With so many health-transforming books being released, WholeFoods wanted to know what the experts are reading. Here, radio host and author Martie Whittekin, CCN, shares her thoughts on three books she couldn’t put down.
In 1982 (before I studied to become a board-certified nutritionist), I abruptly found myself the proud owner of a natural foods store. Whenever a customer asked me a question for which I did not have the answer (in the early days, that was most of them!), I said “let me show you how to look that up.” I would turn to the appropriate page in How to Get Well by Paavo Airola, Ph.D. N.D., and read just a hair faster than the customer. That saved the day and I sold a LOT of books! Released in 1974, How to Get Well became a worldwide best seller because it helped people with recommendations that used basic vitamins and minerals along with common herbs and historically healing lifestyles. (It is still a useful reference.)
When an exciting, newsworthy supplement hits the market, we might forget how important the nutrition basics are. Vitamin B12 is an example of a nutrient that, although crucial for health, can easily fade from view as “old news.” Sally Pacholok, RN, addresses that in Could it be B12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses. Pacholok grew frustrated in her work with patients because she saw medical professionals too often give medications for conditions that she knew were likely due to insufficient vitamin B12. Examples of diagnoses that shockingly may be signs of low B12 are suicidal depression, frequent falls, autism, and even MS or Alzheimer’s. (Wouldn’t it be sad if granny were sent off to a memory care facility when a sublingual vitamin B12 might have prevented that?) B12 deficiency can lead to permanent crippling nerve damage.
Sally and her physician husband, Jeffrey J. Stuart, DO wrote, Could it be B12? to give consumers and the medical profession a serious wakeup call—one that has surely saved an untold number of lives. I interviewed her on my radio show and was impressed with her passion to spread the word. She believes that people should think of vitamin B12 first, especially in cases that involve the nervous system.
Vitamin B12 is also important for cardiovascular health because it helps lower damaging homocysteine. B12 status should be checked in cases of infertility and with children in cases of developmental delay. When researching my first book, I discovered that the overuse of heartburn drugs is one cause of deficiency. (Although I prefer people get off those disease-causing medicines, at the least users should supplement B12.) Sally’s book is the definitive guide to understanding vitamin B12—its benefits, sources, measurements and more. I believe that it should be required reading in medical school. (Sadly, there is fat chance of that happening.)
This book is so readable and inspiring that, much to the surprise of my family, I made it my beach read on a vacation. Vitamin K2 is not really forgotten like B12…most of the public just never heard about it to begin with. Naturopath Kate Rheaume-Bleue gives it the spotlight it richly deserves. She shows us that a simple, but impressive way in which vitamin K2 saves lives is by helping calcium stay out of the arteries where it causes big trouble and go into the bones where it is obviously needed.
Dr. Rhéaume describes how, even before the nutrient had been isolated or named, famed dentist/researcher Weston A. Price discovered vitamin K2’s many important benefits among indigenous populations around the world in the 1920s and 1930s. For instance, Vitamin K2 helps the jawbone grow into its intended form, thereby avoiding crooked/crowded teeth and the need for orthodontics. Dr. Rhéaume included some of Dr. Price’s dramatic before and after photos that demonstrate the damage done to smiles when indigenous populations move into cities where there is less K2 in the diet. Dr. Price also believed that K prevented and even healed dental cavities.
The brain has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin K2 and it also has protective effects against cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s, wrinkles, and more. The author discusses the reasons for widespread insufficiency of K2, how it differs from K1, and thankfully, she sorts out the confusing relationship of K supplements and the type of blood-thinning drugs (e.g. Coumadin) that work by interfering with vitamin K metabolism.
I came away believing that this book should also be required reading in medical school.
If any factor is noted to be “out of range” in the results of standard blood tests, most people become stressed because they do not know what it means. Unfortunately, doctors average only about 10 minutes with each patient, so they usually cannot go into a detailed explanation. James B. LaValle, RPh, CCN, N.D., realized that patients today want to be more involved in their health care and so he provided a guide. For each blood test, he not only explains what “high” or “low” signifies, but also what might have caused it to be out of range; the associated symptoms if any; and what to do to resolve the issue. Dr. LaValle covers some vitamin tests such as B12, vitamin K2, and the all-important test for vitamin D. (Those are usually optional tests that you must specifically request.)
Most routine blood tests were designed to look for disease markers, not for imbalances, which, if corrected, might prevent disease. Dr. LaValle shows us that the standard numbers can be helpful in disease prevention, if we watch for those bumping the edge of their range. I remind my radio listeners that the “normal” ranges of tests are the average of the “walking wounded,” not of Olympic athletes, or other paragons of health. One dangerously inappropriate range is the one typically given for vitamin D. In the past, the “normal” minimum was listed as 20 ng/ml. In recent years, it was raised to around 30 ng/ml. However, nutrition experts point to research showing that the optimum for prevention of dozens of diseases is 70-80 ng/ml or even more.
Any home should find this book a useful reference.