There are over 400 different members of the carotene family of pigments in nature. Historically, the potency of a carotene in improving human health was based on its ability to be converted to vitamin A. For example, beta-carotene, the pigment that makes carrots orange has the highest vitamin A value and was long thought of as being the most important carotene. However, it is now known that some of the most important carotenes to human health are not converted to vitamin A at all. The crowned “king” of all of the non-vitamin A carotenes is astaxanthin. It is given this title because of its unique benefits and actions in promoting health and protecting against cellular damage, especially in the brain and vascular system.#text>
Where is Astaxanthin Found in Nature?#text>
Astaxanthin is a vibrantly deep red carotene pigment found predominantly in marine life. A form of microalgae known as Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest source. When it is consumed by salmon, lobster, shrimp, krill, and other sea life the intense red pigmentation results in these animals having red or pink flesh, or outer shells.#text>
Astaxanthin is absolutely essential to the survival of these organisms. For example, astaxanthin is required by microalgae to protect itself from damage produced during photosynthesis. It is also known that young salmon die or do not develop properly without sufficient intake of astaxanthin in their diet. The astaxanthin also provides some protection for some animals by making them less visible in deep water, where the red segment of the wavelength spectrum of visible light does not penetrate. The red pigment also plays a role in mating and spawning behavior.#text>
How is Astaxanthin Produced?#text>
Although astaxanthin is found in salmon, herring roe, or krill oil supplements, the amounts in these sources are much lower than those provided from extracts of H. pluvialis. For example, the level of astaxanthin naturally occurring in a capsule of fish or...
Excessive menstrual bleeding, or menorrhagia, is a common female complaint that may be entirely prevented by a simple herbal prescription – capsules of ginger. The chief cause of functional menorrhagia (i.e., not caused by the presence of uterine fibroids or endometriosis) involves abnormalities in the biochemical processes of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).#text>
One abnormality commonly found is an alteration in arachidonic acid metabolism. This fatty acid is derived from meat and dairy sources and is converted to hormone-like compounds known as prostaglandins. The endometrium of women who have menorrhagia concentrates arachidonic acid to a much greater extent than normal. The increased arachidonic acid release during menstruation results in increased production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which not only leads to excessive bleeding, but also menstrual cramps.#text>
Historically, the majority of complaints for which ginger (Zingiber officinale) was used concerned the gastrointestinal system as well as pain and inflammation. Ginger is generally regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance that relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Several double-blind studies have shown ginger to yield positive results in a variety of gastrointestinal issues, especially those related to nausea and vomiting.#text>
In regards to pain and inflammation, numerous clinical studies have supported this use with positive results in various forms of arthritis, chronic low back pain, muscle pain, and painful menstruation.#text>
Ginger has been shown to produce equal results in reducing migraine headaches as the drug sumatriptan (Imitrex), but without the side effects like nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, muscle weakness, heart attacks and seizures.#text>
Ginger has shown to produce profound effects on prostaglandin metabolism including reducing PGE2, the...
How to protect the brain against memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease
Is memory loss and decreased brain power inevitable as we age? Many people in their 40s, 50s, and beyond are told that it is, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Not true. Steps can be taken not only to stop memory loss, but also to reverse it. Of course, many things other than aging alone cause memory problems. These include depression, certain drugs, strokes, head injury, alcoholism, and dementia (severe problems with memory and thinking, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or AD for short).
Feed Your Brain, Sharpen Your Mind
There is considerable evidence that diets high in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E prevent age-related memory loss and other degenerative brain disorders. It is very important to eat a diet rich with green leafy vegetables; highly-colored vegetables such as carrots, yams, and squash; and flavonoid-rich fruits such as citrus, berries, and cherries, while avoiding consumption of trans fatty acids, fried foods, smoked and cured meats, and junk foods. Numerous studies have shown that brain function is directly related to nutritional status. Given the frequency of nutrient deficiency in the elderly population, it is likely that many cases of impaired mental function may have a nutritional cause.
Nutritional Supplements to Protect Your Brain
In addition to a healthful diet, a high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula, and 1,000 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (combined) from a quality fish oil, I would recommend taking coenzyme Q10 with pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), phosphatidylserine, and curcumin (if some symptoms of mental deterioration are present in a person 50 years or older). A brief discussion of each of these important supplements for brain protection follows:
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Although the body makes some of its own CoQ10, considerable research shows significant benefits with supplementation, particularly in people with heart disease, including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, or those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. Recent studies indicate that CoQ10 levels are significantly lower in the mitochondria in people with degenerative brain disorders. For general supplementation levels, take 100 to 200 mg daily of CoQ10 in a base of rice bran oil in a softgel capsule.For improving memory, even better results are seen with CoQ10 if it is taken with PQQ. It exerts a synergistic effect with CoQ10, and it is vital for the function of mitochondria. Like CoQ10, PQQ protects brain cells from damage. It has been shown to be memory-restorative in animal and human studies, and its antioxidant activity is about 5,000 times the effect of vitamin C. The dosage for PQQ is 20 mg daily.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a critical nutrient for anyone with AD, PD, or impaired mental function. Low levels of phosphatidylserine in the brain are associated with impaired mental function and depression in the elderly. Over a dozen double-blind studies have shown phosphatidylserine to improve mental function, mood, and behavior in patients with degenerative brain disorders. The recommended dosage is 100 mg three times daily.
- Curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric, is showing incredible promise as a brain protector, including an ability to prevent and possibly reverse Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Residents of rural India, who eat large amounts of turmeric, have the lowest incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in the world: 4.4 times lower than that of Americans. Researchers have demonstrated that curcumin is able to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s brain lesions in mice specifically bred to develop AD, and may actually reverse damage to brain cells. Turmeric can be liberally consumed in the diet, but taking a curcumin extract may prove to be important in preventing age-related memory loss, as well as more serious conditions such as AD.
In the last few years more Americans than ever have discovered the benefits of nutritional and herbal supplements. Unfortunately, while the myth that diet alone can provide all the essential nutrition necessary for optimal health, most popular one a day multiple vitamin and mineral formulas provide less than ideal amounts of most key nutrients. It would be great to get all the essential daily nutrients in one tablet, but it just isn’t possible.#text>
Why should I take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula?#text>
While a health-promoting diet is an essential component of good health, so too is proper nutritional supplementation. While some experts say that you can theoretically meet all of your nutritional needs through diet alone, the reality is that most Americans do not. During recent years the U.S. government has sponsored a number of comprehensive studies (HANES I, II, and III, Ten State Nutrition Survey, USDA nationwide food consumption studies, etc.) to determine the nutritional status of the population. These studies have revealed marginal nutrient deficiencies exist in a substantial portion of the U.S. population (approximately 50 percent) and that for some selected nutrients in certain age groups more than 80 percent of the group consumed less than the RDA. 1#text>
These studies indicate the chances of consuming a diet meeting the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for all nutrients is extremely unlikely for most Americans. In other words, while it is theoretically possible that a healthy individual can get all the nutrition they need from foods, the fact is that most Americans do not even come close to meeting all their nutritional needs through diet alone. In an effort to increase their intake of essential nutrients, many Americans look to vitamin and mineral supplements. Current estimates are that more than 70 percent of Americans now regularly take vitamin or mineral supplements. 2,3#text>
What is low immune function?#text>
Low immune function refers to an underactive and poor performing immune system. The immune system’s prime function is to protect the body against infection and the development of cancer. Support and enhancement of the immune system is perhaps the most important step in achieving resistance to disease and reducing susceptibility to colds, flus, and cancer. Supporting the immune system involves a health-promoting lifestyle, stress management, exercise, diet, and the appropriate use of nutritional supplements and herbal medicines.#text>
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, it is a sign that your immune system needs support:#text>
- Do you catch colds easily?
- Do you get more than two colds a year?
- Are you suffering chronic infection?
- Do you get frequent cold sores or have genital herpes?
- Are your lymph glands sore and swollen at times?
- Do you have now or have you ever had cancer?
Recurrent or chronic infections-even very mild colds-only occur when the immune system is weakened. Under such circumstances, there is a repetitive cycle that makes it difficult to overcome the tendency toward infection: a weakened immune system leads to infection, infection causes damage to the immune system, which further weakens resistance. Enhancing the immune system can provide the answer to breaking the cycle.#text>
What causes low immune function?#text>
The health of the immune system is greatly impacted by a person’s emotional state, level of stress, lifestyle, dietary habits and nutritional status. Nutrient deficiency is the most frequent cause of a depressed immune system. An overwhelming number of clinical and experimental studies indicate that any single nutrient deficiency can profoundly impair the immune system.#text>
What dietary factors are important in low immune function?#text>
Optimal immune function requires a healthy diet that is (1) rich in whole, natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts, (2) low in...