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Antioxidants

Antioxidants

Selenium

Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral that, when combined with proteins in the body, becomes a powerful antioxidant. It helps strengthen the body in many ways. The most important is how it affects the immune system. By building up the immune system it allows the body to fight off many diseases, such as cancer. Selenium is found in a multitude of food sources and in supplements making it accessible to everyone.

Where Can You Find It

Selenium is a trace mineral found in the soil and is absorbed into plant life. This absorption is key to creating healthy levels of the mineral in food sources. The United States has a high concentrations of Selenium in the soil. Some countries, such as China, have very low concentrations. These areas lead to deficient populations because most eat only locally grown foods. They will need to supplement their diet or eat foods grown in Selenium rich soil. The United States has a well established system of cross distribution which allows for those living in lower level areas to still have access to richer foods.

Good sources of this mineral are corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, Brazil nuts and walnuts. In fact, Brazil nuts have such a concentrated amount of Selenium that intake should be limited. In addition to the plant life, animals that feed off these plants also produce foods rich in Selenium. Beef, chicken, turkey, kidney, liver and fish are all good sources of Selenium. These animals also produce milk, eggs, and cheese rich in this mineral. Therefore, a nutrient rich soil becomes a constant source for good health.

How It Affects the Body

The natural process of the human body includes the metabolism of oxygen. This process causes the formation of bi-products, or free radicals, which can weaken the immune system, lead to chronic diseases and quicken the effects of aging. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps the body to fight against the effects of these free radicals.

This strengthens the immune system and allows the body to function properly. This is the key factor that makes this mineral such an important tool in protecting and supporting our bodies.

Inadequate amounts of Selenium in the body puts additional stress on its systems and increases its chances of falling victim to certain diseases. There are three specific diseases that have been directly linked to Selenium deficiencies.
Selenium Benefits
Keshan Disease affects children, causing an enlarged heart and poor heart function. Kashin-Beck Disease causes Osteoarthropathy, a disease affecting the bones and joints. Myxedematous Endemic Cretinism is a deficiency that leads to mental retardation. These reflect the importance of adequate levels of this important nutrient in all ages and stages of life.

The Disease Fighter

Cancer

Selenium, because of its antioxidant property, has been used in fighting off many diseases and help regulate organ function. Tests have shown it to lower incidence and death from certain cancers. A ten year study showed that men taking 200 mg of Selenium per day had fifty percent less chance of having prostate cancer.

Another study done by the National Cancer Institute found that the return of precancerous colon polyps after surgery was reduced greatly when the patient took antioxidants like Selenium.

There is also evidence that it prevents Hepatitis from evolving into liver cancer. There is ongoing research that plans to substantiate claims that cancer patients with higher levels of Selenium have lower death rates.

HIV and AIDS

Selenium is not just a cancer fighter. Additional studies have discovered many more ways it strengthens the human body, particularly helping patients struggling with various diseases. HIV patients that maintain healthy levels of this nutrient have lower death rates than those with weak levels. It is believed that the already depleted immune system is further weakened by the low levels of Selenium in dying patients.

Arthritis

Arthritis sufferers have a similar problem. Most arthritis patients have low levels of Selenium, resulting in a weaker immune system which can trigger arthritic symptoms.

Heart Disease

It is also believed that healthy amounts of the mineral may help prevent heart disease by limiting the oxidation of LDL, or bad, cholesterol.

Diabetes

Findings have recently been released after a nine year study of older men and blood sugar metabolism. The men whose Selenium levels were high had less problems metabolizing sugar. This adds possible prevention of the onset of diabetes to the list of what this antioxidant can do for the human body.

Purifies the Body

Selenium is also a purifier for our organ systems. It protects us against the presence of unhealthy metals in the body, such as the Mercury ingested with fish and seafood. It is believed that the mineral binds to these metals and weaken the negative impact on the body and its systems. This does more than defend the body, but also allows for the combination of the mineral with the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood to be used by the body without negative side effects.

Fertility

Fertility can also be strengthened by healthy levels of Selenium. Low levels of this nutrient have been found in men with low sperm count. It is believed that the antioxidant helps to aid in sperm formation. It is also believed to prevent chromosome breakage, reducing the number of birth defects and miscarriages.

Reduces Swelling

Healthy levels have also been found to reduce edema, or swelling, after surgery and during pregnancy. New studies are being done to expand on new ways Selenium may improve our health.

Supplement Your Diet

Selenium supplements are found on many store shelves and through the internet. They are considered safe and effective. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the manufacturers to state on the bottles that the mineral may prevent certain cancers. There are various dosage levels and can be found in tablet or liquid form.

Supplements that combine Selenium with other nutrients, especially Vitamin E, are very popular. It is believed that the Selenium is even more effective when combined with Vitamin E. The cost is reasonable, with prices typically lower through online health stores. Health focused stores also tend to have a wider selection available.

Those that benefit most from these supplements are people living in areas known for low Selenium levels and sufferers of chronic disease, particularly those that involve the immune system. Patients with gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease, should also supplement their diet. When the gastrointestinal tract is not working properly it does not absorb all the nutrients.

Taking additional supplements will better guarantee that the body is getting what it needs. Anyone suffering from these types of issues should discuss the need for supplements with their physician.

Daily Allowance

The recommended daily allowance of Selenium varies based on age. The dosage remains the same for men and women. However, there is a required increase during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The average adult should be ingesting about 200 micrograms a day. Health issues, such as low absorption rates due to gastrointestinal issues, may demand higher amounts. Higher levels should always be based on a doctor’s order to prevent toxic levels.

Concerns Over Toxic Levels

It is possible to ingest too much Selenium. For example, there is some discussion that high levels of Selenium may lead to hypertension. Dosages beyond that in a typical multivitamin should be physician directed due to the possible toxic threat. Toxic levels are rare in the United States, but can occur. The level found in most food sources are very safe.

The amounts in Brazil nuts are incredibly high, but do not pose a problem if eaten in amounts considered normal for nuts. The most common source of Selenium toxicity is in areas surrounding mountain coal mining sites. Coal has a high concentration of Selenium.

The soil surrounding the coal also has high levels. The runoff during mining of this surrounding soil and the ash from burned coal have been found in nearby streams and rivers. This affects wildlife and water sources. People may suffer symptoms of toxicity if safe water levels are not maintained or by eating affected plant life, wild life and fish.

The symptoms for toxic Selenium levels are an upset gastrointestinal tract, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, mild nerve damage, white, blotchy nails, and breath with a garlic odor. Symptoms normally occur in five to ten days and could last up to a few weeks once the amount is lowered to a healthy level. Long term toxic levels will damage the circulatory system, nervous system, kidneys and liver. There is not an antidote for selenium poisoning. A simple blood test can be done to verify if Selenium levels are healthy.

Wide Availability

Selenium is found in multiple food sources and easily available supplements. It is considered a powerful antioxidant and is known for protecting the body by strengthening the immune system. Studies have shown how it prevents certain diseases and has decreased relapses and deaths in patients. Scientists are continuing to gather evidence supporting their theories on the additional health benefits Selenium has on the human body.

Antioxidants

N-Acetylcysteine

N-Acetylcysteine (sometimes written N-Acetyl Cysteine), abbreviated NAC, is a metabolite of cysteine, a non-essential amino acid that is both found in foods and synthesized by the body from the amino acid methionine. In the body, NAC is rapidly broken down into intracellular glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that detoxifies harmful chemicals into less damaging compounds. NAC supplements are taken to help protect the body against a wide array of environmental pollutants from cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust to inorganic herbicides.

NAC is marketed as a prescription pharmaceutical under a number of trade names including Mucomyst, Mucolysin and Acetadote, available in a variety of different dosages. NAC is also marketed under its own name as a food supplement.

Main Uses of NAC

NAC has two main clinical uses. It’s commonly used in hospital setting as an adjunct to respiratory therapy in the treatment of emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis, bronchiectasis, amyloidosis, pneumonia, cystic fibrosis and other conditions that result in the production of thick mucous. It’s also used as the first line of defense against paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdose. NAC has many other clinical applications as well, some well established, some under investigation.

When taken orally, NAC can cause severe gastrointestinal side effects including vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. According to research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, NAC also raises the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease.
NAC Uses & Benefits
NAC is known to interact with certain prescribed blood pressure and immunosuppressive medications as well as cisplatin, doxorubicin, nitroglycerin and isosorbide, and oxiconazole; if you are taking any of these medications, check with your physician before you start taking NAC as a food supplement.

Sources of N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

Cysteine, the non-essential amino acid from which your body synthesizes N-Acetylcysteine, is found in foods like poultry, pork, yogurt, ricotta and cottage cheese, egg yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, oats, and wheat germ.

Cysteine/NAC supplement tablets or capsules are available over the counter and can be found in many pharmacies, health food stores and specialty supplement stores as well as online.

As a prescription medication, NAC is marketed under the following trade names:

  • For mucolytic inhalation therapy: Asist, Mucomyst, Mucosil
  • As an intravenous injection in the treatment of paracetamol/acetaminophen overdose: Asist,Parvolex, Acetadote

N-Acetylcysteine Use

N-Acetylcysteine has proven to be an effective therapy in a variety of clinical situations. Additionally, the metabolite is widely used as a nutritional supplement for its properties as a selective immune system enhancer and as protection against environmental toxins.

Therapeutic Uses

Mucolytic Therapy: A.L. Sheffner first demonstrated the mucolytic properties of N-Acetylcysteine in 1963, and NAC quickly became a part of standard clinical practice for the treatment of chronic lung diseases. NAC dissolves mucus by liquefying its disulfide bonds. NAC also stimulates glutathione synthesis within the body: glutathione reduces pulmonary inflammation by neutralized harmful oxidants introduced into the lungs; this helps maintain the normal composition of mucus, keeping it from becoming too viscous.

NAC has also been administered with good results to patients suffering from interstitial diseases affecting the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs. There is also some evidence that it may reduce exacerbations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Initially NAC was only administered by inhalation, but more recently it’s been given orally as well. Peak blood levels are reached one hour after oral administration.

Paracetamol/Acetaminophen Overdose: Intravenous N-Acetylcysteine is indicated for the treatment of paracetamol/acetaminophen overdose.

Acetaminophen is the most widely used pain reliever in the world, easily available over the counter. Most of us have used at one time or another for headaches or minor aches and pains. It’s generally safe at recommended dosages – not more than 4000 mg a day.

Dosages of more than 7000 mg in a single day, however, can be fatal although often the first symptoms do not occur until 12 hours after the acetaminophen was swallowed. Evidence of liver damage may occur within two to five days after the toxic dose, and death from liver failure follows. Even in the absence of liver damage, renal damage can occur up to 14 days afterwards.

The symptoms are due to the accumulation of an oxidizing agent called N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine that is normally detoxified by glutathione. In the presence of large amounts of this metabolite, glutathione levels in the body diminish. Cell death occurs when glutathione levels drop to less than 25% of normal.

NAC gives the body a way of boosting its own glutathione production and thus acetaminophen-induced cell damage and death. Optimally, NAC should be administered intravenously within 12 hours of the toxic ingestion; if it’s given more than 16 hours after ingestion, it will protect the body against further cell damage but it cannot reverse the cell damage that has already occurred.

Kidney Damage Following Contrast Dye Injection: Physicians may order a prophylactic dose of N-Acetylcysteine for patients undergoing diagnostic imaging scans who are at risk for developing kidney damage secondary to the injection of necessary high-contrast dyes.

Significant but inconsistent evidence has been put forward touting N-Acetylcysteine’s benefits in a variety of therapeutic situations.

  • Chronic bronchitis associated with smoking and emphysema. While one double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 1,400 human subjects found that NAC taken daily at a dosage between 400 mg to 1,200 mg reduced the number of acute bronchitis flair-ups, another study on a smaller sample showed no effects at all.
  • Influenza. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 262 seniors, 600 mg of oral NAC administered twice daily was shown to help prevent the development of serious influenza symptoms. Only 25% of the NAC group developed serious symptoms while 79% of the placebo group did.
  • Angina Pectoris. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 200 individuals suffering from heart disease found that the combination of nitroglycerin and NAC was more effective in reducing the incidence of heart Attacks than either NAC or nitroglycerine alone.
  • Female Infertility. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 150 women suffering from infertility showed that NAC enhanced the effectiveness of clomiphene. Twenty percent of the group using both NAC and clomiphene got pregnant as compared to 0% of the group using a placebo plus clomiphene.
  • Cancer risk. Some evidence seems to indicate that NAC can offset the carcinogenic effects of smoking and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Supportive therapy for HIV.
  • Mental health disorders including schitzophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disease, cocaine dependence and gambling addiction

As a Dietary Supplement

N-acetylcysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid metabolite, derived from cysteine. While NAC itself does not occur in foods, its precursor cysteine is found in most high-protein foods as well as vegetables such as broccoli and Brussel sprouts. Many people augment their body’s NAC levels by taking it as a dietary supplement. NAC is a precursor of glutathione, a potent antioxidant found in all body tissues that plays a vital role in the detoxification of harmful substances.

Antioxidants protect the body against toxic byproducts of normal cellular metabolism called free radicals. Free radicals interfere with the ability of cells to heal themselves, and free radical mediated reactions are thought by some scientists to contribute to the development of a wide range of maladies including neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

NAC has been proven to enhance T-cell production and some research indicates that it suppresses the replication of HIV in vitro. NAC is also a heavy metal chelator, binding to toxins like mercury and lead and helping to remove them from the body.
NAC Risks
As a dietary supplement, NAC is available in capsules, tablets, powder, and solution. There is no daily requirement for NAC, and optimal levels have not been determined. Typical dosage can range from 250 mg to 2,000 mg per day but the most common dosage is 500 mg, taken twice daily.

There is some evidence that NAC increases the excretion rate of necessary trace minerals; people taking NAC would therefore be well advised to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement as well. While no adverse effects specifically related to NAC’s use by children have been reported, it is never a good idea to give children under 18 dietary supplements without checking with the child’s pediatrician first.

Side Effects of N-Acetylcysteine

Adverse reactions involving the gastrointestinal tract have been reported with N-Acetylcysteine. These include nausea, vomiting, headache, dry mouth, dizziness, and/or abdominal pain. In a few reported cases, NAC use has been linked to hypotension, anaphylaxis, asthma attacks and headache.

NAC potentiates the effects of nitroglycerine prescribed for angina pectoralis and can increase the hypotension, headache and temporal artery dilation associated with that medication.

University of Virginia researchers reported that large does of NAC – equivalent to those found in some body building supplements – increased pulmonary artery hypertension in mice, leading to permanent heart and lung damage.

Shopping N-Acetylcysteine Dietary Supplements

N-Acetylcysteine dietary supplements are widely available in pharmacies, health food stores and specialty dietary supplement stores as well as online. Prices are slightly less expensive online (but that’s before you factor in the freight charges.) NAC will run slightly under $7 for a 100 600 mg capsules if you buy from an online vendor, and around $8 for the same amount if you buy from a store. Of course, prices will vary with location.

Antioxidants

Carotenoids

Overview of Carotenoids

Carotenoids are an important group of vitamers of vitamin A. When referring to a vitamin such as vitamin A, it is important to note that vitamin A is not one substance or one molecule. In reality, vitamin A is a group term to collectively classify organic, chemical compounds that have the same biologic effect on an organism.

These compounds are called vitamers. Retinol, retinal, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are the most important vitamers of vitamin A. They each have different chemical structures and composition, but have similar effects on the human body, playing important roles in proper nutrition and functioning.

Carotenoids and vitamin A in general play pivotal roles in the normal functioning of the human body. Their roles include helping the body to regulate cell growth, regulate hormones, and help enzymes to act as catalysts in metabolism. Furthermore, carotenoids are strong antioxidants, which can bind to free radicals in the body. These molecules called free radicals can damage cells and cause chronic diseases and cancer.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Carotenoids and all other vitamers of vitamin A are fat soluble vitamins. Vitamins fall into either of two categories — fat soluble or water soluble. When speaking of the solubility of a vitamin, the term refers to whether or not a molecule dissolves in water or fat. In humans, the water soluble vitamins are the B series of vitamins and vitamin C. The fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. For example, a water soluble vitamin like vitamin C is ingested and then metabolized by the body.
Using Carotenoids for Health=
Once the body has used all the vitamin C that it needs, the vitamin C is excreted as urine. On the other hand, a carotenoid like beta-carotene, being a form of vitamin A, is fat soluble. In this case, once the body metabolizes all of the vitamin A that it needs, the excess is stored in the body’s fatty tissue and liver. Fat soluble vitamins can linger in the body for a long time. Given enough time and enough exposure, toxicity can develop.

Carotenoids and vitamin A are necessary for proper growth and nutrition in humans. They are responsible for regulating many of the body’s functions such as metabolism and hormone levels. Deficiencies of a particular vitamin can negatively impact a person’s overall health and well being, causing several problems that range from mild to severe. In extreme cases, severe vitamin deficiencies can lead to birth defects and death.

Vitamin A

Carotenoids are a major group of vitamin A and are mostly plant and fungi derived. The only known animal source of carotenoids is a small insect that likely got a gene that causes it to produce carotenoids from a fungus via cross species gene transfer. They are naturally occurring, organic pigments found in the chloroplasts of plants and are largely responsible for giving red, orange, and yellow fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors. They are also found in abundant amounts in leafy, green vegetables.

Carotenoids can be divided into two major subgroups based on their molecular configuration. One group is the carotenes and the other group is the xanthophylls. These two groups are very similar in chemical structure except that the xanthophylls have oxygen molecules in them.

Discovery and History

Before proper technology and techniques were invented in the 20th century, all sources of carotenoids and vitamin A had to be obtained through food like meats, fruits, and vegetables. In 1947, the Dutch scientists David Adrian van Dorp and Jozef Ferdinand Arens successfully synthesized vitamin A for the first time, allowing for widespread supplementation to undernourished populations to begin.

Vitamin A was discovered in a period from 1906-1907 by Elmer McCollum. McCollum was doing research on cattle, trying to determine why cows fed with wheat only produced offspring with serious birth defects and low birth rates as compared to cows that were fed a diverse diet based primarily on corn. In experiments done on mice, which were cheaper and more practical to experiment on than cows,

McCollum discovered that rats showed similar results in their birth defects and low birth rates when fed diets consisting only of protein. Furthermore, his studies showed that in order to fix the problem, all he had to do was introduce small amounts of animal fats into their diets. McCollum theorized that the animal fats contained a substance that was responsible for the differences. This compound was named vitamin A, which was the first vitamin and the first fat soluble vitamin to be discovered.

Important Carotenoids

Some of the most important and most wide known carotenoids are beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein.

Beta-carotene is perhaps the most well known carotenoid. As the name suggests, beta-carotene is a true carotene, having no oxygen atoms in its molecular structure. Beta-carotene is a naturally occurring pigment with a red to orange hue that is seen primarily in fruit and vegetables. Beta-carotene is a pro-vitamin of vitamin A. Pro-vitamins are precursors to a vitamin from which a certain vitamin can be manufactured by the body.

Lycopene is a bright red, naturally occurring pigment that is also a true carotene like beta-carotene. Lycopene is thought to be a powerful antioxidant that reduces the chances that a person will develop cancer. It has also been suggested that lycopene may help prevent macular degeneration, prostate problems, and asthma. Lycopene is found in red colored fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, although supplements exist in soft gel form.

Lutein is a yellow pigment and a member of the xanthophyll class of carotenoids found in leafy, green vegetables like kale and spinach. Lutein plays an important role in human eyes. The retina, an area of tissue in the back of the eye responsible for transmitting nerve signals to the brain, has areas on it that have high concentrations of lutein. Lutein helps to pigment this area of the eye, making it darker and less susceptible to macular degeneration. Lutein may also help to prevent cataracts.

Uses of Carotenoids

Vitamin A Deficiency Prevention

Carotenoids are important parts of the diet that can help to prevent vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is a major nutritional problem for millions of people in the developing world who do not have adequate sources of food that can provide the proper levels of vitamin A needed for good health and survival. Vitamin A deficiencies are either primary or secondary in origin. Inadequate supplies of nutrients cause primary deficiencies, while secondary deficiencies come from other underlying medical conditions. Left unchecked, vitamin A deficiency can result in night blindness and a decrease in tear production.

Vitamin A plays an important role in human vision. In the eye, rod cells in the retina that are responsible for detecting light, bind a form of vitamin A called retinal with protein called opsin. Through a series of reactions, the retinal changes forms, which sends nerve impulses to the brain’s visual processing center, allowing people to see. People suffering from vitamin A deficiency have trouble seeing in dim light. Perhaps a more important impact of being vitamin A deficient is the inability to create tears.

Tears are the eyes main defenses against debris and bacteria which can scar the cornea, resulting in blindness. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause a condition called hyperkeratosis where people develop small bumps on the skin that are caused by keratin protein blocking hair follicles. Aside from causing dry skin and itching, hyperkeratosis can make hair fall out over the whole body.

Immune System Support

Carotenoids are a precursor to vitamin A. The body can convert carotenoids in vitamin A, which is important in maintaining a healthy immune system. The immune system is the body’s defense against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Vitamin A plays its role in the immune response by helping the thymus gland to produce specialized cells called T-lymphocytes quickly and efficiently.

When a pathogen enters the body, the immune system detects its presence and sends out these T-lymphocytes to kill the invader. Vitamin A derived from carotenoids can also help in the growth and health of epithelial cells. These cells line the mucus membranes of the body in places like the lungs, nose, and mouth. Mucus membranes secrete fluids that can trap harmful bacteria and viruses before they get a chance to take root and cause an infection.

Antioxidant Properties

Free radicals are molecules in the body that can cause damage to cells. Cell damage can lead to chronic diseases as well as cancer. Carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene are known to be powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that can bind with free radicals, decreasing their ability to cause cellular damage. Antioxidants have the further benefit of helping to repair previous damage cause by free radicals.

Cell Communication and Cancer Prevention

Carotenoids have been shown to aid in cell communication, which may help in the prevention of cancer. Researchers have found that carotenoids increase the activity of molecules in cells that are responsible for connecting cells to one another through which nutrients and signals may be shared.
Carotenoids & Vitamins
Cancer cells do not have this ability, allowing them to grow out of control. By introducing carotenoids to these cells, scientists have been able to increase the amount of cellular communication between cancer cells and normal cells, leading to the cancer cells behaving more normally.

Sources of Carotenoids and Recommended Amounts

Carotenoids are found in many fruits and vegetables that are bright yellow, orange, or red in color. They are also found in dark, leafy greens. These include:

  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squashes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Turnip greens
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Red peppers
  • Guava
  • Grapefruit

Cooking and processing some carotenoids can cause nutrients to be leached. However, in the case of tomatoes, the availability of the carotenoid lycopene can be increased by cooking. Therefore, lycopene can be obtained more easily from canned and cooked tomatoes better than from fresh ones.

The daily recommended amount of Vitamin A is 900 micrograms per day, with a maximum of 3000 micrograms per day for adult males. In adult females, the recommended amount per day is 700 micrograms, with the maximum amount being 3000 micrograms. Women who are nursing require more vitamin A in order to nurture both themselves and the baby. For women who are breastfeeding, the daily required amount is 1300 micrograms with a maximum of 3000 micrograms.

Carotenoids can be bought as supplements in pill form. Typically, it is possible to find several individual varieties or combinations of carotenoids available online and in health food stores. Prices will vary widely depending on the brand and number of pills in the bottle. On average, beta-carotene pills will cost roughly 7 cents per pill. Lycopene is a bit more expensive and runs between 11 and 13 cents per capsule. Recommended dosages vary with the supplement. As always it is important to consult with a doctor and to read the labels on the supplement before taking it.

Toxicity

Carotenoids are fat soluble, meaning that any extra molecules that are not metabolized will be stored in the body’s fatty tissue and liver. These molecules can stay in the body for a long time because they are difficult to remove once stored in the body’s fat. Over time, given enough exposure, toxicity can develop. The most noticeable sign of carotenoid toxicity is the skin changing colors to an orange hue. This condition is called carotenodemia. Acute poisoning can occur if daily amounts of vitamin A exceed 3000 micrograms.

Symptoms of acute toxicity include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, vision problems, and loss of muscular control. Chronic toxicity happens over a long period of time when daily consumption exceeds 1200 micrograms daily over a period of months. Symptoms of chronic vitamin A toxicity include all of the symptoms of acute poisoning in addition to anemia, fatigue, and bone problems. Vitamin A toxicity is rarely fatal and is treated by maintaining proper hydration and limiting vitamin A consumption.

One interesting side effect of beta-carotene is that it may cause cancer in smokers. Although beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, a study has shown that people who took 20-30 milligram supplements were at a higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who did not. Critics of this study argue that smokers were included in the research, which may have skewed the results.

Conclusion

The benefits of ingesting enough carotenoids and vitamin A have been known for over 100 years. Today, vitamin A deficiency is rare in wealthy countries, but continues to be a problem in developing nations. With the advent of commercial synthesis processes, treatment is widely available. In addition, vitamin A has been shown in study after study to promote health and well being, so it is important to maintain proper levels for optimal health.

Antioxidants

Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols, which are members found in the Vitamin E family, are natural agents that, according to scientific research, have tremendous health benefits and may even affect how such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer are treated in the future.

What Are Tocotrienols and Where Do They Come From?

Tocotrienols can be found in certain kinds of oil, rice, wheat, barley, rye, and oats. They are mainly found in the highest concentration in palm oil, which is derived from the palm nut that is commonly found in Africa and often used as a cooking oil. While their benefits are still being researched (tocotrienols account for less than 1% of research done on vitamin E), they are no doubt a point of interest for researchers throughout the world. While they are natural agents, they are generally found in low concentrations that do not have any appreciable benefits when consumed directly from the food source.

Molecular Makeup

Vitamin E, from which tocotrienols are derived, is essentially divided into eight isomers: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Both groups share common traits, such as the head, otherwise known as the Chroman Ring; the tail, phytyl tail (found mostly in tocopherols); and the hydoxy group, which is the active group head found at the head of the molecule.
Tocotrienols Side Effects

History of Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols were discovered in 1964 by Drs. Pennock and Whittle, from the USDA and Liverpool respectively, who were able to isolate the molecules from rubber. But it wasn’t until the 1980s when their potential benefits were discovered by Drs. Qureshi and Elson from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who discovered that tocotrienols could lower cholesterol.

During the 1990s, scientists learned about their anti-cancer properties in their research. One man responsible for developing interest in this field of research was Dr. Barrie Tan, PhD. During the 1980s.

Tan was able to extract tocotrienols from rice, palm and later annatto, a red plant primarily found in South America, which led to patents for Caratech and Rangsit Biotech, two companies he founded in the 1980s and 1990s. It is through these extractions that tocotrienols derive their greatest benefits in scientific research and dietary supplements.

Scientific Research and Discoveries

Scientists have researched tocotrienols for their effect on such diseases as cancer, cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. Most of the research have concentrated on animal studies, which have yielded promising results. But studies on the effects of the agent on humans are limited and at times inconsistent.

Types of Potential Treatments

Pancreatic, Breast, Prostate, and Skin Cancers

Research scientists have discovered that tocotrienols can decrease the formations of tumors and prevent damage to the DNA and cells. In a 1993 controlled study, rats which were induced with dangerous liver cancer agents had suffered less liver damage when they were treated with palm based tocotrienols. In a 2009 study conducted by researchers at the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Texas Women’s University it was also discovered that a more potent vitamin E isomer called d-delta tocotrienols can be potentially used for chemotherapy treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Significant findings in tocotrienols have revealed potential benefits in the treatment of other forms of cancer. In a 2009 study conducted by the College of Pharmacy, University of Lousiana, Monroe, researchers have learned that palm based tocotrienols, when combined with statins, can have enormous benefits in the treatment of breast cancer.

Research

Not only that, in research conducted by East Tennessee University and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, gamma-tocotrienols can slow down the cultured cell growth of human breast cancer and are three times more powerful than Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer. Delta-tocotrienols have shown to cause cell-death (apoptosis) in estrogen responsive and estrogen non-responsive breast cancer cells.

They can also reduce the growth of certain types of cancer, while alpha- and gamma-tocotrienols have prolonged the life spans of mice infected with cancer. Studies have also suggested that tocotrienols can potentially detoxify malignant properties found in prostate cancer cells. A combination of gamma-tocotrienols and chemotherapy drugs may also decrease skin cancer cells.

Cholesterol

In the findings of a 1993 controlled, double-blind placebo study, research scientists have uncovered some interesting information regarding the benefits tocotrienols have on cholesterol levels. For instance, scientists have learned that palm based tocotrienols have the potential to alleviate arteries clogged by cholesterol. Certain types of tocotrienols have been found to be more effective than others, while Y-tocotrienols are more apt to decrease the development of cholesterol within liver cells.

Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke

Studies have also shown that tocotrienols can have the potential to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as carotid atherosclerosis, and stroke. In one human medical research study, patients with carotid atherosclerosis who were given 240 mg of palm based tocotrienols a day for 18-36 months had seen a significant decrease in the amount of cholesterol plaque in their carotid artery.

Palm based tocotrienols can also provide protection against ischemia and reperfusion heart injuries by relieving oxidative stress on the heart. Delta-tocotrienols can slow down the aggression of platelets, while palm based tocotrienols can possibly be an antithrombotic agent. Stroke victims can also benefit from the effects of tocotrienols as a drug treatment.

According to a study funded by the NIH and conducted by the Ohio State University Medical Center (along with Prof. Chandan Sen who published 5-peer viewed papers on the subject), alpha-tocotrienols can protect the brain from stroke-related injuries. Another study conducted by the AJP Heart and Circulatory Physiology have found that gamma-tocotrienols can prevent major damages to the heart after a stroke, as well.

Diabetes

Tocotrienols are a potential form of drug treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Researchers in both India and Malaysia, during a 2009 study, have discovered the benefits tocotrienols have in improving blood glucose, dyslipidemia, and oxidative stress on diabetic lab rats.

Anti-Aging Cosmetics and Personal Care

The more popular use of tocotrienols occurs in the field of anti-aging and cosmetics applications for their antioxidant properties. Tocotrienols can be a potent protective agent against free radicals caused by ultraviolet (UV) and ozone rays.

They can also prevent skin aging and damage caused by oxidative rays. Often an active ingredient in sunscreens, tocotrienols penetrate through the skin at a faster rate than tocopherols and can decrease the UV rays’ penetration into the skin.

Other Potential Health Benefits

Not only do tocotrienols have the potential to aid in the treatment of certain kinds of cancers, cholesterol, and diabetes, but they are also effective in lowering blood pressure. In studies, researchers have found that gamma-tocotrienols can prevent the development of increased blood pressure in Spontaneous Hypertensive Rats (SHR) after three months of application.

Alpha tocotrienols are considered a powerful natural super-antioxident as well, which can provide numerous health benefits in the prevention of free radicals.

Who Uses Tocotrienols and How?

While the research on tocotrienols is still ongoing, it is still recommended to people continue to take Vitamin E and tocotrienols. Anyone can take them. It is recommended that young adults begin taking the supplements and continue usage throughout their life. Tocotrienols are already used heavily in Asia, where it has become a daily part of the diet. Other countries are quickly noticing the benefits of including tocotrienols as a part of the diet as well.

Athletes, joggers, and bodybuilders also take tocotrienols after strenuous activities, such as exercising, for protein and lipid peroxidation, or the damage caused by oxidation on fats.

Regulations and Regional Legal Status

While researchers continue to study the health benefits of tocotrienols, governments have approved their use in dietary supplements as well as food additives. In fact, other countries have been leaders in the use and research of tocotrienols and their overall health benefits. For instance, Japan has approved tocotrienols as an additive in food, while the French government has approved palm based tocotrienols in dietary supplements.

The Health Ministry of Malaysia has also approved them as a dietary supplement. In the United States, the FDA has yet to assign tocotrienols to vitamin E activity. The FDA, though, has identified palm based tocotrienols complex as Self-Affirmed GRAs (Generally Regarded Safe) to be used as an ingredient in foods.
Using Tocotrienols

Health Supplements, Dosages, and Side Effects

Tocotrienols are still available as health supplements and are commonly taken as soft gel capsules, hard shell capsules, liquid emulsifiers, and vitamin premixes. The supplements can also come in lozenges.

Standard dosages can fall between 140 to 360 mg/day, but the more common dosages fall within the 40 to 50 mg/day range. Generally, there are no differences in dosage among children and adults, though children under the age of 10 are advised not to use tocotrienols at all unless under the recommendation of a physician.

Since tocotrienols are derived from vitamin E, there are no known side effects, even when dosages are as high as 2500 mg/day per kilogram in the body.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in the United States and the National Academy of Sciences have no definition for the health benefits or risks, including Estimated Average Requirement, Recommended Dietary Allowance, Adequate Intake, or Tolerable Upper Intake Level, associated with tocotrienols.

Myths

One myth regarding tocotrienols is the idea that their benefits are noticeable even when consumed in natural foods. Some literature even tout the health benefits of consuming a teaspoon of palm oil a day. This is not the case. The amount of tocotrienols found in natural foods like palm oil, barley, wheat, or grain, is so low that there are no appreciable benefits in consuming these foods solely for their supplemental value.

While palm oil has the highest concentration of tocotrienols, one will have to consume two cups of palm oil a day in order to have any benefits. It is only through extracting tocotrienols from these foods, particularly from palm oil, that they can have their full potential as a health supplement.

Consumer Information

Types of Supplements

In order to get the most out of tocotrienols they must be taken as a dietary supplement. The best possible supplements will be organically derived from palm oil. Processed-derived supplements can be useful too, but only if they contain phyto-nutrients which are also found in palm oil.

These nutrients will include phytoserols, squalene, and mixed cartotenoids. Rice-derived tocotrienols and formulas which use phyto-nutrients, such as soy isoflavones, Ginkgo Bilboa, and beta sitosterol, and natural palm tocotrienols combined with phyto-carotenoid are also very good choices.

Costs

Dietary supplements containing tocotrienols are expensive. This is due to the fact that, since the agent exists in very low levels in nature, the extraction process is often difficult and expensive. Generally, the dietary supplement can cost between $30 to $40. The most expensive brands include Nature’s Plus, Twinlab Maxilife, Source Natural, and Jarrow Formulas.

There are less expensive brands, though, such as NSI Tocomin Supra Bio, which sells palm based tocotrienols for $13.77 and Source Naturals for $11.48. While many health food stores such as GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, and others carry a variety of brands and prices, the best deals can often be found online. Amazon.com, for instance, sells many brands of tocotrienols from $25.14 and lower.

Other online stores such as Vitacost, iHerb, and Nutritiondome also sell brands as low as $25 and less. Before buying, its best to research and bargain shop for the best brands and prices.

Sources

National Institute of Health
Everyday Health
WebMd.Com

Antioxidants

Oleuropein

Description of Oleuropein

Oleuropein is the active ingredient or glucoside, found in green olives and olive leaf. Olive leaf is found on the olive tree. Another active ingredient found in olive leaf is hydroxytyrosol, polyphenols, flavonoids, and Oleocanthal. Oleuropein and olive oil, extracted from green olives and olive leaves, are known in alternative medicine for its medicinal benefits.

Scientists began to evaluate the benefits of oleuropein, olive leaf, and olive oil. These studies began when scientists noticed that individuals in the Mediterranean consistently showed a lower occurrence of heart disease and cancers. The cancers with the lowest incidence were prostate and colon cancers. Scientists attributed this finding to the diet consisting of mostly fruits, vegetables, peas and fish. But more importantly, it is attributed to olive oil comprising the majority of the fat content within the diet.
Oleuropein Uses
Oleuropein or olive oil is known for its anti-aging effects, its antifungal properties, its anti-infllamatory properties, its antibiotic properties and its immunostimulators. Olive leaf extracts have also been known to lower blood pressure. Scientists discovered, in an international study, that olive leaf extract contained twice the antioxidants of green tea extract and 400 percent higher than Vitamin C.

Individuals, who practice alternative medicine, use olive leaf or Oleuropein for the following purposes:

  • Natural pathogens killer: It kills pathogens by preventing pathogens from replicating.
  • Colds
  • Flus
  • Yeast Infections
  • Heart Disease
  • Lowering Bad Cholesterol or Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL)
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Increases Blood Flow
  • Treats Epstein-Barr Disease
  • Treats Shingles
  • Treats Herpes

Because of its remarkable antioxidant properties, oleuropein protects the body from free radicals. When free radicals undergo the oxidation process, they may cause cellular damage if they exist in the body in excess for extended periods of time. Free radicals are highly reactive. Therefore, antioxidants must be introduced to prevent development of diseases such as cancer and other diseases.

Oleuropein is a polyphenol extracted from the leaves, bark, root, and fruit of the olive tree. The olive tree contains agents that make it highly resistant to insect damage and other diseases. Oleuropein is also classified as an iridoid.

This plant substance is present in olive oil and in the olive tree. Another agent contained in oleuropein is elenolic acid. This particular acid is particularly useful in maintaining the body’s immune system. This portion of oleuropein, elenoic acid, balances bacteria, while promoting a healthy immune system.

History and Origin of Usage

The olive leaf extract has been used for thousands of years. The Egyptians and the Mediterranean cultures have long used this particular extract to alleviate a number of health conditions.

Myths Associated with Oleuropein

Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians recognized the olive leaf as a symbol of heavenly power. The Egyptians used the extracted oil to mummify their Egyptian kings. Olive leaf was also used in the 1880s to alleviate symptoms associated with malaria. Biblical references were also made to the olive tree as “The Tree of Life.” Scientists believed the ancient people referred to the olive tree as “The Tree of Life” because of its medicinal properties. Even ancient people recognized the efficacy of the supplement.

How Oleuropein is used

Oleuropein is often found in a tea form. The tea is based upon the olive leaf. While green tea has many antioxidant benefits, oleuropein and olive leaf have double the anti-oxidant effects of green tea. Some of the benefits of oleuropein are listed below:

  • Helps Lower Cholesterol
  • Combats Viruses
  • Prevents Cold Sores and Herpes
  • Possesses Anti-Fungal Properties
  • Possesses Anti-Bacterial Properties
  • Maintains A Strong and Balanced Immune System
  • Fights Common Cold and Flu

Olive leaf extracts or oleuropein may also be found in topical creams. Oleuropein is often found in soaps and moisturizers. The active agent, oleuropein, helps to repair the skin.

Some experts believe that 50 grams of olive oil per day is thought to have an equivalent effect to 0.1 of the adult ibuprofen dosage and use.

Many physicians suggest that the polyphenols in red wine have an antioxidant effect. Similarly, the polyphenols in oleuropein have an antioxidant effect in reducing the oxidation of bad or LDL cholesterol. Olive oil contains more antioxidants than a glass of red wine. However, most enjoy wine over olive oil.

In the form of olive oil, oleuropein may be used in a variety of home remedies as well. Some of the most popular ones are listed below:

  • Promote healthy skin
  • Olive oil contains at least 4 different antioxidants. These antioxidants assist in eliminating free radicals in the body. Free radicals assist in skin aging. Olive oil helps to fight skin cancer and aging.

    Ozonated olive oil is also supposed to soothe the skin as well. Some experts recommend boiling ozonated olive oil until it forms into a paste. Rub the paste onto the skin for soothing and healing promotion.

    Olive oil contains a significant amount of a natural emollient called squalene. Squalene is able to moisturize the skin without leaving a film behind. Olive oil is also rich in vitamins A and E. Both of these vitamins contain healing properties for the skin. Polyphenols are also present. Each of these vitamins is prevalent in many beauty products.

  • Alleviate an earache
  • Some alternative medicine providers recommend olive oil as a natural remedy for earaches. Sufferers are advised to apply the olive oil to a cotton swab and gently massage the out portion of the ear cavity. This is supposed to alleviate some of the associated pain and loosen the earwax. Some individuals suggest heating the oil for added benefit.

  • Control hair frizz
  • Olive oil provides relief from damaged hair. Simply apply the oil to the hair, while the hair is wet. Allow the oil to remain on the hair for 30 minutes. Rinse the oil from the hair. Enjoy the lustrous look and feel of the hair.

  • Bad sunburn
  • Individuals suffering from sunburn should to mix olive oil with white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a warm bath. The healing agents in olive oil sooth the skin and alleviate the burning sensation.

  • Dandruff problems
  • To alleviate symptoms associated with dandruff, mix olive oil with almond oil. Leave the product on the scalp for five minutes. Rinse the mixture from the hair to remove the dandruff. If the oil burns the scalp, rinse it immediately.

  • Shaving
  • Individuals who have sensitive skin may want to use olive oil as a shaving lubricant. The oils natural healing agents will soothe the skin.

  • Energy booster
    • Cure Diaper Rash
    • Hair Tonic
    • Personal Lubricant
    • Soothe a Sore Throat
    • Treat Lice
    • Remove Makeup or Paint from the Skin
    • Soothe Ulcers
    • Exfoliate Hands and Face
    • Moisturize Cuticles
  • Olive oil or oleuropein help to ward off fungi and yeast accumulation. Both of these may contribute to fatigue and lethargy. Individuals who consume oil on a daily basis have more energy to function.

    Other ailments that are alleviated by olive oil are as follows:

Forms of Oleuropein

Olive leaf is available to the consumer in a variety of forms. Oleuropein may be consumed by the individuals from olive leaf, olive leaf extracts, or fresh-picked leaf extracts in the following forms:

  • Liquid Concentrate
  • Dried Leaf Tea
  • Powder
  • Capsule

Consumers may choose to select the form based upon the type that is easiest for them to consume. Alternatively, the form may be selected based upon the amount of time it takes for the drug to be consumed into the blood stream.

What Oleuropein is Proven to do

Olive leaf contains oleuropein. One of the active ingredients in oleuropein is polyphenol. Polyphenols are helpful in finding free radicals and eliminating them to prevent disease. Several studies demonstrate the efficacy of olive leaf in the prevention of LDL cholesterol. The extract works by inhibiting LDL oxidation.
Side Effects of Oleuropein
High LDL levels are linked to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. These plaques contribute to the formation of coronary heart disease. Active ingredients in the olive leaf have also prevented metal ion chelation and perioxidative chain reactions.

These two processes have been cited by scientists as playing a role in the development of heart disease and cancer. Olive leaf may also be beneficial in inhibiting enzymes that contribute to the inflammatory process, as well as, platelet aggregation, and inhibition of procarcinogen activation.

Though people who consume olive oil on a regular basis benefit from its health ramifications, there is no conclusive data indicating each of the benefits of oleuropein. Studies are being conducted with rodent subjects to determine the results conclusively. Each of the components of olive leaf, oleuropein, tyrosol, polyphenols and others must be studied separately in order to determine the efficacy of each component.

Typical Dosage and Usage Requirements

Since no research has been conducted to establish the necessity of oleuropein in a person’s daily diet, the Food and Drug Administration does not establish a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) with this particular supplement. More studies must be conducted to prove the efficacy of the supplement in an individual’s daily diet.

Individuals who desire to begin a regimen including olive leaf or oleuropein should follow the instruction of a physician or the label on the bottle. In general, however, individuals are recommended to take between 1 and 3 capsules with meals daily. Alternatively, if the person is ill, they should consume 1 capsule every 4 and 6 hours.

The pure form of oleuropein is combined with the inactive ingredients listed below to form a capsule:

  • Glycerin
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Magnesium Stearate
  • Vegetable Cellulose

The product typically remains fresh and consumable for 2 years. Most forms originate from the Olea Europaea Olive Leaf Tree and stem. The leaves are gathered annually. The oil is extracted through a hydroenthanolic process. The capsule form of oleuropein contains no yeast, corn, wheat, gluten, soy, milk, preservatives or colors.

Regional Legal Status

This particular supplement is widely used within the Mediterranean diet and has been proven safe for consumption. There are no known regions that restrict the use of this particular supplement in the diet. Therefore, it is safe to consume oleuropein in any region of the country.

Potential Side Effects

Individuals with low blood pressure and diabetes may suffer even lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels as a result of consumption of oleuropein. Oleuropein may also interact with other pharmaceutical drugs that are designed to lower blood pressure or regulate diabetes. The interaction could result in a dangerous situation. Those who experience symptoms such as headache, nausea, flu-like symptoms, fainting, dizziness, and other life threatening symptoms should consult a physician immediately.

Those who are pregnant should conduct their physician before use. Keep the physician informed of each medication that you are taking in order to avoid unpleasant interactions or side effects.

Where to Purchase Oleuropein

Oleuropein may be purchased in any health food store or online. The amounts and forms that oleuropein will vary from store to store, depending upon the availability. The dosage ranges from 150 milligrams to 700 milligrams of olive leaf or oleuropein. The number of capsules or tablets per bottle range from 30 to 120.

Some of the popular brands of Oleuropein or Olive Leaf include:

  • Physiologics
  • Nature’s Way Products
  • Nature’s Herbs
  • Pure Encapsulations
  • Karuna
  • Bio-Botanical Research
  • Phytopharmica
  • Priority One
  • Natrol
  • Olivenol
  • Only Natural
  • Pastore Formulations

The Cost of Oleuropein

The prices of these forms of oleuropein vary based upon the potency, the brand, the amount per bottle, the type, and the store. For example, a consumer may purchase a bottle of 150 mg capsules of olive leaf for approximately $10. The bottle may contain 60 caplets. Alternatively, a consumer may purchase a bottle of 500 mg capsules of olive leaf for a little over $60. The costs vary significantly based upon the aforementioned attributes. Consumers are advised to shop around and conduct research to determine the best price for this particular supplement.

Antioxidants

Ladostigil

Recently, Yissum Research Development Company associated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced that the University will use a portion of a $9 million dollar grant awarded to Avraham Pharmaceuticals, Pontifax, Clal Biotechnology Industries and Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin to complete the Phase II efficacy trial in patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

The trial will be conducted over the course of 52 weeks and will involve the novel drug, Ladostigil. Ladostigil is a new comprehensive drug used to combat symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression, and anxiety. The drug is deemed multi-functional because it addresses a host of neurodegenerative problems. Ladostigil is a brain-selective monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) that protects the neurons.

Common Uses

The drug is most commonly used for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research. Alzheimer’s affects one in 20 people over the age of 65. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause for dementia cases in this particular age group worldwide. In Israel, where this study originated, there are more than 100,000 people suffering with Alzheimer’s related dementia.
What is Ladostigil
By contrast, the United States is home to 5.3 million sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. This particular disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In Europe, six million people are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Fifty percent of individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s also suffer from depression. Over a third of patients also exhibit Parkinson’s symptoms.

Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease describes the most common form of dementia in patients. The disease is incurable, degenerative, and in most cases terminal. The disease was first discovered by Alois Alzheimer in 1906. He was a German psychiatrist who used his name to identify the disease. Most individuals suffering from the disease are over the age of 65. However, there are cases of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2006 survey, there were over 26.6 million Alzheimer’s sufferers around the world. By 2050, scientists predict that it will affect 1 in 85 people in the world.

Alzheimer’s disease affects each individual differently. Initially, the symptoms appear as stress. One of the most common associated symptoms is that a patient loses the ability to acquire new memories. Other symptoms include confusion, mood swings, irritability, aggression, long term memory loss, withdrawal, and language breakdown.

Over time, the patient will lose all bodily functions and eventually die. Physicians who test for Alzheimer’s will conduct a series of cognitive tests, behavioral assessments, and a brain scan. Typically, the brain scan is performed using an MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging system, if one is available. Physicians often have difficulty with the prognosis after a patient is diagnosed. However, the average life expectancy, after diagnosis, is approximately 7 years. A small percentage, 3 percent, will live 14 years after the initial diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Causes

The causes of Alzheimer’s are continually debated. Some research indicates that the disease is a result of plaque build up and other neurological complications in the brain. During a report in 2008, more than 500 clinical trials had been conducted to find an effective drug to cure Alzheimer’s. However, no drug has shown promise in completely halting the progression of the disease. Ladostigil gives Alzheimer’s patients new hope that scientists are one step closer to a cure. In the meantime, mental stimulation, exercise and a balanced diet are the best modes of prevention and management of the disease.

The History and Origin of Usage

Ladostigil is a cholinesterase inhibitor that has shown great promise in alleviating the symptoms of dementia, depression, and anxiety. Ladostigil seems to change the pathology characteristic of the disease. Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin of the Department of Pharmacology is a part of the research team at the Hebrew University of Jerusalum. Ladostigil was designed by Professor Michael Chorey. This professor also developed the drug, Exelon, that is used to treat the symptoms of dementia. This particular drug is marketed and sold by Novartis Pharma AG.

The drug is currently undergoing Phase II trials in humans to determine the drug’s efficacy in treating dementia, depression, and anxiety. This drug is a hopeful candidate in fighting diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Who Uses Ladostigil

Currently, Ladostigil is only used in rodents and monkeys. As of April 2010, scientists have received permission to proceed with clinical trials in human subjects. The study will be conducted, over the course of 52 weeks, in conjunction with the Hebrew University of Jerusalum and Avraham Pharmaceuticals. Scientists hope that patients suffering from any neurodegenerative diseases, along with depression and anxiety, will benefit from the drug. The drug shows significant promise for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Benefits

Ladostigil is designed to improve memory impairment. Current studies have been conducted in aged rodents and monkeys. The novel drug shows promising results in improving cognitive impairment among this group of animal subjects. The drug appeared to correct signs of depression in rats without any significant or known side effects.

The drug, Ladostigil also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation often is triggered by the release of cytokines in the brain. This particular drug has shown great promise in reducing the inflammation on the brain. Ladostigil shows potential that no other Alzheimer’s drug has shown in recent history. Scientists anticipate that clinical trials in human subjects will indicate the effectiveness of the drug on several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

How Lastigil Works

Dementia in Alzheimer’s patients most often occurs because of degeneration of “cholinergic cortical” neurons. This degeneration causes a cognitive deficit in these particular patients suffering from the disease. Many of the subjects suffering from dementia also experience “extrapyramidal dysfunction” and depression. Most of this is a result of the degeneration of dopaminergic, noradrenergic and sertoninergic neurons.

Ladostigil tartrate works by acting as an MAOI, cholinesterase inhibitor, and a neuroprotector. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are antidepressant drugs that are useful in treating depression that often accompanies Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. MAOIs are the strongest group of antidepressant drugs. Other drugs that are based upon selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or tricyclic antidepressants are not as effective in some patients as some of these other drugs. MAOIs have also been proven effective in smoking cessation as well.

Cholinesterase inhibitors are chemicals that increase the level of action of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter. This is accomplished by breaking down acetylcholine using cholinesterase enzyme. Neuroprotectors protect neurons that are dying or degenerating. Neuroprotectors are often used in any neurodegenerative diseases, such as stroke, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease. Erythropoietin is an example of a neuroprotector.

More specifically, Ladostigil works by inhibiting acetyl and butyrylcholinesterase. Additionally, it inhibits monoamine oxidase in the brain. Since no studies have been conducted in human patients, most of the findings are related to rodent subjects. Ladostigil has shown effects of reducing or reversing memory impairments in rodents.

Anti-Depressant

Additionally, Ladostigil has an antidepressant effect on prenatally stressed rats. The drug also prevents nitrate stress prompted by oxidation. The combination of ChE and MAO enzyme inhibition, as well as, neuroprotection gives this drug significant promise in treating cognitive impairment and depression.

Some studies tested the antidepressant effects by subjecting the rodents to a forced swim test. The rodents performed well under the pressure, which indicated that the antidepressants were effective in the rodent subjects.

Because Ladostigil tartrate combines three functionalities into one distinct pill, scientists expect the drug to perform remarkably better than any of its predecessors. The drug will target cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety and also serve as a neuroprotector.

What Forms it’s Available In

Ladostigil is available in two forms: TV3326 and TV3279. Both forms are R and S isomers, respectively. Ladostigil is a combination of carbamate cholinesterase (ChE) inhibitor, rivastigmine, and rasagiline. Rasagiline is a MAO B inhibitor. Naturally, human cells contain two forms of monoamine oxidase: A and B. Both forms of MAOI are present in the brain.

MAO-B is more common. This form acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of dopamine. This occurs after dopamine is released into the synapse. In neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, death increases in cells that use dopamine to transmit signals. This slows the rate of firing among neurons and the ability to recall certain events. Rasagiline inhibits the dopamine process and allows the signaling neurons to store more dopamine for later use.
Benefits of Ladostigil
To date, Ladostigil has only been administered to rodent and monkey subjects in the form of injections and pill. The clinical trial for human subjects was approved in April 2010. It is unclear which form of Ladostigil will be used for the human clinical trial. However, pill or tablet form would be a logical assumption.

Claims

Ladostigil has only proven its efficacy in rodent subjects. Currently, Ladostigil has been proven to improve motor function in rodents with chronic symptoms. The drug has also proven to increase dopamine and serotonin levels by 90 percent. In prenatal rodents, the antidepressant showed no side effects. Ladostigil has also been proven to improve ChE activity by 50 percent.

Scientists hope that Ladostigil will improve dementia, depression, and anxiety in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Rasagiline is an MAO B inhibitor that is included in the popular drug, Ladostigil. This drug is supposed to act as a neuroprotector in the brain.

However, more studies must be conducted to prove this finding conclusively. The effects of rasgiline may be reduced if amphetamines are introduced into the system. Therefore, this drug should not be combined with amphetamines to retain its effectiveness.

Typical Dosage

In the studies of rodents, Ladostigil was administered in 52 mg doses for 21 days. The rat studies showed that levels of dopamine and serotonin were increased by 90 percent and ChE activity was inhibited by 50 percent. In another study, 26 mg of Ladostigil TV3279 was administered for 21 days. This amount of the drug in this particular form also inhibited 50 percent of ChE activity.

However, Ladostigil TV3279 had no effect on MAO activity or amine levels. In instances where the drug was administered for chronic symptoms, the rodents were able to preserve motor function and behavior when tested. In instances where the drug was administered for acute symptoms and treatment, scientists noted decreased motor skills.

In other studies conducted on rabbits and rodents, the dosages varied from 10 to 100 mg. The dosage for human subjects has yet to be determined or released.

Regional Legal Status

The drug has not been approved to be used on any human subjects outside of the clinical trial. This clinical trial is being held in Israel. Those who would like to participate in the study may request to be included. However, it is uncertain what qualifications are necessary to be included in the Phase II clinical trial.

Side Effects

Currently, the antidepressant portion of the drug is showing no side effects in rodent subjects. Since no human trials have been completed, no side effects are noted. Scientists will document side effects as they arise during the study. After the study is completed, more conclusive evidence will be provided.

Product Cost

No cost is associated with Ladostigil, because the drug is still in clinical trials. The only human subjects that will have access to the drug will be involved with the clinical trial. During the trial, the patients will be closely monitored and the efficacy of the drug will be determined. If the drug is approved for sale to physicians for use in treatment, then an adequate price will be assigned to the drug.

Avraham currently holds the rights to Ladostigil. This company will be responsible for setting the cost structure. The company recently purchased the rights from Yissum Research Development Company of Hebrew University of Jerusalum. This particular research company was started to protect the intellectual property of Hebrew University of Jerusalum. This is a reputable company that partners with Teva, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Merck, Roche, Intel, Phillips, IBM, Monsanto, Vilmorin, and Syngenta for research studies.

Antioxidants

Rasagiline

Rasagiline is a synthetic compound that is used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It is a relatively new drug and was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on May 16, 2006. Rasagiline is considered one of the primary monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

History

Rasagiline was developed in the very early 2000s by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. under the direction of Professor Moussa Youdim. Youdim first presented the drug to the FDA in 2004. In 2006, after extensive research was done to prove the safety of the drug, rasagiline was approved. It is now one of the most common Parkinson’s medications in the world.

Usage

Rasagiline is used solely for treating the symptoms and slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease occur when dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps with cognition and motor skills, is not able to reach the brain. There are several factors and/or causes that can block dopamine. One of these causes is the presence of monoamine oxidase enzymes in the brain.

Every person’s brain has a certain amount of monoamine oxidase A and monoamine oxidase B (often shortened to MAO-A and MAO-B). One of the adverse effects of these enzymes is that they can metabolize (breakdown) dopamine before it can do the person any good. The main culprit is MAO-B. Although MAO-A does metabolize dopamine, it also metabolizes serotonin and several other chemicals and enzymes and, therefore, cannot do as much damage to one single substance. MAO-B on the other hand, only metabolizes dopamine. Also, MAO-B is always much more prevalent than MAO-A.
Side Effects of Rasagiline
Some of the common drugs that treat Parkinson’s disease are called monoamine oxidase inhibitors. MAO inhibitors stop the production of the MAO enzymes, particularly the MAO-B, and, therefore, allow dopamine to function properly. The most common MAO inhibitor is rasagiline.

Although rasagiline is prescribed for patients at all stages of Parkinson’s disease, it is most commonly given to patients at the early stage. Although the drug’s long term effects have not yet been established, it has been proven to help slow the progression of the disease. Rasagiline can also be prescribed solely to help control the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Recommended Dosage

Rasagiline is often taken in conjunction with other medications; the most common of which is levodopa. When rasagiline is combined with another drug, often referred to as adjunctive therapy, it is recommended to only take 0.5 mg per day. If the drug is taken on its own, often called monotherapy, the patient can take up to 1 mg per day. In some cases, 1 mg per day is prescribed for adjunctive therapy. However, a patient should never exceed more than 1 mg per day. The drug is always taken orally.

Rasagiline can be taken on an empty stomach. Never “double dose” because the drug can be fatal if taken in large amounts. Signs of rasagiline overdose include extreme irritability, sweating, changes in heart rate and/or breathing patterns, convulsions, and even seizures. If an overdose is suspected, medical help should be sought at once. If necessary, call a poison control center.

There is absolutely no risk of developing a dependency on this drug.

Legal Status

Rasagiline has been approved by the FDA but is available only with a prescription. Rasagiline is not illegal in any other country and, in Canada for example, is sometimes available without a prescription. The drug is very popular in Europe partly because it was promoted by the drug company Lundbeck.

Availability and Cost

Azilect

Rasagiline is commonly referred to by its brand name Azilect. In fact, when Youdim presented his drug to the FDA, he presented it as Azilect. In the USA, Azilect is available by prescription only. One month’s supply usually costs around $250. Azilect ordered online, from Canadian pharmacies for example, is usually slightly cheaper. In cases like this, one month’s supply usually costs anywhere from $150 to $200 (USD). So far, Azilect is the only brand name version of the rasagiline drug.

Generic

There are several, cheaper, generic brands of the drug. Generics are usually just called rasagiline (similar to the fact that generic Tussin is called Tussin while the brand name is Robitussin). Both the generic and the brand name forms of the drug should be covered by most medical insurances. Rasagiline/Azilect is always taken in tablet form.

Adverse Effects

Although rasagiline has been proven effective, it can cause some very serious side effects. Patients should not drive until they are certain they are reacting well to the drug. Also, most monoamine oxidase inhibitors do not react well with other pharmaceuticals and/or over-the-counter medications (see below). Be sure to speak with a qualified professional before beginning use of this drug.

Mild side effects

Some of the more mild, and common, side effects of rasagiline include headache, drowsiness, joint pain, and dizziness. Some people experience an allergic reaction, similar to a food allergy, that can cause hives, airway constriction, and swelling of the throat, tongue, or eyes. Rasagiline may also cause intestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation; it may also cause mild vertigo, hallucinations, and sensory impairment. Ever since rasagiline was presented to the FDA, there has been a concern that the drug may cause skin cancer. However, it has been decided that, although the risk is present, it is not, by any means, serious.

Severe Side Effects

Some of the more severe, but thankfully rare, side effects of rasagiline include changes in heart rate, lung fibroses, emphysema, and, possibly, manic and/or paranoid reactions. There is a slight chance that patients taking rasagiline may develop bacterial or viral infections. However, these infections can usually be cleared up with common antibiotics. In some extremely rare cases, rasagiline has caused acute kidney failure, retinal hemorrhage, and jaundice.

Rasagiline may cause sexual and/or reproductive problems. Men may experience abnormal ejaculation, epididymitis (inflammation and/or swelling of the epididymis), and, rarely, pariapism (persistent erection without sexual desire). Women sometimes experience vaginal hemorrhage, loss of sexual desire, and amenorrhea (absence or severe disruption of the normal menstrual cycle).

Drug Interactions

Over-the-counter medications

Rasagiline does not react well with guaifenesin and dextromethorphan, two common ingredients in over-the-counter cough medicines. The combination of these drugs may cause temporary psychosis. A similar reaction can be caused by the combination of rasagiline and most common allergy medications.
Benefits of Rasagilin
Also, rasagiline should never be mixed with painkillers such as meperidine and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Rasagiline mixed with these drugs can cause fatal reactions.

Natural supplements

Although it is highly unlikely, rasagiline may not react well with vitamins, herbs, and other natural dietary supplements. A patient should tell a qualified professional about all supplements and medications he or she is taking regardless of whether they are natural or chemical.

Antidepressants

Rasagiline does not react well with any antidepressant medications. However, the main ones to avoid are duloxetine (Cymbalta), desipramine (Norpramin), fluoxetine (Prozac), and amitriptyline (Vanatrip).

Other Information

Diet Restrictions

When rasagiline was first approved by the FDA, it was thought that severe diet restrictions were necessary to help the drug work properly. It used to be that patients taking the drug would have to avoid the amino acid tyramine. Tyramine acts as a releasing agent for dopamine and it was thought that, since rasagiline inhibits the development of the MAO enzymes, it might also cause a buildup of tyramine which can also have adverse effects.

Tyramine occurs naturally in many foods including cheese, avocados, aged meats, soy products, pineapples, raspberries, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, yeast, and chocolate. Tyramine is also present in unpasteurized beers and red wines.

In the early days of rasagiline, patients would have to go on a strict diet to avoid ingesting tyramine. However, in 2009, the FDA decided that tyramine restrictions were only necessary for patients with extreme sensitivity to the amino acid. However, some medical doctors still recommend that the diet be followed simply as a precaution.

When Not To Take It

Rasagiline should never be taken by those who have or have ever had any kind of kidney or liver disease. The drug should not be taken by people who suffer from a pheochromocytoma (a small neuroendocrine tumor that affects the adrenal glands).

The drug is not recommended for children. It is not yet known if rasagiline is safe for pregnant mothers. The drug is not, however, recommended for women who are nursing because it may slow the production of breast milk.

A person taking rasagiline should cease using it at least 2 weeks before undergoing any form of elective surgery or even simple outpatient procedures or dental operations.

Although use of the drug in these cases is not forbidden, caution should be used when rasagiline is taken by patients with high blood pressure. The patient and his or her health care provider will need to constantly monitor the effects of the drug. Extremely high blood pressure that develops after the patient has begun use of the drug may be a sign of serious drug interactions. If this occurs, use of rasagiline should be stopped and the patient should seek medical help immediately.

Resources

MedicineNet.Com
MayoClinic.Com

Antioxidants

Gallic Acid

Gallic acid is an organic acid found in a variety of foods and herbs that are well known as powerful antioxidants. Foods and herbs such as blueberries, walnuts, apples, flax seed and tea all contain Gallic acid. Gallic acid is also found in gall nuts, sumac, witch hazel, watercress, oak bark, and a variety of other plants and herbs. Gallic acid is also found as part of tannins, which are astringent, bitter plant polyphenols.

To obtain Gallic acid in a pure form, one must obtain it through an extraction process from gall nuts. First, finely-powdered nut galls are obtained. The powdered galls are mixed with distilled water to make a thin paste. The paste is then exposed to air, allowing it to stand in a warm place for about 4 weeks, ensuring that it has enough water at all times to maintain a pasty consistency.
Gallic Acid Definition
The paste is in a porcelain or glass container, avoiding the use of iron since iron or the presence of iron salts gives the product a color that is difficult to remove. After exposing the mixture to air for the required time, the paste is expressed and the residue is boiled with distilled water for a short time.

The boiled water and paste is filtered through charcoal while hot. When cooled, crystals of Gallic acid are formed. Sometimes further purification is necessary and the crystals are dissolved, treated with charcoal and re-crystallized.

Past Uses of Gallic Acid

Many of the foods containing Gallic acid have been used for years as natural remedies, and were relied upon by various cultures for their medicinal properties. Blueberries, for example, were used by Native Americans and the early American settlers.

Native Americans used blueberries to make an aromatic tea that was used as a relaxant during child birth—a popular usage for berries (rich in Gallic acid) that continued to be used by women of the early American settlers. Tea from blueberry leaves was also believed to be a good tonic for purifying the blood.

Another plant (also rich in Gallic acid) that has long been used for its medicinal properties is witch hazel. Native American tribes made balms out of the bark of witch hazel, and made tea from its leaves. The balm and tea were applied to cuts and wounds to prevent infection, and the tea alone was used to treat menstrual problems, colds and other illnesses.

The list could continue for each of the foods where Gallic acid is present, for ancient cultures quickly learned of the beneficial properties of the plants and herbs that surrounded them, and many herbs and healthy foods contain Gallic acid. The ancient cultures may not have understood the role of Gallic acid, or even that Gallic acid existed, in the foods and herbs they used for medicinal purposes. They did, however, believe that their medicines worked.

Efficacy of Ancient Use of Gallic Acid

Ancient cultures often believed in remedies and medicines that have later been proved to have been ineffective. For example, it was once believed that withdrawing large amounts of blood would cure or prevent illness. We know now, however, that removing large quantities of blood actually weakens an individual and facilitates illness.

However, the usage of foods and herbs rich in Gallic acid in ancient cultures was not entirely inaccurate. In actuality, these medicines and treatments using foods and herbs rich in Gallic acid often did work (though not with 100% accuracy).

Witch hazel, for example, does prevent wounds from being infected and does work as an astringent to constrict tissues and stop bleeding, therefore making the use of the plant effective in the ways in which the Native Americans were applying it.

However, witch hazel has now been determined unsafe for pregnancy, proving that while ancient medicine using items rich in Gallic acid may have been correct in some cases, it was not correct in all. Though ancient cultures were likely not aware of the properties in the foods and herbs that made their usage effective, we know now that the presence of Gallic acid played a significant role in the efficacy of such treatments and medicines.

Modern Use of Gallic Acid

Today, Gallic acid is believed to have health benefits that are of particular note to those at risk for certain forms of cancer or neural disorders. Studies have shown that Gallic acid is effective in inhibiting neuronal death. Studies have also shows that Gallic acid has anti-cancer properties against leukemia, certain prostate, colon and lung cancer cells.

Gallic acid has been shown to prevent cellular mutations and to be toxic to cancer cells, while having no negative effect on healthy cells. This, of course, means that Gallic acid may prove to be an effective treatment for certain forms of cancer, and that increasing the amount of Gallic acid consumed may help those suffering from cancer in their fight against the disease.

In addition to the health benefits for people at risk for certain forms of cancer or neural disorders, Gallic acid also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent oxidative damage. Gallic acid also has therapeutic applications for inflammatory allergic diseases, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, sinusitis due to its ability to inhibit histamine release and the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine.

Finally, Gallic acid can be used as a remote astringent, as it works to constrict tissues and stop bleeding. Administered internally, Gallic acid has shown to be an effective astringent that is beneficial in the treatment of uterine, pulmonary, and nephritic hemorrhages, as well as all hemorrhages of a passive character.

As a remote astringent, Gallic acid has also proved to be effective in the treatment of regular, unusually heavy and prolonged menstrual periods (also known as Menorrhagia). In fact, Gallic acid has shown to cease the occurrence of Menorrhagia when the individual takes 5 grains of Gallic acid in pill-form 3 – 4 times per day during the flow.

Modern Forms of Gallic Acid

Because Gallic acid has been shown to be so beneficial to overall health, it is important to know how we can increase our intake of the antioxidant. There are not supplements specifically of Gallic acid. However, there are plenty of readily available vitamin and nutritional supplements that contain Gallic acid and will help to give the benefits associated with Gallic acid. Most of these supplements are specifically designed to be rich in antioxidants.

Some examples of pill form supplements that include Gallic acid are Grape seed extract, Rooibos Tea Extract, Amla and Livotide, among others. It is also possible to increase intake of Gallic acid through natural juices, such as pomegranate, blueberry and grape juice, or through consuming foods naturally rich in Gallic acid.

Vitamin supplements containing Gallic acid in pill form are available at local nutritional and health stores, as well as through various online retailers. Prices vary depending on the brand purchased and the retailer where the product is purchased. However, different supplements containing Gallic acid can be found for prices ranging from $6 to almost $100.

It is important to note that many of these supplements include a variety of other vitamins and herbs that are thought to beneficial to health. The price of the product purchased will also be affected by the other ingredients included in the supplement, as well as the amount of capsules in each bottle. Obviously, bottles that hold hundreds of pills are going to be more expensive than small bottles holding less than one hundred.

When taking supplements, or any medication, it is important to follow the directions given by a medical professional or on the label of the medication or supplement. It is believed that Gallic acid is safe in any dosage. However, Gallic acid is most often found in supplements containing other ingredients. Therefore, the instructions on the bottle must be followed carefully.

Side Effects of Gallic Acid

In animal studies, Gallic acid has triggered contractile responses and inhibited the decrease of vascular pressure in the thoracic aorta. Gallic acid has also been shown to interfere with medications taken for high blood pressure. Therefore, if you are taking medications for high blood pressure or are at risk for heart problems, a medical doctor should be consulted before increasing your consumption of Gallic acid through the use of nutritional supplements.
Side Effects of Gallic Acid
Gallic acid has been shown to have immense health benefits, and may prove to be an effective treatment for certain cancers and neural disorders.

Its use as an antioxidant helps to ensure overall and continued health, and can be taken as a supplement to increase the levels of this beneficial antioxidant in your life. However, as with all nutritional supplements, it is not a substitute for an overall healthy lifestyle through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Also, as with all exercise and nutritional plans, you should talk to your doctor or naturopath regarding supplementing your diet. This not only ensures the proper ingestion of the supplement, but will also ensure that there is no conflict between medicines being taken and the supplement.

Resources

CDC.Gov
MedicineNet.Com

Antioxidants

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Overview

Lipoic acid (LA) is an organosulfur compound, considered to be an antioxidant, a substance that renders harmless certain chemicals called free radicals. LA is a compound where a disulfide bond binds sulfur atoms and this distinction classifies it as “oxidized”. Alpha-lipoic acid is converted into dihydrolipoic acid on the body.

This oxidization and conversion is the very process by which Lipoic Acid terminates the damaging oxidization of free radicals. Free radicals are destructive chemicals produced by the body and they are thought to be a major contributing factor in aging, age-related disorders and other ailments such as stroke or heart disease.
alpha lipoic acid definition
Lipoic Acid is also referred to as Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), a synthetic form of Lipoic Acid, and was discovered over 30 years ago but up until 1989, was classified as a vitamin. Research scientists discovered the anti-oxidant properties of the molecule and studies continue in the remarkable ways it works in the human body.

It is the start of a revolutionary breakthrough in research of some illnesses, since some scientists believe ALA is more potent than its popular cousins, Vitamin C and E.

Key Differences

Alpha Lipoic Acid is not to be confused with alpha linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that may contribute to a healthy heart. Since both are abbreviated with ALA, the confusion can de understood. Alpha Lipoic Acid is also classified as thiotic acid and presented as such in research and medical papers.

There are two sub-forms of ALA. The natural form (racemic) of RLA is pure and found is nature and the human body. SLA is a by-product of chemical manufacturing processes. A combination of the two R/S-LA is often found in the available commercial products found in health stores and vitamin shops. SLA alone or mixed with RLA is considered safe and non-toxic unless there is a thiamine deficiency. SLA can have an adverse effect in these incidences, even causing death.

History

RLA has existed since the dawn of time, essential to all life forms, known as a protogen in aiding metabolism. The substance was first isolated in a crystalline form by Dr. Lester Reed from the University of Texas, when he extracted a miniscule amount from over 10 tons of beef liver in 1951. Collaboration with chemists at Eli Lilly Company provided a means for structural identity and composition.

It was not until 1952 that the chemical sister SLA was produced by chemical synthesis. Germany and Japan were forerunners in the study and synthesis of Alpha Lipoic Acid. Despite the evident that the two sub forms of ALA were not bioequal, studies continued in different clinical trials using RLA and SLA.

Leonardo Donatelli

However, it was the first animal trial profiles presented by Professor Leonardo Donatelli at the International Symposium on Thiotic Acid in 1955 that evidence was set forth on the wide variety of chemical toxins that were rendered benign by ALA. The entire globe responded with a stimulated interest in discovering new applications for the ALA.

The first clinical studies conducted using humans for research occurred in the 1970’s. These studies were held in an association formed by Dr. Frederick C, Bartter, Dr. Burton N. Berkson and the National Institute of Health.

Clinical trials

Diabetes

Since the 1960’s when ALA was used in research clinical trials in Germany, it has proven its efficacy in treating diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy is a painful condition where the myelin sheaths of nerve endings are damaged or disintegrated.

Alpha-lipoic acid with its ability to kill free radicals helps reduce the debilitating symptoms of neuropathy. Patients diagnosed with neuropathy experience burning, itching, swelling, tingling and numbness in their extremities. It has also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. ALA’s greatest success in this treatment is when it is administered by intravenous injection. A second diabetes related illness known as autonomic neuropathy is greatly improved with oral dosages of ALA repairing nerves responsible for the heart.

Both peripheral and autonomic neuropathy can be caused by other diseases or conditions. Injuries, chemotherapy, alcoholism, shingles, Lyme disease, kidney failure, thyroid disease and nutritional deficiencies can lead to nerve damage.

  • Liver disease
  • Two of the original American researchers, Drs. Bartter and Berkson, administered LA to 79 patients across the United States. These patients suffered from acute and severe liver damage and an astonishing 75 of the patients regained full liver function. Dr. Berkson took his research further, administering ALA to patients suffering from chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice and alcoholism. The doctor’s treatments were successful and at the time, ALA was thought to work through the same biochemistry of a B-vitamin. Today, some call ALA the answer to an alcoholic’s dream, repairing damaged liver organs and tissues to the former state of health, while others cite the fact that more research is needed before that claim is made.

  • Brain function
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is the only antioxidant that can cross the blood-brain barrier and passes directly into brain cells. This promotes great hope for victims of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

    Because the brain-heart link is so potent in the life-threatening conditions, ALA protects the brain cells from free radical damage, lowering the risks of further complications for these patients. While no human studies have been performed, animals treated with ALA suffered less brain damage and survived at a rate four times greater than the animals who received no ALA.

  • Age-related conditions
  • Because ALA has the ability to pass directly into the brain, research continues to ascertain the effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid in patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, cerebral dysfunction and psychiatric conditions as they apply to aging and the human body.

  • Poison control
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid has had a remarkable success rate when administered alone or in conjunction with other drugs on poison-related incidences. ALA has been shown to halt or reverse damage done by reverse barbiturate anesthesia. mushroom and mercury poisoning, and antimony poisoning, among others.

  • Other studies
  • ALA continues to be used in clinical studies, predominantly by German, Italian and Japanese physicians who have reported a wide range of clinical or experimental success.
    alpha lipoic acid uses
    Researchers from the United States, Poland, Switzerland, France and other countries have now begun researching and publishing papers on ALA and their own successful clinical studies. Studies have been conducted on conditions as diverse as weight control, metabolic syndrome, burning mouth, migraines, erectile dysfunction and multiple sclerosis.

  • Bodybuilding
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) has gained a great deal of popularity with bodybuilders. More and more products are manufactured with RLA and R/SLA then ever before. Bodybuilding enthusiasts claim the insulin-mimicking properties of ALA leads to Glut-4 transporters ferry the glucose into muscles cells rather than fat cells.

    Bodybuilders believe this increase of glucose uptake to muscle cells increases muscle size, less fat accumulation, increased creative, insulin sensitivity and amino acid transportation. Bodybuilders and weight loss advocates hold the opinion that as less glucose is stored in fat cells; metabolism and fat burning are increased exponentially.

    Daily doses of Alpha Lipoic Acid are much higher than a normal dietary supplement. Dosage recommendations from bodybuilders and product manufacturers targeting the same market believe that doses of 1000 mg to 3000 mg per day is optimal for “bulking and cutting”, the process of building muscle and losing fat, creating the perfect body physique. It is recommended that the high dosages be broken up throughout the day and taken with food. The FDA has not approved the high dosage of ALA for individual use nor has it banned the practice.

Dietary sources

There have been two food groups identified as lipoid-acid containing foods. The first category is plant-based and has a high concentration of chloroplasts, which are key energy spots in plants. Green leafy vegetables are a source of ALA such as chard, collard greens, broccoli, and spinach.

The other food source is animal-based. Again, it is cellular mechanisms involved that produce ALA. Mitochondria are as critical to animals in energy production as chloroplasts are to plants. Mitochondria are found in organ meats and skeletal muscle. Foods such as heart, kidney, liver and round steak are good sources of body tissue rich in mitochondria. Yeast is also a vessel known to house this important nutrient.

Dietary supplements

IRS/LA and RLA, the combination and pure form of Alpha Lipoic Acid is readily available in the world in tablet, capsule and liquid forms. There is no correlation data established between therapeutic and supplemental doses. A Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) has been not yet been established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA, however, is considering the establishment of new labels for ALA to promote and establish dietary needs and recommendations.

Currently there are no established daily doses for ALA supplementation. However, a general dose of 20 to 50 mg daily is considered sufficient for dietary needs. ALA can be found in vitamin formulas at a concentration of less than 10 mg per dose. The antioxidant can be purchased in doses ranging from 30 to 100 mg in all available forms. Higher or therapeutic doses should be discussed with a doctor and a regimen planned for the stated purpose.

Contradictions

Side effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid are usually minimal and mild. They can include headache, tingling sensations, skin rash or muscle cramps. A rare side effect is called insulin autoimmune syndrome, which causes hypoglycemia and reactive antibodies directed against the body’s own insulin.

The safety of ALA is nursing or pregnant women, children and people who have liver or kidney disease is not known and therefore, not recommended.

Patient currently taking diabetic medications should check with their doctor before taking supplementary ALA. This caution would also apply to person taking thyroid medications.

Alternative names

There are a large number of names for Alpha Lipoic Acid. If cautionary warnings apply to an individual or family member, check for these alternate names as they may appear on supplementary or proprietary formulations.

Acetate Replacing Factor, A-lipoic Acid, Alpha-Lipoic Acid Extract, Biletan, Lipoicin, R-ALA, R-alpha-lipoic acid R, S-alpha Lipoic Acid, (R)-Lipoic Acid, RS-alpha-lipoic acid Thioctacid, Thioctan, Thioctic Acid, 1,2-dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid, 1,2-dithiolane-3-valeric acid, 6,8-dithiooctanoic acid, 6,8-thioctic acid, 5-(1,2-dithiolan-3-yl) valeric acid.

Antioxidants

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10

What is it?

Coenzyme Q10, or ubiquinone as it is sometimes called, is a fat-soluble compound found in nearly every cell in the human body. Extremely high concentrations are found in organs, especially the heart and the liver.

CoQ10 is called a vitamin-like substance, because the human body needs small quantities of it to maintain normal bodily functions. The compound’s primary purpose is to aid in the conversion of carbohydrates and fats into a form of energy that the body can use.

History

The compound was first discovered during the analysis of a cow’s heart by University of Wisconsin Professor Fredrick L. Crane in 1957. The chemical structure and function in the human body was discovered shortly thereafter.
using coenzyme q10
It was first used as an experimental treatment in the 1960s, when it was given to patients with heart disease.

Japanese scientists figured out how to mass produce CoQ10 in the 1970s, which has allowed researchers to conduct thousands of more studies.

CoQ10 has shown promise in the treatment of many conditions and diseases in clinical trials around the globe.

Where Does it Come From?

The human body naturally synthesizes Coenzyme Q10, as well as absorbs it from dietary intake.

Only a few foods are good sources of CoQ10, but meats and fish generally have the highest concentrations. Organ meats such as beef hearts have exceptionally high concentrations of the compound. Certain types of oil such as soybean and canola, as well as nuts, are also good sources of CoQ10.

Fruits and vegetables are poor sources of CoQ10, with avocados and leafy green vegetables as the exceptions. As so few healthy foods provide high concentrations of CoQ10, most people look to supplements to increase their CoQ10 intake. Supplements generally contain many times the amount of CoQ10 than a normal person could ever consume in their regular diet.

Benefits

Coenzyme Q10 serves a vital role in the production of ATP, the molecule which provides energy for nearly every cellular process. As such, maintaining proper levels of CoQ10 can boost energy levels and efficiency in many different areas of the body, such as the immune system and cardiovascular system.

Furthermore, CoQ10 is an antioxidant, meaning that it can absorb free radicals found in the body. Free radicals can damage DNA and kill cells, and are thought to be major contributors to the aging process. Antioxidants can help prevent this damage from occurring by destroying free radicals.

Treatable Diseases and Ailments

Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency

Due to certain rare metabolic disorders, some people’s bodies may not be able to produce a proper amount of CoQ10 to maintain normal body function. As such, supplements help provide the body with enough dietary CoQ10 to offset the lack of natural production.

People with diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, HIV/AIDs, and various cancers have been shown to have abnormally low CoQ10 levels. Though it is currently unclear what specific effects this produces, CoQ10 supplementation can return these levels to normal.

In addition, patients with general malnutrition usually have low amounts of CoQ10 in their bodies. CoQ10, along with other vital vitamin and nutrient supplements, can help return a malnourished person to health.

Aging

CoQ10 supplements can help fight aging in several ways. The first is due to its properties as an antioxidant. CoQ10, along with other antioxidants such as Vitamin E and C, can help limit the damage of free radicals, which contribute to many of the symptoms related to aging.

The second is due to the fact that the body naturally starts to produce less CoQ10 as it ages. Supplementation can return blood levels of CoQ10 to a normal state and therefore increase energy levels and improve various bodily processes. In addition. several studies also point to CoQ10 helping slow down, though not cure, Alzheimer’s disease.

A few preliminary studies have also pointed to CoQ10 helping halt muscular degeneration related to the aging process.

Heart Disease

Most of the trials and studies dealing with CoQ10 over the last few decades have related to the treatment of heart disease. This is partially due to the fact that the cells of the heart contain the highest concentration of CoQ10 in the human body. CoQ10 has been shown to be quite effective in gradually improving heart function as well as alleviating symptoms such as chest pain and fatigue in patients with heart disease.

There have been some cases where a CoQ10 regimen helped drastically return the heart to a normal level of function. These cases all occurred when the CoQ10 regimen was started immediately after the disease was diagnosed. As such, it stands to reason that CoQ10 is most effective when taken in the very early stages of the disease. Nevertheless, it has been shown to be somewhat helpful in the later stages as well. It is important to note that CoQ10 was taken alongside traditional drug treatments and lifestyle changes in all of these studies.

Hypertension

Initial results from several studies show that CoQ10 may be helpful in reducing blood pressure. People with hypertension have been shown to have low blood levels of CoQ10. It is not clear whether that the low amounts of CoQ10 are a cause of hypertension or merely a side effect.

However, placebo-controlled trials have produced results showing that a daily regimen of CoQ10 can lower blood pressure by a moderate amount over the span of a few months. It should take at least four weeks to see any changes in blood pressure from a CoQ10 regimen.

High Cholesterol

People with high cholesterol tend to have lower blood levels of CoQ10 than their peers with normal cholesterol. In addition, the class of drugs commonly used to lower blood cholesterol, statins, are known to deplete the body of CoQ10.
risks of coenzyme q10
Taking supplements can counter this deficiency without adversely impacting the cholesterol-lowering effect of the statins.

Angina

Limited studies show that CoQ10 supplementation may help decrease the chest pain related to angina and alleviate some of the chest discomfort that occurs during exercise.

Parkinson’s Disease

Coenzyme Q10 has been the subject of several promising studies related to Parkinson’s Disease. While more research is needed, the limited data shows that CoQ10 supplementation helps limit the degradation of muscle function caused by the disease.

Other Diseases

CoQ10 may be helpful in treating various types of cancer, HIV/AIDS, gum disease, and many other diseases that are accompanied by low levels of CoQ10. More comprehensive studies are needed before any preliminary or definitive conclusions can be made.

Dosage

Positive results have been seen from Coenzyme Q10 supplementation with dosages as low as 10-30 mg per day. However, people absorb the compound differently, so a dose that is enough for one person may not be enough for another.

Over-the-counter supplements range from 30 mg to 200 mg per pill. 100 mg should be more than enough for the daily requirements of the vast majority of healthy adults. Soft-gel tablets are the best way to supplement with CoQ10, as they provide the highest rate of absorption.

In addition. eating a meal containing some type of fat also ensures better absorption. It is recommended that young children do not take CoQ supplements unless under the direction or supervision of a pediatrician. Pregnant women are also discouraged from taking CoQ10, due to the unknown effects of supplementation on pregnancy.

Side Effects

There are no known serious side effects to CoQ10 supplementation. An extremely low percentage of people have reported an upset stomach, mild nausea, fatigue, and headaches. CoQ10 may slightly lower blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes or hypoglycemia should be cautious while taking CoQ10 supplements.

It is not known to have any toxicities. Despite this, following the dosage guidelines is recommended. If taking prescription medication, consult your doctor before beginning a CoQ10 regimen, as the compound has been known to negatively interact with some medications.

Where Can I Get It?

CoQ10 can be found in nearly every major pharmacy and health store in the United States, as well as larger retailers like Walmart and Target. Any online retailer that sells vitamins or nutritional supplements is likely to have CoQ10 in stock.

CoQ10 is legal in every state in the U.S., and can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.

How Much Does it Cost?

CoQ10 is relatively expensive compared to other vitamin supplements. A generic 30 count bottle of 100 mg pills can be found at Walmart for around $10-15, while name brand products at specialty stores can cost much more.

Part of the reason for the high price is that nearly all the CoQ10 in the world is produced through a costly manufacturing process in Japan and must be exported.

Should I Take It?

As there are few negative side effects and plenty of benefits, there seems to be no reason not to add a moderate amount of CoQ10 to your daily supplement routine. However, CoQ10 is not some sort of magic cure-all, and is certainly not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle.

It is quite costly, and the benefits are not as clear for young, healthy adults. Older adults and those with specific concerns such as heart disease stand to benefit the most from a CoQ10 regimen. If in doubt, ask your doctor or medical professional.