Monthly Archives: September 2016


How much vitamin D should I be taking?

According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D is essential to bone health and researchers say that the “sunshine vitamin” plays a vital role in many other areas of health as well. Skin’s exposure to sun enhances mood and energy.

With the onset of fall, you’re bound to get less vitamin D than you might have in the summer. Seasonal depression has many root causes, but it’s suspected that lowered levels of D might affect change in the brain. Receptors found in the areas of the brain that are linked with the development of depression might be activated with decreased exposure to sunlight. [1]

The thing is, researchers aren’t exactly sure how this works; it’s thought that vitamin D affects the production of monoamines like serotonin and how it works in the brain. Anti-depression medications, for example, also increase monoamine levels, and there is science to demonstrate that vitamin D works in a similar way, which may help elevate mood and alleviate depressive symptoms.

Okay, but how much should I take?

First and foremost you should consult your healthcare provider regarding how much vitamin D you should take every day, as the amount needed can vary tremendously from person to person.

Those who don’t get regular sunlight exposure or who tend to use a lot of sunscreen may very well be vitamin D deficient. People with darker complexions are also at risk of being deficient because their pigmentation reduces vitamin D production in their skin. Some people also have higher needs for vitamin D than others, including those who are obese or pregnant. Older people may need to take higher dosages because their thinner skin can’t actually produce the amount of vitamin D that they require.

Your healthcare practitioner can order a relatively simple, inexpensive blood test to measure your vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels. If you are in fact deficient, your healthcare provider might suggest that you take higher than the recommended daily amounts. CanPrev D3 drops provide 1000 IU in every drop, making it simple to take higher dosages.

If your vitamin D levels fall in the normal range, you can safely continue taking the recommended daily dosages. Below are two recommendations that might serve as a guide to help you determine your daily minimum and maximum requirements.

Vitamin D Daily Dosages

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September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day: bringing awareness to a global affliction

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day when Alzheimer’s organizations across the globe concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

According to  The Alzheimer Society of Canada, there are currently 564,000 people living with the disease. This number is expected to increase to 937,000 in the next 15 years. A few other numbers:

  • If you’re a smoker, your risk of being diagnosed with dementia increases by 45 per cent 
  • Of those diagnosed with dementia, 65 per cent are women aged 65 or older
  • There are currently 16,000 Canadians under the age of 65 living with dementia
  • In Canada, 25,000 new cases of dementia are diagnosed every year
  • There are 1.1 million Canadians affected directly or indirectly by the disease
  • The annual cost to Canadians to care for those living with dementia is $10.4 billion 

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Although the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s are used interchangeably, they are indeed different. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning. This video prepared for the Alzheimer Society of Canada explains the difference.

Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible and destroys brain cells, causing thinking ability and memory to deteriorate. Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal disease that affects everyone differently; there are several symptoms and changes that manifests as the disease progresses. It’s difficult to predict symptoms, the order in which they will appear, or the speed of their progression.

alzheimer3

  • Cognitive and functional abilities: a person’s ability to understand, think, remember and communicate will be affected. This could impact a person’s ability to make decisions, perform simple tasks, or follow a conversation. Sometimes people lose their way, or experience confusion and memory loss, initially for recent events and eventually for long-term events.
  • Emotions and moods: a person may appear apathetic and lose interest in favourite hobbies. Some people become less expressive and withdrawn.
  • Behaviour: a person may have reactions that seem out of character. Some common reactions include repeating the same action or words, hiding possessions, physical outbursts and restlessness.
  • Physical abilities: the disease can affect a person’s coordination and mobility, to the point of affecting their ability to perform day-to-day tasks such as eating, bathing and getting dressed.

Alzheimer’s disease is often called a family disease, because the chronic stress of watching a loved one slowly decline affects everyone.

Treatment

There are several medications that can help with symptoms such as memory decline, changes in language, thinking abilities and motor skills.

While dietary factors are complex and foods contain a balance of hundreds of nutrients, there are studies to suggest that these five may be especially important for brain health.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Other studies have shown that the oils found in fish are good not just for the heart, but for the brain as well. Oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are particularly high in omega-3s.
  • Vitamin B: There are many types of B vitamins, and all are important for nerve and brain health. B12 in particular has been shown to be protective against memory problems. After age 50, some people lose the ability to absorb B12 from foods, so supplements like CanPrev’s Synergy B™ may be recommended. B12 is found in meats and other animal foods like fish, eggs and cheese. Some cereals are fortified with B vitamins as well.
  • Vitamin C: Most people know vitamin C from supplements and orange juice, but it’s also found in broccoli, red peppers, dark green vegetables, strawberries and kiwifruits.
  • Vitamin D: Called the sunshine vitamin because people make it through the skin on exposure to sunlight, vitamin D levels also tend to be low in older people. Milk has added vitamin D, and it’s also found in fatty fish.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in vegetable and nuts and seed oils, leafy greens and whole grains. CanPrev’s Antioxidant Network™ contains mixed tocopherols, a family of vitamin E compounds.

 


Disclaimer:
This article is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical advice; the content provided is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.
Sources:
https://www.alzinfo.org/articles/world-alzheimers-day/
http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Alzheimer-s-disease
http://naturopathicnotes.ca/test/wordpress/issues/ND-Notes-2-2.pdf
“Four Common Age-Related Health Problems To Watch For.” ND Notes Vol 2 No 2, 2016.
http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia/Dementia-numbers
http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/3/nutritional-strategies-to-combat-alzheimers/page-01

The sound (and health benefits) of silence

Let’s face it, noise is everywhere. It’s part of our daily lives. Even when we’re sitting in total silence there’s usually some background noise happening – the ticking of a clock, the whir or a fan, the clicking of a keyboard.

There’s noise and then there’s noise. Notice the marked difference between these ambient sounds? The cacophony of neighbourhood kids playing and a lawnmower’s roar, vs. the urban symphony of pounding jackhammers and the din of cars speeding across a highway. Research has proved an abundance of the latter types of noise pollution is actually bad for us and has been linked to high blood pressure, sleep deprivation and heart disease.

The World Health Organization in 2011 estimated the entire population of Western Europe (about 340 million people) lost a combined million years of healthy life due to heart disease caused by excessive noise.

But is there such thing as good noise? Is silence really golden?

Scientists have found that the effects of various types of noise, such as music, short bursts of sound or ambient noise, all have varying effects on the body. As stated earlier, loud or jarring noise has detrimental effects, particularly on the heart. The positive effects of noise, or lack thereof, are somewhat surprising.

Put away your headphones

We tend to use the words “quiet” and “silence” interchangeably, but a 2006 study published in the journal Heart found two minutes of silence produced favourable changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain, whereas two minutes of “relaxing” music had a less desirable effect.

Grow a pair

Of brain cells, that is. In a Duke University study using mice as test subjects, regenerative biologist Imke Kirste found that two hours of silence a day produced new cell creation in the hippocampus (the main part of the brain associated with memory) and heightened the mice’s alertness.

Tap into your mental well

A quiet mind is actually an active mind. In stillness, our brain goes into what is known as the Default Mode Network. According to the website Brainfacts.org, in the Default Mode Network, the brain remains active while we are awake, sleeping, focused, or daydreaming.

One theory suggests our minds wander in this mode, enabling us to tap into our stream of consciousness.

Another theory is that our brains go into processing and information maintenance – kind of like defragmenting a computer’s hard drive. Those who have “various psychological disorders including ADHD, Schizophrenia, Autism and Alzheimer’s exhibit different types of abnormal functioning,” state Brain Facts’ researchers.

Convene with Nature

When we’re bombarded with noise, it puts a stress on the brain’s prefrontal cortex — the area responsible for problem-solving and decision-making. This causes us to become distracted, and we struggle with focus, fatigue and the creative process.

In a world where noise-cancelling devices are a thing, a literal moment of silence can help the brain restore itself and help us refresh our mental stores.

Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

There’s research to corroborate his thought, so get outside for a walk and partake in a little Attention Restoration all in the name of science.

Disclaimer:
This article is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical advice; the content provided is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.
Sources:
http://www.brainfacts.org
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201205/quiet-please
http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/data-and-statistics
http://www.wienerzeitung.at/_em_daten/_wzo/2015/08/07/150807_1710_kaplan_s._19951.pdf
http://www.brainfacts.org/brain-basics/neural-network-function/articles/2011/a-brief-introduction-to-the-default-mode-network/
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259110014_Is_silence_golden_Effects_of_auditory_stimuli_and_their_absence_on_adult_hippocampal_neurogenesis

How do you escape from the din of everyday life? What are some of your tricks? Tell us! Leave your comments below.


Expert advice | Magnesium Stearate – what’s it doing in your supplements?

Our in-house team of naturopathic doctors, homeopaths, nutritionists and other licensed health care practitioners help you to make better informed decisions regarding your health, natural health supplements, natural medicine and meeting your wellness goals.

CanPrev Premium Natural Health Products works in partnership with natural health practitioners to bring you accurate and up-to-date information on all of your health questions.

Magnesium Stearate: harmful or harmless?

Q. Why do you use magnesium stearate in your capsules? I’ve heard it negatively affects the immune system and could inhibit the absorption of supplements.

A. This is a question we receive a lot. Generally speaking, we try our best to avoid the use of unnecessary excipients in our products.

Our production team batters down the amounts of non-medicinal ingredients used in the products to the point where it is just the bare minimum required to manufacture.

We use a miniscule amount of magnesium stearate as an inert flow agent in order to blend our ingredients. It is essential for making sure doses are consistent from capsule to capsule.

So, what is magnesium stearate, anyway? It’s a magnesium salt created by joining magnesium to two stearic acid molecules. Stearic acid is a very common fatty acid found in foods like coconut oil. Recently, there have been some concerns as to whether magnesium stearate suppresses the immune system and inhibits nutrient absorption. We’ll go over each point.

The centrepiece to the first argument involves a 1990 study in the journal Immunology entitled “Molecular basis for the immunosuppressive action of stearic acid on T cells.”

A little context is needed: The purpose of this study was to find an immunosuppressive drug for people with organ transplants or who suffer from autoimmune diseases. Researchers exposed cultured T and B cells to a concoction of stearic acid mixed with diatomaceous earth and bovine albumin hoping that it would damage these cells.

First of all, this study is using regular stearic acids (like those found in foods) rather than magnesium stearate.

Secondly, while the study implicated stearic acid, this is really a case of  “the dose makes the poison.”

The study is not relevant to orally consumed stearic acid, because those immune cells were bathed in a clinically and physiologically impossible amount of stearic acid.

Magnesium is generally recognized as safe for ingestion up to 2500mg per kg of body weight daily. That means A 70kg man would have to ingest 175,000mg of magnesium stearate per day!

The other common criticism is that magnesium stearate may inhibit nutrient absorption. A few studies suggest that tablets or capsules containing magnesium stearate dissolve more slowly than those without. While this may be so, bioavailability studies show that magnesium stearate had no impact on the actual overall bioavailability of the supplement in blood serum.

If you are still concerned about magnesium stearate as a non-medicinal ingredient, it might be helpful to consider this. Stearic acid (the one talked about in the study) is a very common saturated fatty acid. An average person can ingest far more actual stearic acid from food than he or she would magnesium stearate in a dietary supplement.

A bar of chocolate can easily contain over 5,000 milligrams of stearic acid versus 10mg in a capsule. Furthermore, the liver converts stearates and stearic acid into oleic acid, a common monounsaturated fat, on a regular basis.

Hope this helps!


Disclaimer: The experts’ responses are for general information purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should always consult your naturopathic doctor or other health care practitioner. Don’t delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of the information presented here.

Start living a healthier life today. Click here to submit your question in confidence.


 

Take a breath: exploring deep breathing for pain management

What do belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, singing, chanting, deep slow breathing (DSB) and other forms of resistance breathing all have in common? Interestingly enough, incorporating one or more of these types of breathing at the first sign of pain can greatly help with providing relief.

As correlations are now being made between maladaptive biological memories and changes in tissue and nervous systems, as well as chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, PTSD and joint and nerve pain, the connection between breathing techniques and healing mechanisms are becoming more widely accepted.

Medical doctors, neuroscientists, sports therapists and health professionals everywhere are now discovering the immeasurable healing effects that deep breathing practices can have on clinical and ongoing chronic pain.

An inside look at pain

The stress response that is activated when we experience trauma or stress for short or long periods of time can manifest sensations in the tissues and eventually in the nerves themselves.

When this happens, allodynia, the term used to describe pain produced by an innocuous stimuli, rises. Wherever these changes in tissue occur, small fibres of the periphery nerves learn to respond to non-painful stimuli and perceive them as hurtful.

We know that with chronic pain, the stimuli does not have to be present for pain to be felt. In the case of neurological pain, like shingles, multiple sclerosis, phantom limb pain, diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia, pain can be felt inconsistently depending on how and when the patient moves and where the pain is located.

The effects of chronic pain

It’s important to mention that not all pain is bad; we need acute pain to act as a physiological warning sign. Chronic pain, however, which is often associated with inflammatory diseases like arthritis and cancer, is a more complex concept.

The inflammatory response launched by a stressed nervous system creates a cascade of events that further harm our biological portfolio and change the chemistry of our tissues.

When tissue is damaged, nerve fibres are affected, too. The body is able to sense tissue damage when destroyed cells release chemical substances like prostaglandins and histamines, which adds to the stress load of our body’s biological terrain.

Cells, membranes and enzymes are destroyed, basically creating disaster at a cellular level that affects our terrain, sometimes permanently.

Biochemical individuality plays a huge role in chronic pain, and we all have a unique portfolio based on our past experiences that make pain subjective, and for the most part, healing methods as well.

Breathe deep for best results

Deep breathing results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery because air is drawn deep into the pockets of the lungs, which is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs. As a result, there may be an increase in energy levels and an improvement in stamina during physical activity.

There are also times when severe pain can bring on fatigue; short chest breaths from living in an anxious or fight-or-flight state can lead to the fatigue of ischemic tissue. When the breath is slowed and deepened, ischemia may disappear and blood supply may be restored.

When tissue becomes less acidic, nutrients become more accessible, energy levels increase and the stress response system becomes more resilient, leaving the sufferer with less wear and tear on the body and an overall more flexible cardiovascular system.

It’s not just our lungs that can benefit from deep breathing

Neuroanatomist Bud Craig developed a theory based on interoception, which explores whether internal organs and tissues have their own feelings that create sensations.

He hypothesizes that since sensations travel from the body up to the brain through the vagus nerve, perhaps our organs can experience feelings of anxiety, stress, exhaustion and pain, too.

If this is true, then maybe our organs and internal body can benefit from a deep breathing practice just as much as our minds would.

Revisiting the ancient art of deep breathing to manage pain

Throughout history, many great healers focused on breathing techniques and realized the power that the respiratory system has on our health. Any dedicated yogi or yogini will point out the great difference between breathing and conscious deep breathing.

Breathing deeply and consciously offers us a chance to seek clarity, be present, steady the mind, sway our perception, and heal by means of changing tissue pH at a cellular level, thereby decreasing inflammation and restoring balance to our nervous systems.

Skeptics may say that we have been breathing our whole lives and techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or Lamaze breath act simply as distractions. Even if this is true, anyone in real pain will tell you that it’s still better to participate in the breathing exercise rather than focus on the pain itself.

It’s also interesting to note that babies, whose brains and emotional and cognitive abilities haven’t yet fully developed, breathe more deeply than adults. They’ve got the hang of deep breathing, naturally!

As effective as taking a pill?

We have endogenous mechanisms in our bodies that help us to manage pain, like our large peripheral nerves and our opioid systems, which involve endorphins.

It’s thought that deep breathing may have an effect on increasing one’s production of endorphins, which may help block nerve cells from releasing pain signals to the brain and provide some relief when experiencing acute or chronic pain.

A simple deep breathing exercise for you to try

Here’s an extremely simple breathing technique that can be done almost anywhere: Take a large, exaggerated breath from deep in the belly. Count to five, inhaling through the nose and count to five again on the exhale, blowing out through the mouth. Try to lie in a supine position, if possible. Complete five sets, five to 10 times a day for best pain relief results.

Experiment with different breathing techniques; there are a wide range of practices offered, so suggest they find one that’s comfortable for them and prescribe it as a daily ritual.

Deep breathing not only brings relief from mental, emotional and physical pain, but can also improve mental and physical performance, increase blood flow and reduce tension in the body and mind.


Jenna Mangan is a fitness buff, yoga instructor and Certified Nutritional Practitioner from Toronto. She is also a CanPrev brand ambassador.

Have you, or someone you know, dealt with chronic pain? Has deep breathing ever been a part of treatment? Has there been any success? We want to know! Share your stories with us in the comments below, or contact us!


Ditch the ibuprofen and read this: how ‘vitamin I’ can hinder your training

You’ve pushed your muscles to the limit after an intense workout, so you pop a couple of ibuprofen and wait for the aches to subside. Though research shows that ibuprofen is effective at relieving pain and inflammation, it can also affect your skeletal muscle and gastrointestinal tract tissue. So does ibuprofen, or ‘Vitamin I’ as it’s commonly called among athletes, actually help or do more harm?

How ibuprofen works

Ibuprofen blocks the production of prostaglandins (COX enzymes that are released when we experience illness or injury) and helps ease the symptoms of pain or inflammation. However, since ibuprofen is a non-selective COX inhibitor, it doesn’t differentiate between blocking one COX enzyme over another. Your muscle pain may go away, but ibuprofen can then go on to have a negative impact on other parts of the body.

Ibuprofen as a preventative

You may have heard about taking ibuprofen before a workout to avoid the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that usually sets in 24 to 72 hours after muscles are challenged in a new way. While you might think it’s a good plan to outsmart pain and stiffness, taking ibuprofen pre-workout can actually affect the body’s natural healing process. If you already have a minor injury and take ibuprofen before you exercise, you risk damaging tissue even further by reducing pain and inflammation.

Ibuprofen and your gut

Up to 80 per cent of endurance athletes exhibit upper and lower gastrointestinal side effects like heartburn and diarrhea, but why? When you exercise, more blood is dispatched to your muscles and less is sent to areas that aren’t asking for it, like gastrointestinal tissue. If this happens over frequent and prolonged periods of time, it can become damaged. Research shows that ibuprofen worsens exercise induced intestinal injury significantly. It exaggerates the effect of exercise by essentially suffocating the gut tissue during and after intense workouts.

Research shows that while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are very good at their job as pain-relievers and anti-inflammatories, they can have detrimental effects on skeletal muscle tissue and the gastrointestinal tract.

Addressing pain in other ways

Now that we know some of the possible effects ibuprofen can have on our bodies, what are some alternatives?

  • Determine the cause. Bad running habits, ill-fitting shoes and lack of stretching can all cause pain and inflammation. Consult a coach or sports therapist to assess your techniques.
  • Support the inflammatory process. There are times when inflammation actually contributes to healing and shouldn’t be suppressed. Always work with a doctor or physiotherapist to find the right treatments for you.
  • Don’t skip the cool-down. Leaving the gym before you’ve taken the time to wind down can compromise needed blood flow to active tissues and prevent clearing of leftover toxins.
  • Stretch. Stretching the major muscles post-workout helps to realign muscle fibres and maintain long-term elasticity in muscle tissue, which means less pain, less delayed onset muscle soreness – and less reason to take ibuprofen.
  • Try natural anti-inflammatories.If you do need to take something, try natural anti-inflammatories that have a much lower side effect profile. Curcumin, bromelain and
    boswellia are great places to start.

Pain and swelling don’t have to happen every time you exercise. Learning some alternative methods of relief instead of relying on ibuprofen might bring you surprising,
yet equally effective results.

Disclaimer: This article is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical advice; the content provided is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

What are some of your go-tos for treating pain? How do you manage pain naturally? Tell us! Leave your comments below.


 

Expert Advice | Core + Coffee

Welcome to Expert Advice a weekly series that features professional replies to your questions on natural health and wellness, and living a healthy life.

Our in-house team of naturopathic doctors, homeopaths, nutritionists and other licensed health care practitioners help you to make better informed decisions regarding your health, natural health supplements, natural medicine and meeting your wellness goals.

CanPrev Premium Natural Health Products works in partnership with natural health practitioners to bring you accurate and up-to-date information on all of your health questions.

Kicking Core up a notch 

Q. I started adding two scoops of CanPrev Core to my morning coffee. Can you tell me if the caffeine might have a negative effect on the nutrients?

A. This seems to be a common practice among athletes who are looking for a caffeine boost before a workout, in addition to their nutritional shake. However, taking caffeine with vitamins or minerals can potentially interfere with absorption and/or increase excretion.

For example, some sources claim that for every 150mg of caffeine ingested (about the amount in one cup of coffee), 5mg of calcium is lost – which isn’t much, but it can be problematic if you have osteoporosis and also drink a lot of coffee. It’s also thought that caffeine can inhibit the amount of calcium absorbed through the intestinal tract and deplete the amount retained by the bones.

Caffeine can interfere with iron absorption as well, though the effects are quite minimal at around 6 per cent or so. Because coffee is a diuretic, it also speeds up the workflow of the kidneys and causes you to excrete water soluble vitamins like B and C a little faster.

Regardless of whether you’re just drinking coffee or adding CanPrev Core to it, the risk of certain nutrient loss remains. If you’re deficient in a particular nutrient or have osteoporosis, it’s best to avoid the combination. If you’re really concerned about nutrient loss, you can simply top up with extra vitamins and minerals throughout the day (as recommended by your health practitioner), just in case!


Disclaimer: The experts’ responses are for general information purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should always consult your naturopathic doctor or other health care practitioner. Don’t delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of the information presented here.

You can start living a healthier life today. Click here to submit your question in confidence.