Meta-Analysis Rejects Safety Concerns Over Calcium Supplementation for Increasing Coronary Heart Disease Risk

Calcium and Coronary Heart DiseaseAccording to a recent meta-analysis elderly women who supplement with calcium are not at an increased risk of either all-cause mortality or coronary heart disease.

Researchers took data from over 18 randomized clinical trials.  Over 63,000 individuals participated in the trials with over 3,300 coronary heart disease events (CHD) and over 4,100 deaths.  Data from 5 trials showed supplemental calcium did not increase CHD event risks and data from 17 trials found supplemental calcium had no effect on all cause mortality. Also no effects from calcium supplementation were found for chronic CHD, angina or heart attack risks.

Osteoporosis is often seen as a silent killer which affects over 9 million adults in the US.  Over 48 million people have low bone mass which puts them at a higher risk for osteoporosis.  The Council for Responsible Nutrition estimates that calcium and vitamin D supplementation could save over $1.08 billion per year in healthcare costs.  Negative publicity about calcium supplementation causing increased plaque formation in diseased arteries has caused individuals to be concerned about taking calcium in supplement form.  Hopefully this meta-analysis will help clear up the controversy.



Curcumin for Sports Nutrition? RCT Supports Role for Pain Reduction After Heavy Exercise

Curcumin for Sports NutritionA new study supports the supplementation of curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric it yellow color, as a means to reduce pain related to exercise and to boost exercise performance.

17 men were recruited to participate in a double blind randomized-controlled crossover trial.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or a 5 gram daily dose of curcumin to be taken orally for 2 days before and 3 days after being given performance tests.  A washout period of two weeks followed and then the participants crossed over to the other group.  Dosage levels were calculated based on extrapolations made from animal studies.

1 or 2 days after exercise the curcumin group saw moderate to large reductions in pain during exercises that included squat jumps, gluteal stretches and single-leg squats.  A small increase in single-leg jump performance of 15% was seen in the curcumin supplement group.

The science of curcumin/turmeric’s benefit for enhancing brain, muscle, joint and cardiovascular systems has been growing.  This new study suggests a new benefit for curcumin/turmeric in the area of sports nutrition.  More studies are needed to support these conclusions.


“Vitamin E Helps Preserve and Protect Our Fat Heads!” Study Shows Role of Vitamin E for Brain Health

Vitamin E and Brain HealthA new study on zebrafish, selected because they have many genes in common with human beings, shows vitamin E may support higher levels of DHA in the brain.  The study found vitamin E is necessary to prevent dramatic losses of a critical molecule in the brain.

Vitamin E studies in the past have looked at vitamin E in the context of cardiovascular disease, eye disease and cancer prevention.  This study only adds more evidence to a growing body of knowledge that supports the health benefits of vitamin E and the brain.



Garlic is an “Effective and Safe Approach” For Blood Pressure Support

Garlic Controls High Blood PressureA meta-analysis of 7 randomized controlled trials shows supplementation with garlic (Allium Sativum) may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure for individuals with hypertension.

Pooling data from 7 randomized, placebo controlled studies that compared garlic supplements to a placebo it was found that garlic supplements reduced systolic blood pressure on average 6.71 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 4.79 mmHg.  These blood pressure lowering benefits have been linked to allicin, the phytonutrient in garlic which gives garlic its beneficial properties.  It is believed that the allicin, which is only formed when garlic is crushed, breaks down a compound called diallyl sulphide (obtained from garlic but is less potent than allicin).  If garlic is cooked whole then it has almost no medicinal or health benefits.

Increase awareness of garlic’s health benefits, especially as they relate to cardiovascular and immune health, have increased garlic supplement sales.  Consumers often  seek the benefits of garlic without the odor associated with the fresh bulb.


Supplements for Sleep and Relaxation Support

Relaxation and SleepThere are many nutraceuticals with evidence that reinforces their use for both relaxation and sleep support.  Here is a summary of the clinical data and mechanisms for how they work to promote either sleep or relaxation:

GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) For Sleep and Relaxation Support:

The balance of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) and Glutamate, two neurotransmitters in the central nervous system plays an important role in cortical excitability.  A proper balance of inhibition and excitation is needed for cognitive processes, memory, balanced mood, and healthy sleep.  GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter and Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter.  It has been shown that lower GABA concentrations are associated with a higher state of anxiety, depressive disorder and poor sleep quality. GABA helps to reduce the anxiety or fear provoking stimuli. Often sedatives stimulate or bind to GABA receptors which reinforce how important GABA is for sleep.

Those individuals with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have been shown to have significantly lower GABA levels in the area of the brain called the anterior cingulated cortex.  This area of the brain is associated with impulse control, decision making and emotion.  Actually impulsivity measures are negatively related to GABA levels, in other words those individuals with lower GABA levels tend to be more impulsive.  In children with ADHD, Glutamate levels have been shown to be twice as high which tips the balance more towards the excitatory state.

Supplementing GABA has been shown to significantly increase human alpha wave patterns which are accompanied by a reduction in anxiety levels.  Alpha waves usually occur during the state of wakeful relaxation and are seen during activities like meditation.


Not only does Green Tea contain large amounts of antioxidants particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), it also contains high amounts of the amino acid L-Theanine.  L-Theanine has been widely studied and used in Japan and has been observed in clinical studies to reduce stress and promote relaxation through a variety of possible mechanisms.

Like GABA, L-Theanine has been shown in studies to increase alpha wave activity in the brain.  Additionally L-Theanine may also increase serotonin, GABA and dopamine levels in the brain.  L-Theanine is considered to be neuroprotective since it has an antagonistic effect on Glutamate subtype AMPA receptors and increases Glutathione and other antioxidant enzymes like Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase.

In Clinical studies, L-Theanine has been proven to have a relaxing effect and reduces anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure in stressful events and during tasks that are mentally challenging. L-Theanine has also been shown to reduce the “fight or flight” response during certain academic challenges.  It has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of emotional distress, such as crying, mood swings, anger and irritability, seen in premenstrual syndrome at a dosage of 200 mg per day. Children with ADHD, have shown improvement in sleep quality when supplementing with L-Theanine and is considered to be safe at doses of up to 200 mg twice a day.

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP):

This amino acid is produced in the body from Tryptophan, an essential amino acid.  5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin which converts to Melatonin.  In children 5-HTP has been used to significantly reduce the occurrence of night terrors and in adults with normal healthy sleep, 5-HTP has been associated with the increased rapid eye movement part of sleep.

In cases of acute anxiety, 5-HTP has been shown to significantly reduce the panic challenge reaction in individuals with panic disorder.  In individuals actually diagnosed with anxiety disorder, 5-HTP has been shown to provide a moderate reduction of symptoms as measured by the SCL-90 (90 item symptoms checklist) and the State Scale of the Speilberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.


DNA Damage May Be A Marker of Insufficient Zinc Status

DNA and Insufficient ZincA new study has found Zinc supplementation may provide a protective effect against DNA strand breaks.  Cause by reactive oxygen species this type of genetic damage may to lead to further damage if not repaired.

40 Ethiopian women who were believed to have low zinc status due to high dietary phytic acid levels which are caused by diets low in meat and high in grains which may inhibit mineral absorption, participated in this study.  Plasma zinc levels were taken through blood samples at the start of the study.  Individuals were given zinc supplements (20 MG) or a placebo daily for 17 days.

A comet assay of intracellular DNA strand breaks,  both before and after the study were performed.  DNA strand breaks decreased from the average of 39.7 to 30.00 in the zinc supplemented group.

While plasma zinc levels were not significantly changed by the end of the study, comet tail measurement of DNA strand breaks decreased from an average of 39.7 to 30.0 in the supplemented group.

Zinc deficiency is associated with increased DNA damage as well as an increase in oxidative stress.


600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb

TurmericA spice that has medicinal benefits thoroughly supported by scientific research, Turmeric has proven itself to have enormous value to human well being and health.  Unlike drugs, Turmeric does not cause more side effects than its therapeutic benefits and may have actual side “benefits” which have been demonstrated empirically.

Turmeric has a 6,000 year record of safe usage in Ayervedic medicine and has been compared to many pharmaceutical drugs such as ibuprofen, chemotherapy agents and hydrocortisone to name a few.  Turmeric is exceptional in its high margin of safety.

Since Turmeric lacks both exclusivity and patentability it most likely will never receive any recognition by the FDA even though it has a lot of potential for reducing human suffering.  There are some 600 known potential health benefits attributed to turmeric.  Reducing Inflammation, protecting against radiation induced damage and heavy metal toxicity are just a few.  Turmeric has been known to have a benefit for improving more than one health condition at the same time.  Additionally Turmeric has been shown to improve conditions that have been resistant to more conventional treatments.

Keep an eye out for more encouraging research regarding this amazing spice.