Dancing With Antioxidants
Do you want—
• More energy?
• To delay aging?
•To protect yourself from DNA damage?
•To have it all with freedom and ease?
Make a tremendous improvement in your everyday health. Look inside and find out how….
Topic: Powerful Antioxidant Supplements
In 1954, Denham Harman, MD, PhD, first proposed “The Free Radical Theory of Aging”. This breakthrough has had profound implications for human health and longevity. According to Dr. Harman, “Very few individuals, if any, reach their potential maximum life span; they die instead prematurely of a wide variety of diseases — the vast majority being ‘free radical’ diseases”.
Keep the Beat With Antioxidants!
Oxygen is life giving…essential. That’s clear with every breath we take. Plus, our body has other life-giving needs for oxygen.
One of these is metabolism — the breakdown of nutrients to create energy for growth and repair. But, the production of energy takes a toll on us. As energy is created so are free radicals. As you may recall, free radicals are potentially harmful oxygen atoms, which can damage cell structures so badly that DNA codes are altered and immunity is impaired.
The good news is that the body synthesizes its own natural protectors, called antioxidants. These substances inactivate free radicals.
Some of the most powerful are glutathione peroxidase, SOD (superoxide dismutase), and catalase.
Unfortunately, our own antioxidants seldom give us all the protection we need. This is because few of us live in an unpolluted world.
Free radicals in the environment can overwhelm our naturally produced antioxidants. Damage comes from a myriad of sources including radiation, engine exhaust, certain prescription drugs, pesticides, and rancid foods as well as from cigarette smoke, heavy metals in the air, and other polluting agents.
More than sixty diseases and disorders are recognized as having free radical involvement. These include premature aging and the major degenerative diseases: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
Fortunately, we can reinforce our health by ingesting the natural antioxidants found in whole foods (and their extracts) and by taking potent antioxidant supplements. Thousands of published studies show that antioxidants can reduce the risk of degenerative diseases (often reversing the effects) and slow the aging process.
In this issue of Nutrition News, we discuss some exceptionally powerful antioxidants. We begin with the trio of nutrients first presented to the public for their antioxidant properties.
Following that, we discuss a number of other antioxidant supplements.1 Because they are essential nutrients, these substances are only used as antioxidants after the body’s basic needs for them are met.
Keep the Beat With Antioxidants!
1 Plant-based antioxidant extracts are discussed in detail in Nutrition News, “Antioxidants from the Ground Up”.
As Easy As 1-2-3 With Vitamin C
1. Vitamin C
Needed by the body for the production of collagen (a fibrous protein that actually holds skin, tendon, bone, cartilage and connective tissue together), the absence of vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy. Scurvy is ultimately fatal.
People who supplement vitamin C significantly reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, and cataract.
Vitamin C protects against nitrosamines, cancer-causing agents found in food that are associated with cancers of the mouth, stomach, and colon.
Working with vitamin E, vitamin C also protects against the oxidation of lipoproteins, which is the beginning of the process that results in the hardening of arteries.
Regarding cataract, USDA researchers have found that those not taking vitamin C were much more prone to developing cataracts than those who did.
Finally, vitamin C boosts immunity and may reduce the length and severity of colds and viral infections.
Vitamin C can “recycle” vitamin E by chemically regenerating it after free radical reactions. (See description below.)
It is present in many fruits and vegetables including red peppers, broccoli, cranberries, and citrus fruit. Even so, we need to supplement C to get the optimum benefit. Nutrition News recommends at least 1000 mg of vitamin C per day.
Antioxidants Non Plant As Easy As 1-2-3 With Vitamin E
2. Vitamin E
As the principle fat-soluble antioxidant in the body, vitamin E lodges in the membranes and around the cells. This strengthens cellular defense against free radical damage.
Vitamin E is particularly helpful to the heart. Studies have shown that high doses of E stymie the first step in hardening of the arteries by curtailing oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL). Further, vitamin E’s antioxidant potential contributes to preserving heart tissue from free radical damage during heart attacks, chest pain, and coronary artery surgery.
In the pollution arena, research suggests E is a potent lung-protector, warding off the destructive effects of cigarette smoke, car exhaust, and other pollutants.
Vitamin E has also been used therapeutically (in doses of 2,000-3,000 IU per day) with Parkinson’s patients to delay dopamine drug therapy.
Vitamin E is found in avocados, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and vegetable oils. Daily doses of vitamin E range between 200-1200 IU.
Antioxidants Non Plant As Easy As 1-2-3 With Selenium
Although not an antioxidant itself, selenium is an essential mineral in the enzymes that affect the body’s antioxidant network.
One of these is glutathione [gloo-ta-thigh-own] peroxidase, which recycles the antioxidant glutathione and is critical for the removal of toxic byproducts of LDL oxidation.
Selenium has been found to protect against many different forms of cancer (including that of the lung, prostate, and colon). It also defends against stroke and heart disease.
Like vitamin C, selenium works synergistically with vitamin E. The interaction among selenium, glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin E helps strengthen our immune system and supports thyroid function, keeping the heart, liver, and pancreas healthy. This mutually beneficial relationship makes selenium a power player.
Minerals always come from outside the body. They are supplied by diet and supplementation. Food sources include garlic, onions, parsley, wheat germ, and egg yolks. Food sources alone may not be sufficient. A supplement of 50-200 micrograms per day is safe and beneficial, while selenium in larger quantities can be toxic.
Optimize the Beat!
Considering that the aging process and many degenerative diseases are directly associated with free radical damage, it makes sense to protect our bodies with the sophisticated antioxidant and adjuvant supplements discussed in this newsletter.
Many of the nutrients in this section are also synthesized in the body. Like vitamins C and E and selenium, we need additional amounts of these to achieve the extra health effects we want.
To continue to neutralize free radical stress, nurture our mitochondria, and delay aging, calls upon a lifelong regimen of these supplements.2
Optimize the Beat!
2 Mitochondria are minute “organs” (organelles) in the cells. They are the principal energy source of the cell. They convert nutrients into energy as well as doing many other specialized tasks.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a metabolite of the amino acid L-carnitine. Without this carnitine, the mitochondria are unable to burn dietary fats to create energy. The body converts L-carnitine to acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC). ALC maximizes memory, energy, and longevity.
One effect of aging is a rapid decline in our cellular energy levels. This results in overall fatigue, depression, and sexual dysfunction. Perhaps more depressing, the effect of a decrease in cellular energy is a greater vulnerability to a host of degenerative diseases.
Aceytl-L-carnitine has been studied extensively for its role in rejuvenating brain and nerve functions. However, by itself, ALC is not an antioxidant.
A landmark study was produced by noted antioxidant biochemist Bruce Ames and his team. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study describes the powerful synergistic capacities of ALC combined with lipoic acid to significantly combat aging.
Together, these two nutrients are shown to protect against diabetes, maintain proper cognitive function, support heart health, promote energy production, protect the body from radiation and chemical toxins, and maintain immunity.
When combined with carnosine, a powerful trio for longevity is created. Three studies by Ames, et al, showed that lipoic acid and ALC reduced oxidative damage and structural decay in the part of the brain that deteriorates in Alzheimer’s patients.
The dosage range of ALC is 500-2500 mg daily. The most common dosage is 500 mg, 2x/d. For aggressively fighting the effects of age-related memory-loss, dose at 500 mg three times daily. (We discuss carnosine and lipoic acid below.)
Carnosine is a compound of two amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine. A super antioxidant and active anti-aging substance, carnosine has been shown to specifically protect against the age-related destruction of protein in the body. Health and nutrition authority Oz Garcia calls carnosine “the epitome of longevity nutrients”.
Proteins are the substances most responsible for the daily functioning of living organisms. The degradation of proteins can be caused by free radical attack and protein-sugar reactions (glycation).
Once too many proteins have lost their ability to function, the body becomes prone to degenerative diseases and premature aging.
Carnosine’s powerful anti-aging effect lies in the capacity to not only protect proteins, but also to repair them and remove those that have been damaged. Further, carnosine appears to extend the period of time that cells will divide in a healthy way. The recommended dose is 500 mg 2-3 times per day.
Coenzyme Q10 is another anti-aging antioxidant that protects fatty acids from oxygen. In the cell membrane, oxidized fat causes our cells to lose their fluidity.
One result is wrinkled skin. Importantly, free radicals interact with LDL (“bad” cholesterol), which leads to plaque formation in the arteries, narrowing of these vessels, and consequent cardiovascular problems.
CoQ10 can also resuscitate spent vitamin E, giving it a longer useful life in our bodies.
Besides supporting heart health, CoQ10 is specifically helpful in treating heart disease and high blood pressure. CoQ also protects the damaged heart against further damage, and can improve recovery from heart surgery.
In other health domains, CoQ10 enhances immunity by increasing the competence of existing immune cells. Since the immune system is involved in all health problems, CoQ10 supplementation can help in a myriad of disorders, including periodontal disease, weight problems, infertility, diabetes, neurogenerative diseases (including Alzheimer’s), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, skin damage, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
CoQ10 supplementation only works if there is a deficiency of coenzyme Q10. Once we pass 40, most of us are deficient and can only use preformed CoQ10 from food or supplementation.
Food sources include meats, fish, brans, nuts, dark green vegetables, and soybeans, plus canola, sesame and soy oils.
A general guideline is to add 30-60 mg daily after age 30. Because CoQ10 is fat-soluble, it’s a good idea to take it with a fat-containing food. (In Nutrition News “Breakthrough With CoQ”, we list higher dosages for specific therapeutic purposes.)
DHEA is the abbreviation for dehydroepiandrosterone, another substance that starts to decrease as we age. By age 50-70, we produce only 20 percent of the DHEA produced in our twenties.
A hormone produced by the adrenal gland, DHEA stimulates the brain, the immune system, the muscles (more lean muscle mass and less fat), sex hormone synthesis, and even the pancreas, promoting insulin production.
In one study, DHEA given to rats three hours before a shot of pure sugar significantly reduced the amount of free radical damage normally associated with blood sugar spikes.
People with diabetes must fight these blood sugar surges and their effects on the body over time (including blindness, impotence, kidney failure, and circulatory problems).
When DHEA levels are maintained, free radical damage can be controlled. Additionally, DHEA boosts glutathione, the antioxidant produced by the body that helps stop lipid peroxidation (rancidity) and damage in cells.
DHEA supplementation can also increase energy and promote an overall sense of well being. Therapeutic use varies, but a good starting place is 15-75 mg per day, taken in three divided doses.
We recommend having DHEA blood levels tested before and during therapy to determine the appropriate dose for your body. DHEA affects men and women differently, so working with an anti-aging medical specialist is important.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) is a compound from fish. It is related to choline and as such can function as a precursor of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter involved in higher brain functions, such as learning, recall, and memory).
It is also a powerful and site-specific free radical scavenger. It has demonstrated positive results in the treating a variety of cognitive and disruptive disorders, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and memory lapses. It also shows therapeutic promise for treating Alzheimer’s disease.
An in-vitro study found that adding DMAE to the heart’s pumping cells (myocytes) protected them from the cell damage which usually results from ischemia (a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the heart) and from metabolic problems as well. Taken in the proper dosage, DMAE’s antioxidant effects help maintain overall cellular health.
Oral tablets or capsules in doses from 50 to 130 mg are common. Pills containing up to 600 mg are also available. Regardless of the amount, start slowly and observe your response before increasing the amount. DMAE should be taken with meals for best absorption. Incidentally, DMAE has become a trendy ingredient in skin care products designed to treat sagging skin and age spots.
Lipoic acid is primarily a metabolic coenzyme. Its antioxidant capacity is realized through supplementation.
Called “the universal antioxidant”, lipoic acid protects both water and lipid-based substances, enabling it to function in all body systems.
It passes easily through the cell membrane, operating within the cells as well as in the bloodstream. Further, it can penetrate the cell nucleus to protect DNA. Wow!
This property also makes it possible for lipoic acid to enhance the actions of vitamin C, vitamin E, and the all-important glutathione. Lastly, it chelates excess iron and copper, protecting the liver while ridding the body of toxic metals, such as cadmium, lead, and mercury.
Besides being an incredible general antioxidant, lipoic acid is useful in the treatment of diabetes, normalizing blood sugar levels and reducing sugar damage in the body.
It can help prevent cataracts. As a super antioxidant, lipoic acid offers powerful protection against heart disease, stroke, and cancer while also strengthening memory and preventing brain aging.
In his book, The Antioxidant Miracle, antioxidant pioneer Lester Packer recommends taking 50 mg 2x/d, morning and night.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by both the pineal gland, and in the digestive tract. In fact, melatonin can be found in every cell in our bodies. Further, it has special antioxidant functions.
Fat-soluble, it slips right through cell membranes. It is typically found in the nucleus of the cell (where DNA is stored). Most importantly, it remains stable after neutralizing free radicals. It does not need to be restored as do some of the antioxidants we have discussed.
Melatonin regulates the release of energy from the mitochondria, tranfering it to different organs in the body. Along the way, it takes care of any free radicals produced by the mitochondria. The result?…More energy!
Studies have also confirmed that melatonin slows the growth of cancer cells. In one study, the growth of an aggressive skin cancer (melanoma) was slowed by a factor of five and its spreading was delayed.
It fights cancer by stimulating the immune system to kill cancer cells before they replicate. Finally, melatonin also helps maintain memory by encouraging the establishment of alternate pathways in the brain.
A well known sleep-inducer, dose 1-3 mg of melatonin before bedtime. If you are over 65, you may want to take as much as 5 mg.
N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is the principle precursor to glutathione. A shortage of NAC limits production of this important antioxidant. Because NAC facilitates an increase in glutathione, the body is supported in clearing harmful environmental toxins like carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, alcohol, mercury, and the microorganisms aflatoxin and e.coli.
Research shows that NAC helps to prevent heart disease by lowering levels of the artery-damaging homocysteine (a heart disease risk marker).
It can delay age-related cataracts and macular degeneration related to free radical damage of the lens and retina. NAC has also been shown to reduce cancer risk by stopping growth signals.
NAC helps the body fight the flu and common cold and also thins mucous secretions in people with bronchitis and sinusitis.
General usage is 500 mg, three times per day.