Ginkgo May Enhance Performance, Boost Brain Health for Active Men

Ginkgo Biloba Enhances Performance and CognitionAccording to a small study extracts of Ginkgo Biloba may offer both mind and body advantages for young active men.

18 young active men participated in this study.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a standardized extract of Ginkgo Biloba or a placebo.  The study lasted six weeks.  Improvements in VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake) and blood antioxidant capacity were seen in both groups, however the greatest increases were seen in the Ginkgo Biloba group. Participants in the Ginkgo Biloba supplementation group also showed increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) during exercise.  BDNF acts on certain neurons of the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system.  These proteins help to support the survival of existing neurons and encourage growth of new neurons.  BDNF is vital to higher thinking, learning and memory.

Although no statistical significance was noted between the groups (a marginal increase of 6% vs 1% was seen in VO2max) researchers attribute that to the dosage levels used in the study, since previous studies have shown even more benefits with higher doses.  Researchers believe that the polyphenolic compounds found in Ginkgo Biloba enhance antioxidant effects by both indirectly boosting the actions of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase, SOD, and catalase and by directly scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS).  A 20% increase in SOD activity was seen in the Ginkgo Biloba group compared to the placebo group.

Larger studies are needed.



Antioxidants Might Help in Early Diabetic Kidney Disease

Antioxidants and Kidney DiseaseA recent meta-analysis and review found supplementation with antioxidants, like Vitamin E, may reduce the loss of a specific protein, albumin, in a patient’s urine.  The excretion of albumin is an early sign of diabetic kidney disease (DKD).

The purpose of the meta-analysis and review was to determine if antioxidant supplementation would slow the progression of DKD to end state kidney disease (ESKD).  DKD is the prime cause of ESKD.  Approximately half of all long-term diabetics end up developing some form of kidney damage over their lifetime.  Most trials reviewed used Vitamin E and or Vitamin E as well as B6, Zinc, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Silymarin and reduced Glutathione.  Antioxidants were used either individually or in combination.

Most antioxidants showed some benefit in reducing Urinary Albumin Excretion (UAE).  Vitamin E showed the most consistent benefit.  Researchers found it difficult to reach any strong conclusions due to the diversity in study designs, trial sizes, outcome measures to name a few of the meta-analysis challenges.  However researchers did find a benefit of antioxidant therapy (especially Vitamin E) on early signs of renal damage.

Further studies are needed.



Vitamin C and E Supplements May Protect Against Age-Related Brain Declines

Cognitive DeclineData from a recent study shows daily supplementation with Vitamin C and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Data from over 5,000 seniors collected over a period of time (from 1991-2002) was analyzed.  Participants were all over 65 years of age.  Seniors who were supplementing with Vitamin E and/or Vitamin C had a statistically significant 40% reduction in all cause-dementia and a 42% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Compared to non vitamin users, participants who were supplementing with either Vitamin C or Vitamin E separately saw a 43% and 46% reduction in the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, the risk of developing cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND), were reduced by 31% in the seniors who supplemented with Vitamin C and 32% for seniors who supplemented with Vitamin E.

As we age there is a natural decline in brain function.  Mild cognitive impairment is considered a transitional state and small changes in mental abilities and memory coexist with normal functioning.  These declines in functions may often be a warning sign of dementia.  Dementia is a term that is used to describe many different brain disorders that all share a progressive loss of brain function.  It is believed that Oxidative stress may be a contributing factor to this process.


Lycopene, Lutein Supplements Show Skin Protection From Within Against UV Radiation

UV ProtectionA new study has found supplementing lutein or lycopene, a rich tomato nutrient, may protect against the damage of UV skin exposure.  The findings of the study show oral supplementation with either of these carotenoids may change the expression of genes that are indicators of photo-aging, pho-dermatoses and oxidative stress.

65 participants between the ages of 18 and 60 volunteered for this double blinded, randomized cross-over study.  The participants were randomly assigned to supplement 20 mg of lutein, 20 mg of a tomato nutrient complex or a placebo.  The study lasted 24 weeks with a 2 week wash out period separating the placebo and an active intervention period.  The skin was irradiated at the beginning and at the end of each phase of the study.  The Lutein only group showed that gene expression was completely inhibited if the Lutein was taken during the first 12 weeks (ie prior to the placebo) and a significantly smaller effect was seen if the Lutein was taken during the second 12 week phase (ie after the placebo).  The tomato nutrient complex group saw the up regulation of HO-1, ICAM-1 and MMP1 mRNA by both UVA1 and UVA/B were totally inhibited.

Although the exact way that lutein and lycopene inhibit UVA1 radiation induced gene expression is not actually known, researchers believe it involves the anti-oxidative role that these carotenoids play.


Only 1/5th of Global Population Meet “Ideal” Vitamin E Levels

Vitamin EA new review has shown that only about one fifth of the population (21%) worldwide is receiving the recommended intake of Vitamin E which increases the risk for conditions affecting the cardiovascular system, cognitive functions and the immune system.

Published literature describing serum Vitamin E concentrations and Vitamin E intake levels between the years 2000 and 2012 was studied.  A total of 178 articles consisting of 132 single studies were included in this review.  Researchers used an RDA of 15 mg/day and an estimated average requirement (EAR) of 12 mg/day of Vitamin E and applied this standard to all populations with a minimum of 14 years of age.  It was found that 82% and 61% of mean and median data points were below the RDA and EAR respectively.

There has been an increased interest in Vitamin E research as of late.  It is believed, that a change in dietary food consumption in developing countries worldwide is a contributing factor to the reduction in Vitamin E status.

Further research is warranted.




Low COQ10 Levels Linked With Neurodegeneration

neurodegnerationA new study has found people with multiple system atrophy have low levels of CoQ10 and could be helped with supplementation of this important cell oxygenator.  Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurological disorder.  The body’s autonomic (involuntary) functions like bladder function, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure are impaired.  MSA formerly called Shy-Drager syndrome shares many symptoms with Parkinson’s disease.

Over 40 patients with MSA, with an average age of 64, and 39 control patients, with an average age of 60, participated in this study.  Blood samples from the MSA patients where compared with the control group who had no neurodegenerative diseases.

Plasma levels of CoQ10 were significantly lower in the participants with MCA regardless of age, sex and COQ2 genotype.  COQ2 is a protein coding gene which is involved with the biosynthesis of CoQ10.  3 of the MSA participants had a mutation in their COQ2 genotype and had even lower plasma levels of CoQ10 than other individuals who did not carry the mutation.

A Phase II clinical trial is planned for the early part of next year to assess the efficacy of CoQ10 in patients with MSA.  Researchers believe that high doses of CoQ10 will be needed to deliver adequate amounts of this nutrient into the brain.  A Phase I clinical trial to determine the safety of supplementation with high dosages of CoQ10 on healthy participants has just been completed.

Prior studies suggest CoQ10 may increase blood flow to the brain.

ATP or adenosine triphosphate is the main molecule that serves as an energy source for all biochemical and physiological processes in the body. ATP is manufactured via a complex process in a tiny part of the cell known as the mitochondria. Within the mitochondria, CoQ10 plays a major role as part of the electron transport chain, the major metabolic pathway for making energy in every cell. The process of electron transport produces free radicals that may cause damage to healthy cells. CoQ10, as an antioxidant helps neutralize these free radicals helping to support continued function of the mitochondria and other important cellular components. CoQ10 has been extensively studied for its ability to support cardiovascular function.  It has been shown to help support the heart muscle, normal, healthy blood pressure a well as provide benefit to individual’s taking cholesterol lowering medications. These medications have been shown to reduce blood levels of CoQ10.