.”

And if we let glucose intolerance continue, on a long enough timeline we end up with type two diabetes. 

Thiamine deficiency isn’t the only factor in diabetes or metabolic diseases, but it’s a big one.

2. Maintiaining Nerve Function

If we don’t get enough fuel from our diet, all sorts of biological processes begin to suffer.

The most energy demanding system of our body is the nervous system. And failing to adequately fuel the nervous system can result in nerve damage that impacts how we move, learn and remember.

Because vitamin B1 helps us to extract energy from carbohydrates, deficiencies of vitamin B1 can be detrimental to our nervous system [5].

3. Supporting a Healthy Heart

As we just discussed, Thiamine is essential for our nervous system and brain function. One of the neurological functions of thiamine is to produce a neurotransmitter called acetycholine.

Acetylcholine is used to relay messages between the brain and muscles, with our heart being one of the most important muscles that relies on these signals.

Several studies have recently discovered that vitamin B1 deficiencies are more common in heart failure patients, suggesting that B1 has a therapeutic role in heart health [6, 7, 8, 9].

4. Boosting Immunity

When we talk about Immunity, the health of our Gut and Digestive system should come under question.

Our digestive tract houses more than 80% of our immune system. This is why Gut Health and Immunity are intimately related.

Not only does vitamin B1 help to maintain the muscle tone along the walls of your digestive tract, but it also helps in the secretion of hydrochloric acid, which is essential for the complete digestion of food particles and absorption of nutrients [10, 11]. 

5. Prevents Brain Disorders

We already talked about the importance of vitamin B1 for brain and nervous system function.

But given the fact that Alzhiemers disease and cognitive decline are set to double by 2050, it’s important to make note that vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiencies can contribute to nerve connection defects [12, 13].

6. Enhances Learning

If we know that vitamin B1 is essential for protecting the brain from cognitivie decline, can thiamine improve learning and memory?

Studies have linked thiamine deficiency to problems learning and retaining information.

One study showed that thiamine caused quick reaction times and feelings of clear-headedness in those taking tests [14].

7. Defends Against Stress

B Vitamins are often referred to as the “anti-stress” vitamins. This has a lot to do with the fact that B vitamins regulate energy and a deficiency of B vitamins can result in low energy, poor mood and motivation.

Thiamine is needed to boost your mood and defend against depression and anxiety because of its positive effects on the brain [15].

8. Supports Eye Health

There is limited research to suggest that thiamine can help to defend against vision problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

This is due to its ability to influence nerve and muscle signaling, which is important in relaying information from the eyes to the brain [16, 17].

9. Helps Recycle Other Vitamins

Vitamin B1, along with vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 are necessary to recycle other vitamins and produce compounds that help to repair our cells [18].

10. Used to Create Cellular Material

Finally, without vitamin B1, you would not be able to produce several other structures necessary for life.

This includes ATP (the energy required for all functions), ribose, NAD and DNA [19].

Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Issues and diseases related to thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiencies are pretty serious.

Severe deficiencies of thiamine include:

  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet.
  • Weak, paralyzed, or disordered muscles.
  • Rapid Heart Rate or Abnormal Heart Rhythm.
  • Loss of control of body movements
  • General Muscle Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia and Cognitive Decline

When severe thiamine deficiency only affects your hands, feet, and heart, it’s called “beriberi.”

When it affects eye muscles or your control over the bigger movements you make in your day-to-day life, it’s called “Wernicke’s encephalopathy.”

When it affects your mind, it’s called “Korsakoff’s psychosis.”

However, the most significant impact of vitamin B1 deficiency is on the nervous system.

This is because your nervous system requires so much glucose.

Every day, your brain consumes 120 grams of glucose, the amount found in 3-4 large potatoes. This glucose provides energy and is used to make brain chemicals that your brain cells use to communicate with each other.

These brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, are also what your nerves use to control your muscles.

Thiamin deficiency is overwhelmingly a problem of being a bad carb-burner, and having the nervous system starve as a result.

Vitamin B1 Foods

What foods contain vitamin B1 or Thiamine?

Here’s a list of the best food sources of vitamin B1:

  1. Nutritional Yeast
  2. Seaweed
  3. Sunflower seeds
  4. Macadamia Nuts
  5. Black Beans
  6. Lentils
  7. Organic Edamame
  8. Navy Beans
  9. White Beans
  10. Snap Peas

It’s also important consider that certain foods and microbes can inhibit thiamine absorption! This also includes certain diets such as Keto or Carnivore diet.

Here’s a list of foods that block vitamin B1 absorption:

  • Raw fish and shellfish
  • Ferns
  • The larvae of the African silkworm anaphe venata, a traditional food in many African countries
  • Various bacteria found in humans
  • Several known fungi
  • Sulfite

Here’s the best way to get vitamin B1 from food:

  • 2 heaping teaspoons of nutritional yeast
  • 3-4 ounces of legumes (lentils, peas, beans) measured before cooking
  • 3-4 ounces of whole grains, measured before cooking

Vitamin B1 Supplements

Thiamine has no known toxicity!

This means that it’s safe to supplement even if we don’t know whether or not we have a deficiency.

Different Types of Vitamin B1 Supplements

  • Thiamine hydrochloride (thiamine HCl)
  • Benfotiamine
  • Thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP)

Thiamine HCL is the cheapest and most common.

Benfotiamine is more expensive but thought to be better at getting into the nervous system.

Thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) is the activated form which could be more effective for people who have energy problems (thyroid, low adrenals, diabetes).

Summary

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and finding a doctor willing to help you get there, I’d be happy to help.

To get started, simply visit https://www.drdaniel.com/membership

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

Vitamin A Benefits, Deficiency and Foods

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What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays major roles in maintaining vision, neurological function, healthy skin and immunity.

There are two forms that Vitamin A can exist in: Plant forms and Animal Forms.

The plant form consists of a collection of compounds known as “carotenoids” and the animal form is known as retinol.

Humans do not require the plant form (carotenoids), but do need the animal form (retinol).

What’s important here is that humans can convert carotenoids into retinol; as long as the body is functioning optimally.

Speaking of carotenoids. There are over 600 different carotenoids and not all of them act like Vitamin A.

For example, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, both help to protect us from blindness as we age, but they don’t act like vitamin A in the body.

Lycopene is another carotenoid that may protect us against prostate cancer and heart disease, but again, it doesn’t act like vitamin A in the body.

Only 10% of carotenoids act as vitamin A, and these carotenoids are called “provitamin A carotenoids”.

The ‘pro’ just means that the body can convert them into retinol (the active form of Vitamin A).

Vitamin A Benefits

Top 10 Benefits of Vitamin A include:

  1. Eye Health
  2. Supports Immunity
  3. Decreases Inflammation
  4. Healthy Skin
  5. Cancer Protection
  6. Bone Health
  7. Cholesterol Reduction
  8. Reproduction and Development
  9. Tissue Health & Repair
  10. Kidney Stone Prevention

1. Eye Health

Vitamin A helps to boost vision, keep your eyes moist, signals the brain that its daylight and even helps to improve night time vision.

2. Supports Immunity

Another interesting function of vitamin A is that it supports the tiny hairs lined up within your throat and lungs which catch all the junk and little microbes that you breath in and out.

One study found that vitamin A deficiencies were associated with weakened immune function [1].

Another study found that by simply giving vitamin A supplements to children, over $340 million in medical costs could be reduced due to medical conditions [2].

In addition, A Cochrane review of eight randomized controlled trials of treatment with vitamin A for children with measles found that 200,000 IU of vitamin A on each of two consecutive days reduced mortality from measles in children younger than 2 and mortality due to pneumonia in children [3].

3. Decreases Inflammation

One of the biggest benefits of vitamin A is it’s ability to act as an antioxidant in the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation [4].

And because inflammation is at the heart of all chronic disease, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin A could help prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

4. Healthy Skin

Vitamin A is often prescribed by dermatologists to fight acne, wrinkles and various skin conditions. Several studies show that retinoids may be therapeutic for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and acne [789].

5. Cancer Protection

A growing body of research is now demonstrating the strong links between the food you eat and your risk of developing cancer [10].

According to a review published in BioMed Research International, retinoids have been shown to block the growth of skin, bladder, breast, prostate and lung cancer cells in in vitro studies [11].

But before you go and swallow a ton of vitamin A, appreciate the fact that the best way to get vitamin A is from food sources.

6. Bone Health

We all know that bone health requires nutrients like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K.

But did you know that vitamin A plays a critical role in bone health?

Hitting just the right balance of vitamin A is essential, however, as both an excess and deficiency in this important vitamin have been linked to compromised bone health [12].

One study conducted at the Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics at the University of Perugia in Italy even found that plasma retinol levels were significantly lower in elderly women with osteoporosis compared to a control group.

The results also showed that low levels of retinol were associated with reduced bone mineral density in the femur [13].

7. Cholesterol Reduction

An animal model found that total cholesterol was reduced in rats who were given beta-carotene, the plant form of vitamin A, over a course of six weeks [12].

Another study found that a vitamin A deficient diet accelerated atherogenesis, the formation of plaque in the arteries of mice [13].

8. Reproduction & Development

All vitamins are important for human health, but vitamin A is crucial when it comes to proper growth and development throughout all stages of our lives.

In particular, vitamin A is one of the best vitamins for women health.

Vitamin A deficiencies are associated with decreased immune function, higher morbidity and mortality and a greater risk of mother-to-child disease transmission [14].

The American Pediatrics Association cites vitamin A as one of the most critical vitamins during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period, especially in terms of lung function and maturation [15].

9. Tissue Health & Repair

Vitamin A aids cells in a process known as cellular differentiation [16].

This is an integral part of wound healing, as cellular reproduction must occur for new tissue to grow.

Vitamin A also helps reduce the risk of wound infection, as it is essential to proper immune system function, and the nutrient helps manage inflammation that occurs after a wound is sustained [17].

10. Kidney Stone Prevention

Kidney stones form when urine contains more crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid.

Research shows that vitamin A aids in the prevention of kidney stones [18].

One study found that children deficient in vitamin A had greater levels of calcium oxalate cyrstals in their urine, which is an increased risk for stone formation [19].

 

Signs of Vitamin A Deficiency

Now that we’ve discussed the important roles of vitamin A, let’s review a few vitamin A deficiency symptoms.

Because vitamin A is essential for normal vision, healthy skin, immunity, bone growth and development we can assume that deficiencies would cause problems with all of these systems.

People with long-term malabsorption of fats are more susceptible to developing a vitamin A deficiency.

Those with leaky gut syndrome, celiac disease, autoimmune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatic disorders or alcohol dependence are all at a higher risk of deficiency.

Some of the most common symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency include: [20]

  • Xerophthalmia (dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea)
  • Night blindness
  • Bitot’s spots (buildup of keratin on the conjunctiva)
  • Dry lips
  • Thick or scaly skin
  • Impaired immunity
  • Stunted growth in children

Vitamin A Foods

So what foods are high in vitamin A?

First, remember that there are two sources of vitamin A: plant form (carotenoids) and animal form (retinol).

Carotenoids are colorful!

This means that foods with bright colors such as red, orange or yellow will have vitamin A.

Green foods also have an abundance of vitamin A. The green color comes from chlorophyll which allows plants to obtain energy from the sun.

This is also why the leaves turn colors in the fall. Basically all those shades of red, orange, and yellow are carotenoids. And as the chlorophyll degrades, it reveals the other colors that had been present all along.

So, to get vitamin A from plants, we should eat all the red, orange, yellow, and green vegetables.

When animals eat all these vegetables, the vitamin A is basically stored in our liver!

And just like we store vitamin A in our livers, so do fish, cows, chickens, and all the other animals.

So, the best source of animal-form vitamin A is liver. This is one of the benefits of Cod liver oil.

Aside from liver, the only other good source of vitamin A from animal foods are milk and eggs.

These are the two foods meant to nourish young animals, who need lots of vitamin A to grow correctly. 

Now, you might think we could get vitamin A from plant foods and animal foods equally well.

But here’s the thing: We need the animal form, retinol. We don’t need the plant form, carotenoids.

So when we get vitamin A from plant foods, everything comes down to how good we are at converting the carotenoids to retinol.

Getting vitamin A from plant foods is pretty hard!

Here’s a few things that can get in the way of conversion:

  • Fiber
  • Parasites
  • Toxic Metals (mercury and lead)
  • Iron Deficiency
  • Zinc Deficiency
  • Protein Deficiency
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Oxidative Stress Molecules from other Diseases

Here’s what I recommend as the best way to get vitamin A:

  • Eat 4 ounces of liver once a week, or eat a half ounce every day.
  • If you tolerate eggs, eat up to three whole eggs a day.
  • If you tolerate milk, consume up to three servings of full-fat dairy per day.
  • Eat 3 or 4 cups of red, orange, yellow, and green vegetables a day.
  • Don’t go out of your way to eat a high-fat diet, but don’t avoid fat either.
  • To super-charge your vitamin A, use grass-fed butter and red palm oil for your added fats.

Vitamin A Supplements

If you can’t meet the food recommendations, you should consider supplementing.

When supplementing, we need to start measuring because toxicity is possible.

Vitamin A is measured in “international units” or IU.

Cod liver oil that provides 3000 IU’s per day from a brand that doesn’t use synthetic vitamins is the most natural source.

You can also just take a vitamin A supplement.

If you’re going to supplement, then take 3,000 IU a day, or 10,000 IU twice a week.

If you take more, you should work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner and make sure all your other nutrients are adequate to avoid imbalances (such as vitamin D, E and K).

Vitamin A Toxicity & Precautions

More is not better and vitamin A certainly has a dark side!

Too much vitamin a can hurt your bones, especially when you’re deficient in vitamin D!

And while vitamin A is important for human development, toxicity can result in birth defects.

Additional symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair Loss
  • Upset stomach, nausea and vomiting
  • Dry, peeling, itchy skin
  • Cracked lips
  • Headaches

Keep in mind that vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and, therefore, needs to be consumed with fat in order to have optimal absorption. 

Summary

If you’re interested in optimizing your health and finding a doctor willing to help you get there, I’d be happy to help.

To get started, simply visit https://www.drdaniel.com/membership

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Optimize Vitamin D Levels

Home > Nutrition
Previously I discussed How to Pick a Good Multivitamin and then continued that conversation with the importance of Probiotics.

Today, I’d like to talk about Vitamin D and how to optimize your levels of Vitamin D to improve overall health and Immunity.

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press the last few years and when you dive into the research, it’s easy to understand why.

Vitamin D3 has a huge impact on your health and because its receptor is present in most cells and tissues in the body, it helps regulate multiple organ systems including:

  • hormone system
  • skeletal system (muscles, ligaments, tendons)
  • gastrointestinal system
  • nervous system
  • skin, hair, nails
  • and more…

The absolute best source of vitamin D is the sun, and while our ancestors used to spend a majority of their time outdoors, most people now spend daylight hours at desks under artificial lights.

In this article I hope to explain the vitamin D deficiency pandemic, and more importantly how to correct it!

The Health Benefits of Vitamin D

I could write an entire book on the benefits of Vitamin D. Here I will provide just a few reasons why you should optimize your levels.

Lowers Antibodies Across the Board (Autoimmune Conditions)

Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Celiac, Chron’s, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are all improved when vitamin D levels are optimized.

For example, a recent study found that 83% of patients with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid) who were given 1200-4000 IU of Vitamin D3 for 4 months, experienced 20.8% drops in TPO antibodies

In addition, it is a well known fact that patients with any of the above mentioned autoimmune conditions are chronically low in vitamin D.

New Research from Autoimmunity Research Foundation shows that the vitamin D receptors get down regulated by pathogens (such as parasites, bacteria, viruses, and yeast) compromising the uptake of vitamin D.

These pathogens can be the primary causes of autoimmunity.

So increasing vitamin D levels (through sun exposure) and/or supplementation, is key in managing an autoimmune condition.

Builds Stronger Bones

Vitamin D is a precursor hormone for a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol.

Calcitriol is essential for bone strength and cell regeneration… which is central to slowing down the aging process!

You absolutely have to have optimal levels of Vitamin D in order to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Vitamin D also suppresses parathyroid hormone which breaks bone down. This helps slow down the “softening of bones” in both children and adults.

Helps with Breast Cancer

The Academy of Endocrinology agrees that optimizing Vitamin D levels can prevent between 65-85% of Cancers!

In fact, checking for Vitamin D levels is one of the first things traditional oncologists check in the treatment of breast cancers, and its a baseline protocol for integrative breast cancer treatment.

This study has found that breast cancer patients had lower levels of vitamin D. But, you don’t have to (and should not be!) waiting for a diagnosis to fix your vitamin D levels if they are low.

This Stanford University School of Medicine study (and there are several others) have found that vitamin D3 inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells and stimulates apoptosis – which is self-killing of cancer cells.

Helps Gut Bacteria Produce Vitamins

We are still discovering the power of gut bacteria and what helps and what destroys them. 

This study showed that low levels of vitamin D changed the intestinal microbiome reducing vitamin B5 (pantothenic) production in the gut.

Again, I can go on and on, with study after study on Vitamin D and its impact on various conditions.

So whether its improving sleep, reversing estrogen dominance, depression, balancing blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, reversing and preventing anemia or helping with hair loss…

…it’s pretty obvious how important Vitamin D is for health.

Now let’s discuss getting tested, recommended ranges and dosages of Vitamin D.

Getting Tested for Vitamin D

Even the most conservative doctors today agree to run a vitamin D test for you.

So no problems there. However, make sure your doctor knows which test to order.

The Vitamin D Council recommends the 25(OH)D test, pronounced, “Twenty-five Hydroxy D” test.

There is another type of blood test for vitamin D, which is called a 1,25(OH)D, but the 25(OH)D is more accurate.

The role of Vitamin D testing in clinical practice stems from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) report, Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D”. 

Although IoM recommendations using 25-OH vitamin D are clear, the inappropriate ordering of 1,25(OH)D is quite common. 

The root causes for inappropriate vitamin D ordering include:

(a) clinicians not understanding the biological role of 25-OH versus 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, or

(b) 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D showing up as the “first” orderable test on electronic medical record (EMR) systems. 

Optimal Ranges and Dosages of Vitamin D

If you were to go by traditional lab ranges, “healthy blood levels” of vitamin D would be between 30 and 100 ng/ml.

This means that anything below 30 ng/ml, you are not getting enough vitamin D production.

It’s important to note that “healthy blood levels” are not “optimal blood levels”.

Functional medicine leaders and experts in functional diagnostic nutrition recommend ranges between 60 and 90 ng/ml, especially for people with a family or personal health history of cancers and autoimmune conditions.

If your levels are below 60 ng/ml, you should be consuming 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day.

Also note that It may take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. Once your levels are optimized, you can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day. 

For people with Hashimoto’s Disease (and any autoimmune conditions), it’s very very important for your vitamin D levels to be in the upper ranges of 60.

Best Source of Vitamin D

Of course the best source of Vitamin D is from the Sun!

Get More Sun Light

A quick and simple comparison for you: you get 400 units of vitamin D from a glass of fortified milk (which I don’t recommend) versus 20,000 units of Vitamin D from 30 min of unprotected sun exposure (or until your skin turns slightly pink).

Vitamin D is created by your skin when exposed to the sun. So Get the Hell outside! 

It only takes 15 to 20 minutes of morning sun (between the hours of 8 am and 10 am).

It is also recommended not to shower for 20 to 30 minutes after sunbathing for the skin to produce vitamin D.

Another factor is clothes. If you’re outside wearing a shirt and shorts or pants, you’re actually blocking most of the surface area of sun exposure. So if possible… take off your shirt or put on a bathing suit!

Eat Vitamin D Rich Foods

The best foods for increasing vitamin D intake are lard, fatty fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. Lard has 13 IUs of Vitamin D per tablespoon, which is going to be a lot of lard!

Per 100 grams (3 ½ ounces), here’s the best bang for your buck:

Cod Liver Oil: 10,000 IU
Sockeye Salmon (canned, solids, without skin and bones): 859 IU
Smoked Ciscoes: 530 IU
Egg yolk (raw, fresh): 218 IU
Lard (Pork Fat): 102 IU

Best Vitamin D Supplements

There are two types of vitamin D supplements: D2 and D3.

Vitamin D2 is produced in mushrooms when they are exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D3 is naturally present in animal fats. 

Studies show supplementing with D3 is better than D2 at raising your blood levels of the active form of vitamin D.

In addition, we now know that Vitamin K2 is important for the maximal absorption of D3. So if you’re supplementing, I’d highly recommend that you use a D3+K2 formula.

Vitamin K works with vitamin D to make sure calcium gets deposited in your bones and teeth rather than places it does not belong, like in your kidneys (kidney stones) and blood vessels (plaque).

Summary

Vitamin D status plays a major role in overall health, wellness and longevity.

Optimal blood levels of Vitamin D are 60 to 90 ng/ml and anything less may increase your risk of developing chronic health conditions.

Replenishing vitamin D levels is not difficult. If you are low, allow 3 to 6 months of a higher dose of 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day of vitamin D3.

I like the D3 formulation with K2 added (most women are also deficient in these) – the one I personally use and recommend is Liquid Vitamin D3+K2

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Pick a High Quality Probiotic

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In my previous article I shared How to Pick a Good Multivitamin.

Today, I’d like to talk about Probiotics and which ones to take for improved health and immunity.

According to the American Nutrition Association, 70 million people experience at least one digestive issue per day.

The single most important aspect of gut health comes down to the quality and variety of bacteria that make up our microbiome.

More so, the microbiome is one of the most metabolically active systems in the human body.

The bacteria in your microbiome help to:

  • Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Protect against unwanted microorganisms
  • Regulate immune function
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Assist in vitamin production
  • Produce essential nutrients

All that said, it’s important to keep the microbiome in balance with a plentiful supply of probiotics that help to regulate the digestive system.

1. Make sure your probiotics have the right dosage

Probiotics are bacteria that can survive in the human GI tract and temporarily colonize the gut.

But they only survive approximately 1-2 weeks after ingestion, and should be considered transient members of the microbiome. 

This is why it’s important to make sure that your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per dosage. 

Some of the bacteria in your probiotic are bound to die during transit to your intestines, so the more that you ingest, the greater the chance of an effective colonization.

And remember, because they’re transient you only get the benefit of probiotics when you take them consistently. 

 

Probiotics consist of several “GOOD BACTERIA” that help to enhance the function of other bacteria in our body as well as protect you from “BAD BACTERIA” or pathogenic organisms.

Because probiotics are transient, regular use of probiotics provides optimal digestive and wellness support for your body.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that certain species of probiotics have greater survivability than others. 

This leads me to the second point I have to make on How to Pick a Good Probiotic…

2. Make sure your probiotics can make it to your digestive tract

Because probiotics are live organisms, there are many challenges associated with manufacturing and distributing probiotic supplements.

For a probiotic to be effective, it must be shelf-stable through the expiration date and precisely delivered to the intestinal tract, where it can have maximum benefit.

This is why I have chosen to use BioShield® technology in the formulation of my Advanced Probiotic formula.

BioShield® technology is an innovative manufacturing process developed to ensure consistent and reliable results in the delivery of nutraceuticals.

The microorganisms in the Advanced Probiotic are protected, sealed and freeze dried away from moisture, heat, light and oxygen.

This allows the bacteria to remain dormant until they are exposed to moisture in the GI tract.

By utilizing advanced encapsulation technology, the probiotic organisms are preserved and released on-target for maximum benefit.

 

Our lab studies show that the capsules make a big difference in the deliverability of a probiotic. 

Shockingly, only 4% of probiotics survive when they don’t have the proper delivery vehicle or capsule. 

But let’s say your probiotics do make it into your digestive system and colonize. The next step is to make sure you have a healthy diversity of species.

 

3. Make sure your probiotic has multiple strains

There are now thousands of different probiotics on the market.

But when it comes to clinical evidence and human clinical trials, there are only 4 categories (and really only 5 species) that we should consider.

Understanding the benefits of various probiotic strains and how they affect digestive health is essential in order to properly evaluate which probiotic is the best supplement for you. 

The image below identifies the 4 categories of probiotics that you should start experimenting with. *Note – Only Category 1 to 3 is available in the US.

 

As you can see from the chart above. The Four Categories of Probiotics and their species include:

  • Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii
  • Bacillus
  • E. Coli

A good probiotic will have a combination of the species of more than 1 category.

The Advanced Probiotic contains Category 1 (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and Category 2 (Saccharomyces Boulardii).

All you have to do is look at your probiotic’s label and see how many species it contains.

Summary

As you may know, there are now thousands of probiotics on the market and picking a good probiotic is tough.

But all you really have to do is look at the 

  • Dosage
  • Survivability
  • Diversity

Make sure your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per capsule.

Make sure that It’s protected in a capsule or packaged in a way that can actually survive the harsh environment of our stomach.

See how many different strains and categories of bacteria your probiotic has.

Got Questions?

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How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

Home > Nutrition
To be honest, I got so tired of reading label after label of the vitamins that my patients were taking that I decided to manufacture my own.

Why? Because I know how they’re sourced, what exactly is inside them and how effective they are.

These days, it takes a PhD to truly determine whether a multivitamin or supplement is healthy for you.

In this article I’d like to help break down exactly how to you can identify whether your vitamins and supplements are healthy.

How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

As many of my patients know, my approach to healthy living is about eating the right foods that originate from the right places.

I say it over and over… the best way to get your vitamins is through food.

In fact, the vitamins and minerals you supplement with are only as good as the food that you put into your mouth.

So the first rule when it comes to picking a high quality multivitamin is to remember, FOOD FIRST!

All that said, I highly recommend a good Whole Food Multivitamin to fill the gap of vitamins and nutrients that you’re missing in your diet.

But choosing a multivitamin is tough.

If you go to the vitamin shop or any vitamin aisle, you’ve probably run into rows upon rows of various supplements.

And aside from price you likely ask yourself… How do I pick? Which one is the best?

The Most Important Thing About Your Multivitamin Is…

The most important thing to consider when choosing a multivitamin is whether or not it’s based on whole food ingredients or synthetic ingredients.

When I say synthetic ingredients, I’m talking about ingredients that were made in a lab rather than grown from the ground or the tress above.

To give you an example, let’s consider vitamin C.

1. Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid Vs Calcium Ascorbate

Vitamin C is usually delivered as ascorbic acid.

While there are many studies demonstrating the positive clinical effects of taking vitamin C as ascorbic acid, it’s 100% synthetic and produced in a lab.

Chemically these two compounds are different only in one atom, as Calcium ascorbate is a calcium salt of ascorbic acid, but how they impact our body is completely different.

Calcium ascorbate, is an alkaline form and will alkalize the blood wheras ascorbic acid is… well an acid and will acidify the blood.

So…

Calcium ascorbate = Good

Ascorbic acid = Not so Good.

It has been shown that popular vitamin C combinations containing calcium ascorbate and small amounts of other forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are better absorbed than supplements containing only ascorbic acid.

2. Activated B Vitamins Vs Synthetic B Vitamins

Another example of differentiating a good multivitamin is to look at the type of B vitamins it contains.

The easiest B vitamin to point out is Vitamin B12.

There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you’re likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12 and is chemically synthesized.

Methylcobalamin is found in foods and therefore naturally occurring.

In short, when you ingest cyanocobalamin, your body has to convert it into methylcobalamin to be absorbed.

Cyanocobalamin is certainly far from optimal.

When directly compared to other active ingredients, cyanocobalamin is clearly inferior it terms of absorption and clinical impact.

3. Folic Acid Vs Folate (Methyl-tetra-hydrofolic-acid)

Once again, the difference between folate and folic acid is simple: folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods like lemons and spinach, and folic acid is a synthetic form of B9 most common in supplements and fortified foods.

As is the case with synthetic vitamins, several studies have reported the presence of unmetabolized folic acid building up in the blood potentially causing liver toxicity and other complications.

Taking in synthetic B12 (cyanocobalamin) and Folic acid have even been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers!!!!

4. Natural Vs Synthetic Vitamin E

On a supplement label, natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha tocopherold-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate.

In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix

So if your label says that Vitamin E is in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, it’s synthetic and could be building up in your tissues rather than truly helping you out.

d-alpha tocopheryl = Good

dl-alpha tocopheryl = Bad

A Simple 4 Step Test in Identifying Bad Vitamins:

Simply turn the bottle around and look at the label and try to identify what form of the vitamin it contains.

Step 1 – Look at Vitamin C. Does it have ascorbic acid?

Step 2 – Look at Vitamin B12. Does it have cyanocobalamin?

Step 3 – Look at the Folic Acid. Does it have Folic acid?

Step 4 – Look for Vitamin E. Is Vitamin E in the dl- form?

If you answered YES to any of the above… you may want to reconsider the vitamin you’re taking.

Got Questions?

Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel?

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