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MTHFR testing at Glow Seattle WAIt’s hard to find a clear explanation of methylation defects out there. This is because they are only just being recognized (though NDs have been trained about this for years) and it’s also quite complicated. Methylation can be thought of as activation. So, while vitamins are cofactors for numerous actions in the body, many of them need to be methylated (activated) in order to work. We all have gene mutations that we don’t know about and one of those is a possible defect in activation of folic acid, or MTHFR defect. About 50% of people seem to have this (think about the common knowledge of folic acid deficiency and neural tube defects in babies).

• When we don’t activate folic acid well, this leads to a buildup of homocysteine, which is associated with heart disease.

• Research has shown that treating  those who have genetic defects in methylation can help with depression.

• Defects in methylation have also been associated with pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Methylation helps to make the myelin sheath on nerves, the equivalent of wire coating. Defects in methylation can lead to increased pain sensitivity.

• Methylation is one way that the body detoxifies (gets rid of toxins). When we give the activated forms of the vitamins, we can start detoxification pathways that have been sluggish for a long time and therefore experience side effects.

• Another place that methylation works is in DNA repair. Our DNA breaks and is repaired all the time. Cancer happens when DNA breaks and isn’t repaired properly. So, proper methylation can help to prevent cancer.

It’s important to remember that this is not the answer for everything. Just because you have the genetic defect doesn’t mean that you will actually have the problem. In addition, we need to factor in things like other genetic defects, hormone imbalance, thyroid and adrenal function, toxicity, gut health, blood sugar balance, nutrient deficiencies, and mental health needs. Side effects of methyl folate without necessary cofactors can include aches, headaches, insomnia, irritability, acne, skin rash, anxiety, and nausea. It is important to take dosing slowly; the proper schedule can take months. Side effects can be due to improperly pushing detoxification or to other genetic defects not being accounted for.

Other possible genetic defects include trouble breaking down homocysteine, trouble breaking down the brain’s adrenaline, trouble processing serotonin (involved with mood), trouble processing B12, trouble with other liver detox pathways, trouble making the calming brain chemical GABA, and trouble breaking down histamine (involved in allergies and brain stimulation).

Because of the complicated nature of these issues, it is best to approach them with a provider who is trained in this area. I do genetic and/or blood testing and interpret the results in the context of your whole health picture as we take a comprehensive approach to your treatment plan.

Candace McNaughton, ND  Trained as a family practitioner to address acute and chronic conditions, Dr. McNaughton focuses on autoimmune disease, allergies, and digestive issues.  She facilitates healing as a knowledgeable guide and partner, helping her patients make lasting changes and achieve health goals.  She graduated from Bastyr University in 2003.

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By Candace McNaughton, ND

I am not an alarmist. But this is alarming. Through a subtle messaging campaign, the prescription of opiate medications has increased fourfold in the last ten years. Drug companies like the makers of OxyContin pay groups like the American Pain Foundation much of their annual income. The messaging came from the drug manufacturers through position statements, clinical guidelines, books, and seminars at conferences. Opiates are no longer just being used for severe post-surgical pain or pain associated with cancer or its treatment. They’re being prescribed for chronic pain issues like headaches, low back pain, and fibromyalgia. The gist of the message? Opiates aren’t addictive if used as prescribed, and there’s essentially no limit on dose. So prescribe away.

Except they are addictive. They cause tolerance (needing more to have the same effect) and addiction (going through withdrawal symptoms if you stop them suddenly). I see patients like this in my practice every day. Mothers who tearfully say they can’t take care of their kids while on Oxycodone. Construction workers who can’t work because they can’t drive, let alone operate machinery on the job while on these meds. I see kids who are still in school saying they were given no treatment options other than an opiate script and now they’re still in pain and falling asleep in school and scared of addiction. (more…)

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So, you ate your beans just like me and then thought to yourself, “I wonder what the health benefits of these lovely beans are?” Lucky for you, I too had this thought, and then thought I’d pass some info along to you.

Beans help lower cholesterol (lots of bile binding fiber), in turn fighting heart disease, and lowering the risk of heart attack. A study conducted at the University of Kentucky has shown that only three weeks of increased bean intake (3/4 cup of navy and pinto beans) lowered the men’s cholesterol by an average of 19%. This reduces the risk of heart attack by almost 40%. Studies have also shown that there is a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancers.

Beans are high in protein and fiber but low in fat and surprisingly high in antioxidants. Black and pinto beans beat out powerhouses like blueberries! Here’s a comprehensive post on the health benefits of beans. http://heart-healthy-recipes.fitsugar.com/Health-Benefits-Common-Beans-1090505 (Why reinvent the wheel I say!)

Here’s a excerpt…

“In one analysis of dietary data collected by validated food frequency questionnaires in 1991 and 1995 from 90,630 women in the Nurses Health Study II researchers found a significant reduced frequency of breast cancer in those women who consumed a higher intake of common beans or lentils. That was not surprising, what was surprising was that only beans and lentils seemed to offer protection. Intake of tea, onions, apples, string beans, broccoli, green pepper, or blueberries had not protective effect. Eating beans or lentils two or more times per week was associated with a 24% reduced risk of breast cancer.”

And… check this out

USDA Ranking of Foods by Antioxidant Capacity

1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup: 13727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup: 13427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup: 13259
4 Pinto bean Half cup: 11864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup: 9019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole): 8983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts): 7904
8 Blackberry 1 cup: 7701
9 Prune Half cup: 7291
10 Raspberry 1 cup: 6058
11 Strawberry 1 cup: 5938
12 Red Delicious apple One: 5900
13 Granny Smith apple One: 5381
14 Pecan 1 ounce: 5095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup: 4873
16 Black plum One: 4844
17 Russet potato (cooked) One: 4649
18 Black bean (dried) Half cup: 4181
19 Plum One: 4118
20 Gala apple One: 3903

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 Vitamin D deficiency is quickly emerging as one of the greatest risk factors for a wide variety of diseases. It is also one of the most common deficiencies, especially here in the Northwest. It is however, easily remedied.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to at least 17 forms of cancer, neurologic diseases such as multiple sclerosis, skin issues, calcium and bone metabolism issues, muscle pain and weakness, macular degeneration, mental illness, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, colds and flues, and the list goes on. It seems to play no small part in many of these diseases.

For instance, people with adequate levels of Vitamin D have a 30 – 50 percent less likelihood of developing many types of cancer. For those people who did develop cancer, one study even showed that in most types of lung cancer, people with the highest Vitamin D intake had double the 5-year survival rate than those with the lowest!

Musculoskeletal pain, especially low back pain, is also common in people with Vitamin D deficiency. One study found that chronic pain was three times more common among those people with the lowest Vitamin D levels. Additionally, many geriatric units across the country are now supplementing Vitamin D to their patients because they’ve found that it helps to prevent muscle weakness, thereby significantly reducing the amount of falls in their facilities.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been associated with depression. People with the highest levels of Vitamin D had a “higher overall sense of well-being,” according to one study. Who couldn’t use that?

One fairly recent discovery is Vitamin D’s role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It is believed that one reason people get sick more often in the wintertime is secondary to a seasonal deficiency in Vitamin D. One study found that supplementation with 2000 IU (International Units) of Vitamin D per day “virtually eliminated self-reported incidences of colds and influenza.”

How We Get Vitamin D

Our bodies obtain Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, diet, and supplementation. When fair-skinned people sunbathe in the summer, they produce approximately 20,000 IU of Vitamin D in less than 30 minutes. Obviously, sun exposure is a very efficient way to obtain Vitamin D. However, sun exposure does increase skin aging and burning increases rates of melanoma.

Diet provides about 250 – 300 IU per day. Fish oil, liver, and milk are some of the richest sources. However, you would need to drink about 30 glasses of milk per day for three months or more to raise the average person’s levels up to healthy, disease-preventing levels.

Supplementation with Vitamin D is another way that we can obtain adequate levels, of course. Most adults need 2000–4000 IUs per day to raise and maintain Vitamin D at healthy levels. This is more than most conventional doctors recommend or are comfortable with, but this is what the research is showing. There have been no credible incidences reported in the literature showing toxicity with up to 10,000 IU per day of Vitamin D. What few incidences have been reported were from faulty industrial production, labeling errors, dosing errors, and in patients treated medically with high doses of synthetic Vitamin D, called ergocalciferol. (Most Vitamin D and the kind you should take is called cholecalciferol.)

Incidence of Vitamin D Deficiency

Most people have blood levels of 10 – 18 ng/ml in the wintertime, or if they spend the majority of their time out of the sunlight. Major decreases in cancer and other diseases have been shown when blood levels are at least 30 ng/ml. For instance, levels of 33 ng/ml were associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of colon cancer, and levels of 52 ng/ml were associated with a 50% reduction of breast cancer. Natural levels, that is, levels found in humans who live or work in the sun, are approximately 50 – 70 ng/ml.

Many factors influence one’s levels of Vitamin D, including geographic location, skin color (darker skin people produce less Vitamin D from sunlight exposure than do lighter skinned people), use of sunscreen, weight, age, diet, digestion, etc. Blood testing is recommended to find out what your levels of Vitamin D are and to monitor therapy. The test you want your doctor to run is called 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D.

Having adequate levels of Vitamin D is one of the biggest factors in preventing a wide variety of serious diseases. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common; in fact, most people are deficient, especially in the wintertime. Blood testing is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to find out what your levels are. And supplementation with Vitamin D is a very inexpensive and easy way to help ensure optimal health.

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