Weight Control


Vitamins / Minerals / supplements

    April 2011.  My blood pressure has been creeping up, especially since I turned 50.  With all the exercise I do, biking and running, you wouldn't think that I'd have high blood pressure, but three times the Red Cross refused my blood because my diastolic pressure was above 100 and my systolic pressure was often around 160.  Now I'm in my 60's and it occurred to me that the reason blood pressure might go up is for two reasons.  1. hardening of the arteries - they lose their flexibility and 2. narrowing of the arteries - fat deposits build up inside the arteries.  (arteriosclerosis and artheriosclerosis) Both causes make it harder for the heart to pump blood, thereby increasing pressure. 
    Since the bottleneck for fast running is not the lungs, which have more than enough  ability to provide oxygen, but the amount of oxygen your blood can carry, it seems that there are two things that can be done to relieve this bottleneck.  1.  increase the amount of hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying molecule) in the blood and 2. reversing this hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which will allow more blood to flow.
    With these things in mind, in April of 2011 I went to the internet and searched for ways to improve my overall health and in particular, my circulatory system.  As a result, I started the vitamin regimin listed below.  I am not a doctor, and am not giving advice to anyone.  I'm just putting down for myself what I am doing and what I've learned.  I can't honestly prove that anything I'm taking is helping but I feel pretty sure that some of it is; I'm just not real sure what is helping which area and how much.  The body is extremely complex, and these items often don't work alone but in concert with one another.  I could probably experiment for a 100 lifetimes and never figure it all out. 
    I'm also pretty sure that what I'm doing is not hurting, and it also costs a lot less that treating diseases that these vitamins and minerals help prevent.  So I can't prove it's cost effective, but I'm pretty sure it is.
    It's also my belief that since I'm an athlete, I probably require more than the average person and the RDA is not enough.  There seems to be quite a bit of variation even among doctors about how much is the minimum and maximum amounts needed and how much is harmful.  I'm seeking a middle ground here.
    I also feel pretty sure that I'm putting good things into my body and not chemicals designed to affect part of the body but that have adverse side effects.  For example, my doctor prescribed an ACE inhibitor to keep my blood pressure down and I ended up with a sore throat, a cough, and a lack of energy that laid me up for a month until I realized I didn't have a cold but side effects to the drug.  When I stopped taking it I started getting better, but it took another month to completely recover from the effects.  Then he prescribed a calcium channel blocker, and it resulted in my heart rate going higher during workouts and then not being able to recover.  I was quicker to stop taking that drug.  I have friends who've told me about the adverse effects they've had from statins.  It makes sense to use good things to get good results, but vitamins won't cure anything overnight.  It could take months to see the complete benefits.
    I told my doctor I wasn't interested in living longer.  I just want to run (or bike) faster.
Note:  The Linus Pauling Institute recommends 4,700 mg of potassium per day and I estimated I was only getting about 3,000.  Since potassium only comes in 99 mg pills, that would mean 17 pills a day to make up the difference.  No way am I taking that many!  The Linus Pauling Institute recommends eating dark leafy green vegetables and fruit, which have a lot of potassium in them so I've been eating more of them.  I knew sodium made my blood pressure go up so I rarely used table salt (there is alread a lot of salt added to the food we eat), so around the beginning of the year I started using salt substitue (potassium chloride) on my food just for the potassium.  It also makes the food taste better.
    I'm taking 2 potassium pills (200 mg) a day, eating more fruits and vegetables, and using salt substitute when ever I can.  I even take a shaker into restaurants with me.  My blood pressure dropped immediately when I added potassium to my diet.  I stopped taking blood pressure medicine about four weeks ago and I'm not using any medicines now.  My blood pressure this morning was 121/75.  I'm not saying potassium is the cure for high blood pressure, just that for me it is a big piece of the puzzle. Orange juice is an excellent source of potassium and I've been drinking at least pint a day.
4/1/2012 Note:  My blood pressure still has been generally lower since adding potassium.  My diastolic pressure has consistently stayed to around 80 or below.  -My systolic pressure hasn't been so steady, bouncing up and down.  I've considered taking my blood pressure medicine (hydrochlorothiozide) every other day, or at least on days it's up.
One other note:  While I haven't been dieting per se, I do try to eat a balanced diet.  I'm not strong willed enough to give up sweets entirely (especially chocolate); I eat a little now and then.  I avoid foods advertised as "lite" as that means they are just full of carbs, usually sugar.  At any rate, the fat in regular foods keeps me from feeling hungry and slows down the digestion of carbs so I end up eating fewer calories in the long term.  Fat is not all bad, but I do avoid excessive fat.  Balance is the key, protein, carbs, and fat are all good in reasonable amounts.  My whole point here is that I haven't lost any weight, but my body fat percentage has dropped gradually down to around 10%, just by eating healthy and enjoying myself while exercising, in my case, biking and running.  I do look thinner.  I see it myself in the mirror.  People are always telling me I've lost weight (but I haven't).  And just last week while out biking, a lady who was out walking (a stranger to me) said to me while I was stopped at an intersection, "Nice legs."  While I have weighed less in the past, I have never been down to 10% body fat before.
I'm still working on my cholesterol.  I'm supposed to take 4,000 mg/day of fish oil, but I honestly don't like taking that much so I'm taking 2,000 mg/day.  I don't know what I want I want to do yet.  I've been taking the niacin to lower the triglycerides and that's worked, but it also makes me feel flush which is why I'm not taking more.  (Note: Walgreens sells a flush free time release niacin over the counter.  It works.)  You notice the part below about essential fatty acids is not complete.
Considering that NO (nitric oxide) helps increase blood flow to muscles, and that nitroglycerin helps dialate vessels for those having a heart attack and that beet juice is being touted as helpful to athletes performing better (beet juice is high in nitrates), I've recently started taking Potassium Nitrate supplements.  Potassium nitrate (potash) is available by the pound in food grade quality, but now is also available in capsules if you search for it on the internet.  It's my hope that the nitrate will also help lower my blood pressure by dialating my blood vessels.  So far I've felt no side effects of the perfectly legal substance and I can't say for certain that it's helped my athletic performance, but it certainly hasn't hurt it.  It's too early to tell how much it has affected my blood pressure.
Mitochondrial health. Mitochondrites are like a little parasite in each cell, but they are good parasites because they provide energy for you. This summer I started taking PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) which is supposed to be beneficial to mitochondrites.
This is a work in progress.