SpectraCell Blog

NUTRIENT OF THE MONTH - Lipoic Acid

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 @ 02:56 PM

broccoli.jpgWhen it comes to micronutrient name recognition, vitamins and minerals typically get the spotlight (think vitamin C, vitamin D, Magnesium). Less well known are antioxidants, the superstars when it comes to protection from oxidative stress and free radicals. Lipoic acid (AKA thioctic acid) is one such nutrient. This particular substance is unique in that it has antioxidant properties in both water and lipids (most antioxidants protect only one, but not the other). Its unique chemical structure makes it soluble in both, which is a physiologically important attribute. Fat-soluble nutrients protect cell membranes (which are made of fats), and water-soluble nutrients protect intracellular fluid. 

Another biologically important feature is its ability to regenerate (and therefore activate) other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, cysteine and coenzyme Q10 when they have been “used up.” It can bind to insulin receptors, and consequently enhances glucose uptake into muscles, making it useful in improving glucose tolerance in persons with Type 2 Diabetes. Lipoic Acid can also be effective in the treatment of certain diabetic complications such as peripheral neuropathy. Given its ability to protect against damage to fat-soluble cell structures (lipid peroxidation), it’s not surprising that this antioxidant may also help protect against the neuron injury often seen in Alzheimer’s patients. This powerful micronutrient’s impressive list of roles at the cellular level provides clear justification for its designation as a “supernutrient,” making it an effective therapy in a variety of conditions from cataracts to erectile dysfunction.

Interested in knowing how your antioxidant levels stack up? Get tested today!

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Topics: Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Antioxidants, Lipoic Acid, antioxidant status, Supernutrients

Why This Mineral (or Lack of It) May Be The Key to Thyroid Problems

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 @ 11:10 AM

thyroid.jpgThe thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces a variety of thyroid hormones. These regulate virtually every aspect of metabolism: body temperature, mood, sex hormones, energy levels, and even impact one’s appearance, from hair and nails to skin and waistline.  Less understood about thyroid hormones is that there are two basic types – T3 and T4 (so named for the number of iodine molecules each has) –  and they serve different biological functions.  T4, which is made in the thyroid gland, serves as the precursor hormone to T3. It is entirely possible, even common, for the thyroid gland to produce plenty of thyroid hormone in the form of T4, but not be converted into T3. Because T3 is the more biologically potent thyroid hormone and acts directly on bodily tissues, one may exhibit signs of hypothyroidism (fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold, thinning hair, mood swings, etc) even when T4 is in the normal range. 

It is worth noting that the conversion of precursor thyroid hormone T4 into active thyroid hormone T3 occurs outside the thyroid gland, mostly in the liver and kidneys. This conversion into active thyroid hormone occurs through the action of enzymes that are dependent on the mineral selenium (these enzymes are called deiodinases because they remove aniodine in T4 to convert it to T3).  Therefore, a selenium deficiency can cause a person to be low in active thyroid hormone, even if their thyroid gland is producing plenty of precursor thyroid hormone.  To complicate things, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is often found to be “normal” despite poor thyroid conversion. In essence, a reliance on simple thyroid tests may suggest a person is not hypothyroid when in fact they are hypothyroid due to a selenium deficiency.  Both low zinc and antioxidant status can also impair the conversion of T4 (precursor) to T3 (active) hormone.  The most concentrated dietary source of selenium is the Brazil nut, because the soil where Brazil nuts are grown is particularly rich in selenium.

Find out whether you have a selenium deficiency today!

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Topics: micronutrient testing, Selenium, Hypothyroidism, Metabolism, thyroid symptoms and solutions, thyroid treatment, Thyroid Issues, selenium testing, how selenium affects thyroid, thyroid hormones, T4, thyroid gland, healthy metabolism, thyroid disease, key to thyroid problems, what causes thryoid problems, selenium deficiency, thyroid stimulating hormone, T3, antioxidant status, thyroid dysfunction