Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ask Ladd McNamara About Nutritional Supplements?

Use this section to ask Ladd McNamara questions about nutritional supplements, and check back often for the replies to other people's questions. (Please do not ask questions regarding any person's medical condition, or as to what to take for any specific problem. You must discuss personal medical conditions with your own doctor. Nutritional supplements are part of an overall health program. This is only for questions pertaining to the function and importance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids as they pertain to the cellular and metabolic functions, and in regard to health in general, as well as what has been published in the medical literature.)

To see an indication of a top quality nutitional supplement brand, please refer to Lyle MacWilliam's book, the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, now in it's Fourth Edition:

Watch the newest movie about this amazing book at:

Did you know that over 30 years of medical research indicates that nutritional supplements; vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, wrinkling, and may even slow the aging process? To keep it simple, it all has to do with oxidation. If you wanted to increase your risk of disease, wrinkling, and accelerate the aging process you would simply need to smoke several packs of cigarettes per day for several decades. The more packs per day you could smoke the more likely you would get a disease. This has to do with more oxidative damage caused by cigarette smoking.

Antioxidants essentially work the opposite of cigarette smoke. They neutralize free radicals in the toxins of smoke that damage cells. Cells being protected from damage are able to maintain health, repair themselves, and stay as young as possible. Healthy cells are by definition not diseased cells. It's almost as if antioxidants are the opposite of cigarettes. This is not really the case; it's only an analogy, but hopefully it gets the point across.

It is true that nutritional supplements, along with a proper diet, exercise, reduced stress, proper sleep, and reduced exposure to environmental toxins can have a very positive influence on many disease processes and promote health. This is NOT to imply that supplements are a cure or a treatment for any disease, but not only do they help promote health in "healthy people," they may exert a positive effect in people suffering from chronic degenerative diseases that are caused and worsened by oxidative damage. The following is NOT to indicate a list of diseases that nutritionals can "cure," but rather how people with such ailments may experience health promotion with proper lifestyle changes, including the use of quality nutritional supplements.

  • Acne

  • Allergies

  • Arthritis (Rheumatoid and OsteoArthritis)

  • Asthma

  • Atherosclerosis

  • AutoImmunne Diseases

  • Breast Cancer

  • Bronchitis

  • Cardiovascular Disease (Heart Disease)

  • Cervical Dysplasia

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrone

  • Colon Cancer

  • Diabetes (Type 2)

  • Insulin Insensitivity

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Lung Cancer

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Parkinson's Disease

  • Periodontitis (gum disease)

  • Prostate - Benign Hypertrophy (Enlargement)

  • Prostate Cancer

  • Stroke

The purpose of listing the above conditions is not to be complete, but to give the reader the idea that the many diseases may be influenced by a proper diet, exercise, and proper nutritional supplementation. Certainly taking quality nutritional supplements is no guarantee that a person will not develop a disease, ....and certainly everyone will eventually die. However, since many of us are "living too short and dying too long," it is worth doing all we can to reverse this trend.

Please use this opportunity to share your short comments about how quality nutritional supplements have made a difference in your life and health. Please do not mention brand names, or jump to unsubstantiated claims. However, if you feel your experience with quality nutritional supplements is significant please feel free to share it here.

For more info on Ladd McNamara see:
and especially,


Mary Alice said...

I have a friend that had gastric bypass and she is having many other complications. Are there any specific nutritional supplements that she is able to take. I know that her stomach will not dissolve the supplements but there must be something that can help with the additional complications. She will not revealed the exact problem but she paper thin skin and constantly get cuts and bruises. She is constantly tired and low in Potassium. She has had a mild stroke. She is a very dear friend but she refuses to speak about her health. Is there anything I can suggest to her?

Ladd McNamara, M.D. said...

Mary Alice, I appreciate your question and situation. My only suggestion would be for your friend to talk with her doctor about ways in which she can tolerate the nutritionals. She might want to ask her doctor if crushing the tablets, or grinding them with a coffee grinder would be of benefit. Only her doctor could help her with her situation.

As to the purpose of this segment if people have questions regarding a certain nutrient and its function in the body or cell, or regarding a particular study, then I would be more than happy to field such questions. As for particular medical issues those should be discussed with a person's doctor.

Dr. McNamara

Marcia said...

Thank you for all your help over the years with USANA! My question is about melatonin and DHEA. Since USANA does not sell these products, you had recommended Belmar Pharmacy to me as a source. They have now changed their online ability to order. Do you know of another source for these products that are pharmaceutical grade?

Ladd McNamara, M.D. said...

Marcia, I'm not sure about what Belmar Pharmacy is doing online, but I know you can order such products without a prescription by calling them at 1-800-525-9473. Certainly, I believe there are benefits to both these hormones. As to whether any person should or should not be taking such supplements, they should check with their physician.

Ladd McNamara said...

This new study confirms what I used to tell my patients in my medical practice prior to retiring from obstetrics about prenatal vitamins (even though they were prescription), that they often did not release the vitamins and minerals that they supposedly contained, e.g. folic acid. In my opinion they were pathetically low in many of the nutrients needed during pregnancy, let alone the spectrum of nutrients needed to optimize health during pregnancy, for both the mother and the growing baby. Pregnancy is a time when nutrition and nutritional supplements should be optimized, not minimized. This is a study that confirms just one of the many points I make in one of my booklets, "Pregnancy":

Vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy may help prevent preeclampsia

Vitamin D deficiency early in pregnancy is associated with a five-fold increased risk of preeclampsia, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

In newly published research, scientists evaluated data and blood samples taken from women and newborns between 1997 and 2001 enrolled in a study designed to examine risk factors for preeclampsia. This serious complication of pregnancy is marked by elevated blood pressure and edema (swelling) of the hands and feet, and is a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and neonatal complications including death.

The results of the study show that a maternal vitamin D deficiency early in pregnancy is a strong, independent risk factor for preeclampsia. This increase risk continued even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as race, ethnicity and pre-pregnancy body weight. Another concern was the fact that many of the women were taking prenatal vitamins, which typically contain 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D.

"Even a small decline in vitamin D concentration more than doubled the risk of preeclampsia," noted James M. Roberts, M.D., senior author of the study. "And since newborn's vitamin D stores are completely reliant on vitamin D from the mother, low vitamin levels also were observed in the umbilical cord blood of newborns from mothers with preeclampsia."

The researchers concluded that maternal vitamin D deficiency may be an independent risk factor for preeclampsia and vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored for preventing preeclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being.

Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology & Metabolism September 2007, Vol 92, No.9:3517-22.

Ladd McNamara said...

Throughout my years practicing as a board certified ob/gyn, long before it became the norm to recommend DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to pregnant patients I was highly encouraging my patients to take this supplement (among others) for healthier babies (better brain, IQ, and eye development, among "other things"). It appears those "other things" include a decreased risk of Type I diabetes. I'm glad I continued to add omega-3 fatty acids to my daughter's diet from the time she weaned from breast-feeding until present day (age 10). She, and all of us, should make the omega-3 fatty acids a part of our daily lives. Read all of the following for a glimpse of just some of the reasons (among many not specified in this study):

Increased omega-3 fatty acid intake lowers type 1 diabetes risk

The September 26, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported the discovery of researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver that greater intake of omega-3 fatty acids has a positive effect on the prevention of the development of type 1 diabetes in children. Type 1 diabetes is caused by pancreatic islet autoimmunity, which results in destruction of beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, causing in an elevation in blood sugar. Cod liver oil given in infancy had previously been found to be associated with a protective effect against the development of childhood diabetes, however, it was not known whether the oil’s vitamin D or fatty acid content were responsible for the benefit.

Jill M. Norris, MPH, PhD and colleagues examined the effect of omega fatty acids in 1,770 children determined to be at risk of type 1 diabetes by a genetic marker or by having a first degree relative with the disease. Dietary questionnaires concerning food consumed by the children during the previous year were completed yearly by the children’s mothers and analyzed for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake. The children were followed from one year of age to an average of 6.2 years. Islet autoimmunity was determined by testing for insulin, glutamic acid decarboxylase, or insulinoma-associated antigen-2 autoantibodies on two consecutive study visits, and being positive for autoantibodies or having diabetes at the last visit.

At the end of the study, 58 children had developed pancreatic islet autoimmunity. After adjusting for factors such as calorie consumption, the research team found a significantly lower risk of developing islet autoimmunity associated with increased total omega-3 fatty acid intake. When islet autoimmunity was limited to those with two or more autoantibodies, the risk was further lowered. Omega-6 intake was not associated with islet autoimmunity risk.

In a separate study of 244 children whose erythrocyte (red blood cell) membrane fatty acid content was measured, in which 35 participants developed diabetes, higher omega-3 content was also found to be associated with a lower risk of islet autoimmunity.

“Our data suggest that ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids throughout childhood may decrease the risk of islet autoimmunity,” the authors write. Commenting on the recent establishment of a clinical trial designed to evaluate the hypothesis that supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in utero and infancy will help prevent the development of islet autoimmunity in infants at risk for diabetes, they conclude, “If this trial confirms this hypothesis, dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids could become a mainstay for early intervention to safely prevent the development of type 1 diabetes.”

Health Concern


Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes, is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body attacks and destroys the cells (called beta cells) that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of cases. Because type 1 diabetics can no longer make insulin, insulin replacement therapy is essential.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes, occurs when the body is no longer able to use insulin effectively and gradually becomes resistant to its effects. It is a slowly progressing disease that goes through identifiable stages. In the early stages of diabetes, both insulin and glucose levels are elevated (conditions called hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia, respectively). In the later stages, insulin levels are reduced, and blood glucose levels are very elevated. Although few people are aware of this crucial distinction, therapy for type 2 diabetes should be tailored to the stage of the disease.

In human experiments, omega-3 fatty acids lowered blood pressure and triglyceride levels, thereby relieving many of the complications associated with diabetes. In animals, omega-3 fatty acids cause less weight gain than other fats do; they have also been shown to have a neutral effect on LDL, while raising HDL and lowering triglycerides.

martha said...

Is q-10 and grapeseed extract recommended to use along side the Essentials, Calcium, and fish oil during pregancy?
Thank you,

Alicia said...

Dr. McNamara,

I recently learned that I am pregnant and I have also been using Usana products for a few months now, before the pregnancy. Knowing all that I have learned about nutritional supplements, I have a concern. In an earlier post, you stated "that they often did not release the vitamins and minerals that they supposedly contained, e.g. folic acid. In my opinion they were pathetically low in many of the nutrients needed during pregnancy," and this is EXACTLY my concern! How can I be sure that the pre-natal vitamin I choose to take is going to absorb in my body like it should? I was taking the Usana Essentials, but they are high in Vitamin A, which I read can be bad for the baby. WHAT do u recommend I take as far as supplements? Please help!! :/

Chan said...

Dr. McNamara, Thank you for all the work you do with USANA and for sharing advice on nutritional supplements from a medical standpoint.
My question of late was that a friend stated she has been on Hormone Replacement Therapy for four years. She's wondering if taking the Essentials, Calcium and PhytoEsterin could have any adverse effects if she began taking them at the same time? Have you known of anyone to successfully replace HRT with the USANA supplements?
Thank you in advance for your time and attention.