Healthy Lifestyle Protects Our Cells from Stress-Related Aging Shows Study

Last month I mentioned a new study that showed that drinking soda make actually shorten our lifespan by shortening our telomeres (part of our DNA).telomeres

Today, instead of telling you about something that shortens telomeres, I thought I share something more positive.

A study from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) looked into whether or not having good lifestyle factors could help protect us against the telomere shortening caused by life stress.

Good news! Exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep appear to protect telomeres from stress-related shortening. This is essentially cellular ‘proof’ that a healthy lifestyle can, in fact, help us live a longer, higher quality life.

The study also showed that life stress like the death of a loved one or losing your job, does appear to acutely shorten telomeres. But again, we can do our part to mitigate these deleterious effects of stress by taking care of ourselves.

Moral of the story? Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of high-quality sleep. It’ll do your telomeres good!

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay


Are You Taking the Right Form of Vitamin E?

Much, if not most, of the Vitamin E supplements you’ll find at your local drug or grocery store is comprised of an inferior form. Let’s make sure you’re using the best type.

Not all Vitamin E is created equal.

Not all Vitamin E is created equal.

(For purposes of this article I’m referring to alpha tocopherol as vitamin E, which is the form that the RDA is based on.)

There are two types of alpha tocopherol: there’s the natural version – d alpha tocopherol, and there’s the synthetic form – dl alpha tocopherol.

As you might guess, the natural version is better…roughly twice as good according to most studies/sources.

So if/when you decide to supplement with Vitamin E, take a look at the ingredients.  It should say d alpha tocopherol NOT dl alpha tocopherol.

If you wanna read more about Vitamin E, here’s a good page, courtesy of Oregon State University.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay


Cigarette Smoking & Back Pain: Study Finds Correlation

A new study from Northwestern University found that cigarette smokers are more likely to develop chronic back pain.

To quote lead author of the study, Bogdan Petre, “Smoking affects the brain. We found that it affects the way the brain responds to back pain and seems to make individuals less resilient to an episode of pain.” 

In case you’re curious, it appears to be the nucleus accumbens and the medial prefrontal cortex that are adversely affected.

There is some good news…they also found that quitting smoking reversed this smoking-induced increase in vulnerability to back pain.

Just in case you needed yet another reason to quit smoking cigarettes, now you have it.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay


Vitamin D Supplements: how much should you take?

If you keep up with nutrition-type stuff at all, you’ve probably heard that you should at least consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.

But before you blindly begin taking Vit D capsules, let’s go over what a safe, yet effective dose of vitamin D is.

Choose the Right Form of Vit D

There are two forms or types of vitamin D supplements:vitD

  • Vitamin D2 – ergocalciferol
  • Vitamin D3 – cholecalciferol

Long story short, you want to take Vit D3.  Got it?  Good.

Daily Amount of Vitamin D

The only way to know for sure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is to have your blood tested specifically for that. If you routinely get some sun exposure (which is ideal), then you may not even need to take supplemental vitamin D.  But if life traps you inside, as it often does, you may need to resort to supplemental vit D.

If you’re going to supplement with Vitamin D, here are some guidelines:

  • likely minimal dose – 1,000 IU / day
  • upper limit – 10,000 IU / day

Assuming your vitamin D status is insufficient, you’ll likely need to take at least 1,000 IU per day to get you back into the optimal range.

But more is not better! It is possible to develop vitamin D toxicity by taking too much, so you definitely don’t want to get carried away. Most sources/experts list 10,000 IU per day to be the safe upper limit to vitamin D intake.  Other’s say not to go above 8,000 IU.

My recommendation is this: don’t routinely take more than about 2,000 IU Vit D per day unless you’ve had your blood work done showing that you need a higher dose.

I hate giving specific dosage recommendations for much of anything because it’s very cookie cutter…far too generic for my preference.  But with that being said…

If I had to pick a vitamin D dosage that would serve most people well it’d be 1,000 – 2,000 IU per day.

In an ideal would we’d get more sun exposure and take less oral vitamin D, but life is often not ideal…and that’s where vit D supplements can come in handy.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

References you might wanna check out re: vitamin D.

  1. Medline Plus on Vit D
  2. Harvard on Vit D

Cocoa Flavanols and Memory – Video Interview of Dr Scott Small

As a follow-up to last week’s post regarding a new study showing how cocoa flavanols appear to help reduce age-related cognitive decline, here’s a video interview of Scott Small, MD, the expert on the topic.