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iHerb Blog

Rejuvenate Your Brain
Rejuvenate Your Brain

PQQ may be able to help your brain fire on all cylinders no matter your age.

A vitamin-like compound known as pyrroloquinoline quinone—or PQQ—shows promise for boosting mental performance and memory.

This naturally occurring compound is an essential cofactor in cellular functions and has been found in all plant foods analyzed to date. Parsley, green peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, and tofu are especially rich sources, containing 2—3 mcg per 100-gram serving. Green tea provides the same amount per 4-oz serving.

What Does PQQ Do?

Studies show that PQQ is a key regulator of cellular function and is capable of neutralizing free radicals to a much greater degree than many other antioxidants such as vitamin C.

When PQQ is omitted from diets in animal studies, it leads to growth impairment, compromised immunity, and abnormal reproductive function. The daily requirement of PQQ seems to be similar to that for folic acid (400mcg). As with other essential nutrients, the immune system seems particularly sensitive to low levels of PQQ.

PQQ for Energy and Anti-Aging

Another key action of PQQ involves mitochondria—the energy producing compartments in our cells. In addition to PQQ’s powerful antioxidant effect, it also promotes the generation of new mitochondria within aging cells, a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. This effect makes PQQ ripe for further study in the anti-aging field.

Brain Benefits with PQQ

Current research has focused primarily on PQQ’s ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans. Here are some of the effects noted in the animal studies involving PQQ:

  • Blocks the formation of several compounds that are extremely damaging to brain cells.
  • Protects against the self-oxidation of the DJ-1 gene, an early step in the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Protects brain cells against oxidative damage.
  • Reverses cognitive impairment caused by chronic oxidative stress and improves performance on memory tests in animal models.
  • Protects the brain against neurotoxicity from glutamate, mercury, oxidopamine (a potent neurotoxin used by scientists to induce Parkinson’s in laboratory animals), and other powerful toxins.
  • Prevents development of a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Protects nerve cells from the beta-amyloid protein, which has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

3 Tips To Improve Your Memory

1: Take fish oils. High quality fish oil supplements can help improve brain function as well as help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Take 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA daily.

2: Eat blueberries. Blueberries and other berries are rich in plant pigments known as anthocyanidins that have been shown to improve mental function in numerous clinical studies.

3: Control blood sugar. The brain is critically dependent on a constant and steady supply of blood sugar (glucose). When people are on the blood sugar rollercoaster, it’s difficult to stay focused and concentrate. One supplement that can help even out blood sugar is PGX.

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Burn Out
Burn Out

A rational approach to indigestion

The term indigestion is often used to describe heartburn as well as feelings of gas or bloating after eating, stomach pains, or fullness in the abdomen. Medical terms used to describe indigestion include functional dyspepsia (FD), gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and non-ulcer dyspepsia (NUD).

These are among the most common complaints in North America, and yet several review articles have concluded that “the efficacy of current drugs on the market is limited at best.” The most popular of these drugs are acid blockers, which work by impeding one of the body’s most important digestive processes—the secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCl) by the stomach.

Bad Block

In the digestive process, stomach acid initiates protein digestion, plus it ionizes minerals and other nutrients for enhanced absorption. Without sufficient secretion of HCl in the stomach, the pancreas doesn’t get the signal to secrete its digestive enzymes. But the manufacture and secretion of stomach acid isn’t just important for digestion. It also helps protect the body from invasion. Stomach secretions can neutralize bacteria, viruses, and molds before they
can cause gastrointestinal infection. So you can see just how much potential harm acid-blocking drugs can cause.

The Natural Approach

With chronic indigestion, the rational approach is to focus on aiding digestion rather than blocking the digestive process with antacids. Indigestion can be attributed to a great many causes, including both increased secretion of acid and decreased secretion of acid. In fact, most nutrition-oriented physicians believe that lack of acid—not excess acid—is the true culprit in many cases.

The first step is to eliminate common causes of GERD/NUD, including overeating, obesity, coffee, tomatoes, citrus fruit, chocolate, fried foods, carbonated beverages, tobacco, and alcohol. In many cases, simply eliminating or reducing these irritants is all...

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Osteo Advice
Osteo Advice

Why collagen may be more important for bones than calcium

Bones are made up of dynamic living tissue that requires a wide range of nutrients—not just minerals such as calcium—to maintain optimum health.

While minerals tend to get all of the attention when it comes to bones, decreased collagen content is also an important factor in osteoporosis and low bone density.

Collagen is to our bones what two-by-fours are to the frame of a house. It’s the compound that provides the framework upon which mineralization occurs. As our collagen levels decline with age, this becomes a problem. Because if you don’t have enough collagen, it doesn’t matter how much calcium you take, the mineral won’t be bound within the bone.

With that in mind, it’s clear that we need to include strategies for improving the collagen matrix along with traditional mineral supplementation in any bone health regimen.

The Downside of Drugs

One problem with bisphosphonate drugs used to treat and prevent osteoporosis (e.g., Boniva, Fosamax, and Actonel) is that they don’t improve bone quality. Sure, they can increase bone density. But because they don’t address issues with the organic collagen matrix, they can actually make bones brittle.

High-quality bone is strong and resilient, much like bamboo. In contrast, bone that’s pumped up on bisphosphonates is more like chalk—dense, but very brittle. People who are on bisphosphonates need to focus on improving their collagen matrixes to help fix the problems that these drugs produce. Increasing the collagen content of the bone leads to greater strength and flexibility, thereby increasing resistance to fractures.

Significant Supplements

To help improve the collagen matrix and promote bone health, the following key nutrients—along with 800—1,000 mg per day of calcium—are recommended:

  • Silica: A highly bioavailable from of silica (ch-OSA or Choline Stabilized Orthosilicic Acid, the ingredient in BioSil) has shown impressive clinical results in improving bone health and bone mineral density. In a double-blind study of post-menopausal women with low bone density, BioSil was able to increase both the collagen content of bone (by 22 percent) and bone density (by 2 percent) within the first year of use. The recommended dosage is 6—10 mg per day.
  • Vitamins K1 and K2 impact osteocalcin, a protein that anchors calcium molecules within the bone. Vitamin K is required to convert inactive osteocalcin to its active form, so a lack of it in the diet is a major risk factor for osteoporosis, even among those with a high calcium intake. The best food sources of vitamin K include spinach, swiss chard, kale, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and green beans. A typical supplement dosage for vitamin K is 100 mcg daily.
  • Vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid help convert the amino acid methionine to cysteine. Any deficiency in these vitamins can lead to an increase in homocysteine levels, which has been implicated in various conditions, including osteoporosis. When shopping for B vitamins, look for a formula that contains the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12 for optimal absorption.
  • Vitamin D3 supplementation is associated with increased bone density, and studies that combine vitamin D with calcium have produced considerably better results than either nutrient alone. Most experts recommend daily doses of at least 2,000 IU of D3.
  • Magnesium. Research has shown that women with osteoporosis have lower bone magnesium content and other indicators of magnesium deficiency than those without osteoporosis. A dosage
    of 250—500 mg daily is generally recommended.
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Coenzyme Q10: The Body’s Spark Plug
Coenzyme Q10: The Body’s Spark Plug

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) the spark plug of the human body: Just as a car can’t run without that initial spark, the human body can’t get going without CoQ10. It is an essential component of the mitochondria, which produce the power that cells need to divide, move, contract, and perform all their other functions. CoQ10 also plays a critical role in the manufacture of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy that drives all body processes. What’s more, CoQ10 is a very important antioxidant that protects the cells against damage.

Although our bodies can produce CoQ10, we don’t always make enough. Because the brain and heart are among the most active tissues in the body, CoQ10 deficiency affects them the most and can lead to serious problems with those organs. A number of things can cause CoQ10 deficiency—poor diet, a genetic or acquired defect, or increased tissue needs, for example. Heart and vascular diseases, including high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, require increased tissue levels of CoQ10. In addition, because CoQ10 levels decline with age, people over the age of 50 may need more. Many studies have shown a number of drugs (most notably lipid-lowering agents like statins) that decrease CoQ10 levels.

Given the central role of CoQ10 in mitochondrial function and cell protection, it is useful in a number of health issues. CoQ10 offers benefits in so many health conditions that there’s no question it should be considered an essential nutrient. Aside from being a general antioxidant, CoQ10 also may help the following conditions:

  • Cardiovascular disease: high blood pressure; congestive heart failure; cardiomyopathy; protection during cardiac surgery; high cholesterol that is treated by drugs, especially statins
  • Cancer (to boost immune function and/or offset chemotherapy side effects)
  • Male infertility
  • Parkinson’s disease (prevention and treatment) 
  • Periodontal disease

Scientific research

Studies on both animals and humans have confirmed CoQ10’s usefulness for all the conditions listed above—particularly for cardiovascular disease. In fact, research has shown that 50 to 75 percent of people with various cardiovascular diseases have a CoQ10 deficiency in their heart tissue. Correcting that deficiency can often produce dramatic results in patients with any kind of heart disease. For example, CoQ10 deficiency has been shown to be present in 39 percent of patients with high blood pressure. This finding alone suggests a need for CoQ10 supplementation. However, CoQ10 appears to provide benefits beyond correction of a cardiovascular deficiency.

A 2009 study featured in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics noted that the effect of CoQ10 on blood pressure is usually not seen until after four to 12 weeks of therapy, and the typical reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure are modest—in the 10 percent range.

Statin drugs like Crestor, Lipitor, and Zocor work by inhibiting the enzyme that the liver needs to manufacture cholesterol. Unfortunately, they also block the manufacture of other substances necessary for body functions, including CoQ10. That could explain the drugs’ most commonly reported side effects—especially fatigue and muscle pain. One large study, the ENDOTACT study published in the International Journal of Cardiology in 2005, showed that statin therapy significant decreased CoQ10 plasma levels, but that decrease could be prevented entirely by supplementing with 150 mg of CoQ10. Additionally, CoQ10 supplements significantly improved the function of the blood vessel lining—one of the key goals in the treatment and prevention of atherosclerosis

In double-blind studies, CoQ10 supplementation has been shown to be quite helpful in some patients with Parkinson’s disease. All of the patients in these studies had the three primary features of Parkinson’s—tremor, stiffness, and slowed movements—and had been diagnosed with the disease within the last five years.

A 2005 study featured in Archives of Neurology also showed a slowing of functional decline in Parkinson’s patients who took CoQ10. After an initial screening and baseline blood tests, the patients were randomly divided into four groups. Three of the groups received CoQ10 at different doses (300 mg a day, 600 mg a day, or 1,200 mg a day) for 16 months, while a fourth group received a placebo. The group that took the 1,200 mg dose had less decline in mental function, motor function, and ability to carry out activities of daily living like feeding or dressing themselves. The greatest effect was on activities of daily living. The groups that received 300 mg a day and 600 mg a day developed slightly less disability than the placebo group, but the effects were less dramatic than in those receiving the highest dosage. These results indicate that the beneficial effects of CoQ10 for Parkinson’s are achieved at higher dosages. No significant side effects were seen in any of the patients.

Safety and dosage

Coenzyme Q10 is very safe—no serious adverse effects have ever been reported, even with long-term use. Because safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been proven, CoQ10 should not be used during these times unless a physician determines the potential clinical benefit outweighs the risks. I typically recommend between 100 and 200 mg of CoQ10 per day. For best absorption, I suggest soft gelatin capsules taken with meals. At higher dosage levels, it is best to take it in divided dosages rather than as a single dosage (200 mg three times daily is better than 600 mg all at once).


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Omega-3s & Immunity
Omega-3s & Immunity

You know all about fish oil and heart health, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for these healthful fats

A recent study showed that women who consume fish oil during pregnancy may decrease the number of colds that their babies contract early in life. Cold symptoms occurred 24 percent less often among babies whose mothers took docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Symptoms also resolved faster for the supplement group.

These results aren’t surprising. They’re just another addition to the growing body of evidence that highlights the critical roles long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA play in human health.

A Cellular Approach

How can omega-3s improve immune function? Through their effects on cell membranes, including white blood cells. Every cell in the body needs homeostasis—a constant internal environment. And a healthy cell membrane, the wall between the internal cell and the outside, is key. Without this membrane, cells lose their ability to hold water and vital nutrients, as well as the ability to communicate.

Cell membranes are composed chiefly of fatty acids derived from the diet. As a result, the composition of cell membranes—and the resulting structure, function, and integrity—can be influenced by dietary changes. A diet composed mostly of saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans-fatty acids produces cell membranes that are much less fluid in nature than the membranes of people who eat optimum levels of monounsaturated fat and EPA and DHA from fish oils.

Fish Oils and White Blood Cells

  • In addition to their critical role in cell membrane health, omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to impact immune function by:
  • Regulating gene expression of white blood cells, which helps regulate proper immune function.
  • Reducing the production of inflammatory compounds that can damage the immune system.
  • Improving the manner in which immune cells communicate with each other, leading to improved immune system function.


The body...

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