Lack of Vitamin D Linked to Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia

Researchers have found that low serum levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for host of health problems ranging from diabetes and osteoporosis to depression, dental cavities and periodontal disease. What’s more, in 2008, numerous studies concluded that people with higher serum levels of vitamin D had a greatly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as well as a lowered chance of death due to cardiac causes. Curiously, all of these seemingly separate conditions are either known risk factors for dementia or tend to strike before dementia is diagnosed. Now scientist William B. Grant, PhD, of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC) has put these facts together and has come up with a startling new hypothesis about the cause of mind-robbing Alzheimer’s disease and other vascular dementias: vitamin D deficiency.

His article in the current issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (May 2009) explains why further investigation is needed to identify any causative linkages between vitamin D and dementia, including the type known as Alzheimer’s disease. As an example of how risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia could be directly related to vitamin D deficiencies, Dr. Grant cites several studies that have correlated tooth loss with the development of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. Why do people lose teeth? Primarily, he points out in his article, tooth loss is the result of dental caries and/or periodontal disease — and both those conditions are linked to low levels of vitamin D.

In addition, Dr. Grant’s article explains that ample biological evidence has accumulated showing how critical vitamin D is to healthy brain development and function. In fact, vitamin D in sufficient amounts seems to protect brain cells and reduce inflammation. A lack of vitamin D has been associated with increased inflammation and a pro-inflammatory state has been linked, in turn, with dementia.

Dr. Grant is calling for studies of levels of vitamin D in people before dementia is diagnosed and research to determine if vitamin D supplementation is warranted to potentially prevent dementia. In addition, because elderly people are frequently deficient in vitamin D, he suggests that those over 60 years old should consider having their serum vitamin D level tested and, if their vitamin D status is low, he recommends taking 1000 to 2000 IU a day of vitamin D3 supplements and/or increasing the time they spend in the sun year round.

“There are established criteria for causality in a biological system. The important criteria include strength of association, consistency of findings, determination of the dose-response relation, an understanding of the mechanisms, and experimental verification,” Dr. Grant states in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease article. “To date, the evidence includes observational studies supporting a beneficial role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of diseases linked to dementia such as vascular and metabolic diseases, as well as an understanding of the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of several mechanisms that lead to dementia.”

Finding out how vitamin D might be able to help prevent and perhaps treat Alzheimer’s and other dementias can’t come a moment too soon. The Alzheimer’s Association recently reported that 5.3 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Reference: “Does Vitamin D Reduce the Risk of Dementia?” by William B. Grant, Ph.D. , Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 17:1 (May 2009).

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About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s “Healthy Years” newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s “Focus on Health Aging” newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s “Men’s Health Advisor” newsletter and many others.


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Variety of Summer Camps Offered

Options include sports as well as theatre, the sciences, and writing

The Gannon University women’s basketball program, led by coach Cleve Wright, will host five girls’ camps this summer. Dates are as follows:
• June 15-18 and July 27-30: Fundamentals Camps (grades 3-8).
• June 19-21 and July 17-19: Team Camps (high school junior varsity and varsity teams).
• July 13-16: Shooting Camp (grades 6-12).
The Fundamentals Camps are $100 per person; the Team Camps are $300 per team; and the Shooting Camp is $75 per person. For more information, or to register, contact Cleve Wright, women’s basketball coach, Gannon University, at 814-871-7419.

The Gannon University men’s basketball program, led by coach John Reilly, will host two boys’ camps this summer. Dates are as follows:
• June 13-14: Team Camp (high school junior varsity and varsity teams).
• August 3-7: Fundamentals Camp (grades 3-8).
Cost is $125 per person for the Fundamentals Camp, and $350 per team for the team camp. For more information, or to register, contact the Gannon University men’s basketball offices at 814-871-7212.

The Gannon University volleyball program, led by coach Matt Darling, will host two girls’ camps this summer. Dates are as follows:
• July 6-9: All-Skills Camp.
• July 10-11: Beginner’s Camp (ages 5-12).
The camps will focus on teaching the skills of the game to players at all levels of ability. The cost for the All-Skills Camp is $125 for day camp and $300 for overnight camp (includes all meals and three nights in the residence halls.) The cost for the Beginner’s Camp is $50. For more information, or to register, contact Matt Darling, women’s volleyball coach, Gannon University, at 814-871-7245.

Gannon University will host three sessions of its Young Writers’ Camp: June 23-27, July 7-11, and July 21-25. During these hands-on and collaborative workshops, students will learn to more fully develop their writing process and develop writing projects to produce “working manuscripts” of publishable writing. For more information, or to register, contact Sally LeVan, professor, Gannon University English Department, at 814-871-7506.

Gannon University from July 13-17 will host a High School Journalism Workshop for students in grades 10-12. The workshop will emphasize news and feature writing. The coordinator, Frank Garland, has more than 25 years of experience as a daily news and feature reporter. Workshop topics will include journalistic writing and Associated Press style, writing leads, interviewing techniques, objectivity vs. editorializing, news judgment, beat reporting, features, and ethics and the press. For more information, or to register, contact Frank Garland, instructor, Gannon University English Department, at 814-871-5808.

Gannon University from July 12-17 will host an Engineering Camp for high school students. Participants will learn about career paths in engineering, acquire hands-on building experience, see technology in action, use state-of-the-art engineering and computer tools, and create innovative technical projects. The camp will take place primarily on the Gannon campus, but also will include educational and recreational excursions to off-campus sites. Cost is $495. For more information, or to register, contact Ann Banko, Gannon University Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, at 814-871-7620.

Gannon University’s Regional Summer School of Excellence will be held July 6-10 and July 13-17. The program is designed for high school sophomores and juniors who excel in the sciences and are interested in a unique and hands-on summer learning opportunity. It is free and open to students in Erie, Warren, and Crawford counties. The program offers two weeks of intensive study in the life sciences as students are able to work both in Gannon’s laboratory facilities and aboard the University’s research vessel, the Environaut, on Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. For more information, or to request an application, contact Stan Zagorski, program director and faculty consultant, Gannon University biology department, at 814-871-7641, or the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit at 814-734-5610.

Gannon University will host its “ShakeXperience” Camp July 13-18. The camp will allow participants to experience Shakespeare first-hand through “college-style” classes and workshops in acting, text, design/tech, and movement/stage combat. Participants also will be performing a showcase of scenes and monologues. Students will be housed in Gannon dormitories and will have access to University food service and facilities. The camp is led by Gannon faculty members and qualified instructors. Both seasoned performers and beginners are welcome. Cost is $99. For more information, contact Fr. Shawn Clerkin, assistant professor, Gannon University Theatre, Communications, and Fine Arts Department, at 814-871-7493.

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Glutamine May Treat Ulcers, Prevent Stomach Cancer

It has been two decades since the discovery that many stomach ulcers result from an infection with the bacteria dubbed Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori for short. Now it is known that about six percent of people in the world carry this infection which is associated not only with ulcers but with stomach cancer. The primary treatment for H. pylori has been antibiotics — but they can cause a host of side effects and, what’s more, the bacteria are quickly becoming resistant to the drugs. But there’s good news: a natural amino acid, glutamine, appears to protect from injury caused by H. pylori and could reduce the risk of gastric cancers associated with the infection, too.

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Young Kids Now Being Diagnosed with Kidney Stones

Lisa Garnes received a call from her daughter’s daycare center that every parent dreads. Emma, her 3-year-old daughter, was sick and doubled over with back pain. Lisa quickly took Emma to her pediatrician who at first thought the child had a urinary tract infection. But an hour later, the toddler was vomiting and so extremely ill that she was rushed to the emergency room. After a battery of tests, including an ultrasound, a diagnosis was made that shocked not only Emma’s mom, but her doctor: Emma had a condition usually found in middle-aged men and almost unheard of in little girls. She had kidney stones.

Was this just some weird and rare fluke? Apparently not, according to Gary Faerber, MD, a urologist at the University of Michigan Health System, who related Emma’s story in a statement to the media. Dr. Faerber is sounding the alarm that there’s a surprising and growing incidence of kidney stones in children. “I am seeing more and more children who have kidney stones,” Dr. Faerber stated. “It’s a real phenomenon.”

Kidney stones are comprised of minerals and acid salts that should be diluted in the urine. But when urine is too concentrated, these materials can crystallize and solidify, forming kidney stones. Passing these objects can be absolutely excruciating. The pain typically starts in the side or back below the ribs and then radiates to the lower abdomen and groin area.

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Red Meat Increases the Risk of Colon Cancer

Many studies have shown that eating red meat in high quantities can be harmful to your health. The general consensus seems to be that we should eat less of it. Colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer in both men and women in the U.S. It affects over 145,000 people and kills over 56,000 each year. The link between colon cancer and red meat has been shown before, but this study by American Cancer Society researchers helps explain the relationship between the two.

The StudyThe findings of this study will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 293, No. 2: 172-182). It is based on a long-term study of about 149,000 people between 50 and 74 years old. The participants filled out a questionnaire detailing their eating habits in 1982, and again in 1992/1993. The leader of the study was Michael Thun, MD, MS, chief of epidemiology and surveillance research at ACS. Thun and his colleagues looked at how many people had developed the disease by 2001; they then analyzed the risk according to the amount of meat that was consumed.

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Parmalee Hill Marsanne Roussanne

“Darcy”, Sonoma Valley

The heart of the Parmelee-Hill property sits on a knoll that faces the Sonoma Valley to the East and San Pablo Bay to the South. The climate is typical of coastal influenced areas. Morning fog retreats during warming midday hours. The warmth is commonly broken however by intense afternoon ocean winds that quickly drop the temperature. The fog sometimes retreats only as far as the Western hills until it blows back overhead fairly early in the afternoon. This type of climate tends to be self-restricting, resulting in naturally low-yielding vines producing fruit with intense flavor.

Aromas: perfume, floral, honeysuckle, citrus
Body: full
Color: pale gold

From their website: What a wonderful wine. This may be our finest accomplishment to date. Named after our daughter, Darcy Hill Merritt, who you will often see at tastings.

Winemaker comments: Rich and pale gold in color with green highlights. The nose is perfumey and floral with honeysuckle and a hint of lemon lime plus pear and stone fruit, slightly mineral or stony. A floral and lively palate, rich tropical fruit including nectarine and melon, full bodied, balanced, lush fruit finish. 125 cases produced.

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How to Suicide Prevention Training


The below comment was received on my Facebook page, it was worth bumping to here.

Peter DiMarzio said: I am a veteran of the US Air Force now working as the EAP Coordinator for District 1 for the last two years. Prior to this position I worked for the last twelve years with the Massachusetts Dept. of Mental Health. I am concerned about GMT topics being placed online in particular Suicide Prevention. I can say after almost every presentation I have has shipmates come up to me with concerns about their shipmates, parents or friends who have express suicidal tendencies, or have concerns these people are heading down that road. These people are looking for guidance on how to help. Its my greatest concern that without this face to face these individuals will sit in front of a computer and never come forward with these concerns. The online training becomes another circle to fill in. I have been to many commands, units and the Academy and all feel this particular topic should remain face to face. Please keep this a face to face training to ensure concerns can be addressed. Thank you.

Mr. DiMarzio,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding the Suicide Prevention GMT. The fact that participants in your Suicide Prevention training feel comfortable approaching you about such sensitive issues tells me you are providing excellent services for our members and employees. Also encouraging is the fact that members at your training sessions are outwardly showing concern about the well-being of shipmates, parents and friends, and are looking for ways to help. This is exactly the Guardian climate we are trying to reinforce within the Coast Guard.

You present a good case for keeping the Suicide Prevention GMT as a face-to-face requirement. My Work-Life staff agrees with you, and so do I. We continue to work towards that end; however, we are currently reaching only about 60% of Coast Guard personnel with face-to-face Suicide Prevention training annually. We realize that face to face is the best delivery method, but training in an alternate format, rather than no training due to limited resource capacity is the current reality. To ensure that we are able to provide everyone with valuable Suicide Prevention training, we must also rely on an online option to serve remote units and those personnel who were otherwise unable to attend the face-to-face training. For all its short-comings, on-line training does have several positive attributes 1. we can be assured that all the important learning objectives are consistently presented 2. we have verification that students actually understood what was taught, 3. the message conveyed is consistent and delivered in an approved / scripted manner.

The revised Suicide Prevention policy that is currently being developed will “strongly encourage” face-to-face training but will allow Commanding Officers/Officers-in-Charge to seek a waiver to use online training in lieu of face to face sessions. With this provision the unit’s chain of command will be able to monitor and ensure the best mix of services.

The use of on-line suicide prevention training is consistent with the policy currently proposed by DoD, and reflects the reality that we are currently unable to reach everyone with “on-site” training. We continue to strive to reach our goal to provide face-to-face Suicide Prevention Training to all Coast Guard personnel in the future.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment on this issue. And, most sincerely, thank you for your passion and enthusiasm in addressing the needs of all of the members of our extended Coast Guard Family. You embody the true meaning of Guardian. Semper Paratus.

Note: Emergency suicide crisis services may be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the Employee Assistance Program toll free number (800) 222-0364.

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