Doctor’s Tip: A potpourri of health tips

Doctor’s Tip: A potpourri of health tips

Every now and then it’s useful to mention several short health tips that don’t warrant a whole column of their own.

From the May issue of Nutrition Action, published by Center for Science in the Public Interest:

CARBON FOOTPRINT OF VARIOUS DIETS: A typical vegan diet has a carbon footprint of 3.0 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents per 2,000 calories. A vegetarian diet 5.1, pescatarian 7.3, omnivore 9.8, paleo 11.6, keto 12.8.

VITAMIN A in high dose pill form (25,000 to 50,000 IU per day) raises the risk of lung cancer in smokers and former smokers. Taking more than 10,000 IU a day during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects.

GUMMY VITAMINS are often missing or low in selenium, iodine, and vitamins A, C, and K. For people who can’t swallow pills and can’t or won’t get their vitamins through the food they eat, Centrum Fresh and Fruity Chewables are a better choice.

VITAMIN E, an antioxidant vitamin (the other two are A and C) in pill form, dosed at 400 IU a day was shown in a large study to increase the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Daily doses of more than 400 units of vitamin E also increases risk of heart disease. Antioxidant-containing plant foods lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease. The message is that humans evolved to get antioxidants through the food we eat — high blood levels we get by ingesting antioxidant pills can be harmful.

BIOTIN (VITAMIN B7) in high doses can cause a false elevation of troponin, a blood test used to diagnose heart attacks.

POTASSIUM lowers blood pressure; the best sources are vegetables and fruit.

DRY EYES: Fish oil has not been shown to help.

SKIN WRINKLES can be prevented or at least minimized by using sunscreen and avoiding tobacco; vitamin pills and vitamin-containing lotions have not been shown to help.

ZINC: Avoid doses higher than the recommended daily allowance of 8 mg. for women and 11 mg. for men; a study showed that men who took more than 75 mg. a day were more apt to develop aggressive prostate cancer.

MAGNESIUM in doses greater than 350 mg. a day and VITAMIN C in doses greater than 2,000 mg. a day from supplements (but not food) can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.

CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS can cause constipation.

THE COMMON COLD has not been shown to be prevented by daily doses of vitamin C (250 to 1,000 mg.) except in people doing ultramarathon-like activities.

FOLIC ACID: Any woman who is thinking about becoming pregnant should be taking 400 micrograms a day, to lower the risk of neural tube birth defects like spina bifida, which occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy, before many women realize they’re pregnant.

LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH IN THE U.S. among all ages in 2020, going from highest to lowest: heart disease, cancer, COVID-19, unintentional injuries, strokes, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease.

From the April 2023 issue of American Family Physician journal:

CONCERN ABOUT LONG-TERM PPIs (protein pump inhibitors such as omeprazole/brand name Prilosec): These effective stomach acid-blockers are used short and long term for problems such as indigestion and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). There is now evidence that long term use causes a “small but clinically significant” increase in the risk of stomach cancer. The current recommendation is that antacid therapy should begin with an H2 blocker such as Tagamet, Pepcid, and Zantac. If a PPI is prescribed, the lowest dose and duration possible should be used.

CBD, a nonintoxicating component marijuana, can interact with several medications.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market, and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email [email protected]..