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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).

For more information:http://www.sunarc.org/http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_figures.asp

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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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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