Coconut Oil, Ketones and Alzheimer's

Thursday, February 23, 2017

by Mary T. Newport, M.D.
I receive emails and Facebook messages from many people who are using or want to use ketone salts for themselves or their loved ones, many of whom are elderly or may have medical conditions and want to make their life better.  Here is some guidance for how to get started with ketone salts:

Pruvit ketone salts are nutritional supplements and have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA to treat any medical condition.  On the other hand, there is plenty of scientific evidence that raising ketones can provide alternative fuel to the brain, reduce inflammation, and burn fat.  Many people report increased energy, endurance, focus and mental clarity, improved mood and sleep, fewer aches and pains, and fat loss.

As with any nutritional supplement, it is important for elderly people and people with medical conditions to consult with their physician before using ketone salts.  The doctor could monitor your blood pressure and check blood levels of electrolytes, glucose and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium) before you get started and after 3 to 6 weeks or so.  Pruvit ketone salts are the first product marketed widely to the public that contains the actual ketone body betahydroxybutyrate attached to the mineral salts sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.  Many people need to watch their sodium intake, may be on diuretics that may cause loss of minerals from the body, and/or may be taking potassium.  Keto//OS 2.1 and 3.0 have 1400 mg to 1600 mg per serving packet (or full scoop if you have a can of product).  Keto//OS 3.0 (chocolate swirl) also has 490 mg of potassium, compared to just 47 mg in Keto//OS 2.1 (orange dream). 
Another option to reduce sodium and potassium intake with ketone salts is to use KetoMax, which contains much less sodium per full serving at 925 mg and minimal potassium at 75 mg.  Another great reason to use KetoMax is that it contains a higher percentage of the circulating form of betahydroxybutyrate and may be even more effective than Keto//OS.  I recommend KetoMax especially for people with medical and neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. It costs more but the value is there. Your doctor or a dietician can help you factor the mineral salts into your diet and adjust, for example, your potassium supplement to account for the amounts in ketone salts.
People with diabetes taking medications and/or insulin need to be aware that raising ketone levels with ketone salts may result in a significantly lower blood sugar along with a drop in the amount of insulin the body produces. To avoid abnormally low blood sugar, I recommend that you monitor your blood sugar closely and work with your doctor to make changes in your medications.  Many diabetics report that they are able to reduce their medications, including insulin, rather quickly over days to several weeks, especially if using ketone salts is combined with a low carbohydrate diet. Pruvit ketone salts contain minimal sugar and are sweetened with stevia and/or erithritol, a sugar alcohol.

Regarding diabetic ketoacidosis, this is an abnormal condition that occurs with very elevated blood sugar and inadequate insulin.  Levels of ketones are many times (20 to 50 times higher) than the levels you would get by taking a serving or two per day of ketone salts.  The risk is extremely low, but could be a problem for someone on the brink of diabetic ketoacidosis.   Ketone levels can easily be monitored with a Precision Xtra or NovaMax glucose/ketone monitor using ketone strips, available online without a prescription.  Ketone salts usually produce betahydroxubutyrate levels in the 0.5 to 2 mmol range, compared to 10 to 25 mmol in diabetic ketoacidosis.

While it is tempting to start with a whole serving in hopes of seeing maximum benefits right away, I recommend in elderly people and those with medical conditions, to start with 1 or 2 level teaspoons per day, which would be equal to about 1/8 to 1/4 of a serving, and if there is no issue, such as intestinal distress, you could increase by the same amount every few days until arriving at ½ to 1 full serving per day.  The total amount could be divided into smaller portions throughout the day.
Also, it is very important that the person taking ketone salts take plenty of water and other clear liquids.  Ketone salts can have a dehydrating effect in some people, especially in the beginning.
Ketones can suppress appetite, which is great if you need to lose weight.  If you are very thin you might consider adding more calories to your diet with calorie dense foods such as coconut oil, olive oil, butter, cream, avocado and nuts.

Ketone salts are so new that most doctors don’t know about them yet much less the potential of ketones to provide alternative fuel to the brain and other organs, reduce inflammation, and burn fat.  I suggest that you take a copy of these guidelines to your doctor.  Many doctors decide to pass this information on to other patients when they see improvement in just one of their patients.  Some doctors may even decide to help their patients by providing ketone salts as samples or ordering them through their office.

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Friday, February 17, 2017


                If you are new to the world of ketones and ketone salts, you might have a very basic question, what are ketones and where they come from?  So we will start with a lesson from biochemistry 101 that I will try to make as simple as possible. The word “ketone” comes from the German word “keton” meaning acetone, which is your basic fingernail polish remover! This is the very same acetone that is one of the three basic ketone bodies produced in our bodies (I will talk more about that later).
“Atoms” are the basic particles of matter. The basic atoms in living matter are oxygen, hydrogen and carbon.  Atoms are connected to each other by “bonds” that are sort of like magnetic attractions.  When two or more atoms are connected, they are called “molecules”. Glucose (sugar), fats and ketones are made of different combinations of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. The carbon atoms line up in a chain and the hydrogen and oxygen atoms attach to the carbon atoms.  The positions of the atoms in a molecule determine what it does in the body. 
Glucose starts with a chain of six carbons with hydrogens and oxygens attached to them and is the main fuel for the cells in our body when we are on a higher carbohydrate diet.  Betahydroxybutyrate is one of the three ketones made in the body and starts with a chain of four carbons with hydrogens and oxygens attached. There are two forms of betahydroxybutyrate that have a different shape – the simplest way to think of them is as mirror images. D-betahydroxybutyrate is found mainly in the bloodstream and L-betahydroxybutyrate is found mainly in mitochondria where energy, called ATP, is produced in our cells. There are two other ketones, one called acetoacetate and the other called acetone (finger nail polish remover!), which evaporates easily and is mostly exhaled.  Acetone accounts for the fruity breath people may have when they are in ketosis (meaning when blood ketone levels are elevated). Acetoacetate converts easily to betahydroxybutyrate and vice versa. Acetoacetate also breaks down to acetone.
Endogenous ketones are ketones that originate inside of our bodies. The most common way that we experience ketosis is when we do not eat for 10 or 12 hours overnight; we will often be in mild ketosis in the morning until we eat something with carbohydrates (sugar) in it. Ketosis becomes much more pronounced over days to weeks in people who are fasting intentionally, starving, or on a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet.  In this situation, we begin breaking down fat into fatty acids after the glucose that is stored in our body is used up, usually within 36 to 48 hours. These relatively large fatty acids do not cross very well into the brain, however they are broken down in the liver to ketones. The cool thing about ketones is that they do cross the blood brain barrier and provide fuel to the cells in our brain as well as in our other organs (except in the liver where they are made). Both glucose and ketones enter the same chemical pathway that leads to producing ATP, however ketones enter this pathway several steps downstream from where glucose enters. Because of this, ketones can serve as an alternative fuel to the brain and other organs when there is a problem using glucose for fuel.
Exogenous ketones originate from outside of the body. Pruvit ketone salts, Keto//OS and KetoMax, are natural exogenous ketones and are the first products to be widely marketed to the public that contain the actual ketone betahydroxybutyrate!

Coming soon: How Do Ketones Work?