Dr. Bruce Ames has been one of the brightest minds over the last decades in the world of biochemical nutrition. He is now in his 80s and for the last years, he has been writing about his theory of the development of chronic degenerative disease, which he calls “Triage Theory”.
In a new article by Dr Ames and his colleague, Joyce McCann, the authors discuss this new theory. This theory is based on the question “Is micronutrient inadequacy linked to diseases of aging”? Micronutrients include everything from zinc and selenium to vitamin D and vitamin K, all of which we get in small quantities in our diet.
In this article, they specifically look at vitamin K. What they propose is that when our body has a limited amount of a given nutrient e.g. vitamin K, it shunts the nutrient to the biochemical processes that are most needed for immediate survival. The theory is that when there is not enough of the nutrient over many years, other biochemical processes that are important, but which do not lead to an acute problem, do not receive a sufficient amount of the nutrient over a long period of time. This insufficiency does not produce immediate problems. But what this theory says is that this long term deficiency of the nutrient neededfor these other essential biochemical processes leads to chronic degenerative diseases, rather than an acute medical problem.
In this article they specifically look at vitamin K. Vitamin K’s immediate use is to allow our blood to coagulate. So if you only have a small amount of vitamin K it will be used primarily to allow your blood to coagulate so you do not bleed to death. However what they point out in this study, is that long-term relative deficiency of vitamin K is linked to several age associated conditions. These include bone fragility after menopause, and arterial calcification which is linked to cardiovascular disease. Also in animal models an increased incidence in cancer has been observed in long term vitamin K deficiency.
This theory is completely compatible with Dr. Robert Heaney’s concept of “long latency deficiency diseases” which is discussed extensively in my book on vitamin D. In the case of vitamin D, an immediate deficiency will lead to rickets. However from all the research, it appears that a long term low-level deficiency of vitamin D leads to increased risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes high blood pressure, osteoporosis etc.
I really like this theory! Whether we call it “triage theory” or “long latency deficiency disease theory,” this concept makes enormous sense to me. The profound changes I have seen in my own practice of medicine as well as in my own health, from optimizing vitamin D levels, has shown me that vitamin D in higher levels bestows many additional benefits besides the prevention of rickets. It makes total sense to me that our current epidemic of chronic diseases and fast food, can be linked to a relative insufficiency of many of the micronutrients that we all will get if we eat a healthy diet.
I have attempted to explain these complex concepts in a way that is understandable for you my readers. Please let me know if you have questions? Please let me know what your thoughts are on these concepts? I look forward to hearing back from you.