The Return of Vitamin D

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

For those of you who read Eric Cressey and Tony Gentilcore‘s blogs have probably heard a ton about vitamin D. I am sure I have talked about it as well, though I am too lazy this morning to search where. Anyway, vitamin D is an incredibly important fat-soluble substance, really more similar to hormones than vitamins, because it is that awesome.

Unfortunately vitamin D is not present in large amounts in a lot of foods, our best source is some beautiful sunshine. Too bad people are so sun-phobic these days that they slather on some SPF 70 just to walk to their car. There has been some recent research showing that roughly 77% of the population may be deficient in vitamin D status. Even if people aren’t deficient, they likely are not in the optimal range, the RDA of 400 IU just does not cut it. That number is enough to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, not encourage optimal health. There is a vast difference between brimming health, and just being not sick.

Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body, including: the maintenance of organs, regulating calcium, bone growth and remodeling, anti-tumor and other immune boosting properties, etc. Now for you long time readers, you know that I highly dislike the MSN health and fitness page. I have ranted on that here and here before. On very rare occasions though, they really come through with some quality stuff. I recently came across an article about vitamin D and sunshine, and I loved it, it was one of their best health pieces, right HERE.

This article actually highlights some of the benefits of getting your vitamin D from just a daily dose of 10-15 minutes of sun exposure. I am of the mind that the sun is a wonderful healing tool. There is a reason that people recover better in hospitals when their shades are open. There is also a reason that we call it a “healthy” tan. It makes the skin look better, it gives the body a glow, hell it makes you feel better. Now people do take it far overboard, and I am certainly not suggesting that you rub baby oil on yourself and bask in the sun for hours on end, but I don’t think we need to slather sun block on ourselves every time we even think of heading outdoors.

One the best natural sources of vitamin D are pastured eggs, along with fatty fish like salmon, beef liver, and cod liver oils along with fortified foods. Unfortunately most people do not eat pastured eggs, they eat conventional eggs from hens fed a corn rich diet. Unfortunately, these eggs tend to be quite poor sources of this wonderful substance. Here is an awesome chart I stole from wholehealthsource a while back to prove my point. (I am paraphrasing)

In 2007, the magazine Mother Earth News decided to test the claim of the America Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Council that all eggs are created equal, regardless of source. They sent for pastured eggs from 14 farms around the U.S., tested them for a number of nutrients, and compared them to the figures listed in the USDA Nutrient Database for conventional eggs. Here are the results per 100 grams for conventional eggs and the average of all the pastured eggs:

Vitamin A:

  • Conventional: 487 IU
  • Pastured avg: 792 IU

Vitamin D:

  • Conventional: 34 IU
  • Pastured avg: 136 – 204 IU

Vitamin E:

  • Conventional: 0.97 mg
  • Pastured avg: 3.73 mg

Beta-carotene:

  • Conventional: 10 mcg
  • Pastured avg: 79 mcg

Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Conventional: 0.22 g
  • Pastured avg: 0.66 g

As you can clearly see, pastured eggs blow conventional eggs out of the water in all measures of awesomeness. They have 4-6 times the vitamin D content, and if you are like me and have 4 whole eggs every morning, that adds up quite nicely. One little caveat though, all those nutrients listed are either fats, or fat soluble nutrients, so you need to eat the yolks to actually take advantage of all the benefits an egg has to offer, so man up and eat the whole thing.

In conclusion, get your vitamin D from more sun, better food choices, and maybe supplement with 1,000-2,000 IU every day (at least in the winter here in New England), it will only benefit you.

Also, do not forget to sign up for John Berardi’s Lean Eating Contest, for you males interested click HERE, for the ladies out there, click HERE.

Posted on May 26th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

9 Comments »

The Benefits of Omega-6′s

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Odd title right? Most people today think of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats as the devil. These fatty acids, coming mainly from refined industrial vegetable oils are the cause of low-level systemmic inflammation, and therefore partly responsible for every disease under the sun, at least that’s the theory. I do actually believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement, and that on the whole we as a society consume far too many omega-6′s and far too little omega-3′s. The problem arises when health-minded people attempt to eliminate omega-6′s from their diet, and consume vast quantities of omega-3′s. The 3′s are all well and good, but we need the 6′s too. It reminds of when health-minded people used to attempt to eliminate all saturated fat from their diet, their heart was in the right place, but their information was not.

Now I am not encouraging people to consume copious amounts of highly refined and damaged vegetable oils like soybean, safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, etc, I am encouraging people to remember that swinging to far in any one direction is never the answer. There is one particular omega-6 fatty acid that I wanted to glorify today. That is Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA).

GLA is found in evening primrose oil, borage oil, black currant seed oil and a few others. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is often used in treatment for acne and excezema. We actually produce GLA from linoleic acid (which in excess is a pretty nasty little fatty acid) by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase. Some people, especially as we age have a decreased ability to convert linoleic acid into GLA. This can also be a problem when there isn’t sufficient linoleic acid in the diet. Insufficient linoleic acid intake is most definitely not a problem for the average American consumer, but for people who take their nutrition to extremes and try to avoid all vegetable oils, it could actually become an issue. Those omega-6 fatty acids are essential, meaning we have to get them from the diet because the body can not produce them from other materials. They are needed for the inflammatory process, for making GLA, and deficiency symptoms can include dry hair, hair loss, and poor wound healing.

As you can see, I am a fan of Barleans products
As you can see, I am a fan of Barlean’s products

So unlike the other omega-6 fatty acids, GLA is anti-inflammatory and has immune-boosting properties, it is the paradox of the omega-6 world. It is also being studied for its anti-cancer properties, and its potential to prevent tumor growth and spreading.

In conclusion, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for all you omega-3 junkies out there, to maybe include a couple hundred milligrams of GLA from evening primrose or borage oil, just to be on the safe side.

Posted on May 21st, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

11 Comments »

PN Lean Eating

Filed under: Weight Loss

When Dr. John Berardi dropped me a line the other day,
telling me all about his new program, I thought for a second
the guy had lost his mind.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I respect Dr Berardi.  He’s
recognized as one of the top nutrition coaches in the world.
And his programs get people results.  Fast.

However, when I watched this video he sent over, and learned
that he’s giving away $20,000 of his own money, he definitely
got my attention.

Check out this blog post for yourself, right HERE.

Now, to qualify for this reward, you have to participate in
the Lean Eating program.  But that’s a no brainer. You should
want to do that ANYWAY if you’re interested in body
transformation because there is nothing else like it.

You get 6 months of world class coaching, the type of coaching
you can’t find, well, anywhere.  And, during these 6 months,
if you achieve the best body transformation, you’ll win 10K.

Worst case scenario, you come out with the best body of your
life.  Best case scenario, you come out with the best body of
your life, and 10 GRAND.

So, I highly encourage you to check out this post below.  In
it, Dr Berardi shares with you two critical components for
body transformation success.

And then he tells you exactly how one man and one woman are
going to swoop in and claim $10 G’s of his own money.

The Lean Eating Program

Now, this message is time sensitive.  No, it’s not gonna self-
destruct or anything. However, spots are limited in this
program.  And LOTS of people want in.

So, if you’re interested in finding out exactly how to eat to
get in the best shape of your life, click the link below. 10
grand may be waiting for you on the other side:

Click HERE

Posted on May 18th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

1 Comment »

The Newest SuperFruit

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Lately there has been a lot of talk about these new esoteric superfruits that are commanding greater parts of the grocery store. They have been converted into multi-level marketing juice products that claim to cure everything that ails us. These “new” fruits range from noni, to goji berries, to the most famous of all, acai. While they may be all well and good, the juices from them are insanely priced for the benefit they offer. There is certainly no evidence that they are of any improvement over the plain wild blueberry, yet they cost significantly more.

What has been getting lost in the shuffle is the recent research on more common fruit that is finding them to be astoundingly potent. One example which I blogged about a while back is kiwifruit. Kiwifruit was compared to 27 other fruits and was found to be the most nutritionally dense of all of them. They are relatively cheap, portable, and can be eaten as is, skin and all like an apple. It is delicious I promise.

Some even more recent research has revealed another common fruit to be a new nutritional superstar. This new fruit? Plums. Yes, delicious, juicy, beautiful plums. Food scientist Dr. Luis Cisneros and plant breeder David Byrne judged more than 100 varieties of stone fruit, including plums, peaches and nectarines and found them to match or exceed the exalted blueberries in antioxidants and phytonutrients. According to Byrne, one inexpensive plum contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a handful of blueberries.

The good news doesn’t stop there. The researchers also tested the compounds in the fruit for it’s effects on breast cancer cells, in vitro (test tubes). The team found that the phytonutrients contained in the plums inhibited breast cancer cell growth without disrupting the growth of normal healthy cells. Granted this is in vitro, but still incredibly promising stuff.

Just one more piece of the puzzle to help convince women to stop smoking, drinking excessively, and consuming copious amounts of refined vegetable oils and to start eating pasture raised meats, healthy fats and tons of fresh fruits and veggies, including plums (and kiwifruit!). Put these steps into place and your risk of breast cancer drops dramatically.

In closing, you don’t need to spend all of your hard-earned income on expensive exotic fruit juices (though I do recommend some pomegranate), when you can achieve the same benefits with a daily dose of wild blueberries, plums, kiwifruit and other inexpensive and delicious fruit. Good news for the body, and the wallet.

Posted on May 15th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

8 Comments »

The New Omega 3

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I am back folks, been busy with a lot of family stuff the past week, driving all over New England, but I have a good one lined up for ya today. Everyone today knows about fish oil. They know that it can help lower LDL, triglycerides, decrease risk of sudden heart attack, improve joint health, the list goes on and on. To get a truly therapeutic dose though, it is recommended to take in between 1-3 grams of EPA/DHA per day. That is somewhere around 4-10 fish oil pills, depending on the strength of your brand. What if I told you there was a new, possibly better source of omega-3′s that required a much smaller dose and gave an even better outcome? Interested?

I do want to state first and foremost that this is all very preliminary. I am certainly not suggesting you just abandon your fish oil, as it has mountains of research and even more anecdotal evidence of its efficacy. This is just an interesting supplement to keep your eye on. It is called Krill Oil.

Krill oil is this beautiful red oil that comes from krill, obviously. Krill are a dietary staple of fish like salmon, and it is how salmon get their nice pink color. That color comes from a very powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has 100-500 times the antioxidant capacity of Vitamin E and 10 times the antioxidant capacity of beta-carotene, a similar carotenoid. Many laboratory studies also indicate astaxanthin is a stronger antioxidant than lutein and lycopene, two other famous antioxidants. This alone is very compelling stuff. Side Note – farmed salmon are MUCH lower in astasxanthin, their color is usually added, another reason to buy wild.

Krill is also very high in omega-3 fatty acids, the ever important fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and it is believed to contain other healthy compounds not yet identified. Though it has lower amounts of EPA/DHA than traditional fish oil, in some recent head to head studies, krill oil has come out on top.

A recent study compared krill oil to fish oil and placebo on cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. The groups were given either 1.5 grams of krill or fish oil, 1 gram krill oil, or placebo. Krill oil signifcantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL, glucose and triglycerides and raised HDL at both doses, and was better than fish oil at even the lower dose. So at even just 1 gram of krill oil, there were significant results seen in the 6 month study.

Krill oil is also becoming well known to help control the symptoms of PMS, includring dysmenorrhea as well as the emotional symptoms. This was achieved at a dose of 3g of krill oil. It is recommended to supplement for 3g daily 10 days prior to cycle, after which you can cut down to 1g.

To find out more about Krill Oil and its health benefits on PMS, heart and joint health, check out The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth by Dr. Jonny Bowden. Dr. Bowden’s work has truly opened my eyes to a whole new world, and a lot of the information I presented here today was from this fantastic resource.

Posted on May 12th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

12 Comments »

The Truth About the Biggest Loser

Filed under: Weight Loss

So I was thinking about what I wanted to blog today, and was really struggling to find a good topic. I wasn’t in the mood to write about a particular food, so I was putting it off by helping out some online clients and feeling kinda apathetic about a topic. Then my answer comes to me; my fiance puts the Biggest Loser on and I want to gouge my eyes out. I understand how this show can be inspiring and dramatic and can maybe actually motivate some people to lose weight. I get that. If it helps you get up and out and increase your activity, awesome. When you do though, please educate yourself. The exercise they put those poor people through is so idiotic and dangerous it boggles my mind. Standing on an overweight woman’s legs while she is doing a wall sit? Brilliant!

In all seriousness though, it really is INSANE that they make these people complete a marathon. People who are fit and train hard for that one purpose get injured doing that exact thing. What makes them think that unfit, overweight and still vastly undertrained individuals can do this without a significant risk of injury? One participant started having blood sugar complications and poor blood circulation like 5 miles in. It is doing these people a serious injustice, and misleading the uneducated people of America that this is a good way to get in shape. Running a marathon may not be easy, but I assure you, it is not anywhere near the safest nor most efficient method to get the body you want.

Now I am not trying to say that what this show did for these people is not amazing. The ones still on have each lost over 100lbs, an absolutely incredible achievement that I am not downplaying in the least. I am ranting about the training methods used, and shown to America as being the way people should train. It gives a terribly false impression and expectations of what a beginner’s training should look like. It is a battle that is really frustrating to have to wage, as it almost glorifies the training practices of the idiots in this industry.

Idiots

Idiots

In the end, cheer for these people, vote for them, enjoy their journey and take inspiration from their effort and achievement, but please do not in anyway try to copy their methods. It will only leave you injured and further behind than before.

Posted on May 5th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

10 Comments »

Important Info For Expecting Parents

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I recently came across some interesting information on a blog that I frequent, Whole Health Source. He consistently puts out really good information that he is fortunate enough to have easy and free access to, being a PhD candidate. He recently posted about a very interesting turn of events taking place at Boston Children’s Hospital. A nurse there sent him an email that read like this:

On the unit I work on we get lots of babies who have “short gut syndrome” due to a variety of causes who have to be on parenteral nutrition to supplement their nutrition while their GI system grows and hopefully heals fast enough. The big problem (among many) with TPN (total parenteral nutrition) is that it destroys the liver and kids get horribly jaundiced (which also causes brain damage) and often they die of liver failure or need a liver transplant before their GI system grows enough to take them off TPN. Boston Children’s has done some amazing work showing that this is largely due to the fact that the lipids part of the TPN was a soybean based oil so they started using Omegaven instead which is a fish oil based IV lipid solution. So far the results have been amazing and reversed the damage in lots of kids livers and prevented it in those started on Omegaven at birth.

From Wikipedia:

Short bowel syndrome (SBS, also short gut syndrome or simply short gut) is a malabsorption disorder caused by the surgical removal of the small intestine, or rarely due to the complete dysfunction of a large segment of bowel. Most cases are acquired, although some children are born with a congenital short bowel. It usually does not develop unless a person has lost more than two thirds of their small intestine.

The normal TPN formula consists of either soybean or safflower oil (probably whichever one is cheapest at time of production, they are used interchangeably, another great topic discussed in The Omnivore’s Dilemma). These oils are composed of mainly pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and no matter what the government, FDA, and ADA may want you to believe, these vegetable oils have no place in a healthy diet.

I agree with Stephan that as much as the fish oil substitute is clearly a much better option, since it is not only preventing but in some cases curing short gut syndrome, I still think there is room for improvement. The fatty acid composition should more closely resemble breast milk (I’m surprised the FDA hasn’t mandated that we pasteurize that) since that is what we evolved to be weaned on. I would like to see a higher saturated fat intake there, and agree with one of Stephan’s options: extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and fish oil. You get heart healthy medium chain tryglicerides with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that do not need digestion, along with the great monounsaturated fats and EPA/DHA for proper heart, brain and nerve health and development.

It is also interesting to note that roughly 25% of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it is now the number one cause of liver damage in the US, above cirrhosis. Recent animal studies are showing some scary reasons for this, the big one: high intake of omega-6 vegetable oils, like soybean, corn, and safflower. Hhhmmmm. Seeing a trend?

We need to stop the massive amount of refined vegetable oils that go into our food production, it is not benefitting any of us, especially developing infants.

On a much lighter note, I just dominated a homemade bison burger for dinner. Bison is pretty cheap relatively speaking, found in most supermarkets, free from hormones, antibiotics and is usually grass-fed. I added some Montreal steak seasoning, spinach, tomato, mustard, salsa, a slice of sharp cheddar raw milk cheese, all on an Ezekiel sprouted grain hamburger bun. Fantastic. Had a little pineapple for dessert.

Posted on May 1st, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

12 Comments »

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