Tag Archives: nutritiondata

Do Calcium Supplements Cause Heart Attacks?

They might, if you’re a woman over 50 taking over 500 mg elemental calcium daily without a vitamin D supplement.

Details are at my recent Self/NutritionData Heart Health Blog post.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under coronary heart disease

Medical Heresy: Mediterranean Diet Causes Heart Attacks

Recent media reports suggest that the Mediterranean diet may actually cause heart attacks in certain individuals.  I attempt to debunk this idea in my May 31, 2010, post at NutritionData’s Heart Health Blog.

The Mediterranean diet has long been associated with lower rates of heart disease.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Mediterranean Diet

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 41 + Pico de Gallo Recipe

Jalapeno peppers put the "pico"in pico de gallo

Jalapeno peppers put the "pico"in pico de gallo

Weight: 155 lb

Transgressions: none

Exercise: none


A friend made me some pico de gallo to put on my sautéd breakfast eggs.  Here’s the quick, easy recipe for “pico de gallo a la Rosa”:


tomatoes 6 oz, onion 2 oz, one jalapeno pepper, cilantro3-4 tbsp chopped, salt


Chop all vegetables very finely.  Use the entire jalapeno, including seeds.  Use less jalapeno and discard the seeds if you want it mild (no pico!).  Cilantro amount is 3-4 Tbsp.  Combine all ingedients. Salt to taste.  Makes 1.25 cups. Serving size is about 1/2 cup over three fried eggs or whatever.  A half cup serving size (80 g) has  3 g of digestible carbohydrate.  Recipe makes 1.25 cups or about three servings.  Eat at room temperature, chilled, or heated at medium heat in a saucepan (about 5 minutes, until jalapenos lose their intense green color).

I used NutritionData’s “My Recipe” function to analyze and record this recipe.  Their analysis provides everything you would want to know about macro- and micronutrients in the recipe.  And it’s free!


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Filed under My KMD Experience, Recipes

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 31 – Mission Accomplished!

copper pipe

copper pipe

Weight: 160 lb (72.7 kg)

Transgressions: none

Exercise: none


Today is a milestone for me: I’ve reached the goal weight I set for myself 30 days ago!  Waist size has dropped from 37 to 35¼ inches.  I may be up 1.5 lb tomorrow just by shifts in fluid balance and intestinal contents.  My waist was 32 inches when I was in my 20’s.  As I look in the mirror, I can see the improvement over a month ago, and I’d like to see even less fat around my midsection.  I’ll stay on the program another couple weeks and see what happens.  My energy intake over the last two days has increased by 200 cal, up to 2000 cals/day—perhaps my body is starting to defend its current weight.     

My nutrient analysis at NutritionData suggests that the un-supplemented Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet may be deficient in copper.  Here’s a summary of copper physiology.

Copper is involved in enzymes that relate to antioxidant defense, production of nervous system chemical messengers, collagen and bone formation, blood clotting, melatonin production, and electron transport.  Deficiency of copper causes weakness, bleeding, fragile hair, depigmentation of skin (pale skin), osteoporosis, edema, ataxia (unsteady gait), neuropathy (impaired nerve function), impaired thinking, microcytic anemia, enlargement of the liver and spleen, and low platelets.

Copper deficiency could explain the easy bruising seen commonly in people on very low-carb diets.  Other factors, such as vitamin C or K deficiency may be more common.

How common is copper deficiency?  Working full-time in hospitals over the last eight years, I’ve never seen a documented case—diagnosed by me or any other physician—of copper deficiency.  I’ll admit I rarely look for it by measuring a blood level.  Among the causes of copper deficiency listed at UpToDate.com, very low-carb diets are not listed.



Filed under Uncategorized

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 15 and Week 2 Recap

Just a few supplements

Just a few supplements

Weight: 162 lb (73.6 kg)

Waist circumference: 35 inches (89 cm)

Transgressions: none

Exercise: none


Down 3 lb (1.36 kg) for the second week of the diet, for a total of 8 (3.64 kg) since the start two weeks ago.  Waist size down 1.5 inches in two weeks.  I still doubt the majority of  that loss weight is fat.  More likely to be water, glycogen, and intestinal contents.  But some of it’s fat.  Rate of weight loss likely to slow soon, which is fine with me.

My daily caloric intake for the last week has averaged 1,850 calories.  Total daily digestible carbohydrate is about 25 g.

Nutrient analysis at NutritionData suggests that my food consumption is deficient in vitamins D, E, thiamine, B6, folate, pantothenic acid.  Less commonly are suggested deficiencies in vitamins A, C, K, niacin, and B12.  It also suggests inadequate intake of minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium (!), copper, manganese, and occasionally zinc.

In any case, I’ve been taking a Centrum multivitamin and multimineral supplement and extra vitamin D (400 IU) daily.  A single  Centrum tablet has the following “percent daily values” for vitamins and minerals: 100% for C, D, E, thiamine,B6, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, B12, and iron.  It also has the following percent daily values: vitamin A 70%, vitamin K 31%, calcium 20%, magnesium 13%, potassium 2%, copper 25%, zinc 73%, and manganese 115%.  [Note that the manufacturer could change the composition at any time.]

Summary of Vitamin and Mineral Content

This very low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet may be deficient in multiple vitamins and minerals, unless supplemented.  A single Centrum ensures good levels, for most adults, except for possibly calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, zinc, and vitamin K. 

Supplementing with elemental calcium (e.g., calcium carbonate) 500-1,000 mg daily might be a good idea.  Magnesium and potassium supplements might be a good idea.  Adding some salt (NaCl) to food should supply enough sodium.  [The standard American diet has far more salt than necessary.]     

 I’m just not convinced yet that this diet could actually be deficient in potassium.

Clinically significant deficiencies of copper and magnesium based on diet are probably rare.  I’ll have to do more research.  Nearly all the low blood levels of magnesium I see are in heavy alcohol drinkers or people using diuretics.

If you try a very low-carb ketogenic diet, you might ask your physician to draw blood levels of magesium and potassium two weeks after you start.

After two weeks on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet I feel as fine as usual.  I don’t see or feel any signs of vitamin or mineral deficiency.  But an experiment of one isn’t worth much.

Easy bruising is a relatively common occurrence in people on very low-carb ketogenic diets.  I wonder if it’s related to vitamin K deficiency.  Such bruising is seen also in children on the seizure-control ketogenic diet (not for weight loss); the diet seems to unmask a preexisting genetic predisposition to bleeding.

Vitamin K intake is a serious concern for people taking certain blood thinners (anticoagulants): coumadin, warfarin, coumarin.  Too much vitamin K counteracts the blood thinner; too little enhances the blood thinning.  Both situations are dangerous.  [I’m not talking about aspirin and Plavix.]  

I’m doing my nutritional analysis at NutritionData.  You can analyze your own diet via My Tracking.  They have a footnote accompanying the nutrient analysis for all of my vitamins and minerals: “missing or incomplete value.”  I assume that means the reported micronutrient amounts could be higher than reported. 

Potential Supplement Recommendation for the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

[This is a work in progress.  Stay tuned.]

Taking two Centrums daily could neatly solve the potential deficits of vitamins A and K, and minerals magnesium, copper, and zinc.  On the other hand, it could be overkill.  Add calcium as above, and maybe extra vitamin D 400 IU.  [There’s good evidence that the current U.S. Daily Value for vitamin D is too low.]  To summarize this daily supplementation regimen:

  • Two Centrums 
  • Additional calcium (elemental) 500-1,000 mg
  • Additional vitamin D 400 IU   


Disclaimer:  Information herein is meant to complement, not replace, any advice or information from your personal health professional.  All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status.  Always consult your personal physician before making any dietary changes, such as vitamin and mineral supplementation.


Filed under My KMD Experience

My Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: Day 8 and Week 1 Recap

CB060670Weight: 164 lb (started at 170)

Waist circumference: 36.5 inches (no change)

Transgressions: none

Exercise: none


So, down six pounds (2.7 kg) for the first week.  As mentioned before, this is not all fat loss by any means.  If even two pounds is fat, that’s great.  Water loss (and intestinal contents?).  Feeling good.  Achy muscles and dizziness have resolved, lasted 2-3 days.  Expect weight loss to slow dramatically starting now.  I do miss carbs.  I’m disappointed my waist circumference didn’t reduce—that’s one reason I started this in the first place.

I recorded all food intake with the “My Tracking” feature at NutritionData.  That’s how I derive the following nutrient analysis:

  • calories: 1650 daily (average)
  • energy breakdown: 6% alcohol, 7% carbs, 64% fats, 23% proteins  
  • 227 g total carb for the week, minus 85 g fiber, equals 20 g of digestible carbohydrate daily [I realized Sept. 13 that the milk in my 2 cups coffee daily adds 6 g of carb, so the daily digestible carbohydrate total is 26 g]
  • 834 g total fat for the week: approx. 14% of these from saturated fat (199 g), 50% from monounsaturated fat (413 g) , 19% from polyunsaturated fat (155 g)

[I don’t know why the three fat types don’t total 834 g.  Do you?  They total 767 g.]

I’m going to record each days intake for the next seven days as a recipe (My Recipes).  That will allow me to see NutritionData’s estimated glycemic load and inflammation factor rating.

Nota bene:  Most people on a very low-carb ketogenic diet will not do this sort of analysis—there’s no need.  I’m doing it for research purposes.



Filed under My KMD Experience

Dr. Steve Parker Now Blogging Also at NutritionData.com

I am pleased and honored to be blogging for the next three months with the merry band of bloggers at NutritionData.com.  I’ve been visiting and recommending ND for years.

I will be writing in the NutritionData Heart Health Blog.

My compadres at ND are

  • Monica Reinagel, M.S., L.D.N., C.N.S.; ND’s chief nutritionist and a prolific author
  • Dana Lilienthal, M.S., R.D.
  • Stephen Cabral, C.S.C.S, C.P.T., N.S.
  • Elaine Murphy, B.A., C.N.C.

[Gee, now I feel like I need more letters after my name!]

Please take time to visit the NutritionData website, or see my review of it here.  The site is frequently updated and improved, so my review may be outdated.

I’ll still be posting here at my usual frequency, about twice weekly.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Shameless Self-Promotion