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Antioxidants to the rescue

Antioxidants mop up free radicals and guard against many chronic diseases. Free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells, are thought to play a role in diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, dementia, and rheumatism. The body's antioxidant defense system consists of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and certain enzymes that protect cells against free radical damage.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine a group of 20 athletes were evaluated to see if ModucareŽ-a combination of phytonutrient plant sterols and sterolins-would prevent immune suppression and inflammation. Endurance athletes are often studied because the effects of excessive exercise mimic other stressful events. Excessive physical stress causes tissue damage and the release of cortisol.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal cortex and, at normal levels, facilitates healthy function of the body. High cortisol levels precede and often trigger disease. Excess cortisol levels in the placebo group caused immune suppression while Moducare reduced cortisol to healthy levels, producing a more adaptive response to stress.

Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble carotenoid derived from algae and is indicated in health conditions ranging from cancer to carpal tunnel syndrome. Astaxanthin stabilizes free radicals and inhibits oxidative damage that can cause inflammation. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have also demonstrated that astaxanthin may stimulate T-cells which destroy abnormal and infected cells. Astaxanthin enhances the action of vitamins C and E, and increases the release of vitamin A from the liver.

The European Respiratory Journal reports that supplementing with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of flu symptoms in the elderly. In a six-month double-blind study conducted during the winter flu season, 262 men and women took 1,200 mg of NAC per day in two doses, or a placebo. The frequency of influenza-like episodes was 25% in the NAC group compared with 79% for the placebo group. Seventy-two percent of the NAC group had mild infections, 26% moderate, and 2% severe. In the placebo group, 48% of the infections were mild, 47% were moderate, and 6% severe. The length of time in bed was the criterion for evaluating the severity of influenza-like episodes. Of the ten subjects who were not bedridden, nine were in the NAC group.

A strong immune system can handle most health challenges. Antioxidant nutrients that defend against the negative effects of stress include alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, essential fatty acids, L-glutathione, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, B3, B6, C, and E.

Reference: Nutrition and Cancer, 2000; Vol. 36, No. 1, 59-65.

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Lysine Key To Halting Hair Loss In Women

While a number of studies over the past 40 years have linked iron deficiency to hair loss, a new study shows the importance of the amino acid lysine in correcting this deficiency. The research indicated that lysine is needed to help transport iron to the hair follicle. Hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body and is a barometer of health. When the body is in crisis, hair cells can shut down to redirect needed stores of iron elsewhere, causing hundreds or thousands of lost hairs. In healthy people, the average amount of hair loss is 50 to 100 per day.

Iron is essential for normal hair growth and is also the most important mineral in the body, responsible for oxygenation of red blood cells. Hormonal changes, medications, surgery, intestinal bleeding from ulcers, excessive menstrual bleeding, pregnancy, poor digestion and diet, long-term illness, and heavy antacid use can drain iron stores, causing additional hair loss. Certain foods may inhibit the absorption of iron, such as bran, egg albumin, and the tannins in tea and coffee. Vitamin C may enhance iron absorption. Even with an ideal diet, however, only about 10% of ingested iron is absorbed into the blood.In a recent study, Dr. Hugh Rushton, a trichologist at the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Portsmouth, UK found that 90% of women with hair loss are deficient in iron and the amino acid lysine. Lysine is the most difficult amino acid to get through diet, with meat, fish, and eggs the only food sources. According to Dr. Rushton, taking 72 mg of iron along with 1.5 grams of lysine per day can reduce the percentage of hair loss in women.

Reference: Clinical Experimental Dermatology, 2002; Vol. 27, 396-404.

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Missing Micronutrients: An Epidemic

Dr. Bruce Ames, PhD, a professor of molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is a world-renowned researcher of antioxidants. In the 1970s, Dr. Ames became a hero to environmentalists by inventing the Ames Test, which allows scientists to test chemicals to see whether they cause mutations in bacteria and cancer in humans. His research and testimony led to bans on synthetic chemicals such as Tris, the flame-retardant used in children's pajamas.

The doctor's latest research suggests that deficiencies in the nutrients folic acid, iron, niacin, zinc, and vitamins B6, B12, C, and E can cause breaks and lesions in DNA similar to the damage caused by radiation. When DNA strands are damaged, the body may become more vulnerable to cancer.

As much as 20% of the U.S. population is deficient in these eight micronutrients. An estimated 10% of the U.S. population has DNA damage due to folic acid deficiency alone, and low-income groups suffer this deficiency in even higher proportions.

Micronutrient deficiency may explain why those who eat less than five portions per day of fruits and vegetables have almost double the cancer rate of those with the highest intake. "Eat 5 to 9 a Day" is the name for the USDA campaign to increase awareness of the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Past campaigns have promoted the need for five servings a day, but health experts now say five is the bare minimum. The U.S. dietary guidelines have always called for men to eat nine servings, and health officials note that women should increase their consumption to seven servings a day, while kids should eat at least five servings.

According to Dr. Ames, 80% of children and 68% of adults in the U.S. eat less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The study concluded that correcting micronutrient deficiencies through supplementation and diet can lead to major health improvements and increased longevity.

Reference: Mutation Research, 2001; Vol. 475, 7-20.

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Hope For Heart, Prostate Health With Soy

Half of the male world population over the age of 50 will experience symptoms of prostatic disease. The incidence varies dramatically depending on geography, with the highest rates found in North America and Northern Europe, and the lowest in China. Soy consumption may make the difference. It has also been proposed that high soy consumption is responsible for the low rate of cardiovascular disease in Asia. Diets there have an isoflavone content-the active ingredient in soy-of 50 mg to 100 mg per day versus less than 5 mg per day in the Western diet.

Researchers from the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast found that foods made with soy flour had a positive effect on blood levels of sex steroids and lipids. Twenty healthy men with a mean age of 35.6 years participated in a six-week, placebo-controlled trial. Participants ate three scones each day in addition to their normal diet. The scones for the active group were made with soy flour and with wheat flour for the placebo group. Three soy scones contained 120 mg of isoflavones, 75 mg of daidzein, and 45 mg of genistein.

Researchers found that soy supplementation reduced serum testosterone, a risk factor for prostatic disease. Antioxidant capacity of the blood improved, helping to neutralize free radicals and protect against atherosclerosis. No weight gain was reported in either group.

Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003; Vol. 57, 100-6.

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Multivitamins Reduce Infectious Illness

A daily multivitamin-mineral combination (MVM) may reduce the risk of infectious illness in healthy individuals according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Diabetics can gain even greater protection from infectious illness with the use of a daily MVM according to the study. A group of 130 adults aged 45 to 64 took a MVM or a placebo daily for one year. Excluded from the study were adults currently using immunosuppressive drugs or anticoagulants; those who had used vitamin or mineral supplements-except calcium-in the past month; those with a malignant disease, renal insufficiency, hepatic impairment, dementia, or uncontrolled hypertension; and those who abused alcohol or drugs, were pregnant or lactating, or had a history of kidney stones. The group did include 51 participants with Type-2 Diabetes.Healthy participants taking the daily MVM reported fewer infections and days absent from work than those taking the placebo. Infection rates were 43% for the MVM group versus 73% in the placebo group. Work-absence rates were 21% in the MVM group and 57% in the placebo group. Diabetics taking the MVM reported more dramatic results, with only a 17% infection rate compared with 93% in the diabetic placebo group. Illnesses included influenza and gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tract infections.

The study's authors surmised that the positive results for diabetics were likely due to the correction of micronutrient deficiencies. A larger clinical trial is needed to determine whether these findings can be replicated in diabetics and any nutritionally deficient populations. MVM supplementation may most benefit those in the developing world. In June of 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association reversed its long-standing position and recommended that all adults take a daily MVM.

Reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003; Vol. 138, 365-71.

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Glutathione For That Gleaming Smile

Periodontal disease affects up to 15% of the population worldwide and is a leading cause of tooth loss. Infection results from a buildup of bacterial plaque on the surfaces and between the crevices of the teeth, inflaming and eventually destroying the attachment fibers and supporting bone that anchor them.

A study led by Dr. Iain Chapple, PhD, of the University of Birmingham, UK tested ten patients with advanced periodontal disease, and ten control subjects with healthy teeth and gums. Researchers analyzed the gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), which bathes and protects the delicate epithelial tissues around the teeth. The research team found that GCF glutathione levels and free radical scavenging activity were low in the disease group, but very high in the control group.

Glutathione is one of the body's primary protective agents and detoxifiers. High glutathione levels are also found in healthy lung and cervical tissue. The authors of the study believe that glutathione may be part of a defense strategy by epithelial cells against bacterial assault at exposed surfaces. The researchers concluded that glutathione may be beneficial when used as a supplement to help chronic periodontitis and to assist in the healing process of periodontal disease.

Reference: Molecular Pathology, 2002; Vol. 55, 367-73.

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Dr. Jeffrey L. Saver, MD, director of neurology at the UCLA stroke center conducted a two-year pilot study involving 20 stroke patients aged 45 to 95. In the ambulance, paramedics diagnosed stroke in patients with 100% accuracy and began infusing magnesium sulfate within an average of 28 minutes. The average is 141 minutes without paramedic involvement.

No side effects were reported from the 4-gram dose of magnesium sulfate given en route to the hospital or the 16-gram dose infusion over the following 24 hours. Dr. Saver began research because of the neuroprotective effect of magnesium. According to the doctor, 25% of these stroke patients experienced a dramatic recovery within 24 hours, similar to the best results in the treatment of stroke.

Reference: American Stroke Association's 27th International Stroke Conference, February 13, 2002.

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Written by: EcoMall

Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.


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