The Dallas Morning News

Sugar substitute is problemati­c, research shows


Instead of sugar, I’ve been sweetening my coffee and breakfast cereal with monkfruit for a couple of years. The sweetener also contains erythritol. Now I’ve read that erythritol can be a problem. How concerned should I be about the effect on my arteries?

Most people think of erythritol as a natural sugar substitute and assume that it is perfectly safe. New research suggests, however, that people who use this sweetener regularly may be more prone to heart attacks or strokes ( Na

ture Medicine, Feb. 27, 2023). Apparently, the problem is that erythritol promotes blood clots. If you stop using the sweetener, your risk should drop to normal.

I usually apply body lotion to my legs before going to sleep. If my legs are restless, I will do that again during the night. One night recently, that didn’t help.

I remembered that pickle juice would help leg cramps, so thought perhaps it might help my restless legs as well. Why not have a couple of swallows? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

The upshot: I drank some and went to sleep. It has helped two or three times since then. Maybe other people who suffer with restless leg syndrome would also benefit.

Thanks so much for sharing a fascinatin­g remedy. We think that pickle juice may stimulate TRP (transient receptor potential) channels to overcome muscle cramps. We could not find any research relating TRP channels to RLS. Neverthele­ss, this is an intriguing and inexpensiv­e approach to a challengin­g problem.

I’ve been taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for many years, along with several other supplement­s and vitamins. I am the oldest and last survivor of my family.

My siblings all were in either memory care or assisted living when they died.

I give a lot of the credit to my vitamins, but I also have lived an active life. I’m 88, still manage all my affairs, read a lot and walk a mile or two a day, depending on the weather.

It sounds like you are doing everything right. Many people would like to know how to ward off dementia. Staying active both physically and mentally is a great first step.

Vitamin D may also be beneficial. Studies have shown that people with low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvit­amin D are at greater risk of developing dementia ( American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 4, 2022). Recent research indicates that people who take vitamin D supplement­s are 40% less likely to develop dementia ( Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, March 1, 2023). People who start the supplement before they notice cognitive decline seem to get the most benefit.

Your dose of 2,000 Iu/day is above the recommende­d dietary allowance for people your age (800 IU, which might also be stated as 20 micrograms). However, it is comfortabl­y below the tolerable upper limit for adults of 4,000 IU (100 micrograms). To learn more about the pros and cons of this supplement, you may wish to read our “eguide to Vitamin D and Optimal Health.” You’ ll find this online resource under the Health eguides tab at Peoplespha­

When I had knee replacemen­t surgery, I was prescribed gabapentin to help control pain. It caused brain fog, imbalance, sleepiness and depression. Why wasn’t I warned about these complicati­ons?

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is Food and Drug Administra­tion-approved for the treatment of epilepsy. It is also used to help control the nerve pain that may linger after shingles.

Doctors are increasing­ly prescribin­g gabapentin to reduce opioid use following surgery. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine (Nov. 1, 2022) indicates that older people may not tolerate this drug well. They often report side effects similar to those you experience­d. Doctors should warn patients about such adverse reactions.

 ?? Getty Images ?? Erythritol is a natural low-calorie sweetener.
Getty Images Erythritol is a natural low-calorie sweetener.
JOE & TERESA GRAEDON peoplespha­

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