Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prevent Cavities: Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Niacin, and Thiamine

Cavities are important indicators of basic good health. Healthy people don’t get cavities. Unhealthy people, no matter how good their dental care, do get cavities. Take a look at this recent study showing a clear correlation between cavities and dementia. I recommend taking news of a cavity from your dentist seriously. Read more here.

Vitamins prevent cavities by improving overall basic health. Vitamins have been readily available for decades, yet many people still suffer from poor health and therefore have multiple teeth with cavities as senior citizens. People haven’t yet learned how to take vitamins to optimize health. I believe that an important reason is that most people can’t feel vitamins working. That’s bad news.

The good news is that there are only four really important vitamins. These are the four vitamins associated with pandemic deficiency disease: vitamin C/scurvy, vitamin D/rickets, thiamine/beriberi, and niacin/pellagra. Optimizing these four vitamins alone will result in a step-change reduction in cavities. Read more here. If you have recently had a cavity filled (or are responsible for the care of someone who has recently had a cavity filled), you have much to gain and nothing to lose by reading on.

If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Vitamin D and thiamine deficiencies probably account for most premature cavities. Vitamin D deficiency is caused by a combination of geography and modern living. The natural means of getting large daily doses of vitamin D is from sunshine. If you live outside the tropics, in the winter it is difficult to get enough sun exposure to deliver optimal doses of vitamin D. Not only is there a lot less intense sunshine in the winter, but the cold weather causes people to wear clothes which blocks the limited amount of sunshine naturally available.

Modern living compounds these problems. Most people work inside and dress professionally. Incredibly, mainstream medicine doesn’t see this as a problem, and does nothing while medical colleagues paid by industry advertise the risks of sun exposure (primarily skin damage and skin cancer) in order to sell sunscreens and other cosmetic products. Scared by these risks, and blind to the dangers of avoiding the sun, many people are reducing exposure to the sun even further.

Sunshine and/or tanning lamps are the best way to get vitamin D. It only requires 5 minutes per side of full body exposure three days per week in order to get close to maximum possible production of vitamin D from the skin. Taking vitamin D supplements works but is accompanied by risk of overdose. Taking 1000 IU/day of vitamin D is safe but delivers significantly lower doses of vitamin D. Taking more than 1000 IU/day can cause side effects. The earliest side effects are typically irritated lungs and ringing ears. Personally, I use both supplements and the sun and cut back on supplements when I experience side effects.

Thiamine is the special vitamin of the four special vitamins. The ordinary forms of thiamine commonly found in the diet require specialized proteins to be absorbed and transported throughout the body. As we age, our thiamine transport system also ages. So, even if there is an ample supply of thiamine in the diet, parts of the body can become thiamine deficient with age. For this reason, thiamine deficiency is associated with many common conditions of aging: depression, dementia, sleep disorders, and loss of sex drive. Limitations in the thiamine transport system can be overcome by taking mega doses of typical forms of thiamine or by taking small doses of TTFD, a fat-soluble form of thiamine that doesn’t rely on transport proteins to be distributed throughout the body. Read more here and here.

Vitamin C is easily managed by taking 2000 to 3000 mg at breakfast and at bedtime every day. If this causes side effects in the digestive tract, cut back to 1000 mg twice per day. A high protein diet provides ample amounts of niacin. Supplementing once per week with a 250 mg time-release tablet should be plenty to prevent cavities. If you eat a low fat, low protein diet it is a good idea to take a 250 mg time-release tablet at least 3 times per week.

The recent study cited in the first paragraph found that elderly individuals diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease had an average of 7.8 teeth with fillings vs. an average of only 2.7 fillings for elderly individuals without dementia. Some individuals make it into old age without any fillings at all. These elderly tend to be in excellent health in general. Cavities are associated with poor health from a wide variety of other causes. Although not serious today, before the advent of modern dental practices cavities were life threatening. Cavities are strongly associated with serious chronic health problems. If you have recently had a cavity filled (or are responsible for the care of someone who has recently had a cavity filled), you have much to gain and nothing to lose by supplementing with vitamin D, thiamine, vitamin C, and niacin.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Anorexia Prevention with Thiamine, Vitamin D, Niacin, and Vitamin C

Readers concerned about young women in their families developing anorexia (or other eating disorders) have been trying vitamins B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), C, and D. The trials are succeeding. Virtual elimination of anorexia is now just a matter of time. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

The key to accelerating the elimination of this tragic disease is primary care physicians. Unfortunately, it is unrealistic to expect them to change without community action. Primary care physicians are the tip of a large system of healthcare workers who depend upon steady income from chronically ill (mostly) young women with eating disorders. The elimination of eating disorders is going to eliminate this system as well, creating substantial economic pain. The community, not mainstream medicine, stands to benefit. Therefore the community has the incentive to act. One sensible action is to point physicians to this blog and hold them accountable for reading it and responding.

More and more practical data emerges. Several prior columns have pointed to the special role of vitamin B1 (thiamine) in anorexia. Thiamine is the special vitamin of the four special vitamins. It requires transport proteins to be absorbed and distributed throughout the body. Some cases of eating disorders may be aggravated by poorly functioning thiamine transport proteins. These cases will often benefit from the use of an obscure form of thiamine called TTFD. Unlike ordinary forms of thiamine, TTFD diffuses throughout the body without requiring thiamine transport proteins.

Vitamin D may also play a significant role in eating disorders. Every day a better understanding is emerging about the important role vitamin D plays in neurological health. All vitamin therapies are slow acting. Vitamin D therapy, however, is particularly slow acting. It takes several months of supplementing at safe levels (1000 to 2000 IU/day) to reach a new steady state and months more to get full benefit of vitamin D’s healing powers. Vitamin D is better tolerated when obtained from sunlight or tanning lamps. 30 minutes in the sun can deliver more than 10,000 IU and serious side effects from sun-bathing are unknown. Advice from medical authorities to avoid sunshine has been tragically misguided.

If you know of a friend or family member in danger of developing an eating disorder, you have a strong incentive to act. Full-blown eating disorders may well involve irreversible neurological damage, and are regularly fatal. Young men and women in danger of developing eating disorders have much to gain and nothing to lose by getting more thiamine, vitamin D, vitamin C, and niacin into their bodies. For vitamin D supplements are not preferred in deference to mid-day sunshine.