Health Musculoskeletal

Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D

Our bodies need calcium to maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Almost all calcium is stored in bones and teeth, where it supports their structure and hardness.

The body also needs calcium for:

  • muscle movement helping nerves to carry messages between the brain and body
  • helping blood vessels move blood throughout the body
  • helping release hormones and enzymes that affect almost every function in the human body

To absorb calcium in the body, it must be in balance with magnesium and vitamin D. The most effective way to meet your daily calcium needs is to consume foods rich in calcium and magnesium. Dairy accounts for the majority of calcium intake in the American diet, particularly in the form of milk. However, you may be surprised at the variety of foods that are high in calcium. Here are some of them that you might consider adding to your diet:

  1. Sesame seeds
  2. Sardines with bones
  3. High quality yogurt
  4. Leafy greens including collard, kale, turnip, mustard and swiss chard
  5. Canned sockeye salmon with bones
  6. Almonds
  7. Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussel sprout, cabbage
  8. Spices and herbs: cinnamon, cumin, cloves, black pepper, parsley, garlic
  9. Oranges

Calcium and magnesium work hand in hand in the body and must be in balance for proper absorption.

Foods high in magnesium

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Legumes
  3. Pumpkin seeds
  4. Avocados
  5. Leafy Greens
  6. Yogurt
  7. Almonds
  8. Sea vegetables (seaweed)
  9. Wild Caught seafood
  10. Grass-fed dairy

Vitamin D is also critical for the absorption of calcium. The best and most affordable source is the sunshine so get outdoors and show some skin. For more information on Vitamin D, click here.

To work towards balancing your mineral intake with whole foods, certified nutritionists are a good resource.

Lifestyle factors that deplete minerals and can lead to osteoporosis

  • poor gut health
  • hormonal imbalances
  • lack of appropriate exercise
  • lack of exposure to sunlight
  • certain medications
  • chronic stress
  • smoking and excessive alcohol use
  • inflammatory diet
  • lack of restful sleep

In addition to osteoporosis, calcium deficiency can lead to periodontal disease, insomnia, and muscle cramps.

At the Health Nucleus our blood work in the HNX Platinum program assesses vitamin levels and our DEXA imaging assesses bone density, all of which can be impacted by necessary calcium, magnesium and vitamin D intake.

**If you choose to supplement with over the counter calcium, please note that excess calcium can lead to mineral imbalances. Please consult a healthcare practitioner for individualized dosing.


Health Women's Health

Women’s Health Week

May 13-19th is National Women’s Health Week – and while it is appropriate to take time to focus on such an important subject, the Health Nucleus is committed to women’s health all year long. In addition to screening for a series of diseases, we provide insights into the current state of your health and how you can make lasting improvements.

Did you know? Women of all ages who get enough physical activity can reduce their risk of heart disease and cancer — the most common diseases women have to worry about. Men get more physical activity than women. We can change this — let’s move! Resistance Training Instructional Video

Women need 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week — about 30 minutes a day. But fewer than 50% of women are getting enough aerobic activity, and only 20% get enough muscle-strengthening activity. Osteoporosis and Resistance Training Explained

Just 30 minutes of brisk walking a day is enough to lower your risk of breast cancer.

The more exercise you do, the more your risk of early death goes down. A woman who exercises 30 minutes every day can lower her risk of dying early by 27% compared with someone who exercises just 30 minutes once a week.


Try these ideas for fitting more physical activity into your daily routine.

  • Add walking or biking to your commute.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Turn on your favorite music and dance.

Did you know? We make 200 decisions about food each day. That’s a lot of chances to eat healthy every day. All of your food and drink choices matter!

Nearly 2 out of 3 women in the United States die from chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. A healthy diet and weight can help protect you from many chronic diseases. Choose lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins to keep you healthy.

Fruits and vegetables are a great way to get the vitamins and nutrients you need!


  • Switch some of your everyday foods for healthier options.
  • Eat whole-grain bread instead of white bread, and brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Try whole fruit, like apples and oranges, instead of fruit bars or fruit-flavored snacks.
  • Drink water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea instead of energy or fruit drinks or soda.

These seemingly small adjustments can make a big impact on your health. The Health Nucleus empowers clients with comprehensive health information to identify disease early, and to help optimize health  for the future. Visit our Community section and filter under topics that interest you for more information.


Health Musculoskeletal

Resistance Training

Resistance training has great benefits including reducing Osteoporosis risk, improving cognitive abilities, and reduction of low back pain just to name a few. Local San Diego personal trainer, Molly Goodwin of Body Designs Fitness, demonstrates a simple resistance training workout you can do from anywhere with little to no equipment.


May is Stroke Awareness Month

According to the National Stroke Association stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.  Data also shows women are at a higher risk for stroke. Each year 55,000 more women than men have a stroke.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is an acute reduction or elimination of blood flow to a portion of the brain. When this happens, brain tissue begins to die. Depending on the severity of the deprivation of oxygen, a stroke can lead to loss of speech, movement, memory and even death.

Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented through risk reduction.

Risk factors of a stroke are:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Smoking
  3. Diabetes
  4. Poor diet
  5. Physical Inactivity
  6. Obesity
  7. High Blood Cholesterol
  8. Carotid Artery Disease
  9. Peripheral Artery Disease
  10. Atrial Fibrillation
  11. Other Heart Disease
  12. Sickle Cell Disease

How the Health Nucleus Can Help

The Health Nucleus focuses on identification of your risk factors for stroke through cholesterol testing, lipoprotein testing, coronary calcium (CT) scoring for predicting cardiovascular risk, MRI for small vessel ischemic change in the brain and remote cardiac monitoring, which can detect atrial fibrillation. Our philosophy in the Health Nucleus is to look for any signs of disease before there are symptoms, and by doing so, we hope to reduce the incidence of stroke.

In addition, our genetic testing can identify common and rare variants that increase the lifetime and short-term disease risk for stroke. An example of a common genetic variant that can impact stroke risk is MTHFR and you will learn about your MTHFR status as part of your Whole Genome Sequencing report.

Knowing your risks can empower you and your physician and inform and impact your health.


Why is Autosomal Recessive Inheritance Important?

How are genes inherited? 

We have two copies of every gene in our bodies, inheriting one from our mother and one from our father, with the exception of genes on the male y chromosome which are only inherited paternally.

Autosomal Recessive Inheritance

Many genetic diseases are caused by changes or “variants” in a single gene. A variant can alter gene function or expression.  Whether or not people show signs of a genetic disease depends on how the disease is inherited. Autosomal recessive inheritance means the disease happens only when BOTH copies of the gene have a variant.  These types of diseases appear equally in both men and women. Most often these diseases are inherited from both parents who are “carriers”, also known as “heterozygotes”.

What does being a carrier mean?

Individuals who are carriers are usually healthy with no related symptoms of the disease.  Some carriers may have subtle or milder symptoms of the disease. It is not uncommon to be a carrier of at least one gene variant.

Why should you care?

When a person is a carrier, it is important to know if his/her reproductive partner is also a carrier. When two parents are carriers of a variant in the same gene, there is a 1 in 4 or 25% chance with each pregnancy of having a child affected with the disease. Relatives of a carrier also have an increased risk of being carriers of the variant.  Knowing about carrier status and potential risks of disease can be helpful in discussing family planning and reproductive testing options.

How do we use it in the Health Nucleus?

Through our whole genome sequence (WGS) analysis, we screen for medically significant variants in hundreds of genes, many of which follow autosomal recessive inheritance.  Examples of some of the more common autosomal recessive diseases that will be screened for through your WGS, include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, phenylketonuria (PKU) and Tay Sachs disease.  When you review your genetics report with one of our clinicians, you may be identified as a carrier of an autosomal recessive disease. This will be reported as a “Carrier Variant”.  It is not uncommon to be identified as a carrier of an autosomal recessive disease.

Where can I get additional information?

National Society of Genetic Counselors

Genetics Home Reference


Help Me Understand Genetics: National Library of Medicine (US).

Genetics Home Reference [Internet].

Bethesda (MD): The Library; 2018 Apr 3.

Inheriting Genetic Conditions; [cited 2018 Apr 3]

In the News

San Diego firefighters get genome screening and more for early disease detection

Firefighters protect the lives of others daily – we’re excited to do our best to protect theirs through our partnership with the San Diego Fire Rescue Department. 100 Firefighters will undergo our comprehensive HNX assessment in an effort to detect diseases at their earliest stages, when they’re most treatable and demonstrate the benefit of early, advanced screening in high-risk populations.

Click here to read more in the San Diego Union Tribune

Genetics Cardiovascular In the News Neuro

New Alzheimer’s Detection

Recently many news outlets reported on guidelines proposed by scientists and published in  Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association on new definitions of Alzheimer’s disease. The proposal is to define the disease based on biological signs, such as brain changes, rather than memory loss and other symptoms of dementia that are used today. This is a significant shift to a more proactive approach since most often once symptoms appear the disease has advanced. Like cancer, identifying the disease prior to occurrence of symptoms may have positive outcomes for treatment options.

This shift may have significant improvements in the search for effective future treatments. “Dozens of hoped-for treatments have failed, and doctors think one reason may be that the studies enrolled patients after too much brain damage had already occurred. [sic] Another problem: as many as 30 percent of people enrolled in Alzheimer’s studies based on symptoms didn’t actually have the disease — they had other forms of dementia or even other medical conditions.” Not only is early detection key to treatability, but also choosing treatment options for the correct disease.

The Health Nucleus focuses on identification of risk through whole genome sequencing as well as early detection of disease through imaging. Our volumetric brain MRI can give a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the brain. Our test looks for evidence of neurodegeneration (dementia-related atrophy), brain tumors, white matter changes and structural abnormalities. Non-contrast, high-resolution images of the arteries that supply the brain evaluate for areas of significant stenosis (narrowing) or aneurysms.

In addition, our genetic testing can identify common and rare variants that increase the lifetime and short-term disease risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.