As we get ready to officially kick off summer in New England (which happens the July 4th weekend) after a very long cold winter and an unusual spring, we are all ready for some summer sun and fun! Regardless of the season you are enjoying as you read this, however, it is never the wrong time to talk about safely managing our sun exposure.

While everyone agrees that getting a sunburn is not a good thing, both for your personal comfort as well as your longer term health and wellness, in our quest to avoid a sunburn we may unwittingly be doing more harm than good to our bodies. Recent studies have shown that many sunscreens contain an ingredient shown to actually cause – not prevent – skin cancer.

In addition, while many of us pay close attention to what we eat and try to avoid pesticides and other chemicals that may cause health issues over time, many sunscreens also contain other carcinogenic ingredients that are absorbed directly into the blood stream upon application, making their effect potentially greater than that of some of the residual chemicals on the food we consume.

While there is some research that ties melanoma to “blister and peel” sun burns before age 20, there is additional research that suggests the sun may not be the cause. Until we know more, the truth is: we need some sun exposure to produce vitamin D, a proven cancer-preventor. So let’s look at how we can safely get moderate sunshine exposure while avoiding sunburns and cancer-causing chemicals.

Why We Need Sun Exposure

If you read my previous article on vitamin D, you know how important I believe this group of hormones to be to our overall health. When I originally wrote about vitamin D, I said,

“While we have always known it helps with bone health as it facilitates calcium absorption, new research is proving that higher levels of the vitamin have an impact on immune health and protect against cancer, heart health, autoimmune diseases, depression, periodontal disease, diabetes and a host of other conditions. 

While adequate levels are shown to be protectors against many conditions, low levels, or deficiencies, are now linked to concerns with these same systems and conditions. Studies now show that vitamin D deficiency is rampant and far more pervasive than previously believed.

Many experts say increasing your vitamin D levels may be the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.”

Those words are as true now as ever. More and more experts are lining up to tout the benefits of vitamin D to our overall health as well as for cancer prevention. While it is possible to get vitamin D from food, it is almost impossible to get all that we need on a daily basis solely from food sources. Without question, the best source of vitamin D is 20 minutes of direct sunlight (without sunscreen) daily.

In addition to vitamin D, direct sun exposure generates photoproducts that cannot be generated from food sources. When it comes to cancer prevention and overall health, vitamin D is essential and the sun is the best possible source.

But there are times when we want or need to be outside for longer periods of time than our skin can handle without burning and no one wants a sunburn. (Early childhood sunburns have been linked to skin cancer development later on.) Hence, the multi-billion dollar, largely unregulated, sunscreen business. But let’s look at why sunscreens are not the answer.

Sunscreen and Cancer

Headlines were made not long ago when a study revealed that products containing vitamin A or its derivates are shown to increase the rate at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer. Sadly, almost half of the most popular sunscreens available today contain these ingredients, and it was reported that the FDA has known of the potential danger for a much as a decade now.

Vitamin A is a popular sunscreen ingredient because it’s an anti-oxidant that can slow aging. However, anyone who has been given a prescription based form of vitamin A for acne or youthfulness knows that it comes with an advisory to avoid sun exposure. Vitamin A has photocarcinogenic properties, which means that it can become cancerous through exposure to light.

The FDA studied the impact of vitamin A and found that tumors and lesions developed 21% sooner in vitamin A-laced cream than in creams not formulated with vitamin A. Since 41% of sunscreens contain vitamin A or its derivatives (retinyl palmitate or retinol) this is a significant concern for the sunscreen industry.

But beyond vitamin A, there are a number of other ingredients that cause concern, especially since sunscreen is applied to skin. Then in the heat, skin pores open and rapidly absorb the chemicals directly into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the list of these common skin care carcinogens is too lengthy for this article so I will have to share that with you in another issue. For now I will just say that should you decide to use sunscreen, please choose an organic brand that minimizes exposure to carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals such as parabens, nitrosamines, propalene glycol, and sulfates.

Given what’s inside these products, we have to ask the question: is exposure to all these chemicals really worth it? Taking the risk of exposure to all these cancer-causing chemicals might be worthwhile if doing so truly prevented potentially fatal skin cancer. Let’s put it all in perspective. Assume for a moment that using sunscreen prevents melanoma, which we will see in a moment is not the case. (If sunscreen is the answer, then why has melanoma doubled over the past 20 years despite the introduction of sunscreen in the late 1960s? And why are melanoma rates higher among sunscreen users than non-users?)

Even if sunscreen did prevent melanoma, that benefit has to be weighed against the risks derived from lack of sun exposure.

Vitamin D and its photoproducts produced through sun exposure are proven to help prevent breast, colon and prostate cancer. (Using sunscreen inhibits vitamin D production and prevents those benefits.) About 40,000 people died from breast cancer, 32,000 from prostate cancer, and 51,000 from colon cancer. All together that’s about 123,000 deaths a year from cancers that are directly connected to a lack of sun exposure. Last year, 8,700 people died from melanoma. Seeing those statistics one must wonder if our fear is unjustified and doing more harm than good.

But now on to the bigger question: does sunscreen prevent melanoma? For those with higher risks due to having fair skin or a family history of skin cancer, it may be worth exposure to all the concerns we’ve looked at thus far if using sunscreen could truly prevent melanoma.

To date, no research has proven that sunscreen can prevent melanoma. While sunscreen may help prevent some easily treatable generally non-fatal skin cancers, no ties have been made to melanoma prevention. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, “The FDA is not aware of any data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” of any kind. The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees.

Experts generally take the stand of we don’t know, but meanwhile you should keep using it. (Friends of mine in the medical field say that they feel compelled to encourage sunscreen use despite lack of evidence supporting it for fear of lawsuits.) But should we keep using something that doesn’t protect us from cancer when we know it increases health concerns and risk of other forms of cancer through its use?

The Diet Connection: Melanoma and Omega 3

If sunscreen doesn’t prevent melanoma perhaps that is because it is not the sun that causes melanoma after all.

For some time it was thought that the sun was the source of the problem and that it was excess sun exposure that would lead to melanoma. That link is now being questioned. One recent study showed that people working exclusively inside had higher rates of melanoma than those whose jobs required them to be both inside and outside.

Another study indicated that melanoma occurs more often on the soles of the feet than on the hands, even though it’s clear that hands would have significantly more exposure to the sun than the bottom of the feet. And melanoma is more common in northern latitudes than in southern regions where there is greater sun exposure.

There are some researchers currently trying to make a connection to chlorine exposure and melanoma. They believe that chlorine contact with our skin due to drinking and bathing/showering in chlorine-treated water as well as swimming in chlorinated pools may be the cause. Studies in Belgium have connected fatal melanoma to the consumption of chlorinated water. It’s not a leap to me to connect cancer to contact with a chemical substance, and while research continues on this theory, so we don’t know for sure yet, it is an interesting one.

It’s not a leap to me to connect cancer to contact with a chemical substance, and while research continues on this theory, so we don’t know for sure yet, it is an interesting possibility. (It would certainly explain help explain how melanoma gets on the bottom of feet, since standing in a shower or pool repeatedly over time would enable chemical absorption directly into the blood stream. Twice as much chemical substances are absorbed through the skin than through the digestive tract.)

Though perhaps the sun may have a supporting role (in exacerbating the chlorine or other chemical impacts, for example), one thing is clear, the sun is not the sole culprit. Until we not only know, but also have an effective way to avoid the true cause, our best defense is prevention. The key to preventing melanoma, it turns out, is directly related to diet.

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a study indicating that omega 3:6 ratios were the key to preventing skin cancer. As I shared in a prior article on omega 3, it is not that omega 6 is bad; we need both omega 3 and omega 6 to be healthy. The problem is that historically we have had a 1:1 balance of omega 6:3. With the advent of vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola, sunflower, sesame, and safflower oils, we’ve gone from very little vegetable fat to consuming more than 70 pounds a year.

These oils are pervasive in processed food today, and our omega 6:3 balance has shifted to more like 20 or 50 to 1; it is no longer evenly balanced. It is this imbalance that scientists believe creates the problem. A prestigious cancer journal reported that excess omega 6 can lead to the proliferation of cancerous cells, including melanoma, while long chain omega 3 fatty acids act as inhibitors to that growth.

An Australian study showed that simply by eating fish rich in omega 3, without changing anything else in the diet to reduce omega 6, resulted in a 40% reduction in melanoma.

In addition, studies have shown that people who eat more omega 3s are able to increase their burn threshold. This allows them to enjoy healthy sun exposure for longer periods of time without risk of burning or developing skin cancer. Another great reason to balance omega 3s!

Whenever my kids and I are heading outside for the day, we increase our omega 3 consumption (fish day!) and also supplement after the sun exposure. If we know in advance we are heading for a day at the beach on Saturday, for example, I start increasing our omega 3s a few days before. Doing this has enabled us to bring our sunscreen use down to a minimum and still avoid burns. And yes, when we use it, we choose organic products!

Safe and Healthy Vitamin D Exposure

Most everyone agrees that while we need moderate sun exposure, the key is to avoid burning. Burning has been connected to skin cancer and logically, burning is the natural way of letting our body knows that we have had enough sun.

To avoid burns, get your sun exposure earlier or later in the day when the UV rays are less likely to cause burning (though you may need to be outside a bit longer). Build up your sun exposure slowly over time so that gradually you can spend more time in the sunshine before you are at risk for burning.

Seek shade midday and use hats and clothing to protect you. (I am not a fan of sunscreen-laced clothing as the chemicals that are used to provide the sun barrier are present on the clothes and can be absorbed by the skin when you sweat.)

Avoid sunscreen use whenever possible. But for those times when you must go outside for longer than would be safe for you to avoid a burn, seek a natural organic sunscreen without retinol palmitate or retinol and without parabens and other carcinogens. Badger makes a good one that you can find in a health food store or on

And perhaps most importantly of all, whether you choose to use sunscreen or not, examine your diet with a goal of omega 6 consumption and trying to balance the omega 3:6 ratio in your diet. Eat more fish and consider taking a high quality omega 3 supplement daily, or preferably with every meal. Try additional supplementation before a longer day in the sun.

At a minimum, it will make your body healthier overall and it may well prevent skin and other cancers. Omega 3 consumption can also improve your sun tolerance and reduce your burn risk, both short and longer-term. And with the ozone depletion in today’s environment, that’s something we can all benefit from.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

 Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


I started work on an article about sunshine and its role in preventing and treating cancer. There was so much research about the health benefits of sunshine and vitamin D that I’m still digging through it all! While that’s coming soon, in the meantime, I thought it would be helpful to lay the foundation for why vitamin D is so important and look at the multitude of health benefits it provides.

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, has been getting a lot of press lately, and for good reason. While we have always known it helps with bone health as it facilitates calcium absorption, new research is proving that higher levels of the vitamin have an impact on immune health and protect against cancer, heart health, autoimmune diseases, depression, periodontal disease, diabetes and a host of other conditions.

While adequate levels are shown to be protectors against many conditions, low levels, or deficiencies, are now linked to concerns with these same systems and conditions. Studies now show that vitamin D deficiency is rampant and far more pervasive than previously believed.

Many experts say increasing your vitamin D levels may be the single most important thing you can do to improve your health.  And since Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins that has been proven in research studies to have health benefits as a standalone supplement, there’s no reason not to! So let’s look at why this vitamin is so important to our health.

What is Vitamin D?

Interestingly, vitamin D is not really a vitamin; it’s actually a group of prohormones. The two major forms are known as vitamin D2, known as ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol. Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, which means it is absorbed with the help of lipids (fats) in the intestinal tract. This means that without adequate fat present, the body will not absorb vitamin D. It also means that unlike water-soluble vitamins, which are not readily stored, excess vitamin D can be stored in fat and muscle tissue for future use.

The vitamin D the body receives from food, supplementation or sun exposure is inert and undergoes two reactions in the body in order to become active. The metabolic product created from this process, calcitrol, is a hormone that is said to target over 2,000 genes. That is about 10% of all human genes; no wonder some call it the miracle cure!

A Return to Rickets

Vitamin D deficiency is so rampant now that a recent report in the British Medical Journal revealed the return of a condition common in Victorian times known as rickets. Rickets is a disease affecting growing children whose bones do not harden or set appropriately due to insufficient vitamin D. This once common condition disappeared in developed countries upon discovery that minimal levels of vitamin D would prevent it, but it has now returned.

A new study recently published in the journal Pediatrics here in America revealed that as many as two-thirds of all children are deficient in vitamin D. Among darker-skinned populations the deficiency is even more rampant, with as many as 92% of black children being deficient and as many as 80% of non-black Hispanic children being deficient.

These numbers are based on the new target minimum of 75 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).(Until recently, the standard minimum had been considered 50 nmol/L but many researchers have recently suggested that level be raised.)

According to the Vitamin D Council, however, the recommended minimum vitamin D dosage is actually much higher. They cite recent research that indicates that below 100 nmol/L, the body uses vitamin D up as quickly as it is created. At between 100 and 125 nmol/L, some people begin to store vitamin D, but others do not. At 125 nmol/L, virtually everyone begins to store excess vitamin D in fat and muscle tissue.

The Vitamin D Council considers numbers below 125 to indicate “chronic substrate starvation” and recommends a range of 125-200 nmol/L. (Using these numbers as a baseline, I would venture a guess that virtually everyone tested in that study would be deficient.)

Vitamin D is used to support the immune system and protect against so many conditions that the presence of any health concerns in the body may well warrant a need for an increase in availability. If your body is fighting cancer or heart disease, or looking to recover after a strenuous workout, how much more vitamin D might you need? We don’t yet know those answers, but we can certainly imagine that there might be cases where the body needs much more.

Whether you choose to follow the recommendations of the Vitamin D Council or to be more conservative and follow more traditional guidelines, it is likely that you need to raise your vitamin D levels.

How Do I Measure my Vitamin D Levels?

The only way to reliably know how deficient in vitamin D you might be is to have a simple blood test performed called a 25 hydroxyvitamin D test or a 25 (OH)D. Your doctor can do this easily and most insurance plans should cover it. Many doctors will still consider significantly lower numbers to be acceptable (keeping up with the emerging research can be a full-time job and your doctor already has a full-time job); if so, it will be up to you to share information and partner with your physician to find the right level for you.

If your physician will not test you for vitamin D, you can order a test from the Vitamin D Council on its Web site. You complete the test and mail it back for accurate results (in all states but New York, which prohibits testing of specimens collected in or mailed from New York and prohibits data transmission from the lab to New York physicians or residents.) The test costs $65–or $220 for four if you want to test periodically or test more than one family member.

The tests will tell you your current levels, but from there you will need to figure out how much supplementation you require to get you to where you want to be.

How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?

Generally speaking, we know that the darker your skin, the bigger you are and the less daily sunshine you receive, the more you will need.

While current FDA guidelines suggest a vitamin D level of 400 International Units, or IUs, per day, many researchers and physicians have increased their suggested optimal adult vitamin D level to around 5,000 IUs per day. I have also seen a formula used that indicates a body needs 35 IUs per pound of body weight, which allows for variance for children and heavier people.

Supplementation at the 5,000 IU level has been shown to bring vitamin D into the desired nmol/L range for many people. But because vitamin D is used to fight cancer, regulate the immune system and myriad other functions, there can be a need for much more depending on what is going on in your body. Some studies have revealed that certain individuals need as much as 25,000 to 30,000 IUs just to reach a consistent rate of 125 nmol/L!

Vitamin D needs are individual and must be customized. That’s why it is recommended that you test in order to be sure your supplementation is adequate for your own body’s needs. It is recommended that you begin supplementation first and consume vitamin D regularly for two to three months before you have your levels tested in order to see how effective your dosing is for you. (If you feel more comfortable testing first, that’s fine. Just know that you may need to test several times in the process.)

Unless your climate remains constant year round, you will probably want to test in summer and in winter to get a sense of the shifts in your body and how the season changes affect your dosage levels. People who avoid the sun as well as those with darker skin pigmentation will likely need to increase their dosage, especially in winter.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

According to the Vitamin D Council, even at the new recommendation of 125-200 nmol/L (much higher than most doctors will be familiar with), those ranges are still very conservative. But because excess Vitamin D is stored in fat and muscle tissue, there have been concerns about toxicity from over consumption.

While we should always be aware of such possibilities–and that is yet another reason to work with your doctor and get tested regularly–the risk of toxicity is much less than previously believed. Because the body is geared to produce very high levels of vitamin D from our daily sun exposure, we have the capacity to absorb very high levels.

Typical summer sun exposure of 20 minutes (without sunscreen and with face, arms and legs uncovered) yields 20,000 IU of vitamin D. We didn’t have sunscreen until recently; our bodies were built to be in sunlight for much of the day (building up our sun exposure to prevent burning of course.) So we are engineered to produce and absorb very high levels of vitamin D. And we also have a built-in safety mechanism: After the body produces about 20,000 IUs of vitamin D, the sunlight, begins to break it down, preventing the body from excess. And once we are tan, the body naturally adjusts and makes less, producing only about 10,000 IUs.

But oral consumption is different: Can we overdose on vitamin D? While pharmacological overdoses of vitamin D2 have been documented, the same is not true for vitamin D3. Research conducted to determine toxic excess in animals revealed that the dose of vitamin D3 it takes to kill half the animals when tested in dogs was about 3,520,000 IU/kg. (Yes, sorry, they did in fact test this on animals.) That is estimated to be about 176,000,000 IUs taken by a 110-pound human.

Leading researcher Dr. Reinhold Vieth suggests that toxicity may possibly begin to occur after chronic daily consumption of 40,000 IUs a day. Clearly there is a great deal of room between the minimum guideline of 5,000 IUs and long-term daily consumption of 40,000 IUs.

Vitamin D Co-Factors

The body needs several substances to utilize vitamin D appropriately. These co-factors include magnesium, zinc, boron, vitamin K2, genestein and a small amount of vitamin A.

I believe many people are magnesium deficient (because calcium and magnesium partner together and so many people supplement calcium but neglect magnesium–I’ll discuss magnesium more in a future newsletter) and because of that, magnesium is an important consideration in vitamin D supplementation.

If you struggle with reaching optimal vitamin D levels after supplementation, a magnesium deficiency could be the reason why. At the same time, as you supplement with vitamin D, any existing magnesium deficiency could be exacerbated.

So paying attention to the co-factors, especially magnesium, is an important component of successful vitamin D absorption.

Walking on Sunshine

The best way to increase vitamin D in your body is through sunshine. Exposed skin in summer sun for 20 minutes will give your body its daily dose. But unless you live in southern Florida, you won’t be able to get what you need year-round from sunlight alone and you’ll need to supplement, at least during winter months. But thankfully, now the the summer season is upon us, exposed arms and legs for 20-30 minutes a day will do the trick for most of us, though darker skin tones may require longer exposure.

Tanning Beds

Tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays. However, the body is only interested in the UVB rays for vitamin D synthesis. UVB rays are shorter and affect the surface layers of the skin and as a result, can cause sunburns. The dark tans that come from tanning beds result mostly from UVA rays. Therefore, most tanning salons calibrate their beds to produce mostly UVA rays (often as high as 95% UVA) and minimal UVB.

Not Your Grandmother’s Cod Liver Oil

It is possible to get vitamin D from foods such as salmon (wild sockeye is best; not farm raised), mackerel, herring, sardines and catfish. But a standard portion of these foods will only yield about 250-350 IUs, so you’ll have to eat a lot!

Grandmother’s remedy of a tablespoon of cod liver oil is a highly effective form as well; it yields 1,360 IUs. (Many companies now flavor the oil with lemon or orange so that the taste is not like what you might remember; my kids will even eat it and they can choose between oil and pill form.)

Choose a brand that has been tested and found to remove contaminants such as mercury and PCBs, which can be present in fish.

Cod liver oil, however, also contains vitamin A, another fat-soluble vitamin that some suggest has toxicity concerns at high doses. I believe that in time research will show that–similar to vitamin D–high doses of vitamin A from natural sources are safe. For now, if you have concerns about excessive vitamin A, rather than quadrupling the dosage of cod liver oil to get to 5,000 IUs, you’ll want to consider D3 supplementation through pills, sprays or oils.

Studies show that vitamin D2 is only about 20%-40% as effective in supplementation as vitamin D3. Many over-the-counter vitamin D supplements–and virtually all prescription forms–contain vitamin D2. But D3 (cholecalciferol) is widely considered to be a more effective source, so read the label carefully.

And don’t be afraid of 15-20 minute breaks in the sun without sunscreen (we’ll talk about the myth that it will cause skin cancer in another article).

Your body has existed in the sun for many many thousands of years. We are built to synthesize sunlight safely in small doses.) You will feel energized and renewed and many systems in your body will be thankful.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


Recently, a study claimed that taking vitamins has no merit. It’s not new news: pharmaceutical-funded studies have been claiming this for some time (because vitamins can’t be patented and if you take them, you might not need their drugs.) While the study says vitamins in isolation don’t work (I agree), it also claims that multivitamins have no merit (I disagree: synthetic multivitamins have no merit, but whole food multi-vitamins have been shown to have health benefits.)

The debate isn’t new. One of the most vehement arguments came a few years ago when Reader’s Digest called vitamins “a scam” and said that taking them is a waste of money. It cited a study of 160,000 mid-life women that showed no difference in health with respect to the big diseases like cancer, heart disease and stroke, from taking a multivitamin. But as with all studies, you need to dig deeper—in this case because not all vitamins are created equal. (I am always suspect when a magazine whose advertising is largely from pharmaceutical companies says vitamins are worthless.)

The article challenges the benefits of certain individual supplements, such as vitamins A or E taken by themselves.  I agree these vitamins will have little, if any, effect when taken in isolation because they require proper co-factors for absorption. The article and the recent study both recommend one standalone vitamin that should be taken by everyone: vitamin D. (I’ve discussed the importance of vitamin D previously and I will be writing more about it soon as I believe it is so important.)

There is a rampant vitamin D deficiency among children and adults today, so I couldn’t agree more. Vitamin D3 can stand on its own and I take 5000 mg daily as part of my multivitamin and more in addition during the winter. (Do not take a prescription vitamin D as you will receive vitamin D2 which is not as absorpable or effective as vitamin D3 which you can buy inexpensively over the counter, though natural sunlight is still best.)

But most other vitamins need to be taken together as part of a complete nutritional package and won’t have much if any impact if taken alone.

Many people say that if we eat well, we don’t need a multivitamin. Eating a whole food and plant-based diet will go a long way toward staying healthy and I strongly recommend we do that. We cannot eat too many dark leafy green vegetables and we should be eating the rainbow (fruits and vegetables that cover every spectrum of color from white to orange, red, green and purple.) But I also take a whole food multivitamin and a whole food raw green superfood powder, because the truth is, it is very difficult to get the nutrients we need from our modern food supply.

These days, to offset the bad fats and processed food sugars we consume and to restore balance within our bodies, we need more vegetables than ever. (New standards raise fruits and vegetables up to 9-13 servings a day!) We are not just eating to fuel our bodies, we are eating to heal our bodies from the inflammation and oxidation of our processed diets. It’s getting harder to get the nutrients we need because in addition to the packaged and prepared foods in our diets, our fresh food supply is not as vitamin rich as it used to be. Soil has been depleted of nutrients, food is sprayed with chemicals and pesticides or is genetically modified to grow bigger or to resist disease, and then it is transported hundreds or thousands of miles to get to our tables.

If you go to a farm or a market and buy fresh produce, you know that after a few days on your counter, it will begin to go bad. Now think about the grapes or tomatoes you are buying from the opposite coast or from South America. They were picked, packaged and then shipped (sometimes by barge) to the U.S., sent out by truck across the country to your local market, displayed on the shelf for several days (or weeks) and then finally taken home.

For the produce to survive that trip looking fresh and beautiful and without bruising, it is heavily sprayed with chemicals, and picked before it is ripe and allowed to mature along the way. Once the fruit leaves the vine, it doesn’t get the sun and the nutrients any longer, it doesn’t fully develop the enzymes and phytonutrients that are usually present in mature fresh picked local produce.

(I talk a lot more about organic versus local and making better fruit and vegetable choices in the articles on produce, but you should also know that many chemicals and pesticides banned in the U.S. are still used freely in the foreign countries from which we buy produce.)

Studies estimate more than 50% of nutrient value is lost in the journey from farm to table. That’s’ very conservative. So even if you are doing your best to eat a lot of good fruits and veggies, unless you have access to a local farm, and even then, it is hard to get food with the nutritional profile you need for health. Plus,  you’d have to eat a lot of it, and how many of us can sit down and eat a basket full of kale?

If you still think you can go it alone without, you may recall in one of my articles I shared that to get the same level of nutrients that you could get from two peaches back in the 1950’s, today you would have to eat 53! Who is doing that?

While I fantasize about growing my own food, here in New England, with a long, cold winter and a busy life with two kids and work, it’s not possible at the moment. I do my best to shop at local farmers’ markets for fresh produce, and I buy flash frozen organic produce (never canned) when I can’t. Despite my best efforts, I do not believe that I can get the nutrition I need without taking a multivitamin and my kids take one too.

But there is a big difference among multivitamins. There are natural organic whole food based products that when manufactured correctly leave the integrity of the whole food intact. And then there are cheap synthetic forms that you can buy in drugstores or big box stores which are the vitamins the studies are talking about.

When looking for a good whole food supplement, keep in mind that whole foods are just that: whole foods. Look for ingredients such as carrots, spinach, wheat grass, spirulina, kale, celery etc. There will be vitamins listed as well but their sources will also be present: The original foods from which they were derived. When the ingredient list reads more like a science report than a grocery list, and there are no food sources included just isolated chemicals, it’s typically comprised of man-made synthetic compounds.

Because synthetic vitamins are created in a lab to simulate the real thing, they are not identical in the way they interact with or are absorbed by the body. They are often missing minerals, nutrients and other requisite co-factors for assimilation. In addition, they often contain cheap fillers and binders from ingredients like sand and titanium dioxide, dibasic calcium phosphate and microcrystalline cellulose (refined wood pulp);  they are ingredients that our bodies cannot absorb and that may even be harmful to us. Many common over-the-counter vitamins are passed through the stool whole and intact.

Taking a multivitamin that includes a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make a difference, but only if it is bioavailable and bioabsorpable; in other words your body can actually break down and absorb the nutrients. That is not possible with synthetic vitamins. I prefer a whole food-based product that is as close to what I should be eating as possible, and made from the real thing, not created to imitate it.

Interestingly the Readers Digest article’s main argument against taking multivitamins said, “These days, you’re extremely unlikely to be deficient if you eat an average America diet, if only because many packaged foods are vitamin enriched.”

Think about that for a moment.

Food manufacturers strip out all the vitamins that exist in the food during the manufacturing process. Then they “enrich” them, by adding back cheap lab-created imitations. They want us to believe that these created versions are the same as the original, but research shows they are not: you cannot duplicate naturally occurring nutrients from synthetic ingredients. In addition, they will be missing enzymes and cofactors required for assimilation. When I see “enriched” on a food label, I know to stay away.

The truth is that enriched foods do not add vital nutrients to our bodies, nor will synthetic vitamin pills. The best way to get what we need is from the whole food source. Nature intended us to eat vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients together as they work synergistically. When whole food supplements are made the right way, they maintain a multitude of the plants original components and the integrity of the food source.

So eat as much good stuff as you can. Buy local when you can, organic if possible. But given the nutrient levels in today’s soil and ultimately, food supply, along with the long transit times and warehouse distribution processes, even if you eat really well, you probably won’t get all the nutrients you need from food. Most — if not all — of us will still need to supplement with a whole food-based supplement to bridge the gap for long-term health and wellness.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!


Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal. Learn more about Inger and receive her free bestselling ebook What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You.

Article Photo: courtesy of m_bartosch |


This time of year, there are lots of cold and flu viruses going around and if you get one, you know that there isn’t much your doctor can do. While antibiotics can fight bacteria, there are no prescriptions for viruses. That doesn’t mean, however, that nature hasn’t supplied us with some great natural remedies instead.

A few weeks ago, I woke up exhausted and feeling so tired and achy, I knew I was fighting off a flu. My immune system is pretty strong but I immediately went into attack mode to try to beat it and the next day, I felt fine. In this newsletter, I want to share with you what I did and what we do in our house to ensure that my kids don’t ever miss a day of school and haven’t had a sore throat in years.

Nature has provided us with several anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal options. They are the only means of attacking a virus and I’ve used them to beat the flu as well as to recover from pneumonia instead of taking a prescription drug. Two of the best are oil of oregano and olive leaf extract.

The main ingredient in rendering oil of oregano so powerful in attacking microbes is Carvacrol. Carvacrol is so powerful it can be used to preserve food and has been shown to be effective against e.coli, salmonella and listeria. Look for a supplement containing at least 60% Carvacrol.

Oil of oregano also has a natural fungicude, Thymol (the active ingredient in Listerine), Terpenes (source of the word turpentine) which is an antibacterial agent, Rosmarinic acid, a stronger antioxidant than vitamin E which prevents free radical damage and is an natural antihistamine, and Naringin which helps boost the effects of antioxidants.

I swear by oil of oregano and start taking it in abundance at first sign of any symptom. It’s important to note that oil of oregano is nothing like the oregano you find in supermarkets today. It’s a very strong and has a bitter flavor, so many people prefer it in capsule form rather than liquid.

You can find products containing both oil of oregano and olive leaf extract together or take them separately. They are both immune boosters, so you can take them during cold and flu season as a preventative, or keep a supply on hand to attack at first sign of any symptoms.

Olive leaf extract is effective against viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi and parasites by either killing them or preventing their multiplication. Like oil of oregano, olive leaf extract does so without harming the good bacteria in your digestive system. Adding it to your wellness arsenal will give your body yet another means of attacking and preventing spread of viruses and other pathogens.

Olive leaf extract is more than just an immune booster, as it actually attacks the microorganisms directly, rather than simply supporting your body’s own defense system. In addition, olive leaf extract has been shown to help lower blood pressure, prevent atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries, and reduce inflammation. So while it’s great when you need a boost to fight off infection, it is also helpful on a daily basis to support several important wellness functions.

Oil or oregano and olive leaf extracts are mainstays in our house. The third super infection fighter we rely on consistently is one that is a little harder for most people to get used to than smelling like oregano: hydrogen peroxide. Yes, I’m talking about the 3% household remedy you can buy for pennies in any pharmacy or grocery store.

Many natural health providers believe that colds and sore throats and other illnesses begin in the ears, not in the nose or throat. Research has been done to support this notion for years now, but it never seems to make it into the mainstream. We have used it in our house for years and my kids have not had even one sore throat or ear infection since we started.

Any time we feel the onset of virtually any cold or flu symptom, we immediately use hydrogen peroxide to attack it before it takes hold. It does take a little getting used to, as it is an odd experience at first, but once you get used to it, it is strangely comforting to be able to experience it working to fight the infection while you listen in.

Upon the arrival of any symptom, simply put a towel over a pillow and lie on your side. (I like to have a couple paper towels handy too). Pour a capful of hydrogen peroxide into your ear (it’ll feel weird and a little cold but just at first) and simply lie still and let it attack the pathogen. It will bubble and gurgle as it attacks, so you’ll know it’s working! Lie still for about 5 minutes or until it stops bubbling, then roll over and get the other ear.

If you have a lot of bubbling still going on after 5 minutes on each side, go back for another round in each ear, either immediately, or again before bed. It is a bit strange and takes getting used to, but I can assure you that it really works!

One final weapon we keep on hand is a very high quality green superfood powder or supplement. We use Boku Superfood, as I’ve found it to be the best quality for the money. That said, it’s not cheap so I don’t take it every day. (My son does and it has eliminated his allergies, migraines and boosted his immune system significantly.) If I feel even the slightest bit under the weather, tired, stressed or aware of any symptoms, I take some greens in a little bit of juice (vitamin C) at least once a day, preferable twice a day, for several days in a row to give my body extra support beyond my regular whole food multivitamin.

And keep in mind that if you are not taking a vitamin D supplement or getting 5000 mg in your whole food multi, during the cold and flu season (unless you live in south Florida or California and spend 20+ minutes a day outside without sunscreen on most of your body), you’re probably vitamin D deficient. Most Americans are!

Vitamin D is necessary to maintain and restore so many essential body functions and processes including preventing you from getting sick. A study of 19,000 Americans showed that those with the lowest vitamin D levels reported significantly more recent colds and flus so make sure you get your vitamin D to stay healthy this winter, and long term. If you buys a separate vitamin D supplement, be sure to purchase vitamin D3 as it’s the most effective form. And skip a prescription: most prescriptions for vitamin D are for D2 not D3 and are not as effective.

To your wellness and health: your true wealth!

Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art


In this article, I’m going to cover a topic of concern for most men: prostate health. But this topic is important for female readers too. This information will likely be helpful to someone you love who does have a prostate AND you’ll also find much of this information applies to breast or uterine health as well. Many scientists consider prostate cancer in men to be the equivalent of breast cancer in women because it is brought about by the same conditions, factors and imbalances that simply manifest in different sexual organs because of gender. So ladies, there is something here for you, too.

What is the Prostate and How Does it Work?
The prostate is a small gland about the size of a walnut just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate wraps around the urethra, a tube that takes urine from the bladder out through the penis. The prostate makes the milky fluid that carries the sperm, which is made in the testicles, out through the penis during ejaculation.

As men get older, enlargement of the prostate is a common concern, affecting more than half of men by age 60 and an estimated 80% by age 80. As the prostate enlarges, it presses against the bladder, resulting in a disruption of the flow of urine, causing frequent urination, difficulty urinating, a weak urine stream or a feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied.

Looking at those statistics, it may seem that prostate challenges are inevitable. But research shows there is much we can do to prevent these problems. However, the conditions we create in our bodies do not appear magically overnight; they are the result of the many small choices we make each day. There are no quick fixes for good health, but the recommendations below can have a positive effect over time.

Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Prostate
Here are some of the things you can do to enhance prostate health (and if you are a woman, think breast health instead):

Eat a healthy balanced whole-food diet: Ensure you are consuming all the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients your body needs. Take a whole-food supplement to cover any gaps. Eat more fiber, especially from vegetables, as vegetable fiber is shown to help with blood sugar and reduce the risk of prostate problems. Reduce or eliminate white sugars and flours from your diet and choose foods lower on the glycemic index that are rich in fiber and healthy fats.

Hormonal balance is important and I’m going to talk about balancing our sex hormones shortly. But you cannot balance your secondary (sex) hormones (i.e., testosterone and estrogen, which are very important to prostate health) when your primary hormones, like insulin, are out of balance. Balance your primary hormones by making sure that your blood sugar is regulated so that insulin is not a concern.

Reduce internal inflammation: It’s directly connected to prostate problems and tied to many cancers including prostate and breast. Johns Hopkins research shows that early stages of prostate cancer go hand in hand with chronic inflammation and that an anti-inflammatory diet can help correct this. Pay attention to high cholesterol not because cholesterol is bad; cholesterol is part of your body’s natural healing process. Rather, high cholesterol is an indication that inflammation is occurring in the body. Ubiquinol can help prevent the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation that causes inflammation in the arteries. Omega 3 can help reduce inflammation already present.

Cholesterol levels are important for another reason: Higher cholesterol typically indicates higher levels of estrogen in the body. (Estrogen levels are also usually higher in obese men.) Higher estrogen levels are shown to double the risk of stroke, significantly increase the risk of heart disease and increase thickening of the arteries. High estrogen levels are tied to prostate cancer as well, though some scientists think it hasn’t been studied enough because many men with high estrogen levels succumb to other diseases long before prostate concerns manifest.

Hormones are always about balance and our sex hormones are no different. When estrogen levels increase, it means that relatively speaking, there is less testosterone. (Or in women, less progesterone.) Testosterone is required to maintain a healthy prostate and men with higher levels of testosterone are better able to prevent prostate problems. Because it’s about balance, we either need to raise testosterone levels or eliminate the excess estrogen. Increasing testosterone can only be done effectively through a prescription medication that comes with a host of side effects.

But there are a number of ways to avoid excess estrogen, including reducing your meat and dairy intake. Humans are the only species on the planet whose adults drink milk (or consume large amounts through cheese, ice cream and other dairy products). Milk from perennially pregnant cows is, not surprisingly, laden with hormones such as estrogen. And the feed given to animals these days can interfere with animal hormones, leaving excess estrogens stored in their fat.

In addition, we are bombarded daily with estrogenic compounds called xenoestrogens. These compounds can mimic estrogen and take up estrogen receptor sites, leaving the body’s estrogen to wander looking for an available receptor site. This excess estrogen imbalances our normal hormone ratios. Xenoestrogens are found in petroleum-based products, plastics, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. They are in car emissions, paint, nail polish, soap, lotion, food, water and the air.

Xenoestrogens result in an increase in belly fat or breast development in men as well as weight gain, allergies, sinus infections, fatigue, mood swings and the onset of andropause, the male equivalent of menopause. Andropause can result in impotence, low sex drive, low sperm count, low absorption of zinc, increased risk of heart disease, and not surprisingly, urination and prostate problems.

While we can reduce meat and dairy and improve our diets, we cannot control all the elements in our environment. This is where the supplement DIM (or diindolylmethane) that I speak about in my article on supplements everyone should take can help comes in. DIM is a phytonutrient that occurs naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It was discovered about 10 years ago, but its benefits are only just now being understood.

Taking DIM has the equivalent effect of eating three pounds of broccoli a day. DIM is a natural estrogen balancer in women and men. It can promote healthy estrogen metabolism and prevent estrogen dominance, and is also shown to protect against cancer, heart disease and to support healthy prostate tissue and prevent prostate enlargement.

The plant indoles in cruciferous vegetables have been shown to regulate hormone metabolism and not only manage estrogen in men, they have also been shown to support a more desirable testosterone function. DIM can help estrogen break down into its “good” metabolites, which are responsible for the positive things we hear about estrogen: protection of heart and brain activity.

Slow estrogen metabolism can result in too much active estrogen, or estradiol, in the body, which causes problems like weight gain, diminished sex drive, male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement. DIM increases the “good” estrogen metabolites, which serve as antioxidants in the body and simultaneously decreases the “bad” metabolites, which are not antioxidants and can cause cancer in the body.

I don’t normally recommend specific supplements, but many of us (male and female) are estrogen dominant as a result of our diets and our environment and thus have hormonal imbalance issues. For anyone concerned about estrogen metabolism or hormonal imbalance, or dealing with the physical manifestations of such, I recommend the BioResponse form of DIM, as it is a naturally occurring phytonutrient that is microencapsulated to ensure absorption.

Other Ways to Support Prostate Health
Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is tied to many health issues including heart attacks, diabetes and prostate problems. Excess weight around the mid-section is a particular concern, as it’s far more detrimental to our health than weight gain anywhere else in the body. Gaining weight or enlargement of the breasts is also a concern as it reflects excess estrogen.

Exercise for physical health and to reduce stress. Research shows that as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day reduced the mortality rate of men with prostate cancer. As exercise intensity levels and frequency increased, so did survival rates. Men who exercised three or more hours a week (moderate to intense exercise like jogging, cycling, tennis or swimming) reduced mortality rates by 35%. Men who walked four or more hours a week reduced mortality by 23% while men who walked 90 or more minutes at a brisk pace had a 51% less risk of death than those who walked less than 90 minutes at a slower easier pace. Those who engaged in vigorous physical activity for five or more hours a week showed a significant reduction in mortality.

Engage in frequent sexual activity or masturbation. Studies show that carcinogens pool in seminal fluid and that releasing the toxins from your prostate regularly improves prostate health. It’s the ejaculation process that is beneficial. Improvements are shown at two times a week, with additional protection afforded at three or more times a week. (Dr. Oz recently commented that the average American has sex once a week, but that increasing the frequency to twice a week can add three years to your life.)

Release any buried anger and resentment. Holding onto it doesn’t serve you in any way and keeping negative emotions inside the body has a physical effect on our cells. Anger and resentment have long been correlated to cancerous cell growth in energy medicine and this idea is now being proven in research as well.  Negative feelings increase the stress level cortisol, a hormone that has been consistently found to repress the function of the immune system. When the immune system is not at the top of its game, the cancer cells that are present in every body have a better environment in which to multiply and can form tumor sites.

Suppression of anger, hate, grief or resentment can also the damage the emotional reflex center in the brain. Over time, this will result in a breakdown that will result in wrong messages being sent to the organ it controls, creating deformed or cancerous cell growth. Numerous studies of cancer patients have identified an unresolved conflict, or suppressed and unexpressed emotion, usually occurring several years before cancer emerged.

And when adrenaline is low, the environment is better for cancerous cell growth. High stress levels will deplete your adrenaline reserves enabling a cancerous environment. Let your feelings out and release stress in other ways such as meditation, deep breathing, journaling, music, and laughter. Laughter is a powerful stress reliever, so when you’ve had a bad day, find some friends you can laugh about it with, or watch a favorite funny movie and laugh out loud.

Research shows that vitamin D helps prevent a variety of cancers, including prostate and breast. In one study, supplementation was shown to reduce the PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels in men with prostate cancer. Another study revealed that men with high vitamin D levels were half as likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer as men with lower levels, so get outside and get your daily dose of sunshine.

As for specific supplements or foods to enhance prostate health, there are many. There are a number of food studies that indicate the benefits of certain foods such as garlic, scallions, pomegranate, walnuts (for the omega 3s and gamma tocopherol, a form of vitamin E), coffee (for the antioxidants), cooked tomatoes (for the lycopene), bee pollen (for the zinc) and it never hurts to add more healthy foods to our diets.

There are also nutrient studies touting saw palmetto, zinc, boron, K2 and selenium but there are also risks of taking too much of these in supplement form. Generally speaking, taking any supplement in isolation limits its effectiveness. When you eat the foods themselves, or the food sources of the minerals and phytonutrients, it’s hard to overdose and they can offer great prostate health benefits.

By eating a balanced whole food diet and taking a whole-food supplement, you will be getting all the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals and phytonutrients you need together to absorb and fully utilize the benefits. That makes good sense for overall wellness as well as prostate health.

Author: Inger Pols is the Editor of the New England Health Advisory and Author/Creator, Finally Make It Happen, the proven process to get what you want. Get a free special report on The Truth About Sugar: It’s Not All Equal at

Photo Source: Microsoft Clip Art

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