The Vitamin D Book

It is done!

Almost…I’ve finished writing all of it, but I’ll need to tidy it up by checking for typos, my references and any duplication. To put it better – editing.

I started the project on Jan 1 this year with a stepsheet and on early Jul 31 I finished it. I actually don’t know where the 7 months went as they defined my 2010 so far, and it’s still not over!
The book (which won’t be called ‘The Vitamin D Book‘ although that is such a ludicrously simple and good, untaken title…) is shorter than I imagined it to be. My proposal predicted 75,000 words but I have ended up with just a little over 40,000 (which narrowly qualifies it as suitable for non-fiction). 8,000 of these define 285 open-access references, and I think it’ll be useful to have an index to help people dive in quick to parts of major interest.
This means it should roughly be a 200 page slim paperback; something you could read in a week or a fortnight, like Camus’ The Outsider; probably. It’s just as well I haven’t been able to sell the book yet – although I took a month away from trying – as I just could not conjour up the missing 35,000. As I realised this in approaching the final chapters I found  it was no bad thing as it gets to the point but but still does not leave anything out. I think it’s a very valid book on the subject and it has a couple of eyebrow raising viewpoints that are not in any other vit D book (that I know of); not for controversy, but because I believe they make brilliant cases. Some people will know what I’m talking about. I hope they generate debate anyway.
I’m a good guy at heart and will be a troublemaker for what I believe is fair.

With the approaching release of the new-generation Kindle, growing self-publishing services of high quality and publisher/agent ennui, I’m highly tempted to release it on Amazon’s CreateSpace. But I’ve still a large number of tradtional contacts to annoy and I would really like it to benefit from some kind of mainstream backing, so I am absolutely not giving up yet. The rejection emails and written letters can keep on piling. It didn’t harm Rebecca Skloot to be thick skinned!
I would like my project to be sold in some form by December, but that’s still an arbritrary estimate. I’m quite sure the actual project will be sellable by then though. Because some of the things I’ve written are time sensitive, I want this out sooner than later, so it’s not going to languish for years like my novel has (and is).
Maybe I’m also a bit egotistical but I think my views could help people from now, and I’m not saying this to appear humble, but an opportunity to make a bit of money really is secondary; honestly. I did this mainly to get this topic out of my system (I admit to everyone it has obsessed me).
To bump up the word count a tad and add value, I’m pondering about getting interviews from ‘famous’ people I have conversed with on the topic, though I would need to create some good questions.

If I do self-publish, I’ve decided the model I’m going to follow is that of Henry Bauer’s for his HIV/AIDS book: by having a book that you buy, in physical or electronic form and keeping people interested by blogging regularly about new research and insights that weren’t around when the book was written. Commentary from readers can also make the project feel yours as well as mine.

I will almost certainly make the cholesterol chapter free as people have already read my view about it and it’s just in a tidier, consolidated form than the lengthy mess I wrote a few years ago. I would also need the benefit of an artist for the jacket, if on my lonesome, as my artistic skills are rudimentary. I’m just really happy with this project so far, and in whatever way it’s out I’m going to make sure that it has an impact. So, if any of you were wondering if I was doing anything on this topic – I did. And am.

In October, I’m also hoping to get another round of blood results, which can easily be slipped into into the book.

As for my novel, that monster is still being groomed. I just do not know when that will be finished yet, so I haven’t even thought about selling. What I know is that that will need some pruning as it’s pretty long (around 100,000 words), which is too much time to invest in a book from an unknown; in my opinion anyway.

That’s all for now.

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Review: PiL @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 19/07/10

…I really should go to bed having come back just an hour ago from this show, but as I was thirsty I’ve drunk a few caffeine products (wasn’t in the mood for just water) that I need to drain off.

First off, this is the first time I have seen John Lydon live and Public Image Limited live, so it was a real treat as I’ve been a fan of them for eight years now. I was barely born when their second album Metal Box/Second Edition came out.

Though this carnation of PiL has new staff, it still has the same CEO and that was reason enough not to feel bad that there was no Jah Wobble or even Keith Levene. I’ve seen a couple of bands live who are not as they were and realise it’s better to have them that way than not at all in a good few cases, personally. And in any case, the members weren’t totally new, they did feature in PiL’s last latter years.

John Lydon himself was on fine form. He may not be the world’s greatest singer but his voice cuts through the music perfectly and he showed off a decent sense of humour when he attacked the Pope, some stationery members of the audience, and – I think – older band members. I can see why some people would dislike Lydon, but I found him entertaining. He didn’t have an alleged minor bust up with his band like on the previous night, nor anyone else.

As expected, most of the two hours were filled with the hits. There were a few songs I wasn’t familiar with such as Psycho’s Path off his solo album, but most were things people could move along to, or should’ve been moving to at least a little bit – I contributed by nodding my head, which is reasonably animated for a 30yr old.
Though not technically a PiL song musically, they played a fairly rocky version of the Leftfield/Lydon classic Open Up as the last song after the sing-along of Rise. Perhaps my most favourite performance of the night though was Fishing off Album, which sounded quite spot on to the album version.

Other well played songs like Disappointed and Warrior (dedicated to the coalition government) were equally well received as well as all the obvious early stuff like Swan Lake/Death Disco, Albatross, Four Enclosed Walls, Flowers Of Romance etc. I do, however think, recreating Keith Levene’s style was not totally successful, but a good go was given.

The only thing was, having seen video of Lydon going for a piss break (not the actual act of course…), I expected him not to go for a smoke break this time, but maybe a crumpet with some butter!

Lydon left us by promising us that the band (this line-up) will return with a new album and tour later this year.
People can criticise Lydon for cashing in, but I think he’s still more relevant and valid than most acts of my age, and those a little older or younger. Maybe that’s why most of musical heroes are just about old enough to be my Dads!

Okay, now my caffeine hit has expired.

Review: Penn & Teller @ Hammersmith Apollo, 17/7/10

Yesterday was my second ever visit to the Hammersmith Apollo for a night of comedy, and my first where it also involved some magic – specifically from Penn & Teller. Fairly movingly, it was also again with someone who I thought months back would not be able to enjoy such a thing.

I’d be lying if I said I was a hardcore fan of P&T (though I never disliked them) since there was dwindling reason to think about them in their 15yr absence. They used to have a series on Channel 4 in the early to mid 90s and I think I liked it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the night as my memory of their style was a bit hazy, but they seemed to remind and surprise me in equal measure. While some of the comedy and magic could be described as 101, the way they presented it was definitely unique – which is undoubtedly why P&T have been going for so long.

At times, P&T would reveal how certain tricks were performed and in no way did this take away from the mystique; if anything there was more than just a revelatory purpose for doing so, which by the end was to show support for being sceptical about things (P&T are both atheists and have reservations about man-made global warming) – which, while I was hearing that made me smile;  for reasons readers of some of my older blog posts will know about.

When the show had finished, my friends and I were scratching our heads and trying to offer theories on how P&T pulled other things off, but we didn’t obsess over it as deep down we wanted to retain the mystique of secrets they didn’t share.

Though Penn was the regular, loud focal point, silent Teller would very often grab your attention in really flooring ways; his magic acts were also the things that elicited the most crowd reaction – such as producing (tons of) coins from thin air, cutting the shadow of a flower that affected the flower, pulling out a string of needles from his mouth and remaining under water for 12 minutes (or so it seems).
Audience participation also helped to liven things up, but I’m glad I was seated way at the back to avoid being chosen.

In the intermission, Penn  tweeted from backstage about being excited in playing at where some of his heroes did. How humble is that?

Given the cheers the pair received by the end of the night, I’m sure both will return to the UK after a not-so-long gap as we still love what they do.
There’s something classic and ahead of their time about them that I can’t seem to find in their contemporaries.

2.5 hours well spent.

Cyanide for anaemia?

This post is about vitamin B12.

…No, I haven’t accepted vast sums of money to abandon promotion of vitamin D. 🙂 Vitamin D interests me most, but I have something to relate about the treatment of  anaemia.

My mother has had pernicious anaemia for quite a few years now and standard treatment for this in the UK (and elsewhere) is an intramuscular injection seasonally since B12 orally appeared to be absorbed improperly in such people. While she had no quarrel with the treatment, one side effect my mother had was quite bad headaches for a day or two following the injection. Furthermore, she really hates needles, let alone ones that drive into a muscle.

So, when I discovered studies that found high dose B12 tablets are as good (or perhaps) better than injections, my mother was more than happy to take a printout of an abstract of a Welsh study (best to use data closer to home) and debate with her doctor at her annual appointment about switching. By good fortune the doctor allowed her to have a go. This is the second instance where a doctor has listened and I commend that, as it’s best not to go behind the back of a care giver.

The only problem was that the tablets offered were not actually high dose at all, but normal dose, which as written in studies will not be effective in maintaining B12 levels and will bring her back on injections permanently. So, after explaining this to my mother (who, of course still wants to avoid the needle, bar necessary blood tests) she’s going to take the B12 of my choosing.
This is not a dangerous thing to do, because first of all vitamin B12 has an excellent safety record: apart from general side effects that can happen even at a low doses, no one seems to have fallen ill or died from it. More astonishing is that you can buy high dose B12 locally and cheaply – easily, whereas lower dose for anaemia is available on prescription….Strange.

One interesting fact about the prescribed oral cyanocobalamin is that it contains a little bit of cyanide, but not enough to be a concern for anyone but the most sensitive to it. Regardless, the B12 I’m recommending my mother is methylcobalamin as it’s said to be better absorbed and lasts longer; this is what we want.

If my mother’s next blood test in a season or so shows improvement or sustained levels, then the last refrigerated ampoule can go in the bin. What I’m sure of is that if she took 50mcg of cyanocobalamin rather than 1000mcg of methylcobalamin, she would certainly continue with sore arms and headaches four times per year.
When I can, I’ll let you know if her levels are fine on the tablets – here. If they’re not, then back to the injections – but I have very high hopes.

The moral of the story then is that if you can find evidence of a more desirable treatment avenue, print an abstract (not the whole paper!) and discuss it with your doctor. It’s often the case that discoveries like this take way too long to filter down to general care givers. In fact it was known for years that oral B12 can be as effective as injections, and a few places in the world already use it as a standard practice. The injection would still be wise though for those who cannot be relied on to take their medication.

I apologise for the lack of hyper-links in this post, but if this interests/affects you, search for something along the lines of: vitamin B12 oral or injection. You should find links to studies and debates that expand much more on what I’ve written here.