New Recommendations for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women, and Children

June 12, 2014

pregnant_womanFederal officials on Tuesday announced major changes in advice to pregnant and breastfeeding women by recommending consumption of at least 8 ounces of low-mercury fish per week.

It is the first time that the Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration have issued recommendations on the minimum amount of fish that pregnant women and children should eat. The previous advisory, issued in 2004, included only maximum amounts to protect their fetuses and young children from mercury, which can harm developing brains and reduce IQs. Click here to read more.

That is a good step in the right direction.  Now we need to be made aware of the levels of radioactive chemicals showing up in the fish as that is equally if not more concerning to human health.

Dr. Gina


Hormone Health in the Childbearing Years-Article By Dr. Gina Published in LA Parent

April 30, 2014

happy_babyFor National Infertility Week this blog seems most appropriate. We have a great fertility program at HealthBridge Medical Center that helps couples to conceive naturally (when IVF fails or is just not an option for the couple), with the use of bio-identical hormones, detoxification and diet. It is truly amazing what can happen when you give the body what it needs. It heals itself…and if it was possible and meant to be, creates an optimal environment for a child to be born into. The result is a healthier mom, dad and baby.
In health,
Dr. Gina

Dr. Gina's Blog

Check out the latest article by Dr. Gina, on hormone health in the childbearing years, published in LA Parent magazine.

Click here to access the La Parent article.

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Thyroid and Infertility

January 6, 2014

happy_babyMillions of people worldwide suffer with infertility and recurrent miscarriage and in thousands of unexplained cases, hypothyroidism may be the underlying cause. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists has warned that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from thyroid disease. Despite this staggering statistic, half of patients remain undiagnosed. Many of these people will be in their childbearing years.  Click here to read more about a news release on this topic.

What most doctors do not know is that the timing of when you test for and treat thyroid in pregnancy is crucial in preventing miscarriage.  The type of thyroid treatment is also essential to a healthy outcome.

I will be giving a talk in our medical practice on Wed January 29th at 6:30PM on integrative medical options for  fertility, and how to test for, and treat, thyroid imabalances throughout pregnancy.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save 1 Million Children

June 25, 2013

istock_000005618515smallThis is a timely publication…the Lancet offers excellent guidelines on preventing disease in children with proper nutrition to the mother and to the baby.

AANP via The Lancet – Ten Nutrition Changes Could Save Lives Of A Million Children- (Monday, June 10, 2013)


Nearly 15 percent of all deaths in children under age five (a total of over 900,000) can be prevented, and over a fifth of all cases of growth stunting averted, if 10 nutrition interventions are scaled up to cover 90 percent of the population in the 34 countries most affected by malnutrition, according to a new study on maternal and childhood malnutrition.

More than half of this cost would be accounted for by India and Indonesia, both countries with sufficient financial resources to make a substantial contribution to the cost of stepping up the fight against malnutrition. The scientists estimate that prevalence of stunting in children under age 5 would be reduced by 20 percent.

The ten interventions include providing folic acid, calcium, and balanced energy protein and micronutrient supplements to pregnant women; promoting breastfeeding and delivering appropriate complementary feeding to infants; providing vitamin A and zinc supplements to children up to the age of five; and using proven treatment strategies to manage moderate and severe malnutrition in children. This study was released June 6, 2013 by The Lancet.

—In health,

Dr. Gina


Exposure to Traffic Pollution Linked to Birth Defects

April 11, 2013

GirlswithPlanetFrom the The New York Times (nytimes.com) – Air Pollution Tied to Birth Defects – By Nicholas Bakalar – (Monday, April 08, 2013)

Exposure in the first two months of pregnancy to air pollution from traffic sharply increases the risk for birth defects, a new study has found. Researchers used data from two large studies carried out in eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley in California. One has tracked birth defects since 1997, and the other has recorded concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter at 20 locations in the valley since the 1970s. The results are posted online in The American Journal of Epidemiology. Setting aside defects attributable to other known causes, there were 849 cases of birth defects.

The researchers adjusted for smoking, maternal age and other variables, and compared these cases with 853 healthy control subjects.They found that a mother living in areas with the highest levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxide concentrations (the top 25 percent) was almost twice as likely to give birth to a child with neural tube defects — severe and often fatal defects of the brain and spinal cord— as one living in areas with the lowest concentrations.

I hope that all of us do the best that we can, to pay attention to the impact of environmental pollutants on health, and take action to reduce the toxic load on our planet and our children.

Dr. Gina


DHA Produces Healthier Babies

March 5, 2013

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A new double-blind study that was published on line in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that pregnant women who consumed DHA (an omega 3 essential fatty acid) had larger babies, a longer gestation, and fewer preterm births.

In the study, 154 healthy women were randomly assigned to consume 600 mg of DHA per day during the second half of pregnancy and 147 women were assigned a placebo.

After the researchers adjusted for maternal education, socioeconomic status, prior pregnancy, smoking and other risk factors they discovered that the babies of the DHA mothers weighed nearly a half a pound more, were longer and had slightly larger head circumferences.  And in the group of mothers on placebo, 5% gave birth at 34 weeks or less, whereas among the DHA group, only 0.6% gave birth early. The lead author, Susan E. Carlson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Kansas, says that is a dramatic reduction in preterm labor as compared to the general population.

There were no side effects reported.

Most Americans consume too much of the other essential fatty acids (omega 6 and omega 9) and not enough of the omega 3 (which DHA is classified as). So balance here is key.  DHA is rich in sea foods and meat however I do not advise pregnant women to consume these foods in order to get DHA, as they also contain high levels of toxins (heavy metals and other environmental toxins that get stored in the animal fat).

I will often recommend the vegetarian source of DHA available on the market today, that is derived from algae. One easy way for a pregnant woman to be sure she has the right balance of essential fatty acids, including DHA is by consuming 1-2 tablespoons per day of Udo’s DHA Oil Blend while avoiding vegetable based cooking oils and packaged foods that contain oil, like chips and crackers.  Just be sure to keep the Udo’s DHA Oil Blend refrigerated and do not cook with it. Always keep it cold as the fatty acids are vulnerable to heat sources.

In health,

Dr. Gina


Hormone Health in the Childbearing Years-Article By Dr. Gina Published in LA Parent

January 28, 2013

Check out the latest article by Dr. Gina, on hormone health in the childbearing years, published in LA Parent magazine.

Click here to access the La Parent article.

 


Concierge Integrative Medical Services

November 4, 2012

Just a quick post to share my excitement as our medical practice expands to offer to our patients the only medical service of its kind in southern California.

As you know, I am passionate about integrative medicine, and after 15 years treating patients and teaching physicians how to practice this medicine, I am still in awe of the results that come with helping the body to heal itself.  There are natural options available for major health challenges, like depression, infertility, ADHD, hormone imbalance, memory loss, chronic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.

I have been practicing concierge medicine with our high profile patients and am now offering this service to more people.

As a concierge patient you have the option for home visits, a private line to the doctor, help with shopping for the best foods for your body, and a more personal and direct relationship, the way medicine used to be practiced, when your doctor was also a family friend.

Read about our patients’ experiences to learn firsthand from others who have gotten results with the help of this medicine.

You can call our offices at 310-734-0950 (Beverly Hills) or 949-715-9321 (Newport Beach) for more info.

In health,
Dr. Gina

BPA Found to Affect Critical Hormones in Pregnant Women and Boys

October 4, 2012

A new study raises concern about the effects of BPA on thyroid hormone levels in pregnant women and in young boys.  BPA is found in plastic bottles, the lining of food and beverage cans, dental sealants and even in sales receipts.  Originally BPA was found to cause harmful synthetic estrogen-like effects.  Now we are learning that it impacts one of the most critical hormone groupings in pregnant women and children.  I teach physicians about testing newly pregnant women at a very specific time, for thyroid hormone levels (including TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and TPO Antibodies) because if left untreated, an imbalance in these hormones will lead to recurrent miscarriage, difficulty producing breast milk, and serious developmental challenges in a newborn.

Dr. Gina


How Important are Nutritional Supplements?

January 17, 2012

Here is an excellent news release by the Orthomolecular Medicine Society that discusses the importance of nutritional supplementation, even with a healthy diet.  Research identified a relationship between folic acid deficiencies and birth defects as early as 1965. It was not until 1992 that the United States Public Health Service shared this critical knowledge with the country and recommended that all women of childbearing age, capable of becoming pregnant, consume 400mcg of folic acid per day. It took the scientific community almost 30 years to accept that a nutrient deficiency might cause a gross distortion in human neuronal development and to recommend supplementation. Thousands of children were born during this time with preventable birth defects.

And that is just one nutrient!

Please read this release through to the end, check the references for yourself if so inclined, and come to your own decision on whether nutritional supplementation will prevent and treat disease.  We consistently see the positive results of nutritional therapy in our medical practice, with patients from all walks of life, facing myriad health challenges. We test patients’ blood to detect specific nutrient deficiencies, and how well nutrients are being absorbed in their body, and administer only those nutrients that are needed.  That is ideal. And that is the type of lab testing that should be covered by all major insurance carriers.  The information gained helps to prevent suffering and chronic illness, and to optimize human health and vitality.  This saves healthcare dollars in a tangible and measurable way.

In health,

Dr. G


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, January 17, 2012

Supplements: The Real Story
Natural or Synthetic? Foods or Tablets?

(OMNS, Jan 17, 2012) It’s a nutritional “Catch 22”: The public is told, confusingly: “Vitamins are good, but vitamin supplements are not. Only vitamins from food will help you. So just eat a good diet. Do not take supplements! But by the way, there is no difference between natural and synthetic vitamins.”

Wait a minute. What’s the real story here?

A recent health study reported that the risk of heart failure decreased with increasing blood levels of vitamin C [1]. The benefit of vitamin C (ascorbate) was highly significant. Persons with the lowest plasma levels of ascorbate had the highest risk of heart failure, and persons with the highest levels of vitamin C had the lowest risk of heart failure. This finding confirms the knowledge derived over the last 50 years that vitamin C is a major essential factor in cardiovascular health [2,3]. The study raises several important questions about diet and vitamin supplements.

Was it Food or Supplements?

The report discussed vitamin C as if it were simply an indicator of how many fruits and vegetables were consumed by the participants. Yet, ironically, the study’s results show little improvement in the risk for heart failure from consuming fruits and vegetables. This implies that the real factor in reducing the risk was indeed the amount of vitamin C consumed. Moreover, the study appears to utterly ignore the widespread use of vitamin C supplements to improve cardiovascular health. In fact, out of four quartile groups, the quartile with the highest plasma vitamin C had six to ten times the rate of vitamin C supplementation of the lowest quartile, but this fact was not emphasized. This type of selective attention to food sources of vitamin C, while dismissing supplements as an important source, appears to be an attempt to marginalize the importance of vitamin supplements.

Many medical and nutritional reports have maintained that there is little difference between natural and synthetic vitamins. This is known to be true for some essential nutrients. The ascorbate found in widely available vitamin C tablets is identical to the ascorbate found in fruits and vegetables [3]. Linus Pauling emphasized this fact, and explained how ordinary vitamin C, inexpensively manufactured from glucose, could improve health in many important ways [4]. Indeed, the above-mentioned study specifically measured the plasma level of ascorbate, which was shown to be an important factor associated with lower risk of heart failure [1, 2]. The study did not measure blood plasma levels of the components of fruits and vegetables. It measured vitamin C.

A known rationale for this dramatic finding is that vitamin C helps to prevent inflammation in the arteries by several mechanisms. It is a necessary co-factor for the synthesis of collagen, which is a major component of arteries. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant throughout the body that can help to recycle other antioxidants like vitamin E and glutathione in the artery walls [2,3]. This was underscored by a report that high plasma levels of vitamin C are associated with a 50% reduction in risk for stroke [5].

Yes, Synthetic Vitamin C is Clinically Effective

We can almost hear “Unsubscribe” links being clicked as we state it, but here it is: synthetic vitamin C works, in real people with real illnesses. Ascorbate’s efficacy has little direct relation to food intake. A dramatic case of this was a dairy farmer in New Zealand who was on life support with lung whiteout, kidney failure, leukemia and swine flu [6]. He was given 100,000 mg of vitamin C daily and his life was saved. We have nothing against oranges or other vitamin C-containing foods. Fruits and vegetables are good for you for many, many reasons. However, you’ll need to get out your calculator to help you figure out how many oranges it would take to get that much, and then also figure how to get a sick person to eat them all.

It is established that liver function improves with vitamin C supplementation, and it is equally well known that adequate levels of vitamin C are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C improves the ability of the white blood cells to fight bacteria and viruses. OMNS has more articles expanding on this topic, available for free access at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

Deficiency of vitamin C is very common. According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, [7] nearly half of Americans do not get even the US RDA of vitamin C, which is a mere 90 mg.

Synthetic Vitamin E is Less Effective

For some other nutrients, there is a significant difference in efficacy between synthetic and natural forms. Vitamin E is a crucial anti-oxidant, but also has other functions in the body, not all well understood. It comprises eight different biochemical forms, alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma tocopherols, and alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocotrienols. All of these forms of vitamin E are important for the body. Current knowledge about the function of vitamin E is rapidly expanding, and each of the eight forms of natural vitamin E is thought to have a slightly different function in the body. For example, gamma-tocotrienol actually kills prostate cancer stem cells better than chemotherapy does. ( http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n11.shtml )

Synthetic vitamin E is widely available and inexpensive. It is “DL-alpha-tocopherol.” Yes, it has the same antioxidant properties in test tube experiments as does the natural “D-alpha-tocopherol” form. However, the DL- form has only 50% of the biological efficacy, because the body utilizes only the natural D isomer, which comprises half of the synthetic mix [8]. Therefore, studies utilizing DL-alpha-tocopherol that do not take this fact into account are starting with an already-halved dose that will naturally lead to a reduction in the observed efficacy.

Then there are the esterified forms of vitamin E such as acetate or succinate. These esterified forms, either natural or synthetic, have a greater shelf life because the ester protects the vitamin E from being oxidized and neutralized. When acid in the stomach cleaves the acetate or succinate component from the original natural vitamin E molecule, the gut can then absorb a good fraction and the body receives its antioxidant benefit. But when esterified vitamin E acetate is applied to the skin to prevent inflammation, it is ineffective because there is no acid present to remove the acetate ester.

Based on USDA data [9] an astonishing 90% of Americans do not get the RDA of vitamin E, which is, believe it or not, under 23 IU (15mg) per day.

Magnesium Deficiency is Widespread

Magnesium is another example. Over two-thirds of the population do not get the RDA of magnesium.[10] Deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, depression, and diabetes. Magnesium can be purchased in many forms. The most widely available form is magnesium oxide, which is not very effective because it is only about 5% absorbed [11]. Magnesium oxide supplements are popular because the pills are smaller — they contain more magnesium, but won’t help most people. Better forms of magnesium are magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, and the best absorbed is magnesium chloride. It’s always good to consult your doctor to determine your ideal intake. Testing may reveal unexpected deficiency. [12]

Well, Which? Natural or Synthetic?

While the natural form of vitamin E (mixed natural tocopherols and tocotrienols) is at least twice as effective as the synthetic form, this is not true of vitamin C. The ascorbate that the body gets from fruits and vegetables is the same as the ascorbate in vitamin C tablets. On first thought, this may sound confusing, because there are many so-called “natural” forms of vitamin C widely available. But virtually every study that demonstrated that supplemental vitamin C fights illness used plain, cheap, synthetic ascorbic acid. Other forms of ascorbate, for instance, the sodium or magnesium salt of ascorbic acid, are digested slightly differently by the gut, but once the ascorbate molecule is absorbed from these forms, it has identical efficacy. The advantage of these ascorbate salts is that they are non-acidic and can be ingested or topically applied to any part of the body without concern about irritation from acidity.

Further, it is known that essential nutrients are symbiotic, that is, they are more effective when taken as a group in proper doses. For example, vitamin E is more effective when taken along with vitamin C and selenium, because each of these essential nutrients can improve the efficacy of the others. Similarly, the B vitamins are more effective when taken together. Readers with dosage questions will want to consult their healthcare provider, and also look at freely available information archived at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

Food Factors

Natural food factors are also important. Bioflavonoids and other vitamin C-friendly components in fresh fruits and vegetables (sometimes called “vitamin C complex”) do indeed have health benefits. These natural components are easily obtained from a healthy, unprocessed whole foods diet. However, eating even a very good diet does not supply nearly enough vitamin C to be effective against illness. A really good diet might provide several hundred milligrams of vitamin C daily. An extreme raw food diet might provide two or three thousand milligrams of vitamin C, but this is not practical for most people. Supplementation, with a good diet, is.

The principle that “natural” vitamins are better than synthetic vitamins is a widely quoted justification for actually avoiding vitamin supplements. The argument goes, because vitamins and minerals are available from food in their natural form, that somehow one might suppose that we are best off by ignoring supplements. Apparently this is what the authors of the above-mentioned study had in mind, because the report hardly mentions vitamin supplements.

Conclusion

In the real world of today’s processed food, most of us don’t get all the nutrients we need in adequate doses. Most people are deficient in several of the essential nutrients. These deficiencies are responsible for much suffering, including heart disease, cancer, premature aging, dementia, diabetes, and other diseases such as eye disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma. The above-mentioned study showing the efficacy of vitamin C in reducing heart failure is but one of the many studies showing the value of vitamins. Others are discussed and available at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

For vitamin E, the natural form, taken in adequate doses along with a nutritious diet, is the best medicine. However, for most vitamins, including vitamin C, the manufactured form is identical to the natural one. Both are biologically active and both work clinically. It all comes down to dose. Supplements enable optimum intake; foods alone do not.

Don’t be fooled: nutrient deficiency is the rule, not the exception. That’s why we need supplements. When ill, we need them even more.

References:

1. Pfister R, Sharp SJ, Luben R, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT. (2011) Plasma vitamin C predicts incident heart failure in men and women in European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk prospective study. Am Heart J. 162:246-253. See also: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n14.shtml

2. Levy TE (2006) Stop America’s #1 Killer: Reversible Vitamin Deficiency Found to be Origin of All Coronary Heart Disease. ISBN-13: 9780977952007

3. Hickey S, Saul AW (2008) Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor. Basic Health Publications, ISBN-13: 978-1591202233.

4. Pauling L. (2006) How to Live Longer And Feel Better. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. ISBN-13: 9780870710964.

5. Kurl S, Tuomainen TP, Laukkanen JA, Nyyssönen K, Lakka T, Sivenius J, Salonen JT. (2002) Plasma vitamin C modifies the association between hypertension and risk of stroke. Stroke. 33:1568-1573.

6. Watch the Channel 3 New Zealand news report at http://www.3news.co.nz/Living-Proof-Vitamin-C—Miracle-Cure/tabid/371/articleID/171328/Default.aspx or http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xh70sx_60-minutes-scoop-on-new-zealand-farmer-vit-c-miracle_tech [ Note that each video is proceeded by a commercial, over which we have no control, and with which we have no financial connection whatsoever. ]

7. Free, full text paper at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1405127/pdf/amjph00225-0021.pdf

8. Papas A. (1999) The Vitamin E Factor: The miraculous antioxidant for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, cancer, and aging. HarperCollins, NY. ISBN-13: 9780060984434

9. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminE/ ; scroll down to “Deficiency.”

10. Free, full text paper at http://www.jacn.org/content/24/3/166.full.pdf+html (or http://www.jacn.org/content/24/3/166.long )

11. Dean, C. (2007) The Magnesium Miracle. Ballantine Books, ISBN-13: 9780345494580

12. http://www.doctoryourself.com/epilepsy.html

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

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