Multivitamins: Natural vs. Unnatural

For most people, buying a multivitamin is a one-size-fits-all way to cover your bases. It’s sort of a nutritional insurance policy. But are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

I don’t think so.

In my experience, the ingredients in the majority of multivitamins add a toxic load to the body and don’t do much to modulate an individual’s nutrient status. Most multivitamins use synthetic or semi-synthetic chemicals that are believed to work as analogues to the vital nutrients your body uses. In other words, the FDA says it’s okay for supplement manufacturers to list ascorbic acid as “Vitamin C”, so that’s what they often use in it’s place. While many people experience anti-oxidative benefits from supplementing ascorbic acid, the reality is that true Vitamin C is a complex of bioflavonoids with many components and co-factors, which aren’t encompassed by supplementation with ascorbic acid alone. (Also beware of the estrogenic effects of high dose ascorbic acid.) This same concept applies to most of the forms of vitamins and minerals found in common multivitamins.

Take the case of supplemental Vitamin D. Unless you’re supplementing your Vitamin D from¬†cod liver oil or some other naturally occurring source of Vitamin D in it’s animal form (psst, hey – you’re an animal), then you’re taking something other than what Nature intended. What is sold as Vitamin D in the healthfood industry is, indeed, Vitamin D – and it does come from an animal – but there’s an important caveat. Industrial cholecalciferol is UV radiated lanolin. The industry found a way to take the sticky stuff that comes from sheep sebaceous glands (i.e. sheep sweat) that Grandpa used to put on his knuckles in the winter to keep them moisturized, and expose it to high doses of UV light. This is exactly what your skin does when exposed to the sun. The cholesterol in your body becomes sulfated and becomes cholecalciferol, which is absorbed into the bloodstream to be sent to the kidneys to become Vitamin D. You see the problem there?

This is about as logical as saying you’re going to get all your Vitamin D by eating pork skins and call that “natural”. It’s not natural. Don’t get me wrong – I love pork skins. But it’s not how Nature intended for you to get your Vitamin D. Butter, milk, eggs, meat, cheese, and – most importantlythe Sun are how you are designed to get your Vitamin D.

Here’s my last example (and it’s a doozy): cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin is one of the cheapest and most readily available forms of Vitamin B12 on the market. Many doctors will tell you this is a perfectly fine substitute if you have a deficiency. If you can’t tell by the name, cyanocobalamin is a combination of cobalt and cyanide. Sound’s scary, right? Well, it might be. If you Google it, you will find websites telling you that the cyanide in cyanocobalamin is nothing to worry about. It’s true that we get small amounts of cyanide (in the form of cyanogenic glycosides) when we take certain herbs or eat certain vegetables. Our bodies deal with this just fine. However, this is where I stop to ask the perennial question…

What are your objectives?

Is there not a better way? Hasn’t Nature provided us with something that works in harmony with how our bodies are made? Is it even feasible to think we can take supplemental nutrients in their isolated and synthetic forms and truly meet our health goals?

If we took your blood and analyzed the levels of B12 in it – we’d be looking for cobalamin. That is what your body uses as B12. What is the best form of cobalamin? Beef liver. Try it. It’s got the word “live” in it. (NOTE: other limited factors in B12 deficiency include intrinsic factor insufficiency and dysbiosis.)

The point of this article is to get you thinking about what’s natural vs. what’s unnatural and to help you ask yourself how you’d like to meet your nutritional goals. When people come in looking for a multivitamin, I often direct them to beef liver capsules and cod liver oil, taken in combination. Other organ meat supplements can be found from high quality sources – heart, kidney, bone marrow, etc. Everything you need to make a healthy body is contained therein.

Who would have thought?

(Grandma would have.)

Sun And Earth: On Grounding and Getting Tan

One thing that my clients often hear from me is that I want their “bare feet on the ground and bare body in the sun.” This article explains some simple reasons why.

I have come to find that many of us are Sun and Earth deficient. We simply don’t spend enough time in the Sun or on the ground.

Grounding

For the cost of taking your shoes off and standing outside, you have access to the most powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant “drug” on Earth – the Earth itself. Our planet is a repository for a practically infinite number of free electrons. The negative charge of the electron is why it feels so good to breathe the ocean air or the air during a thunderstorm. It is why we put salt lamps in our homes. It is why we enjoy long, hot showers. It plays a part in the healing power of stones like amethyst and tourmaline. The healing properties of these things come from negative ions (in this case, electrons) neutralizing the positive charge of the inflammation in our bodies. Oxidative damage from stress, toxicity, and aging is fundamentally the result of positive charge in our bodies without the negative charge to neutralize the free radicals that cause oxidative damage. The instant your feet touch the ground, the positive charge in your body is neutralized and your bodies electrical imbalance is brought into harmony with the charge of the Earth.

  • While your feet are on the ground, there is virtually no inflammation present in your body. [1]
  • Being grounded activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reduces cortisol, and synchronizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain. [2]
  • When you are grounded it thins the blood (by lowering the zeta potential) and allows the red blood cells to communicate more effectively and find resonance with one another rather than clumping together. This improves circulation tremendously. [1]
  • Your feet are designed to be maximally conductive to the Earth’s negative charge! (Especially given the very special acupuncture point on the bottom of the foot: Kidney 1 Yongquan – one of my favorite points)

The effects of grounding/Earthing on the body and the mind are numerous and profound. Taking time to get grounded is an integral part of my everyday life and it is essential to my longevity and wellbeing. Anyone who chooses to make it a part of their lifestyle will soon feel the same way.

Here’s a video of Dr. Mercola interviewing one of the leaders in Earthing research:


Getting Tan

Many of us avoid the Sun because we have been brought to believe it is bad for our health. Sunscreen use and shoes with plastic soles that insulate us from the Earth are ubiquitous. We have been taught that the Sun causes cancer and wrinkles the skin. This has been shown to be true, but there are confounding factors at play. I believe that the Sun only causes this kind of damage under three conditions: 1) when the body is toxic and overburdened by stress and oxidative damage. 2) when we aren’t used to the Sun and get it only in spurts rather than purposefully maintaining a tan. 3) when we aren’t grounded while in the Sun.

When you get in the Sun it recalibrates your body to its natural circadian rhythm! This normalizes your leptin response and regulates appetite (more strongly than any “appetite suppressant” out there). The light from the Sun is what tells your body what hormones to produce and when. Getting morning and afternoon Sun tells your body to make growth hormone and sex hormones. Midday Sun tells your body to work hard and focus on producing neurotrasmitters to get the job done.

Two of the most powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory chemicals in your body are made in the Sun: melatonin and Vitamin D. Melatonin has shown numerous anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits in studies. It is the “master of sleep” and amazingly it is produced in the eye and in the skin – during the day!

For more information on these topics, check out this article.

Vitamin D controls the expression of over 5% of the human genome and is implicated in cancer and many chronic conditions. Most don’t know that Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin – it’s a hormone and is necessary for life! It is so powerful that it binds directly to DNA to control their expression. It’s not enough to take supplemental Vitamin D –¬† you must get it from the Sun if you really want enough! Your body even has special built in mechanisms to shut off Vitamin D production when you’ve had just the right amount.

How could the Sun be bad for you when we must have it to produce these important chemicals? I believe it is because the level of oxidative damage from other causes can outweigh our bodies ability to use the potential of the Sun. This is another reason why it’s important to increase your Sun exposure gradually but also to be grounded. You literally become a solar panel when you are in the Sun – you make electricity! The best way to safely balance this extra power (so you don’t fry your mitochondria) is to simply have your body touching the ground while you are in the Sun. I like to have my feet flat on the ground and “plug” my fingertips into the Earth.

A tan is a sign of good health. The more tan you are, the less likely you are to be damaged by the Sun and the more likely you are to utilize the Sun’s health-giving rays. When you have a tan (also known as a solar callous), you actually absorb more of the sunlight and use it for energy and for photochemical reactions (making Vitamin D, melatonin, etc.). A tan comes from the increased melanin your body puts out in order to make use of the sunlight. We now know that melanin is a superconductor and is being used in high-level electronics development. It is worth 400$ per gram. A gram of gold is only worth around 50$!

Being in the Sun also burns fat and benefits circulation. Your mitochondria thrive while operating off of sunlight. Being in the Sun is the equivalent of being in an infrared sauna (42% of the Sun’s rays are infrared), which promotes the detoxification of plastics along with many other benefits.

In my practice I encourage people to get back in touch with the Sun and the Earth. I am sure you will reap the benefits if you take this information to heart and proceed carefully. Go get your feet on the ground! Get some sunlight! Your body will thank you.

Cholesterol: One of Your Body’s Most Important Molecules

Cholesterol gets a bad rap.

Many people don’t realize how incredibly important cholesterol actually is.

In order to get a handle on how important it is, let us reverse engineer our understanding of cholesterol by first looking at the side effects of suppressing cholesterol synthesis with a statin drug:

  • Increased risk of developing cancer [1]
  • Increased risk of developing diabetes [2]
  • Increased risk of developing cataracts [3]
  • Increased risk of erectile dysfunction [2]
  • Increased risk of kidney failure [3]
  • Increased risk of liver dysfunction [3]
  • Increased risk of cognitive impairment [4]
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease [5]
  • Increased risk of developing mood disorders, depression, and anxiety [6]
  • Increased risk of developing myopathy/neuropathy [3] (including a nasty-sounding condition called statin-induced nectrotizing autoimmune myopathy [3a])
  • Increased risk of contracting herpes zoster [7] and increased risk of infection after stroke [7a]
  • Increased risk of developing CoQ10 and Vitamin K2 deficiency [8]
  • Increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and aortic calcification (very ironic) [2, 8]

If decreasing the concentration of a single molecule in the body could cause all of these problems, then it must be vital. Indeed, cholesterol is one of the most important molecules in animal biology.

Let us look at some of its functions:

  • Cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones. If you want testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D. If you want to make Vitamin D from the Sun – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary to make bile salts. If you want to be able to digest fat (or burn fat) and have a healthy gallbladder – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy immune system. You need it to fight infection.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy nervous system. It forms part of the myelin sheath. 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for wound healing and for the body to repair itself.
  • Cholesterol is embedded in every cell membrane in your body and is required for proper cellular function.
  • Cholesterol is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (it can kill MRSA).

There is a reason why women’s cholesterol can double or sometimes even triple while they are pregnant – cholesterol is a necessary building block of life.

The more cholesterol you eat, the less your body has to work hard to produce it.” – Dr. Natasha McBride

Your liver makes 2,000 mg of cholesterol per day. Being a compound only found in animal products, when you eat cholesterol (like from an egg or from butter) the cholesterol is absorbed directly and goes exactly where the body needs it. Eating more cholesterol does not cause elevated cholesterol, it simply allows the liver to occupy itself doing all the other things your liver does.

Well then what does cause elevated cholesterol? This is the 40 billion dollar question.

We now know that what causes abnormally high cholesterol is chronic inflammation, chronic infection, and chronic stress. From an Oriental Medicine perspective, the liver is producing extra cholesterol to bring more yin to the blood in order to cool the blood or to supplement yin. Cholesterol is actually trying to save your life.

When there are glycation end-products (little bits of oxidation) floating around the blood stream, it damages the vessel walls. These bits of oxidation are caused by inflammatory lifestyle and high-carbohydrate diets. Cholesterol, being necessary to repair tissue and for cell-wall integrity, comes to save the day. This is how increased inflammation leads to increased cholesterol.

It is important that we treat elevated cholesterol as a symptom of chronic inflammation rather than a disease in-itself. Once you bring inflammation down, the body’s natural intelligence can regulate cholesterol levels on it’s own.

Elevated cholesterol may also be a sign that you need to get in the Sun! Cholesterol is required for Vitamin D synthesis – one of the (other) most anti-inflammatory substances in your body. Cranking out more cholesterol may the body’s way of reaching for the Sun.

If you have high cholesterol, one of the first lifestyle changes you should make (as we all should) is to reduce oxidative stress on the body. This means, for most people, stopping the consumption of high-carbohydrate and processed foods (especially trans fats). Certain foods, like nightshades, can also contribute to chronic inflammation. It also means stopping inflammatory habits and lifestyle choices (see my articles on plastics and microwaves). Exercise and movement have been shown to normalize cholesterol levels as well (see Qigong).

Here is a great video that can help carry your understanding further:

I hope this article has been informative and even eye-opening for you. If this information is relevant to you or to someone you know, please share it.