Posts filed under ‘Heart Health’

Hydrogenated (trans) Fats Being Whitewashed

Have you heard the latest?  The medical community is attempting to change public perception of trans fat!  After all the bad publicity about how dangerous hydrogenated fats are to the health of your heart, the latest article on WebMD [dated March 7, 2008] attempts to cloud the issue by asserting that “Not All Trans Fats are Equally Risky.” {www.webmd.cm/cholesterol-management/news/20080307/not-all-trans-fats-are-equally-risky}

If you read this article, you might think that trans fats are something natural, and therefore, OK.  The article actually states “Trans fats, or ‘trans fatty acids,’ come in two forms:

Industrial trans fats are artificially created by manufacturers by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils; these are called ‘partially hydrogenated oils.’ This makes the oils more solid to give foods like cookies, pies and french fries a rich, crispy texture.

Natural trans fats are found in meat (cow, sheep and goat) and dairy products.  These trans fats are made naturally in the stomach of these animals.”

Now, with just a cursory reading, doesn’t that make it sound like hydrogenated oils are simply an offshoot of a naturally occurring substance?

Well, the truth is something quite different.  There are minute amounts of  trans fats in dairy and meat products, specifically those made from C18 monounsaturated fatty acids, almost half of which are a substance called vaccenic acid.  This trans fat is metabolized by humans into conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has protective influences on the heart and blood fats.

However, that is a far cry from the “industrial” trans fats that now comprise such a large part of the American diet.  The problem is that this information is being used to desensitize people to the harm trans fats can cause.  One example comes from the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency, which wrote in a letter dated September 21, 2004 that “The main issue with hydrogenated fats relates to their content of trans unsaturated fatty acids (trans fats).  These trans fats occur in nature in dairy produce and the flesh of ruminants, e.g. beef, lamb.”

This is downright misleading.  Unfortunately for the margarine industry, the latest studies demonstrate that artificial (or industrial) trans fats reduced HDL (or good) cholesterol and raised LDL (or bad) cholesterol.  The naturally occurring compounds, which the body can actually metabolize had no such effect.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be concerned about the tiny amount of trans fats in dairy products.  However, you need to be vigilant about hydrogenated oils or shortening added to prepared foods that you consume.  And, above all, read every news release carefully so as not to be fooled by the food industry!

March 14, 2008 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

B Vitamins & Cardiovascular Disease — Fact From Fiction

I want to comment on the continuing barrage of “news” stories, claiming vitamins are dangerous – and may even cause cancer!!  Believe me, if that were the case, I would be the first to tell you about it.  It’s the reason that I don’t utilize either human growth hormone or melatonin in my practice.  Both have been demonstrated to have tumorogenic activity.  In a word, they cause tumors to grow. 

What you need to understand concerning the studies being reported in the media is that these are not actual experiments.  They are “meta-analyses.”  What does that mean?  It means essentially that someone did a literature search and then did a statistical analysis.  No parameters are established over the quality of the supplements used, the dosages prescribed, or the condition of the people taking the products.    It is very reminiscent of the “study” that announced that vitamin C was useless in treating cancer, because the dying patients given the vitamin C only extended their lifespan a few days to weeks – they all still died.  This is the caliber of the “research” that is going on, because the drug companies, who are the primary funders of such studies are desperate to regain the market they see as being lost to nutritional supplements.

I would like to highlight two studies that received a lot of press in March of this year.  The reports appeared in the March 16th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, and their conclusions were touted far and wide.  B vitamins, especially B vitamins designed to lower homocysteine levels, do not help cardiovascular disease.  However, one of the two studies did determine that there was a “marginally significant” decrease in stroke risk after supplementation.

The first study, called the Norwegian Vitamin (NORVIT) trial, randomly assigned almost 4,000 men and women who had already had a heart attack to receive folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, or a placebo.  There was a 27% decline in homocysteine in 3 years, but the researchers found no significant effect on whether people had another heart attack.  The second study, called the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE) 2 study had similar results, but did find a slight reduction in stroke among the group taking the supplements.

The conclusion stated, however, is misleading.    There was a blanket condemnation of vitamin supplementation with the statement, “B vitamins do not prevent heart disease.”

However, when you read further, there are a few problems with these findings.  For one thing, these studies were not preventative.  The test subjects were individuals who already had cardiovascular disease and damage to their arterial system. The study populations included individuals with medical histories that included heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes and other problems.  The fact that there was a reduction in strokes suggests that the reduction in homocysteine actually did reduce inflammation and subsequent clot formation. 

And, since the individuals were already ill, the studies provide no data concerning the efficacy of B vitamins in preventing the development of heart disease in healthy individuals.  The researchers were using a medical model; they were trying to treat or reverse heart disease in sick people. 

The study design was also flawed.  In the NORVIT study, there were 4 groups:  one received folic acid; another received vitamin B6; a third group received both; and the fourth was given placebo.  Yet, in our complex metabolism, these vitamins work together to achieve a metabolic result.  They are co-factors in the pathway that metabolizes homocysteine.  And, in the NORVIT study, it appears that B12 was not included.  Yet, it is an important co-factor in this pathway.

The other issue I have is that the dosages used were quite low, and were not adjusted for body weight.    In the HOPE study, the subjects were given 2.5 mg of folic acid, 50 mg of vitamin B6 and 1 mg of vitamin B12.  There is no indication that they were given the complete B complex, as well.  You cannot give isolated Bs, without creating a deficiency in other factors in the B complex.  And, we already know that vitamin B1 deficiency can cause heart attacks.

In addition, these individuals were already under medical care for a variety of health conditions and were also taking pharmaceuticals for their heart condition.  And, the little known fact is that many cardiovascular and diabetic medications deplete folic acid, as well as other nutrients.

When you consult unbiased sources, the results are quite different.  Statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Center for Health Statistics reveal the following.  With the advent of the refining of wheat (essentially removing ALL B vitamins from flour) in the early 1900s, deaths from heart disease began to skyrocket.  The statistic went from essentially zero in 1920 to a high of 300 per 100,000 population in 1970 (the year vitamin sales in the U.S. began to take off).  From 1970 through 1990 deaths from heart disease dropped in direct relationship to the increase in vitamin sales.  Vitamin sales in 1970 were barely $10 million, but by 1990, they had increased exponentially to $1.5 billion. 

This sort of data makes the drug companies squirm.  It suggests that there are safe, non-drug alternatives to their products.  Which, of course, translates to lost profits.

Please be vigilant and skeptical of these studies.  Remember, all of them are funded by chemical companies who have a large ax to grind.  In chiropractic research, we have a huge problem with funding because there is no commercial interest in finding safe, non-invasive alternatives to drugs and surgery. I also believe that the American public is being conditioned to accept major restrictions on access to herbs and vitamins – a kind of behind the scenes approach to the Codex Alimentarius.  Keep informed and make your voice heard to legislators who may want to limit your rights.

August 30, 2007 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

Vitamin E and Heart Health

Have you heard the latest? It’s been on all the network shows (watch for my topic: How Controlled is the Media on Health Issues?). WebMD (a site set up specifically to counteract the availability of alternative health care information on the net) has come up with an article opining that Vitamin E is dangerous! That it may increase the risk of death and that no one should take more than 400 IUs.There are several things wrong with this outrageous statement. The first, and most obvious, is that no references are given and no studies are cited. The conclusion was reached after a vaguely defined "statistical analysis". No effort was made to define the variables, nor was any rigor applied to the type of vitamin E in question. Yes, Virginia, there are differences in vitamin E! The vast majority of vitamin E in America is d-alpha tocopherol (a synthetic), which is the raceme of vitamin E that has NO activity in the heart. You need gamma tocopherol for heart health. Almost everything on the market and certainly all vitamin E added to foods is d-alpha. That’s because it’s manufactured from soy by one of the largest companies in the world. They claim it’s "natural" because it comes from soy, but all the other racemes have been stripped away. The only vitamin E that’s worse for you is dl-alpha tocopherol. The "dl" clearly indicates that the tocopherol was manufactured, and no one bothered to purify it and extract the biologically active form — the "d". So, many people may be taking "dl" alpha tocopherol and the body cannot use or process the "l" form. Our bodies can only use dextro-rotary tocopherols. Everything else is junk. So, the "l", or levo-rotary forms, just gum up our enzymes. Who knows how many individuals in the "study" were taking junk vitamin E? The other outrageous statement (and, I suspect, the true point of the article) is that vitamin E can "interfere" with the action of cholesterol-lowering drugs, which are characterized as "life saving." This really frosts me. These cholesterol-lowering agents are responsible for the epidemic of congestive heart failure we have in this country. They interfere with the synthesis of enzyme CoQ10 and lead inevitably to heart failure, because the heart can’t function without it. And you can’t get CoQ10 from food, you MUST manufacture it! But, we are being urged to avoid a natural and healthful substance and substitute poisonous chemicals in its stead. Does anyone smell a rat? This study smacks of the one that came out recently saying that vitamin E had no effect on heart disease. Of course, the study was set up to fail, since it was done using d-alpha tocopherol; which, as everyone now knows has NO effect on the heart. And, this knowledge has been around for more than 20 years. So, set up a study using the wrong form of vitamin E and VOILA! The exact result you wanted. Which is now gospel, because, of course, an M.D. said it! Be good to your heart. Be sure you get checked for your true nutritional needs, and take the supplements that will keep you young, vital and away from medications. The less pharmaceuticals you take, the longer and healthier your life will be. Visit my web site (www.RichardsFamilyHealth.com) to find out how to get a personalized program.

November 10, 2004 at 2:53 pm Leave a comment

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