vitamin B6

  1. How to avoid kidney stones

    Here's another "side effect" of the modern diet of processed foods: More people than ever are now experiencing the pain and misery of kidney stones.

    That pain is so excruciating it's been described as the only thing comparable to the pain of childbirth -- and some women tell me kidney stones were actually the more painful of the two.

    Yes, it's that bad. And now, new numbers show that 1 in 11 of us can expect to experience it, up from 1 in 20 just 16 years ago. Go back even earlier, and you'll find even fewer people had them.

    Why? Easy answer: Diet. The more junk we eat, the more likely we'll get kidney stones.

    We also get fatter, too, and UCLA researchers say their study confirms a link between obesity and kidney stones as well as both diabetes and gout and kidney stones.

    But the study in European Urology really tells only part of the story. It's not that these conditions alone are causing all those kidney stones (although they certainly don't help). It's that the same modern diet of processed foods rich in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates are causing all of those things at once.

    And that means eating better will slash your risk of obesity, diabetes, gout and kidney stones. It's like killing four birds with one (kidney) stone.

    But if you're already fighting recurring battles with stones, you'll need to take more specific action -- and you can start with two nutrients: vitamin B6 and magnesium.

    These nutrients work together to prevent the accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys. They're so effective that 500 mg of magnesium and 50 mg of B6 a day can reduce your risk of stones by 90 percent.

    If that's not enough to do the trick for you, you may need to take even more drastic action -- and along with eating better and losing weight, you'll want to avoid:

    Animal fats: Sorry, meat lovers -- animal fats and especially red meats can cause your body to excrete calcium. Before that calcium can leave the body, though, it has to pass through the kidneys -- where it can build up and form a stone.

    Dairy: The calcium found in some of the most common dairy products -- especially milk, cheese and ice cream -- is not as easily absorbed as other dietary sources of calcium. And when it's not absorbed, it heads right for the kidneys.

    Oxalic acid: You might think spinach, collards and celery are all healthy and for most people they are. But they also contain high levels of oxalic acid, and too much oxalic acid is a prime cause of kidney stones for those who are genetically susceptible.

    Other sources of oxalic acid include some of the antioxidant-rich "superfoods" -- including blueberries, almonds, and cocoa. That means if you're suffering from frequent stones, all those delicious treats will have to be limited.

    Sugar: High levels of sugar will suck the calcium right out of your bones and send it straight into your kidneys.

    Soda: Along with extra sugar, many sodas -- even diet sodas -- contain phosphoric acid, which can also increase your risk of stones.

    In addition, avoid alcohol, excess sodium, and caffeine as all three can dehydrate you -- and dehydration increases the concentration of minerals in the kidneys, which can then crystalize and form a stone.

    It's not the easiest diet in the world since the restricted list is pretty long. But if you've ever battled kidney stones, you know the alternative is a lot of pain and misery.

  2. Risky vitamins? Don't believe it!

    Based on the recent headlines, you'd think swallowing a vitamin is almost as bad as swallowing razorblades.

    Common, safe nutrients and ordinary multivitamins are being blamed for everything in the book -- and now, a new study claims any number of vitamins will cause women to die early.

    But don't panic, ladies -- because like the other studies that claim vitamins come with risks, this one's not even worth the paper it's printed on.

    First, the details meant to impress and frighten you at the same time: A study of some 39,000 women tracked for 19 years finds that those who took multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and/or copper had an ever-so-slightly higher risk of death from any cause than women who took no vitamins at all.

    But here are some details that aren't as prominent in the over-the-top coverage of this vitamin panic: The women were asked about their vitamin habits just three times in that 19-year period.

    No one was actually given vitamins or placebos... no one's habits were actually monitored... no one gave blood and the researchers don't even know much about the overall health of the individual women in the study beyond what they reported in those surveys.

    At best, you've got the weakest of all weak associations you could possibly make from an observational study -- but it's actually even worse than that.

    Much worse -- because an analysis by the Alliance for Natural Health finds that the supposed increase in death risk only appeared after some statistical "adjustments" that look to me more like statistical torture.

    For example, women who had a healthy lifestyle and took vitamin C lived longer -- but for that, the credit went to the healthy lifestyle.

    There was a similar adjustment for "healthy eating" despite the fact that only two of the three surveys -- spaced 18 years apart -- even asked about food.

    "(T)he authors just manipulated the data until they got what they wanted and more: Supplements not only didn't help--they were killers!" the ANH wrote in its analysis. "And the lazy, biased, or naïve major media took it from there."

    You can get the "rest of the story" right here.

    Here's the bottom line on vitamins: Over the past 27 years, there have been exactly 11 deaths blamed on vitamin overdose. Medications, on the other hand, killed more than 37,000 Americans in 2009 alone -- making legal drugs the nation's leading cause of accidental death.

    You tell me which is safer.

  3. B vitamins beat dementia

    I know plenty of seniors who would pop pretty much any pill -- risks and costs be damned -- if it meant they'd never have to battle Alzheimer's disease.

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