Serine, an amino acid, is a micronutrient with which many people are unfamiliar. This may be a reason why its role in mental health remains largely underappreciated. Serine’s major role is in the production of neurotransmitters. Specifically, it increases the “feel-good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, but it does so without the corresponding hyperactivity or compulsive behavior that often occurs with drug therapies that stimulate a single neurotransmitter. It also buffers the adrenal response to physical, mental and emotional stress. In doing so, it protects the body and mind against cellular damage from chronically high cortisol. Serine deficiency has been linked to the severity of depression; in one study, the administration of serine reduced combat-related anxiety in a clinical trial on 22 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients.
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Topics discussed in this issue...
- Research suggests nutrient depletions from commonly prescribed drugs are actually the cause of many side effects
- Study sheds light on how oleic acid improves immunity
- Serine for arthritis?
- CoQ10 shows potential as an anti-depressant
- When it comes to colorectal cancer risk, cysteine = good, homocysteine = bad
Research suggests nutrient depletions from commonly prescribed drugs are actually the cause of many side effects - A recently published review details the enzymatic pathways that various drugs interrupt and how certain drugs deplete very specific nutrients. Nutrient depletions are implicated as a cause of common side effects and even non-compliance.
Study sheds light on how oleic acid improves immunity - By affecting compounds released during an immune response, oleic acid quells inflammation and improves overall immunity. Specifically, oleic acid, abundant in olive oil, inhibits the production of several pro-inflammatory substances, such as Interleukin 2 (IL-2), natural killer cells (NK), interferon-gamma (INF-γ) and vascular cell adhesion molecules (VCAM). Oleic acid also reduces the amount of arachidonic acid (AA) present in cells, which in turn minimizes pro-inflammatory cytokine production.
Serine for arthritis? - Human cells from rheumatoid arthritis patients were exposed to phosphatidylserine and then evaluated for levels of inflammation. The phosphatidylserine significantly lowered inflammation levels in vitro. The same researchers tested phosphatidylserine’s effect on arthritic pain in an animal model and found that phosphatidylserine, which has well-established roles in neurotransmitter function, also decreased arthritic and pain symptoms.
CoQ10 shows potential as an anti-depressant - Four different doses of CoQ10 were administered for three weeks in an animal study on depression caused by chronic stress. Depressive behaviors evaluated as were physiological markers of oxidative stress in the brain. Depressive symptoms were decreased and there was a dose-dependent reduction in damaging chemicals in the brain that are linked with depression. The authors concluded “CoQ10 may have a potential therapeutic value for the management of depressive disorders.”
When it comes to colorectal cancer risk, cysteine = good, homocysteine = bad. - In this clinical trial, levels of the toxic amino acid homocysteine and levels of the beneficial antioxidant cysteine were measured in over 900 women with colorectal cancer and compared to a similar group of over 900 women without cancer. Those with the highest homocysteine (over 9.85 μmol/L) were 1.5 times more likely to have colorectal cancer than those with the lowest levels (>6.74 μmol/L). Conversely, women with the highest levels of cysteine in the blood had a much lower risk of colorectal cancer than those with the lowest levels of cysteine.
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Vitamin D protects telomeres: a randomized, controlled trial
Telomerase activity was measured before and after 37 people were given either placebo or about 2000IU of oral vitamin D supplements per day for 16 weeks. Serum vitamin D levels for those taking the supplement increased almost 200%. The telomerase activity increased over 19% as well, while the telomerase activity of those on placebo did not change. (International Journal of Obesity, June 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation in overweight African Americans.
LINK to FLYER ON NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS WITH TELOMERES
Vitamin C helps antidepressant drug work better
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial, a group of patients with major depressive disorder (n=12) were given fluoxetine plus 1000mg of vitamin C daily and compared to a group (n=12) that were given fluoxetine plus placebo. After six months, those receiving vitamin C in conjunction with fluoxetine showed a significant decrease in symptoms when evaluated using three different standardized depression rating systems compared to the placebo group. (Nutrition Journal, March 2013)
LINK to ABSTRACT Efficacy of vitamin C as an adjunct to fluoxetine therapy in pediatric major depressive disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.
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LINK to FLYER ON NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS IN DEPRESSION
Serine improves ADHD symptoms
In this randomized, double-blind trial, 36 children diagnosed with ADHD received either 200mg of phosphatidylserine or placebo daily for two months. Those receiving phosphatidylserine showed improved memory, attention and control of impulses compared to placebo. Serine’s key role in psychiatric and neurological health has been gaining attention from studies such as this. The authors concluded that phosphatidylserine “may be a safe and natural nutritional strategy for improving mental performance.”
(Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, March 2013)
LINK to ABSTRACT The effect of phosphatidylserine administration on memory and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
LINK to FLYER ON NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS IN ADHD
Are micronutrients underrated when it comes to pregnancy chances in assisted reproduction?
Several recent studies are suggesting that micronutrient status prior to and during pregnancy should get more attention. One study showed that low blood values of B vitamins and high homocysteine in mid pregnancy reduced fetal growth rates. Another study showed that low homocysteine, determined by B vitamin status, was linked to a better chance of pregnancy in women undergoing assisted reproduction. Yet another study showed that subfertile women undergoing ovulation induction who were taking a multi-micronutrient vitamin were more likely to get pregnant than women who took only a folic acid supplement. Finally, a recently published review demonstrates how increasing a woman’s ability to fight oxidative stress increases her chances of successful pregnancy via assisted reproduction.
(Maternal of Child Nutrition, April 2013)
(Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, April 2012)
(Reproductive Biomedicine Online, January 2012)
(Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, June 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and homocysteine: impact on pregnancy outcome.
LINK to ABSTRACT The association between homocysteine in the follicular fluid with embryo quality and pregnancy rate in assisted reproductive techniques.
LINK to ABSTRACT Prospective randomized trial of multiple micronutrients in subfertile women undergoing ovulation induction: a pilot study.
LINK to ABSTRACT The effects of oxidative stress on female reproduction: a review.
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LINK to FLYER ON NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS IN FEMALE FERTILITY
Study sheds light on CoQ10’s role in healthy sperm
Sixty infertile men were given 200mg of CoQ10 or placebo for 3 months. CoQ10 lowered oxidative stress in semen (measured by isoprostanes and superoxide dismutase activity) and improved sperm function significantly. (Andrologia, January 2013)
LINK to ABSTRACT Effect of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation on antioxidant enzymes activity and oxidative stress of seminal plasma: a double-blind randomised clinical trial.
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Oxidative imbalance is prevalent in ADHD patients and likely plays a causative role; Deficiency of glutathione common in ADHD.3,4,5,6
Low folate status in pregnancy linked to hyperactivity in children; People with the MTHFR (methyl tetrahydrafolate reductase) gene are predisposed to folate deficiency and more likely to have ADHD.1,2
Evidence suggests high dose supplementation of B6 is as effective as Ritalin for ADHD, probably due to its role in raising serotonin levels.7,8,9
Deficiency linked to poor function of the neurotransmitters that control emotion, social reactions, hyperactivity and attention; Synergistic effect with vitamin B6.8,9,10
Cofactor for dopamine synthesis which affects mood and concentration in ADHD; Low zinc depresses both melatonin and serotonin production which affect information processing and behavior in ADHD.11,12,13,14
Reduces hyperactivity and improves social behavior in people with ADHD due to its role in fatty acid metabolism; Some consider it a safe alternative to stimulant drugs.15,16,17
Administration of phosphatidylserine with omega 3 fatty acids improved ADHD symptoms (attention scores) significantly better than omega 3 fatty acids alone, suggesting a synergistic effect; Phosphatidylserine increases dopamine levels.18,19,20
Precursor for the calming neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) that affects mood, focus and hyperactivity; Disruption of the glutamine-containing neurotransmission systems may cause ADHD.21,22,23
Precursor to neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which regulates memory, focus and muscle control (hyperactivity).24,25,26
Oxidative imbalance is prevalent in ADHD patients and likely plays a causative role; Deficiency of glutathione common in ADHD.3,4,5,6
To download a copy of the ADHD Nutrition Correlation Chart, click here.
Is carnitine the answer for male infertility?
A group of men (n=96) who had been diagnosed as infertile for at least 18 months were given the following nutritional formulation daily for four months: L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine, fructose, citric acid, selenium, coenzyme Q10, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and folic acid (see abstract for exact dosages). At the end of the study, sperm motility improved and 16 of the patients had achieved pregnancy. The authors concluded that carnitine may be the key component of the supplement cocktail for improving sperm quality. (Italian Archives of Urology and Andrology, September 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Prospective open-label study on the efficacy and tolerability of a combination of nutritional supplements in primary infertile patients with idiopathic astenoteratozoospermia.
Vitamin D helps leg ulcers heal
In this double-blind, placebo controlled trial, 26 patients with leg ulcers were given either placebo or 50,000 IU vitamin D weekly for two months. Leg ulcer size, blood levels of vitamin D and pain was measured before and after the two month trial. In the vitamin D group, leg ulcers were reduced in size by 28% while the placebo group had only a 9% reduction in ulcer size. The authors stated “there was a trend toward better healing in those with vitamin D reposition.” (Journal of Brazilian College of Surgeons, October 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Vitamin D and skin repair: a prospective, double-blind and placebo controlled study in the healing of leg ulcers.
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Complexity of methylation reactions gains insight
This review emphasizes how methyl donor nutrients such as choline, folic acid and methionine interact and how consumption (via supplement or food) of one can have sparing effect s on another – such as choline’s sparing effect on methionine, for example. (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, January 2013)
LINK to ABSTRACT The nutritional burden of methylation reactions.
LINK to FLYER on NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS in METHYLATION
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lipoprotein particle profile,
Omega 3 Fatty Acid,
Below is a list of various nutrients that affect a person affected with depression.
- Chromium - Elevates serotonin (feel-good neurotransmitter) levels in the brain; May be particularly effective on eating symptoms of depression such as carbohydrate craving and increased appetite, due to its effect on blood sugar regulation.
- Magnesium - Deficiency damages NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain, which regulate mood; Well-documented anti-depressant effects.
- Vitamin B12 - Depression may be a manifestation of B12 deficiency; Repletion of B12 to adequate levels can improve treatment response; B12 deficiency common in psychiatric disorders.
- Vitamin B6 - Cofactor for serotonin and dopamine production (feel good chemicals); Studies indicate that low levels may predispose people to depression.
- Vitamin B2 - Low B2 has been implicated in depression due to its role in methylation reactions in the brain.
- Vitamin D - Clinical trials suggest increasing blood levels of vitamin D, which is actually a hormone precursor, may improve symptoms of depression.
- Carnitine - Increases serotonin and noradrenaline which lift mood; In trials, carnitine alleviates depression with few, if any, side effects.
- Inositol - Influences signaling pathways in the brain; Particularly effective in SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) sensitive disorders.
- Biotin - Part of the B-vitamin complex, biotin deficiency has induced depression in animal and human studies.
- Antioxidants - Oxidative stress in the brain alters neurotransmitter function; Antioxidants protect our brain, which is very sensitive to oxidation; Several antioxidants – Vitamins A, C and E, Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, Glutathione and Cysteine – play a key role in prevention and treatment of depression.
- Serine - Regulates brain chemistry; Involved in NMDA receptor function; Acts as a neurotransmitter; Low levels correlate with severity of depression.
- Zinc - Improves efficacy of antidepressant drugs; Particularly useful for treatment resistant patients; Regulates neurotransmitters.
- Selenium - Integral part of regulatory proteins (selenoproteins) in the brain; Supplementation trials are promising; May alleviate postpartum depression.
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CLINICAL UPDATE - Omega 3s Can Replace Ibuprofen for PMS Pain
In this trial, a group of women were given either placebo or omega3 fatty acids for three months, followed by three months of the opposite regimen. Symptoms of PMS, especially pain, were monitored. After 3 months of treatment, women who took the omega 3 capsules every day decreased their ibuprofen usage by 19% (first group) and by 53% (second group). (International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, April 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on intensity of primary dysmenorrhea
CLINICAL UPDATE - Carnitine Supplements Improve Lung Function in Asthmatics
A recent placebo-controlled study compared 50 children with asthma to 50 healthy controls and found that not only were levels of the amino acid carnitine lower in those with asthma, but supplementation with 350mg of L-carnitine daily for six months significantly improved lung function is those with asthma. Researchers noted that carnitine’s primary role in transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria may explain its benefit to those with asthma – carnitine also transports fatty acids to lung membrane surfaces ensuring they are lubricated, explaining a mechanism by which carnitine improves pulmonary function. (Journal of Allergy, 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT L-carnitine improves the asthma control in children with moderate persistent asthma.
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LINK to FLYER on NUTRIENT INTERACTIONS OF ASTHMA
CLINICAL UPDATE - Vitamin C Benefits Diabetics on Metformin
Seventy patients with type II diabetes were given either placebo or 500mg vitamin C twice a day. All patients were taking metformin as well. After twelve weeks, measures of blood sugar control (fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood glucose and HbA1c levels) were all improved in the vitamin C group only. (Advances in Pharmalogical Sciences, 2011)
LINK to ABSTRACT Supplementation of vitamin C reduces blood glucose and improves glycosylated hemoglobin in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, double-blind study.
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CLINICAL UPDATE - Zinc: A New Role for Traumatic Brain Injury
In this review, the protective role of zinc against traumatic brain injury is elucidated. The authors stat that human clinical data “suggest that zinc may increase resilience” and can be used “to improve cognitive and behavioural deficits associated with brain injury.” (Nutrition Reviews, July 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Improving treatments and outcomes: an emerging role for zinc in traumatic brain injury.
CLINICAL UPDATE - Vitamin E Increases Sperm Count
106 infertile men were included in this trial – 64 were infertile due to low sperm count and 42 were infertile due to poor sperm motility. They were divided into two groups – both groups received pharmaceutical therapy for fertility but only one group was simultaneously treated with a natural form of vitamin E. Sperm count and motility improved more dramatically in the vitamin E treated group. In fact, only five natural pregnancies occurred in the non-vitamin E group, while 15 natural pregnancies occurred in the vitamin E treated group. In an unrelated trial, vitamin E was co-administered with fertility drugs to a group of women and compared to fertility drug treated women without vitamin E. Although those treated with vitamin E did not have statistically higher rates of pregnancy, the women given vitamin E did show significantly improved endometrial thickness, which would facilitate future pregnancy. (Natural Journal of Andrology, May 2012; Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, April 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Efficacy of natural vitamin E on oligospermia and athenospermia: a prospective multi-centered randomized controlled study of 106 cases.
LINK to ABSTRACT Vitamin E effect on controlled ovarian stimulation of unexplained infertile women.
CLINICAL UPDATE - A New Role for Omega 3s in Building Muscle Mass
A group of women (average age = 64 years old) were put on a strength training program for 90 days. Some of the women were given fish oil supplements while others received no supplement. Measures of muscle strength were taken and those taking fish oil showed significantly higher muscle development. Researchers hypothesized that this increase in muscle development during strength training is due to the role omega 3 fatty acids play in plasma membranes and muscle cell function. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT Fish-oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women.
CLINICAL UPDATE - High Dose Serine Improves Neuropathy: Case Report
One of the most common inherited neurological disorders, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease affects approximately 1 in every 2500 people and is characterized by muscle wasting and peripheral neuropathy. In this case report, a male patient with polyneuropathy had a serine synthesis defect. Deficiency in the amino acid serine often manifests neurologically and in this case, high-dose supplementation of serine improved his neuropathy symptoms. (Archives of Neurology, March 2012)
LINK to ABSTRACT A Serine Synthesis Defect Presenting With a Charcot-Marie-Tooth-Like Polyneuropathy.
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Below is a list of various nutrients that affect a person with Fibromyalgia.
- Carnitine - deficiency causes muscle pain due to inefficient cellular energy metabolism (mitochondrial myopathy) which presentas as fibromyalgia.
- Choline & Inositol - altered levels of both nutrients seen in fibromyalgia; choline & inositol are involved in pain perception.
- Serine - blood levels of this amino acid are much lower in fibromyalgia patients.
- Vitamin D - low levels impair neuromuscular function and cause muscle pain. Deficiency is common in fibromyalgia patients.
- Vitamin B1 - Thiamin (B1) deficiency mimics fibromyalgia symptoms including serotonin depletion (decreased paing threshold), a decrease in repair enzymes (muscle soreness) and poor energy production (muscle fatigue).
- Antioxidants - low antioxidant status increases pain in fibromyalgia, which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.
- Zinc - blood levels of zinc are associated with a number of tender points in fibromyalgic patients.
- Magnesium - involved in pain perception pathways and muscle contraction; treatment with magnesium can improve tenderness and pain.
- Selenium - deficiency is linked to fibromyalgia; in one trial, symptoms improved in 95% of patients supplemented with selenium for at least 4 weeks.
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ALPHA LIPOIC ACID – This nutrient protects against the neuronal injury that occurs in the presence of toxic proteins found in brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. Research clearly indicates that lipoic acid is a potent neuroprotective antioxidant which strengthens memory and stimulates nerve growth.
B VITAMINS – Folate, Vitamin B6 and B12 are important in methylation processes. Deficiencies in one of these vitamins can raise homocysteine levels which is linked to increased Alzheimer’s risk. Vitamin B1 protects against mitochondrial dysfunction that causes dementia. B12 improves frontal lobe functions such as language, especially in the elderly.
CARNITINE – The amino acid carnitine has potent antioxidant properties. Its role in the transport of fatty acids to the mitochondria explains its beneficial effects on fatigue, which include both physical and mental fatigue. Several trials have demonstrated a consistent improvement in memory, focus and cognition with carnitine supplementation.
CHOLINE – Another member of the B-complex, choline is the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is intimately involved in memory. Choline deficiency can induce mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain that clinically presents as cognitive impairment.
CHROMIUM – In a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, chromium supplementation for twelve weeks enhanced cerebral function in older adults, possibly as a downstream effect of improved glucose disposal in patients with insulin resistance.
COPPER – Intracellular copper deficiency increases the formation of amyloid deposits in the brain. Specifically, copper accumulates in amyloid plaques while remaining deficient in neighboring brain cells indicating that copper deficiency is a plausible cause of Alzheimer’s.
GLUTATHIONE – This antioxidant is used up faster in brain tissue in the presence of choline deficiency.
GLUTAMINE and ASPARAGINE – Both act as neurotransmitters in the brain.
INOSITOL – A member of the B-complex of vitamins, inositol regulates cell membrane transport, thus explaining its key interaction with several hormone and regulatory functions. Research suggests it can protect against the formation of abnormally folded toxic proteins seen in Alzhiemer’s patients. Inositol treatment also has beneficial effects on depression and anxiety.
OLEIC ACID – This fatty acid found primarily in olive oil and is the precursor to oleamide, which interacts with several neurotransmitters and has demonstrated anti-depressant like properties. Oleic acid also facilitates absorption of vitamin A into cells.
SERINE – This amino acid is the major component of phosphatidylserine, an integral part of cell membranes in the brain. Phosphatidylserine increases the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and epinephrine, thus improving the rate at which mental processes occur, without the hyperactivity or compulsive behavior that often occurs with drugs that stimulate a single neurotransmitter.
VITAMIN A – In the Physician’s Health Study II, vitamin A supplementation (50mg) improved cognition and verbal memory in men. Short term (1 year) effects of cognitive function were not seen, but significant benefit occurred in those on long-term treatment (18 years.)
VITAMIN C – Next to adrenal glands, nerve endings contain the highest levels of vitamin C in the body. High intakes of vitamin C are associated with lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
VITAMIN E – In addition to antioxidative properties, vitamin E reduces death to cells in the hippocampus and protects brain from glutamate toxicity. High dietary intake of vitamin E may lower Alzheimer’s risk.
ZINC – Low functional status of zinc is linked to negative alterations of the immune-inflammatory system, which can cause depression, impair learning and memory and a reduce neurogenesis. Zinc also regulates synaptic plasticity.
Additional nutrients tested by SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test – BIOTIN, CALCIUM, COENZYME Q10, CYSTEINE, MAGNESIUM, SELENIUM, VITAMINS B2, B3, B5, D, K and SPECTROX™ (a measure of total antioxidant function)
There is compelling evidence that deficiencies in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and its symptoms. Similarly, the use of many drugs in treating heart disease often lead to various nutrient deficiencies.
Micronutrients and High Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure can result in physical damage to the walls of our blood vessels. Although the causes of hypertension often overlap, micronutrient deficiencies can cause or worsen this condition. Several mineral deficiencies such as zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure.
Research also suggests that a high level of oxidative stress eventually takes its toll on our arteries, ultimately causing hypertension. Several studies of coenzyme Q10 lowered blood pressure significantly. The antioxidant vitamins C and E help blood vessels maintain their flexibility, allowing them to easily dilate and contract. The powerful antioxidant lipoic acid reduces blood pressure by inhibiting inflammatory responses in the blood vessels. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to hypertension because it contributes to endothelial dysfunction, a condition where the lining of blood vessels cannot relax properly and secrete substances that promote inflammation of the blood vessel lining.
Prevent Arterial "Scarring":
Vitamin B6, B12, folate, serine and choline are all necessary to properly metabolize homocysteine and reduce the risk of arterial scarring. In fact, B-vitamin therapy has been an effective treatment for reducing heart disease and blood pressure.
Keeping the Heart Muscle Strong:
The heart’s requirement for energy compared to other muscle tissues is incredibly high. Carnitine is an amino acid that facilitates the transport of fatty acids into heart cell mitochondria, thus helping the heart meet its strong demand for chemical energy. It also helps muscles, including the heart, recover from damage, such as from a heart attack. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is another key component in energy metabolism by helping the heart increase its pumping strength. Deficiencies of vitamin B1 have been found in patients with congestive heart failure, as long-term use of diuretic drugs, which are often prescribed to those patients, deplete the body’s storage of thiamine. Coenzyme Q10 is also required by cardiac tissue in large amounts to properly function. Statin drugs deplete the body of CoQ10, so deficiencies of CoQ10 in statin-users are particularly common.
Heart Disease is an Inflammatory Process:
Scientists now emphasize that heart disease is actually an inflammatory condition within the blood vessels. Inflammation and oxidative stress work together damaging arteries and impairing cardiac function. Several antioxidant nutrients minimize this inflammatory process.
Glutathione is the most potent intracellular antioxidant and actually helps to regenerate other antioxidants in the body. Cysteine, glutathione, B2, selenium, Vitamin E and Vitamin C work together to reduce oxidative stress throughout the entire cardiovascular system.
How Well Do Your Arteries Fight Oxidative Stress?:
An optimal antioxidant status is particularly important in the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Since many antioxidants work together synergistically, measuring a single antioxidant may not provide an accurate picture of total antioxidant function. SpectraCell’s SPECTROX™ score will provide a complete and accurate picture of the overall antioxidant status of patients.
One of the major culprits in heart attacks and stroke is the buildup of plaque within the arteries throughout the body. Lipoproteins become dangerous when they are oxidized, making them “sticky” and causing blockage of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Micronutrient deficiencies accelerate atherosclerosis. One study showed that oleic acid (found primarily in olive oil) reduces oxidative damage to lipoproteins. It also facilitates absorption of vitamin A in the gut, which is important because vitamin A is linked to lower levels of arterial plaque, primarily due to its antioxidant effect in protecting lipids from oxidation.
Vitamin K supplementation to deficient people slowed the progression of plaque formation in major arteries. Vitamin B3 (niacin) lowers blood cholesterol (fats in the blood), inhibits the oxidation of LDL, and is currently the most effective drug available for raising the heart-protective, good HDL cholesterol. One study on chemicals made from vitamin B5 (pantothenic acids) showed a decrease in blood triglycerides and cholesterol, and evidence suggests that vitamin E can even retard existing atherosclerosis. Another study showed that inositol, a member of the B vitamin family, decreases dangerous small, dense lipoproteins that easily penetrate blood vessel walls and cause atherosclerosis.
A recent study on more than 20,000 people concluded that adequate vitamin C levels reduced risk of stroke by over 40%. Similar studies on calcium, magnesium, folate and biotin all concluded that adequate levels of these nutrients contribute to a reduction in the incidence of stroke.
Share with us your experience with the role micronutrients have played in heart disease with your patient population! Do you have a particular success?
High Blood Pressure,
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