Wednesday, September 25, 2013

High-dose Vitamin D Supplementation: Is it safe and effective?

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

There has been a lot in the media over the last couple of years encouraging people to take high doses of vitamin D. The potential benefits of supplementation include:
Not that long ago the recommended dosage for vitamin D supplementation was 400 IU / day.  Currently it is not unusual for individuals to be dosing at 10 to 20 times that amount. Lately it has been questioned whether or not the benefits of vitamin supplementation are still achieved at high dosages. The concerns include:
There are some conditions, such as Celiac disease, Crohn's, multiple sclerosis and some cancers where dosing high with vitamin D may be advantageous.  The new research indicates that 800 to 1200 IUs / day is generally effective for most people. Ideally, the best way to ensure adequate vitamin D status is to enjoy 5-15 minutes of sunlight exposure 2 to 3 times a week between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  For the majority of people living in Canada vitamin D supplementation is advisable between October and March when the amount of sunlight is limited.

If you have any questions about the optimal amount of vitamin D supplementation for yourself, talk to your naturopathic doctor.

Gaby, Alan 2011 Controveries in Nutrition. Presented at the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors annual Conference.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Key to a Strong Mind

A strong healthy mind is something that everyone seems to desire. For many it is taken for granted until there are signs of decline. Memory loss and cognitive decline is not inevitable. It is not a natural part of aging. Achieving and maintaining a strong mind requires work and constant attention.

Mental health and cognitive function is strongly determined by the strength of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is a tight barrier that surrounds the brain and ensures that only the nutrients, water and other elements that are meant to get into the brain, do. When the BBB becomes damaged or weakened, signs of mental decline, decreased sensory and cognitive function start to appear. The factors that impact the integrity of the blood brain barrier include:
Other factors that are associated with decreased integrity of the BBB include:
The key to a strong mind is to:

Address the factors that impact the integrity of the BBB, such as:
  • Ensure that you continue to drink adequate water on a daily basis. Generally speaking you want to drink half your body weight in ounces a day.
  • Your diet is one of the key contributing factors to your ongoing cognitive function. It is also the one that you have the most direct control of. Ensuring that food sensitivities are addressed is a great place to start. It is also important to ensure that your diet is balanced with adequate lean protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
  • Ensure that you take the steps necessary to ensure that your blood sugar and cholesterol concerns are addressed with natural solutions. Simply taking medications, without addressing the underlying causes may actually increase your risk of cognitive decline.
  • Ensure head injuries are adequately addressed. The main threat to the BBB is unresolved head trauma and chronic inflammation. There are a number of natural therapies that can effectively decrease chronic inflammation and that can minimize the impact of sport injuries.
  • Work with your naturopathic doctor to determine if heavy metals are a factor. Heavy metals disrupt the normal functioning of the brain, they decrease the body's ability to absorb nutrients and they cause a more dramatic decline than other lifestyle factors.

Other factors that are essential to a strong mind include:
  1. Use it or lose it. The mind, in many ways, is like a muscle. If you want a strong mind you have to work every aspect of it.  To the mind, memory, speed, problem solving, attention, flexibility (multi-tasking) are all different aspects. Numbers, words and names are all processed in different aspects of the mind. Working the mind on an ongoing basis is key to health. Some options include:
    • Ensure that you continue to read, preferably not on a computer or e-book (too much computer time can actually contribute to weakening the BBB.
    • Work whatever aspect of the mind is a concern.  If you have problems finding words then do word searches and cross word puzzles. If you have problems remembering names then practice by going through old pictures and saying the names of people out loud when you meet them.
    • Check out  It is a website geared to working all aspects of the mind.
  2. Decrease anxiety. Chronic anxiety is exhausting. It is also dehydrating. There is a strong link between chronic anxiety and decreased overall cognitive function.
  3. Be positive. A positive mind is associated with increased cognitive function and decreased memory loss. 
  4. Take care of your senses. There is a strong link between hearing, seeing and cognitive function, as well as mental health.
Most importantly, don't wait until you have a problem. Like most health issue, your best chance of being healthy is to prevent disease. It is about being proactive and recognizing that most health issues, especially as you get older are simply an accumulation of your life. It is like a life-long balance sheet that weighs the impact of the positive and negative factors.

If you would like to learn more about what you can specifically do to achieve a strong mind book an appointment with Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND.  To learn more about how the breakdown of filters in the body contributes to disease check out the presentation that Dr. Lloyd, ND gave at Health Fusion in June 2013.