Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Jul 2000

Q and A

Checking vitamin K levels, cluster headaches and more.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.


Q: Do you have any information regarding the cause of cluster headaches?

A: We located a study correlating cluster headaches to malformations in the brain. These malformations are called middle cerebral artery dependent arteriovenous malformation (AVM). After surgical removal of the AVM, the headache completely dissolved and never returned. More studies are now being done along this line. Melatonin has been shown to be helpful, but this hormone can only be taken at bedtime.

Q: In "Vitamin K" (February 2000, p. 32), you mention that Osteocalcin is the test of choice for vitamin K status. How do various results correspond to vitamin K levels?

A: Osteocalcin is the only available commercial test for vitamin K status. If your Osteocalcin is normal, it means that you have a sufficient amount of vitamin K to carboxylate the Osteocalcin protein. If Osteocalcin is not carboxylated it does not show up on the test. Our SmithKline Beecham Laboratory book shows a normal range for adults to be 5.1 - 16.9 ng/ml. The higher levels are for children. So, this is an indirect test that shows your vitamin K is working in one area. However, we recommend that the supplement still be taken for its other important effects, such as suppression of the dangerous cytokine interleukin 6 and prevention of arterial calcification.

Q: Is there any interference with the absorption of nutrients when one is taking Digest RC?

A: The charcoal in Digest RC is actually a special herbal preparation of linden tree bark, traditionally used in Europe as a digestive aid. Unlike the specially prepared linden wood bark in Digest RC, ordinary activated charcoal is derived from materials such as peat or coconut shell and could cause malabsorption of nutrients. Digest RC can be used long term since it has antibacterial properties, helps balance the digestive tract and supports the creation of the proper intestinal flora. At the same time it creates an inhospitable environment for parasitic infestation.

Q: How much or how many mg each of L-arginine/L-ornithine would I need to take per day to produce or release growth hormone-like factors?

A: The amino acids L-arginine, at 5 to 10 grams and/or L-ornithine, at 2.5 to 5 grams taken on an empty stomach at bedtime can cause growth hormone release. Certain individuals tend to be more effective at the actual conversion of these supplements into IGF-1 than others. We recommend having your IGF-1 blood levels tested before use and after three months of supplementation to determine the effectiveness for yourself.


Q: Why is EPA fish oil or the equivalent not on Life Extension's recommended list? Many of the other vitamin plans, such as Julian Whitacker's, recommend fish oil for its benefit to the cardiovascular system. Could you please comment?

A: Mega EPA and other essential fatty acids could very well be considered a "Top 10" supplement. In fact, the reason it is likely not on the recommended list is because some people are strict vegetarians and do not digest fish oil all that well. Otherwise, you could make a good case for a fish oil supplement. There is no question that essential fatty acids should be part of an overall disease prevention program. Some people prefer flax or Perilla seed oil over fish oil, while others eat huge amounts of omega-3 rich fish, and their need for supplementation may not be as great.