Monthly Archives: March 2016

In Case You’ve Just Thrown Out All Of Your Supplements.
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Just in case you are being drawn in by the overwhelming attempt to draw you away from anything that is labeled as a supplement, be weary of one red flag: a claim that “there are no studies showing any effectiveness”. No studies. Not even one. Not a single, solitary inkling of any positive outcome in any way, from any dose or for any medical benefit whatsoever. And this is for a multitude of molecules and a whole list of medical conditions. Imagine the possible permutations. How many combinations of supplements and medical issues are possible? It boggles the mind. And not even one slight benefit from any one of these naturally occurring entities – regardless of what we are eating. The one exception is when a Physician diagnoses a deficiency based on the pooled data of all sick and well patients’ blood levels.  It almost seems impossible to believe.

Equally difficult to believe is the incredible effort that is out there to make people believe this. In social media it is hard to estimate how little of one’s mind is actually firing when we read article after article. What part of the brain that deals with reasoning and logic is getting numbed with this type of activity. Who knows? In any case there are many that take advantage of this and take an unsuspecting reader by the hand, down the garden path and have them walk away with an opinion that they normally wouldn’t.   The same authors, over and over again pen an “evidence based” look at supplements. These articles hand-pick studies, many of them well done, to pad their argument. They may claim that you are falling to the charlatans that are looking to grab your money for the promise that you will live longer. Is it not strange that we have list of people that are always are for or always against supplements? Beyond, rickets, scurvy and beriberi we should be ok. With the exception of B12, Iron, Folic acid, Calcium and maybe thiamin, we have found there isn’t much use in supplementing beyond the normal standard North American Diet (which we all know is stellar to say the least).  Our staggering increase in obesity rates suggest this way of eating has unhealthy issues.   Consistently this is done without even a small open window of the opposing side having any effect at all.

Don’t get me wrong. There are those who exist at the other end of the spectrum as well. The ultra gurus that give supplements a bad name by overselling any supplement to anyone that will buy one. Neither side is being truthful, or helpful to the overall health of the reader. Our scientific method has proven over hundreds of years to be a good system of separating chance from true cause and effect. Although not perfect, it works like a puzzle in that the more pieces we develop from well designed and executed studies, the better an overall picture we get. Some pieces frustrate us because they seem to go against previous pieces. We try to explain everything based on one piece, or a few recently found pieces. This only leads to frustration as we claim to be experts on the more recent studies that seem to completely discount anything earlier. Some find it hard to try and explain studies that don’t gel with their opinion. Rather than trying to explain how it is part of the whole picture, they discount it as a bad study. To further cloud the argument, there are statements of supplements that don’t have what they claim on the label, or contain ingredients that shouldn’t be in the supplement. There are issues of hospitalization, side effects and interactions with supplements – all true, but take away from the argument of the actual supplement doing what it is claimed to do.

Take for example the case of the supplement known as Omega-3. As of late the “unbiased” forum has been quite active in trying to deter anyone from trying it for whatever reason. Well written articles too. And they aren’t really lying for the most part. Well for the most part. Studies are out there that claim Omega 3 isn’t good for heart attack prevention, for cholesterol, but use painfully low levels of omega 3 and claim that omega 3 is useless when no effect is found. This effect is compounded when incorrect titles are put on the study and carried on in the media.

So, to even out the argument, the studies that didn’t exist in these one sided, unbiased, “stay away from your pharmacist trying to sell something they are recommending so it must be bad” stories include these:

 

Omega 3 and cardiac sudden death

Cardiovascular risk and the omega-3 index. von Schacky C, Harris WS. J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown) 2007;8 Suppl 1:S46-9.

 

Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. Albert CM et al. N Engl J Med 2002;346:1113-1118.

Dietary intake and cell membrane levels of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty?acids and the risk of primary cardiac arrest. Siscovick DS et al. JAMA 1995;274:1363

 

Omega 3 and cardiovascular disease

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/764574

 

Omega 3 and pain relief, inflammation

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9028717

http://advances.nutrition.org/content/2/4/304.full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18362100

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531187

 

Omega 3 and autoimmune

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480795

 

Omega 3 and Child behavior/Spelling in school

.http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/115/5/1360

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0043909

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/808285#vp_1

.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23056476

 

 

Omega 3 and insulin resistance

http://www.nature.com/srep/2014/141021/srep06697/full/srep06697.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3320694

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18348080

 

Omega 3 and dyslipidemia

 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/764574_3

  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/789642

 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/764574_3

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19356403

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21684546

 

 Omega 3 and anticoagulant and anti arrhythmic

 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/789359

 

 

So keep in mind that if we knew all there was to know about just this one supplement, there wouldn’t be a need for any further studies on it and we would all be experts on it. The truth is somewhere in between those that claim supplements are the thing to replace all conventional medications and everyone needs them all , and those that claim supplements are completely useless. To claim that it is just iron, B12, Calcium, and folic acid are the only necessary supplements makes very little sense given the vast knowledge we have from years of scientific study.

 

Graham MacKenzie, Ph.C.

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New Senate Proposed Sugary Beverage Tax – The Real Benefit Isn’t Lower Obesity Rates
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backgroundThe month of March ushered in news of a new report entitled “Obesity in Canada”. Submitted by the Senate, this report was a 21 recommendation paper to try and constructively address the growing concern of why Canadians are following its Southern neighbors in growing rates of obesity in both children and adults. In fact there are is a doubling in obesity in adults since 1980 and children’s obesity rates in this country have tripled in that time. This report was a breath of fresh air from a government group that many today look at with question of why they are even there.

As a Pharmacy owner that discontinued sale of such products in September of 2014, this story caught my eye. Anything having something to do with sugary beverages is a hot topic with the media, as I abruptly found out that day a year and a half ago. Even a small pharmacy in the middle of nowhere can make the national and international news by making “such a bold and forward thinking move” (as it was described) as stopping the sale of everything from pop, juice, vitamin water, sports drinks and chocolate milk.

Any talk of manipulating the sale of a staple in the Canadian diet will bring about cries of a “Nanny State move”. So when news hit that one of the recommendations from the Senate’s report was a proposed tax on such drinks, the naysayers came out of the woodwork, and along with them, the defenders of the plan. One of the first to press against the idea was Jim Goetz, the president of the Canadian Beverage Association who attempted to educate us in a biased way with stories of how this has been tried in other parts of the world and didn’t work, had no effect on obesity and resulted in lost jobs and increased grocery expenditures. Mr. Goetz is a name I learned back when I stopped selling these beverages and saw an article in rebuttal to this type of move. When I read of crazy claims that increased calorie intake had nothing to do with obesity, it really opened my eyes to the war that goes on in this category.

Granted there is no shortage of stories where an increase in tax on a target food group seemed to be a dud with respect to changes in obesity, even when the calorie intake did seem to drop. Denmark, Mexico, the United States, Finland, France, Hungary all are examples of stories where a tax was implemented with results that vary depending on who tells the story. In fact during a recent CBC Radio interview on the Senate report I gave recently, I was pressed on the success (or lack of) in such programs. I was quite persistent though on the complete irrelevance of the obesity outcome but rather we should focus on the fact that we need to pay for the adverse health issues that arise from the obesity that we know these beverages cause.

When I cross from Dartmouth to Halifax on either bridge, I expect to pay a toll. It doesn’t really cause me to take the long way around through Bedford, I pay the toll and drive over the bridge. I do it because I realize the upkeep of the bridge has to happen somehow and if I don’t pay it through tolls, I’ll sure as heck going to end up paying it some other way. It just makes sense for users to pay for that. When I buy tires for my car, I pay a fee that is to be used for the recycling of that tire at its end of life. You just do it because something has to happen to that tire when you’re done with it and that costs money to do.

If you agree that extra calorie intake results in obesity, then what is it that drains the healthcare budget of a country so quick when its population becomes more obese? Children with obesity are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Adults with obesity have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, heart disease and diabetes and also are more likely to be absent from work, pursue lower income jobs and earn lower overall wages (and in doing so pay less tax). Last year in the U.S., health care costs as a result of obesity reached $300 billion annually. A simple consideration in mathematics will show how this cost could be somewhat offset by a sugary beverage tax. Even though there are many reasons a nation becomes overweight, sugary beverages are one of them and you can consider it a user fee with that tax.

Lots of other great ideas came from the report, like an overhaul of the Canada Food Guide – without involvement from the food industry and one of my favorite recommendations, stricter controls on advertising unhealthy food and drinks for kids. Well done Canadian Senate!

Graham MacKenzie Ph.C.

IMG_2313[2] copyStone’s Pharmasave

Baddeck, Nova Scotia

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