News Flash: Eat Your Dandelion Greens

 Diet, Viamins  Comments Off on News Flash: Eat Your Dandelion Greens
Jun 122014

We now have a nutrient dense food list provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Jennifer Di Noia. And dandelion greens are sixteenth on the list of forty-one high nutrient dense foods. Of course, you won’t be able to eat your dandelion greens if you kill them with herbicides.

I’ve used Whole Foods’s top 100 healthiest foods for many years. But there’re several nutrient dense foods on the CDC list that is lacking in the Whole Foods list, such as watercress, chicory, dandelion greens, arugula, kohlrabi, and rutabaga. I’m surprised to see Iceberg Lettuce on the CDC list. I’ve considered Iceberg Lettuce to be nutrient deficient. Romaine lettuce is the better choice, since Romaine lettuce is ninth on the CDC list, while Iceberg lettuce is twenty-ninth on the list.

Dr. Di Noia assigned a nutrient density score to each food based on the Darmon method of nutrient density standards for vegetables and fruits. In addition, foods are considered powerhouse fruits and vegetables (PFV) if they provide 10% or more of the daily value of a nutrient. And the nutrients a food should provide include potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

Even though many of us prefer to pop a pill for nutrition, vitamins and minerals are always more bioavailable from foods. One reason is these chemicals and minerals don’t provide nutrition by acting alone. For example, vitamin C is more than the chemical ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is actually a complex of many chemicals, which includes ascorbic acid. And this is true of all bioavailable forms of vitamins and minerals.

Start eating those dandelion greens rather than killing them to get more bioavailable vitamins and minerals into your diet.

The forty-one high nutrient dense foods in order of nutrient content are watercress, Chinese cabbage, chard, beet greens, spinach, chicory, leaf lettuce, parsley, Romaine lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, endive, chive, kale, dandelion greens, red pepper, arugula, broccoli, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, scallion, kohlrabi, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, tomato, lemon, iceberg lettuce, strawberry, radish, winter squash, orange, lime, red grapefruit, rutabaga, turnip, blackberry, leeks, sweet potato and white grapefruit.

Free Radicals May Promote Longevity

 Viamins  Comments Off on Free Radicals May Promote Longevity
May 092014

More and more research reports say that vitamin and antioxidant supplements my do more harm than good. Now a report from McGill University suggests free radicals may promote longevity. This requires a reversal in thinking by health advocates, if true.

A lot of money is made by vitamin suppliers on the assumption that free radicals are dangerous to our health and cause aging. A whole industry may disappear, if free radicals are proven to be beneficial to health and longevity.

Concerning the current theory that free radicals are hazardous to our health, the McGill researchers state:

“We have turned this theory on its head by proving that free radical production increases during aging because free radicals actually combat — not cause — aging. In fact, in our model organism we can elevate free radical generation and thus induce a substantially longer life.”

This is another report of a string of reports suggesting that the supplement theory has it all wrong as indicated in the CBS article “Will vitamins extend your lifespan or just shrink your piggy bank?

Back in December 2013, I published a post showing you how to get your B vitamins from natural food sources. I still believe this is the best way to get your vitamins and minerals. Here are some suggestions for other vitamins:

  • Vitamin A foods are sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, peppers, mangoes, apricots, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin C foods include peppers, citrus fruits, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin D foods include cold water fish, milk, eggs and sunshine.
  • Vitamin E foods include sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts and spinach.
  • Most minerals are easily obtained from nuts, seeds and fish.

We need to get away from mega dose pill health. Getting your vitamins and minerals from natural food sources insures you’re supplying your body not only with the nutrition your body needs, but also in the proper dosages. More and more reports suggest vitamin supplements may do more harm than good.

It’s an interesting time in health philosophy. Many of our current theories on health are being overturned. This report suggests free radical theory is also wrong. Free radicals may actually promote longevity, rather than shorten it.

Protecting Yourself from Memory Disorders with Natural Vitamin E

 Alzheimer's, Brain Health, Viamins  Comments Off on Protecting Yourself from Memory Disorders with Natural Vitamin E
Jan 112014

A new study from Finland reports that elderly people with high serum vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders, according to the ScienceDaily article “Several Forms of Vitamin E Protect Against Memory Disorders.”

What’s interesting about this report is that the entire vitamin E family may be needed to lower your risk of memory loss. You only get the alpha-tocopherol version of vitamin E in supplements. Vitamin E, however, comes in 8 natural forms. The article states: “According to the researchers, the results show that the entire vitamin E family plays a role in memory processes.”

This is another indication that to get the full benefits from vitamins, natural forms from food are best.

What are the best food sources of vitamin E?

Both the National Institutes of Health and The George Mateljan Foundation agree that sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach and peanuts are excellent sources of natural vitamin E. Some additional sources are Swiss chard, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower oil, safflower oil and hazelnuts.

It’s true sunflower and safflower oils are high in natural vitamin E. However, they are also low in natural vitamin K. As I discussed in the post “Vitamin K2 May Be the Best Medicine to Prevent Calcium Buildup in Your Arteries,” vitamin K is important to prevent calcium plague buildup in our bodies.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out one day that vitamin K is also a necessary nutrient for brain health. Two oils that have healthy amounts of both vitamins E and K are extra virgin olive oil and canola oil. Olive oil is used extensively by healthy populations in the Mediterranean, and canola oil is used by healthy populations in Asia.

A second study shows that vitamin E helps slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. This study, however, used large amounts of vitamin E supplements in concentration impossible to obtain from food. This is the one situation where supplements may be better.

For memory health, however, the entire natural form of the vitamin E family appears to be best. So to maintain your memory health, eat healthy amounts of sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, almonds and peanuts with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil.

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Vitamin B Natural Food Sources

 Diet, Viamins  Comments Off on Vitamin B Natural Food Sources
Dec 292013

The vitamin B group are water soluble vitamins. Nearly everyone agrees that these vitamins are necessary for cell metabolism. They make it possible for our cells to convert nutrients into energy.

Some of these vitamins like folate may reduce the risks of some cancers. However, the research results are mixed. There are also research results that suggest mega-doses of vitamins may actually be harmful. In general, however, “more problems are caused by not getting enough of the B vitamins than by getting too much,” states the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society also says: “While it is best to get vitamins and minerals from foods, supplements may be helpful for some people. If a supplement is taken, the best choice for most people is a balanced multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains no more than 100% of the “Daily Value” of most nutrients. Keep in mind that no supplement can take the place of healthy foods.”

I personally believe obtaining vitamins from natural food sources is the best choice. You get the vitamins in a form that our bodies have evolved to use most effectively, and foods won’t give you an unnecessary and possibly harmful overdose of these chemicals.

The Colorado State University confirmed this belief by stating: “Despite the popularity of supplements, many individuals are capable of obtaining all of the required vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet alone. In fact, those who consume a multi-vitamin or multi-mineral on a daily basis may be at risk for excessive intake, or toxicity of certain nutrients.”

What are the best natural food sources of the Vitamin B Group?

Seeds and nuts provide the best source of the vitamin B complex. From providing the most vitamin B’s to the least are ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachios, walnuts and almonds. Surprisingly, pumpkin seeds contain little vitamins, but are loaded with minerals.

The best source for thiamine (B1) are ground flax seeds. Almonds provide the most riboflavin (B2). Peanuts provide the most niacin (B3). Sunflower seeds are full of pantothenic acid (B5). Pyridoxine (B6) is best obtained from pistachios. The best provider of folic acid are sunflower seeds. Walnuts, of course, are the big provider of omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin B12 is obtained from animal sources like eggs, milk and ocean fish like sardines, herring, salmon and tuna.

There are a few instances when a supplement is best:

  • If your diet is extremely vitamin poor
  • If you are over 50, B12 and vitamin D3 supplements are helpful
  • And pregnant women may need supplements of folic acid and iron.

In general, it’s best to get your vitamins from natural foods. If you do take a supplement, limit your exposure to 100% of the daily recommended dosages. The vitamin B complex is necessary for cellular metabolism in converting nutrients into energy. Most of the vitamin B group can be obtained from seeds and nuts. Vitamin B12, however, is obtained from animal sources.

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Vitamin K2 May Be the Best Medicine to Prevent Calcium Buildup in Your Arteries

 Diet, Viamins  Comments Off on Vitamin K2 May Be the Best Medicine to Prevent Calcium Buildup in Your Arteries
Dec 262013

Traditional methods of determining high or low risks for coronary artery disease (cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking history and diabetes) misses a significant percentage of people who are at high risks, according to a press release by Johns Hopkins Medicine titled “Study Shows Value of Calcium Scan in Predicting Heart Attack and Stroke Among Those Considered at Either Low or High Risk.” Traditional methods also assign high risk to people who are actually at low risks, states this new study.

The method used in the study is a direct measurement of calcium deposits in heart arteries as seen on a CT scan. Patients are then assigned a calcium score based on the scan.

The study found that 15% of patients considered low risks from traditional screening but with a high coronary artery calcium score were actually a high risk candidate for coronary artery disease over the next 7 years after screening. In addition, patients considered high risk by traditional screening methods were actually low risk over the next 7 years. These are the results of studying data from 7,000 screened patients.

The press release goes on to say, “Our study shows that coronary artery calcium testing holds promise as a frontline assessment for people before they develop heart disease symptoms. In the meantime, we believe that doctors should consider offering a coronary artery calcium scan to their patients to markedly improve risk prediction if they are unsure whether they should be on lifelong statin and aspirin therapy.”

In a previous post, “Are Calcium Supplements Too Dangerous Even to Prevent Osteoporosis,” it’s concluded that calcium becomes a health problem when there is insufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin K2 in our bloodstream. This conclusion is confirmed in an article by Dr. Jim Howenstine, “Vitamin K2 Controls Removal of Calcium from Arteries…

Dr. Howenstine base his comments on the Rotterdam study on vitamin K2 (Dietary Intake of Menaquinone [vitamin K2] Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease). He states,” When Vitamin K2 is lacking the calcium remains in the blood and ends up getting deposited in the walls of arteries and other sites which is very undesirable. Thus Vitamin K2 becomes a critical nutrient for both bone and arteries.” In addition, he says, “Most healthy adults in the USA have undiagnosed Vitamin K deficiency. This has important health ramifications as it is a prime contributing cause for arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis with vertebral and other fractures (hip, wrist). The recent availability of Vitamin K2 as a food supplement can produce important health benefits.”

What are good food sources of vitamin K2?

The food with the highest vitamin K2 content is Natto, which is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. It’s not common in the U.S., and most Americans can’t stand the smell or taste of Natto. Fortunately, low fat Gouda and Edam cheeses also are good sources, along with most Swiss type of cheeses. Smaller amounts of vitamin K2 can also be found in eggs and the dark meat of chicken.

Recent studies suggest that a direct measurement of your calcium buildup in your heart arteries is a better indication of heart attack and stroke risk compared to the traditional indicators of cholesterol, blood pressure, family history and diabetes. Additional research indicates that people with low levels of vitamin K2 are more likely to develop calcium plaques in their heart arteries, and have a higher risk of coronary heart disease. This makes vitamin K2 an important heart health vitamin. Some of the best food sources of this vitamin are Natto, Gouda, Edam, and to a lesser extent eggs and the dark meat of chicken.

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Are Calcium Supplements Too Dangerous Even to Prevent Osteoporosis?

 Diet, Supplements, Viamins  Comments Off on Are Calcium Supplements Too Dangerous Even to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Mar 222013

For decades, we believed that we were doing the healthy thing by taking calcium supplements to help prevent osteoporosis in our old age. Then a published report in the British Medical Journal stated that calcium supplements do more harm than good. The researchers concluded that calcium supplements cause more heart attacks than it prevents in broken bones from osteoporosis.

Does this mean that we should dump our calcium tablets and reduce our calcium intake in the foods that we eat? Well, not so fast!

The real story behind osteoporosis, calcium intake and heart disease is a little more complicated than what many in the medical field are indicating. The real problem is not calcium supplements, but taking calcium supplements by themselves. Consuming calcium by itself can have bad health consequences, but taking calcium with its essential co-factors has many beneficial health results.

Vitamins and Minerals Require Co-factors.

As it turns out, calcium requires many other vitamins and minerals to allow it to build up our skeletal system without calcifying our muscles, arteries, joints, heart and kidneys. Take calcium without its co-factors and you start solidifying your body with hardened calcium deposits, and risk having a heart attack. But take calcium with its co-factors, and you provide your body with an essential mineral for optimum health as you age.

What are calcium’s co-factors?

Published research results on rats show that the least amount of bone loss occurs when rats are fed sufficient amounts of calcium along with vitamins K2 and D during their entire life span. But we also know that magnesium is required to activate vitamin D. So the major co-factors of calcium are

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D3
  • And Vitamin K2

Science is still trying to determine the role of vitamin K2 in bone health, but we know for sure that vitamin D is required for proper calcium utilization, and magnesium is required to activate vitamin D. We also know that magnesium plays an important role in making sure that calcium doesn’t calcify the tissues and organs throughout our body.

Other studies also have shown that manganese, vanadium, boron, silica, zinc, and copper in trace amounts are also important for bone health.

Taking calcium supplements without its essential co-factors can have negative health consequences. But with its essential co-factors (especially magnesium), calcium supplements can play an important role in preventing osteoporosis.

Is There a Problem With Calcium Supplements or Is It Magnesium Deficiency?

The big problem occurs when we take vitamin D with calcium supplements. It’s true that vitamin D is needed for proper absorption of calcium, but vitamin D also depletes our body of magnesium. That’s because vitamin D uses magnesium to transform itself into a usable form. So the more vitamin D we take, the faster we deplete our bodies of magnesium.

Then as we deplete our bodies of magnesium, calcium starts to calcify our muscles, tissues and joints, which in turn increases our risks of arthritis and heart attacks. And that’s because magnesium is needed to prevent calcium from forming plagues throughout our body. It’s becoming more obvious that magnesium is the real key to preventing calcium from causing medical problems. It’s important for the activation of vitamin D to absorb calcium, and it’s important to prevent calcium from forming health threatening plagues.

Are Calcium Supplements Safe?

Taking calcium supplements without magnesium and other co-factors is not safe. It can lead to calcification of muscles, joints, and organs, which in turn can lead to kidney and heart problems. But with sufficient amounts of magnesium and other co-factors, calcium supplements can maintain bone health and prevent osteoporosis.

So instead of throwing away your calcium supplements, make sure that you also are getting sufficient amounts of magnesium and vitamin D3 to properly utilize calcium. You should also consider taking vitamin K2 supplements to minimize bone loss as you age. The other minerals that are needed in trace amounts for good bone health can be found in most multi-vitamins, mineral water and raw sea salt.


All minerals and vitamins can’t function properly in our bodies alone. They all need co-factors to be properly utilized. Calcium is no exception. For calcium to do its job of maintaining bone health and preventing disease like osteoporosis, it needs magnesium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 at the very least.

But most of all, never take calcium or vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of magnesium to accompany them. Magnesium takes calcium out of the blood and soft tissues and puts it back into our bones. By putting calcium back into our bones where it belongs,  magnesium prevents calcium from forming hard, calcified plagues in our circulatory system and tissues that can lead to arthritis, heart attacks and kidney stones.  We should try to get at least 500 mg of elemental magnesium in our diet daily to properly utilize calcium in our bodies.

Of course, you can also get natural magnesium from foods. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, some selected foods that are high in magnesium content are wheat bran and germ, almonds, spinach, cashews, legumes, nuts, oatmeal, peanuts and peanut butter, brown rice, bananas, avocados and yogurt and milk.


Huffpost: Magnesium Is Crucial for Bones
Vitamin D Council: Vitamin D Cofactors
University of Maryland: Manganese
University of Maryland: Osteoporosis
Harvard Medical School: High Calcium Intake From Supplements Linked to Heart Disease in Men
Research Report: Effects of Vitamin K2, Vitamin D, and calcium on the bone metabolism of rats in the growth phase