Tag Archives: Functional Health and Acupuncture Institute

Vitamin Deficiency Linked To Stroke And Plaque Buildup

At Functional Health and Acupuncture Institute in Cherry Hill, NJ, part of our mission is to educate people about health and nutrition to let them take control of their own health destiny.  Today I want to talk about the link between certain vitamins and cardiovascular disease.

Did you know that your nutrient status may have more to do with cardiovascular health than just looking at simple markers like cholesterol?

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed that people low in vitamin B12 had an increased risk of a fatal heart attack and stroke.The study focused on the relationship between homocysteine, B-12 and carotid artery plaque.

The study showed that higher blood levels of B vitamins are related to lower concentrations of homocysteine leading to decrease plaquing in the carotid arteries. However, an elevated blood homocysteine level revealed a strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The study examined 421 people with the average age being 66. Vitamin B12, homocysteine levels and degree of plaque in the carotid arteries (via ultrasound) were evaluated.

Seventy-three patients (17%) had vitamin B12 deficiency with significant elevation of homocysteine. In addition and most important, carotid plaque was significantly larger among the group of patients who had deficiency of vitamin B12. In conclusion, the authors found that low blood vitamin B12 levels are a major cause of elevated homocysteine levels and increased carotid plaque area.

What is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is an inflammatory chemical in the body that is normally converted to protective antioxidants but this process may not occur if there are low levels of certain B vitamins such as B12 and folate. This can occur due to dietary insufficiencies but may also occur if you have a genetic variation that causes difficulty making or processing these vitamins. It can also occur if you have poor digestion or low stomach acid, preventing absorption of B12 and other nutrients.

Testing for B12

Unfortunately blood tests are not very reliable for levels of B12. Better measures include using a urine test called a methyl malonic acid test. Blood homocysteine is a useful test and can be an indicator that you need folate or B12. The genetic MTHFR test can also reveal if you have trouble utilizing folic acid and may need supplementation.

One important takeaway from this is that homocysteine levels may be a better way to understand and estimate cardiovascular risk than just looking at cholesterol levels. If you would like to know more about this topic or how to get tested, feel free to call our office with any questions.

Vitamin D: How Much is Enough?

The verdict is out. We are simply not getting enough Vitamin D.

Vitamin D is crucial in every disease from inhibiting cancer and heart diseases to mental disease, recurrent infections, tooth loss, osteoporosis, narcolepsy and auto-immune disease.

Unfortunately the reference range of Quest and Lab Corp is commonly 30 to 100 nanomols per liter (nmol/l), and sometimes it is 30 to 75 nmol/l.

Scientists who are experts in vitamin D chemistry are now finding that the actual need for vitamin D is greater than 75 nanomols per liter (nmol/l).

What is the problem?

The problem is millions of people who are around 30-75 are told by their physicians that they have a normal level of D, when in fact it is too low.

Now here is another more serious problem.

When you do have a good therapeutic level, doctors using the “normals” (30 to 75) on conventional labs will erroneously tell you that you’re too high and you should cut back.

Researchers have shown we could cut the cancer and heart attack rates in half in this country if people just had enough vitamin D.

Sadly, it will take many years before medicine catches up.

As a consequence, we will see even more of an explosion of our current epidemics of diabetes and depression, cancer and heart disease. In addition, more people will develop auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and lupus, not to mention Alzheimer’s.

Basically the take away message from today’s article is people who have too little vitamin D are told they have just enough. And people who think they are taking enough will be told they have too much and should cut back.

Functional medicine practitioners also understand that cheap and synthetic forms in foods and nutrients lower the good level of D3.

So make sure you use a quality Vitamin D3 supplement. The dosage depends on your levels, and a good Functional Medicine practitioner can help you with this. And don’t forget the value of 30 minutes of natural sunshine (though here in the Northeast this only helps in summertime).

This article is compliments from Functional Medicine University