FOREVER  YOUNG  -  part  of  chapter  five


Dutch Treat

The Dutch countryside is dotted with beautiful brown cows grazing on lush green pasture. Many cheeses popular in the United States are imported from Holland, including Edam and Gouda. Holland is the largest exporter of cheese in the world. Its dairy industry as a whole has a turnover of around 7 billion euros—at today's exchange rate, more than $8 billion—not bad for a country about twice the size of New Jersey.

Cheese is a good natural source of K2, and Dr. Vermeer believes that cheese consumption is one reason why the Dutch have a relatively low level of cardiovascular disease. When I spent time in the Netherlands, I was surprised to be served both cheese and chocolate for breakfast! I have to confess that I enjoyed every bite.

According to Dr. Vermeer, all cheeses contain between 7.5 and 15 micrograms of vitamin K2 per ounce. Dutch researchers don't yet know why the amount of vitamin K2 varies, but they've found it to be true even within different lots of the same type of cheese produced at the same facility. "It's the same variation whether the cheese is hard or soft," says Dr. Vermeer.

Remember this key fact: milk does not contain vitamin K2; it contains just Kl. The fermentation process utilized in turning milk into cheese is responsible for the vitamin K2 content in cheese, which is the result of the specific bacteria that help ferment the cheese.

Many of us shun cheese because we fear the increase of cholesterol levels from its saturated fat content. I was delighted to discover that Dr. Sinatra, a cardiologist who takes his heart health very seriously, regularly enjoys cheese and has this to say: "You may wonder, and rightfully so, if I'm concerned about the saturated fat in cheese. To tell you the truth, I'm not. Saturated fat is a source of cholesterol, and if you eat a lot of it, your cholesterol level will rise. As you well know, I'm not a big believer in cholesterol as the sole cause of heart disease, so the fat in cheese is not a big deal for me."

Dr. Sinatra recommends 150 micrograms daily of the menaqui-none-7 (MK-7) form of vitamin K2. This is the most absorbable and active form of vitamin K, and it seems to also play a key role in managing calcium. He has also consulted with Dr. Leon Schurgers, another Dutch researcher who has studied vitamin K2 for more than thirty years. On the basis of animal studies, Dr. Schurgers believes that a 150-microgram dose of MK-7 is the minimum amount needed to build bone and decalcify arteries.

There are a lot of vitamin K2 products available that contain less than 150 micrograms of MK-7. Many are made predominantly with MK-4, a less active relative of MK-7. Read product labels closely to make sure that you're getting 150 micrograms daily of MK-7—and the benefits that come with it. 

The research clearly points to vitamin K2's critical role in cardiovascular health and calcium usage in your body. There is no doubt that vitamin K2 is highly effective at directing calcium into your bones, where it is needed, and away from your arteries, where it does not belong.

Say Cheese

I love all types of cheese. However, I strongly recommend that you choose only cheeses made from the raw milk of pasture-raised animals— whether dairy cows, goats, or sheep.

One of my personal favorites is Shelburne Farms three-year cheddar. On the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, all the milking cows in their purebred herd of Brown Swiss are raised on the farm and graze on pasture from spring to fall. Their own milk— absolutely fresh, untreated, and … used to make their award-winning cheese. The only other cheese ingredients are starter culture, rennet, and salt.

Though there is some controversy regarding the safety of raw milk cheeses, if they are made from full-fat, unprocessed milk from pasture-fed cows, sheep, or goats, I believe that they are safe and superior to pasteurized cheeses in many ways. The Weston A. Price Foundation has excellent information on this topic, including a wide variety of scientific papers in support of this age-old traditional way of cheese making, at

A great many European cheeses are also made by the traditional methods, with great pride and strict adherence to ancient and whole-some methods. According to, only the finest French and Italian cheeses earn a special certification, which I look for when I am purchasing imported cheese.

The French Paradox

We all know that "French women don't get fat." Yet the French love their wine, and they love their cheese—two reasons that could help account for their lower rates of heart disease. I also believe that the traditional European cheeses, made from pasture-raised animals, have a much healthier profile—as do Europe's milk, meat, and butter. This is the traditional method of producing these wholesome foods. Once agribusiness started tampering with these methods, the health of people began to decline as their obesity levels rose—more about this later. Whenever you read about the most famous and sophisticated French cheeses, you will usually find them certified by the label "AOC." Right away, you know that this cheese must be important to receive such recognition—even though you may not know exactly what the AOC is. First created in the fifteenth century, this French label stands for Appellation d'Origine Controlee, which means Controlled Label of Origin. This guarantees that the milk is from a specific geographical area, along with the cheese's production and maturity. It also follows a traditional method of producing the cheese, as well as storing and ensuring an optimal degree of humidity in the storage room and cheese counter. Representatives from the labeling agency inspect the cheese and its production in order to ensure that it follows these guidelines.

A Taste of Italy: Molto Bene!

The Italians have their own way of guaranteeing for maggio lovers that their cheese is of the highest quality. A cheese awarded the DOP is most special. DOP stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, which means Protected Denomination of Origin. Similar to the AOC, the DOP guarantees that the milk for the cheese and its production are in a certain location in Italy. It is a mark of optimal quality and high standards. The methods of production must be traditional and follow fixed storage guidelines to ensure that the cheeses age correctly.


Over the years, heavy emphasis has been placed on calcium and bone health, especially for women, even though men also experience bone loss, albeit at about half the rate of women.

Unfortunately, the messages from many health care professionals and the media regarding the importance of healthy bones almost never exceed the barest of basics: the skeleton is made for holding you up and keeping you together. Almost all data regarding the importance of calcium and bone health are referenced only in this light. This is indeed an important function of the skeleton, but it is only part of the story. This focus has fostered a popular misconception about the role of bone health in overall health and longevity.

Functional bone health encompasses much more than skeletal strength alone. A healthy skeleton does more than just lower our fracture risk. It is intimately involved with our health as an endocrine organ. As such, it performs many important functions, including the production of red blood cells, immune cells (white blood cells), platelets, various growth factors, and cytokines, any of various protein molecules secreted by immune system cells that serve to regulate the immune system. Bone health also exerts an endocrine influence on the regulation of sugar homeostasis (the state of equilibrium or balance), fat storage, energy metabolism, and more.

Bones may be the part of our body that many of us know very little about. The fact that our bones function as an endocrine organ comes... as a surprise to many of my patients. If you really wish to be Forever Young, or at least as healthy and youthful as possible, we need to place a great deal of emphasis on maintaining healthy bone mass during each decade of life.

Bone-Building Nutrition: Calcium Is Not a Solo Act

All of the research to date demonstrates that the best result achieved by any calcium supplement is to slow the rate of bone loss—not increase healthy bone density, as is the popular notion. This is a serious misconception that I am now going to remedy.

A review of the scientific literature reveals that a wide range of supplemental nutrients, in addition to calcium, can contribute to the maintenance or increasing of BMD. Nowhere is this clearer than in the recent research on the additional health benefits of calcium, vitamin D, and other bone-building nutrients. Although calcium accounts for only about 2 percent of body weight, it is essential to many life-sustaining processes that go beyond the building and preservation of bone strength. It is intimately involved in the transmission of electrical impulses that control muscles and the regulation of heartbeats. Prior to the mid-thirties, the body extracts calcium from dietary sources and stores it in bones until it is released and absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract. As we age, this process appears to become less and less efficient. The body now needs more calcium than can be provided by the intake of commonly consumed foods and more than the bones can store. This results in a progressive decline in bone health with increased risk of fracture.

Our bodies are an amazing symphony of metabolic processes played out by an elaborate orchestra of anatomical and physiological members. Keep in mind that you are made up of food, air, water, and sunshine. This underscores the importance our diet has on maintaining healthy musicians to play this biological symphony. This also underscores the importance of the anti-inflammatory diet, the cornerstone of the entire Perricone program, which is critical to the health and optimal functioning of all organ systems, with bone health no exception. Bones require calcium, and a lot of it. Focusing only on calcium is like writing a beautiful symphony and having only one instrument play its part. It would be pathetically inadequate, as is calcium alone in the bone-building symphony.

The heavy emphasis on calcium overshadows the awareness and documented importance of the other minerals and proteins, involved in bone tissue production. Without protein, minerals would be unable to form the metal-loproteinase matrix necessary for bone synthesis. Without protein, bones would be brittle, fragile, and nonfunctional, and serve only as the structural scaffolding of the body. A logical conclusion is that better sources of minerals, such as protein-bound forms, naturally accompanied by a wide variety of other bone-building cofactors, might be derived from plant sources.

Plant forms of minerals could offer significant beneficial options. There is emerging evidence that plant forms of calcium and other bone health ingredients provide an alternative source of more comprehensive indigenous minerals and proteins that typically occur in a plant matrix along with other phytochemicals. Some studies have also reported positive relationships between fruit and vegetable consumption and increased BMD in adolescents as well as in adults.

A recent cross-sectional study examined the association between bone mineral status and fruit and vegetable intake in adolescent boys and girls ages 16-18, young women ages 23-27, and older men and women between the ages of 60 and 83. Using DEXA measurements of bone density, the researchers concluded that higher fruit and vegetable intakes may have positive effects on bone mineral status in adolescents and older women, especially at the spine for girls and older women and at the femoral neck for boys. Additionally, plant foods provide critical natural anti-inflammatories in the form of antioxidants. Unfortunately, maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps the bones strong. Only 1 percent of magnesium is found in our blood, but the body works very hard to keep the blood levels of magnesium constant. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Magnesium also plays a role in preventing and managing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.


Magnesium Deficiency: We Are All at Risk

According to the 1999-2000 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a significant number of adults in the United States do not consume the recommended amounts of magnesium.

Research done throughout the world shows that the U.S. RDA for magnesium is not sufficient to make up for the amount lost in bowel movements and sweat. Aggravating matters more, sports, physical work, mental exertion, competition, and other stressors all increase your magnesium requirements.

To make matters even worse, the average American diet supplies even less than the RDA. Our daily magnesium intake is seriously inadequate to maintain equilibrium in metabolic balance studies. For many people, dietary intake may not be high enough to create an optimal magnesium status, which may be protective against such disorders as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction.

When Can Magnesium Deficiency Occur?

If your digestive system or kidney function is compromised, it can significantly influence magnesium status because magnesium is absorbed by the intestines and then transported through the blood to cells and tissues.

The bioavailability of magnesium is reasonable, with one-third to one-half of dietary magnesium being absorbed into your body. Gastrointestinal disorders that impair absorption, like Crohn's disease, Can limit the body's ability to absorb magnesium. Such disorders can deplete your stores of magnesium and may result in magnesium deficiency.     

Chronic or excessive vomiting and diarrhea may also result in magnesium depletion. It is interesting to note that healthy kidneys limit the urinary excretion of magnesium to compensate for low dietary intake. However, some medications cause excessive loss of magnesium in urine as a side effect. Also, poorly controlled diabetes and alcohol abuse cause the body to lose excessive amounts of magnesium.

What Is the Best Way to Get Extra Magnesium?

You can do so by eating a variety of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables (especially dark green, leafy vegetables containing chlorophyll) to increase your dietary magnesium intake. Fish such as halibut is an excellent source, as are spinach, black beans, and pumpkin and squash seeds.

Magnesium supplements may be recommended by your physician; however, taken alone, they may cause diarrhea. A more balanced approach is to take magnesium with your calcium supplement, as the two minerals work together in several ways to maintain balance. It is always best to get any mineral from a food, which is why I recommend AlgaeCal, as it naturally contains a balance of magnesium, calcium, trace minerals, and phytonutrients in a whole-food complex.

If you have low blood levels of magnesium, it is important that you have the cause, severity, and consequences evaluated by your doctor. If you have kidney disease, you may not be able to excrete excess magnesium and should not consume magnesium supplements unless they are prescribed by a physician.

Thanks to its calming effects on the nervous system, magnesium can help ease anxiety, relax muscles, promote stress relief, decrease levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, and promote a good night's sleep.