Natural Support for Allergies and Hay Fever

If you have allergies, you are not alone. An estimated 50 million Americans have allergies to airborne triggers that cause symptoms of hay fever and another 17 million have asthma. Airborne allergies occur when exposure to a particular antigen (allergen) such as pollen, mold, or animal dander triggers the immune system to respond in an uncharacteristic manner to produce antibodies that trigger the release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds from mast cells – specialized cells that line the air passages. Exposure to the allergen causes common allergic symptoms such as nasal blockage, itching of the nose, sneezing and a runny nose.The initial stages of respiratory allergies (“hay fever”) are seasonal in nature, but later often become perennial (year-round).

Asthma is a little different hay fever. It can have the same triggers and also involves release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells, but the symptoms can be much more severe and potentially life threatening. Asthma is characterized by recurrent attacks of shortness of breath, wheezing and abnormal breath sounds, cough, and expectoration of tenacious, thick sputum.

Can natural medicine help deal with airborne allergies?

Absolutely. In fact, natural medicine offers significant advantages over approaches to respiratory allergies. Keep in mind that popular antihistamine drugs whether they are prescription or over-thecounter offer only symptomatic relief – they do not solve the problem. The drug companies love these antihistamine drugs because they only suppress symptoms, they do not affect a cure, they create dependence, and, most importantly to the drug companies, they are expensive so they offer tremendous profits.

My recommendation is to work to get off of these drugs. The first step is to reduce the exposure to airborne allergens, such as pollen, dander, and dust mites. These common allergens are often difficult to avoid entirely, but measures can be taken to reduce exposure. Removing dogs, cats, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and other surfaces where allergens can collect is a great first step. If this can’t be done entirely, make sure that there is at least one room in the house, preferably the bedroom, that is as allergy-proof as possible. Encase the mattress in an allergen-proof plastic; wash sheets, blankets, pillowcases, and mattress pads every week in hot water with additive- and fragrance-free detergent; consider using bedding material made from Ventflex, a special hypoallergenic synthetic material; and install an air purifier. The best mechanical air purifiers are HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filters, which can be attached to central heating and air-conditioning systems. These units are available from suppliers of heating and air-conditioning units.

The next step is to reduce the “allergic threshold” by eliminating any foods that may be contributing to the allergic aspect. Many studies have indicated that food allergies play an important role in asthma. An adverse reaction to a food may be immediate or delayed. Double-blind food challenges have shown that immediate-onset sensitivities are usually due to (in order of frequency) eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, and peanuts. Foods most commonly associated with delayed-onset sensitivities include (in order of frequency) milk, chocolate, wheat, citrus, and food colorings. My recommendation is to avoid all of these common allergens for a minimum of ten days to judge if an underlying food allergy is contributing to the respiratory allergy. If symptoms improve, foods can be reintroduced at the rate of one food every three days to identify which food(s) is the culprit. These sorts of elimination diets have been successful in identifying allergens and treating respiratory allergies.

During the elimination phase, I encourage you to use RevitalX™ – a delicious and satisfying smoothie mix providing nutritional support for the intestinal tract by Michael Lyon, MD. RevitalX™ is specifically designed to soothe the stomach, intestines and colon, and help to heal a “leaky gut.” The low allergy potential formula is designed specifically for people with food allergies, but is suitable for everyone. It provides balanced levels of vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and probiotics to support the body while healing the gastrointestinal track. The RevitalX™ formula base is GoldPeptides™, a non-GMO protein source from golden peas. It is a superior source of protein to rice or soy because of its high protein, low sugar, and low glycemic profile.

The final step in approaching respiratory allergies with natural medicine involves using specialized natural products that address specific aspects of the allergic response. The first product to take a look at is Aller-7™.

What is Aller-7™?

Aller-7™ is a patent-pending unique blend of seven standardized herbal extracts clinically tested to promote a healthy immune system and normal breathing. Aller-7™ is the result of more than 10 years of research and is the most extensively researched all-natural product that can minimize the body’s response to seasonal as well as perennial airborne allergies.

The development of Aller-7™ started with screening more than 50 plants possessing the most promising immune-enhancing properties and applying modern techniques of investigational science. Numerous combinations of extracts were prepared and tested. In the end, one formula stood out above all others, a unique combination of seven standardized herbal extracts that ultimately was called Aller-7™. Although the 7 herbal components of Aller-7™ have long been used to promote health, detailed safety and pharmacological studies were conducted prior to clinically testing the formula in humans.1-3

In clinical studies, Aller-7™ has been shown to minimize the body’s response to seasonal as well as perennial airborne allergies. For example, an evaluation on the effects of Aller-7™ was carried out in 14 test centers involving 545 patients with allergic rhinitis. An overall improvement in hay fever symptoms was seen in 78% of the subjects after 6 weeks and an incredible 94% after 12 weeks of use. The study also included a double-blind portion.

In another study, 48 patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) were randomly assigned to receive either Aller-7™ or a placebo for 3 months.4 Results clearly demonstrated that Aller-7™ from the study not only improved all of the major symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis, it also produced improvements in scores of general well-being including improvements in sleep quality and mood. Results also showed like many other natural the longer that Aller-7™ is used, the more apparent the benefits. In other words, while some people taking Aller-7™ may experience rapid relief of symptoms, most will have to take it for at least one month to see meaningful benefit.

How does Aller-7™ work?

Allergies are the result of a cascade of events that trigger an allergic response by the body’s immune system. Aller-7™ works by modifying the allergic response. For example, one of the first steps in the allergic response is an allergen, such as pollen, coming into contact with a specific cell in the body’s immune system called an “antigen presenting cell.” This contact in turn triggers the release of compounds known as interleukins. These interleukins then send a message that activates other white blood cells to release allergic antibodies that bind to the allergen and then attaches themselves to mast cells causing the release of inflammatory mediators such as histamine. Aller-7™ appears to work at every step of the process to block the allergic response. Specifically, Aller-7™ and its components have shown the following effects:

  • Promotes activities by white blood cells that leads to more efficient handling of allergens
  • Stabilizes mast cells, thereby preventing the release of histamine
  • Inhibits the activity of inflammatory enzymes such as trypsin and hyaluronidase that lead to tissue irritation
  • Exerts effective antioxidant activity thereby arresting the allergic response

What is the dosage recommendation for Aller-7™?

The recommended adult daily dosage is 660 mg twice daily with meals. For maintenance, 330 mg can be taken twice daily with meals. Again, due to the natural properties of Aller-7™, results may not appear for 2-4 weeks.

Where can I buy Aller-7™?

Aller-7™ is available in over-thecounter dietary supplements at your local health food store.

What other recommendations to you have for dealing with respiratory allergies?

Our health is the sum of the functioning of each of the trillion of cells in our body. For each individual cell to function properly, there are certain basic needs that need to be addressed. To address these needs, I recommend three key dietary supplements:

  • A high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula (MultiStart™).
  • A “greens” drink product (Enriching Greens®).
  • A pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement (RxOmega™-3 Factors).

Beyond this basic foundation, I often recommend that people with respiratory ailments use the Lung, Bronchial & Sinus Health formula from Natural Factors. One of most important features of healthy airways is the elasticity and fluidity of the respiratory tract secretions. If the mucus is too thick and viscous, it creates a scenario that fosters blocked airways and difficulty in breathing. Fortunately the components contained in the Lung, Bronchial & Sinus Health formula can improve these secretions and support the health of the respiratory passages.

References

  • Saxena VS, Pratibha N, Amit A, et al. Safety of a novel botanical extract formula for ameliorating allergic rhinitis. Toxicology Mechanisms and Methods (In Press).
  • Bagchi D, Saxena VS, Pratibha N, Amit A, Bagchi M. Safety of a novel botanical formulation for ameliorating allergic rhinitis. Society of Toxicology 2003;72(S.1):255.
  • Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Saxena VS, Pratibha N, Amit A. Anti-allergenic potential of a novel botanical extract formula. FASEB Journal 2003;17(5):A1061.
  • Vyjayanthi G, Subhashchandra S, Saxena VS, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Aller-7 in patients with allergic rhinitis. Research Communications in Pharmacology and Toxicology (In Press).

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Coenzyme Q10 for Energy and Heart Support

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential component of mitochondria – the energy producing unit of the cells of the body. CoQ10 is involved in the manufacture of ATP, the energy currency of all body processes. CoQ10’s role is similar to that of a spark plug in a car engine – without that initial spark, the human body cannot function without CoQ10.

CoQ10 can be synthesized within the body, but sometimes the body simply does not make enough.The heart is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body, and a CoQ10 deficiency affects the heart most and can lead to serious problems. Deficiency can result from impaired CoQ10 synthesis due to poor diet, genetic or acquired defects in CoQ10 synthesis, or increased tissue needs. Heart and vascular diseases, including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, can increase tissue demand for CoQ10 and people over 50 may need more CoQ10, as levels are known to decline with advancing age.

Are there food sources of CoQ10?

Yes, but the typical daily intake of CoQ10 from dietary sources is only about 3-5 mg per day1 – nowhere near the level required to significantly raise blood and tissue levels. Meat, poultry and fish provide the majority of dietary CoQ10.

What are the principal uses of CoQ10?

CoQ10 supplementation is used mostly to treat or prevent cardiovascular diseases such as elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, mitral valve prolapse, coronary artery bypass surgery, and angina. Many scientific studies have validated these uses.2-4 CoQ10 has also been shown helpful in diabetes, periodontal disease, immune deficiency, cancer, against weight-loss, and muscular dystrophy. Response to supplementation of CoQ10 can take time – a noticeable improvement might not occur until eight or more weeks after therapy is begun.

How does CoQ10 improve heart function?

It works by improving energy production in the heart muscle and by acting as an antioxidant.5,6Therapeutic use of CoQ10 in cardiovascular disease has been clearly documented in both animal studies and human trials. CoQ10 deficiency is common in patients with heart disease. Biopsy results from heart tissue in patients with various cardiovascular diseases showed a CoQ10 deficiency in 50-75% of cases.6 Correction of a CoQ10 deficiency can often produce dramatic clinical results in patients with any kind of heart disease.7-11

Can CoQ10 lower blood pressure?

Yes. CoQ10 deficiency has been shown to be present in 39% of patients with high blood pressure. In several studies it has been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.12-14The effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure is usually not seen until after 4-12 weeks of therapy. Typical reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure with CoQ10 therapy in patients with high blood pressure are in the 10% range.

How does CoQ10 boost the immune system?

Tissues and cells involved with immune function are highly energy-dependent and require an adequate supply of CoQ10 for optimal function. Studies have documented the immune-enhancing effect of CoQ10.18-20 Also, CoQ10 should definitely be used by cancer patients after taking any chemotherapy drug that is associated with heart toxicity (e.g., adriamycin, athralines, etc.).21

Since CoQ10 is needed for the burning of fat, can it promote weight loss?

Yes. Since CoQ10 is an essential cofactor for energy production, it is possible that CoQ10 deficiency is a factor in some cases of obesity. Serum coenzyme Q10 levels were found to be low in 52% of the obese subjects tested. When the subjects with low CoQ10 levels were given 100 mg/day of CoQ10 significant weight loss was achieved.22

What is the best form of CoQ10?

Coenzyme Q10 is available primarily in tablets or capsules. The best preparations appear to be soft-gelatin capsules with CoQ10 in an oil base or in a soluble form.23-25 To further enhance absorption, CoQ10 should be taken with food.

I believe that the best form of CoQ10 on the market is Clear Q™ by Natural Factors. To enhance the absorption and utilization of CoQ10, some manufacturers have looked to synthetic compounds to enhance solubility of CoQ10. Natural Factors has chosen an all-natural approach instead.

Using a patent-pending process known as Lipcom® (short for lipid compression), they bound CoQ10 to the purest form of natural vitamin E available (Clear Base™ Vitamin E; pure, 100% natural d-alpha tocopheryl acetate).

The result is more easily absorbed and used by the body. In a preliminary study, blood levels of CoQ10 six hours after taking Clear Q™ showed an increase 235% greater than the increase achieved with standard CoQ10. Blood levels of CoQ10 six hours after taking a loading dosage of Clear Q™ can reach above 2.5 mcg/ml – the blood level required for consistent results with CoQ10.27

CoQ10 is present in the blood in oxidized (inactive) and reduced (active) forms. Increased oxidative stress or low vitamin E levels convert more CoQ10 to its oxidized (inactive form). High levels of pure vitamin E enhance the biological function of CoQ10 which in return enhances vitamin E activity.26-28

How much CoQ10 should I take?

Usually 50 to 150 mg of CoQ10 per day is recommended, but if CoQ10 is going to be effective it seems the CoQ10 blood levels must rise above 2.5 mcg/ml and be maintained at this level for a prolonged period. The normal blood level for CoQ10 is roughly 1 mcg/ml, so it can be difficult to achieve therapeutic blood levels especially with poorly absorbed forms of CoQ10. Here is what I recommend: Use Clear Q™; take a loading dosage of four capsules with a meal. This provides 200 mg CoQ10 and 1600 IU vitamin E. After loading, I recommend taking two capsules of Clear Q™ for a week followed by a maintenance dosage of one capsule daily for people weighing up to 250 pounds; and two capsules per day for people over 250 pounds.

Is CoQ10 safe?

Coenzyme Q10 is very safe with no serious adverse effects ever reported even with long-term use. Because safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been proven, CoQ10 should not be used during these times unless the potential clinical benefit (as determined by a physician) outweighs the risks.

Does CoQ10 interact with any drugs?

There are no known adverse interactions between CoQ10 and any drug or nutrient. However, many drugs can adversely affect CoQ10 levels and CoQ10 maybe able to reduce side effects of some drugs. In addition to adriamycin CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to counteract some of the adverse effects of certain cholesterol-lowering, beta-blocker, and psychotrophic drugs. Lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastin (Pravachol), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatine (Zocor) are used to lower blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme (HMG CoA reductase) required to make cholesterol in the liver. Unfortunately, these drugs also block the manufacture of other substances necessary for body functions including CoQ10. Supplementing with CoQ10 (50 mg per day) is necessary to prevent its depletion in body tissues while on these drugs.29

References

  1. Schandalik R, Gatti G, and Perucca E: Pharmacokinetics of silybin in bile following administration of silipide and silymarin in cholecystectomy patients. Arzneim Forsch 1992;42(7):964-8.
  2. Barzaghi N, et al.: Pharmacokinetic studies on IdB 1016, a silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex, in healthy human subjects. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet 1990;15(4):333-8.
  3. Mascarella S, et al.:Therapeutic and antilipoperoxidant effects of silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex in chronic liver disease: Preliminary results. Curr Ther Res 1993;53(1):98-102.
  4. Vailati A, et al.: Randomized open study of the dose-effect relationship of a short course of IdB 1016 in patients with viral or alcoholic hepatitis. Fitoterapia 1993;44(3):219-28.
  5. Marena C and Lampertico P: Preliminary clinical development of Silipide: A new complex of silybin in toxic liver disorders. Planta Medical 1991;57(S2):A124-5.
  6. Facino RM, et al.: Free radicals scavenging action and anti-enzyme activities of procyanidines from Vitis vinifera. A mechanism for their capillary protective action. Arzneim Forsch 1994;44:592-601.
  7. Schwitters B and Masquelier J: OPC in Practice: Biflavanols and Their Application. Alfa Omega, Rome, Italy, 1993.
  8. Corbe C, Boisin JP and Siou A: Light vision and chorioretinal circulation. Study of the effect of procyanidolic oligomers (Endotelon). J Fr Ophtalmol 1988;11:453-60.
  9. Boissin JP, Corbe C and Siou A: Chorioretinal circulation and dazzling: use of procyanidol oligomers. Bull Soc Ophtalmol Fr 1988;88:173-4,177-9.
  10. Weihmayr T and Ernst E.Therapeutic effectiveness of Crataegus. Fortschr Med 1996;114:27–9.
  11. Schmidt U, et al.: Efficacy of the Hawthorn (Crataegus) preparation LI 132 in 78 patients with chronic congestive heart failure defined as NYHA functional class II. Phytomed 1994;1(1):17–24.
  12. Schussler M, Holzl J, Fricke U: Myocardial effects of flavonoids from Crataegus species. Arzneim Forsch 1995;45:842-5.
  13. Hertog MG, et al: Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Lancet 1993;342:1007-11.
  14. Wegrowski J, Robert Am and Moczar M:The effect of procyanidolic oligomers on the composition of normal and hypercholesterolemic rabbit aortas. Biochem Pharmacol 1984;33:3491-7.
  15. Wilkinson EG, et al.: Bioenergetics in clinical medicine. VI. Adjunctive treatment of periodontal disease with coenzyme Q10. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1976;14:715-9.
  16. Hanioka T, et al.: Effect of topical application of coenzyme Q10 on adult periodontitis. Mol Aspects Med 1994;15(Suppl):S241-8.
  17. Folkers K, et al.: Increase in levels of IgG in serum of patients treated with coenzyme Q10. Res Comm Pathol Pharmacol 1982;38:335-8.
  18. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Folkers K. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1994;199:1504-8.
  19. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S,Yamamoto T, Folkers K. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastases. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1995;212:172-7.
  20. Iarussi D, et al.: Protective effect of coenzyme Q10 on anthracyclines cardiotoxicity: control study in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Mol Aspects Med 1994;15(Suppl.):s207-12.
  21. van Gaal L, de Leeuw ID, Vadhanavikit S, and Folkers K: Exploratory study of coenzyme Q10 in obesity. In: Folkers K,Yamamura Y, eds: Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q, Vol 4. Elsevier Science Publ, Amsterdam,1984. pp369-73.
  22. Weiss M, et al.: Bioavailability of four oral coenzyme Q10 formulations in healthy volunteers. Molec Aspects Med 1994;15:273-80.
  23. Chopra RK, et al.: Relative bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 formulations in human subjects. Internat J Vit Nutr Res 1998;68:109-13.
  24. Malqvist ML, et al.: Bioavailability of two different formulations of coenzyme Q10 in healthy subjects. Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr 1998;7:37-40.
  25. Zhang Y,Turunen M, and Appelkvist EL: Restricted uptake of dietary coenzyme Q is in contrast to the unrestricted uptake of alpha-tocopherol into rat organs and cells. J Nutr 1996;126:2089-97.
  26. Ibrahim WH, et al.: Dietary coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E alter the status of these compounds in rat tissues and mitochondria. J Nutr 2000;130:2343-8.
  27. Kaikkonen J, et al.: Antioxidative efficacy of parallel and combinedsupplementation with coenzyme Q10 and d-alpha-tocopherol in mild lyhypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized placebo-controlled clinicalstudy Free Radic Res 2000;33:329-40.
  28. Bargossi AM, et al.: Exogenous CoQ10 supplementation prevents plasma ubiquinone reduction induced by HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Mol Aspects Med 1994;15(Suppl.):s187-93.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Pharmaceutical Grade Marine Lipids

While most Americans eat way too much of the omega-6 oils found in meats and most vegetable oils, they suffer a relative deficiency of the omega-3 oils – a situation that is associated with an increase risk for heart disease and about 60 other conditions including cancer, arthritis, stroke, high blood pressure, skin diseases, and diabetes. Particularly important to good health are the longer chain omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) found in fish, especially cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and halibut. Although the body can convert alpha-linolenic acid, a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid, from flaxseed oil it is much more efficient to get them from fish oils. Furthermore, there is evidence that many people have a difficult time converting alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA.

Why are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids so important?

The answer has to do with the function of these fatty substances in cellular membranes. A diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, results in altered cell membranes. Without a healthy membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water, vital nutrients, and electrolytes. They also lose their ability to communicate with other cells and be controlled by regulating hormones. They simply do not function properly. Cell membrane dysfunction is a critical factor in the development of virtually every chronic disease, especially cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Not surprisingly, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have shown tremendous protective effects against all of these diseases. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, but not alpha-linolenic acid, are also transformed into regulatory compounds known as prostaglandins. These compounds carry out many important tasks in the body. They regulate inflammation, pain, and swelling; they play a role in maintaining blood pressure; and they regulate heart, digestive, and kidney function. Prostaglandins also participate in the response to allergies, help control transmission of signals along the nerves, and help regulate the production of steroids and other hormones. Through their effects on prostaglandins and related compounds, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids can mediate many physiological processes making them useful in virtually every disease state as well.

What has changed your opinion on longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids?

My opinion on the superiority of longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids over alpha-linolenic acid is not new. I have always held that if manufacturers could solve some of the problems with commercial sources of EPA and DHA that I would wholeheartedly recommend them over flaxseed oil. The reason that I favored flaxseed oil over fish oils in some of my books (e.g., Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine) was because at the time the books were written there were MAJOR problems with fish oil supplements. These problems still persist in that most encapsulated fish oil products have been shown to contain very high levels of lipid peroxides, harmful contaminants, and heavy metals. Furthermore, because of the relatively low concentration of EPA and DHA in these products in order to produce therapeutic benefits people would have to consume 10 or more 1,000 mg capsules daily. Because of these factors, it simply made more sense to recommend flaxseed oil. However, a new development has changed my perspective a bit although I still think it makes great sense to utilize flaxseed oil on a daily basis as well.

What is the new development?

The ability to produce a highly concentrated form of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that is free from lipid peroxides, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds. These “pharmaceutical grade” marine lipid concentrates are so superior to earlier fish oil products that they are literally revolutionizing nutritional medicine. RxOmega- 3 Factors from Natural Factors is an example of this revolutionary new source of long-chain fatty acids. The key features of this product over regular fish oil products include:

  • More than twice the level of EPA and DHA per capsule than any other brand.
  • Each capsule provides 600 mg of long-chain omega- 3 fatty acids (400 mg EPA/200 mg DHA)*
  • Quality control steps to insure the product is free from lipid peroxides, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, and other harmful compounds.
  • Ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to arachidonic acid > 50:1
  • Contains the optimal amount of natural vitamin E as a preservative.

*The 2:1 ratio of EPA and DHA in RxOmega-3 Factors has been the dominant ratio in most of the scientific studies conducted with pharmaceutical- grade fish oil products that reported clinical benefits.

Do fish oil supplements really prevent heart disease?

Based upon results from two highly publicized studies in 2002, the answer is a dramatic yes. The first article, published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that there was a clear relationship between dietary intake of fish and omega-3 fatty acids and the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease – the higher the omega-3 fatty acid intake, the lower the likelihood of coronary heart disease. This relationship was even stronger for coronary deaths. The second article, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at omega-3 fatty acid levels in blood as opposed to diet. The investigators found a striking relationship between the blood level of omega-3 fatty acids present and the follow-up likelihood of dying from coronary heart disease. The use of fish oil supplements may reduce overall cardiovascular mortality by as much as 45%. This effect is not related to a change in blood cholesterol levels. The favorable effect is seen very rapidly, usually by three months into the study. In contrast, cholesterol-lowering drugs do not usually show benefit until after a year or more of therapy. As compared to drug therapy, omega-3 fatty acids provide remarkable benefits, are entirely safe, and are inexpensive.

Why hasn’t my doctor told me to take longchain omega-3 fatty acids?

Conventional physicians have been slow to recommend nutritional interventions. The evidence for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids providing exceptional health benefits is overwhelming and beyond dispute. One of the reasons that physicians have not felt comfortable with recommending fish oil supplements may be lack of quality control in these products. That issue has been resolved.

How much RxOmega- 3 Factors should I take?

For general health, one capsule on a daily basis provides more than the level of omega-3 fatty acids shown to be protective against heart disease mortality in well-designed clinical studies including those published in the JAMA and New England Journal of Medicine – the two most respected medical journals in the world. For more therapeutic purposes, the recommended dosage is two capsules two to three times daily.

Why not just eat more fish?

Numerous studies indicate that fish consumption offers significant protection against many diseases, especially heart disease and cancer. However, nearly all fish contain trace amounts of mercury. In most cases this is of little concern because the level is so low, but if you are eating a lot of fish it could pose a problem. Two to four servings per week is a good goal, but going above that may be counter productive. The fish most likely to have the lowest level of methyl mercury are salmon, cod, mackerel, coldwater tuna, farm raised catfish, and herring. Swordfish, shark, and other large predatory fish usually contain the highest levels of mercury. The bottom line is that taking a pharmaceutical grade marine lipid concentrate offers the assurance that you are meeting your requirements for these valuable long-chain omega-3 fatty acids without the fear of mercury poisoning.

Are there any other supplements that I need to take along with pharmaceutical grade marine lipid concentrate?

Absolutely. Everyone needs a strong nutritional foundation for good health. In addition to a high quality product containing the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids product, I recommend the appropriate MultiStart™ high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement based upon a person’s age and gender along with Enriching Greens® from Natural Factors.

References

  1. Hu FB, Bronner L,Willett WC, et al. Fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women. JAMA 2002;287:1815-21.
  2. Albert CM, Campos H, Stampfer MJ, et al. Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death. N Engl J Med 2002;346:1113-8.
  3. Bucher HC, Hengstler P, Schindler C, Meier G. N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Med 2002;112:298-304.
  4. Stark KD, Park EJ, Maines VA, Holub BJ. Effect of a fish-oil concentrate on serum lipids in postmenopausal women receiving and not receiving hormone replacement therapy in a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:389-94.
  5. Bougnoux P. n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cancer. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 1999;2:121-6.
  6. Calder PC. Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity.World Rev Nutr Diet 2001;88:109-16.
  7. Nordvik I, Myhr K-M, Nyland H, Bjerve KS. Effect of dietary advice and n-3 supplementation in newly diagnosed MS patients. Act Neurol Scand 2000;102:143-149.
  8. Broughton KS, Johnson CS, Pace BK, Liebman M, Kleppinger KM. Reduced asthma symptoms with n-3 fatty acid ingestion are related to 5-series leukotriene production. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:1011-1017.
  9. Burgess JR, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(Suppl.1):327S-30S.
  10. Volker D, Fitzgerald P, Major G, Garg M. Efficacy of fish oil concentrate in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. J Rheumatol 2000;27:2343-6.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Natural Support for Diabetics

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder characterized by elevations in blood sugar levels. There are two major categories:Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is associated with complete destruction of the cells in the pancreas that manufacture insulin. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes will require lifelong insulin for the control of blood sugar levels. In Type 2 diabetes insulin levels are typically elevated indicating a loss of sensitivity to insulin by the cells of the body. More than 90% of the 17 million American with diabetes have Type 2.

Diabetes is a serious disease because it is associated with an increased risk of lifethreatening complications such as a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease. Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes for these catastrophic complications is about 4 times that of people without diabetes. In addition to an earlier death, diabetes carries with it significant risks for serious complications such as blindness, the need for dialysis, and limb amputation.

Can natural medicine help people with diabetes?

Absolutely, in fact the most effective treatment of diabetes and other blood sugar problems requires the utilization of key lifestyle, dietary, and nutritional supplement strategies. When used properly, the natural medicine approach to diabetes can:

  • Significantly reduce the risk for developing diabetes – even if many of your family members or ancestors are or were diabetic.
  • Possibly reverse Type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve the sensitivity of cells to the action of insulin thereby improving glucose tolerance and normalizing blood sugar.
  • Promote weight loss and slow down or block the absorption of sugar from the intestinal tract.
  • Effectively reduce the complications of diabetes including heart disease and retinopathy.
  • Improve the actions of drugs and insulin while at the same time reducing their side effects.

The book How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine that I coauthored with Dr. Michael Lyon, MD, provides clear guidance for anyone with diabetes or concerned about developing it.

What specific natural products do you recommend to help improve blood sugar control?

Along with Dr. Lyon and Natural Factors, I have created the WellBetX™ product line – a family of nutritional and herbal products designed to address special nutritional needs of people with diabetes. The WellBetX products are designed to be used in conjunction with proper dietary, lifestyle, and medical treatment of diabetes. WellBetX is not designed to “treat” diabetes, instead it is designed to support the proper utilization of blood glucose and insulin as well as deal with some of the nutritional challenges and deficiencies that many diabetics suffer from. The various WellBetX products are designed to impact one or all of the following goals:

  1. Reduce after meal elevations in blood sugar levels.
  2. Provide optimal nutrient status.
  3. Improve insulin function and sensitivity.
  4. Prevent nutritional and oxidative stress.

It is vitally important that the diabetic take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula. It is the first step in achieving our first two goals above. The person with diabetes has higher requirements for many nutrients. Clinical studies have shown that supplementation with key nutrients can improve blood sugar control as well as help prevent or reduce the development of the major complications of diabetes. Furthermore, taking a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement has also been shown to boost immune function and reduce infections in diabetics. Such a formula will usually require 2-3 tablets twice daily in order to provide required levels of key levels of vitamins and minerals for individuals with diabetes.

For the next two goals we can look to unique blends of selected, highly viscous soluble fibers such as Glucomannan, Xanthan Gum, and Alginic acid. Fiber supplements have been shown to enhance blood sugar control, decrease insulin levels, and reduce the number of calories absorbed by the body. When taken with water before meals, highly viscous fiber blends bind to the water in the stomach and small intestine to form a gelatinous, viscous mass which not only slows down the absorption of glucose, but also induces a sense of satiety (fullness) and reduces the absorption of calories.

One of the main components of clinically proven highly viscous fiber blends is glucomannan, a soluble fiber obtained from grinding the root of Konjac, a plant that has been used as a food and remedy for thousands of years in Asia. Glucomannan is 3-times more viscous than Guar gum and approximately 7-times more viscous than Psyllium. By combining the glucomannan with xanthan gum and alginate in an ideal ratio, the viscosity is amplified further to produce a viscosity 3- 5 times higher than glucomannan alone.

While other soluble fiber complexes have been shown to produce similar effects, unfortunately, to the greatest benefit, the dosage required (e.g., 20 grams or more) is often difficult to achieve. In contrast, because of a synergistic effect when highly viscous fibers are blended in an ideal manner it is possible to produce results at a dosage as low as 3 grams per day.

Clinical studies with highly viscous fiber blends have displayed an ability to lower after meal blood glucose by approximately 20% and also lowers insulin secretion by approximately 40% producing a whole body insulin sensitivity index improvement of nearly 50% – a phenomenal accomplishment that is unequalled by any drug or natural health product.1,2

What herbal extracts have been shown to be useful in diabetes?

The two most active herbal extracts are Gymnema sylvestre and Bitter Melon. Gymnema extracts have been shown to enhance glucose control presumably through helping to increase the production or activity of insulin.3 Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) on the other hand has been shown to contain an insulin-like substance that promotes improved blood sugar control.4 Other herbal extracts useful are American Ginseng, Fenugreek, Milk Thistle, and Yacon Leaf.

What is Alpha-Lipoic Acid and why is important for diabetics?

One of the critical goals in nutritionally supporting individuals with diabetes is to flood the body with a high level of antioxidant compounds to counteract the negative effects of free radicals and pro-oxidants. In addition to taking a high potency multiple it is important to take additional Vitamin E (400 to 800 IU) and 400 to 600 mg of Alpha-lipoic acid – a vitamin-like substance that is often described as “nature’s perfect antioxidant.” Unlike Vitamin E which is primarily fat-soluble and Vitamin C which is water soluble, alpha-lipoic acid can quench either water or fat soluble free radicals both inside the cell and outside in the intracellular spaces. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to lead to an improvement in blood sugar metabolism, improves blood flow to peripheral nerves, and actually stimulates the regeneration of nerve fibers.5,6

Final Comments

Knowledge and awareness are the greatest allies for people with diabetes. An individual with diabetes who makes a strong commitment to learning about their condition and who accepts the lead role in a carefully supervised blood sugar monitoring program greatly improves the likelihood that they will lead a long and healthy life. On the other hand, individuals who remain ignorant about their disease and who refuse to undergo regular testing or self monitoring are far more likely to face years of unnecessary suffering and, more often than not, catastrophic health problems.

Utilizing natural products like those in the WellBetX product line can lead to definite improvements in blood sugar control. These improvements will subsequently be demonstrated by changes in the results with the different monitoring tests, but especially in self-monitored blood sugar levels.

At the present time, individuals with Type 1 diabetes absolutely require conventional treatment with the hormone insulin. We consider this approach consistent with natural medicine – after all, the goal is simply to provide the body with a critical natural hormone. When using the natural products that impact blood sugar control, the Type 1 diabetics will need to work closely with their physician and adjust insulin dosages accordingly. In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, when blood sugar levels cannot be controlled satisfactorily with weight loss, exercise and diet therapy; oral antihyperglycemic agents or, when necessary, insulin are utilized for additional support. Just as in the individual with Type 1 diabetes, the Type 2 individual on these drugs will need to work with their physician in adjusting the dosage of any medications. The difference however, is the goal in Type 2 diabetes is to achieve satisfactory blood sugar control without the aid of drugs. In fact, in most cases of Type 2 diabetes there can be a complete reversal of the disease.

References

  1. Vuksan V, Jenkins DJ, Spadafora P, et al. Konjac-mannan (glucomannan) improves glycemia and other associated risk factors for coronary heart disease in Type 2 diabetes. A randomized controlled metabolic trial. Diabetes Care 1999;22:913-9.
  2. Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Owen R, et al. Beneficial effects of viscous dietary fiber from Konjac-mannan in subjects with the insulin resistance syndrome: results of a controlled metabolic trial. Diabetes Care 2000;23:9-14.
  3. Baskaran K, Ahamath BK, Shanmugasundaram KR, Shanmugasundaram ERB. Antidiabetic effect of a leaf extract from Gymnema sylvestre in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients. J Ethnopharmacol 1990; 30: 295-305.
  4. Srivastava Y, Venkatakrishna-Bhatt H, Verma Y et al. Antidiabetic and adaptogenic properties of Momordica charantia extract. An experimental and clinical evaluation. Phytotherapy Res 1993; 7: 285-289.
  5. Reljanovic M, Reichel G, Rett K, et al.Treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy with the antioxidant thioctic acid (alpha-lipoic acid): a two year multicenter randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial (ALADIN II). Alpha Lipoic Acid in Diabetic Neuropathy. Free Radic Res 1999;31:171-9.
  6. Jacob S, Ruus P, Hermann R,Tritschler HJ, et al. Oral administration of RAC-alpha-lipoic acid modulates insulin sensitivity in patients with Type-2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled pilot trial. Free Radic Biol Med 1999;27:309-14.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The Healing Power of Proteolytic Enzymes

Key to Powerful Anti-Inflammatory & Immune Support

Proteolytic enzymes are indicated in anti-inflammatory conditions and to support the immune system. Proteolytic enzymes (or proteases) refer to the various enzymes that digest (break down into smaller units) protein. These enzymes include the pancreatic proteases chymotrypsin and trypsin, bromelain (pineapple enzyme), papain (papaya enzyme), fungal proteases, and Serratia peptidase (the “silk worm” enzyme). Preparations of proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be useful in the following situations:

  • Cancer
  • Digestion support
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Food allergies
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Herpes zoster (shingles)
  • Inflammation, sports injuries and trauma
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other
  • Sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, and autoimmune disorders chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

How do the proteolytic enzymes help autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis?

The benefits in some inflammatory conditions appears to be related to helping the body breakdown immune complexes formed between antibodies produced by the immune system and the compounds they bind to (antigens). Conditions associated with high levels of immune complexes in the blood are often referred to as “autoimmune diseases” and include such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and multiple sclerosis. Higher levels of circulating immune complexes are also seen in ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and AIDS. 4-6

How are Proteolytic enzymes used in cancer therapy?

Proteolytic enzymes have a long history of use in cancer treatment. In 1906, John Beard, a Scottish embryologist, reported on the successful treatment of cancer using a pancreatic extract in his book The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and its Scientific Basis. Proteolytic enzymes have been promoted by numerous alternative cancer practitioners for many years, but most recently by Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., who is evaluating the benefit of proteolytic enzymes in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer in a large-scale study, funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, with collaboration from the National Cancer Institute. This larger trial is a follow-up to a smaller study that showed dramatic improvements in these patients.

How do Proteolytic enzymes work to fight cancer?

Once absorbed the body prevents digestion of proteins in the blood and other body tissues producing antiproteases. The production of these antiproteases is critical to the mechanism of action of proteolytic enzymes. These antiproteinases block the invasiveness of tumor cells as well as prevent the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis). Proteolytic enzymes exert a number of other interesting anticancer mechanisms including the inhibition of metastasis (the spread of cancer) and the enhancement of the immune response.1

What clinical research has been done with proteolytic enzymes in cancer?

The clinical research that currently exists on proteolytic enzymes suggests significant benefits in the treatment of many forms of cancer.2

Specifically these studies have shown improvements in the general condition of patients, quality of life, and modest to significant improvements in life expectancy. Studies have consisted of patients with cancers of the breast, lung, stomach, head and neck, ovaries, cervix, and colon; lymphomas and multiple myeloma. These studies involved the use of proteolytic enzymes in conjunction with conventional therapy (surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation) indicating that proteolytic enzymes can be used safely and effectively with these treatments. Proteolytic enzymes are not recommended for at least two days before or after a surgery as they may increase the risk of bleeding. Proteolytic enzymes have been shown to be quite helpful in speeding up post-surgical recovery and relieving a complication of surgery and radiation known as lymphedema.

What other conditions might proteolytic enzymes be helpful for?

The list of conditions benefited by pancreatic enzyme supplementation seems to be growing all the time. For example, one potential use is in the treatment of viral related illness including hepatitis C and herpes simplex infections. For example, in one study in the treatment of herpes zoster (shingles) an orally administered proteolytic enzyme preparation was more effective than the standard drug therapy (acyclovir).8 In a study in patients with hepatitis C, proteolytic enzymes were shown to be slightly superior to alphainterferon in improving laboratory values and symptoms.9 Proteolytic enzymes also appear to be quite helpful in recovery from surgery, fibrocystic breast disease, acute and chronic sinusitis and bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.10-13

Can taking proteolytic enzymes actually improve digestion?

Yes, in fact, using enzyme preparations to support proper digestive function is used in conventional medicine in cases of pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis (a rare inherited disorder). Pancreatic insufficiency is characterized by impaired digestion, malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, and abdominal discomfort.

Are proteolytic enzymes actually absorbed?

Yes. One of the outdated arguments against the effectiveness of orally administered proteolytic enzymes was that they either got digested or they were too large to be absorbed. Absorption studies with the various proteolytic enzymes have confirmed that they are absorbed intact. In fact, they appear to be actively transported across the gut wall.3 Since stomach acid can destroy proteolytic enzymes, the best formulas are “enteric coated” – meaning that the pills have a coating around them to prevent the pill from being broken down in the stomach. An enteric-coated pill passes into the small intestine, where due to the pH change it will break down there.

Do the proteolytic enzymes digest blood proteins?

NO! There are special factors in the blood that block the enzymes so that they do not digest blood proteins.

What proteolytic enzyme product do you recommend?

In order to get the most out of proteolytic enzymes it is essential to use a high quality product at an adequate dosage. To judge the quality of an enzyme preparation it is important to know what you are looking for. Most of the proteolytic enzymes have well established guidelines developed by the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) or the Food Chemical Codex (FCC). The product that I recommend contains the following ingredients per enteric-coated tablet. It is more than twice as potent as other popular preparations:

Pancreatin(8X) 200 mg.
Papain (30,000 USP/mg) 120 mg.
Peptizyme SP (200,000 SPU/g) 52 mg.
Bromelain (1,200 MCU/g) 50 mg.

Pancreatin refers to pancreatic enzyme preparations prepared from fresh hog pancreas. The two primary proteases of pancreatin are chymotrypsin and trypsin (also available from ox bile). Papain and bromelain are proteolytic derived from papaya and pineapple, respectively. Peptizyme SP (a special serrapeptase) is derived from a bacteria that resides in the intestines of silk worms. It is also called “silk worm” enzyme as it is the enzyme used to breakdown the cocoon of the silk worm.

The Miracle Enzyme

Dr. Hans Nieper, a legendary medical doctor known for his extensive use of proteolytic enzymes, called serrapeptase the “Miracle Enzyme.” Dr. Nieper used the enzyme primarily to open up clogged arteries supplying the brain. This enzyme is more powerful than the pancreatic enzymes chymotrypsin and trypsin. It has been used in Europe and Japan for over 25 years. As evident in Table 1, good clinical results have been demonstrated in clinical trials. In addition to its general anti-inflammatory effects, it is particularly beneficial in fibrocystic breast disease as well as upper respiratory tract conditions like sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to its ability to improve the structure and function of the mucus lining.10-13

Are proteolytic enzymes preparations safe?

Proteolytic enzymes are generally well-tolerated and are not associated with any significant side effects. Even in people with presumably normal pancreatic function, taking proteolytic enzymes produced no untoward side effects nor did it reduce the capacity for these subjects to produce their own pancreatic enzymes.14 However, my recommendation is to utilize these preparations only when there is apparent need.

Although no significant side effects have been noted with any of the proteolytic enzymes, allergic reactions may occur (as with most therapeutic agents). Pancreatic enzymes should not be used by anyone allergic to pork; bromelain should not be used in anyone allergic to pineapple; and papain should not be used in anyone sensitive to papaya.

References

  1. Rubinstein E, et al.: Antibacterial activity of the pancreatic fluid. Gastroenterol 1985;88:927-32.
  2. Ambrus JL, et al.: Absorption of exogenous and endogenous proteolytic enzymes. Clin Pharmacol Therap 1967;8:362-8.
  3. Kabacoff BB, et al.: Absorption of chymotrypsin from the intestinal tract. Nature 1963;199:815-7.
  4. Martin GJ, et al.: Further in vivo observations with radioactive trypsin. Am J Pharm 1964;129:386-92.
  5. Avakian S: Further studies on the absorption of chymotrypsin. Clin Pharmacol Therap 1964;5:712-5.
  6. Liebow C and Rothman SS: Enteropancreatic circulation of digestive enzymes. Science 1975;189:472-4.
  7. Oelgoetz AW, et al.: The treatment of food allergy and indigestion of pancreatic origin with pancreatic enzymes. Am J Dig Dis Nutr 1935;2:422-6.
  8. Carroccio A, et al.: Pancreatic enzyme therapy in childhood celiac disease. A double-blind prospective randomized study. Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:2555-2560.
  9. Innerfield I: Enzymes in Clinical Medicine. McGraw Hill, New York, 1960.
  10. Mazurov VI, et al. Beneficial effects of concomitant oral enzymes in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Int J Tiss React 1997;19:91.
  11. Ransberger K: Enzyme treatment of immune complex diseases. Arthritis Rheuma 1986;8:16-9.
  12. Steffen C, et al.: Enzyme therapy in comparison with immune complex determinations in chronic polyarteritis. Rheumatologie 1985;44:51-6.
  13. Ransberger K and van Schaik W: Enzyme therapy in multiple sclerosis. Der Kassenarzt 1986;41:42-5.
  14. Gonzalez NJ and Isaacs LL: Evaluation of pancreatic proteolytic enzyme treatment of adenocarcinoma of the pancreas, with nutrition and detoxification support. Nutr Cancer 1999;33:117-24.
  15. Leipner J and Saller R: Systemic enzyme therapy in oncology: effect and mode of action. Drugs. 2000;59:769- 80.
  16. Kleine MW, Stauder GM and Beese EW:The intestinal absorption of orally administered hydrolytic enzymes and their effects in the treatment of acute herpes zoster as compared with those of oral acyclovir therapy. Phytomedicine 1995;2:7-15.
  17. Kabil SM and Stauder G: Oral enzyme therapy in hepatitis C patients. Int J Tiss React 1997;19:97-8.
  18. Schneider, MU, Knoll-Ruzicka ML, Domschke S, et al: Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy: Comparative effects of conventional and enteric-coated microspheric pancreatin and acid-stable fungal enzyme preparations on steatorrhea in chronic pancreatitis. Hepatogastroenterol 1985;32:97-102.
  19. Friess H, et al.:Influence of high-dose pancreatic enzyme treatment on pancreatic function in healthy volunteers. Int J Pancreatol 1998;23:115-23.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The Medicinal Mushroom for Cellular Immune Protection

The The maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa) is the source of immune enhancing compounds that are being shown to offer significant health benefits.1,2 The commercial evolution of maitake has led to the development of Maitake Gold 404™, a proprietary maitake extract developed by Dr. Hiroaki Nanba – the world’s leading authority on maitake.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Nanba was researching the immune enhancing properties of mushrooms when he came to the conclusion that maitake extracts demonstrated more pronounced antitumor activity in animal tests than other mushroom extracts.3* One of the key benefits to maitake was the ability to be quite effective when given orally. In contrast, the other mushrooms Dr. Nanba was studying such as shiitake were only effective when injected into the bloodstream.

In 1984, Dr. Nanba identified a fraction of maitake that possessed a significant ability to stimulate white blood cells known as macrophages (literal translation “big eaters”).These specialized white blood cells phagocytize or engulf foreign particles including cancer cells, bacteria, and cellular debris. Dr. Nanba termed his discover maitake D-fraction.This fraction consisted of polysaccharide compounds (beta-1,6 glucan and beta-1,3 glucan) and protein. In 1984 a patent was issued in Japan to Nanba and others.

While other medicinal mushrooms have shown to have similar beta-glucan constituents, Dr. Nanba found that the beta-glucans found in the maitake D-fraction have a unique and complex structure.The biggest difference was a greater number of branching side chains. It is thought that the greater the degree of branching, the higher the likelihood the beta-glucan fraction will reach and activate a greater number of immune cells.4-6

Throughout the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Dr. Nanba and other Japanese researchers continued to study maitake, trying to improve upon the antitumor and immunopotentiating activity of the Dfraction. Further purification of the D-fraction yielded the MD-fraction (U.S. Patent #5,854,404), which is even more bioactive than the D-fraction.7 It is important to point out that any research references to the D-fraction also apply to the purer and more potent MD-fraction (i.e., Maitake Gold 404™). The MD-fraction is produced in a similar manner to the D-fraction; however, Dr. Nanba added a key step that removes some impurities found in the D-Fraction.7 The result is that the MD-fraction provides superior results over the D-fraction. For example, in an antitumor test described in the patent each solution was administered to mice with carcinomas.The researchers found the group given the MD-fraction experienced a significantly stronger inhibitory effect on tumor growth than that of the group given the D-fraction.The researchers also compared each fraction’s effects on white blood cells (macrophage and killer T-cell activity) five days after each test substance was given.The MD-fraction also exhibited stronger immune system potentiation compared to the D-fraction. Both the D- and MD-fractions are considered to have low toxicity and high safety.

What are the other effects of maitake beta-glucan fractions on the immune system and how does it fight cancer?

Maitake beta-glucan fractions exert profound effects on immune function.6,8-12* In a nutshell, it appears that the beta-glucans in the maitake MD-fraction actually bind to receptors on the outer membranes of macrophages and other white blood cells including natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T-cells (Tc). These immune cells are very important in protecting against and fighting cancer because they can attack tumor cells directly.*

Just like a key in a lock, the binding of the beta-glucan literally flips white blood cells on and triggers a chain reaction leading to increased immune activity. In addition to increasing the ability of the macrophages to engulf and destroy cancer cells, microbes, and other foreign cells, the beta-glucan binding stimulates the production of important signaling proteins of the immune system such as interleukin-1 interleukin-2, and lymphokines. These immune activators ramp up defenses by activating immune cells.

Beta-glucans from Maitake Gold 404™ also stimulate the production of white blood cells within the bone marrow – the major area for white blood cell production. Reduced bone marrow production means lowered white cell counts and an increased risk of infection and cancer. This beneficial effect of the beta-glucan is put to good use in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Do other sources of beta-glucans provide the same benefit as MaitakeGold 404™?

Beta-glucans are found in many other forms. However, the unique branching pattern of maitake MD-fraction makes it the ideal source of these molecules. Beta-glucans from oats and barley, for example, tend to form viscous gel. When consumed with a meal, oat and barley beta-glucans act as a good source of soluble fiber in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but they really don’t have much of an impact on the immune system. Purified beta-glucans from the common baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) possess similar benefit to maitake beta-glucan fractions, but may not be as well absorbed.

How does maitake beta-glucan fractions inhibit tumor growth?

Maitake researchers have identified four primary mechanisms by which maitake fights cancer:13-21

  • By protecting healthy cells from becoming cancerous.*
  • By enhancing the immune system’s ability to seek out and destroy cancer cells.*
  • By helping the cell regain control of cell division and programmed cell death (apoptosis).*
  • By helping to prevent the spreading (metastasis) of cancer.*

Another way in which maitake beta-glucan fractions may inhibit cancer formation is via enhancement of apoptosis, a distinct form of cell death controlled by an internally encoded suicide program.22* In cancerous cells, there is a tendency of suppression of this natural process of cell death. Instead of dying, the cancer cell multiplies. By promoting apoptosis, cancer cells can literally be turned off.

Does maitake have any benefit against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?

Yes. In the late 1980s, Japanese researchers determined maitake D-fraction enhanced helper Tcells, the target cells of HIV.26* This was one of the earliest clinical indications that maitake may be a potential treatment for HIV. Since then, test tube studies have shown some promising results in inhibiting HIV. Recently, the effect of the MDfraction was studied in 35 HIV-positive subjects for 360 days.27 The researchers monitored helper T-cell (CD4+) counts, viral load, symptoms of HIV infection, status of secondary disease, and subjects’ sense of well-being. Effects on the helper T-cell count and viral load were variable: helper Tcells increased in 20 patients, decreased in eight patients, and remained static in four patients. Viral load decreased in ten patients, increased in nine patients, and was static in two patients. The big change was that 85% of the patients reported an increased sense of well-being with regard to various symptoms and secondary diseases caused by HIV. The researchers concluded that the MD-fraction appears to work on several levels: by direct inhibition of HIV, stimulation of the body’s own natural defense system against HIV, and making the body less vulnerable to opportunistic disease.33

Can maitake betaglucan fractions be used during chemotherapy?

According to preliminary data, maitake betaglucan fractions appear to help reduce the side effects of conventional chemotherapy (and radiation) while at the same time enhancing its effectiveness. 23* In 1994, a group from China published findings from a pilot study on 63 cancer patient reporting a total effective rate against solid tumors at higher than 95% and the effective rate against leukemia higher than 90%. In a preliminary study conducted by Dr. Nanba, 165 patients with advanced cancer were given maitake extract.24 In the patients who were also on chemotherapy, 90% of the patients experienced a reduction in the side effects common to chemotherapy including hair loss, decreased white blood cell counts, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Maitake was shown to effectively reduce pain levels in 83% of the patients. The results were best in breast, lung, and liver cancers. Dr. Nanba reported significant improvement in symptoms or regression of tumors in 73.3% of patients with breast cancer, 66.6% in lung cancer, and 46.6% in liver cancer. In contrast to the incredible response rates claimed in the Chinese study, in Dr. Nanba’s study less than 50% of the leukemias and cancers of the prostate, brain, stomach, and bone seemed to respond.

These preliminary studies need to be followedup by larger, better controlled studies. It appears that such studies are on the horizon as in February 1998 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an Investigational New Drug Application (IND 54,589) for researchers to conduct a more detailed pilot study on maitake D-fraction’s potential effects on advanced breast and prostate cancers.

What type of tumors are inhibited by maitake beta-glucan fractions?

Preliminary studies in animal models have shown maitake fractions inhibit the growth of tumors in the colon, lungs, stomach, liver, prostate, cervix, bladder, and brain, as well as leukemia.* The significance of this inhibition in animal models to the human condition is not clear at this time, but it does give us an idea of the potential of maitake beta-glucan fractions.

What is the proper dosage for Maitake Gold 404™?

The dosage of maitake extracts is based upon the level of the D- or MD-fraction. The therapeutic dosage range is based upon body weight, 0.5mg to 1.0 mg for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight per day. That translates to a dosage of approximately 35-70 mg of the D- or MD-fraction. The dosage recommendation for prevention is typically 5 to 15 mg of the D- or MD-fraction. For best results take 20 minutes before meals or on an empty stomach.

References

  1. Mayell M. Maitake extracts and their therapeutic potential. Altern Med Rev 2001;6:48-60
  2. Jones K. Maitake: a potent medicinal food. Alt Comp Ther 1998;4:420-429.
  3. Nanba H, Hamaguchi A, Kuroda H.The chemical structure of an antitumor polysaccharide in fruit bodies of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1987;35:1162-1168.
  4. Adachi Y, Ohno N, Ohsawa M, et al. Change of biological activities of (1-3)-beta-D-glucan from Grifola frondosa upon molecular weight reduction by heat treatment. Chem Pharm Bull 1990;38:477-481.
  5. Okazaki M, Adachi Y, Ohno N,Yadomae T. Structure-activity relationship of (1Ñ>3)-beta-D-glucans in the induction of cytokine production from macrophages, in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull 1995;18:1320-1327.
  6. Borchers AT, Stern JS, Hackman RM, et al. Mushrooms, tumors, and immunity. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1999;221:281-293.
  7. Nanba H, Kubo K. Antitumor substance extracted from Grifola. U.S.Patent 5,854,404, issued December 29, 1998.
  8. Adachi Y, Okazaki M, Ohno N,Yadomae T. Enhancement of cytokine production by macrophages stimulated with (1Ñ>3)-beta-D-glucan, grifolan (GRN), isolated from Grifola frondosa. Biol Pharm Bull 1994;17:1554-1560.
  9. Adachi Y, Ohno N,Yadomae T. Activation of murine kupffer cells by administration with gel-forming (1Ñ>3)-beta-D-glucan from Grifola frondosa. Biol Pharm Bull 1998;21:278-283.
  10. Ohno N, Egawa Y, Hashimoto T, et al. Effect of beta-glucans on the nitric oxide synthesis by peritoneal macrophage in mice. Biol Pharm Bull 1996;19:608-612.
  11. Suzuki I, Itani T, Ohno N, et al. Effect of a polysaccharide fraction from Grifola frondosa on immune response in mice. J Pharmacobiodyn 1985;8:217-226.
  12. Suzuki I, Hashimoto K, Oikawa S, et al. Antitumor and immunomodulating activities of a beta-glucan obtained from liquid-cultured Grifola frondosa. Chem Pharm Bull 1989;37:410-413.
  13. Yamada Y, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor effect of orally administered extracts from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chemotherapy 1990;38:790-796.
  14. Adachi Y, Ohno N, Ohsawa M, et al. Physiochemical properties and antitumor activities of chemically modified derivatives of antitumor glucan “grifolan LE” from Grifola frondosa. Chem Pharm Bull1989;37:1838-1843.
  15. Mizuno T, Ohsawa K, Hagiwara N, Kuboyama R. Fractionation and characterization of antitumor polysaccharides from maitake, Grifola frondosa. Agric Biol Chem 1986;50:1679-1688.
  16. Ohno N, Asada N, Adachi Y,Yadomae T. Enhancement of LPS triggered TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor-alpha) production by (1Ñ>3)-beta-D-glucans in mice. Biol Pharm Bull 1995;18:126-133.
  17. Suzuki I, Itani T, Ohno N, et al. Antitumor activity of a polysaccharide fraction extracted from cultured fruiting bodies of Grifola frondosa. J Pharmacobiodyn 1984;7:492-500.
  18. Takeyama T, Suzuki I, Ohno N, et al. Host-mediated antitumor effect of grifolan NMF-5N, a polysaccharide obtained from Grifola frondosa. J Pharmacobiodyn 1987;10:644-651.
  19. Ohno N, Adachi Y, Suzuki I, et al. Antitumor activity of a beta-1,3-glucan obtained from liquid cultured mycelium of Grifola frondosa. J Pharmacobiodyn 1986;9:861-864.
  20. Yang DA. Inhibitory effect of Chinese herb medicine zhuling on urinary bladder cancer. An experimental and clinical study. Chung Hua Wai Ko Tsa Chih 1991;29:393-395,399.
  21. Suzuki I,Takeyama T, Ohno N, et al. Antitumor effect of polysaccharide grifolan NMF-5N on syngeneic tumor in mice. J Pharmacobiodyn 1987;10:72-77.
  22. Fullerton SA, Samadi AA,Tortorelis DG, et al. Induction of apoptosis in human prostatic cancer cells with beta-glucan (Maitake mushroom polysaccharide). Mol Urol 2000;4:7-13.
  23. Nanba H. Maitake D-fraction: healing and preventive potential for cancer. J Orthomol Med 1997;12:43-49.
  24. Nanba H. Results of non-controlled clinical study for various cancer patients using maitake D-fraction. Explore 1995;6:19-21.
  25. Nanba H, Kodama N, Schar D,Turner D. Effects of maitake (Grifola frondosa) glucan in HIV-infected patients. Mycoscience 2000;41:293-295.
  26. Hishida I, Nanba H, Kuroda H. Antitumor activity exhibited by oral administered extract from fruit body of Grifola frondosa (maitake). Chem Pharm Bull 1988;36:1819-1827.
  27. Nanba H, Kodama N, Shar D,Turner D. Effect of Maitake (Gifolia frondosa) glucan in HIV-infected patients. Mycoscience 2000;41:293-5.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The Science Behind Garlic

For Healthy Cholesterol & Immune Function

Garlic has been used throughout history virtually all over the world as a medicine. Its use predates written history. Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies to approximately 5,000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it for at least 3,000 years.The Codex Ebers, an Egyptian medical papyrus dating to about 1,550 B.C., mentions garlic as an effective remedy for a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, headache, bites, worms, and tumors. Hippocrates, Aristotle and Pliny cited numerous therapeutic uses for garlic. Stories, verse, and folklore (such as its alleged ability to ward off vampires) also give historical documentation to the healing power of garlic. Sir John Harrington in The Englishman’s Doctor, written in 1609, summarized garlic’s virtues and faults:

Garlic then have power to save from death
Bear with it though it maketh unsavory breath,
And scorn not garlic like some that think
It only maketh men wink and drink and stink.

Another favorite saying about garlic is “Eat garlic and gain your health, but lose your friends.” Fortunately, there are now commercial preparations that provide all of the health benefits of garlic without the social consequences.

What are the scientifically confirmed effects of garlic?

Garlic has a wide range of well-documented effects including helping to fight infection and boosting immune function; preventing cancer, and the cardiovascular benefits of lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these beneficial effects of garlic are attributed to its sulfur-containing compounds: allicin, diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and others. Allicin is mainly responsible for the pungent odor of garlic. It is formed by the action of the enzyme alliinase on the compound alliin. The enzyme is activated by heat, oxygen, or water. This accounts for the fact that cooked garlic, as well as “aged garlic preparations,” and garlic oil products produce neither as strong an odor as raw garlic nor nearly as powerful medicinal effects.1

Do “odor controlled” or “odorless” garlic products contain allicin?

Some do and some do not. Since allicin is the component in garlic that is responsible for its easily identifiable odor, some manufacturers have developed highly sophisticated methods in an effort to provide the full benefits of garlic – they provide “odorless” garlic products concentrated for alliin because alliin is relatively “odorless” until it is converted to allicin in the body. Products concentrated for alliin and other sulfur components provide all of the benefits of fresh garlic if they are manufactured properly, but are more “socially acceptable.” Because alliin and alliinase are very stable when garlic is properly processed, there is a method to ensure that the allicin is not produced until the garlic powder mixes with the fluids of the intestinal tract. This method is referred to as “enteric-coating.” This method coats the specially prepared garlic in such a manner so that the tablet does not break down until after it has passed through the stomach. If a non-enteric coated garlic preparation is used, the stomach acid will destroy the majority of the formed allicin. So, these preparations are not likely to produce as good of results as a high quality, enteric-coated product. The same can be said for aged garlic and garlic oil products as these forms of garlic contain absolutely no allicin or allicin degradation products. Dr. Lawson discovered that there were basically two major problems. First of all, many of the garlic products contained little allinase activity. There was plenty of alliin, but since the activity of allinase was low, the level of allicin formed was also low. Next, Dr. Lawson found that many of the tablets contained excipients (e.g., binders and fillers) that actually inhibit allinase activity. The allinase activity in 63% of the brands was less than 10% of expected activity. The inability to release an effective dose of allicin would explain why so many of the studies with garlic supplements fail to show benefit in lowering cholesterol or blood pressure. 3

For example, studies done with one particular garlic supplement prior to 1993 were mostly positive. In fact, the results from these positive studies were the main reason garlic supplements have been allowed in Germany and in the U.S. to refer to cholesterol lowering activity. However, studies published since 1995 have failed to show a consistent effect in lowering cholesterol.4

While the authors of the negative studies on garlic have felt that the underlying reason for the results was a better-designed study, a more likely explanation is that they are due to a poorer quality tablet. Specifically, research conducted by Dr. Lawson has shown that tablets manufactured before 1993 were twice as resistant to disintegration in acid as tablets manufactured after 1993 and that the older tablets released three times the amount of allicin than the more recently manufactured tablets.3

Examination of the package labels shows several changes in tablet excipients between the pre- and post 1993 tablets. Again, these excipients are believed to block allinase activity.

Can garlic really lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels?

Yes, but there are some important caveats as mentioned above. The studies showing a positive effect of garlic and garlic preparations are those that deliver a sufficient dosage of allicin. The negative studies do not. In the positive doubleblind studies in patients with initial cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dl, supplementation with garlic preparations providing a daily dose of at least 10 mg allicin or a total allicin potential of 4,000 mcg total serum cholesterol levels dropped by about 10% to 12%, LDL cholesterol decreased by about 15%, HDL cholesterol levels usually increased by about 10%, and triglyceride levels dropped by 15%.4-9 Blood pressure readings also dropped with typical reductions of 11 mm Hg for the systolic and 5.0 in the diastolic within a one to three month period.10,11

What About Aged Garlic?

Since aged garlic does not contain allicin, it does not produce any significant benefits on either blood pressure or cholesterol levels.12 It may provide some other benefits on the cardiovascular system, but the significance of these effects has not been fully evaluated.

What brand do you recommend?

Based upon Dr. Lawson’s new research, as well as the research conducted by Natural Factors, I am now endorsing Garlic Factors. I feel that it gives a person the best chance of getting all the benefits of fresh garlic minus the odor.

How much garlic do I need?

Based on the results of the positive clinical trials, the dosage of a commercial garlic product should provide a daily dose of at least 10 mg alliin or a total allicin potential of 4,000 mcg. This dosage equates to roughly one to four cloves of fresh garlic. Each tablet of Garlic Factors provides 6,150 mcg of allicin, very high potency. But, the real advantage of Garlic Factors is the fact that it is manufactured by Natural Factors — the experts in effective natural products. As a result, you are assured that Garlic Factors has been designed to produce results consistently.

Is garlic safe?

Garlic preparations taken orally, even “odorless” products, can produce a garlic odor on the breath and through the skin. Gastrointestinal irritation and nausea are the most frequent side effects. Beware of the propaganda on the dangers of allicin. I do not argue that acute and prolonged feeding of large amounts of raw garlic to rats results in anemia, weight loss and failure to grow, and even death.13,14 However, the dosages of fresh garlic used in these studies to produce these toxic effects were incredibly high, e.g., 500 mg of fresh garlic per 100 g of body weight.

What about antimicrobial and immune enhancing effects?

Garlic does exert antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal activity.17 However, it may also work against some intestinal parasites. Garlic’s antibiotic activity is only roughly 1% the strength of penicillin, so it is certainly not a substitute for antibiotics. It is especially supportive against the overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans. Garlic appears to exert many positive effects on the immune system and human population studies have shown that eating garlic regularly reduces the risk of many cancers.18 This is partly due to garlic’s ability to reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds as well as its positive effects on the immune system.

Does garlic interact with any drugs?

Theoretically, garlic preparations may potentiate the effects of the blood thinning drug Coumadin® (warfarin) as well as enhance the antiplatelet effects of drugs like aspirin and Ticlid® (ticlopidine). If you are taking these drugs, please consult a physician before taking a garlic product. Garlic may increase the effectiveness of drugs that lower blood sugar levels in the treatment of non-insulin dependent diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) such as glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase). Consult a physician to discuss proper monitoring of blood sugar levels before taking a garlic product.

References

  1. Koch H and Lawson L (eds.): Garlic: The Science and Therapeutic Application of Allium Sativum L and Related Species, 2nd Edition.Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD, 1996.
  2. Lawson LD and Wang ZJ.Tablet quality: A major problem in clinical trials with garlic supplements. Forsch Kmplmentaermed 7:45, 2000.
  3. Lawson LD,Wang ZJ and Papdimitrou D. Allicin release under simulated gastrointestinal conditions from garlic powder tablets employed in clinical trials on serum cholesterol. Planta Medica 2001;67:13-18.
  4. Stevinson C, Pittler MH and Erst E. Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia: A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Ann Intern Med 133:420-9, 2000.
  5. Kleijnen J, et al.: Garlic, onions and cardiovascular risk factors: A review of the evidence from human experiments with emphasis on commercially available preparations. Br J Clin Pharmacol 28:535-44, 1989.
  6. Warshafsky S, Kamer RS and Sivak SL: Effect of garlic on total serum cholesterol. Ann Intern Med 119:599-605, 1993.
  7. Jain AK, et al.: Can garlic reduce levels of serum lipids? A controlled clinical study. Am J Med 94:632-5, 1993.
  8. Rotzch W, et al.: Postprandial lipaemia under treatment with Allium sativum. Controlled double-blind study in healthy volunteers with reduced HDL2- cholesterol levels. Arzneim Forsch 42:1223-7, 1992.
  9. Mader FH:Treatment of hyperlipidemia with garlic-powder tablets. Arzneim Forsch 40:1111-6, 1990.
  10. Silagy CA and Neil HA: A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure. J Hypertens 12:463-8, 1994.
  11. Reuter HD: Allium sativum and Allium ursinum: Part 2. Pharmacology and medicinal application. Phytomed 2:73-91, 1995.
  12. Steiner M, et al.: A double-blind crossover study in moderately hypercholesterolemic men that compared the effect of aged garlic extract and placebo administration on blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr 64:866-70, 1996.
  13. Nakagawa S, et al.: Effect of raw and extracted-aged garlic juice on growth of young rats and their organs after perioral administration. J Toxicol Sci 5:91-112, 1980.
  14. Joseph PK, Rao KR and Sundaresh CS.Toxic effects of garlic extract and garlic oil in rats. Indian J Exp Biol 27:977-9, 1989.
  15. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK. Maternal diet alters the sensory qualities of human milk and the nursling’s behavior. Pediatr 1991;88:737-44.
  16. Mennella JA, Beauchamp GK.The effects of repeated exposure to garlic-flavored milk on the nursling’s behavior. Pediatr Res 1993;34:805-8.
  17. Hughes BG, Lawson LD. Antimicrobial effects of Allium sativum L. (garlic), Allium ampeloprasum L. (elephant garlic) and Allium cepa L. (onion), garlic compounds and commercial garlic supplement products. Phytother Res 1991;5:154-8.
  18. Dorant E, van der Brandt PA, et al. Garlic and its significance for the prevention of cancer in humans: A critical review. Br J Cancer 1993;67:424-9.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The Truth About Multiple Vitamins

What to Look for in a Multiple Vitamin and Mineral Supplement

In the last few years, more Americans than ever have discovered the benefits of nutritional and herbal supplements. Unfortunately, while the myth that diets alone can provide all the essential nutrition necessary for optimal health, most popular one a day multiple vitamin and mineral formulas provide less than ideal amounts of most key nutrients. It would be great to get all the essential daily nutrients in one tablet, but it just isn’t possible.

Why should I take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula?

While a health-promoting diet is an essential component of good health, so too is proper nutritional supplementation. While some experts say that you can theoretically meet all of your nutritional needs through diet alone, the reality is that most Americans do not. During recent years the U.S. government has sponsored a number of comprehensive studies (HANES I, II, and III, Ten State Nutrition Survey, USDA nationwide food consumption studies, etc.) to determine the nutritional status of the population. These studies have revealed marginal nutrient deficiencies exist in a substantial portion of the U.S. population (approximately 50 percent) and that for some selected nutrients in certain age groups more than 80 percent of the group consumed less than the RDA.1

These studies indicate the chances of consuming a diet meeting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for all nutrients is extremely unlikely for most Americans. In other words, while it is theoretically possible that a healthy individual can get all the nutrition they need from foods, the fact is that most Americans do not even come close to meeting all their nutritional needs through diet alone. In an effort to increase their intake of essential nutrients, many Americans look to vitamin and mineral supplements.

Current estimates are that more than 70 percent of Americans now regularly take vitamin or mineral supplements. 2,3 It seems that taking vitamin and mineral supplements has become a way of life for most Americans. Sixty-seven percent of supplement users took only one supplement, with the majority of them taking a multiple vitamin and mineral product (46 percent). Unfortunately, most people taking a multiple vitamin and mineral formulas are still not getting what they really need because they are being misled into thinking that a “one a day” type multiple is meeting all their needs for optimum nutrition.

Are minerals important?

Absolutely. The key functions of vitamins and minerals in the human body revolve around their serving the role as essential components in enzymes and coenzymes. Enzymes are molecules involved in speeding up chemical reactions necessary for human bodily function. Coenzymes are molecules that help the enzymes in their chemical reactions.

Enzymes and coenzymes work to either join molecules together or split them apart by making or breaking the chemical bonds that join molecules together. One of the key concepts in nutritional medicine is to supply the necessary support or nutrients to allow the enzymes of a particular tissue to work at its optimum levels. Most enzymes are composed of a protein along with an essential mineral, and possibly a vitamin. If an enzyme is lacking the essential mineral or vitamin, it cannot function properly. By providing the necessary mineral through diet or a nutritional formula, the enzyme is then able to perform its vital function. For example, zinc is necessary for the enzyme that activates vitamin A in the visual process. Without zinc in the enzyme, the vitamin A cannot be converted to the active form. This deficiency can result in what is known as night-blindness. By supplying the enzyme with zinc, we are allowing the enzyme to perform its vital function.

How can I ensure that I am getting what I need?

For optimum health, a high-quality multiple vitamin and mineral supplement is an absolute necessity. A high-quality multiple is one that provides optimal levels of both vitamins and minerals. Your body needs all of the important building blocks in order to build health. The following recommendations provide an optimum intake range to guide you in selecting a high-quality multiple. (Note that different vitamins and minerals are measured in different units. IU = International Units; mg = milligrams, mcg = micrograms.)

Vitamin Range for Adults

Vitamin A (retinol)a 2,500-5000 IU
Vitamin A (from beta-carotene) 5000-25,000 IU
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 10-100 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 10-50 mg
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 10-100 mg
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 25-100 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 25-100 mg
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 400 mcg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 250-500 mg
Vitamin Db 100-400 IU
Vitamin E(d-alpha tocopherol) 100-400 IU
Niacinamide 10-30 mg
Biotin 100-600 mcg
Folic acid 400-800 mcg
Choline 10-100 mg
Inositol 10-100 mg

Mineral Range for Adults

Calcium 250-1,000 mg
Chromium 200-400 mcg
Copper 1-2 mg
Iodine 50-150 mcg
Iron 15-30 mg
Magnesium 250-350 mg
Manganese 10-15 mg
Molybdenum 10-25 mcg
Selenium 100-200 mcg
Silica 1-25 mg
Vanadium 50-100 mcg
Zinc 15-20 mg

Notes:

  1. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should not take more than 2500 IU of retinol daily due to the possible risk of birth defects (Note: beta-carotene is safe during pregnancy and lactation).
  2. People living in northern latitudes should supplement at the high range
  3. Women should take 800 to 1,000 mg of calcium to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  4. Men and postmenopausal women rarely need supplemental iron.

To find a multiple vitamin and mineral formula that meet these criteria, read labels carefully. Be aware that you will not be able to find a formula that can provide all of these nutrients at these levels in one single pill – it would simply be too large. Usually, it will require at least four to six tablets to meet these levels. While many “one-a-day” supplements provide good levels of vitamins, they are woefully insufficient in the levels of minerals.

What kind of benefits can I expect to gain from taking a high-quality multiple vitamin and mineral formula?

In addition to the enormous number of studies showing benefits from the individual nutrients in a high potency multiple, studies have shown that people taking a multiple vitamin and mineral formula may experience higher energy levels, improved brain function, fewer colds or infections, improved ability to deal with stress, greater sense of well-being, and other health benefits.4-8However, the reality is that many people taking a multiple may feel nothing. But just because they may not feel anything it doesn’t mean that the higher nutrient levels they are ingesting are not being used by the body. For example, there is evidence that people taking nutritional supplements may have a lowered risk for heart disease, cancer, cataracts, and other degenerative diseases.9-11In one of the most recent findings it was found that women taking a multiple vitamin and mineral formula for more than 14 years had a 75% reduced rate of colon cancer.12 While it is extremely unlikely that these women felt the awesome protection they were being given by their supplement, nonetheless they definitely realized the benefits.

Simply stated, the entire human body functions more optimally when it has a steady supply of high quality nutrition.

Do men and women have different nutritional needs?

Yes. For example, women require higher calcium and vitamin B6 levels than men while men tend to require higher magnesium levels. Also, men rarely need to supplement their diet with iron. There are many subtle differences in nutritional requirements not only in men and women, but also based upon a person’s age. The multiple vitamin and mineral formulas that I recommend, the MultiStart™ products from Natural Factors, are designed to meet the different nutritional needs of different ages and gender. These formulas contain not only gender and age specific levels for vitamins and minerals, but also appropriate digestive factors and herbal extracts based on gender and/or age.

References

  1. National Research Council: Diet and Health. Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1989
  2. Ervin RB, Wright JD, Kennedy-Stephenson J. Use of dietary supplements in the United States, 1988-94. Vital Health Stat 1999;Jun(244):1-14.
  3. Balluz LS, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplement use in the United States. Results from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Fam Med 2000;9:258-62.
  4. Schlebusch L, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, double-centre study of the effects of an oral multivitamin-mineral combination on stress. S Afr Med J 2000;90:1216-23
  5. Carroll D, et al. The effects of an oral multivitamin combination with calcium, magnesium, and zinc on psychological well-being in healthy young male volunteers: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology 2000;150:220-5
  6. Benton D, Haller J, Fordy J. Vitamin supplementation for 1 year improves mood. Neuropsychobiology. 1995;32:98-105.
  7. Benton D, Fordy J, Haller J. The impact of long-term vitamin supplementation on cognitive functioning. Psychopharmacology 1995;117:298-305.
  8. Johnson MA, Porter KH. Micronutrient supplementation and infection in institutionalized elders. Nutr Rev 1997;55:400-4.
  9. Meyer F, Bairati I, Dagenais GR. Lower ischemic heart disease incidence and mortality among vitamin supplement users. Can J Cardiol 1996;12:930-4.
  10. Blot WJ. Vitamin/mineral supplementation and cancer risk: international chemoprevention trials. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1997;216:291-6.
  11. Jacques PF, et al. Long-term nutrient intake and early age-related nuclear lens opacities. Arch Ophthalmol 2001;119:1009-19.
  12. Giovannucci E, et al. Multivitamin use, folate, and colon cancer in women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Ann Intern Med 1998;129(7):517-524.
  13. Benton D, Roberts G. Effect of vitamin and mineral supplementation on intelligence of a sample of schoolchildren. Lancet 1988;1:140-3.
  14. High KP. Micronutrient supplementation and immune function in the elderly. Clin Infect Dis 1999;28:717-22.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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