Posts tagged ‘inflammation’

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

178574086By Jennifer Morganti, ND

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

November 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

5 Reasons You Need More Magnesium

177687545By Jennifer Morganti, ND

Did you know that pure magnesium is highly flammable, making it the perfect ingredient for the explosive energy needed for fireworks, jet engine parts, rockets, and missiles? It’s even more powerful in the human body, as it is involved with over 320 biochemical reactions! Because it’s used in every cell of the body, it’s frightening that 60% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Some of the reasons for deficiency include the fact that we lose magnesium when stressed, that sweating causes magnesium depletion, and our intake is low because poor-quality soil has lowered the natural levels of magnesium in our food.

Here are some conditions that may improve with magnesium supplementation.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is when cells don’t respond adequately to insulin’s attempt to shuttle glucose into cells after eating, resulting in elevated blood sugar and increased fat storage. It is the hallmark of pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research shows that people with adequate magnesium levels have appropriate insulin sensitivity and are at low risk for developing diabetes. People with the highest magnesium levels have a lower risk of developing diabetes than people with the lowest magnesium levels. The amazing fact is that even if a person possesses other diabetic risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive weight, adequate magnesium stores will compensate.


Inflammation is at the root cause of so many health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and obesity. Magnesium has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory. More than one study has shown that as magnesium levels decrease, CRP (a marker for inflammation) increases. Elevated CRP is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation-related conditions.


Magnesium deficiency may play a role in hypertension, as demonstrated by studies that have shown an inverse correlation between a magnesium-rich diet and risk of high blood pressure.


Magnesium also has a dilating effect on respiratory passageways, so it benefits asthma for the same reasons as hypertension—it relaxes the airways so more oxygen can flow through.


Anxiety is a symptom that can have a variety of etiologies, both physical and psychological, but magnesium deficiency is high on that list. Animal studies have shown that when mice are given a magnesium-depleted diet for several weeks, they begin to display signs of depression and anxiety. Those symptoms are alleviated when the magnesium levels are restored. Clinical studies have shown that magnesium can relieve anxiety and depression alone or in combination with herbal formulas. Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium to contract and relax muscles, which contributes to its relaxing properties. Add magnesium salts to your hot bath before bed for serious calming effects.


Insomnia can result from many factors, with magnesium deficiency being at the top. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles, and counters stress. Replenishing magnesium can lead to a longer, uninterrupted sleep pattern.

Magnesium comes in many forms, but be sure to avoid the oxide form if you want to maximize absorption. To determine the appropriate dosage, start with one or two pills, and increase the dosage over the course of a few days, until it has a laxative effect, then decrease the dosage slightly. This method determines the appropriate dosage for your individual body, based on your level of deficiency. If you want the laxative effect, then magnesium oxide or hydroxide would be a good choice. If you have a sensitive digestive tract and aren’t able to tolerate the levels of magnesium that you feel you need, add topical sources such as magnesium oil, which can be sprayed on the skin, or take magnesium salt baths.

At first glance, magnesium may not strike you as an exciting, cutting-edge nutrient, but when you are lacking it, it can make a huge impact on your health!

September 17, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Multiple Benefits of Vitamin C

109157398Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is the antioxidant that most people think about when they are asked if they take vitamins. Because it is awater soluble vitamin, your body doesn’t store it so it needs to be replenished daily. Scurvy, caused by a vitamin C deficiency, is the disease known to soldiers and sailors for centuries before the reasons for the disease were discovered during the 20th century.

Vitamin C has many beneficial properties – perhaps some you didn’t even realize. Did you know, for instance, that vitamin C is a natural antihistamine? Many people with allergies find that taking 2,000-3,000 mg per day in divided doses reduces their allergy symptoms. Vitamin C also has some natural anti-viral properties which is why some people find these larger doses helpful when they have a cold.

Did you also know that Vitamin C is required for collagen formation? Consequently, it can be helpful for the skin, as well as cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and even bones. It also aids in the reduction of inflammation, improves gingivitis, enhances iron absorption, and expedites wound healing. Vitamin C is depleted by cigarette smoking, and it is recommended that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, at least 500 mg of vitamin C be consumed to reduce oxidative stress.

Vitamin C is concentrated in the adrenals and is part of the adrenalin molecule which is why, when combined with the B-complex vitamins, it is so helpful for stress.

Much of the Vitamin C content of food is destroyed by heat so the best sources are uncooked fruits such as citrus (oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, limes, and lemons). Other delicious fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon, pineapple, and papaya are also good sources. Small amounts of C will also be found in red and green peppers as well as lightly steamed green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Brussel sprouts are a surprisingly good source containing about 50 mg in a cooked, half-cup serving.

To avoid stomach upset, I often recommend Vitamin C be taken in buffered form. It must also have some bioflavonoids to make it work fully. Lipoic acid, another antioxidant, helps to recirculate the C so it lasts longer in the body. One of the few supplements that fit this criteria is Natur-Tyme Vitamin C – always ahead of the game! A food-based Vitamin C is also excellent but the doses are typically lower.

With its multiple benefits, I must ask, have you taken your Vitamin C today?

August 6, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Ask the Wellness Educator – Questioning Joint Pain

Questioning Joint Pain 
This spring I have vowed to exercise more and get in shape for summer activities with my family. But I realize that pain in my knee has been holding me back and making me reluctant to even go for a walk. What supplements are the most effective for alleviating pain and possibly preventing more joint degeneration as I get older?
~C.P., New York 

Dr. Jen’s Answer: 
Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms are some of the most common complaints in the US, affecting about one of every three adults. There are two forms of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the more common of the two forms and may be caused by overuse of the joint, or by other predisposing factors such as trauma, congenital abnormalities, crystal deposition (such as in gout), or other inflammatory diseases. 

Fortunately, there is a long list of effective supplements to choose from in the category of joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids are the foundation for decreasing inflammation associated with joint pain, and are therefore at the top of my list. Fish, krill, sardines, algae, flax, and hemp oil are good choices that offer omega-3 fatty acids; be sure to take in adequate dosages, which vary by the type of oil. 

Glucosamine is another foundation for joint health, as it helps in the regeneration of cartilage. Numerous studies using 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate three times a day have shown significant improvement in relieving symptoms of OA, most, even better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and with fewer side effects. Glucosamine should be used for at least two months to truly determine if this supplement will be beneficial.

Boswellia is an Ayurvedic herb that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to block some key inflammatory compounds produced by the body, to help improve joint pain, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal inflammation, and other conditions related to inflammation. In arthritis-related research, it is recommended to take at least 450 mg daily, and up to 1,200 mg can be taken quite safely.

There are many other options for joint pain that aren’t covered in this response, but I generally recommend to give most joint products a few weeks to a month to determine if they are effective for you. Add in one new product at a time to measure its effectiveness, and if it isn’t the right one for you after the first bottle, then try something else. For more personalized recommendations, call a NEEDS wellness educator at 800-634-1380.

May 30, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Do I Really Need More Vitamin D?

140256180It’s true that vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions, but there are a few folks out there who do not necessarily need to supplement with this important vitamin. The criteria are tough, but you may have adequate vitamin D supplies if you eat a lot of vitamin D-rich foods, such as oyster, salmon, sardines, and vitamin D-fortified foods like milk and cereal. And you may be able to skip supplementation if your body synthesizes plenty of vitamin D via the sun, but only if you are out in optimal sunlight at the ideal time and location for 30 minutes a day, with a lot of exposed skin and no sunblock. Also, if you have great digestion and absorb nutrients efficiently, you may be able to skip this vitamin in your regime.If you do not fit all these criteria (and most of us do not!), you may want to at least get your levels tested to see if you are deficient, like millions of other Americans. Or as a safeguard, you can supplement with a modest dose, such as 1,000 IU daily. Considering that vitamin D deficiency is associated with excess inflammation, depression, bone fractures, diabetes, immune imbalance, cognitive dysfunction, among many other health issues, it’s an important vitamin to keep in check!

February 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm 3 comments

Do You Know Your pH? You Should!


By Jennifer Morganti, ND, Director of Education for NEEDS

Fatigue, osteoporosis, muscle spasms, sinusitis, insomnia, nerve pains, eczema, poor circulation…could these seemingly unrelated symptoms and conditions possibly have a common thread? The surprising answer is—YES! These symptoms were selected from a much longer list of conditions that can originate from an acidic environment in the body. The good news is that with diligent effort, one can neutralize the acid through a healthy diet and supplementation, and these issues may be resolved without requiring prescription drugs.

Acidity and inflammation don’t impact everyone in the same way—symptoms tend to manifest in a person’s weakest link. For some people, that might be the joints, so they experience joint pain, and some might incur urinary tract infections, yet both conditions can be a consequence of chronic acidity and inflammation.

Diet is the most significant cause of acidosis. The standard American diet is rich in acidifying foods and deficient in alkalizing foods, particularly vegetables. Stress and illness also impact the body’s pH, but diet is the major source of acid. It is highly recommended to read a book like The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health by Dr. Christopher Vasey, or the Acid Alkaline Food Guide by Dr. Susan Brown, to better understand the complexities of how foods affect pH and which foods have superior alkalizing activity. The general rule of thumb is that green leafy vegetables, followed by other colored vegetables and fruits, are alkalizing, and sugars, refined carbohydrates, and protein tend to be acidifying. It is helpful to have one of the food guides for reference, because some foods that have acidic qualities actually have an alkalizing effect on the body, such as lemons and vinegar. The books also provide guidelines on how to accurately test pH using pH test strips to track your progress.

Dietary changes are critical for alkalizing but to truly enhance the alkalization process, supplementation is highly recommended. Because vegetables are such an effective way to increase alkalinity, green drinks easily boost the daily veggie intake with just a few gulps. Minerals are a good way to alkalinize. Coral calcium provides a broad range of minerals, along with calcium in the carbonate form, which is the most alkalizing form.

Lastly, be sure to use pH test strips to monitor your pH changes. The pH fluctuates throughout the day based on food and beverages that are consumed. It is wise to use alkalizing supplements several times throughout the day to maintain an alkaline environment.

January 31, 2013 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

High-Dose Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Inflammation

The current study evaluated inflammatory markers in patients with congestive heart failure. Patients took 500 mg of calcium, plus either a placebo or 2000 IU of vitamin D, daily for nine months. Researchers measured cytokines (chemical messengers of the immune system), such as pro-inflammatory TNF (tumour necrosis factor) and anti-inflammatory IL-10 (interleukin 10).

It was found that people who took the vitamin D supplement showed a 43% increase in the anti-inflammatory IL-10 cytokine, whereas the placebo group showed no change. The vitamin D group also maintained levels of the inflammatory TNF cytokine, where the placebo group had a 12% increase in the inflammatory marker.

Previous research suggests that vitamin D may also improve muscular function, control blood pressure, and improve glucose tolerance. Inflammation is an underlying cause in those conditions, and in cardiovascular diseases, such as congestive heart failure.

In recent past, physicians recommended 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. Evidence is mounting that supplementing 2000 IUs of vitamin D is necessary for optimal health. Sunshine stimulates vitamin D production via the intestinal tract, however fears of skin cancer causes many Americans to avoid sun exposure, leading to increased incidences of vitamin D deficiency.

I personally feel that it is best to take a vitamin D supplement that is in an oil base, since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This can be in a softgel form or in a dropper bottle. Vitamin D Drops from Carlson in a coconut oil base are an easy way to get 2000 IUs per drop!

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83 (4), 2006; pp 754 -759.

July 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Do You Need More Vitamin D?

By Dr. Jennifer Morganti

Vitamin D has been the topic of the most exciting news in the scientific community for the past several years. Numerous clinical trials reveal that a large portion of the North American population is quite deficient in this critical nutrient, and this may be a key reason so many suffer with one or more inflammatory-based conditions.

It is common knowledge that vitamin D enhances absorption of calcium from the intestine to promote bone building, thus preventing osteoporosis. The latest research, however, has greatly expanded scientists’ understanding of vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency has been linked with several health problems, including inflammation, depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), nervous system problems, Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and musculoskeletal pain. Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory activity seems to be one of the underlying mechanisms that make it so effective at alleviating these conditions.

Vitamins D2 and D3 are the primary forms, both of which are eventually converted via the liver and kidneys to the more bioactive form, calcitriol. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, can be obtained from food (animal sources), supplements, and from sun exposure, which is then converted to a usable form by cells in the skin. The pervasive use of sunscreen has likely contributed to high deficiency rates, as it blocks the absorption of UV light and vitamin D conversion. D2 (ergocalciferol) is derived from fungal or plant sources and less efficient at converting to usable calcitriol than D3. Some sources claim that D2 absorption is one third of the rate of D3 absorption. Vitamin D2 is also made synthetically, but this form can be toxic and should be avoided entirely. A wide range of the body’s tissues have vitamin D receptors and, like the kidneys, have the ability to convert preliminary forms of vitamin D to calcitriol. This indicates that this nutrient is critical to these tissues’ metabolic processes.

Because sunlight exposure is such a critical source of vitamin D3, there is a correlation between living in northern latitudes and vitamin D deficiency. Subsequently, this population has increased risks of at least two maladies: cardiovascular disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). One study shows that patients with cardiovascular disease have lower levels of vitamin D than healthy people. Another demonstrates that patients with hypertension reduced their blood pressure significantly simply by increasing vitamin D levels via increased exposure to ultraviolet light. Vitamin D also has been shown to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker for inflammation and an indicator of increased risk for heart disease.

MS is a neurological disease that exhibits symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness, vision problems, loss of balance and muscle coordination, slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, and bladder problems to name a few. MS is also believed to have an autoimmune component. Incidences of MS are elevated in northern latitudes because of the limited availability of sunshine. The connection between MS and vitamin D levels was finally given credibility in 2006 when the Journal of the American Medical Association announced that MS risk can be lowered by increasing vitamin D based on a large amount of epidemiological data gathered between 1992 and 2004. These researchers felt that vitamin D may prevent MS because it is a potent immune modulator and because of its ability to temper MS’s autoimmune component. An additional clinical trial shows that daily supplementation with 5000 IU of vitamin D3 (plus calcium and magnesium) over two years reduced exacerbations of MS symptoms.

A multitude of studies also conclude that low vitamin D levels are linked with increased risk of cancer, such as breast, ovary, colon, and prostate, while many in vitro (laboratory-based), animal, and human studies show that vitamin D prevents cancer cells from proliferating. At the 2007 annual meeting of the conservative American Association for Cancer Research, the CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute confirmed that a significant amount of research strongly links low vitamin D levels with increased risk of many types of cancers.

Vitamin D levels can be measured by a simple blood test, which may be called either 25(OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin. Be aware that some labs have not yet updated their reference ranges, and that the ideal levels of vitamin D are now considered to be over 50 ng/mL versus 20-45 ng/mL as some labs may indicate. An article in the June 2007 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine describes how a leading researcher on vitamin D, Dr. Michael Holick, called for a fourfold increase in the recommended daily intake (RDI) of D3 from 200 IU to 1000 IU daily. Other physicians call for even higher doses, such as 2000-4000 IU. Holick also called for an increase in the current tolerable maximum daily dosage from 2000 IU to 10,000 IU daily. To raise vitamin D levels, it is wise to take at least 1000 IU daily for 4 to 8 months before levels return to normal. (Note: Vitamin D toxicity is now thought by some to occur only when taking over 100,000 IU daily for several months.)

Did you take your vitamin D today?

July 18, 2011 at 10:01 pm Leave a comment

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