March 2009 Archives

Multiple Vitamin Battles

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Perception is everything.  So let's look at the influences that help determine it.


Medicine is based upon observation, as the French Philosopher Michel Foucault stated in The Birth of the Clinic, when describing the medical profession.


Observation is Perception


For years the wealthy in northern Europe ate off pewter plates, which have a very high lead content.  Tomatoes are very acidic and when placed in contact with the pewter they leached out the lead.  When eaten, the tomatoes then produced lead poisoning.  Lead poisoning manifests itself in many ways from headaches to delirium to death.  Based upon perception tomatoes were considered poisonous in those regions for several hundred years by society and the medical community until the 19th Century when a merchant publicly ate a bushel of tomatoes to prove they were harmless without ill effects.


Perception is Our Reality


Twenty-five years ago medical science stated unequivocally that we were born with limited number of brain cells.  Once they died, they were never replaced.  Although this seemed illogical to some, it was accepted as fact.


For example, canaries help prove the opposite.  There is an area of a male canary's brain where their song composing takes place.  The song is very important to male canaries because the female canary responds to singing of this song, which helps the male canary in his courting.  After the season passes, the brain cells die.  The next Spring, new brain cells emerge and the canary offers up a new song, perhaps to make sure the female canary responds, since she has already heard last year's tune.


Today it is recognized that brain cells can be regenerated - not just in canaries - and that new ones are created.  With the development of genetics, the World's perception of reality is once again shifting.  We now know that change is an integral part of all life, and that change occurs endlessly.  Farmers, physicists, meteorologists, and geologists recognize this.  It is part of their training, so they recognize it when they see it.  The theory of relativity placed truth within contextual terms and that context changes.  Biologists, chemists, mathematicians, and medical science seem to have much more difficulty recognizing it.  Perhaps this is because they view the World in reduced terms, seeing the World as a tiny stage with set rules and options.  They are often surprised by an observation they never thought could occur because their established rules and language prevented them from seeing it, and their training produced attachment to results firmly established.


An outmoded belief system becomes rigid and corrupted.  It is a fixed belief system.  Meanwhile, everything is changing.  This is exactly what happened at Duke University.


Some oncologists decided to experiment with genetically-altered yellow laboratory agouti mice, specifically raised because they genetically pass cancer on to their young.  These mice are used for cancer research in medical labs.  The scientists decided to see what would happen if they fed the rats some vitamins, specifically, a mixture of B vitamins - the exact same kind as found in a general multiple vitamin.  One of the scientists, Randy Jirtle, thought it both eerie and scary to observe the newborn mice.  The young looked very different from their parents. They were lean, brown and healthy. This experiment helped to change science's view of the influence of the environment and opened a new way of viewing genetics due to "epigenetic change."  This means that genes express themselves according to their environment, i.e., genetic change.  A person changes their genes (turning them on and off) by changing the environment surrounding them - that is, by altering what they eat, drink, and do.


It is now realized that there are approximately 600 enzymes that need vitamins and minerals to function properly.  Research has shown that defective enzyme genes are repairable with a higher dose of the proper vitamin or mineral.


It is hitting even the mainstream press.  On the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, June 6, 2008, the paper reported that "UC Berkeley researchers are searching for genetic flaws that can be fixed by simply taking vitamin and mineral supplements . . . .  By knowing which genes are defective, people will know which vitamins they need ... .  Eventually, a person's entire genome may be scanned for flaws, and a set of vitamins could be prescribed for optimum health." (Emphasis added)


Change and Observation are Intrinsically Linked


They create our reality.  There are, however, major hurdles for perception to cross.  In our society, training can take many forms and frequently the higher the status, the more rigid the training, such as for lawyers and medical doctors.  The results can frequently be a narrowness that creates draconian, authoritarian behavior.  In addition we have human emotions that present definite hurdles to perception - the greatest of which appears to be greed.  Even when we know otherwise, greed and authoritarian mindsets choose the path committed by the person's training as the "truth" to adhere to or the desirable path to maintain for one's own self interest.


These behaviors and mind sets act in our daily lives and seem to usually play a minor role, but those small, important, skewed perceptions create realities that do not fit the intelligence of the Universe, often with great ramifications.


On the large scale, whole organizations and systems base their reality upon these perceptions.  The results can often be that information is not accurately observed, or else observed and inaccurately reported, or made to fit the desired perception to create a specific reality.  At some point the system fails, there are mistakes.  This common event in the Universe is called "karma." (Karma is when what happened yesterday affects what is happening now, and what is happening now affects what will happen tomorrow.  In other words, your past karma is what happens to you and your future karma is what you do.)  We witness this, for example, in banking, the stock market, healthcare, politics, and education. Ultimately, the Universe sorts it out.


The Heart of the Issue


Are multivitamins unnecessary and dangerous as the media reports?  The media gets their information from news releases, interviews, or actual reporting from attending a lecture or conference by a reporter in the employ of someone.  Regardless of what the media is saying we know that the general health of Americans is deteriorating and at an increasing rate.  We have huge sums of money procured to find cures.  Much of it is wasted funding since in most cases there is not a "cure" per se.  There is only change that can make the difference.  When cancer is recognized more as a result of environmental poisoning and bad diet, and stress, and poor life style with lack of exercise, then change can take place.  Before that time comes to pass, it is all public relations and moneyed interests beating a tin drum.


So what is it about multiple vitamins that make them such an easy target for criticism at this time?  Perhaps it is the old "divide and conquer" because there are definitely several schools of thought regarding a good multivitamin making it an easy arena to attack.  The movement to control the individual's availability to purchase multivitamins hinges on creating a perception that they are worthless or even dangerous and should only be taken under a doctor's prescription (although the doctor is untrained in the field of nutrition), and therefore must be removed from the open marketplace where the individual has control of his or her own health to that of a "qualified" but largely-ignorant professional.


Without the specifics of the content or quality of the multivitamin being attacked, the health industry has a difficult time responding to criticism.  The multivitamin variations are numerous.  We can, however, divide them into several categories and critically analyze them.


The Big Differences in the World of Multivitamins


First of all, when it comes to dietary supplements, there is the health-food store standard, also backed by the orthomolecular approach.  Next, there is the emerging concept that food-based supplements with low potencies are the answer.  Both of these are somewhat on the same side of the fence.  Why?  They both believe in purity and active ingredients for maximum absorption and assimilation.


Then, on the other side of the fence we have the pharmaceutical drugstore multivitamins.  They actually are the ones that the public most frequently purchases.  Not only are their potencies usually much lower, but they differ in tableting and excipients used.  And all too often the form of the multivitamins differ, with the pharmaceutical brand multivitamin far more often using a synthetic form of a particular vitamin or mineral (e.g., Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) instead of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)) that is far inferior in quality to that of the natural or other form found in a brand sold in health-food stores.


 Additives and Quality


Often overlooked by consumers who see generic vitamin names on multivitamin labels and rarely look beyond, additives and quality are nevertheless of paramount importance.  And it is here where the two types of multivitamins have important differences.


Just consider one of the top-selling multiples in the marketplace, which happens to be a drug-store multiple supplement for seniors.  It is highly endorsed by both MDs and pharmacists.  First, let's look at its excipients (the extra chemicals needed to make the tablet, complete the filling of the capsule, or added for some other unknowable reason):


Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, Sodium Benzoate, Sucrose, Talc, Maltodextrin, Calcium Stearate, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Sunflower Oil, Colloidal Silicon Dioxide, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, FD&C Blue No. 2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, and Modified Food Starch.


Do you want or need all those extra excipients?  How do they affect assimilation?  How do they affect your health?  A crash course in additives will quickly help you decide, so read about them - all are easily found on the internet and known by other common names; such as Crosprovidone, which is PVP, and hypromellose as HPMC.  When all of these additives are researched one wonders how they could possibly pass California's strict anti-carcinogen Proposition-65 requirements for human ingestion since some are related to chemicals that are carcinogens.  Does this make the critics correct?


Regarding quality of the drug-store multivitamin, one of the most important differences is the use of the "dl" synthetic, and inferior, form of Vitamin E (which form has no biological activity).  The formula has many other inferior forms of nutrients to name a few: Sodium selenate (a form of selenium that is not chelated and is easily reduced by Vitamin C into unabsorbable selenium); an unknown amount of sodium; a nonchelated (and therefore less-viable) form of zinc; and all at such low potencies that researchers consider them ineffective as discussed further on.


Let's now look at a typical health-food store multivitamin and see the difference.  Here are the common excipients (some times limited to only rice powder): 


Cellulose, stearic acid (vegetable), modified cellulose, magnesium stearate, silica. Coating: vegetable food glaze.


Here is another example:


Cellulose, magnesium, stearate, silica dioxide, modified cellulose gum


Followed usually on most bottles with a statement similar to this:


Free of the most common allergens such as yeast, rice, barley, wheat, lactose (milk sugar) and all milk, fish and egg products. No added flavorings, sugars, salt, artificial sweeteners, coloring, preservatives or salicylates.

The actual vitamins are the most-active forms, such as the natural "d" forms of Vitamin E and usually meaningful portions of newer nutrients such as lutein, which in the "drug store" variety had a quarter of a milligram and less than a third of a milligram of lycopene both of which should measure five to ten milligrams to approach an effective dose.  Also, when iron is present in the formula, most frequently it is ferrous-sulfate - a form of iron that causes constipation and interferes with Vitamin-E absorption.  The health-food store vitamin formulas also take into account proper ratios of minerals and B vitamins.


No Proof of Harm, But Proof of Benefit


How can anyone compare or make a generalized statement evaluating multivitamins?  It is true that people have for the last sixty years taken vitamins, even unintentionally because they have been routinely added to fortify foods such as bread, cereals, canned goods, and other food products.  This has been mandated by the government to help protect people's health (although some fortification - such as in the case of iron - has possibly done more harm than good).


For the media to print that the public is getting more vitamins than they need by quoting a doctor or researcher without a proven study is a baseless opinion and absolute nonsense!  If there were such a study, it would be headline news!  Why?


There has never been a single study, out of all that have been done, that shows the American public comes remotely close to consuming the minimum requirements for vitamins and minerals in their daily diet.  Disease prevention and health enhancement in the United States appear to be possible only through supplementation.


Further, studies indicate levels of malnutrition.  Doctors have reported to me from the University of California Medical Center their disbelief at finding scurvy (Vitamin-C deficiency disease) in their patients.  Meanwhile, agricultural departments, such as at the University of Texas, are finding the nutritional levels of food are lower than ever historically, with a steady significant decline from the early 1900s up to the present.


Industrial farming accounts for dramatic ecological and environmental dangers that put everyone at high risk and decreasing nutritional values as food is mass produced without any regard for quality.  This is a relatively recent phenomenon.


According to the 2007 Milken Institute's report "An Unhealthy America - The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease," chronic illness costs the economy $1 trillion a year.  The key points are staggering with more than 109 million Americans suffering from one or more common chronic conditions for a total of 162 million cases (because many Americans have more than one disease case - e.g., diabetes and hypertension).  The former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona said, "The public is telling us the No. 1 domestic issue is health."  He goes on to say, "The disease burden is mounting, the economy burden is mounting and the trajectory we're on is unsustainable."  How can one possibly ignore these facts and claim that there is no need for everyone to take at least a multivitamin?


Better Health through Better Nutrition


The most recent in-depth study on multiple nutrients recognizes how difficult it is to generalize. (See Block G, Jensen CD, Nordus EP, Dalvi TB, Wong LG, McManus JF and Hudes ML, "Usage Patterns, Health and Nutritional Status of Long-term Multiple Dietary Supplement Users," a cross-sectional study that was published in the October 24, 2007 issue of Nutritional Journal.)   The study nevertheless could make some statistical statements based upon the 278 long-term users of multiple dietary supplements, 176 users of a single multivitamin/multimineral supplement, and 602 nonusers of supplements whom the scientists studied.


At least half of the subjects in the multiple dietary-supplements group consumed a multivitamin/mineral, B-complex, Vitamin C, carotenoids, Vitamin E, calcium with Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, Coenzyme Q10 with resveratrol, glucosamine, and an herbal immune supplement. 


The majority of women in this group also consumed gamma linolenic acid and a probiotic supplement.  The majority of men additionally consumed zinc, garlic, saw palmetto, and a soy-protein supplement.


Overall, the study showed that the use of multiple dietary supplements led to better health.  As the researchers themselves said, individuals who consume a number of nutritional supplements were found to have better biomarkers of health than those who do not consume any supplements or who only consumed a multivitamin/mineral.


Among other benefits, multiple-supplement users also had lower levels of C-reactive protein and triglycerides and higher levels of HDL (the so-called "good") cholesterol.  Other findings in the multiple supplements group included lower risks of elevated blood pressure, diabetes (73% less compared to nonusers), and coronary heart disease (52% less compared to nonusers).  Subjects consuming multiple dietary supplements also reported having "good or excellent" health status 74 percent more often than non-supplement users.


Other corollary findings included the discovery of various nutrient deficiencies in both the non-supplement users and the multivitamin/mineral users, especially with low levels of Vitamin C.  Far from being a danger to health as the mass media would have us believe, using multiple nutritional supplements confers various health benefits that merit further study, not blind condemnation.


Time to Change Perception


So, please read nutrition to know more.  At Oxford University in England students tell you that they "read" history, they "read" mathematics, they "read" philosophy.  They never seem to say "study."  When a person studies something they become attached to what they learn - it becomes the "truth" and hard to change when a new truth appears; whereas, when one reads something, there is less attachment and more investment in critical reasoning and thought - in other words, an "open mind."


With a more open mind you are able to help others change their perceptions about health and nutrition and with it everyone's health.  Stay healthy - it's your right and responsibility!



All rights reserved. Copyright 2009  Michael LeVesque

"Side Effects" - Bad Substitute for the Real Thing!

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The word "side" has a multitude of uses in the English language. It is used over and over again for many different meanings and lends itself to other words to create a multitude of ambiguous, suggestive, and descriptive nouns or adjectives.


We use "side" for every possible type of meaning; inside out, sideways, side kick, sidelines, sunny side up, side interest, take sides, outside, side dish, bright side, side of beef, up side down, right side up, seamy side, and the most ominous use is "SIDE EFFECTS".


"Side effect" is defined as a consequence other than that, for which an agent is used, especially an adverse effect on another organ.


The word "side" somehow suggests the perception that there is a benefit occurring simultaneously. This is where the pharmaceutical industry employs semantics and language to create an illusion. If a drug makes a person feel ill- then that is the effect of the drug. If it makes a person feel good- then that is an effect of the drug. Rarely does a person experience a drug where it makes them feel good and bad at the same time.


If a person becomes paralyzed, has a stroke, attempts suicide, or dies it seems trivial and flippant to name such effects as "side effects". They are without doubt effects that fall in the category of "Bad" effects. The FDA allows this suggestive language and has other notable areas of verbal inaccuracy. The FDA substitutes the term "discontinuation" for "withdrawal", but that's another story.


The FDA should require accurate language banning the use of "side effects" as warnings and replace the term with "bad effects" which more accurately communicates an immediate call to the doctor, stopping use of the drug, and re-evaluating the prescribed drug.


"Side effects" suggest that bad effects may occur but to continue use until the benefits of the drug become evident. Too often someone witnesses a bad reaction to a drug and still continues use because they perceive the effects as somewhat harmless, part of the cure, just a simple "side effect" not reacting soon enough to stop the drug as the person goes into nausea, possible stroke, coma or death.


"Bad effects" give a clearer understanding to the use and dangers of the prescribed drug. Perception is everything for the consumer and clarity in language regarding health dangers should be made mandatory by the FDA! Eliminate the term "side" and in its place use the term "bad". It could save lives!  

All rights reserved. Copyright 2009


Body-building Nutrition

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Here is a brief discussion of some popular body-building nutrients:

AKG, or alpha-ketoglutarate, is the ammonia-free skeleton of glutamine, and as such, can provide the anti-catabolic effect of glutamine, preserving muscle during and after exercise, without the downside of loading the body with toxic ammonia, which can happen when large amounts of glutamine are taken. Perhaps the best way to obtain this is in the form of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate, which besides functioning as an ammonia scavenger and a ready-source for anti-catabolic glutamine, also releases growth hormone, stimulates insulin secretion, and ends up increasing the arginine pool, another growth hormone releasing agent.


Arginine-Ornithine were first publicized when Sandy Shaw and Durk Pearson came out with their book, Life Extension. Their studies showed Arginine-Ornithine increased the secretion of growth hormone. Many bodybuilders have noticed that their muscle pump is enhanced when they take ornithine and arginine. It is now recommended to take Lysine along with Arginine, to prevent the outbreak of latent herpes, to further promote growth-hormone release, and to otherwise balance amino acids.

Free-Form Amino Acids are taken by many successful bodybuilders.They give an edge when it comes to muscle size, strength and hardness.

B-6 helps the utilization of protein foods, as well as fats and carbohydrates. It is best taken as part of a balanced B-complex.

Bee Pollen has been found to have a nourishing and energizing effect. Bodybuilders take it before a session, to energize, intensify, and lengthen their workouts. One proponent of the "apiary life-style", Royden Brown, claims in his book, Bee Hive Product Bible, to have rejuvenated his body by consuming large amounts of bee pollen and other bee products.

Branch-chain amino acids, specifically, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, have been shown to be the primary components of muscle protein. Ingesting increased amounts of these important nutrients during and after working-out offers the muscle cells their preferred nutrition, helping exercise to increase muscle size and strength. This effect occurs in part because these amino acids provide a substrate for glutamine, an essential nutrient both for the muscle cells and for cell replication in the immune system, and in part because the branch-chain aminos are burned for fuel, sparing other aminos for tissue growth.

Carnitine is known for it's ability to increase the utilization of stored body-fat, helping people to slim down and increase lean muscle mass. Most often they also notice a significant increase in energy, partly due to feeling better about their new size and partly due to the energy derived from the better burning of fat. Carnitine is also considered protective of heart function, both because the heart uses lipids as the source of most of it's energy, and because it helps to reduce blood levels of fat and triglycerides. Bodybuilders find carnitine especially useful when cutting-up, because it helps transport cellular fat, speeding the fat-burning process.

Chromium Picolinate is the brainchild of Dr. Gary Evans, a chemistry professor at Bemidji State University. His studies showed that the compound "bulked-up" lean muscle mass and cut down body-fat percentages. There is also evidence that this supplement can reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Chromium Picolinate as well as GTF Chromium potentiate the action of insulin.

Creatine Monohydrate is a naturally occurring compound produced mainly in the liver and involving the pancreas and kidneys. In human clinical studies it has proven to increase force production and muscle mass. Dr. Julian Whitaker recommends its use for "reversing the symptoms of age-related deterioration of muscle" (Health and Healing, March, 1994).
Creatine supplement converts into phosphocreatine within the muscle. Phosphocreatine is critical to the maintenance and continued production of energy by donating a phosphate group to ADP to make ATP, the substrata utilized for powering all body movements and biochemical reactions in the body. So creatine supplements can create more ATP without needing carbohydrates, fats, or oxygen to recharge the ATP. This makes it a source of super fast energy because it does not need to undergo a complicated process to produce energy. It can also lead to the absorption of hydrogen ions released into muscles from lactic acid, which cuts-back the "burn" and reduces exercise fatigue.
Creatine is unique in that it increases the production of proteins and builds muscle (anabolic) and it also acts to decrease the breakdown of muscle protein (anticatabolic). These benefits could be used to retain muscle mass as a person ages. Absorption is best after some exercise. Jarrow produces an excellent combination product of 1000mg creatine combined with Co-Q10 60 mg.

Vitamin C is highly regarded by many bodybuilders. It is often forgotten that working-out intensely is a heavy stress on the body, especially the immune system, and vitamin C can be of great benefit to support immune response. It helps speed recovery from workouts, prevent bruising, and promotes the release of subcutaneous water.

DHEA See Article

Dibencozide is the co-enzyme form of vitamin B-12. Although already-buffed bodybuilders often don't notice much effect from it, we have heard numerous reports of sudden and significant increase in energy and ability to effectively workout from ectomorphs, sometimes referred to as "pencil-necks". This may be due to a correction of a possibly long-term and marginal B-12 deficiency, which your doctor could determine through a simple blood test.

Digestive Enzymes may not be needed by "genetically-gifted" bodybuilders, but for most of us, any help we can get in breaking down and absorbing our food is greatly appreciated. Without this process, whatever we eat is wasted and doesn't help build mass and strength. Especially when "bulking-up", enzymes can not only improve progress but also rescue one's social life.

Dimethylglycine (DMG) is the active nutrient behind what was called B-15, calcium pangamate, or pangamic acid. It is an intermediary metabolite that is useful in the production of neurotransmitters, hormones, DNA, choline, and methionine. It enhances the immune response system, normalizes blood glucose levels and reduces high blood pressure levels. It enhances oxygen utilization, reduces lactic acid formation, and aids detoxification- improving liver, pancreas, and adrenal function. In 1960 Russia reported DMG benefited people suffering from diabetes, alcoholism, mental disorders, and cardiovascular ailments. Also, DMG enhanced athletic performance, as demonstrated by the Olympics. It is especially useful for those who train to exhaustion. DMG delays this drop-off in energy, allowing more intense workouts.

Gamma Oryzanol was first researched extensively by Japanese scientists, who derived it from rice bran oil. It increased the anabolic efficiency of food, increasing mass with less food, possibly by stimulating the pituitary to release growth hormone releasing hormone. There is also some evidence that it helps increase energy levels and overall stamina and that it aids tissue repair.

Ginseng, Asian, or Panax ginseng, is the herb of ancient Chinese lore and folk medicine. The Latin name Panax derives from the Greek word panakos meaning "cure-all" or panacea, a testimony to the wondrous reputation this herb had in the mid-1700's when the famous Swedish botanist Linnaeus named the plant.The wild root is virtually extinct in Asia today, with a few kilos of the roots still being found in the wild. These roots command prices of up to $10,000 each on the Hong Kong market. Most Panax ginseng is commercially cultivated in China and Korea, in both red and white forms. White (actually beige or cream colored) is the natural, dried root material, while the "red" is basically the white roots which have been steam-treated. This process engages a preservation process, besides the natural color change. In South Korea, the red is considered higher quality by the Korean government's Office of Monopoly, which controls all processing and export of Red Korean Ginseng.

Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consider the Asian ginseng to be an energy tonic, stimulating and heat producing, increasing yang energies. It is employed in a number of degenerative and "wasting" diseases where chi or vital energy is deficient. It is contraindicated in conditions such as colds and flu. The red variety is considered by traditional herbalists to be more potent and stimulating than white. Some scientific tests appear to confirm this notion.

In recent years, many companies have come out with ginsengs that have standardized the amount of ginsenosides, the known active ingredients. Because of this development, an impressive array of research on Asian ginseng has been conducted in Europe, and the results of this research has validated some of the traditional "tonic" reputation of Asian ginseng root. These studies confirm the stress-reducing properties, heightened endurance levels, cardiovascular and other activities of Asian ginseng.

Ginseng, Siberian, Eleutherococcus senticosus, became famous in the late 1970's because it was reportedly used by Russian Olympic team members and Soviet cosmonauts as part of their daily training regimen. A Soviet scientist, Dr. I.I. Brekhman, did the early research on Siberian ginseng, and it is his work that popularized the term "adaptogen", indicating a substance that tends to restore normal physiological function, whether it is deficient or excessive, and that allows the body as a whole to respond to a non-specific stress (such as over-exercise). Siberian ginseng belongs to the same Araliaceae family as the other ginsengs, but genus Eleutherococcus instead of Panax. It is the premier substance for enhancing physical stamina and endurance.

L-Glutamine has many functions in the body. Recently it has been used to help heal leaky-gut syndrome and chronic immune problems, because of it's importance as a fuel in the mitochondria of both the gut lining and other cells in the body. Glutamine is a primary nutrient for muscle growth, comprising over 50% of the free amino acids in muscle. Studies show that muscle protein synthesis is highly correlated with the level of glutamine. Also, recovering alcoholics have used L-glutamine for many years as part of a program to help control sugar cravings and for mental clarity.

Inosine has a unique ability to increase ATP production. It is so closely related to ATP structurally that no oxygen is required for this conversion and is the quickest pathway for the cell to get its ATP. It works best when taken on an empty stomach with an electrolyte mixture, such as ALACER'S Emergen-C and with Coenzyme Q-10 before exercise. This enhances oxygen transport throughout the system, improving workload efficiency, and prevents any increase in uric acid synthesis.

Lipotropics include methionine, choline, inositol, B-6, and betaine. Lipotropics have been used by bodybuilders to decrease subcutaneous fat, perhaps by emulsifying fat under the skin. They also can help the proper digestion and utilization of dietary oils.

Liver has been used by bodybuilders since the beginning. Vince Cironda became famous for his advocacy of liver supplements for bodybuilding, citing a study where rats whose diet was supplemented with liver for two weeks survived a swimming test in ice-cold water far longer than the control group. This indicates an increase in stamina, heat, and just plain 'ol strength. Many customers report similar results from taking liver (though nobody we know has timed their survival rate swimming in the S.F. Bay!) We recommend Enzymatic Therapy Liquid Liver and TwinLab Predigested Liver Aminos.

MCT Oil stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. They are derived from coconut oil. Because they are shorter chains than most dietary fats, MCT's don't require bile to be absorbed and can go directly to the liver. They supply 2 and 1/4 times the energy of the same amount of carbohydrates, making them ideal for endurance athletics and as a protein-sparing supplement. Because they are soluble in biological fluids, they aren't converted to body fat but are burned for energy.

Octacosanol was identified by Professor Thomas Cureton at the University of Illinois as the component of wheat-germ oil that improved strength, reaction time, and endurance. His studies were conducted over a 20-year period and involved weightlifters, swimmers, wrestlers, and track and field athletes. Octacosanol is a solid white alcohol, whose exact mechanism of action is still unknown, although some evidence suggests it works to improve the efficiency of transmission of nerve impulses. Many customers who run, bike, or engage in other endurance sports have reported a strengthening and steadying effect from octacosanol.

PAK has been scientifically proven to be valuable for those involved in both aerobic or anaerobic activity. It increases cellular energy as well as cutting down on lactic acid production.

Protein Powders

  • Whey Protein is a new superior protein for all uses, including strenuous exercise, bodybuilding, chronic illness, and convalescence. The major protein in whey is lactalbumin, with lactoglobulins as minor proteins. Though whey itself has been considered a wonderful "healthfood" in times past, the prevalence of lactose intolerance has made it impossible for many people to use whey. However, with the new technique of ion-exchange filtration (used in Next Nutrition's Designer Protein), and the even better cross-flow micro-filtration (Unipro's Perfect Protein), everyone can enjoy the benefits of this fantastically-nourishing supplement!
    There are three important attributes of whey protein which make it an ideal source of protein: high quality, large amounts of branch-chain amino acids (BCAA's), and the immune-enhancing effects of lactalbumin.
    Recent studies have shown that athletes need greater amounts of protein than do non-athletes. Whey protein can be important for maintaining muscle structure and function during periods of strenuous exertion. High levels of high quality protein exert an "anticatabolic" effect, meaning that muscle breakdown is prevented. There are four methods commonly used to measure protein quality: protein efficiency ratio (PER), biological value (BV), net protein utilization (NPU), and chemical score. Although casein has been the "gold standard" of protein quality for many years, whey protein is higher quality, regardless of which technique is used. Whey also scores far higher than soy and other lower quality proteins such as rice, beef, and wheat. Egg is the only protein source that even comes close to whey, but even here, whey contains higher levels of BCAAs, which makes whey a better protein source for athletes and bodybuilders.
    Research has identified the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) as key amino acids for both bodybuilding and exercise performance. BCAAs (notably leucine) are known to be directly oxidized in muscle, thereby acting as a source of energy. In addition, leucine is used for alanine synthesis in muscle; alanine is subsequently transported to the liver and used to make glucose, which is then available as a fuel for muscular contraction.
    Finally, recent studies have shown that lactalbumin, the main protein in whey, can enhance immunity in animals. In a study of immuno-enhancement where mice were fed diets containing various proteins, lactalbumin proved to be 2.4 times better than egg protein, and five times better than casein! The stimulatory effect of lactalbumin became apparent at two weeks and persisted throughout the course of the study. Since strenuous exercise has recently been linked to a depression in both the cellular and humoral immune responses of humans, it may well be wise for athletes, bodybuilders, and everyone else to use high-quality whey as their source of dietary protein!

  • Milk and Egg Protein Powders, until the advent of whey protein, were considered the highest quality proteins. They are still great sources of complete protein for those who can digest them, and are more cost effective than free-form amino acid formulas.

  • Soy Protein is wonderful for the genetically and digestively gifted, as an adjunct to high-quality whey protein. It is best used in rotation with other proteins (i.e., not every day) and sometimes in conjunction with digestive enzymes. Used properly, it not only costs less but it also can be used in cooking and baking. Though the over-use of tofu by bodybuilders earned it the nickname "the White Death", the occasional intake of soy-protein brownies or shakes offers a welcome change in one's regular diet.

  • Spirulina contains around 65% easily-digested protein. This is high-quality, complete protein, including all the essential amino acids (those the body cannot make from other amino acids and so which must be included in the diet every day). Because the protein in spirulina is high in phenylalanine, it has also been found useful as an aid to appetite suppression and cutting-up.

Smilax is a plant sterol that reportedly increases testosterone level. Whether it actually does or not, many report feeling increased energy when they take it.

Vanadyl Sulfate is the best and safest form of the trace mineral vanadium. Vanadium is involved in cellular metabolism, growth, and reproduction, and in the formation of bones and teeth. Studies with rats have shown that it may be able to reverse diabetes. It seems that vanadyl "mimics" the action of insulin, stimulating glycogen production and the transport of amino acids into muscle tissue and preventing the breakdown of muscle protein. Body-builders have reported impressive gains in muscle size and strength when adding vanadyl sulfate to their regimen. Some research suggests that the trace mineral chromium, which also helps control blood sugar levels, is best taken at a different time from vanadium.

Vitamins/Minerals and Supersaturation:
from Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger with Bill Dobbins, Simon and Schuster, 1985, p 680-81.
"Experts are often heard decrying the ingestion of excess protein, vitamins, and minerals by bodybuilders on the grounds that the body is only capable of using small amounts of the various nutrients at any one time.... Bodybuilders and many other athletes, however, do not accept most of these theories. Their experience tells them that extra protein and vitamin and mineral supplements do make a difference... If the body is supersaturated with nutrients whenever an important reaction begins to occur - protein synthesis, for example, or the creation of creatine phosphate for energy - the nutrients required are right there on the spot. Therefore the body is able to work and grow in ways that would not be possible if you accepted lower nutritional minimums."
A good megavitamin/mineral program can be a great boost for bodybuilders, and it may well be considered imperative during periods of reduced caloric intake.

Yohimbe stimulates and energizes; it's also considered an aphrodisiac. Body-builders have reported a definite strengthening effect from taking it, in the short-term, which allowed them to increase the intensity of their work-outs. The major active ingredient is the isomeric alkaloid, yohimbine.

Beta-1,3-Glucan: Extraordinary Immune Support

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Information provided by Immudyne, Inc.,
P.O. Box 51507, Palo Alto, CA

A new nutritional product called beta-1,3-glucan is one of the most exciting things happening today in the field of nutritional supplements.

Obtained from purified yeast, beta-1,3-glucan has a long scientific history and a reference list including literally hundreds of papers. Research originated in the 1940's when Pillemer and his colleagues described a crude yeast cell wall preparation, Zymosan. They reported that this material was able to stimulate nonspecific immunity1. It was unknown at that time which element of this composition, containing a relatively crude mixture of proteins, lipids and polysaccharides, actually activated the immune response.

The answer came later in the 60's, when Dr. Nicholas DiLuzio at Tulane University experimented with beta-1,3-glucan2 . In the late 1980's Dr. Joyce Czop, at Harvard University, described the mode of action of this material in stimulating the immune system: there is a specific receptor for beta-1,3-glucan on the surface of certain cells, called macrophages3 that when activated, stimulate a cascade of events turning the body into "an arsenal of defense".

Macrophages play an essential and pivotal role in the initiation and maintenance of the immune response. From an evolutionary point of view, the macrophage is the oldest and most consistently preserved immunologically competent cell known. Not only humans and higher animals, but primitive invertebrates such as Hydra, which have no other immunological effector cells, have macrophages. In order to function immunologically, the macrophages must pass through a state of activation which involves certain morphological changes but also, most importantly, a whole sequence of metabolic changes which result in the production of series of so-called cytokines which act as internal regulators of the immune system. Activation can be initiated by a variety of different stimuli, such as endotoxin, bacteria, viruses or chemicals which can be too toxic or pathogenic to be useful. Beta-1,3-glucan is not only orally effective, completely non-toxic and safe, but is one of the most potent stimulators of the immune response.

Considerable attention has been recently given to Aloe Vera extract, which was found to carry one of the macrophage activating polysaccharides, mannan or polymannose. While mannan has some macrophage activating potential, it is very slight compared to that of glucan4. There are several different glucans with different levels of activity, the most active of which is beta-1,3-glucan from the cell wall of yeast. A three dimensional model of this molecule shows it to be a helix, and the research at Harvard has shown that there exist, on the macrophage cell membrane, receptors for a small number of residues, approximately seven5 . The fact that such a small number of glucose units can activate this receptor is very remarkable. What is more remarkable still, is that there should be a specific receptor for this sort of polysaccharide chain on the surface of the most ancient sugar cell in the immune cascade. There is now evidence to show that glucan is, from an evolutionary point of view, the most widely and most commonly observed macrophage activator in nature6. The same enhancing mechanisms have been found in all branches of the animal, bird, fish and plant kingdoms7,8.

The activated macrophages is a veritable powerhouse in terms of activity. Not only can a macrophage recognize and kill tumor cells non-specifically, as well as removing foreign debris, but it can produce a number of essential cytokines that are able to stimulate the immune system in general and boost bone marrow production. Individuals, who by reason of age and other factors, such as chronic infection or poor nutrition, have a compromised immune defense system, are liable to all of the following problems: arthritis, reduced wound healing capacity, reduced bone marrow proliferation with resulting lowered white cell counts and anemia, increased incidence of cancers, increased incidence of all kinds of viral, fungal, and bacterial infection. It is well understood that one of the main elements of the aging process is a lowering of effectiveness of the immune function9,56,57 : all the problems mentioned above occur in old age. In addition, during ordinary living, the chances that the immune system is impaired may be surprisingly high. Not only environmental influences like UV radiation, electro-magnetic fields, food preservatives and antibiotics can cause temporary immunosuppression but also stress and heavy physical exercises have these negative effects. It is well-documented that after heavy exercise, generally healthy athletes frequently suffer from influenza or pneumonia because of the depressive effect on their immune system10. The same immunosuppression is observed in people under physical or emotional stress and in patients with stress-related diseases, such as coronary disease. Under these influences the number of macrophages available are reduced and unable to participate in the immune cascade which causes even deeper immunosuppression. Beta-1,3-glucan has been proven to both stimulate and activate macrophage cells11 which will counter these negative effects.

In the 1970's after extensive studies in animals, human experiments with glucan began. Dr. Peter Mansell reported that after injection of glucan into subcutaneous nodules of malignant melanoma they resolved within a few days. When the biopsy of the injection sites were done no evidence of melanoma was found, just a collection of obviously activated macrophages12.

A follow up of that study was to treat a number of women with recurrent malignant ulcers of the chest wall following mastectomy and radiation for breast cancer. After an application of glucan in a vehicle these normally very indolent ulcers healed completely. Subsequently, the same material had been used in the therapy of large pressure ulcers at the New Orleans Charity Hospital with complete resolution of the ulcers, some of which went down to the sacrum. An unexpected benefit was the complete lack of infection and the rapidity of the reappearance of normal skin13.

The first human study on this specific glucan's systemic effect was done in the mid1980's on advanced HIV infection. Even in these deeply immunologically deficient individuals, an increase in serum cytokines IL-1, IL-2 and Interferon was measured14. Results of another clinical trial showed significant mortality decrease from infectious complications in severe trauma patients15.

At that time a crude preparation containing beta-glucan was already registered in Eastern Europe for injection in patients for treatment of the effects of bone marrow suppression from radiation or chemotherapy. In contrast to the crude mixture called Zymosan, beta-1,3-glucan, a substance that is highly purified and active when taken by mouth, is effective in very small dosages11.

One of the most remarkable oral studies with beta-1,3-glucan was done at the US Armed Forces Radiobiology Institute. In a well controlled study, 70% of rats given a lethal dose of radiation were completely protected from radiation effects when given a dose of yeast beta glucan by mouth AFTER the radiation16. Dr. Myra Patchen discovered that beta-glucan is also a free radical scavenger. It is able to protect blood macrophages from free radical attack during and after the radiation allowing these cells to continue to carry their important functions in the irradiated body and release factors important to the restoration of normal bone marrow production17.

In the light of what we know about free radicals today and their potential to accelerate aging, cause cancer and other diseases, this particular effect of beta-1,3-glucan is especially important. Free-radical scavenging assays were repeated in different models and which confirmed the antioxidant effect18.

Recent experiments completed at Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Professor Phil Wyde also prove the oral effectiveness of beta-1,3-glucan to stimulate nonspecific immunity11. Peritoneal macrophages doubled their phagocytic activity in mice fed with beta-1,3-glucan. This systemic effect of oral application of beta-1,3-glucan is comparable to that achieved using injections, which makes this material a unique and very valuable oral immunostimulant.

When beta-1,3-glucan was added to antibiotic regime in animals challenged with different bacterial (Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli and others) and viral (Herpes virus) pathogens, a reduced amount of antibiotics or antivirals was needed to cope with the infection11. It also has an antifungal effect, shown in experiments with Candida albicans11. Such a broad anti-infective spectrum of beta-1,3-glucan can be explained only by the fact that the immunostimulation produced by this unique material is non-specific.

Continuing research with oral application of beta-1,3-glucan revealed that it increases the effectiveness of other oral cholesterol-reducing agents, such as Niacin and Lopid19. Interestingly, recent research has also demonstrated the anti-diabetic effect of IL-1 cytokine, which increases insulin production resulting in lowering of blood glucose level20. Macrophages are the main source of IL-1 in the body and it's production can be boosted by beta-1,3-glucan supplementation. Mindful of the extremely high rate of atherosclerotic complications and the extraordinary requirement for antioxidants in diabetic patients, beta-1,3-glucan is an obvious adjuvant for an improved lifestyle in these conditions.

As is repeatedly shown in the multitude of studies concerning the activity of beta glucan as an immune stimulator, or perhaps more descriptive, a "biological defense modifier", there are enormous benefits to be obtained by the use of beta-1,3-glucan as a nutritional supplement. The aging process has been defined as "the sum total of life's physical embarrassment due to adverse conditions"; in this regard, beta-1,3-glucan may well be the first and only true anti-aging supplement. It is defensive to negative events such as infection, tumors and radiation damage and adjunctive to the positive effects of antioxidants, lipid balance enhancers, antibiotics and other therapeutics. The result is improved general health which means more enjoyment of life, less infirmities, less time and money required for medical needs and potentially dramatic savings in Medicare and other health related expenditures over time.

Beta-1,3-glucan is effective in all mammals as it is in fish and birds. It successfully prevents vibriosis, yersiniosis and furunculosis in Crustacea when it is added to the feed7,21,22. The new devastation of the shrimp farm, the Taura Syndrome, which has been recently identified as viral disease, causes high mortality with survival of less than 20% of the shrimp farm population. Feeding shrimp with beta-1,3-glucan increases their survival rate up to 90%23.

Beta-1,3-glucan basically is a highly purified form of a food product. Technically it is a polysaccharide molecule completely made with glucose. Glucose is a simple saccharide that the body transforms to energy as ATP and stores in muscles, liver and other tissues in a form of glycogen. Beta-1,3- glucan is different from energy-storing glucose-containing polysaccharides because the connection between the glucose units is different, more specifically, it is the beta-1,3-linkage, which makes this compound so unique. It is Generally Recognized As Safe (category GRAS according to FDA) and has no toxicity or side effects24.

To summarize, beta-1,3-glucan is a safe and very potent nutritional supplement with a systemic effect that can be described as non-specific immune stimulation combined with it's free-radical scavenging activity. Some of the biological events illustrating this stimulation are:

  • Activation of macrophages, expressing increased nonspecific phagocytic ability allowing macrophages to destroy pathogens more efficiently, frequently preventing disease.

  • Release of important cytokines, such as IL-1, IL-2 among others, initiating immune cascade and triggering other cell lines, such as T-cells. Release of colony-stimulating factors, boosting bone marrow production.

  • Cholesterol-reduction through cell activation and anti-oxidant activity.

Groups of people that are considered to benefit from beta-1,3-glucan supplementation:

  1. People with impaired immunity from any cause including but not restricted to HIV infection; people with high occurrence of infectious diseases, tumors and undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy; age 40+ when the natural aging process starts to slow down immune reactivity, geriatric patients, and others with a compromised immune response.

  2. People that are possibly can be affected by extra free-radical production caused by external sources: ones frequently exposed to low-dose radiation, including sun light, other types of exposures such electromagnetic fields; lack of raw fruits and vegetables in diet and eating preserved food. Extra free-radicals can also be a result of a chronic disease such diabetes or chronic inflammation.

  3. People who exercise excessively, professional and amateur athletes as well as people who workout intensively and also those under physical or emotional stress who have a temporary immune deficiency which can result in infection. Beta-1,3-glucan will provide them with nonspecific immunostimulation that can increase their resistance to illness.

  4. People with high risk of atherosclerosis should definitely add beta-1,3-glucan to their diet whether they are taking cholesterol-reducing drugs or not. Macrophage activation will not only help to draw extra cholesterol from the blood but it also can prevent further plaque formation on the arterial walls and phagocytize existing plaque which is recognized as a foreign body.


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