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Arthritis, Gossip and Vitamin D News

October 14, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Life expectancy is slowly but surely rising in the US and many industrialized countries. This is a welcome trend that we all hope will continue. But with advancing age, so too comes an elevated risk of degenerative and progressive health conditions including arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis and more. So while scientists strive to find new ways of keeping us here longer, we must do our part to figure out how to improve the quality of this additional time.

The Los Angeles Times maintains an active Twitter presence in the health care arena. I regularly check their account to get a sense of the top medical news stories of the day. This past week they covered a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that concluded that 2 out of every 9 US citizens are living with “doctor diagnosed” arthritis. That accounts for nearly 50 million men, women and children. What’s more, that figure is growing. By the year 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will likely be living with one form of arthritis or another. (1,2,3)

The most common method of managing the discomfort and disability associated with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis is the use of pain-relieving medication. However these conventional drugs carry a long list of side effects, from an increased risk of gastrointestinal complications to stroke, when used over the long term. Fortunately, there is a growing list of natural remedies that appear to offer an effective and safer alternative. (4,5,6)

Vitamin B6 for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - A new study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the addition of 100 mg of Vitamin B6 daily resulted in lower levels of inflammation in patients with RA. It appears that B6 can significantly reduce select pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). (7)

Purple Passion Fruit Peel (PFP) vs. Osteoarthritis (OA) - The September 2010 edition of the Nutrition Research describes the therapeutic potential of PFP, “a flavonoid-rich dietary supplement”,  in adults living with OA. A two month, double-blind placebo controlled study demonstrated that 150 mg/day of PFP provided statistically relevant symptomatic relief in a group of 33 OA patients. An improvement of up to 19.6% was discovered in relation to common complaints including pain, physical function and stiffness. In comparison, those receiving a placebo reported that their conditions worsened. (8)

One of the more enjoyable aspects of Twitter is the opportunity to interact with the people behind the tweets you read. Dr. Orna Izakson, a naturopathic physician practicing in Portland, Oregon, is a prime example. She not only provides informative content but she’s also been very supportive of my efforts here on this site. The latest example of one of her Twitter gems is a link to an interview with Dr. Michael Holick, author of the book The Vitamin D Solution. Here are a few of the important points Dr. Holick makes in that exchange: (9,10,11)

  • Children should be taking a minimum of 400 – 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily. Adults: 1,500 – 2,000 IUs. (12)
  • Recent studies show that children taking 1,200 IUs of D daily reduced the risk of getting the flu by 50%. (13)
  • Many pregnant women and their babies are deficient in D. Higher levels of supplementation are likely needed. (14,15)
Indices of Vitamin B Status in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Control Subjects
Component Patients (n = 33) Controls (n = 17)
Plasma pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (nmol/L)a 24.7 (19.5–31.1) 46.2 (35.3–60.3)
Plasma folate (μg/L)a 10.2 (8.4–12.5) 9.5 (7.9–11.3)
Red blood cell folate (μg/L)a 302 (262–347) 274 (226–333)
Vitamin B12 (ng/L)a 434 (390–496) 398 (334–473)
Source: Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R1254-R1262 (a)

Do you like to gossip? Be honest. Don’t feel guilty if you answered ‘yes’. You may be improving your health by doing so. New research presented at the annual British Psychological Society conference offers the details about this welcome revelation. At the conference, Drs. Hannah Scrivener and Jennifer Cole detailed two studies involving a total of 300 men and women. The first was an interventional trial that asked the participants to “talk about a fictional person either positively or negatively”. The latter investigation incorporated a questionnaire that established how gossip impacted the perceived self-esteem and social support of those who engage in it. The results suggest that gossiping in a positive manner (“speaking kindly of others”) conferred a 6% reduction in negative emotions and a 5% increase in self-esteem. On the other hand, criticizing others resulted in a 16% decline in positive emotions and a 34% increase in negative emotions. Something to think about. (16,17,18)

The final item on gossiping was originally brought to my attention by Rick McGuire, a multimedia producer and writer of health-related material. He’s a prolific source of “need to know” health and science information on Twitter. I highly recommend checking out his life-enhancing messages. The same is true of the tweets presented by Dr. Orna Izakson and the LA Times Health contributors. I’ve been on Twitter for over a year and half now and continually discover new sources of valuable information there. But I also find myself coming back to the same tried-and-true tweeters such as those mentioned above. Simply put, it’s a good investment of my time. I’m also gratified to find that my own Twitter presence is rapidly approaching the 10,000 follower mark. Hopefully this means that the shorter form content I provide on Twitter is a helpful adjunct to the columns I post here.

Be well!

JP

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2 Comments & Updates to “Arthritis, Gossip and Vitamin D News”

  1. Orna Izakson, ND, RH (AHG) Says:

    Hi JP —

    Thanks for the great citations on Vitamin D. I’m especially grateful for #15, looking at 25OH-D levels in infants from sunny California. People here in Oregon are starting to get the picture, but being able to show them numbers from places with sun we only get to dream about always helps.

  2. JP Says:

    Orna,

    I’m so happy to see that progressive physicians such as you are getting the word out and putting these findings to good use. Your patients are fortunate indeed. Keep up the good word – on Twitter and beyond! :)

    Be well!

    JP

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