The latest on Vitamin K2: a new therapeutic agent for rheumatoid arthritis and for prostate cancer?

Vitamin K2, which is best known for its role in supporting bone health and its potential for countering osteoporosis, has also been investigated recently for other health benefits. A 2013 study reported that Vitamin K2 significantly decreased disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. And other research, also published in 2013, found evidence that Vitamin K2 is active in suppressing various types of prostate cancer cells. The authors of this study conclude that Vitamin K2 “may be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of prostate cancer.”

For further information about Vitamin K2, see the NYBC catalog entries for the Bone Up, Bone Up Ultra, and Vitamin K supplements (all from Jarrow):

Bone and Joint Supplements

References:

Ebina, K, et al. Vitamin K2 administration is associated with decreased disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Mod Rheumatol. 2013 Sep;23(5):1001-7. doi: 10.1007/s10165-012-0789-4.

Samykutty, A, et al. Vitamin k2, a naturally occurring menaquinone, exerts therapeutic effects on both hormone-dependent and hormone-independent prostate cancer cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:287358. doi: 10.1155/2013/287358.

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Why Vitamins B12 and D3 Are Especially Important to People with HIV

Our friends at the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), a Canadian government-supported education and prevention organization, recently published an excellent guide to managing HIV medication side effects. This online guide covers the territory from body shape changes, to gastrointestinal disorders, to neurological effects, to emotional wellness, to fatigue, to sexual difficulties.

The Appendix to this guide focuses on two vitamins, both of which have been highlighted as especially important for people with HIV: B12 and D3. Deficiency of these two vitamins appears to be common among people with HIV, and supplementing to correct the deficiency can bring about major improvements in health. So it’s definitely worthwhile to check your B12 and D3 status, and, if you’re deficient, find a good supplementation strategy. Note that NYBC stocks both of these inexpensive vitamins: the methylcobalamin form of Vitamin B12 recommended below; and several strengths of Vitamin D3, including the commonly recommended D3 – 2500IU format.

Below are the CATIE recommendations:

Vitamin B12

A number of studies have shown that vitamin B12 is deficient in a large percentage of people with HIV, and the deficiency can begin early in the disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in neurologic symptoms — for example, numbness, tingling and loss of dexterity — and the deterioration of mental function, which causes symptoms such as foggy thinking, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, depression, irrational anger and paranoia. Deficiency can also cause anemia. (See the section on Fatigue for more discussion of anemia.) It has also been linked to lower production of the hormone melatonin, which can affect the wake-sleep cycle.

If you have developed any of the emotional or mental symptoms mentioned above, especially combined with chronic fatigue, vitamin B12 deficiency could be contributing. This is especially true if you also have other symptoms that this deficiency can cause, including neuropathy, weakness and difficulty with balance or walking. On the other hand, these symptoms can also be associated with HIV itself, with hypothyroidism or advanced cases of syphilis called neurosyphilis. A thorough workup for all potential diagnoses is key to determining the cause.

Research at Yale University has shown that the standard blood test for vitamin B12 deficiency is not always reliable. Some people who appear to have “normal” blood levels are actually deficient, and could potentially benefit from supplementation.

The dose of vitamin B12 required varies from individual to individual and working with a doctor or naturopathic doctor to determine the correct dose is recommended. Vitamin B12 can be taken orally, by nasal gel or by injection. The best way to take it depends on the underlying cause of the deficiency, so it’s important to be properly assessed before starting supplements. For oral therapy, a typical recommendation is 1,000 to 2,000 mcg daily.

One way to know if supplementation can help you is to do a trial run of vitamin B12 supplementation for at least six to eight weeks. If you are using pills or sublingual lozenges, the most useful form of vitamin B12 is methylcobalamin. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement to make sure it is safe for you.

Some people will see improvements after a few days of taking vitamin B12 and may do well taking it in a tablet or lozenge that goes under the tongue. Others will need several months to see results and may need nasal gel or injections for the best improvements. For many people, supplementation has been a very important part of an approach to resolving mental and emotional problems.

Vitamin D

Some studies show that vitamin D deficiency, and often quite severe deficiency, is a common problem in people with HIV. Vitamin D is intimately linked with calcium levels, and deficiency has been linked to a number of health problems, including bone problems, depression, sleep problems, peripheral neuropathy, joint and muscle pain and muscle weakness. It is worth noting that in many of these cases there is a link between vitamin D and the health condition, but it is not certain that a lack of vitamin D causes the health problem.

A blood test can determine whether or not you are deficient in vitamin D. If you are taking vitamin D, the test will show whether you are taking a proper dose for health, while avoiding any risk of taking an amount that could be toxic (although research has shown that toxicity is highly unlikely, even in doses up to 10,000 IU daily when done under medical supervision). The cost of the test may not be covered by all provincial or territorial healthcare plans or may be covered only in certain situations. Check with your doctor for availability in your region.

The best test for vitamin D is the 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test. There is some debate about the best levels of vitamin D, but most experts believe that the minimum value for health is between 50 and 75 nmol/l. Many people use supplements to boost their levels to more than 100 nmol/l.

While sunlight and fortified foods are two possible sources of vitamin D, the surest way to get adequate levels of this vitamin is by taking a supplement. The best dose to take depends on the person. A daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IU is common, but your doctor may recommend a lower or higher dose for you, depending on the level of vitamin D in your blood and any health conditions you might have. People should not take more than 4,000 IU per day without letting their doctor know. Look for the D3 form of the vitamin rather than the D2 form. Vitamin D3 is the active form of the vitamin and there is some evidence that people with HIV have difficulty converting vitamin D2 to vitamin D3. Historically, vitamin D3 supplements are less commonly associated with reports of toxicity than the D2 form.

It is best to do a baseline test so you know your initial level of vitamin D. Then, have regular follow-up tests to see if supplementation has gotten you to an optimal level and that you are not taking too much. Regular testing is the only way to be sure you attain — and then maintain — the optimal level for health.

With proper supplementation, problems caused by vitamin D deficiency can usually be efficiently reversed.

Supplements for Bone Health: A Special Note for People with HIV

Bone health has been a growing concern for people with HIV, since studies have indicated that HIVers experience higher than expected rates of osteopenia (bone mineral density lower than normal) and osteoporosis (bone mineral density very low, with heightened risk of fractures). A 2012 review from Johns Hopkins researchers, for example, concluded that the “increasing prevalence of osteoporosis in HIV-infected persons translates into a higher risk of fracture, likely leading to excess morbidity and mortality as the HIV-infected population ages.”

The Johns Hopkins study urged more attention to Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation as one way to counter these HIV-related bone issues. But we think it’s also worth looking at recent Canadian research, not focused especially on people with HIV, but with some striking findings about the value of multiple supplements to support healthy bone mineral density levels. The supplements investigated included vitamin D(3), vitamin K(2), strontium, magnesium and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), all chosen because of previous evidence about their benefit to bone health. Following a year-long study of patients with varying levels of bone loss, the Canadian researchers determined that this supplement regimen was as effective as a class of drugs often prescribed for osteoporosis (bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax or Boniva). And, they found that the combination of supplements was even effective for people who had failed to benefit from the prescription osteoporosis drugs.

We hope to see further study of supplement combinations for bone loss in people with HIV. It’s an acknowledged problem as HIVers get older, and if there’s a potential way to lower this health risk over the long run, let’s take a serious look at it!

Note: NYBC stocks Jarrow’s Bone Up or Ultra Bone Up, plus Max DHA or EPA-DHA Balance, which provide most of the micronutrients in the Canadian study (missing is the Strontium, but NYBC hopes to have a recommendation for that in the near future).

Visit the NYBC website for more information:

http://www.newyorkbuyersclub.org/

References:

The Johns Hopkins study: Walker Harris V, Brown TT. Bone loss in the HIV-infected patient: evidence, clinical implications, and treatment strategies. J Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;205 Suppl 3:S391-8. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis199.

The Canadian study: Genuis SJ, Bouchard TP. Combination of Micronutrients for Bone (COMB) Study: bone density after micronutrient intervention. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:354151. doi: 10.1155/2012/354151.

Media Distortions, as usual…

The news says: Elderly ladies, stop the Ca+D. The title here, for example:
USPSTF Says No to Vitamin D, Calcium for Older Women

The panel said something a bit different–don’t waste your time if the DOSE IS TOO LOW. Will have to get the original article. But it seems to be a tiresome misrepresentation of the data. At least, for those who read the article, they do note first —

“400 IU of vitamin D3 combined with 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate has no effect” BUT then —

“daily intake of 600 IU for vitamin D and 1,200 mg of calcium for women ages 51 to 70 had a clearer net benefit in fracture prevention.

Last month, the USPSTF finding that vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of falls in community-dwelling older people who may be prone to falling.”

Acquiring enough calcium from a healthy diet, getting enough sun and resistance exercise are all the BASIC elements of sustaining good bone health. Supplements have their place for many people. But the media distortions do not help people to make the best decision, especially when they outright distort the recommendation. And indeed many, many people are very low in Vitamin D–as we have discussed frequently here!

 

Maca Root Powder

NYBC recently decided to stock this form of the traditional botanical, which has a long history of use and some newer research as well to support its use. Below is our take on MACA (excerpted from our catalog description).

Read more, and purchase from the buyers’ co-op, at

MACA ROOT POWDER

Royal Maca (Whole World Botanicals) Each bottle, 180 maca root gelatinized capsules. Each capsule, 500 mg Royal Maca Root Extract along with 2.49 mcg of selenium. This is certified organic by BIO LATINA in Lima, Peru, which so far as we have reviewed here at NYBC appears to be a legitimate certification institution for organic products from this region.

Whole World Botanicals obtains its root from a farm in the high Central Sierra of Peru. Maca, from the root of Lepidium peruvianum / meyenii, has a nutty, malty flavor and is used in traditional medicine to address hormonal imbalances in both women and men. Consider it for managing PMS or menopausal symptoms, for low energy related to hypothyroidism (low function) and may help improve bone strength. Men also use it for libido, erectile function, mood, mental clarity, focus and energy (especially over age 40).

This product is a fair trade product, according to the manufacturer, however it is not labeled as such (yet).

Suggested use varies. For men, 2-6 capsules every day or every other day. For women, if young and peri-menopausal, 2 caps daily. If needed, increase to 3 caps per day in the second month. For women who are not menstruating, 2-3 caps per day for hot flashes is suggested. Evaluate after 5 days and increase by 1-2 caps per day every five days until symptoms are 80% better. Do NOT take with estrogen or estrogenic herbs (may increase hot flash symptoms!). Also do not take with estrogen or if you have any hormone-related cancer.

Bone Up & BioSil

NYBC stocks Jarrow Formulas’ Bone Up, which is a comprehensive formula to support bone health. Its essential components are calcium in a form readily usable for bone building in the body, Vitamin D and Vitamin K. By the way, here’s the Health Claim regarding bone health which the FDA allows for Calcium and Vitamin D:

Adequate calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthful diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Jarrow also recommends using Bone Up together with its product BioSil, a bioavailable silicon solution that is helpful in maintaining nails, bones, joints, hair and skin. (Silicon is important for tissue strength and elasticity.)

See the NYBC entries for more information on Bone Up:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=53&products_id=241
Jarrow

and BioSil:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=234

Resveratrol and Resveratrol Synergy

Recent well-regarded research has provided evidence that resveratrol can decrease the kinds of inflammation associated with heart disease, and can improve motor coordination, reduce cataract formation and preserve bone mineral density in aging laboratory animals. (See, for example, the report on an NIH-funded study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in August 2008.) In short, resveratrol may counteract many typical types of age-related deterioration in the body. As the researchers have noted, these anti-aging effects mimic the effect of drastically reducing (by 30-50%) food intake—but without requiring such a near-starvation diet.

That’s the recent research background on resveratrol. We’ll also note that resveratrol as a compound with potential health benefits was originally isolated as a component of red wine. Of course, in supplement form resveratrol can provide its health benefits without requiring the user to drink alcohol. That’s a practical advantage to supplementation that can’t be ignored.

Note that in addition to “Resveratrol,” NYBC also offers a compound supplement from Jarrow called “Resveratrol Synergy.” This product includes includes resveratrol, grape seed extract, and green tea extract. Grape seed extract has been studied mostly for cardiovascular support, while green tea has recently accumulated some interesting research supporting its anti-cancer and anti-aging effects.

To read more about these two supplements, see the NYBC entries:

Resveratrol: http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=330

and

Resveratrol Synergy: http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=245