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December Issue of Natural Alternatives
November 30, 2012

Natural Alternatives for Your Total Health

December 2012

Hello, and welcome to this edition edition of my Natural Alternatives Newsletter!

I hope you will enjoy reading this issue.

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“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” ~Hippocrates






By Dr. Mercola

Specially Fermented Vegetables and Fennel are More Effective Than Calcium to Prevent Bone Loss.

In most people, sometime during yours 30s your bone mass will start to gradually decline (there are steps you can take to slow, or stop, this from occurring, which I'll discuss below). For women, that bone loss speeds up significantly during the first 10 years after menopause, which is the period when osteoporosis often develops.

Many are under the mistaken impression that a prescription drug combined with megadose calcium supplements is the answer to strong and healthy bones.

In reality, as new research has once again revealed, nature has provided some of the best substances for preventing bone loss right in the foods you eat. Fermented vegetables using special starter culture designed to optimize vitamin K2 is one of your best strategies for maintaining healthy bones and preventing bone loss, in combination with vitamin D.

Recent research also suggests that one often-overlooked vegetable in particular can be of benefit, and if you've never had fennel, now might be a good time to give it a try.

Fennel May Prevent Post-Menopausal Bone Loss and Osteoporosis

Scientists looking for natural compounds to counteract postmenopausal bone loss believe they may have found the answer in fennel, a much under-appreciated vegetable that is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area.

In a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine,1 it was found that eating the seeds of the plant had a beneficial effect on loss of bone mineral density, as well as bone mineral content.

Healthy bones maintain their strength through a continual process of bone breakdown and bone rebuilding. Osteoclasts are the cells that break down weakened bone, and osteoblasts are the cells that build it back up. The fennel appeared to work by reducing osteoclast differentiation and function, thereby slightly decreasing bone turnover markers and offering a protective effect on the bones.

Researchers indicated that fennel seeds show potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis. This vegetable, which has a celery-like base topped with feathery green leaves, has a long history of medicinal use, and has been valued since ancient times as a breath freshener, digestive aid, and for helping expel phlegm from the lungs.

It's now known that the plant is a treasure trove of nutrients, including vitamin C, folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, magnesium, and more, as well as phytonutrients and antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and even help prevent cancer.

Eating Plenty of Vegetables is Key for Bone Health

Fennel is just one example of a veggie that's excellent for your bones. High vegetable intake has been associated with positive effects on bone mineral status for years.2 Eating high quality, organic, biodynamic, locally grown veggies will naturally increase your bone density and strength, and will decrease your risk of developing a fracture at virtually any age.

One reason why this is so important is because it supplies your body with nutrients that are essential for bone health, like vitamin K1 and potassium.

Your body needs potassium to maintain proper pH levels in your body fluids, and optimize your sodium to potassium ratio which also affects your bone mass. If you eat a diet loaded with processed foods, there's a good chance your potassium to sodium ratio is far from optimal, which is typically done by consuming a diet of processed foods, which are notoriously low in potassium while high in sodium.

An imbalanced sodium to potassium ratio can contribute to a number of diseases, including osteoporosis. To ensure you get these two important nutrients in more appropriate ratios, simply ditch processed foods, which are very high in processed salt and low in potassium and other essential nutrients.

Also eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, ideally organically grown to ensure optimal nutrient content. This type of diet will naturally provide much larger amounts of potassium in relation to sodium, which is optimal for your bone health, and your overall health. If you find it difficult to eat the recommended amount of vegetables you need daily, give vegetable juicing a try.

Vitamin K2 is Critical for Bone Health

Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also plays a role in removing calcium from areas where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues. It's critical for keeping your bones strong and works in conjunction with a number of other nutrients, most important of which are vitamin D, calcium and magnesium.

The optimal amounts of vitamin K2 are still under investigation, but it seems likely that 180 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 should be enough to activate your body's K2-dependent proteins to shuttle the calcium where it needs to be, and remove it from the places where it shouldn't.

As I've discussed on numerous occasions, vitamin D is a critical nutrient for optimal health and is best obtained from sun exposure or a safe tanning bed. However, many are taking oral vitamin D, which can actually be problematic unless you're also getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2. In fact, this is a really crucial point that has not been emphasized enough in the past: If you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2.


Because when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins—the proteins that help move the calcium around in your body. But you need vitamin K2 to activate those proteins. If they're not activated, the calcium in your body will not be properly distributed and can lead to weaker bones and hardened arteries.

In short, vitamin K2 ensures the calcium is deposited and removed from the appropriate areas. By taking vitamin D, you're creating an increased demand for K2. And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.

How Can You Tell if You're Lacking in Vitamin K2?

There's no way to test for vitamin K2 deficiency. But by assessing your diet and lifestyle, you can get an idea of whether or not you may be lacking in this critical nutrient. If you have osteoporosis, heart disease or diabetes, you're likely deficient in vitamin K2 as they are all connected to K2.

If you do not have any of those health conditions, but do NOT regularly eat high amounts of the following foods, then your likelihood of being vitamin K2 deficient is still very high: Grass-fed organic animal products (i.e. eggs, butter, dairy) Certain fermented foods such as natto, or vegetables fermented using a starter culture of vitamin K2-producing bacteria. Please note that most fermented vegetables are not really high in vitamin K2 and come in at about 50 mcg per serving. However, if specific starter cultures are used they can have ten times as much, or 500 mcg per serving.

Goose liver pâté, Certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda (these two are particularly high in K2, containing about 75 mcg per ounce), Fermented vegetables, which are one of my new passions, primarily for supplying beneficial bacteria back into our gut, can be a great source of vitamin K if you ferment your own using the proper starter culture. They're definitely FAR better than fennel for counteracting bone loss.

We recently had samples of high-quality fermented organic vegetables made with our specific starter culture tested, and were shocked to discover that not only does a typical serving of about two to three ounces contain about 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but it also contained 500 mcg of vitamin K2. Note that not every strain of bacteria makes K2. For example, most yogurts have almost no vitamin K2. Certain types of cheeses are very high in K2, and others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can't assume that any fermented food will be high in K2, but some fermented foods are very high in K2, such as natto.

Why Nutritional Interventions are Superior to Drugs

Your bones are made up of minerals in a collagen matrix. The minerals give your bones rigidity and density, but the collagen gives your bones flexibility. Without good flexibility, they become brittle and break easily. So bone strength is MORE than just bone density -- which is why drugs such as biphosphonates have failed so miserably. Drugs like Fosamax build up a lot of minerals and make the bone LOOK very dense on an x-ray called a DEXA scan, which specifically measures bone density, or the degree of mineralization of your bones. But in reality, they are extremely brittle and prone to fracture, which is why there have been so many cases of hip fracture among people taking these damaging drugs.

Biphosphonate drugs are poisons that destroy your osteoclasts, which interferes with your normal bone-remodeling process. You are much better off building your bones using exercise and nutritional therapies, hormones like progesterone and vitamins D and K.

Natural Strategies for Preventing Age-Related Bone Loss

You need a combination of plant-derived minerals for strong bones. Your bones are actually composed of at least a dozen minerals. If you just focus on calcium, you will likely weaken your bones and increase your risk of osteoporosis as Dr. Robert Thompson explains in his book, The Calcium Lie.

It's more likely your body can use calcium correctly if it's plant-derived calcium. Good sources include raw milk from pasture-raised cows (who eat the plants), leafy green vegetables, the pith of citrus fruits, carob, sesame seeds and wheatgrass, to name a few. But you also need sources of silica and magnesium, which some researchers say is actually enzymatically "transmuted" by your body into the kind of calcium your bones can use. This theory was first put forth by French scientist Louis Kevran, a Nobel Prize nominee who spent years studying how silica and calcium are related. Good sources of silica are cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and a number of herbs including horsetail, nettles, oat straw, and alfalfa. The absolute best source of magnesium is raw organic cacao. Yes, healthy high quality chocolate is extremely rich in magnesium!

A great source of trace minerals, which are important for many of your body's functions, is Himalayan Crystal Salt, which contains all 84 elements found in your body. In addition, you need to make sure you're eating plenty of vitamin K2, which is found in fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut. Osteocalcin is a protein produced by your osteoblasts (cells responsible for bone formation), and is utilized within the bone as an integral part of the bone-forming process. However, osteocalcin must be "carboxylated" before it can be effective. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that catalyzes the carboxylation of osteocalcin.

Vitamin K2 has been found to be a far more effective "activator" of osteocalcin than K1 because your liver preferentially uses vitamin K1 to activate clotting factors, while most of your other tissues preferentially use K2. Further, vitamin D, which your body produces in response to sun exposure, is another crucial factor in maintaining bone health as you age.

The bottom line?

One of the best ways to achieve healthy bones is a diet rich in fresh, raw whole foods that maximizes natural minerals so that your body has the raw materials it needs to do what it was designed to do. In addition, you need healthy sun exposure along with regular, weight-bearing exercise.

To sum it up:

* Optimize your vitamin D either from natural sunlight exposure, a safe tanning bed or an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Check your blood levels regularly to make sure you're within the optimal range.
* Optimize your vitamin K through a combination of dietary sources (leafy green vegetables, fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut and a K2 supplement, if needed. Remember, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you need to also increase your intake of vitamin K2.)
* The optimal amounts of vitamin K2 are still under investigation, but it seems likely that 180 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 might be enough to activate your body's K2-dependent proteins to shuttle calcium to the proper areas. If you're taking high doses of supplemental vitamin D, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, a naturopathic physician and author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, suggests taking 100-200 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K2 for every 1,000 IU's of vitamin D you take. The latest vitamin D dosing recommendations, which call for about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D3 per day if you're an adult, means you'd need in the neighborhood of 800 to 1,000 micrograms (0.8 to 1 milligram/mg) of vitamin K2.
*Make sure you do weight-bearing exercise, which has profound benefits to your skeletal systems. My favorite is Peak Fitness but it is also very important to do strength-training exercises to produce the dynamic peizoelectric forces in your bones that will stimulate the osteoblasts to produce new bone.
*Consume a wide variety of fresh, local, organic whole foods, including vegetables, nuts, seeds, organic meats and eggs, and raw organic unpasteurized dairy. The more of your diet you consume RAW, the better nourished you will be. Minimize sugar and refined grains.

By Dr. Edward Group

Although we can find many foods in the supermarket that have been fortified with a synthetic form of Vitamin D, there are only a select number of foods containing vitamin D in them naturally.

Normally, our body takes in Vitamin D in the form of sun-synthesis through the skin. But in our modern times, where many of us spend countless hours inside houses, cars and shopping malls, our actual exposure to the sun is limited. This fact may be a principle cause of many ailments, including depression.

For this reason, it is extremely important to have a diet high in Vitamin D or take a vitamin D3 supplement.

This is my ‘List of Foods Containing Vitamin D’, as well as some of the great potential benefits of the vitamin. (In no particular order)

Personal Disclaimer: Being a vegetarian I personally use Vitamin D3 serum from premier research labs or consume Shiitake mushrooms. I also make sure I get some sunlight everyday. However, because I have received so many requests from meat eaters on sources of Vitamin D in foods I decided to post the following food sources. I must say though that I do recommend a meatless diet for optimum health.

Top Foods Containing Vitamin D

Shiitake & Button Mushrooms
Surprisingly, the dried versions of shiitake mushrooms are high in Vitamin D. This may be due to the fact that these mushrooms are adept at sucking up sunlight. Shiitake is also rich in B Vitamins like B1 & B2. Make sure that you find mushrooms that have been dried in the sun, not by some artificial means, in order to extract the benefits of high Vitamin D content.
A small, 3½ ounce portion of this Omega-3 rich fish will give you 90% of the recommended daily amount. Currently, the FDA recommends that we eat more of these oily fishes to infuse our bodies with the vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that our body cannot produce on its own.
Sockeye Salmon
A small 3½ ounces portion of cooked salmon will give you 90% of the Dietary Reference Intake for Vitamin D. Make sure to purchase salmon that has been caught from the wild, if not, then sustainably farmed. Salmon eat zooplankton, an excellent source of the important vitamin.
Fish like herring are so high in vitamin D because they are the part of our food chain that thrive on plankton, which is chock-full of the vitamin.
Sardines are one of the best foods containing Vitamin D. One small tin can of sardines will provide you with approximately 70% of your daily needs. These tiny canned fish are also a great source for Vitamin B12, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, protein and selenium.
Again, another fish that makes a habit of feeding on plankton, catfish are constantly taking in minuscule sea life that create vitamin D from sunlight.
Tuna fish
Eat 3 ounces of tuna daily for 50% of your Vitamin D needs. Fresh, wild-caught tuna is the most nutritious. Remember, eating oily fish can also lubricate the body with “good fats,” providing a host of health benefits to your body, like better memory and brain function.
Cod Liver Oil
If you can stomach the strong aroma, this oil is super-rich in sunlight Vitamin D. This marvelously golden, yet terrible-tasting oil, is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating this oil into your diet will help you increase your bones ability to stay strong and healthy. Because of its high Vitamin D content, cod liver oil has also been shown to prevent osteoporosis in adult, improve brain function and optimize the functioning of the nervous system. What is more, the oil holds 10,000 IUs of vitamin D. One tablespoon of the oil provides more than enough Vitamin D for the day.
Eggs are another food containing vitamin D in small amounts. Eating one egg will provide you with approximately 10% of your daily needs. I would personally recommend to eat free-range eggs from a local farm, if possible.
Okay, we know it’s not a food, but daily “doses” of sunshine can seriously up your Vitamin D intake. In fact, this vitamin has actually been referred to as the sunshine vitamin. Light hitting the skin from the sun’s rays stimulates the production of this vitamin and hormone. This is great news for those of us that can take a sun-bath daily. But for those of us in colder, cloudier climates, we can up our intake from the foods we eat. This could explain why Native Inuit people in Alaska ate so much fish!

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

There are many reasons to stock up on foods containing vitamin D. Health benefits of the vitamin include:

The prevention of chronic diseases such as many forms of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension. The protection and lubrication of your bones, teeth and hair. The regulation of cellular growth and healthy cell activity Overall reduction of the inflammatory response, a condition known to cause many chronic diseases, from cancer to diabetes to obesity.

Protection against adult osteoporosis, Reduction in the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, Significant reduction in the occurrence of prostate cancer in African-American men.

As I mentioned above, if you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish, you can still get the same benefits by taking a vitamin d supplement or make sure to get plenty of sun on a daily basis.


A natural Solution For Sunspots and Damage
By Kristen Ma

While we may be tempted to worship the sun, overexposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to sunspots and skin damage. The problem is that many existing treatments for these conditions peel or bleach the skin, making it more vulnerable. Luckily, there are also nourishing natural remedies such as rosehip oil to help combat sun-related inflammation.

A natural Healer

These natural remedies diminish discoloration not by exfoliating, but through repair and restoration. Rosehip oil in particular has been found to be exceptionally effective in healing damaged complexions and darkened spots. This oil is packed with antioxidants and rejuvenating acids that not only treat pigmented lesions and texture, but also bolster the skin’s immunity, preventing future skin damage.

Damaging skin lightening treatments

One of the most common concerns of sun damage is pigmentation. This can appear as freckles, dark spots, or large patches of discoloration. Most treatments today involve bleaching or resurfacing the skin, but unfortunately, this can be counterproductive. These methods can strip our complexions and lead to increased sensitivity, broken capillaries, inflamed acne, or facial bruising. Chemical peels in particular exfoliate darkened skin cells, but can thin the skin’s tissue, making it more susceptible to damage.

Bleaches and lightening agents also have concerning implications for our skin and bodies. The melanogenesis inhibitor hydroquinone is one of the most common and effective active ingredients included in pigmentation treatment products, and is also a substance found in paint varnishes, photographic developer, motor fuel, and cigarette smoke.

Studies have shown that this inhibitor can cause DNA damage and has also been found to lead to depigmentation and create new pigmented spots, worsening the conditions it is used to treat. For these reasons, hydroquinone has been prohibited in cosmetics in the EU, while the US Food and Drug Administration currently allows over-the-counter formulations of up to 1.5 to 2 percent. In Canada, formulations of up to 4 percent hydroquinone are still available from the pharmacist without a prescription.

In addition to being potentially harmful to the skin and body, peels and lightening cremes can also hinder the skin’s healing process, as they tend to be dehydrating when applied topically. Skin damage and wounds have been known to heal faster and more effectively when moisture balance is obtained, so dehydrating products are not ideal for skin regeneration.

Hydration supports collagen production and cellular growth while facilitating the production of proteins in the skin. Since making moist, balanced skin is critical for tissue regeneration, protective skin care and rich oils are excellent for treating scars and marks, as they lock in moisture that allows skin to renew.

Rosehip to the Rescue

Studies have shown that rosehip oil is excellent for fading pigmentation and regenerating the skin. Derived from the seeds of the rosehip fruit, this oil is concentrated with fatty acids, including omega-6 and -9, which deeply moisturize and help to rejuvenate damaged complexions. It is also packed with powerful antioxidants vitamin C, lycopene, and provitamin A that treat free-radical damage and diminish discoloration.

Rosehip oil is an excellent natural alternative to conventional lightening products, as it heals sun damage and pigmentation without compromising our skin’s health. Instead, it restores tissue and treats sunspots by supporting it with replenishing nutrients.

The rosehip regimen

Rosehip oil is easily incorporated into our skin care regimen. It can be used day and night after cleansing as a natural moisturizer and is safe for all skin types. However, the rejuvenating properties of rosehip can stimulate acne-prone skin to break out, so blemished complexions should only apply rosehip oil on alternating nights, or as a spot treatment on acne scars.

When choosing rosehip oil, it is important to find one that is undiluted by chemicals or synthetics. This can be determined by examining its colour and scent. Pure rosehip oil is bright orange and has an earthy smell, reminiscent of coffee beans.

The manufacturing process of this oil is also critical, and while many sources use hexane, a petroleum-derived chemical solvent, to extract it, the best quality rosehip oil is cold-pressed or produced using supercritical CO2. Check labels for information on how it is derived, or inquire with the manufacturer if this information is missing. Ethical companies that make high quality, authentic rosehip oil will be transparent about their manufacturing methods.

Beauty Treatment

While rosehip treats sun damage and sunspots, it is also used for many other beauty ailments such as: conditioning dry, damaged hair, diminishing stretch marks, fading acne and surgical scars, nourishing weak and brittle nails, softening fine lines, preventing premature aging.
About the Author
Kristen Ma is an esthetician and Ayurvedic practitioner who owns a holistic spa chain. She is the author of Beauty: Pure + Simple (McArthur and Co., 2010) and runs a beauty blog.


Thank you for reading.

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

P.S. If you have a comment or suggestion, just reply to this e-mail. Your feedback is important to me.



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This newsletter is for educational purposes only. It is your right to educate yourself in health and medical knowledge, to seek helpful information and make use of it for your own benefit, and for that of your family. You are the one responsible for your health. You must educate yourself in order to make decisions in all health matters. My views and advices are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medicine, but simply a help you to make educated changes in order to help your body heal itself. If you have a medical condition or concern you should consult your physician.

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