The Miracle Nutrient That Helps Any Diet Burn Fat Faster By Robert Rowen MD

(It even works if you don’t diet)

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably tried the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, maybe even Pritikin, Zone, or Metabolic Typing. And I hope you’re even working toward the Living Foods diet.

Well, regardless of which diet you’re using, I’ve got great news for you. There’s a nutrient that’s as common as vitamin C that can enhance your diet and help you lose weight even faster. In fact, it can help you lose weight even if you’re not on a diet!

This nutrient is actually a common denominator in all of these diets. In the 30 years that I’ve been a doctor, I’ve come across many theories on weight gain. Some hypothesize that it’s the total calories. Some say it’s specific calories from fat or from carbs that nail you. Others say it’s your metabolic type. But I’ve always found problems with each one of these diets.

Countless times, I’ve been told by my patients that they have restricted their caloric intake, but just could not lose weight. It’s been clear that there are metabolic factors that enable one person to burn off calories at a faster clip than others. I always thought that exercise was one leading difference, and the other was the particular foods. But there were so many variables that it was difficult to find out which diet each patient should use.

Then I found the Living Foods diet. It works wonders for most people who are able to stay on it. Trouble is, not everyone can stay on it. Those with a chronic illness are usually far more motivated to stick with it, so I always recommend it for them. But what about people who just want to lose weight and have no known disease? Well, I still recommend the Living Foods diet, but I’m realistic enough to know that few people will fully use it.

What’s great about this nutrient is that it helps explain why the Living Foods diet is so effective at keeping off unwanted pounds. I always thought it was calorie restriction, but that was only part of the story.

We know that prior to the 20th century, very few people were obese. We also know the types of foods most of them were eating (mostly natural foods grown in the garden or on the farm).

For our ancestors, there was abundant food in summer and less in winter. But unlike us, they could not ship it in from a far off growing area or preserve it through refining. So winter was a lot tougher for them. Fortunately, our bodies were created with some mechanisms to accommodate seasons of plenty (summer and fall). During these times, our metabolism speeds up and we burn more calories. Then, as we move into the lean seasons (winter and spring), our metabolism slows down and we spare energy for survival.

It’s well accepted among the medical community that fat storage does fit into the model of surviving lean times. In today’s world, calories are abundant during all four seasons. But if this model is correct, why aren’t we burning off the extra calories in these times of abundance?

Believe it or not, the answer is quite simple. Could  the number of calories you burn be determined by how much calcium you’re ingesting?

Calcium intake in America is woefully deficient. The RDA was recently increased from 800 mg to 1,200 mg if you are over 50. Still higher intakes (1,500 mg) have been recommended if you’re over 65 by a NIH consensus panel on calcium intake.

Major studies have shown that older men and women have mean calcium intakes of only 596 and 475 mg respectively! Only 66-75% of younger adult women reach even the 800 mg level! It’s estimated that our ancestors ate 2,000-3,000 mg of calcium daily, three to five times the daily intake of American adults today.

Well, it’s one thing to say we’re deficient in calcium, but it’s a real leap of faith to jump from fats, carbs, and total calories to calcium. So what’s the evidence?

Does extra calcium really speed weight loss for us? Absolutely! One study showed that only two cups of yogurt added to the diets of overweight patients (with no other changes in diet or exercise) caused an average loss of 10.56 pounds in one year. And here are the results of three other studies:

Young women who had the highest intakes of calcium lost the most weight and body fat on weight control programs … regardless of exercise level.

Only 1,000 mg of additional calcium in your diet can result in a 17.6-pound difference in body weight.

  • Higher levels of calcium may prevent fat storage, and more calcium may raise metabolism, thus, burning more calories.

Not convinced? Look at this:

  • Each 300 mg increment in regular calcium intake is associated with approximately 2.2 pounds less body fat in children and 5.5-6.6 pounds lower body weight in adults. Calcium can reduce weight substantially, perhaps by as much as 70%.

  • Women at midlife with low calcium intake gain about 1-2.5 pounds per year. In contrast, those women taking the RDA amount of calcium show a slight negative weight gain each year.

  • If you’re trying to lose weight on a calorie-restricted diet, increasing calcium will accelerate your loss of weight and body fat stores.

Dr. Robert P. Heany reported in the American Society for Nutritional Services, “The data suggest that the effect of calcium deficiency on obesity 85 is likely to be as large as, or larger than, the corresponding effect on osteoporosis prevalence…. The data presented in this analysis suggest that the prevalence of obesity in women could be reduced by 60-80% by ensuring (adequate) calcium intakes.”

The evidence supporting calcium as a miracle weight-loss nutrient is truly amazing. But what is it about calcium that causes it to shed the pounds? The answer lies in a seeming paradox. The more calcium you have in your diet, the less you have in your cells. You see, calcium is present only in the tiniest amounts inside your cells (intracellular) and soft tissues — 10,000 times less than outside your cells. But you have a tremendous amount in your bones and teeth.

On the other hand, calcium’s counterpart, magnesium, is abundant inside your cells and soft tissues. If you don’t take enough magnesium, calcium’s natural antagonist, it allows excess calcium to migrate into your cells (where the magnesium should be). Inside your cells, calcium wreaks havoc. It blocks magnesium-dependent, energy-producing, and metabolic enzymes. It’s a virtual poison to your mitochondria (your energy furnaces). Your cells’ energy production becomes impaired leading to degenerative diseases and blocked energy production.

We have uncontested evidence that certain diseases are characterized by elevated intracellular calcium and deficient intracellular magnesium. These include Type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance), hypertension, heart disease, and others. Obesity is one of the metabolic syndrome diseases (these include Syndrome X).

Respected researchers have discovered that Syndrome X has an underlying excess of intracellular calcium. The high intracellular calcium binds and inactivates your enzymes. It sends out messages to constrict, raising blood pressure, while magnesium does the opposite — it relaxes. Dr. Resnick stated that the more intracellular calcium and less magnesium measured, the more severe the manifestations of problems. One of the most obvious manifestations of the imbalance is abdominal fat.

Still not convinced? Take a look at this: A recent study, published in JAMA, has shown an exciting effect of higher calcium intake and insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome) in young adults. This was a prospective study (the best kind) on 3,157, aged 18-30 years old. Higher dairy product consumption was associated with less insulin resistance, including less obesity, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and lower blood fats. However, the results were seen only in overweight people, not the leaner population. The researchers estimated that each additional serving of dairy products lowered the risk of metabolic syndrome by 21%.

Most people know that dairy is one of our main sources of dietary calcium. Milk products definitely have benefit in this area. However, I continue in my cautions about milk. Cow’s milk is high in acid-producing phosphorus and protein; and low in magnesium. Pasteurized milk delivers denatured protein. If raw-milk products are available, I believe they are a far better alternative. Dairy should absolutely be organic!

Other natural dietary sources of calcium are abundant in raw-soaked nuts, seeds, and vegetables. And this is why the Living Foods diet works year round. It keeps your calcium and magnesium consumption very high. It prevents any imbalances from occurring and it keeps your metabolism high.

In the winter, when vegetables are scarce and vitamin D levels are low (from a lack of sunshine), our calcium in-take and absorption (thanks to vitamin D) are a lot lower. Our body interprets the lack of calcium as a sign that good food isn’t available. So it slows down your metabolism and energy production to keep you from starving.

In the “real world,” this would be to our advantage. But in our artificial world of year-round food transportation, it’s a major problem. The low intake and absorption of calcium signal your body to enter a “hibernation” mode, slowing down your metabolism for the winter food shortage. However, your calorie consumption remains high all year. With the calcium metabolic alterations, there’s just no way for you to burn it off. Even calorie restriction without adequate calcium will result in further energy conservation by your body.

Action to Take: (1) Increase fruit and vegetables, which are loaded with both calcium and magnesium, and reduce your protein intake (high protein diets encourage calcuium excretion). I strongly prefer a calcium-loaded diet to supplements. Remember, our ancestor’s intake of an estimated 2,000-3,000 mg calcium daily was not accomplished with pills.

(2) If you do want help from supplements, I prefer calcium as citrate or lactate (calcium lactate has nothing to do with the lactose of dairy). But please be sure that you balance calcium with magnesium (citrate, glycinate, or lactate) at least 2:1 and preferably 3:2. Calcium supplementation is usually very safe. In fact, one report stated that calcium intakes up to at least 2,500 mg daily are safe for virtually all patients. You might just be able to lose inches and pounds without draconian calorie restriction just by optimizing your calcium balance!

Here are two final, but very important tidbits. (1) If you have hypertension that’s not sensitive to salt, too much calcium could make your blood pressure worse. So talk to your doctor before adding extra calcium via supplements. (2) The science strongly suggests that higher calcium will be far more effective at weight loss if your food consumption is below the average for your body mass. In other words, if you’re overeating, please don’t expect any nutritional intervention to override your caloric abuse.

Ref: Kelley’s Textbook of Internal Medicine, 2000; American Society for Nutritional Services, 2003, p. 268S-270S; J Dairy Sci, May 1994; JACN, April 2002; Lipids, February 2003; Experimental Biology, 2000; Conference, San Diego, April 21, 2000; FASEB J. June 2000; JACN, November 2000; J. Clin. Endocrin. Metab, December 2000; Southwestern Med. Cent. Report, 2003; JACN, April 2002; J Clin Endo. Metab., December 2000; Lipids, February 2003; Resnick, L., Prog Cardiovasc Dis., July-August 1999; Osteoporosis Int., February 1991; J. Nutr., January 2003.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Robert J. Rowen, MD

Subscribe now to Second Opinion Newsletter and Get up to 11 Free Report by Dr. Robert Rowen MD

Dr. Robert Rowen, MD is one of the Health Heroes recognized in the In Search Of Heroes TM Program. I have known Dr. Rowen for over 30 years. He understands both conventional and integrative medicine. He teaches other doctors when to use specific therapies to get optimal results with minimal harmful side-effects. His wisdom helps you and your family stay healthy and disease free.  Ralph Zuranski, Creator of the In Search Of HeroesTM Program

Permanent Cure for Food Cravings, Mood Swings, and Addiction By Robert Rowen MD

You may have heard that chemical imbalances can cause depression, mood swings, and other mental problems. But did you know that food cravings, weight problems, yo-yo dieting, and binge drinking might also be results of chemical imbalances?

You see, your brain contains chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurons in your brain use these chemicals to communicate. They create your mood, confidence, self-esteem, and many other emotions.

There are several key neurotransmitters, including serotonin, GABA, and catecholamines. These chemicals must be in proper balance for healthy brain function. And each one plays a different role. You can see these roles most clearly when your body becomes deficient.

For instance, a serotonin deficiency may cause you to struggle with worry, anxiety, obsession, winter blues, and low self-esteem. You might have panic attacks, phobias, fibromyalgia, TMJ, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, hyperactivity, and a dislike of hot weather. And you might use drinks, drugs, or carbs to elevate your mood.

A conventional doctor might prescribe a SSRI for depression. They block serotonin reuptake from your neuronal synapses. SSRIs can be highly addictive and have many troublesome and even life-threatening “side effects.” These can range from liver failure and metabolic problems to suicide and murder.

In addition, these drugs don’t even correct the problem. All they do is mask an underlying deficiency of the neurotransmitter. Though the real problem is a serotonin deficiency, they don’t encourage your body to make more. They only help your neurons hold on to a deficient supply. When you stop them, your problem may worsen. You’ll have a 50-80% chance of withdrawal toxicity. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, dizziness, sleep disorder, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, depression, tingling, or electric shock sensations.

But serotonin isn’t the only possible neurotransmitter deficiency. Here are several more possibilities:

• A catecholamine (dopamine, norepinephrine) deficiency can cause a lack of energy, focus, and concentration. You might get bored easily. And you might be sleepy more than usual. Cocaine users may be deficient in catecholamines. Cocaine masks the deficiency, but makes it far worse. It wipes out your body’s natural production. And you might crave stimulants, such as caffeine, chocolate, and amphetamines.

• A phenylethylamine (PEA) deficiency is a common cause of depression. The drug selegiline prevents your body from breaking it down. Exercise increases PEA, so it may be responsible for the common “runner’s high.” Some researchers refer to PEA as “the molecule of love.” That’s because it’s found in chocolate. This could be why you’re a chocoholic or desperately need your workout.

• A GABA deficiency can cause you to crave alcohol and sedatives, such as Valium or Xanax. You may feel stiff, tense, overstressed, unable to relax or loosen up, wired, overwhelmed, or burned out. That’s because GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It relaxes, sedates, and reduces overstimulation. Without it, you’ll find it very hard to unwind.

Do any of these symptoms sound like you? Your emotional imbalance or addictive tendencies are real. And they’re likely due to a chemical imbalance called neurotransmitter deficiency.

And while most doctors will prescribe drugs to handle these chemical imbalances, there’s a much safer way to fix the problem. You need to start by restoring your neurotransmitters.

How to correct a serotonin deficiency: The good news is you can correct most serotonin deficiencies with supplements rather than drugs. There are a few cases I’ve seen where drugs did work better. But in every one of those cases, the patient had an underperforming thyroid. When we corrected the thyroid problem, the supplements worked just fine. So if the following supplements don’t work, have your integrative doctor check your thyroid and body temperature.

To reverse a serotonin deficiency, you need the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) and then to serotonin. Taking either one can help a serotonin deficiency. Doses of tryptophan range from to 1,000-2,000 mg one to two times daily. The 5-HTP dose is 100-200 mg up to 2 times daily. The nutrient SAM-e is essential to restore serotonin (and catechols). Try 200-400 mg twice daily. And zinc (30 mg) may help in some cases.

Supplemental B vitamins are essential. Your body can’t make neurotransmitters without them. I suggest supplementing them at 50-100 mg daily. Your body makes vitamin B3 or niacin from tryptophan. Tryptophan is also necessary for serotonin production. But if you’re deficient in vitamin B3, your body might divert tryptophan to make B3. This would reduce the amount of tryptophan available for serotonin production. Taking vitamin B3 will allow your body to use the tryptophan to produce the needed serotonin.

How to correct a catechol deficiency: The amino acid phenylalanine is the raw material. However, its metabolite, the amino acid tyrosine (500-1,000 mg twice daily), is probably superior. Many doctors use tyrosine to help break a crack cocaine addiction (two grams three to four times daily).

How to correct a PEA deficiency: An incredible source of PEA is an algae called Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). NutriCology markets it as PEANhance (available on the Internet or  800-545-9960 ). Psychiatrist Gabriel Cousens, MD says that it may dramatically help the addicted and depressed brain. Try one to two capsules per day.

How to correct a GABA deficiency: The neurotransmitter GABA is possible to replace. Take a GABA supplement (100-500 mg per day). But be careful if you need full alertness! It can make you sleepy. You can also reverse a GABA deficiency with the amino acid taurine (500-1000 mg two to three times daily). And theanine (50-200 mg one to three times daily) can help GABA production in your brain. Theanine is also found in green tea.

You should take amino acid supplements about 30 minutes before a meal or one to two hours afterward to prevent competition for absorption from other amino acids. Amino acids have two optical forms called D and L. Phenylalanine found in nature is the L form. It’s the parent of the catechols. Making phenylalanine synthetically creates both the D and L forms. This form is most helpful in rebuilding your natural opiates for chronic pain. Try 500-1,500 mg three times daily of DL-phenylalanine.

Improving your diet and lifestyle are the best ways to recover your health. I can’t emphasize exercise, prayer, meditation, and sunlight enough. It’s best to also avoid reliance on any pills, even supplements. But if you have a brain chemical imbalance, correction could be difficult or impossible without supplements.

If you haven’t started taking antidepressant drugs already, you may be an ideal candidate for the natural approach. If it fails with a serious depression, your doctor can prescribe drugs to help. However, they are for short-term relief only. They are not a cure. And they do have side effects. You could be on them forever if you don’t help your brain recover production of its own neurotransmitters.

If you would like more information on how neurotransmitters can affect your health and moods, I strongly recommend you read some of the work done by Julia Ross, MA. She’s a nutritional psychologist who’s done a bang up job in her books The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure.

Julia goes into more detail on how to recover and rebalance your brain’s chemistry. Correction could forever end your food cravings, weight problems and mood swings. Julia’s information and books are available at her website You can also find her books online and at local bookstores.

Ref: Ross, Julia, MA. “Orthomolecular treatments for alcohol, addiction and depression,” OHM Annual Meeting February 2007; Ross, Julia. Diet Cure, Mood Cure.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Robert J. Rowen, MD

Subscribe now to Second Opinion Newsletter and Get up to 11 Free Report by Dr. Robert Rowen MD

Dr. Robert Rowen, MD is one of the Health Heroes recognized in the In Search Of Heroes TM Program. I have known Dr. Rowen for over 30 years. He understands both conventional and integrative medicine. He teaches other doctors when to use specific therapies to get optimal results with minimal harmful side-effects. His wisdom helps you and your family stay healthy and disease free.  Ralph Zuranski, Creator of the In Search Of HeroesTM Program