Q: Paula from Danvers writes in: I saw a TV show recently that had a teenage boy character who developed brittle bones from taking too much vitamin D and fish oil. I am trying to stay in shape by working out but I don’t want to get brittle bones. The doctor on TV thought it was
foolish to take Vitamin D and that fish oil was “a lot of rubbish.”

A: Actually the opposite is true. People with low Vitamin D levels and low fish oil intake are more likely to develop brittle bones. (Most TV shows know little about nutrition and love to over-dramatize rare and extreme cases.) Currently in the United States few people eat the foods they need to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D and the Omega 3 oils, EPA and DHA. So if you don’t eat sardines or wild caught salmon several times each week, and spend hours in the sunshine without sunscreen on, then supplements can help. I try to get at least 2,000 IUs of vitamin D each day and 1000 mg each of EPA and DHA to help avoid brittle bones. And these two nutritional supplements will help you with many aspects of health, like maintaining your muscles, and decreasing inflammation. At your yearly physical you can ask your primary care doctor to check your vitamin D levels along with the usual blood work that is normally ordered. If you are too low, then you will need more than the daily maintenance dose of D for awhile.

Q: Mark from Salem writes in: I have had back pain for 10 years now and my doctor says I don’t need surgery but he wants to do steroid injections. I remember some people got infections a few years ago when they got shots in their back. Is it any safer now?
A: Steroid suggestions are likely to be more safe now than a few years ago. But the problem with steroid injections is that they are only 18% effective. Cortisone does not change the underlying problem that is causing your pain it only decreases inflammation temporarily in the area of the injection. If you want your problem really fixed you must receive more complete care that finds and fixes the root cause of your pain. A pain lasting 10 years time is likely to have several contributing factors that your medical doctor has overlooked. MRIs and C-T scans will often blame your pain on arthritis, or disc bulges that are not the real reasons for your pain. The most common reason for long term pain is a combination of stuck joints, muscle trigger points, lack of exercise for your spinal stabilization muscles and postural imbalances. All of these require a combination of hands on care for the joints and muscles and the correct stabilization exercises.

Q: Shirley from Danvers writes in: I used to like to take Yoga classes because they made me feel more awake and left me with a peaceful feeling. I don’t have the same amount of time these days because I am taking care of my Mom. Is there something else I can do?

A: Yoga is not a bad exercise program however the Foundation Training exercise program gets better results in a shorter amount of time, and does not require you to attend a class to get the benefits. After doing these exercises for 8 years I have found they also make me feel more awake, give me better abs and decrease pain when I have back or neck pain.

Q: Bruce from Newburyport writes in: I was in a little fender bender accident 3 weeks ago that didn’t hurt that much at first. Now I am having neck and back pain every day. Is this what they call whiplash? I always thought it was a joke.

A: The strain you received to your spine often does not hurt as much on the first day as it will later on. It was called whiplash because the acceleration mechanism of the injury reminded early researches of the way an old fashioned buggy whip generated acceleration without needing a lot of force. Because people do not understand this injury they may think it is a joke until they experience it themselves, The best way to get your neck and back to heal after a whiplash accident is by the type of hands on care we give people, to insure that the joints are not stuck and the muscles are not plagued with painful trigger point knots. Not taking care of your injury will likely lead to on-going pain and stiffness.