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Ask Dr. Mike: Fast Food Ban in Los Angeles & Is Vitamin C or D More Important?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans. Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

Which is better, Vitamin C or D?

Your immune system is SO important for longevity. Researchers are now understanding just how important your immune system is. However, Dr. Mike doesn't want to say one vitamin is more important than the other, since they are both essential.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids, which enhance intestinal absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc. Vitamin D is very important in managing your immune response.

Vitamin C protects your body against immune system deficiencies and cardiovascular disease and also fosters prenatal health, eye health and skin health.

What's your take on the failed fast food ban in Los Angeles?

According to an article in the L.A. Times, seven years ago L.A. decided to do something drastic in order to reduce obesity rates in south L.A. However, this ban failed to reduce overweight and obesity rates in these neighborhoods and actually increased these numbers.

Dr. Mike thinks that everyone is starting to understand how addicting and bad fast food places can be. However, this doesn't prevent new fast food restaurants from popping up and certainly isn't keeping people from eating unhealthy foods, especially without any access to healthy and fresh foods.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: April 6, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

It's time for you to be part of the show. Email or call with questions for Dr. Mike now. Email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-711-5211. What are you waiting for? The Doctor is in.

DR. MIKE: Alright so my first question has to do with the immune system. It comes from a gentleman named Alan he says:

"I'm getting up there in age but I'm healthy and I know it's important to improve my immune system. So which is better-extra D or C? Thanks, Alan."

The immune system is so important to a longevity regimen. You know, I work at Life Extension, I'm the Senior Scientist at Life Extension Foundation and we are one of the leaders in longevity research. I think we're finally starting to understand the importance of a healthy immune system and any longevity regimen. And matter of fact, the last couple of years we've come out with a lot of new products supporting the immune system, research protocols; and so, I think you're on to something that's really important, Alan. So, your specific question is about D or C. And to answer your question, they're both important. I don't want to say D is more important than C.

I don't want to say that. They're both critical vitamins, co-factors to many aspects of the immune system. But here's kind of a nice way to break up what they do and to compare them. So, vitamin D is really important to managing the immune response. All of your immune cells, especially what are known as the helper cells like the CD4 cell , any cell that is involved in orchestrating and managing the entire immune response has a vitamin D receptor. I mean, that's pretty darn important. We also know, too, that vitamin D is able to help the expression of certain immune proteins that then allowed that immune response to even be enhanced. So vitamin D is in the management and the enhancement of the immune system in general, the immune response in general.

I mean, Alan, that's pretty darn important. Now vitamin C, there's some evidence that plays a role in how T cells mature. You know, when the bone marrow produces young immune cells some of those cells will travel to the thymus and vitamin C, some new evidence has shown that vitamin C is acting on the thymus gland and helping those T cells to mature and the T cells that are ready to fight viruses and bacteria. Oh, even in antibody production vitamin C probably plays an important role there and it's just a good antioxidant for the immune system. So it's hard to compare which is better. You know, if you back me up into a corner, Alan, and really made me give an answer I would say Vitamin D. I would definitely be doing anywhere from 1000 to 2000 units a day I think that's a good dose for people. You want to shoot for a level of vitamin D between 50-70 nanograms per mil and you want to do a dose that gets you to that level. Conventional doctors will tell you that's too high but they're wrong.

Most of my M.D. colleagues shoot for a Vitamin D blood level around 30. In my opinion, that's deficient. Well, it depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to prevent, scurvy then a blood level of 30 is fine. But if you're trying to improve cytokine production. then the management of the immune response is not enough. It's deficient. Vitamin C anywhere between 500-1000 mg/day is probably where you need to be with dose when it comes to improving the immune response. Fine. Alan, I'll answer your question. Put D before C-just my opinion.

Alright. The next question had to do with something I didn't know anything about, so I had one of the Life Extension Health Advisors help me out with this.

"What's your take on the failed fast food ban in Los Angeles?"

So we had to look this up this came from the NewsRX Health and Science Report. We found this in February 27th of this year. "Fast Food Ban in LA Fails to Improve Diets Obesity Study Finds". A Los Angeles ordinance designed to curb obesity in low-income areas by restricting the opening of new fast food restaurants, basically it was showing that it didn't work. The policy is a zoning regulation that restricts the opening or expansion of any stand-alone fast food restaurants and they list exactly where. But basically south and southeast Los Angeles. The areas subject to the rule have about 700,000 residents. While the rule was not the nation's first local regulation limiting fast food outlets, it was the first one presented as a public health measure by advocates.

And, bottom line, it failed. It failed to reduce fast food consumption or obesity rates in the targeted areas according to a new Rand Corporation study which, of course, Rand Corporation is a non-profit global policy think tank. And so, since the fast food restrictions were passed in 2008 overweight and obesity rates in south Los Angeles and southeast Los Angeles and other neighborhoods targeted by the law have increased faster than in other parts of the city or other parts of the country. So, the ban actually resulted in an increase in obesity and fast food consumption; greater than other areas which I think is very interesting. This was published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine. Let's see I have a quote here: this is from Roland Sterne lead author:

"The Study of Los Angeles Fast Food Ban may have symbolic value but it has had no measureable impact in improving diets or reducing obesity. This should not come as a surprise. Most food outlets in the area are small food stores or small restaurants with limited seating that are not affected by the policy."

So, going back to the listener's question "What's you take on the failed fast food ban in LA?" Um, it didn't work! I think that we are coming more to understand the fast food with the preservatives and the salts and the sugars are quite addicting and just because you ban new stores from popping up it, doesn't mean people aren't going to seek out that kind of food. You can't just ban a fast food place without replacing it with areas that people can go to buy fresh food and many of the areas in Southeast LA, they don't really have access to that kind of fresh food.

So it may sound good to ban a bad type of food but if you don't help them replace it with healthy food, they're just going to seek it out elsewhere and that's exactly what happened. Apparently they really found that they ate more and obesity rates went up and so, it was quite the reverse results that they thought they were going to have. You know I've seen some shows, as a matter of fact when I was with Suzanne Somers. She had her show on the Lifetime Network, and when we were filming one day, one of the other guests that was on (and I can't remember his name I apologize for that) but he is from LA and he has bought out certain vacant lots and has turned them into gardens. And he's growing fresh produce for people and he's allowing people to come in. Of course, believe it or not the LA County tried to shut him down because he didn't have a permit, so I don't know where it stands now but maybe that's what we need to do.

So you limit the number of fast food restaurants that can open up but then you also supply places where they can go, community markets, where they can buy fresh food because that's what you're going to have to do. So just because you limit a fast food restaurant but you don't replace it with something healthy, they've still got to eat. And I think that's what they were able to show here. So, that's kind of my take. Again this was published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine.

Real quickly before the ban I'm going back to this study that was reported in NewsRX Health and Science. Before the ban was passed, as well as 3 years later, the average body mass index and the proportion of people who were obese or overweight was higher in South Los Angeles than in other areas of the city. The gap continued to widen from 2008-2012 when they had this ban. Listen, yes, we've got to stop eating the fast food absolutely but we've got to give people healthier options. Healthy, fresh food.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.