[COLUMN] D3 and the brain

STUDIES have shown that the body relies on vitamin D to stave off heart disease, inflammation and even cancer. People with deficient vitamin D in their body are associated with a higher risk of dying prematurely and vice versa. Lack of vitamin D also results in poor cognitive function and increases the risk for dementia.

Recent groundbreaking research led by Dr. Kyla Shea, Ph.D., involving postmortem multi-data analysis of the brains of 290 patient-organ donors revealed (for the first time) that vitamin D is present in the brain tissue and a normal level of it is linked to better cognition and a lower risk for dementia among seniors. High concentration of vitamin D across the brain reduced the risk of dementia up to 33 percent.

How this vitamin acts to help maintain a healthy cognitive function is still unknown. More studies are needed to clarify this issue. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the form recommended and the dose to attain an optimal level is between 5,000 to 8,000 international units. Those with darker skin and people who rarely get exposed to the sun are the ones who most likely need vitamin D3 supplementation. Consult your physician before going on a medical regimen of any type.

FDA warning on LASIK

LASIK stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis, a very comm procedure for vision correction in people who are farsighted or nearsighted with astigmatism. Each year, about 500,000 people undergo this 15-minute per eye, 25-year-old procedure, which costs thousands, and mostly not covered by insurance.

Last week, the FDA warned people about these possible aftermaths of LASIK procedure: double-vision, ongoing pain, dry eyes, and other complications. Some still need to wear eyeglasses following LASIK. The procedure is safe and common.

This caution will surely affect people’s thinking about LASIK. And eyeglasses today have wonderful pleasing and beauty-enhancing designs.

Statins lower stroke

Popular cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, like atorvastatin (Lipitor) or rosuvastatin (Crestor) and others, appear to lower a person’s chance of having the deadliest form of stroke, the one caused by bleeding in the brain, according to the journal Neurology. The stroke is medically termed intracranial hemorrhage, when an artery leaks and bleeds into the brain tissues.

Strokes are the country’s leading cause of disability and death. Statins, according to the report, are another powerful tool for stroke prevention. A healthy lifestyle, with abstinence from tobacco, a healthy diet, daily exercise, and stress management, reduce the risk for stroke and other cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses.

Statins reduce fatty deposits in the arteries that harden over time and block the arteries and cut off blood supply to vital organs, the brain in this case. Blockages in the heart artery lead to a heart attack. Around the world, people take statin to reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.

466 died in a day

While COVID-19 seems to be easing up, wisdom dictates that people should still be concerned because as of last Monday, December 12, the 2-week daily averages were still 65,528 cases, 38,331 hospitalized and 468 deaths per day from COVID-19 in the United States alone. In the Philippines, there were 1,115 cases with 24 deaths from COVID-19. Worldwide, 6,658,727 have died as of Monday.

Even those with the 3rd booster (bivalent vaccines) could still be infected with the newer strains. Until there is a universal vaccine against COVID-19, we should consider each new strain to be a “different disease,” in order not to be surprised why those who are already vaccinated still get infected, and why we all should still be careful and get the latest booster. Since there is a tripledemic (Flu, RSV, COVID-19), masking and distancing in public places where there is a crowd is prudent, most especially for those with infants at home because RSV could be deadly for babies.

Pay attention, heed science and shun fake news and naysayers who claim vaccines and masks are useless. Vaccines and masks have saved billions of people around the world, multi-millions in the Philippines and in the United States. This pandemic has clearly proven that beyond any reasonable doubt.

There is still no vaccine for RSV. There is a clinical trial vaccine for adults. There is a drug to protect premature babies and young children, palivizumab, as a series of monthly shots during the RSV season. There is wisdom, no shame, in being cautious.

Flurona two-punch

The combination of the flu and corona (COVID-19) infection, Flurona, especially this winter, could be significantly hazardous especially for seniors. In a UK study of about 7,000 individuals with COVID-19, 8 percent of them had a second virus, half of those with the flu. Those infected with Flurona were significantly more serious and required ventilation and more likely to die while confined. This is the reason why everyone should have both the COVID-19 booster and the flu shot.

Warning: Beta Carotene

Diet and nutrition are vital drivers of diabetes T2 and cardiovascular diseases. Researchers found that some micronutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, curcumin, and coenzyme Q10 reduced the risk for cardiovascular diseases. Folic acid reduced the risk for strokes. They also discovered that beta carotene as food items could be beneficial but as drug supplements they are associated with increased cardiovascular risk and mortality and increases the risk for lung cancer. Vitamin C, D, and E and selenium had no effects on the risk for heart attack or stroke, or diabetes, one way or the other.

The American Heart Association recommends diets high in antioxidants (vegetables, fruits, nuts, etc.). Red meat is associated with higher morbidity and mortality, a shorter longevity. Processed meats are linked to pancreatic, colon, and other cancers. The study, a review of 884 randomized controlled trials on 883,627 persons, was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He is a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1996, whose other awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Astronaut Gus Grissom, Mohammad Ali and David Letterman. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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