How Nutrigenomics can Optimize Diet for Bone HealthIn the July issue of Jama (Journal of the American Medical Association) there was an article outlining the results of a huge meta-analysis of genes related to calcium absorption, use and excretion.
The study looked at hundreds of thousands of patients and compared their genetic data to their blood calcium levels. They found that there were several genes that influenced calcium levels, and 6 genes that had a significant impact on the circulating calcium levels.
In this week's article we look at why this is important in the treatment of osteoporosis and more importantly in protecting patients against cardiovascular disease.
Read the Abstract in Jama
Calcium is a double edged swordStudies are mixed on calcium supplementation. Although it has been recommended for osteoporosis prevention for decades, many studies have found that supplementing calcium increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Study, study). Calcium supplementation in women with existing cardiovascular disease has also been associated with an increased risk of dementia (study). In this current study those participants who had the genetic variants associated with higher blood calcium levels also had increased risk of heart attacks and strokes as well. Not all studies have been consistent on this topic. Many studies failed to find any significant connection between calcium supplementation and cardiovascular disease. These genetic variants influencing calcium absorption, utilization and excretion may provide the missing piece of the puzzle that explains these discrepancies.
It bears stating that this doesn't change the basic tenet of nutrition, namely, that nutrients exist and operate within the fabric of a complex diet consisting of various nutrients. You can't provide a single concentrated nutrient as a supplement and expect it to behave as it does in a healthy diet. Calcium is no different than any other nutrient in this regard, and depends on other nutrients for proper use. The best approach is, as always, a complex, nutrient dense diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods.
Vitamins D and K influence the function and absorption of CalciumIn those with sufficient vitamin D, calcium is less likely to end up plastered to the blood vessel walls. Sufficient vitamin D stores also seem to help regulate absorption. In order to provide adequate Vitamin D through sun exposure, a minimum of about 10 minutes in full sun, exposing arms and legs is needed 2-3 times per week. (study) Vitamin K2 also helps to protect blood vessel walls from calcification by supporting the proteins that clean calcium out of the blood vessels. (article)
So what about your Genes?Genetic consultations at The Parani Clinic consist of 3 one hour sessions where we dive deep into your genes. We evaluate genes like the ones appearing in this study as well as hundreds of others. Our goal through these sessions is to give you a detailed template for the best practices for your health; from the best diet for you to the most effective exercise approaches, and specific lifestyle strategies. We can often identify environmental toxins that your system is especially sensitive to and help you to form strategies to avoid exposure to them. As in the case of calcium for the participants in this study, there are nutrients you will need in smaller amounts and some you will need in larger amounts based on your genes. The capacity for personalized genetic medicine to optimize your health through uncovering all the specific fine adjustments about how your body functions is exciting and promising. It allows us to identify and treat disease long before it appears.
In the context of osteoporosis, if a person has multiple genes that increase circulating calcium levels, then attempting to address osteoporosis by adding a calcium supplement is not only ill advised, it should be avoided as it will likely increase their risk of heart attack or stroke without offering much benefit in terms of bone strength.
For those with genetic variants increasing calcium levels, here are a few simple interventions that are likely to be helpful:
You Can Sign up for a Genetic Consult Here
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Who should take CoQ10 and Why?
I've had numerous conversations about this subject in the past few weeks so I thought it would be a good time to do an article on it.
First of all, What is CoQ10?It stands for Coenzyme Q10. It is a compound that is naturally made inside the body. It performs various functions in the body including providing antioxidant support for blood vessels, helping to utilize energy in the cells, protecting cell membranes from damage and assisting in the production of other useful compounds and enzyme functions.
It protects the blood vessels
Coenzyme Q10 is one of the main fat soluble antioxidants that the body uses to protect the blood vessels from damage. Oxidative damage cause body tissues to break down and attracts inflammation. When this happens in the blood vessel walls it leads to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. CoQ10 protects the blood vessels from oxidative damage.
It helps make energy
Inside the cells there are small structures called mitochondria that convert sugar and fat into energy, CoQ10 helps this conversion to occur. For this reason it often helps to alleviate fatigue (study). In some kinds of migraine headaches where energy utilization contributes to the onset of migraines, CoQ10 has been found to be effective.
It lowers blood pressure
Coenzyme Q10 is effective and safe for the treatment of high blood pressure. As CoQ10 makes the blood vessel walls healthier they also become more flexible, reducing blood pressure. In a meta-analysis CoQ10 was found to lower blood pressure by as much as 18 points.
So who should take CoQ10?First of all, anyone taking a Statin should be taking CoQ10 because statins inhibit the body's ability to make CoQ10. (study) Especially those who experience adverse effects from statins such as muscle pain or brain fog (study). For these symptoms try 100mg/day for 4 days then increase by 50mg per day until your symptoms are reduced, up to 500mg/day.
Second, if you have high blood pressure you can use CoQ10 to reduce it. Try 200-300mg/day. (By the way, there are a lot of dietary interventions that are especially effective for blood pressure, here's a video I did on it.)
Lastly, if you are experiencing fatigue (or fatigue that triggers migraines) try CoQ10 200mg/day. This is more likely to be effective for you if you also suffer from fibromyalgia symptoms like muscle pain, mental fatigue, and metabolic dysfunction.
A Final Notes
CoQ10 is available in two forms (ubiquinone and ubiquinol). The research is unclear on which is better. Most studies seem to indicate they work equally well (although ubiquinol is much more expensive!). In our clinic we use ubiquinone and have only had good results with it.
I'm Kieran, clinician and founder at The Parani Clinic. I'm an acupuncturist, herbalist, and functional medicine practitioner for the past 10 years. I have a deep curiosity in health, biology, culture, medicine, history, and a healthy obsession with the pursuit of the perfect state of health.