Archive for the ‘copper’ Tag

Menopause and a Natural Approach to Bone Health   Leave a comment

From Power Surge, written by Dearest

Bone health is a primary concern for women as they advance in age. Bone is a dynamic, living tissue subject to breakdown, repair, and rebuilding, like any other tissue in the body. Bone loss occurs when the rate of bone dissolution exceeds that of bone formation. Women actually achieve maximal bone density by their mid-thirties. In fact, skeletal bone mass naturally starts to decrease after about age 40, so it is never too early to address bone health. In addition, research has shown that it is never too late to begin preventative steps against excessive bone loss.

For many women and their health care providers, concern about bone loss is one of the main arguments for supplementing with estrogen. Estrogen replacement, however, brings with it its own concerns, and is only part of the story when it comes to bone health. Estrogen can inhibit the cells whose job it is to break bone down. This means estrogen slows down the rate of bone loss, but it will not build new bone. Testosterone and progesterone, however, appear to stimulate the cells that build bone, thereby possibly stimulating bone growth.

Hormones play a pivotal role in the process of remodeling bone, but several vitamins and minerals are indispensable for optimal bone health as well. The formation of healthy bone has two fundamental aspects: First to increase bone mass, and second to create a healthy infrastructure (known as the bone matrix) around which bone can form. Supplementing with key nutrients, along with a balanced diet and exercise program, are integral to any regime for promoting the health of your bones.

The proper nutrition for bone health goes beyond simply supplementing with calcium. Calcium deficiency may only contribute to 25% of all incidences of heightened bone loss. The form of calcium used is also important. Studies to determine the recommended daily intake of 1200-1500 mg for menopausal women used calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a form of calcium our bodies may find difficult to absorb, particularly in an environment that is low in stomach acid. In addition, this recommendation includes calcium derived from dietary sources. Most women eating a standard American diet get about 700 mg of calcium from food intake. Calcium as an amino acid chelate is currently the most absorbable form of calcium available. As we age, we tend toward hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid). Calcium amino acid chelate does not require an acidic environment for absorption, but it is a good idea to supplement with a bone health formula that includes hydrochloric acid, as it can aid in the absorption of calcium and other nutrients from the diet.

Magnesium is important for the formation of a functional bone matrix. In addition, magnesium converts vitamin D to its active form, D3. This is imperative for calcium absorption. Many women with poor bone health may be deficient in the active form of vitamin D. Menopausal women in general tend also to be deficient in magnesium. Folic acid and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) together perform a vital role in engendering the health of bone tissue. They help the body metabolize and excrete a substance known as homocysteine. High homocysteine levels are associated with defective bone formation (and, incidentally, with cardiovascular disease). Interestingly enough, menopausal women show an impaired ability to metabolize and excrete homocysteine. Furthermore, they tend as a group to be low in folic acid and vitamin B6.

Manganese, silicon, and vitamin K are all necessary for the construction of the bone matrix around which bone mineralization occurs. Vitamin K is another nutrient that is found to be low in individuals with significant bone loss. Too much vitamin K can potentially interfere with blood clotting, so it is important not to exceed approximately 200 micrograms a day of this nutrient.

Zinc and copper are also important minerals for bone health that tend to be low in menopausal women. Both minerals enhance the effectiveness of vitamin D, which promotes the absorption of calcium. Zinc and copper must be supplemented in the appropriate ratio, as imbalances may affect the proper formation of bone. Supplementation with the micronutrient boron has been shown to reduce calcium loss in post-menopausal women. Vitamin C is well known for its role in immune support, but it is also a crucial nutrient that the body needs to build bone matrix and healthy connective tissue. Vitamin C deficiencies are widespread, even with those ingesting the full RDA.

Increasing evidence points to a link between soy intake and bone health. Most of the studies that suggest dietary soy intake is associated with a decrease in the rate of bone loss are either epidemiological or based on an animal model. The amount of soy actually required for this positive effect on bone health is still undetermined. One important study that was conducted on postmenopausal women concluded the amount of isoflavones (the phytoestrogenic component of soy) needed to slow down the rate of bone loss is between 55 and 90 mg/day for at least 6 months.

Ipriflavone is a synthetic isoflavone derivative. Ipriflavone has been shown to inhibit the rate of bone loss and promote bone formation in postmenopausal women, particularly in the spine and wrist. As noted, there are many key nutrients vital for the health of our bones. A comprehensive program that encompasses proper diet, nutritional supplementation, and exercise may prove to be invaluable in preventing or minimizing bone loss.

Burnell JM, Baylink DJ, Chestnut CH, and Teubner, EJ. “The role of skeletal calcium deficiency in postmenopausal osteoporosis.” Calcif Tissue Int. 1986; 38(4):187-92.

Recker RR. “Calcium absorption and achlorhydria.” N Engl J Med 1985; 313(2):70-3.

Ivanovich P, Fellows H, and Rich C. “The absorption of calcium carbonate.” Ann. Intern. Med. 1967; 66(5): 917-23.

Heaney RP. “Absorbability of calcium sources: the limited role of solubility.” Calcif Tissue Int.1990; 46:300-304.

Blumenthal N, Betts F, and Posner A. “Stabilization of amorphous calcium phosphate by Mg and ATP.” Calcif Tis Res 1977;23:245-50.

Shikari M, Kushida K, Yamazaki K, et al. “Effect of 2 year’s treatment of osteoporosis with 1 alpha-hydroxy vitamin D3 on bone mineral density and incidence of fracture: a placebo-controlled, double-blind prospective study.” Endocr J 1996; 43(2):211-20.

Editorial. “Vitamin D Supplementation in the elderly.” Lancet 1987; 1(8528): 306-7

Brattstrom L, Hultbnerg B,and Mardebo J. “Folic acid responsive postmenopausal homocysteinemia.” Metab 1985;34:1073-1077.

Masse P, Vuilleumier J P, and Weiser H. “Is pyridoxine an essential nutrient for bone?” Int. J. Vitam Nutr Res 1988;58(3):295-9.

Joosten E, van den Berg A, Riezler R, et al. “Metabolic evidence that deficiencies of vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 occur commonly in elderly people”. Am J Clin Nutr 1993;58(4):468-76(addendum 1994; 60(1):147).

Carlisle EM, “Biochemical and morphological changes associated with long bone abnormalities in silicon deficiency.” J Nutr 1980;110(5):1046-56.

Leach Jr R, Meunster A, and Wien E. “I. Studies on the role of manganese in bone formation. II Effect upon chondroitin sulfate synthesis in chick epiphyseal cartilage.” Arch Biochem Biophy 1969;133(1): 22-28.

Hart JP, Shearer MJ, Klenerman L, et al. “Electrochemical detection of depressed circulating levels of vitamin K1 in osteoporosis.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1985;60(6):1268-9.

Calhoun N, Smith J, Jr. and Becker K. “The effects of zinc on ectopic bone formation.” Oral Surg 1975;39(5):698-706.

Wilson,T, Katz JM, and Gray DH. “Inhibition of active bone resorption by copper.” Calcif Tissue Int 1981;33(1):35-9.

Yamaguchi M, and Sakashita T. “Enhancement of vitamin D3 effect on bone metabolism in weaning rats orally administered zinc sulphate.” Acta Endocrinol 1986;111(2):285-8.

Holden JM, Wolf WR, and Mertz W. “Zinc and Copper in self-selected diets.” J AM Diet Assoc 1979;75(1):23-8.

Nielsen F. “Boron – an overlooked element of potential nutritional importance.” Nutr Today 1988 Jan/Feb:4-7.

Hyams D, and Ross E. “Scurvy, megaloblastic anaemia and osteoporosis.” Br J Clin Pract 1963;17:334-40.

Kalu DN, Masoro EJ, Yu BP, et al. “Modulation of age-related hyperparathyroidism and senile bone loss in Fischer rats by soy protein and food restriction.” Endocrinology 1988;122:1847-1854.

Brandi ML. “Natural and synthetic isoflavones in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.” Calcif Tissue Int. 1997;61(7):5-8.

Erdman J, Stillman R, Lee K, and Potter S. “Short-term effects of soybean isoflavones on bone in postmenopausal women.” Second International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease. Brussels, Belgium, 1996.

Agnusdei D, Crepaldi G, Mazzuoli G, et al. ” A double blind, placebo-controlled trial of ipriflavone for prevention of postmenopausal spinal bone loss.” Calcif Tissue Int. 1997;61(2):142-7.

Adami S, Bufalino L, Cervetti R, et al. “Ipriflavone prevents radial bone loss in postmenopausal women with low bone mass over 2 years.” Osteoporosis Int. 1997;792);119-25.

By Power-Surge contributor:
Dr. Holly Zapf

Stress and Adrenal Health   1 comment


Have you recently experienced a major stress in your life, be it illness, job, death, children, etc? After this stress, have you felt as though you just cannot seem to get yourself together, or at least back to where you used to be? Are you usually tired when you wake up, but still “too wired” to fall asleep at night? Is it hard for you to relax or to get exercise? Do you find that you get sick more often and take a long time to get well? If so, then you, like many other Americans may be experiencing symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue.

Adrenal fatigue is not a new condition. People have been experiencing this condition for years. Although there is increasing physician awareness, many are not familiar with adrenal fatigue as a distinct syndrome. Because of this lack of knowledge, patients suffer because they are not properly diagnosed or treated.

Adrenal fatigue is a condition in which the adrenal glands function at a sub-optimal level when patients are at rest, under stress, or in response to consistent, intermittent, or sporadic demands. The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit over the kidneys and are responsible for secreting over 50 different hormones—including epinephrine, cortisol, progesterone, DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. Over the past century, adrenal fatigue has been recognized as Non-Addison’s hypoadrenia, subclinical hypoadrenia, neurasthenia, adrenal neurasthenia, and adrenal apathy.

Generally patients who present with adrenal fatigue can often be heard saying, “After______, I was never the same.” The onset of adrenal fatigue often occurs because of financial pressures, infections, emotional stress, smoking, drugs, poor eating habits, sugar and white flour products, unemployment and several other stressors. After experiencing many of these events over a long period of time, the adrenal glands tend to produce less cortisol, the body’s master stress hormone. Cortisol’s main role in the body is to enable us to handle stress and maintain our immune systems. The adrenal gland’s struggle to meet the high demands of cortisol production eventually leads to adrenal fatigue.

Patients with adrenal fatigue have a distinct energy pattern. They are usually very fatigued in the morning, not really waking up until 10 AM, and will not usually feel fully awake until after a noon meal. They experience a diurnal lull in their cortisol (the stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland) and as a result, they feel low during the afternoon, generally around 2-4 PM. Patients generally begin to feel better after 6 PM; however, they are usually tired after 9 and in bed by 11 PM These patients find that they work best late at night or early in the morning.

Some key signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include salt cravings, increased blood sugar under stress, increased PMS, perimenopausal, or menopausal symptoms under stress, mild depression, lack of energy, decreased ability to handle stress, muscle weakness, absent mindedness, decreased sex drive, mild constipation alternating with diarrhea, as well as many others.

Although there no specific tests that will provide a true diagnosis of adrenal fatigue there are tests that may contribute to an assessment, such as a postural hypotension test, an AM cortisol test, or an ACTH stimulation test. It is customary for a physician to assess the adrenals together with thyroid tests to rule out insufficiency, which sometimes occurs in long-standing hypothyroidism.

A single determination of plasma cortisol or 24-hour urinary free cortisol excretion is not useful and may be misleading in diagnosing adrenal insufficiency. However, if the patient is severely stressed or in shock, a single depressed plasma cortisol determination is highly suggestive. An elevated plasma ACTH level in association with a low plasma cortisol level is diagnostic.

Treatment for adrenal fatigue is relatively simple. Lifestyle modifications can be initiated to treat this condition. Simple changes such as more laughter (increases the parasympathetic supply to the adrenals), small breaks to lie down, increased relaxation, regular meals, exercise (avoiding any highly competitive events), early bedtimes and sleeping until at least 9 AM whenever possible can all benefit those experiencing adrenal fatigue.

A diet that would be conducive to treating adrenal fatigue includes one that combines unrefined carbohydrates (whole grains) with protein and oils (nuts and seeds) at most meals—olive, walnut, fiber, flax and high-quality fish oil. It is also important for patients to eat regular meals, chew food well, and eat by 10 AM and again for lunch. Patients should look to avoid any hydrogenated fats, caffeine, chocolate, white carbohydrates, and junk foods. Diets should have a heavy emphasis on vegetables. It may be of additional benefit that patients add salt to their diet, especially upon rising and at least a half-hour before their lowest energy point of the day. (Preferably, 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoonful of sea salt, Celtic salt, or sea salt w/kelp powder added to an 8 oz glass of water). In adrenal fatigue, one should not follow the USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid, as these patients tolerate fewer carbohydrates and need more protein.

The addition of nutritional supplements may also offer additional benefits to patients experiencing adrenal fatigue. They should consider the addition of:

  • Vitamin C 2,000-4,000 mg/day Sustained Release
  • Vitamin E w/mixed tocopherols 800 IU/day
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Niacin (125-150 mg/day) – as inositol hexaniacinate
  • B-6 (150 mg/day)
  • Pantothenic acid (1200-1500 mg/day)
  • Magnesium citrate (400-1200 mg)
  • Liquid trace minerals (zinc, manganese, selenium, chromium, molybdenum, copper, iodine)– calming effect
  • If depression is present – Add SAM.e 200 mg bid; DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) 500 mg bid

Some herbal remedies that have been noted as possible therapies include Licorice, Ashwagandha, Maca, Siberian Ginseng, Korean Ginseng. Note: Licorice can and, if taken over time, does have a propensity to elevate blood pressure. It should not be used in persons with a history of hypertension, renal failure, or who currently use digitalis preparations such as digoxin.

Under the supervision of a physician hormone supplementation with DHEA, Pregnenolone, and Progesterone may also offer some benefits. There are several glandular extracts on the market that contain adrenal, hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, and gonadal that are also often recommended.

Sometimes the initiation of hydrocortisone (Cortef®) may be necessary as a replacement hormone when cortisol is not being produced by the adrenals. While the initiation of corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone may have quick and dramatic results, they can sometimes make the adrenals weaker rather than stronger. As a result, the initiation of hydrocortisone is usually a last resort. It is important to note that patients may have to undergo treatment for 6 months to 2 years.

While a cortisol measurement may be helpful to confirm any thoughts or ideas that a patient may have decreased adrenal function, typically blood cortisol levels would be tested along with blood levels of potassium, and sodium. If the pituitary gland is the cause of adrenal failure electrolyte levels are usually normal. Practitioners usually pay attention to extremely low cortisol levels, which generally diagnoses Addison’s disease—a condition in which the adrenal glands are completely depleted, also considered a medical emergency.