Month: April 2012

New Research: Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms related to a woman’s menstrual cycle. The objective of this study is to determine the effect of magnesium (Mg), combination of vitamin B6 and Mg, and the placebo on the severity of PMS symptoms. This study found that the decrease in symptoms was the greatest in the Mg plus vitamin B6 group.

Source: Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 401-405, December 2010.

5 Quick Tips to Choosing a Quality Multivitamin

  1. Check the form of calcium in it – if it’s calcium carbonate, don’t take it
  2. Ditto #1 – for magnesium oxide
  3. Look for active forms of vitamin B2 and B6 – these will say Riboflavin 5′-Phosphate and Pyridoxal 5′-Phosphate respectively.
  4. Skip the gimmicks – one pink pill, one blue pill, liquid multivitamins, and vitamins with a long list of herbal ingredients.  The long list of herbs are likely to be in such tiny doses as to have no effect and likely add to the cost of the vitamin, it’s just marketing.  
  5. One-A-Day is a fallacy.  You can only absorb a small amount of the vitamins and minerals at any given time.  Taking a multivitamin multiple times per day means you will actually absorb enough for the whole day versus packing a whole bunch into one capsule or tablet that you can’t absorb. 

Crap That Other Health Professionals Recommend

I don’t want to embarass anybody by naming names, but certain other health professionals recommend garbage vitamins to their patients.  Buckle your seatbelt because you’re in for a rant.  Here are the top 3 garbage supplements in my mind and why:


  1. Palafer/Euro-fer– this is an iron supplement that contains 300 mg of ferrous fumarate per capsule.  If I had a nickel for every iron deficient patient who was put on it and then suffered terrible GI side effects like constipation, bloating and diarrhea I’d be rich.  It causes these side effects because it’s a very high dose of very poorly absorbed iron.  Iron is a metal and metals rush.  Rust is oxidation.  Oxidation is a bad thing in the body, it’s something we try to avoid because it can damage DNA and cause premature aging.  We take anti-oxidants like vitamin C to combat oxidation.  It’s cheap for the manufacturer to put this form in and then charge an exorbitant amount of money for it as a pharmaceutical. My approach is to us a much lower dose of much better absorbed iron. 
  2. Materna– This drug store prenatal multivitamin is a perfect example of what’s wrong with drug store vitamins generally.  The product contains the cheapest and most poorly absorbed forms of the various vitamins and minerals in it – calcium carbonate, magnesium oxide, synthetic vitamin E, ferrous fumarate (iron), zinc oxide, inactive vitamin B2 and B6 and inactive folate and has no boron, copper or vitamin K.  By comparison our recommended prenatal, Thorne Basic Prenatal, has higher amounts of almost everything, active forms of vitamin B2, B6 and folic acid (very important!), readily absorbed forms of all of the minerals, vitamin K to ensure that calcium gets into the developing baby’s bones and teeth.
  3. Preg Vit – this excuse for a prenatal multivitamin is even more ridiculous.  Synthetic vitamin E, cheap, poorly absorbed forms of the minerals, no vitamin K, selenium, manganese, chromium, molybdenum or boron, negligible B12, little vitamin D and inactive folic acid.  Depending on which one you are taking you may be getting either 1.1 mg of inactive folic acid or 5 mg.  Either way, if you are one of the 25-60% of the population who can’t convert inactive folic acid to active folic acid you aren’t getting any benefit from taking it and there is potential for harm.  Some research has suggested that excessive folate in someone with an existing tumor may promote tumor growth.  This doesn’t mean you should stop taking your folic acid, there are clear benefits to preventing birth defects, however I would recommend using some of the active form of folic acid, L-5-tetrahydrofolate.  And here’s the kicker, look at the list of “non-medicinal ingredients” in Preg Vit: ammonium hydroxide, N-butyl alcohol, carnauba wax, D&C Red #27, FD&C Blue #1, FD&C Blue #2, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #6, isopropyl alcohol, macrogol/PEG 3350, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyvinyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac glaze, simethicone, sodium croscarmellose, sodium lauryl sulfate, starch (corn starch), talc, titanium dioxide.  Can any of those dyes, chemicals and talc be good for your baby?

The morals of this story are that drug store vitamins are usually formulated with one thing in mind – profit and that it takes a trained eye to choose good quality natural supplements.  Here endeth the rant!

Research – Excess Folate, Vitamin K and Bone Density, Calcium Absorption

  1. Dietary soluble fiber inhibits cholesterol stone formation by reducing the biliary cholesterol saturation index. Source: Am J Surg. 1999 Apr;177(4):307-10.
  2. This study found an inverse relationship between stomach cancer risk and various types of fiber, derived, in particular, from vegetables and fruit. Source: Cancer Causes Control. 2009 Aug;20(6):847-53Apr;97(4):661-6
  3. This study compared soluble fiber, insoluble fiber and placebo in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and found that only the soluble fiber group had any significant improvement.  Source: BMJ. 2009 Aug 27;339:b3154

5 High Fiber Foods (that aren’t Grains)

According to the Mayo Clinic, women should aim to get 21-25 grams of fiber per day while men should get 30-38 grams per day.


Here are some of the best (and healthiest) ways:

  1. 1 cup of raspberries: 8 grams
  2. 1 cup of cooked split peas: 16.3 grams
  3. 1 medium artichoke: 10.3 grams
  4. 1 medium pear: 5.5 grams
  5. 1 cup of broccoli: 5.1 grams

In comparison, 3/4 cup of bran flakes contain 5.3 grams of fiber, just barely better than broccoli and not as good as a pear.  Per serving the above foods will also provide far more nutritional value in the form of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and bioflavonoids, along with the fiber than bran flakes ever will.