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I tell my patients all the time that fish oil is the single most important nutrient you can take. Let’s review why.

Just 150 to 200 years ago people ate meat from cows or wild game that grazed on grass and ate leaves and berries. The eggs they ate were from birds that free ranged in the fields, scratching at the ground for food. These animals were lean with low body fat; yet because of their diets the meat from these animals supplied a good level of healthy omega 3 fats.

Today, cows and chickens are fed grains which are rich in Omega 6 fats, but low in Omega 3 fats. They are also given steroids to fatten them up, and antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections due to overcrowded conditions. The result is that cows now have high body fat (up to 25-30%). Steak derived from these animals is high in saturated fat and low in the healthy Omega 3 fats. Grain fed chickens, while lower in saturated fat, are also low in Omega 3’s.

This represents a dramatic change in the proportion of essential fatty acids that we consume. For instance, a free range chicken egg from a bird that is actually “free ranging,” i.e. eating grass, insects and worms in the field, will have about 15 times the amount of Omega 3’s that a commercial egg has. We also tend to eat very little fish, which are high in the desirable EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids; and the fish we do eat is often farm raised which are lower in omega 3’s than wild caught (but more expensive) fish.

The scenario gets even worse. At the same time we have been consuming less of the Omega 3’s, we are consuming much higher levels of the Omega 6 family of fats. The vegetable oils from corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed are all rich in omega 6 fats. These represent the lion’s share of the oils that are consumed in America. They are in the dressings, processed foods, fast foods, pastas, breads, french fries etc. This is a radical shift in the type of essential fatty acids that we consume, over a very short period of time. Our bodies have not had time to adapt to this dramatic dietary shift and we are paying for it with our health.

The omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats compete for the same enzymes. When the delicate balance of these fatty acids is off we don’t make the appropriate healthy hormones (prostoglandins) that the omega-3 class of fats should create.

Researchers calculate that people used to consume a ratio of Omega 6 fats to Omega 3 fats of 1 or 2:1. Now, with the changes in our food supply and eating habits, our ratio is closer to 20:1. That represents about a 500% change in the ratio of fats that we eat. This dietary change manifests itself throughout our bodies. It has a negative impact on every one of our 6 trillion cells.

The brain is dependent upon dietary intake of DHA to create nerve cell membranes with the right balance of essential fatty acids to enhance function. These membranes should be rich in DHA so that they are flexible and fluid. At the synapse, where one brain neuron “speaks” to another, and dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters need to flow easily and quickly through these membranes it is especially important that these membranes are high in DHA.

Yet, our diets starve our brains of DHA. This creates a real risk of reduced thinking, memory, verbal skills, vision and mood. Do you want to run the risk of thinking with less efficiency? Do you want to run the risk of cognitive decline as you get older? I’m sure you don’t.

The good news is that study after study show positive mental changes and cognitive protection, with the addition of Omega 3 fatty acids. These benefits include: improved cognition (thinking), short and long term memory, mood, verbal skills and the ability to rapidly solve problems.

In infants who consume high levels of DHA, a normal component of breastmilk, researchers note improved brain development, visual acuity and eye hand coordination. So much so, that DHA, is now added to infant formula.

As if that weren’t enough of a reason to supplement with Omega 3’s, EPA and DHA from fish oil also positively influence triglyceride levels, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, circulation, heart rhythm, reduce our risk of blood clots and arrhythmias, protect us from several types of cancer, protect vision, strengthen our bones, improve our skin and reduce inflammation throughout our bodies including our joints.

These positive benefits are a mainly a result of balancing the fatty acid levels in our cell membranes. These membranes are very biologically active. They produce ecosinoid hormones and regulate the flow of nutrients and waste in and out of our cells. If you don’t consume enough Omega 3’s they become stiffer and less able to perform their jobs well. The levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats in the membrane also influence the types of ecosinoid hormones produced.

When we supplement with Omega 3’s we bring balance back to these membranes allowing them to produce a better mix of hormones leading to the positive changes which researchers are finding and which are outlined above.

Get your omega 3’s from fish oil rather than flax. The omega-3 provided by flax oil is ALA. It is hard for the human body to convert ALA to the types of omega 3’s which our bodies utilize, namely EPA & DHA. The conversion rate is only about 2-15% and decreases with age and disease. So choose fish derived omega 3’s to achieve the benefits described in this article.

Take at least 1000 mgs. of EPA and DHA per day. Read labels. Turn the bottle over and look for the amount of EPA and DHA per capsule. Check and make sure that the amounts given are per capsule. If the amounts provided are from 2 or 3 capsules, do the math. Add the EPA and DHA together and make sure they add up to at least 1000 mgs. The supplement should be pharmaceutical grade, guaranteed to be free of mercury and other contaminants.

It will take about 2 months to make substantial changes in the fatty acid distribution of your cell membranes, however many of my patients and I have noticed improved cognition and skin in just a week or two.

Consult with your physician before adding Omega 3’s if you are taking blood thinners.

Dear Janice, Congratulations!!!

I have 3 children. They are a blessing. You’re in for a wonderful, fulfilling, challenging change of life. I’m sure that you have already heard this but go out now, because you won’t be having dates nights with your husband once the baby comes, for a long time.

In terms of your question: The two most important nutrients that you need to be using now are good prenatal multi-vitamin and extra fish oil. Use a prenatal formula from one of the top suppliers making sure that it has at least 400 mgs of folic acid to potentially reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect.

In addition take enough pharmaceutical grade fish oil to provide at least 1000 mgs of combined EPA and DHA (OmegaBerry on my website is the one that I recommend). Personally, I take 2400 mgs of EPA and DHA a day. If you choose to use the OmegaBerry formula, take 2-3 per day. In addition I would recommend that you eat lots of brightly colored and dark green fruits and vegetables to provide lots of phytonutrients for yourself and your growing baby. If you are breast feeding the baby will continue to get the omega 3’s from the breast milk. If you are bottle feeding, make sure to use a formula fortified with DHA.

Also don’t forget to perform gentle exercise while you’re pregnant as long as it’s comfortable. This will help you to recover more quickly from child birth and begin to create the “mommy muscles” that you’ll need to carry around baby and all of the stuff baby needs.

Feel free to give me a call (516) 605-0505. We can review what you’re doing now in more depth and perhaps make additional suggestions.

My very best wishes in this exciting time,

Dr Neil

Absolutely! You’ve heard correctly. The Statin drugs reduce your production of cholesterol by reducing the activity of an enzyme in your body called coenzyme A. In fact the Statins are very effective at suppressing the activity of this enzyme. So effective that there is no question that they are a very effective class of drugs for lower cholesterol. No one can deny this. Whether or not it is appropriate to lower cholesterol is another conversation for another article (coming soon).

The problem is that the enzyme which the Statins depress is the same enzyme which makes CoQ10 (yikes). Considering that CoQ10 is intimately envolved in energy production and is in fact a rate limiting step in cellular energy production, anything which limits the production of CoQ10 can create big problems. And when we think about organs that require tremendous amounts of energy the first one we think of is the heart. Your heart begins beating long before birth and doesn’t stop until your last breath. That is why we find the highest concentration of CoQ10 in the heart muscle cells. Our liver detoxifies all of the foods that we eat, the drugs that we take and the air that we breath; another tremendous job. It’s no wonder then, that liver cells have the second highest concentration of CoQ10.

Another group of cells that require lots of energy are your muscles. This is why so many people develop musculoskeletal pain after they have been on Statin drugs for weeks or months. Their muscles are not capable of creating enough energy and start to hurt. Often supplementation with CoQ10 is all that is necessary to reduce these pain syndromes.

Let’s look at some of the other important functions of CoQ10:

  • One of the strongest antioxidants.
  • Enhances circulation.
  • Stimulates the immune system.
  • Anti-aging effects.
  • Promotes healthy gums.
  • Counters Histamine and therefore benefits those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  • Important for brain health/memory.
  • Promotes youthful healthy skin.
  • Improves oxygenation of tissues.

Quite a resume. Studies show that CoQ10 is so powerful that in just 6 weeks topically applied CoQ10 reduced the depth of skin wrinkles by 27% and in 10 weeks reduced the depth of wrinkles by 43%.

Another interesting fact about CoQ10 is that our tissue levels tend to peak at about age 20. By age 35-40 we begin to lose the ability to produce CoQ10. Fortunately, Oral supplementation with CoQ10 is easily absorbed and goes to work in our tissues and organs creating a more youthful body and mind.
I consider CoQ10 a daily essential and personally take anywhere from 50 to 100mgs per day. I’ve noticed that if I don’t take my CoQ10 for a few days that I’m not as energetic. Many of my patients have noticed the same.

And so, my long winded answer to your question is: Definitely Yes!!! In my opinion anyone who takes Statin drugs should take CoQ10 as well to bolster their levels. Start with 50mgs and work your way up to 200-300mgs per day until you feel that you energy levels are where they should be or your muscle/ joint symptoms are reduced. There are several excellent choices of CoQ10 supplements in the shopping cart of this site. I tend to take 2 of Purity’s CoQ-Omega yielding 50mgs of CoQ10 along with 1200mgs of EPA and DHA (omega 3’s) and another 50mg’s of CoQ Max plus Ginkgo on alternate days for the CoQ along with the circulatory enhancing qualities of Ginkgo.

Of course I recommend that you discuss the above with your medical doctor.

Dear Pam,

Yes, there is quite a bit that he can do about it, and it’s essential that he begin immediately!

First, I’ll explain why this problem, which you describe, is so common. Then, I’ll let you know what he and the rest of our readers can do about it.

All day long we sit in a bent forward posture, pouring over a desk or staring into a computer monitor. We rarely have to look up or work over head. Over time this chronic forward positioning begins to remodel our spine into a forward flexed position. It literally stretches the ligaments in the back of our spine while shortening the ligaments in the front of the spine.

Getting Older Doesn’t Help

Unfortunately, as we age this postural change is programmed into our genetics. It’s somewhat natural for us to develop a forward bend unless we work to stop it. With age people tend to get weaker and perform less physical activity. Thus, weakened back muscles, little exercise, constant forward bending, little need to extend the spine and a genetic predisposition all come together to make a forward bending posture, an almost nature conclusion, in our culture.

How Do I Stop It

As the old adage states: Stand up straight. Ah… but easier said than done, as I’m sure you’re father has already told you. Yet he should try to be conscientious and stand with good posture as often as possible.

Build Up Those Postural Muscles

He needs to strengthen his postural muscles. Click on the Core Exercises and Posture Exercise-Neck videos and show them to him. He should begin to perform these exercises daily. In addition show him the Posture Stretch- Back video and buy him a fitness ball (click here to purchase). This is a great tool for improving and protecting our posture. If he can balance on the ball he should begin to lie backward over the ball 2 times a day. He should have a spotter the first few times he tries to perform this stretch and make sure that he is on a well padded floor. If he gets dizzy or it makes him feel sick he should stop.

This position lengthens the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the front of the spine and rib cage and forces spinal joints to fully extend. Try to work up to a minute or two twice a day. This is the single best postural stretch there is to avoid and reverse the forward bent posture that you’re dad is developing.

Another great postural stretch is to hang your head off the bed. Lie on your back with most of your head hanging off the bed. Do this for about a minute. If this is too difficult just try to lie on your back without a pillow. Feel the stretch in your neck and upper back. Work up to having your head and most of your neck off the bed and hang that way for 5 minutes. Again, if you have pain or any unusual symptoms, stop immediately and tell your doctor about them.

See a Chiropractor

A good chiropractor can adjust his joints which are resisting extension (we call them joint fixations). In your dad’s case this is probably most of them. The chiropractic adjustments can jump start the process of mobilizing the spinal segments and thus help to improve his posture at a much quicker pace. He will probably feel great after his chiropractic visits and move better for days.

This combination of postural exercises, spinal stretches over a fitness ball, and chiropractic adjustments can do more for postural correction than any other modalities that I am aware of.

Good luck and let me know how he does.

In Health,
Dr Neil Levin DC, CN, CFT.

Dear T,

I’m sorry to hear about your discomfort. I have attached some info on PVC’s (premature ventricular contractions) and the only citation which I could find on PVC’s caused by Gas and bloating from Baylor University. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to open the abstract (possibly too old). I have attached it in case you have better luck. I have also attached info from Wikipedia.

I personally haven’t had a patient that had PVC’s which they felt were caused by gas and bloating. On the over hand we all know that excess gas and bloating are annoying and uncomfortable and cause anxiety. This is a major cause of PVC’s as you can see by the attached Wikipedia info.

There have been several studies on fish oil promoting a healthier heart rhythm and offering good cardiovascular protection. In terms of the gas and bloating, I refer you to my article, “Digesting Your Food With Ease and Comfort” on my web site www.drneillevin.com. There are several excellent recommendations in it.

Most people that come to my office with digestive issues due quite well. I see that you’re not far away and I recommend that you come in for a consult. Keep a “diet diary” for about 3 days before you come because I want to see exactly what you eat. Don’t change the way you eat while keeping the diary. I want to see 3 typical days include portion size and time of day that the food and snacks are eaten.

Many people that have trouble with fruits and vegetables and other fiber rich foods due fine when they utilize the proper digestive enzymes and possibly Betaine HCL (our stomach acid tends to get weaker with age). Dietary changes should always be done slowly to allow the digestive tract time to adapt.

I hope to see you in the office soon. My contact info is below.

Wikipedia Info:
For benign PVCs, anxiety is the most common cause. Increased levels of adrenaline are thought to play a role, often caused by caffeine, exercise or anxiety. Some other possible causes of PVC in adults include the use of cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol. Medicines including digoxin, sympathomimetics, tricyclic antidepressants, and aminophylline have also been known to trigger attacks of PVC.

Heart conditions or a previous history of heart attack, ischemia, myocarditis, dilated or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, myocardial contusion, atrial fibrillation and mitral valve prolapse may cause PVC. Patients with hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia, and hypercalcemia may also present with PVC.

Possible triggers

Anxiety/Stress, Chocolate, Caffeine, Cocaine or other stimulant, Calcium/magnesium imbalance, Dehydration, Exercise, Hormonal imbalance, Hypercapnia (CO2 poisoning), Hyperstimulation of the Vagus nerve, Lack of sleep/exhaustion, Overeating, Low copper, MSG

Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA

In Health,
Dr. Neil Levin
Chiropractic, Nutrition, Fitness
(516) 605-0505

Dear Cheryl, Yours is a very common complaint. In fact, in my opinion, dieting is a total waste of time!! The key to weight management is making appropriate lifestyle choices. Adopt healthier lifestyle habits and 95% of the time you will approach your ideal body composition and weight in a reasonable time period. The question is: what are the changes you will need to make? I will elaborate below, but first I want to make a critical comment on body composition during weight loss. One should always know their body composition, what percent of your body is lean tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, bone etc.) and what percent of your body is fat, prior to the beginning of a weight loss plan. Body composition is determined using a simple, inexpensive test called a BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis). In fact, this is the only way that I will work with a patient who wants to lose weight. (Click here to watch a recent CBS News segment on BIA testing). (My apologies on the commercial which will come on first). Why? Imagine this horrifying thought. You go on a “diet” and lose 30 lbs. Was the diet a success? Who knows? You can’t tell by just looking at a number on the scale. The question becomes; How much of the weight loss was from muscle and how much was fat? I will tell you right now, that most people who go on calorie restricted diets, lose as much muscle as fat. This is a disaster. Muscle tissue is one of the main drivers of Metabolic Rate. This is the rate at which your body burns calories. More muscle tissue equals a higher metabolic rate. When your metabolism is higher you burn more calories all the time; whether you’re exercising, working or sleeping. Muscle is highly bioactive tissue. It requires lots of energy all of the time (energy=calories). In comparison, fat tissue requires very little energy. Therefore, if you lose muscle tissue while dieting, you lower your metabolic rate. Your body will require fewer calories than it did prior to your diet. When you go off your diet and eat a normal amount of food, the weight comes roaring back because your calorie requirement has decreased. In the end you will probably gain back all of the weight that you lost plus a couple of pounds. On top of this your body composition has changed to one that is more fat and less muscle; Total Disaster!! You would have been far better off if you never went on the diet in the first place. Yet this is the way Americans approach weight loss. It’s like living in the dark ages. A HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVE Adopt healthy lifestyle choices and know your body composition prior to beginning your weight loss program. Then continue to monitor your body composition as you lose weight to ensure that you are losing body fat and not muscle tissue. This becomes especially important if you are over the age of 40 when it’s more difficult to add back the muscle tissue that you can so easily lose on a calorie restricted diet. As you lose weight repeated BIA testing determines how much fat that you have lost while also monitoring your lean tissue so that you can make sure you aren’t burning muscle tissue. In fact in an ideal world I want to see my patients gain muscle tissue while losing body fat. This is why exercise is such an integral part of any healthy lifestyle program. Exercise allows one to increase basal metabolic rate so that you can enjoy a meal without having to worry about gaining back unwanted fat pounds. For a more in-depth outline of what to eat to lose weight and how our food choices have a hormonal effect, read my article: Weight Loss Secret . Losing abdominal fat not only makes you look and feel great, it reduces your risk of dementia. According to a new study published in the March 26th 2008 issue of the journal Neurology, obese people with the most abdominal fat in their 40’s were 3.6 times more likely to develop dementia than those with the least amount of abdominal fat. In addition, people who were overweight, a step below obese, with large bellies in their 40s were 2.3 times more likely to develop dementia. Interestingly, having a “normal” body weight and BMI doesn’t mean that you aren’t obese. In a recent study, 62% of people of normal weight had high levels of body fat when measured by BIA. The study classifies this new category as normal weight obesity. Channel 13 News just did an interesting video on Normal Weight Obesity…Click here to view. So for overall health, to feel and look great, and now, even to protect our memory and cognition as we age, it is imperative to lose that extra weight. Let’s do it the right way by losing the fat and increasing muscle. Dr. Neil Levin Chiropractor practicing in East Northport, NY (631) 651-2929

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