How to use Alcohol for Health

December 19, 2011

How To Use Alcohol For Health
Since the beginning of man there has been an attraction to ferment foodstuffs to produce alcohol. Alcohol is the most misused drug in the world with its excessive use causing untold misery to families, individuals and communities. Its financial and social costs are huge and it causes a greatly increased death rate from accidents and health related illnesses. Yet its widespread use is still condoned by most communities in the world and there seems little hope of that changing. Prohibition tried many years ago in America did not work.
For years the “French Paradox” where a nation with a high intake of saturated fats also had a low rate of coronary heart disease puzzled the medical world. One explanation was they also had a high red wine intake. While it is problematical that this is the only reason it did lead to large scale studies on the effect of alcohol on health. The end result of these studies shows quite conclusively that a moderate alcohol intake does reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. This article discusses this in more detail and outlines how alcohol can be used to give a positive health outcome if is consumed in moderate amounts.
This article is not written to encourage people to drink but it is saying drink in moderation and the benefits are likely to outweigh the negatives. Doctors have known for years that the occasional drink could be better for health than complete abstinence. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown by many studies over recent years to have better health and longevity outcomes than total abstinence or heavy drinking. In terms of alcohol type, red wine has been marginally better than beer which has been marginally better than spirits.
While some of these differences can be put down to anti oxidant type compounds there does seem a beneficial effect from the alcohol itself as a number of studies show

Some of these studies are.
• Alcohol Benefits Begin at 33 : Dr Chris Power – Lancet 2004

• Reaping Alcohol’s Benefit : National Institute of Health – June 2004 Clinical & Experimental Research

• Moderate Alcohol Consumption could help protect women against Osteoporosis : St Thomas Hospital- July 2004 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

• A glass of wine a day keeps prostate cancer away: Janet Stanford – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle. USA

• Regular drink helps the heart after surgery : University of Heidelberg, Germany – Oct 2004 Heart

• Glass of wine for longer life : Leisure World Cohort Study – Sept meeting 56Ih American Academy of Neurology

• Alcohol may fight heart attack damage : Dr Rod Korthuis – University Missouri-Columbia ( published study)

• Alcohol helps older women’s grey cells : Dr Graham McDougall – University of Texas 5 year study

• Compounds found in wine could inhibit Alzheimer’s : Dr Michikatsu Sato Govt Alcohol R&D Centre, .Japan – Journal of Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry Vol 67

How many drinks provide just the benefits and not the harm? It depends on whether a person is most at risk of heart disease, diabetes or breast cancer. But there is one bottom line: Five or six drinks only on Saturday night will provide no benefits, while a drink or two a night might.
The analysis by the National Institutes of Health sorted out a plethora of sometimes conflicting research on alcohol’s effects. The review was prompted by cardiologists’ complaints that patients suddenly were asking if they should start imbibing, and how much. Other research is overturning the dogma that people at risk of diabetes should abstain; still more links even light drinking to breast cancer.
Adding confusion, people are vulnerable to more than one disease as they age. A 50-year old woman with breast cancer in the family might get very different advice on alcohol than one who’s pre-diabetic with high cholesterol.
The review states we are not encouraging anybody to start drinking alcoholism remains a major health problem, and people with liver disease may not tolerate even moderate drinking.
Instead, the review is aimed at people who already drink some and concludes that to get alcohol’s potential health benefits, how much those people can consume must be customized by their age, gender and overall medical history.
As population-wide advice, consuming two drinks a day for men and one a day for women is linked to lower mortality and unlikely to harm, the review found men shouldn’t exceed four drinks on any day, and women three – bingeing is simply bad.
But review’s disease-by-disease findings provide better details:
• Studies consistently show that in people 40 or older, consuming one to four drinks daily significantly reduces the risk of heart disease, the nation’s leading killer. In contrast, five or more drinks daily markedly increase the heart risk.
• However, frequency seems the key; consuming smaller amounts several times a week – one or two daily or every other day – is most heart-protective. It apparently takes low, regular alcohol exposure to help raise levels of the body’s so-called good cholesterol, the HDL type, and to thin blood.
• The alcohol-breast cancer link remains controversial. Some studies suggest a small increase in risk that roughly 9 in 100 non drinkers may get breast cancer by age 80, compared with 10 in 100 women who consume two drinks a day. Per person that’s a tiny risk. But women whose mothers or sisters had breast cancer, or those taking post-menopausal estrogens replacement are at greater risk from alcohol. Those women must weigh the fear of breast cancer against their risk of heart disease in deciding whether to avoid alcohol.
• One to two drinks a day several days per week seems to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, a disease rising at epidemic proportions. Low levels of alcohol apparently help the body use insulin to process blood sugar better. The benefit was seen among the overweight and those with “metabolic syndrome,” a cluster of pre-diabetic weight-related symptoms that include high blood pressure and poor cholesterol.
• There’s no known safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, but what about while breast-feeding? Nursing mothers who want an occasional drink should consume it several hours before the next feeding, enough time to metabolize the alcohol so little reaches the infant. And contrary to folklore, alcohol does not aid lactation but temporarily decreases milk production.
• How much is a drink a day? 140 ml of wine, 340 ml of beer or 42 ml of distilled spirits is generally accepted as the standard. That is a glass of wine or a small bottle.
A study recently in Spain showed a significant weight loss from the consumption of red wine in moderation. Of all the alcohol types red wine seems the most desirable. This likely because of the presence of resveratrol in red wine, a compound that has been shown to have definite health benefits and is available in many health food shops in a capsule formulation.
So to sum up, heavy drinkers have the worst outcomes but moderate drinkers, that is, 1-3 drinks for men and 1-2 for woman on a daily basis, have a better life expectancy and health outcomes than total abstainers.

Some fat is included in almost all our diets and 20% is not an unusual amount. However it is not the exact amount we consume that matters, it is the type of fat/oil that is the critical factor. This article outlines the types of fat in many of our foodstuffs, how they affect our health and gives a guide to the healthiest fats/oils to use.
There are three main fat groupings, the unsaturated fats – the best ones, saturated fats – the bad ones and trans fats – the real evil ones. Healthy use of fats means maximising the good fats and minimising the bad ones. The result of this will be lower bad cholesterol and higher good cholesterol leading to a much lower risk of heart attack or stroke.

UNSATURATED FATS
These are divided into two groups, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both of which are good for you. Examples are:
Monounsaturated – olive, peanut, almond and avocado oils, pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Polyunsaturated – fish, walnut and sunflower oils. Omega 3 oils are in this category.

SATURATED FATS
The main ones we consume and need to cut back on are
Fatty meats, full cream dairy products especially butter, coconut oil

TRANS FATS
These are the ones that cause the most harm. Really cut these back only using as a special treat. A trans fat is a normal fat molecule that has been twisted and deformed during a process called hydrogenation. During this process, liquid vegetable oil is heated and combined with hydrogen gas. Partially hydrogenating vegetable oils makes them more stable and less likely to spoil, which is very good for food manufacturers—and very bad for you.
No amount of trans fats is healthy. Trans fats contribute to major health problems, from heart disease to cancer.
The main sources are
• Margarine – the solid form
• Baked goods – biscuits, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and some breads like hamburger buns
• Fried foods – doughnuts, French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets and battered fast foods
• Snack foods – potato chips; sweets; packaged or microwave popcorn
• Solid fats – stick margarine and semi-solid vegetable shortening
• Premixed products – many contain hydrogenated oils
You need to be a trans fat detective and look for the words “hydrogenated oil” on the label ingredients. Many good oils are changed in this fashion to become dangerous.
So with this sort of information what should we do? A suggested rule of thumb is
• Keep total fat intake to 20-35% of calories
• Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your calories (200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet)
• Limit trans fats to 1% of calories (2 grams per day for a 2000 calorie diet)
What specific things do I do to try and use good fats?
• Use an olive oil based soft spread – not butter or margarine
• Make up my own dressings based around virgin olive oil
• When cooking use a high smoke point / low saturated fat oil
• The best are avocado or rice bran oils – I use rice bran as it is often on special at supermarket
• Eat less red meat and more fish and chicken
• Go for lean cuts of meat
• Bake, broil, or grill instead of frying.
• Remove the skin from chicken and trim as much fat off of meat as possible before cooking.
• Avoid breaded meats and vegetables and deep-fried foods.
• Choose low-fat milk and lower-fat cheeses like edam
An additional point is about olive oil. It is a great product and has some valuable components in addition to being an unsaturated fat. But to get the best from it you need to use the right grade for the right purpose
Virgin or extra Virgin – use this for dressings or any cold use, it has the best flavour and the most extra value components. Don’t cook with it as if over heated can produce some trans fats
Light or very Light – less flavour and other components but higher smoking point and better to cook with (still prefer rice bran or avocado).
So to summarise.
Food is not only essential but also an important pleasure in our life. But we need to try and eat in a healthy manner and eat the less desirable foods only on special occasions and as special treats. It is not the end of the world to have the odd feed of fish and chips or some biscuits or snacks.
Just restrict their intake.

The main problem in choosing a natural health product is assessing its quality or effectiveness. The amount of active ingredient many Natural Health Products contain is quite variable and in many cases the active ingredient is not clearly identified or quantified on the label. In some cases there is a range of active ingredients sometimes acting in synergy but more often only existing in quantities that would not give a health response at recommended dose rates. Thus it is often a major problem to know how really effective a specific product is likely to be. Even when some good evidence from well regulated scientific research shows that an active ingredient in the specific product has beneficial effects. This article gives some examples of this and suggests possible solutions for those who want a high quality effective product to deal with their health problem.

In today’s health supplement market the Internet has allowed consumers a huge range of products and within many products a huge range of brands, formula variations and quality. Often the active ingredient is not present in sufficient quantities to be really effective and the advertising is very “sales orientated” rather than genuine product information or solid research. This makes it very hard for the consumer to know just how effective a product is likely to be. Consumers should use desktop research to help make a wise choice. Harvest the power of the Internet, to first ascertain what type of product offers the possibility of helping with their specific health problem, including the active ingredient that makes the product desirable. Once you have sorted out the product, then search for different brands and list them based on price, active ingredient present and likely bioactivity. Generally with top products there will only be 1-3 main active ingredients.
Be wary of claims of a large number of active ingredients, often they will be present in such small amounts that they will have no effect at all. Deer Velvet is a good example, it is a product I am very familiar with having farmed a large herd of velveting stags for many years and also been involved in velvet research and marketing velvet products. Now velvet has some useful therapeutic uses especially when taken in a high dose but many websites make ridiculous claims for it. It does contain literally 100’s of complex proteins that when isolated can be shown to have real effects, however in a standard deer velvet capsule only a few are present in the quantities needed to have any effect. To make the example more real I was in Singapore a few years ago talking to their Health Authority trying to get approval to get a deer velvet based product entry to their market. In trying to explain what the product contained I mentioned Insulin Growth Factor One (IGF1) along with a range of other compounds. They seized on this and said product with IGF1 can’t get entry. My answer was that it was in such low quantities it would have no effect. IGF1 is present in meat milk and in fact most animal products and this was no different. However I had to come back to NZ and test our product for IGF1 and also milk as a comparison. Our velvet product had 1/8 the IGF1 that was in standard milk and was allowed entry. However if you look at some websites selling velvet you will see them touting IGF1 as an active ingredient which is a nonsense as it is only in trace amounts. It is possible to concentrate it in a velvet extract but only at uneconomic prices.
Another factor to look at is purity, here I am not talking about quantity of active ingredient but what contaminants are present, if any. Common environmental pollutants are heavy metals like lead or mercury, persistent organic pollutants (POP’s) such as dioxin, PBC’s and other organochlorines. A good example is Omega3 when even after molecular distillation fish oils of North Hemisphere origin can have 20 times the pollutants of fish oils derived from fish caught in the Southern Ocean south of New Zealand. The Northern Hemisphere product may well be within allowable limits of regulators such as the FDA but cannot be as safe as the southern products. Often purity levels are difficult to obtain without direct contact to the manufacturer and in this case you have to use your judgement based on the source of the base product and manufacturer credibility.
Also be wary of sites that claim a myriad of benefits and active ingredients, sites that use a lot of hyperbole and “hard sales” copy. Look for hard facts on what is present and in what concentration. Check that the dose you will be taking links with that used in any successful research results.
The best products are usually from specialist formulators and manufacturers who only have a small range of products rather than large scale bulk producers and marketers. That is not to say that some of our large scale well known brands cannot produce a good value product. Value in this case is being judged on a combination of price and quality, checking price against the known active ingredient.
Often to get the required active ingredient strength you require you may need to go to an extract. Extracts are generally much more expensive but more effective. It needs a substantial research input to produce a quality extract and usually some quite sophisticated equipment although sometimes a simple crushing and pressing will produce a concentrated product. However even with extracts you need to have confidence in the manufacturer and read the active ingredient present in the final product.
So to summarise the Internet allows us to
• Research the type of product that is likely to help your condition
• Research the active ingredient in the product that is causing the effect and the likely dose needed
• Ascertain the brands/products available with this active ingredient
• Check on the likely level of environmental pollutants
• Beware of products that have a very wide range of ingredients and claims
• Rank the product on basis of the price of the active ingredient/ingredients
• Also assess credibility of the manufacturer/retailer
• Check and compare extracts on the same basis if they are available
• If effectiveness is more important than price you may choose an extract
This may sound complicated but with modern search engines is not too difficult and will allow you to make a much better choice of a Natural Health Product.

The bioactive milk protein lactoferrin has been used for many years to stimulate the immune system particularly in infant formulas where it has had wide acceptance. Work at the University of Auckland led by Dr Jill Cornish published in 2004 showed the product had strong bone building properties. Subsequent work has confirmed these first findings and it seems likely that lactoferrin may well replace the use of some of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat osteoporosis. This article looks at some of this research and discusses the results.
Lactoferrin is a bioactive milk protein particularly concentrated in both human and bovine colostrum and has been sold for many years as a nutritional supplement with anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti viral and immune stimulating activities. However the work showing its bone building properties shows even greater potential. Dr Jill Cornish of the University of Auckland has shown it is a natural medicine that stimulates the activity of osteoblasts the cells that build new bone, at the same time it inhibits the growth of osteoclasts. Lactoferrin is doing what no pharmaceutical drug can do, it is stimulating bone growth and slowing the removal of bone at the same time.
Synthetic drugs used for the treatment of Ostepenai or Osteoporosis can only do one or the other of these tasks. Bisphosphonates (Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax) and Calcitonin (Calcimar, Cibacalcin, Calsynar, Miacalcin, Osteocalcin and Salmonine) slow the removal of old bone by inhibiting the activity of osteoclasts. These drugs do nothing to stimulate osteoclasts to create new bone growth. Raloxifene (Evista) and Strontium ranlelate (Protelos) stimulates the growth of new bone but they do not inhibit the work of osteoclasts in their work of removing old bone. So this recent research showing a substance that can do both tasks is really quite exciting. As well many of these drugs have potentially serious side effects that preclude their use by many people. The bone building ability is further shown when it is directly injected to a fracture site where Dr Jill Cornish states that healing rates increase phenomenally.
A company called LactoPharma which is jointly owned by University of Auckland and the dairy company Fonterra have patents on the intellectual property and are currently developing consumer products in the bone health field with USA interests. Meanwhile the knowledge and acceptance of lactoferrin as a bone health product is growing rapidly and many mainstream medical professionals are accepting the research. Internet searches indicate Lactoferrin is freely available and the recommended rates for bone health are two 250 mg capsules per day. Trials with human patients have been carried out as well as the original Dr Jill Cornish work and can be found on the Internet. The product is very safe and I have found nothing in the medical literature suggesting that there would be any negative effects of this treatment approach
To me this is a great example of how natural products can often be better than pharmaceutical drugs which often cause more problems than they cure. There are many other examples. One is where another natural product was tested at Massey University recently for the same bone health qualities and Lactoferrin used as a control. An extract of this product Nuzeacal produced by “The Wise Old Owl” came out 25% better than Lactoferrin in inhibiting osteoclasts and increasing osteoblasts. This could in a few years be another great natural product discovery. New Zealand has a huge future in biotechnology, developing natural health products from our wide range of plant and animal life grown in what is perceived by much of the world as a clean green desirable environment.
The Wise Old Owl found at http://www.seniorhealthcare.co.nz
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1183439/ for the Dr Cornish research
http://ihfglobal.com/Documents/NaiduFeb09Article.pdf for a human lactoferrin trial

Glucosamine has been used to ease joint pain by consumers for over 20 years and many believe sincerely that it has been beneficial to them in terms of pain relief. However over the period there have been literally many hundreds of trials with glucosamine with varied results. In fact a recent major study in USA concluded that there was little benefit to be gained from taking glucosamine. This blog suggests the likely reasons for this variation in results and suggests how consumers might maximise their chances of getting a positive result from taking glucosamine for joint pain.

Glucosamine is supplied in two main forms glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride both sourced by hydrolysis of crustacean skeletons. In terms of effectiveness there is little to choose between them. As the bulk of trial work has been with the sulphate form, this is the form that I would recommend. The only reason to use the hydrochloride form would be to reduce the sodium intake if that were a worry to the consumer.
The second point is the purity/concentration of the product. There are many 100’s of large scale commercial bulk producers of glucosamine, the majority of them being in Asia. They sell product of varying concentration and pricing to supplement manufacturers with of course varying prices. In order to produce a competitively priced product a supplement manufacturer may not use the best quality base glucosamine. You need to buy from a trusted manufacturer and be wary of very low priced product.
Next the dose rate needs to be adequate and by adequate I believe you need to be taking at least the commonly accepted rate of 1,500mg of 100% glucosamine. In fact a dose rate of 2,000mg per day would be preferable. The product is relatively safe and even higher dose rates are likely to show little in the way of side effects. Only warnings are if you are a diabetic you need to monitor the effects carefully when you start a glucosamine programme and if you are on anti coagulants similarly monitor the effects. There should be none but some research indicates there could be minor effects in the odd case.
Then there is the formulation which in the vast majority of products is in a capsule, often a large capsule. This is because over time the product tends to break down in the liquid form, giving problems in stability with any liquid formulation. However this can be overcome by formulating in a powder which is then mixed with water at the appropriate dose rate at the time of usage. Pure glucosamine is relatively very soluble if ground finely and easily mixed. Taking in the liquid form enhances and increases the bio availability and effectiveness of the product which is only in the 20% area with the dry product in a capsule. As well it is an easier more pleasant method of ingestion as compared to a bulky capsule.
Finally there is the point of what else you take with the glucosamine as it can act in synergy with quite a number of products. The most common of these is Chrondroitin, another natural product that can have a positive effect on joint pain. The two together give more benefit than either separately (a case of 2 + 2 = 5). Other products that can also work in synergy are Omega3, Collagen 2 and at times a product called MSM.
So to summarise these points
• Take Glucosamine Sulphate
• Make sure it is from high quality base product – trusted manufacturer
• Take adequate dose rate – suggest 2,000mg/day
• Ingest in a liquid form (recently dissolved powder)
• Look at also taking products that will act in synergy with glucosamine
If you take heed of these points it is likely you will get a positive response, it will not cure the condition but it may make it easier to live with and slow the progression. In my experience some 80% will gain measurable relief.
Try it for two months which is long enough for the effects to be seen, if you are one of the 20% who see little effect, give it up. Surprisingly often when you stop the pain comes back and you realise it was working.

Calcium supplements are more widely used in the world than any other dietary supplement including all minerals, vitamins, and herbal, marine, animal or apiary products. For example the National Centre for Health Statistics shows that in USA six out of 10 women over 60 years of age take a calcium supplement. It is the most abundant mineral in the body and essential to a wide range of critical body functions as well as its known role in bone structure. Yet there are widely published results from the medical world warning of dangers in calcium supplementation (particularly in the field of heart and stroke attack probabilities) and advising to obtain all calcium from food and avoid calcium supplements. This has led to widely differing views from medical professionals as to the advisability or otherwise of taking calcium supplements. Which in turn has led to confusion in the mind of many consumers, as to just what they personally should do? The Wise Old Owl does not want to add to that confusion but feels a checklist of the key factors would help consumers make a more informed decision as to what action to take to maximise their longterm health and longevity.

To start the checklist you first need to establish your current daily intake of calcium from food. Obviously you cannot do this in highly accurate detail but all we are looking for is placing your intake in broad bands.

Under 500 mg elemental calcium per day
500-1,000 mg elemental calcium per day
Over 1,000 mg elemental calcium per day

To make this calculation you need to write down a list of the foods you would eat and their approximate amounts on an average day. Then from the Internet obtain a Calcium Food Chart, there are many available (one is given in the resource box) and calculate your daily calcium intake.

This should place you in one of the board bands shown above.

Next we need to look how this intake measures up against your requirement. Charts on requirements based on age and sex are also readily available on the Internet. You ned to print one of these off.

From this chart you will see that young children on a normal diet are likely to be getting adequate calcium. Teenage children may need checking but given they have normal appetite/intake and reasonable diet makeup they should be fine as well.

When we come to the adult / middle age stage, if we are in the 1,000 mg per day plus band for our intake there is no real worry for either sex.

However if you are in the 500-1,000 mg per day band we have to add some more factors to our checklist.

Family History
Heart Health

First your Family History. This gives your likely genetic effect on any development of weak bones or osteoporosis. If you have a parent or close relative that has had osteoporosis or history of bone fractures and you are in this band of 500 mg-1,000 mg intake you need to look at a calcium supplement to take your total intake up to the 1,200+ mg mark. However before doing that you need to look at the second point – your Heart Health, specifically those factors relating to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and family history of heart disease. If you have these factors present you will need to try to get your calcium intake up by food. If this is difficult you can look at alternative food based calcium supplements rather than conventional calcium carbonate/citrate supplements.

Finally coming to the most important group of all – the older age group. Here based on requirement we group women from menopause on and men from 65 on, in this group the requirement is quite high and often their dietary intake of calcium is declining. If their intake is well over the 1,000 mg band they should be fine. Although if there is a Family History of osteoporosis it may pay to have a check bone scan.

However if you end up in the 500 mg-1,000 mg band you are likely to need a calcium supplement. It is unlikely that you will be able to lift or change your diet sufficiently to ensure adequate calcium levels unless you are already at the top end of the band. This requirement will be even more urgent if your Family History includes osteoporosis. But again this is tempered by your Heart Health situation. If this is not good you should check with your health professional and consider one of the food based calcium supplements. Some information on Calcium Supplementation and Heart Attacks was given in a previous article.

So to summarise if you

Calculate what your current calcium intake is
Based on age and sex read off your requirement
If requirement is greater than intake
Provide difference by (a) modifying diet or (b) adding a calcium supplement
Decision on (a) or (b) depends on Family History and Heart Health factors
If (b) look at use of a food based calcium supplement

Carrying out this checklist should allow decisions in your calcium intake to give you the best combination of benefits and risks.

The Wise Old Owl found at

http://www.seniorhealthcare.co.nz

Where more information on calcium may be found

A good food chart can be found at

http://healthyeatingclub.com/info/books-phds/books/foodfacts/html/data/data5c.html

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. it is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body’s own tissues.
No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling
My expertise is in the natural product field, I have no medical training (although have a daughter a pharmacist) so am not qualified to talk on the research on medical drugs. However a paper called Cutting Edge Treatments (link given in the resource box) may give you some information on pharmacy type treatments. My only worry with them is the side effects, particularly as they effect on heart attack / strokes.
Looking at natural products there are a wide range of herbs and spices touted, some limited evidence for some but none I would personally recommend. However Omega 3 fish oil is a different matter. All properly randomised and double blinded trials I can find show positive results. While it will not cure the disease it appears to delay the progression and give pain relief. This pain relief often allows a reduction in the prescribed drug regime. A summary of some of the fish oil research called Fish Oils and Rheumatoid Arthritis is also given in the resource box.

The amount of fish oil needed to achieve the research results is quite high. Much higher than that needed to get the heart and brain benefits that the fish oils confer. It would seem to me that 3-6 capsules daily are needed and it would take some 12 weeks for the effects to be felt.

One of the reasons that Omega 3 (EPA/DHA) work is that our modern diet contains far too much Omega 6 and this causes inflammation. Some research indicates that the current ratio in the Western World is in the order of 25 to 1. Early in our development it was closer to 1 to 1. The supplementation by Omega 3 combats and reduces the negative effects of the excessive Omega 6.
Also important is the EPA/DHA ratio. In all common Omega 3 capsules found in our health food shops and pharmacies the EPA is 18% and the DHA is 12% (this is either from North American salmon oil or South American sardine oil). This is also the ratio used in most research as it is the common standard fish oil and can be produce very cheaply.
However the more important one of the two in heart and brain health is DHA and another paper “Why Fish Oils help with Conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis” also given in the resource box indicate that this may be true in Rheumatoid Arthritis as well.

References
http://www.oilofpisces.com/rheumatoidarthritis.htm
http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/ra-treatment/rheumatoid-arthritis-treatments.php
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091028142227.htm
http://www.seniorhealthcare.co.nz

Because vitamin D deficiency is becoming implicated in such a wide range of disease conditions, researchers are increasing the amount of work targeting vitamin D.

New Zealand researchers have expertise in a number of physiological conditions and lifecycle stages where vitamin D deficiency is potentially damaging to health in both the short and long term. These include bone health, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and muscle strength, and during pregnancy, infancy and childhood, as well as older age.

Several of the recent trials have shown that a substantial number of the population have blood levels of this vitamin that is well below the optimum level. The actual requirement of Vitamin D and the dose rate that is recommended has changed markedly in the last year or so with researchers and medical professionals world wide suggesting that current rates are far too low and could be substantially lifted without any danger of toxicity or side effects. The former adult recommendation of some 1000 U.I. is seen as too low and many are recommending rates in the 2000 – 3000 I.U. range.

A 6 months study by Dr John Livesey of some 200 Christchurch adults showed they were almost all Vitamin D deficent during the period studied. His recommendation was that Christchurch adults should all be taking a daily dose of 2600 I.U. on a daily basis throughout the year. This study surprised The Wise Old Owl as it would be expected that over the summer sufficent sunlight would have been absorbed by the skin to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D, but that does not appear to be the case. Further studies by other researchers have come up with the same conclusion that a substantial porportion of the New Zealand population need Vitamin D supplementation. Blood testing of a broad sample of the population indicated that throughout New Zealand in the order of 50% of the population had below optimum levels of Vitamin D in their system

Vitamin D exists in 5 forms and it is Vitamin D3 (that is one manufactured in the body by sunlight) that is the important or critical one, so any supplementation either by diet or actual supplement should be in this form. This is the form used in NUZEACAL the bone health supplement produced by The Wise Old Owl and found on the website http://www.seniorhealthcare.co.nz

Another New Zealand website that has good Vitamin D information on is http://www.vitamind3.co.nz

Researching natural health products on the internet has been a interest of The Wise Old Owl for many years and I spend several hours every day following international developments and research results in this field. There is a huge range of products and the science or research behind them varies tremendously. From sound medically based and approved trials to real scam or antedotal results. Often there are very conflicting results or views and for the average consumer it is difficult to sort the wheat from the straw. For me to accept a natural health product has a beneficial effect I have to see a substantial number of well designed and operated trials carried out over a number of years that show significant positive results in the vast majority of cases (not necessarily every case).
Running in parallel with this research must be reliable toxicity work to prove product safety.
Once we are at that stage I am really interested and would recommend the product. However before it will get full consumer acceptance it must be accepted by health professionals and recommended by them. That final stage can take many years.
The product that I believe fits this development perfectly and is my current choice for the most important natural health product in the world is Omega 3. This product was researched widely for many years and a large body of reliable results showing positive effects on both heart and brain was available some 8 years ago but consumer acceptance was relatively low. However about that time some health professionals supported it’s use and over the last 8 years this medical acceptance has grown along with comsumer use, both growing rapidly every year.
Additional research has reinforced the early conclusions and come up with a number of additional benefits and listing all the benefits is the subject of a separate blog. Suffice to say I believe that everyone should be taking this product other than those who eat fish several times a week. An exercise I did to try and convert the benefits as shown by research into actual health benefits showed in dollar terms it would pay all health insurers very substantially to provide all their clients with free Omega 3. Which means to the individual taking Omega 3 is the cheapest health insurance they could find.

Recent publicity in the media on the danger of calcium supplementation increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke has confused many consumers. Especially in USA where 51% of the population over 19 years of age take calcium supplements, with 66% of women over 60 taking calcium supplements (National Health and Nutrition Surveys USA).
This publicity has arisen from a series of meta analyses carried out by Prof Ian Reid at the Auckland Medical School in NZ, the results being published in the British Medical Journal in early 2011. For these meta analyses he has chosen a wide range of trials covering some 29,000 people and states for every 1,000 people taking calcium supplements we save 3 fractures and cause 6 heart attacks.
While he is not sure of the reason, he postulates that when a consumer starts taking a conventional calcium supplement it causes an abrupt spike in the blood serum calcium and this causes the increased risk. His recommendation is to take any calcium supplementation in the form of food rather than a capsule. That is increase the intake of such high calcium foods such as dairy products. If you must take a supplement take one that is very insoluble, take it with food and split your daily dose rate.
Prof Reid’s views are challenged by a number of people. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Woman’s Health Initiative (WHI), a number of the health supplement organisations and a number of well known heart specialists. All express concern at the figures and say that Prof Reid has just selected trials that proved his thesis and left out those that did not fit and they say he poses more questions than answers. There are many more trials that show no heart effects than the ones he has selected and none of the trials were designed to measure effects on the heart
That may be correct, and mega analyses can often give strange results. For example a world meta analyses of dairy product consumption and osteoporosis rates show clearly an inverse ratio. Often countries with a high dairy product consumption have much higher rates of osteoporosis than those with a low dairy product consumption. Still Prof Reid is a very reputable researcher and The Wise Old Owl is sure he honestly believes in his theory. It would seem foolish not to keep this matter under review and in the meantime follow Prof Reid’s advice if taking calcium supplements (generally he prefers calcium to be taken in the diet in a natural form with other minerals and nutrients).
However he says if you do need a calcium supplement make your choice an insoluble one, preferably a complex one that contains a range of minerals and proteins and is akin to a concentrated food.Take them with meals and split the daily dose.
The calcium supplement NUZEACAL fits these criteria well with it’s calcium being held in the desirable MCHA form and has the additional benefit of containing a powerful bioactive that increases bone strength. Also some of the calcium supplements derived from sea algae are more complex and contain a wide range of minerals
More information may be found at http://www.seniorhealthcare.co.nz