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  • Antioxidants, Our Natural Protectants: Metabolic Regulators, Antitoxins and Anti-inflammatories

    Antioxidants protect us. They are the sub-stances that naturally regulate the fires within our bodies.

    The fires are sparked by metabolic errors in our cells—errors that are unavoidable as our cells make and use energy for the business of life. The fires can be managed when we are young and very healthy but become harder to control as we get older. Aging is not so much bad genes as it is a slow, inexorable, cumulative consequence of tissue damage from internal fires, sparked by these unavoidable errors of metabolism.

    The sparks of metabolism come from living with oxygen. Our life forms breathe in oxygen and use it to do controlled “burns” that extract energy from our foods. Oxygen-based energy allows us to become more sophisticated than amoebas, but comes with a big price. Oxygen is so reactive that it draws single electrons to it, generating oxygen-free radicals within our cells. These “oxyrads” are our unavoidable “sparks of metabolism.” Antioxidants keep them from destroying our cells.

    Our tiny metabolic sparks are generated at a steady rate, the oxyrads having single electrons which cause them to attack biological molecules. Molecules with single electrons are aggressive oxidants: they steal single electrons to become paired up. Antioxidants block this process by donating their own electrons.

    The antioxidant defenses dare not fail. When they do, important bio-molecules lose single electrons, themselves become unstable, and initiate spreading chain reactions. A chain reaction that escapes control becomes inflammation, with cell and tissue death and progressive loss of functional capacity. Inflammatory events are our internal fires, opposed by antioxidant enzymes backed up by our dietary antioxidant intakes. Our antioxidant defenses give us power to head off degenerative disease and achieve long life.

    By quenching the metabolic sparks, antioxidants are also our natural antitoxins. But if the oxygen-free-radical toxins were the only problem, we'd likely all live 120 years or more. Think about cigarette smoke—100 trillion free radicals per puff. A total 4,000-plus synthetic chemicals in everyday use; even drugs we buy over the counter set small fires. Not to mention the illicit “recreational drugs.” Even emotional stress can overheat our metabolism. In this crazy world it's not good to leave home without your antioxidants.

    Infectious agents are consistently linked to inflammation. In 1990 I documented inflammatory depletion of antioxidants by HIV-1. Then there's Hepatitis C virus in the livers of four million Americans. The bacterium Helicobacter pylori accounts for the majority of inflammatory stomach and intestinal ulcers. About half of the chronically ill American veterans of the Gulf War have mycoplasmal infections. We also can't forget Chlamydia pneumoniae, the fungus Candida albicans and Giardia and amebic protozoal parasites.

    Our own host immune system may trigger inflammation from over-reaction to resistant pathogens. The immune cells produce huge quantities of free radicals when on the attack. When pathogens are not easily eliminated, the immune oxidant production can get out of control, resulting in local exhaustion of antioxidant defenses and another inflammatory focus.

    Almost every toxic substance steals electrons and therefore can deplete the body's antioxidants. Thus, the body's own efforts to process some substances can actually make them worse toxins. The P450 detoxification system, located mostly in the liver, combines oxygen with water-insoluble substances such as cholesterol, estrogens, pollutants, pharmaceuticals, even herbal constituents. They are made into free radicals, to be later combined with antioxidants and made water-soluble for clearance with the urine or bile. But things don't always go as planned.

    The P450 system wasn't designed to deal with the huge mass of toxins that enter the body. Let's talk about acetaminophen. This legal, over-the-counter drug (Tylenol®) is made highly reactive by the liver P450 enzymes. Then it burns away glutathione, the major liver antioxidant, and begins to kill liver cells. Liver failure can result. Organochlorine pollutants, indoor pesticides, mercury and other heavy metals (and let's not forget alcohol and cigarette smoke derivatives) all deplete glutathione and threaten all the tissues.

    I recently did a series of in-depth reviews of degenerative diseases. The major pattern I see with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, bowel diseases, liver diseases, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cataract, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, prostate diseases, many cancers—is inflammation. By combating inflammation, antioxidants are our essential natural defense against premature suffering and death.

    The body relies on foods to replenish its internal antioxidant stores. From our whole, unprocessed foods come the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E; the antioxidant essential minerals, selenium and zinc and copper and manganese; the semi-essential antioxidants coenzyme Q10 (COQ) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA); lutein, lycopene and other carotenoids; the polyphenolic flavonoids and various substances from traditional herbs. These circulate in our blood and contribute integratively to the blocking of free radicals. But a growing body of research indicates we aren't getting enough from our foods for optimal protection against disease.

    The healthy body tries to conserve the nutritional antioxidants through metabolic recycling. But still there is a “burn” on our reserves. Dr. Robert Cathcart, the foremost authority on vitamin C , speaks of a “hundred-gram cold,” an influenza so severe it can burn away 100 grams (not milligrams) of vitamin C in just a day or two. A flu attack can be held to just a few days instead of a few weeks by taking lots of C and other antioxidants.

    Integrative medical practitioners report that just about all their patients benefit from supplemental antioxidants. Vitamin E has been known for decades to be lifesaving against heart disease.Most of the health food community thinks of vitamin E as tocopherols. But tocotrienols are legitimate members of the vitamin E family and are excellent antioxidants. They are under clinical investigation for benefit against atherosclerotic blood vessel disease and experimentally for the slowing of cancer cell growth and proliferation.

    Stephen Sinatra, M.D., a cardiologist and leader in the practice of integrative medicine, has long been a booster for COQ. I can relate to this because I also see COQ's fantastic promise. As I read about health care costs soaring through the roof, I wonder why COQ is not being fortified in our foods to lower gum disease, to improve heart and blood vessel health, to boost immunity and fight cancer development, even (yes!) to lengthen everyone's productive lifespan.

    Coenzyme Q10 is unique as a potent antioxidant and indispensable energy catalyst (only ALA has a similar double role). Many of Dr. Sinatra's patients are very deficient in COQ. People taking statin drugs, beta-blockers or certain of the anti-depressants may have their internal COQ synthesis blocked. For them and probably for many of the sick and elderly, COQ is practically a vitamin. Any insufficiency of COQ can endanger the heart through impairing its energetic capacity.

    Dr. Sinatra has linked much of the heart disease he sees in women to COQ deficiency. More than 100 clinical studies document that COQ improves congestive heart failure, angina, high blood pressure. About 15 percent of Dr. Sinatra's patients do not improve satisfactorily on COQ alone; these he gives carnitine and then improvement usually occurs. He also sees in the clinical evidence a potential link between poor COQ status and cancers, especially in women.

    Selenium is an essential trace mineral, required through the diet though only in small quantities. Selenium has importance for human health that belies its plain mineral status. It is specific for the active sites of the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GP). GP is a central player in control over free radicals.

    In 1996 a major paper appeared in the prestigious (and conservative) New England Journal of Medicine, making an almost unbelievable claim. It described a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in which more than 1,300 subjects were followed for up to 10 years. Dietary supplementation with selenium produced a 50 percent reduction in total cancer mortality. The incidence of cancer was reduced by one-third. Lung, colorectal and prostate cancer incidence were markedly reduced. The material used was SelenoExcell™, an organic selenium concentrate that resembles the selenium found in food.

    The carotenoids are, like vitamin E, fat-soluble antioxidants. One of them—lycopene—has been linked to exciting early results against prostate cancer. A small but controlled, clinical trial focused on male subjects undergoing surgery for prostate cancer. Half were offered a dietary supplement of LYC-O-MATO®, a standardized natural tomato extract with four times the typical lycopene content. PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels and prostate tumor size were significantly reduced, compared with the control subjects.

    More recently, in a placebo-controlled, crossover trial, LYC-O-MATO® also showed good results in lowering high blood pressure. Its natural combination of lycopene with other plant nutrients may offer a unique synergy for the protection of our health against free radical and other toxic damage.

    Lutein is the only carotenoid found in high concentrations in the retina, a thin cell layer at the back of the eye which constantly takes a high dose of light radiation. Macular degeneration destroys the retina and afflicts one out of four Americans over age 65. Lutein is being researched for its capacity to protect the retina and the lens of the eye and it also has anticancer potential.

    Grape seed extracts are concentrates of flavonoid polymers. When the great scientist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi received the Nobel Prize for discovering vitamin C, he commented that he had expected to get it for discovering the flavonoids. The small polymers (oligomeric procyanidins) and polyphenols in grapes work synergistically with vitamin C to conserve the functions of the blood vessel linings and walls. Some of these flavonoids also have antiviral and possible anticancer actions.

    As scientists continue with their dedicated investigations of food constituents, the latest phytonutrient star is rosmarinic acid (RA). This substance is extracted from a naturally high-yielding strain of oregano and also occurs in thyme and rosemary. All three of these plants have been revered for their medicinal properties literally for centuries. RA appears to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties, while its high antioxidant potency has proved useful for stabilizing vegetable oils against frying. It has been prepared as a powder without solvents or other processing chemicals. Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects are also being investigated.

    Antioxidants are, together with phospholipids, nutrients with profound nutraceutical potential. Whether supplementation with these nutrients will extend the maximum lifespan remains to be proven. Certainly the clinical and experimental studies suggest that functional deficiencies of these nutrients result in cell-level dysfunctions with the potential to spark inflammation that progresses to life-shortening degenerative disease.

    We need to keep the fires within us at a very low ebb lest they develop into the raging infernos of uncontrolled inflammation. Consumption of a variety of functional foods and supplements enriched with these nutrients will help keep that doctor away.

    Phospholipids, Functional Partners of Antioxidants

    by Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D.

    Within the cells, circulating lipoproteins, digestive fluids and elsewhere in the body, phospholipids co-occur and co-function with antioxidants. The phospholipids (pronounced fos-fo-lip-ids) self-assemble into membranes and other multidimensional structures, together with antioxidants to protect them against oxidative destruction. This partnership between nutrient classes profoundly influences the health of the whole being.

    The cell membranes are dynamic molecular assemblies that house life's plethora of biochemical processes. Our 100 trillion cells all rely on membranes to carry out their functions. Cell membrane organization is shown on the left of the illustration. Catalytic proteins are housed within a flexible bilayer (two molecular sheets), the phospholipid matrix. The matrix also houses antioxidants, including tocopherols and tocotrienols of the vitamin E family; lycopene, lutein and other carotenoids and ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10 or COQ). Also present is the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, using selenium as its mineral co-factor.

    Phospholipids (PL) are the most biochemically-suited building blocks for membranes. The right side of the illustration shows the molecular plan of a common membrane PL such as PS (PhosphatidylSerine)or PC (PhosphatidylCholine).

    The fatty acid tails often are highly unsaturated and therefore susceptible to oxyradical or other oxidant attack. The more unsaturated the membrane, the more antioxidant protection is required. The PL head groups each bring special properties to the membrane. In PS the head group has serine, in PC it has choline. The “prophospholipid” GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) has the choline head group but lacks fatty acid tails, and is absent from the membrane proper.

    PS is most concentrated in nerve cell membranes. Its head group associates with membrane proteins particularly crucial to nerve cell functions. These include:

    • The sodium-potassium AND calcium-magnesium transporters that use up to 70 percent of all the cell's energy;
    • Enzymes for signal transduction—protein kinases and adenylyl cyclases;
    • Receptors, sensors for chemical transmitters (acetylcholine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, serotonin, others), also for nerve growth factors;
    • Proteins of the mitochondrial membranes, central to energetics. Here PS also is a backup for other phospholipids.

    These membrane-level functions of PS translate to health for the whole being. Double-blind trials (20 of them) show PS a superior nutrient for memory support, for partial restoration of declining cognitive function, for coping with stress in the healthy young. Preliminary research suggests PS can improve attention, learning and behavior in children.

    The energy for life is generated in cell membranes. In the process oxygen radicals (“oxyrads”) are generated which are highly reactive. However good the antioxidant defenses are, some oxyrads escape control and attack membranes. Thus the brain, with its intense energy generation (up to 60 percent of the body's total), must continually renew its cell membranes. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium, zinc and manganese, the energizers COQ and alpha-lipoic acid, the carotenoids lutein and lycopene, standardized polyphenolic flavonoids and other food borne antioxidants, all synergize with PS to help optimize brain functions.

    The liver is our workhorse organ; its cells contain a total eight football fields worth of membrane area, to perform 500 different functions. In its efforts to detoxify foreign substances it generates a further oxidative load on top of its usual oxyrad burden. Oxidants from foods, viruses, pollutants and drugs challenge the liver's antioxidant capacity. Though the healthy liver is well endowed with antioxidants, oxidant overload can kill cell membranes. Enter PC (PhosphatidylCholine), the most common phospholipid of membranes.

    Antioxidant Digest


    Dietary supplementation with PC has clinically important, sometimes lifesaving benefits for the liver. In eight double-blind clinical trials, PC protected the human liver against alcoholic inflammation, viral infection and toxic prescription rugs, markedly improving the speed and extent of patient recovery.

    The liver also carries a substantial reserve of GPC, which is readily converted into PC to make membrane. It is the most bioavailable source of choline to help the liver cells regenerate and perhaps for similar reasons is highly concentrated in mother's milk.

    Taken by mouth, GPC quickly clears the blood-brain barrier to reach the brain. Working through various mechanisms, it sharpens attention and immediate recall in young, healthy subjects. In the middle-aged it benefits information processing and general mental focus. In the elderly it improves declining cognitive functions linked to circulatory damage. GPC's support for nerve cell functions, including a protective role as osmotic buffer, make a convenient biochemical fit with the antioxidant defenses operative in the brain.

    Functional partnership between phospholipids and the antioxidants is not limited to membranes. The circulating lipoproteins produced in the liver (HDL, LDL and others) are made mostly from PL building blocks. Dietary PL facilitate normal, pro-homeostatic lipoprotein status, probably through their support of the liver.

    The LDL are the main vehicles for delivery of fat-soluble antioxidants—E, COQ, alpha-lipoic, carotenoids, others—to the tissues. In all of 12 double-blind trials, phospholipid mixtures lowered abnormally high total- and LDL- cholesterol without harming the HDL levels. In another double-blind trial, PL significantly improved blood flow to the brain and improved abnormal platelet aggregation. These marked circulatory benefits of the PL clearly complement antioxidants' benefits for the circulating lipoproteins and blood vessel walls.

    Phospholipids combine with antioxidants in facilitating digestion. The bile fluid is essential for fat digestion and absorption. Bile has a large content of PL, functioning with the antioxidant taurine as micellizing agents to fully disperse the fat molecules. Fatty acids of the omega-3 or omega-6 class make up many of the phospholipid “tails.” These are held in position by their parent PL molecules while enzymes break away prostaglandins (PG) and other messenger molecules. Membrane antioxidants help regulate the PG formed, to support a favorable balance.

    The natural co-functioning of phospholipids with antioxidants in our cells and tissues suggests combination supplements for synergistic benefits. In particular, a new technology (NutriVail™) employs custom phospholipids to make monomolecular dispersions of antioxidants, with the aim of substantially enhanced bio-availability and unique clinical benefit.

    Peer-reviewed publications available on request. Dr. Kidd is scientific consultant to Lipoid USA.

    Lutein For Eye Health

    Recent scientific studies showing a clear association between lutein intake and a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts are capturing the attention of both consumers and their eye doctors. The need is growing clearer:

    • One out of four people aged 65 or older has early signs of AMD.
    • One out of two people aged 65 or older has a cataract or cloudiness in the eye's lens.
    • As the largest population group in the United States ages, many people are facing the likelihood of what some simply accept as part of aging, vision loss.

    A Food and Nutrition Board report found that lutein is the nutrient most strongly associated with decreased risk of AMD and cataracts.

    Lutein and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

    Prevent Blindness America estimates that 13 million people in this country have evidence of AMD, a condition that gradually destroys central vision. While the exact cause of this debilitating condition is still unknown, family history and age are known factors.

    Lutein is found in the macula's “yellow spot,” a tiny region at the center of the retina. This tiny yellow spot filters blue light for the color vision cells within the retina. The researchers found that lutein is deposited in the retina and macula, increasing its density and protecting the tissue from oxidation by filtering blue light and quenching free radicals.

    Experts say that by the time a person exhibits symptoms of AMD the disease has been developing for decades. Baby Boomers are showing concern about their aging eyesight and stocking up on supplement products formulated with lutein to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration.

    Lutein and Cataracts

    While cataracts generally occur in people over the age of 65, they are occasionally found in younger people as well. A cataract is a clouding that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. This process prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.

    Lutein's link to cataracts is recent but well documented. Studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of lutein and its fellow carotenoid antioxidant, zeaxanthin, had a 22 percent reduced risk for cataracts; men had 19 percent reduced risk.

    “Many people have been told that nothing can be done about cataracts—that they are a natural effect of the aging process,” says Robert Abel, Jr. M.D., author of The Eye Care Revolution and member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. “But they're now finding out that dietary changes, including consumption of lutein, may have a significant impact on risk reduction.”

    At the same time, consumers are taking charge of their eye health and seeking out possible solutions. A recent independent survey of consumers shows lutein awareness at 44 percent across all age groups and at more than 57 percent among consumers aged 65 years or older.

    Mounting scientific evidence also has convinced eye doctors of the many benefits of lutein, with 84 percent currently recommending lutein to their patients, according to an independent survey of 300 U.S. ophthalmologists and optometrists.

    These eye doctors also support use of lutein for long-term eye health (91 percent), believe consumers should supplement their diet with lutein daily (71 percent) and believe lutein is the nutrient that best supports long-term eye health (58 percent).

    antioxidant foods lutein zeaxanthin leafy greens

    What is lutein?

    Lutein (LOO-teen) is a nutrient found predominantly in vegetables, particularly in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Lutein belongs to a class of natural, fat-soluble pigments called carotenoids. It promotes long-term eye health in two ways. First, acting as a light filter, lutein protects the eyes from some of the damaging effects of the sun. Second, as an antioxidant, it protects the eyes from the damaging effects of aging.

    Foods considered good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include:

    • Eggs
    • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce
    • Broccoli
    • Zucchini
    • Garden peas and Brussels sprouts

    Lutein is found naturally in the human body. In fact, it is the only carotenoid found in large quantities in the retina and at low levels in the lens of the eye. The human body is unable to manufacture lutein, however, so the body must rely on the consumption of lutein-rich foods or lutein supplements to replenish lutein levels and counteract oxidative damage from light as well as the effects of aging.

    A 1994 Harvard University study by Dr. Johanna Seddon pointed first to lutein's important role in maintaining long-term eye health. Since then, more than a dozen scientific studies published by such peer-reviewed medical journals as the Journal of the American Medical Association, Archives of Ophthalmology and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have continued to show an association between lutein intake and various long-term eye health benefits.

    Editor's Note: Look for a good quality supplement combination of Lutein and Zeaxanthin containing either FloraGLO® brand lutein or Lutemax 2020 and Zeaxanthin. Check our Products We Like section for more information on recommended products

    Lyc-O-Mato® Standardized Natural Lycopene Complex

    by James Balch, M.D.

    The good news is that there is clinical proof you can build a powerful antioxidant defense system against prostate cancer. By incorporating LYC-O-MATO® (standardized natural tomato extract) into your daily nutrition program you can access remarkable fighting power against prostate cancer and a host of other degenerative diseases.

    The standardized natural tomato extract contains several phytonutrients found in tomatoes including lycopene, tocopherols, vitamin E, phytofluene, phytoene, phytosterols, beta carotene and more. LYC-O-MATO is extracted from non-GMO tomatoes grown in Israel that contain four times the lycopene content of tomatoes grown elsewhere.

    A six-year Harvard Medical School study of healthy males found that consuming tomatoes, tomato sauce or pizza more than twice a week, as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of 21 to 34 percent, depending on the food.

    As exciting as its cancer-prevention potential is the evidence that shows lycopene may help fight existing cancer. A recent paper published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention by Omer Kucuk, M.D., professor of medicine and oncology, and his colleagues at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan, evaluated the effect encapsulated LYC-O-MATO had on patients with existing prostate cancer. In this study, Dr. Kucuk and colleagues followed 30 men with localized prostate cancer who were scheduled to undergo surgical removal of the prostate. For three weeks prior to surgery the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either 250 milligrams LYC-O-MATO from LycoRed Natural Products, Beer-Sheva, Israel (which contains 15 milligram of lycopene) twice daily or no intervention. Following removal of the prostates, the glands were analyzed to determine whether there were any differences between the two study groups.

    antioxidant foods LYC-CO-MATO tomato_extract

    The investigators found that the treated group had smaller tumors, which were more likely to be confined to the prostate. Levels of serum PSA were found to decline in the patients who received LYC-O-MATO tomato extract. In addition, the tumors in patients who consumed this natural lycopene showed signs of regression and decreased malignancy.

    “This was the first published report from a randomized prospective clinical trial showing the efficacy of a tomato extract supplement against prostate cancer,” said Dr. Kucuk. “Previous reports were largely epidemiological studies showing an association between consumption of tomato products and decreased risk of prostate cancer. Furthermore, our findings suggest that a tomato extract in the form of LYC-O-MATO may not only help prevent prostate cancer but also may be useful in treating prostate cancer.”

    Research using standardized LYC-O-MATO natural tomato extract is also good news for mild hypertensive patients reluctant to make lifestyle changes.


    Findings published in the The American Journal of Hypertension provide evidence that LYC-O-MATO may help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. The study, presented at the Sixteenth Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension on May 18, 2001, may provide a new alternative for about 50 million Americans who have hypertension.

    Americans interested in lowering their risk of high blood pressure are frequently encouraged to exercise and follow a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Typically, however, many are reluctant to make changes in their lifestyles. In fact, according to NOAH, an online health resource maintained by City University of New York, only 68 percent are aware of their high blood pressure condition and only 27 percent have it under control. High blood pressure contributes to 75 percent of all strokes and heart attacks.

    Now there is a natural alternative to controlling hypertension that may prevent Americans from making difficult lifestyle changes and/or taking drugs with harmful side effects.

    In a single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, Esther Paran, M.D., the study's principal investigator, evaluated the effect of LYC-O-MATO® on grade 1 hypertensive patients. In this study, 30 grade 1 hypertensive patients between the ages of 45–60 were administered a daily dose of identical placebos for the first four weeks of the study, followed by a 250 mg daily dose of LYC-O-MATO® for the final eight weeks of the study.

    Preliminary results of this study indicate a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in treated patients. “We are optimistic about LYC-O-MATO'S potential in managing hypertension,” Dr. Paran said. “The results of this study demonstrate the ability of LYC-O-MATO® to reduce systolic blood-pressure, warranting additional studies in the future.”

    Other recent studies suggest that LYC-OMATO ® also provides a considerable level of defense against degenerative diseases including heart disease. Considering the results of these studies, combined with its positive effects on blood pressure, the importance of maintaining a normal level of natural phytonutrients like lycopene, phytoene, phytofluene and beta carotene in the human body is evident. It is recommended that individuals consume at least 80–250 mg of LYC-O-MATO® per day, which contains 15 mg of lycopene as well as other phytonutrients, to maintain good health., or visit the American Society of Hypertension Web site at

    Grape Seed Extract and the French Paradox

    Antioxidant Foods Grape Seed Extracts

    What is the French paradox?

    Several years ago, epidemiologists studying heart disease in Europe noticed something strange—high fat leads to heart disease, right? Not in France. The French eat a large amount of cream, rich sauces, delicious desserts and a wide variety of tasty cheeses. Yet heart disease is lower in France than the rest of Europe. This phenomenon is called the French paradox. Check this out—the French imbibe more wine than the rest of Europe.

    The goodness of wine—flavonoids

    What's in the wine? Water, alcohol and several other compounds (such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, tartaric acid) and more importantly flavonoids. Flavonoids are a large group of phenolic compounds that occur in fruits, cereals, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, stems and flowers and also in beverages such as tea, cocoa, beer and wine. Flavonoids have several properties that could prevent heart diseases. They are antioxidants that help with the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). They also have anti-inflammatory properties and a beneficial effect on blood vessels as well.

    Grape seed—a vital source of flavonoids Grape seeds contain 5–8 weight percent of flavonoids. Commercially available grape seed extracts such as MegaNatural™ Gold (Polyphenolics, Madera, California) are a rich source of flavonoids. Benefits of flavonoids For several years scientists at the University of California-Davis have studied the effect of flavonoids from grape seeds on blood vessels and how it can reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Loss of endothelium-dependent relaxation (EDR) due to atherosclerosis is the primary cause for the formation of plaque in coronary arteries that leads to heart disease. EDR is caused by the release of nitric oxide (NO) from endothelial cells of the blood vessel. Experimental evidence led to the speculation that the release of NO could be mediated by a series of events that are initiated by a receptor, which is specific to flavonoids. EDR can be readily demonstrated by control experiments using established procedures. The effect of flavonoids on EDR was studied in detail over the past several years. Previous studies regarding the effect of flavonoids on EDR yielded conflicting results, possibly due to the variations in he quality of the extracts examined. However, recent studies using the commercially available grape seed extract MegaNatural Gold provided conclusive evidence that flavonoids have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction.

    In the experiments, a group of rabbits fed only with cholesterol showed loss of EDR. But, a group of rabbits fed with both grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold and cholesterol showed no loss of EDR, proving the protective effect of the grape seed extract, MegaNatural Gold.

    Antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts Another study at the University of Scranton has demonstrated the superior antioxidant activity of grape seed extracts (GSEs) overwine, grape juice, vitamin C and vitamin E. Commercial products like MegaNatural Gold were used for both the in vitro and in vivo studies.

    In one such study, a significant increase in the blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed within one or two hours after the consumption of grape seed extract. Nine human volunteers were given a 600 mg dosage of GSE and by using the RANDOX bio-assay study an increase up to 12 percent of blood plasma antioxidant activity was observed. This dosage could be correlated to drinking 300 ml of red wine or consuming 1250 mg of vitamin C.

    In order to determine the GSE dosage that is required to have a higher bio-availability of polyphenols in blood plasma for improved antioxidant activity, nine subjects were given varied dosages of the flavonoid, epicatechin. Epicatechin is one of the flavonoids present in all grape seed extracts. The in vivo antioxidant study has shown that a dosage of 300 mg was more effective than 200 mg. In fact at 300 mg the antioxidant capacity in the blood was still increasing after four hours, indicating that at this dose the antioxidant effect will remain in the blood for six to eight hours.

    A long-term study involving a dosage of 2 x 300 mg⁄day of GSE with 17 human volunteers was also conducted to understand the beneficial effect of GSE in reducing high cholesterol. Patients with high cholesterol experienced a decline in total cholesterol up to 12 percent and a corresponding decrease up to 16 percent in LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol” as well.

    These studies have once again confirmed the long-term effect of GSE s in controlling the level of cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing the risk of heart disease.

    Implications for heart disease Endothelial dysfunction (loss of EDR) exists in hypertensives, diabetics, smokers, postmenopausal women and individuals with hyperlipidemia. All of these conditions are potential cardiovascular risk factors. Experimental evidence leads to the belief that polymeric flavonoids as a part of the diet may have a protective effect against the development of endothelial dysfunction. These findings, along with the established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of flavonoids, could be a possible explanation for the French paradox.

    A substitute for aspirin for heart health?

    Many individuals take an aspirin a day to prevent their blood from becoming too “sticky.” Technically they are trying to prevent an increase in platelet aggregation. Blood platelets are like tiny band-aids in that they help to seal wounds by causing the blood to clot. Unfortunately, if the platelets clump (aggregate) too readily, they can cause a great deal of damage to the arteries. They can further the development of arterial plaques and they can reduce the flow of blood through the capillaries. Diabetics and smokers are two groups which commonly suffer from poor circulation and excessive platelet aggregation. Not surprisingly, both groups suffer from elevated rates of damage to the arteries.

    Aspirin may provide some potential benefits for the heart, but it also has a number of side effects. The best known of these are damage to the stomach and the small intestine, but there are other dangers such as excessive bleeding (an increase in bleeding time—including inside the eye) and a reduced rate of repair to the tendons and the joints.

    Do we really need these side effects? Of course not. Grape seed extract provides extended protection against platelet aggregation without causing any unwanted increase in bleeding time. A number of tests have confirmed this protection including human trials conducted by Serge Renaud of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. Dr. Renaud demonstrated that grape seed extract can protect against the rebound in platelet aggregation which follows the ingestion of alcohol. Moreover, the compounds found in grape seed extract have a special affinity for the surfaces of the vascular system, the “pipes” as it were, of the body. This special affinity appears to improve the elasticity and the permeability of the capillaries, veins and arteries—the entire vascular system. Grape seed extract protects the ground substance (the proteoglycan matrix) of the blood vessels directly while at the same time it reduces the unwanted adhesion of platelets and other blood components. The suggested intake for these benefits is 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) per day.

    The Health Advantage of Food-form Selenium

    by Bill Sardi

    “The finding that selenium, an essential nutrient posing negligible risk at the 200 mcg intakes studies, can substantially cut the risk of death from cancer is really a revolutionary finding. I cannot think of any other agent, nutritional or pharmaceutical, that is proven to cut the deaths from cancer by half in any human population anywhere in the world. “These remarkable clinical outcomes with selenium for cancer prevention are not a deviation from other research with selenium conducted with animals, with selenium-antioxidant enzymes, with cells in culture. Yet the potential they represent for cutting the emotional, spiritual and financial costs that cancer imposes on human society is almost beyond belief. Just shut your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and think of all the people you have known who suffered and died from cancer.”

    —Parris M. Kidd, Ph.D., science editor Total Health


    Now investigators wonder where the health benefits of selenium stop. The first selenium function in animals wasn't discovered until 1973. Dr. John Rotruck and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin demonstrated that selenium was incorporated into molecules of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase (GPX). This vital enzyme protects red blood cells, cell membranes and sub-cellular components against undesirable reactions with soluble peroxides. The discovery of GPX opened the door to our understanding of how selenium is protective against cancer, heart disease, arthritis and accelerated aging.

    This much misunderstood trace mineral may not gain the status of a drug simply because its primary role is disease prevention. Wherever soil is rich in selenium, certain diseases of livestock are virtually non-existent.

    But how could selenium, provided in dosages less than the weight of a paper clip, protect a 150-pound human from disease?

    Selenium and Cancer

    In what was called the most startling cancer prevention study ever published, University of Arizona and Cornell University researchers recently discovered that selenium food supplements significantly reduce the incidence of nearly all forms of cancer. In 1996 researchers Larry Clark, Gerald Combs and Bruce Turnbull of Cornell University reported on the 10-year use of a 200 microgram supplement of protein-bound selenium among 1312 patients with a history of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. While selenium had no effect upon skin cancer, it had a startling effect upon other types of tumors.

    A Harvard researcher was quoted as saying: “If the effect of selenium is this large, it would be more important than anything else we know about in cancer prevention.” The results of the multi-center study were so surprising, many health researchers still want more proof.

    Larry Clark, the senior researcher in this study, remarked that the type of selenium used in this study is not commonly found in all vitamin supplements. It's a special type of selenium that is grown organically in yeast. “Most of the selenium on the market is inorganic sodium selenite or sometimes they throw sodium selenite into yeast, but they are not bound together as the yeast grows, yet it is still called high-selenium yeast.”

    Which type of selenium supplement?

    In plant foods, selenium is bound to an array of amino acids (methionine, cysteine, others) and is thus a more stable form. In 1984, a MIT study determined that organically-bound forms of selenium are able to increase the body selenite exchangeable pool size about 70 percent more effectively than inorganic selenite or selenate. The superiority of protein-bound selenium is demonstrated in recent study where selenium-enriched broccoli was shown to inhibit colon tumors in rodents. Researchers observed that selenium-enriched broccoli is more effective than inorganic forms of selenium against colon tumor formation.

    Another example of the superiority of protein-bound selenium over inorganic selenium has become apparent in studies of eye disease. One report suggests that “dietary supplementation with selenium should be explored as a means of preventing macular degeneration.” However, researchers have found that blood levels of selenium were lower among patients with macular degeneration even though seven of 10 patients studied took selenium supplements, mostly consisting of 80 micrograms of inorganic selenium (selenate). Lack of consumption of selenium does not appear to be the problem in these cases. Researchers surmise that the form of selenium is of importance. Some studies report that even 200 microgram doses of inorganic selenium fails to increase blood plasma levels of selenium in the eye, while amino acid-bound selenium increases plasma and whole blood levels.

    Consumers should look for organically-bound selenium in supplements rather than the inorganic forms (selenite, selenate). The question is how to duplicate the same selenoproteins provided in plant foods in a food supplement?

    Slow-growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae, baker's yeast, is employed to bind amino acids naturally with selenium. Some selenium food supplements only mix inorganic selenium with yeast but this is a shortcut that fails to do what nature does—slowly incorporate selenium into an array of about 20 amino acids. Yet the label on these food supplements may still read “selenium yeast.”

    Numerous food supplements provide selenium bound only to one amino acid, selenomethionine. But the food supplement that dramatically reduced the cancer risk in 1996 employed a form of selenium bound to a full array of amino acids, like in foods. Only one brand of food supplement provides this complete food-form selenium, called SelenoExcell.

    Due to years of misinformation the word “yeast” draws the attention of some consumers who believe they must avoid yeast products. Beneficial nutritional baker's yeast does not contribute to yeast infections such as Candida albicans. Selenium yeast is carefully pasteurized and dried after it is grown. This kills the yeast and it can no longer grow or multiply. Brewer's yeast has been a staple of the health food industry since its inception and is no cause for concern.

    Only one company is going through all the trouble to manufacture a consistently reliable form of selenium organically bound to a full array of amino acids as found in foods. It goes by the trade name SelenoExcell.™. All forms of selenium have health benefits. But we have to go with the science. Until we know more, look for that branded ingredient.

    Bill Sardi is president of Knowledge of Health, San Dimas, California.


    by Rina Reznik, Ph.D.

    To protect ourselves we invest in lifestyle changes, exercise, a healthy diet and supplementation. Antioxidants are only one element in the big picture, so products with multiple uses are particularly useful. After all, there's a limit to the number of supplements we can swallow in a day, let alone afford, so we need to supplement wisely. For example, consuming un-denatured whey protein raises intracellular glutathione levels and takes advantage of its three protective functions: T-cell synthesis, anti-oxidation and detoxification. Spirulina is an effective dietary antioxidant with dozens of well-known health benefits. Rosmarinic acid is another product that offers multiple advantages.

    Rosemary and its cousins, oregano and thyme, have been known for their medicinal properties for centuries and rosemary oil has long been used in cooking, aromatherapy and in hair and skin tonics. It has been described traditionally as good for the skin, scalp, digestion and treatment of colds and is used as an antiseptic, stimulant and antispasmodic. Today medical scientists are particularly interested in rosmarinic acid for its anti-inflammatory, antiallergic and antioxidant properties.

    Rosmarinic acid's multiple value also lies in its boxer's one-two approach: first, as a purely natural food additive it prevents or neutralizes the harmful oxidation that takes place while food is on the shelf, enhancing its quality and helping to prevent an additional tax on the body's over-burdened defense system. Then once the food is eaten, the same additive turns out to be a powerful dietary antioxidant. Of course it can also be used for direct supplementation. An added bonus is that rosmarinic acid does not interfere with intracellular oxidant-antioxidant balance and enables the immune system's phagocytes to use their free-radical weapons effectively against incoming disease organisms.

    RA's antioxidant power

    The most common free radicals attacking living tissue are reactive oxygen species (ROS)—or oxyradicals. They include the peroxyl, nitric oxide and superoxide-anion radicals plus singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hydrogen peroxide. Worst of all is the dangerous hydroxyl radical, formed by the combination of the weaker superoxide radical with hydrogen peroxide. Rosmarinic acid neutralizes the superoxide-anion and thus makes a major contribution to curbing oxidative damage in the body.

    Rosmarinic acid also takes the heat of the more well-known antioxidants by getting into the fray and dealing with free radicals first, leaving vitamins C, E and others intact for later use. This extract is also one of the few antioxidants able to cross the blood-brain barrier and combat the superoxide radical in the brain, where researchers hope it may help prevent or combat such degenerative conditions as Alzheimer's disease.

    Researchers at the Israeli biotechnology company, RAD Natural Technologies, discovered that certain natural species of the plant Origanum vulgare contained particularly high concentrations of rosmarinic acid. Without genetic modification the plant yields a highly purified extract that is effective in very low concentrations. With neither solvents nor processing chemicals, RAD Natural Technologies is able to preserve the integrity of the plant extract and produce a water-soluble powder that can alternatively be emulsified and thus dissolved in fats and oils. It is ideal for industrial applications. If you've always thought of antioxidants as pills and dietary supplements, think again.

    The company's rosmarinic acid product is called Origanox and it is sold for food processing, cosmetic and dietary purposes. Its antioxidant properties preserve natural pigments, odors and flavors and also protect vitamins and other active ingredients from the degenerative effects of oxidation. It also possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties and is easily absorbed into the skin, where it potentially supports to neutralize the harmful effect of ultraviolet radiation.

    Rosmarinic acid maintains its electron-absorbing properties at sustained high temperatures. That means that when it is added to edible oils, the number of free radicals released by frying is diminished. It is stable for long periods and at temperatures as high as 180 C⁄356 F so it can be baked into foods without impairing its antioxidant properties.

    In Summary

    Free radicals come at us from every conceivable direction and we need a good variety of antioxidants to protect ourselves. Some, like glutathione, are produced by the body, and are dependent upon a supply of raw materials from dietary sources. Others, like vitamins C and E, are built into the foods we eat or supplement in our diets. We may not be used to thinking of food preservatives as health aids but rosmarinic acid is a valuable aid that supports to preempt free radicals before they form in stored food and prevents the most harmful effects resulting from cooking with all sorts of oils. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant with the rare ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

    The essential oil of Origanum vulgare is a powerful, anti-microbial agent and natural, antiseptic product. It has many, very promising applications in certain feed and food products besides being a flavor enhancer and therapeutic component in health food supplements. This potent and adaptable product promises to become a valuable addition to our preventive medicine arsenal.

    Tocotrienols—Their Role In Health

    by Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D.


    Mention vitamin E and most people, even scientists, think alphatocopherol. It is only recently that scientists and now the consumers have been reminded that vitamin E is a family of compounds.

    Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. Unlike some vitamins which consist of a single compound, vitamin E consists of eight different compounds, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (designated as alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Our food contains all eight compounds. Most vitamin E supplements, however, contain only alphatocopherol because it was thought that only this one was important. Emerging research proved this understanding wrong. In order to get the full spectrum of the many benefits of vitamin E we must use products that contain the complete family of tocopherols plus tocotrienols.

    Tocotrienols are most abundant in cereal grains and the fruit of palm and are extracted commercially from palm oil and rice bran oil.

    Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Similarities and Differences

    Each tocotrienol has similarities to the corresponding tocopherols. For this reason tocotrienols, like tocopherols, are excellent antioxidants. Tocotrienols however, have three unsaturated sites on the tail of the molecule. Scientists are discovering important and unique benefits of tocotrienols.

    Underscoring the importance of taking the whole vitamin E family is the evidence that not only tocotrienols but even the other tocopherols have unique functions different from those of alpha-tocopherol. For example:

    • Gamma-tocopherol, not alpha, is the effective form for fighting nitrogen radicals which contribute to the development of arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's.
    • Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite inhibit cyclooxygenase activity. This effect is very important because cyclooxygenase causes inflammation, which contributes to the progression of chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer.
    • High blood levels of gammatocopherol in men are associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.

    The Science Behind the Unique Functions of Tocotrienols

    Research produced evidence of the biochemical basis of the important and unique effects of tocotrienols. Tocotrienols and in particular gamma-tocotrienol appear to act on a specific enzyme called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutarylcoenzyme A reductase (HMG-COA) involved in cholesterol production in the liver. Tocotrienols suppress the production of this enzyme, which may result in less cholesterol being manufactured.

    Tocotrienols slow down the growth of some types of human cancer cells, and particularly breast cancer cells, while alpha, beta and gamma tocopherols are ineffective. Gamma-tocotrienol suppresses the growth of rat melanoma and human leukemia cells, human breast adenocarcinoma and human leukemic cells.

    Benefits for Cardiovascular Health—Clinical Evidence

    The strongest evidence yet for tocotrienols comes from a clinical study in which 50 patients had stenosis of the carotid artery. These patients, ranging in age from 49 to 83 years, were divided in two groups. One group received approximately 650 milligrams of tocotrienols plus tocopherols. The other group received a placebo. All patients were examined with ultrasonography which measures the narrowing of the carotid artery.

    • Placebo group: Fifteen patients showed worsening of the stenosis, eight remained stable and two showed some improvement.
    • Tocotrienol (plus tocopherol) group: Three patients showed minor worsening and 12 remained stable. What is remarkable is that 10 patients showed regression of stenosis—their condition improved.

    The tocotrienol group had also significant reduction in TBARS, a test that measures oxidation. A tocotrienol-rich extract from rice bran oil reduced triglycerides and LDL in these patients. We are studying further these effects of tocotrienol-rich products from rice bran oil.

    Topical Use of Tocotrienols

    Tocotrienols, like tocopherols, protect the skin against damage from ultraviolet radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke and other stress factors. Topically applied tocotrienols and tocopherols penetrate the entire skin to the subcutaneous fat layer within 30 minutes and significantly increase the concentration of these antioxidants in the deeper subcutaneous layers.

    Safe and Effective Use Levels

    Tocotrienols and vitamin E in general have an excellent safety record.

    How much tocotrienols to take? Please remember that tocotrienols are available commercially as mixtures with tocopherols. If you are at high risk for heart disease, you may consider levels up to 300 mg per day of tocotrienols. For the great majority of consumers who want to get the benefit of the complete vitamin E family, much lower levels may still provide benefits.

    It is extremely important to take products that contain natural tocopherols plus tocotrienols. While our individual needs differ, the following general guidelines might help choose the right level for you.

    • The adequate level—the 100/100 system: Take 100 IU plus 100 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For healthy young adults with no family history of chronic disease.
    • The medium level—the 200/200 system: Take 200 IU plus 200 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. For young adults with some risk factors and healthy people without risk factors up to 50 years old.
    • The high, yet very safe dose—the 400/400 system: Take 400 IU plus 400 mg of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This is the level for people who, because of their family history for chronic disease, age, level of stress, diet and other factors, want to take a higher level.

    Andreas M. Papas, Ph.D., is the author of The Vitamin E Factor (paperback) and editor of the scientific book Antioxidant Status, Diet, Nutrition and Health, Dr. Papas is senior technical associate at Eastman Chemical Company and adjunct professor, at the College of Medicine of East Tennessee State University and senior scientific advisor, Cancer Prevention Institute, Harvard School of Epidemiology. —


    Ten Additional Important Antioxidants


    Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant compound similar to vitamin K and is naturally manufactured in the liver as well as every cell in the body. But even though COQ10 is produced in the body, many people have deficiencies, especially those suffering from cardiovascular disease and heart failure.

    Every cell must have a way of obtaining energy. In cardiac cells, as well as throughout the body, oxygen-based production occurs within the cellular power plants called mitochondria. Here COQ10 provides essential energy in its most basic form—adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the energy of life. Without adequate COQ10 as a cofactor, ATP synthesis slows down, eventually leaving the cell in a vulnerable state.

    Dietary sources of COQ10 come mainly from beef heart, pork, chicken liver and fish (especially salmon, mackerel and sardines). Vegetarians typically will not get enough COQ10 unless they eat large quantities of peanuts and/or broccoli. The average person only gets five to 10 mg of COQ10 each day from diet alone. Most people would benefit from far more COQ10 than can be gleaned from the daily diet.

    Although COQ10 can be synthesized by the body, many individuals are deficient in this vitamin. Illness depletes the body's stores even further. Taking cholesterol-lowering drugs such as HMG-COA reductase inhibitors can literally “kill” COQ10 synthesis. Other drugs, such as beta blockers and some of the older antidepressants, also interfere with COQ10-dependent enzymes, lowering its concentration in the body.

    Any women taking a statin drug, especially those at high risk for breast cancer, should take at least 100 mg of COQ10 a day.


    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a very powerful nutrient and the premier water-soluble antioxidant. It participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is important in maintaining homeostasis as well as building tissue.

    Death is inevitable if vitamin C is not provided. It is truly essential to human life. New research into the actions of vitamin C has sparked a greater understanding of the remarkable health-promoting properties of this essential nutrient. The new evidence validates that vitamin C supports cardiovascular and respiratory function, cognition, bone development and mineralization, vision and may even lower the risk of stress-related diseases and certain types of cancer.

    • Cardiovascular Health. High dietary vitamin C intake has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from heart attacks and strokes in numerous population studies. Also, researchers have found that vitamin C offsets spasms of the coronary arteries.
    • Immunity Booster. A recent study reported an 85 percent lower incidence in cold and flu symptoms with high vitamin C doses.
    • Collagen Maintenance. Vitamin C is important for the formation and maintenance of collagen, the intercellular cement that binds tissues together. Collagen provides tensile strength to bones, cartilage, teeth, tendons and ligaments. There is a positive association between vitamin C and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.
    • Cancer. Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant to protect cellular structures, including genetic mechanisms, an enhancer of the immune system and to protect against cancer-causing environmental irritants and pollutants. Many of the benefits of vitamin C supplementation stem from its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C become more important as aging occurs, especially if there is stress or disease.


    Astaxanthin is a member of an elite class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls.

    Astaxanthin is believed to be the most active of these carotenoids. Researchers have discovered that the most abundant and concentrated form of astaxanthin is found in the natural, renewable material extracted from microalgae.

    Because of its unique molecular structure, astaxanthin is unlike any other antioxidant in that it can perform a wide variety of tasks including:

    • increasing HDL (good cholesterol)
    • increasing strength and endurance
    • stimulating the immune system
    • protecting and enhancing eye health.

    Astaxanthin has been shown to perform effectively the three key tasks of an antioxidant: quenching, scavenging and trapping free radicals. Astaxanthin is more powerful than many other carotenoids because:

    • its low molecular weight allows it to actually cross the blood-brain barrier, making it available to the eye, brain and central nervous system
    • it is more resistant to damage, allowing it to scavenge longer and trap more types of free radicals
    • it acts like a bridge, transporting free radicals along its long chain to water-soluble antioxidants like vitamin C inside and outside of the cell.


    Acetyl-L-carnitine is a special form of carnitine that has the particular ability to optimize brain function. Acetyl-L-carnitine is able to cross into the brain more effectively than regular carnitine. It therefore enhances brain cell function much better than regular carnitine. As we age, acetyl-L-carnitine levels in our brains go down and for optimal brain function, supplements of acetyl-L-carnitine become mandatory.

    Acetyl-L-carnitine acts in many ways to prevent the deterioration of brain cells that normally happens with age. It does this in many ways. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, provides the brain with healing energy and increases levels of a very important messenger molecule called acetylcholine. It is acetylcholine which becomes deficient in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and that is why these patients have such poor memory function. By increasing levels of acetylcholine, acetyl-L-carnitine helps the memory work better and may help prevent Alzheimer's disease as well.


    Green tea is the antivirus, anticancer, super antioxidant. It is the most popular of Asian drinks and has been known for centuries to have a long list of health benefits. Interestingly, after water it is the most widely consumed beverage on the earth.

    Dr. Earl Mindell states, “The antioxidants specific to green tea are polyphenols, bioflavonoids that act as super antioxidants by neutralizing harmful fats and oils, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, blocking cancer-triggering mechanisms, inhibiting bacteria and viruses, improving digestion and protecting against ulcers and strokes. The specific type of polyphenol found in green tea is called a “catechin.”

    Other ingredients in green tea include the green chlorophyll molecules but also important are the proanthocyanadins similar to those found in grape seed extract, pine bark, bilberry and gingko. The specific tea is a variety called Camellia sinensis. Camellia sinensis in the West is known as black tea, such as Earl Grey tea, orange pekoe tea or English breakfast tea.

    The antioxidant properties of green tea are responsible for its most important benefits. The Chinese always claimed that tea slows aging but it was not until we understood the role of oxidation in aging and the antioxidant function of flavonoids that we knew how this mechanism might work. Researchers at University of California- Berkeley found that green tea extract was the best at scavenging the deadly hydroxyl radicals. Three diseases that we focus on regarding green tea are heart disease, AIDS and cancer.


    It is well known now through modern research that green foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They help protect against cancer, heart disease, digestive problems and many other modern disorders. Green vegetables are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene and chlorophyll. Possibly most important of all, they have potent antioxidant activity. Besides, they are low in fat and high in nutrients, an excellent combination.

    The importance of green foods in the diet is now being validated scientifically worldwide. It is amazing how long it takes us to discover that foods were made correctly in the first place. They contain exactly what we need in their natural state. We have to find a way to take advantage of the whole foods naturally made and most of us are not doing that presently with our diets. In fact, it would be difficult for anyone to eat green plants to equal the amount of nutrition in concentrated green food supplements. So until you are ready to sidle up to a fivepound salad of spinach, watercress, alfalfa and kelp, the concentrated supplements mentioned here are probably your best source for the vital nutrients you need from green foods.


    Alpha lipoic acid is a vitamin-like antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body and found in certain foods such as potatoes and red meat.

    It is the only fat and water soluble free radical antioxidant, therefore, it is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes, protecting us against free radicals both inside and outside our cells.

    Alpha lipoic acid has been used for years throughout Europe to treat and prevent complications associated with diabetes, including neuropathy, macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies show that diabetics lower their insulin requirements; this also helps reduce complications.

    An abundance of promising research has also shown the ability of alpha lipoic acid to inhibit replication of HIV and other viruses, to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation which is associated with cardiovascular disease, to protect the liver from damage from alcohol or other toxins and also to prevent damage from radiation.

    We do not obtain enough alpha lipoic acid through the diet to obtain this protection, so supplementation is required—100 to 200 mg daily. Therapeutic doses are higher.


    Essential for many cellular functions, glutathione is a tripeptide of connected molecules composed of three nonessential amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine.

    Without glutathione people suffer from an inability to detoxify metabolic wastes and in eliminating toxic substances like heavy metals and other environmental poisons. This may lead to heart disease, joint disorders, cancer and problems with the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.

    Even healthy people under stress can become subject to a disrupted balance. They could be sick or battling an inflammation or infection, or healing from an injury, while more free radicals are created and must be eliminated. Glutathione will do the job. It will also seek out the free radicals formed when people are exposed to cigarette smoke, alcohol, mercury, air pollution, food additives, pesticides and ultraviolet light.

    Needed cofactors that properly assist glutathione function are the following: alpha lipoic acid, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and the minerals selenium and zinc, of which selenium is a vital component.


    Extracted from the bark of Pinus maritima, the coastal pine tree found in abundance in southern France, pycnogenol is made up of a combination of flavoids that occur naturally in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables. However, antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables and nuts lose their potency when they are harvested, processed, frozen and cooked. A study in the British scientific journal, The Lancet, showed that risk of heart disease was 50 percent lower in populations that consumed high amounts of flavonoids (at least 30 mg a day) than groups that took in low amounts of these antioxidants.

    Decades of laboratory research and clinical studies conducted by Dr. Jack Masquelier show that pycnogenol contains approximately 40 natural ingredients including proanthocyanadins, organic acids and related bioavailable components such as glucosides and glucose esters. It is a potent antioxidant that protects against free radicals, has been shown to be many times more powerful than vitamin C or vitamin E and has the added benefit of working synergistically with many nutrients that support health.

    Millions of people in Europe and the United States, athletes in particular, rely on pycnogenol to maintain skin health and overall health during the aging process. It is one of the best tried-and-tested products in its category, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.


    Garlic is the most studied herb in history. It has more benefits than any other single food. Tradition has told us that garlic has beneficial effects on health and longevity. Science is beginning to validate many of these claims including garlic's ability to prevent heart disease, fungal overgrowth and infectious diseases, the ability to remove toxic metals from the body and its powerful antioxidant and anticancer effects.

    A Summary of Garlic's Many Benefits Includes:

    • having been shown to have powerful immune-boosting properties and may be valuable in fighting off viral infections such as the common cold.
    • having been shown to help lower blood pressure in those with hypertension.
    • working as a natural antibiotic and reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the body.
    • reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and has been shown to limit the deposition of plaque on artery walls.
    • having been shown to help the body eliminate parasites.
    • reducing the amount of the yeast, Candida albicans, in the human GI tract and has been shown to be beneficial in fighting systemic yeast infections.
    • having been shown to lower blood sugar and be of significant benefit to diabetics.
    • having been shown in population and laboratory studies to help prevent a wide variety of cancers.
    • containing selenium, a cancerpreventing, immune-boosting and antiinflammatory nutrient.

    Editor's Note: We highly recommend the most studied garlic supplement on the market. Kyolic AGED Garlic is Organically grown, and aged up to 20 months to enhance the nutritional value of the garlic, remove its pungent odor and make it gentle on the stomach. Kyolic is heavily researched with over 750 scientific studies.


    Drug Muggers
    Which Medications Are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients—and Natural Ways to Restore Them
    by Suzy Cohen, RPh
    Rodale Books; 1 edition (February 15, 2011)

    The Garlic Cure
    by James F. Scheer, Lynn Allison and Charlie Fox
    Alpha Omega Press, Fargo, ND (2002)

    The Garlic Cookbook: For the Best and Most Unique Garlic Recipes You Will Ever Try!
    by Martha Stephenson
    CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 19, 2017)

    Healthy Healing—Avoid side effects, drug interactions and high medical costs with America's Original Guide to Natural Healing (14th Edition)
    by Linda Page, N.D., Ph.D.
    Healthy Healing Publications; 14th edition (November 15, 2011)

    Prescription for Nutritional Healing
    Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements
    by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
    Avery; 5 Rev Upd edition (October 5, 2010)

    The Longevity Kitchen—Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods
    by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson
    M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY (1998)

    Brain Maker:
    The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life
    by David Perlmutter, MD
    Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 28, 2015)

    The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan:
    Boost Brain Performance, Lose Weight, and Achieve Optimal Health
    by David Perlmutter, MD, Kristin Loberg
    Little, Brown and Company (November 15, 2016)

    Editorial Reviews

    "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan provides a step-by-step, proven approach that will help you reclaim and sustain health, vitality, and happiness for a lifetime." Melissa Hartwig, author of Food Freedom Forever and coauthor of The Whole30

    "Dr. Perlmutter, an acclaimed neurologist, has for years been a pioneer of the gut-brain connection. In The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, he combines his clinical expertise, insights into the latest scientific developments, and immense compassion into a powerful prescription for brain health." David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of Always Hungry?

    "Dr. Perlmutter's groundbreaking work has changed the way we think about inflammation—its causes and the damage it can do. I've gotten tremendous benefit from his books and The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan gives us simple and direct ways to prevent and treat diseases in easy and delicious ways." Bonnie Raitt

    "Dr. David Perlmutter is one of the first people to not only suggest that modern degenerative diseases are likely caused by poor diet and alterations in gut health, but he has produced clinical research indicating these conditions may be avoided or reversed by altering one's diet and lifestyle. The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is the culmination of more than 35 years of clinical practice and research that will help you look, feel and perform your best." Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution

    "Dr. Perlmutter sifts through the emerging research on how to create brain and body health. And he created The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, a manifesto for the new medicine, the roadmap for how to care for the one precious human life that you have. If you want to live strong, feel good, boost your brain function, and become more connected and engaged to your own life, then you need a plan. This book is that plan." Mark Hyman, MD, author of Eat Fat Get Thin and director of Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine

    "If everyone were to follow The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan, there would be a dramatic reduction in obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, arthritis—in short, the world would be a better place." Dale Bredesen, MD, professor and director of Alzheimer's Disease Research, UCLA

    "The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan presents a comprehensive, practical, step-by-step approach aimed at people suffering from a variety of chronic neurological, psychiatric, and medical conditions. Dr. Perlmutter not only gives specific dietary recommendations, including a diet rich in plant-based fiber, but also prescribes important lifestyle changes such as physical exercise, stress reduction, and improvement in sleeping habits." Emeran A. Mayer, MD, author of The Mind Gut Connection and director of the Oppenheimer Center for Stress and Resilience at UCLA


  • Eyesight is one of the things that is often taken for granted by most people, until it is too late. Just like other body parts like the heart and the stomach, the eyes also deserve proper care and nutrition. Millions of people around the world suffer from various eye disorders like cataracts (blurred vision, due to the eye lens becoming progressively opaque), and macular degeneration (a deterioration of the macula, the small central portion of the retina). Diet plays an important role in every cell in your body and eye cells are no different. A nutrient-poor diet may lead to eye problems later in life, as well as other complications. It is thus essential to eat the right foods in order to ensure the eyes are protected from damage, and vision loss through age.

    Nutrients for eye health
    Your eyes require specific nutrients to keep them in top condition, and to prevent eye disorders. Antioxidants are usually part of the group of nutrients that maintain the eyes, because they prevent toxic molecules called free-radicals from damaging the delicate tissues of the eye.

    Here Are The Top Nutrients Essential For Eye Health:

    1. Vitamin A
    Also known as retinol in its active form, vitamin A is important in maintaining eye health. It helps the body produce the eye pigment retinoid, which play a significant role in the vision mechanism. Specifically, vitamin A maintains good vision in dim light. A deficiency in vitamin A leads to a condition called night blindness, which renders the affected person unable to see clearly in dimly lit areas.1

    Vitamin A can be found in a variety of food sources. It is particularly high in colored (yellow, orange, and green) fruits and vegetables like squash, carrot, cantaloupe, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, and other dark green leafy vegetables.

    Processed foods are often fortified with vitamin A to ensure that the consumer gets the recommended daily intake of 700 mcg (adult females) and 900 mcg (adult males), although this form of vitamin A is almost always synthetic (retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate).

    2. Vitamin C
    Another antioxidant that is important to eye health is vitamin C or ascorbic acid. As an antioxidant, its main function is to prevent free radicals from damaging body tissues. In fact, researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology, at the University of Medical Sciences in Zabjan, Iran, discovered that plasma vitamin C levels is lower in those suffering from cataracts, as opposed to normal individuals.2

    The most common sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Non-citrus sources include papaya, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers (green and red). One can also find vitamin C-fortified products in the supermarket like bottled fruit juices.

    3. Lutein and Zeaxanthin
    Lutein and zeaxanthin belong to a group of molecules called carotenoids. They comprise the majority of the carotenoids found in the human eye. Like vitamins A and C, they function as antioxidants and protect the eye by filtering harmful light and preventing glare. A recent study appearing in the journal Ophthalmology, indicated that people with the highest intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin, can experience a 20 percent reduced risk of early age related macular degeneration.3

    These nutrients are not hard to obtain, as they are found in a variety of foods. A study in 1998 by researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, concluded that corn and egg yolk contain the highest percentage of lutein and zeaxanthin, followed by kiwi, grapes, zucchini, orange juice, and spinach.4 The study further recommends that, in order to increase lutein and zeaxanthin levels, colorful fruits and vegetables should be incorporated into one’s diet.

    4. Zinc
    Zinc is a trace element that plays an important role in many body processes. In the eye, zinc works together with vitamin A to produce a substance called melanin that helps protect the eye from damage.5 High levels of zinc are found in the macula of the eye. Deficiency in zinc has been linked to an increased risk of developing macular degeneration,6 which can be easily prevented through proper nutrition. The recommended daily intake for zinc is 11 milligrams for adult males and 8 milligrams for adult females.

    Foods that are rich in zinc include oysters, pork, beef, dairy products like milk and yogurt, whole grains, chickpeas, and lobster. Zinc-fortified foods are also available in the typical supermarket aisle.

    5. Omega-3 fatty acids
    Also known as the “good fats,” omega-3 fatty (DHA and EPA) acids maintain the fluidity and structural integrity of body cells and tissues, and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are also important in proper visual development in infants. In adults, omega-3 fatty acids are important in preventing macular degeneration and subsequent vision loss.7

    The best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are coldwater fish like salmon and mackerel. Tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. For vegetarians, algae, flaxseed, hempseed and their oils are the best sources.

    6. Vitamin E
    Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that protects cells and tissues from oxidative damage. While more research needs to be done on its importance to eye health, initial studies suggest that vitamin E works together with lutein and zeaxanthin to prevent cataract formation. The American Optometric Association recommends a daily intake of 400 IU of vitamin E to maintain good eye health.

    Dietary sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, wheat germ, vegetable oils, and avocados.


    1. Sarubin Fragaakis A, Thomson C. The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements Amer Dietetic Assn; 3 edition (November 30, 2006).
    2. Jalal D, et al. Comparative study of plasma ascorbic acid levels in senile cataract patients and in normal individuals. Current Eye Research. 2009 Feb;34(2):118–22.
    3. Wang JJ, et al. Genetic susceptibility, dietary antioxidants, and long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration in two populations. Ophthalmology. 2014 Mar;121(3):667–75.
    4. Sommerburg O, et al. Fruits and vegetables that are sources for lutein and zeaxanthin: the macular pigment in human eyes. Br J Ophthalmol. 1998 Aug;82(8):907–10.
    5. Ultra-violet and Blue Light Aggravating Macular Degeneration American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
    6. Smailhodzic D, et al. Zinc supplementation inhibits complement activation in age-related macular degeneration. PLoS One.2014 Nov 13;9(11):e112682.
    7. Lawrenson JG, Evans JR. Omega 3 fatty acids for preventing or slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database System Review. 2015 Apr 9;4:CD010015. [Epub ahead of print]
    8. Head KA. Natural therapies for ocular disorders, part two: cataracts and glaucoma. Alternative Medical Reviews. 2001 Apr;6(2):141–66.
  • The health of the body is often reflected in the eyes. Circulatory problems, which are hidden elsewhere in the body, can manifest visibly in these organs. Similarly, the antioxidant status of the aging body often will have a profound effect upon the eyes. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD, a deterioration in the retina at the point at which images are focused) is a typical result of the aging process, as the formation of cataracts (opaque defects in the transparency of the lens of the eye). Prevent Blindness America estimates that AMD may affect 13 million individuals in this country. Cataracts impair the vision of roughly four million Americans. Some authorities estimate that thirty percent of all adults aged 70 and older suffer from some form of vision impairment.

    Diet, through its effects upon antioxidant status, may play a significant role in these age-related degenerations. Indeed, the eyes are especially prone to certain types of oxidative damage. In one study of 40 to 70 year olds, for instance, those who consumed fewer than 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day had five times the risk for developing one type of cataract and 13 times the risk for developing another type of cataract when compared to those who ate more than 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.1 Hence, a prudent plan would be to use diet and supplements to insure the intake of a comprehensive combination of nutrients which support the various aspects of visual functioning and which help to maintain optimal ocular antioxidant status.

    Lutein and zeaxanthin are important antioxidants used by the body for a number of physiological functions. Of all the currently recommended nutrients for the eyes, these have perhaps received the widest general endorsement. They are found in a variety of foods and now are also available in significant amounts in supplemental form.

    Lutein is a carotenoid, which does not supply vitamin A activity to the body. It is chemically distinctive in that it lacks part of the terminal “ring” structure of the other carotenoids. Like its close relative zeaxanthin, lutein is what is termed a xanthophyll carotenoid. Both of these related carotenoids are better antioxidants than is beta-carotene under normal oxygen conditions. Lutein is the more important of the two. According to Optometry (the Journal of the American Optometric Association), “Lutein can be metabolized into zeaxanthin and is therefore the more essential carotenoid.” Zeaxanthin has been shown to be present in the center of the macula. Lutein and zeaxanthin are usually found together in leafy green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, spinach and mustard greens.

    One of the primary functions of lutein and zeaxanthin is to provide protection against oxidative and free radical damage. These yellow-colored carotenoids are found in high concentrations within the macula lutea (the yellow spot in the center of the retina) and in smaller amounts throughout the retina and the eye lens. They are also concentrated in the skin, breast and cervical tissues. These stores, however, appear to diminish at an increasing rate with age if not regularly replenished through dietary means.


    Vegetable (1/2 cup serving)

    Lutein Content (mg)



    Collard Greens


    Spinach, raw




    Leaf lettuce


    Green peas


    Brussel sprouts




    Green Beans


    Carrot, raw




    Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1993:284-95

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over age 65. The exact cause of AMD is not yet known, although the protective role of nutrition against the condition is being researched at major universities and other institutions. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that a daily intake of six mg per day of lutein led to a 43 percent lower risk of developing AMD.2

    Scientists believe that lutein and zeaxanthin contribute to the density of macular pigment3—the component of the retina of the eye which typically absorbs and filters out 40 to 60 percent of damaging near-ultraviolet blue light (near-UV blue light) which strikes the retina. The denser the pigment, the more the inner retina is protected from light-induced damage. Lutein/ zeaxanthin also helps limit blue light damage to the inner retina by inhibiting lipid peroxidation and by neutralizing free radicals.

    Considerable evidence shows the importance of lutein and zeaxanthin in reducing changes in the opacity of the eye lens as we age. A study published in the British Medical Journal examined cataract formation among 50,000 women over an eight-year period.4 The results clearly showed that the consumption of spinach, which is an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, led to a much lower level of such eye lens changes than did the consumption of other vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash, which contain primarily betacarotene and very little lutein. Similarly, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who eat foods rich in lutein—particularly kale and spinach—are less likely to develop macular degeneration.5 The intake of carotenoids other than beta-carotene, that is, alpha-carotene, lutein and lycopene, has been inversely correlated with the risk of developing cataracts. In other words, the more alpha-carotene, lutein and lycopene consumed, the lower the incidence of cataracts.6 Protection most likely comes from the scavenging of free radicals. Oxidative/free radical damage to the eye lens is believed to play an important part in the development of cataracts. Lutein/zeaxanthin prevent peroxidation in the lens, thus limiting damage to the opacity of this tissue. However, there is no evidence that lutein/ zeaxanthin can help to reverse an existing cataract.

    Another food that has an especially strong affinity for the eyes is bilberry. The bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a close relative of American blueberry. It grows in Northern Europe, Canada, and in parts of the Northern United States, where the berries are known as huckleberries. There are over 100 species with similar names and fruit. The English call bilberries whortleberries. The Scots know them as blaeberries.

    The bilberry has many historical or traditional uses based upon both the dried berries and the leaves. It has been used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century. Modern interest in the bilberry is partly based on the fruit’s use by British pilots during the Second World War. These pilots noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids. In the intervening years, scientists discovered that anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, are potent antioxidants.7 Many of the traditionally suggested uses of bilberry, such as against scurvy and urinary tract complaints, no doubt reflect the antioxidant, vitamin C-sparing and anti-inflammatory properties of the berry. However, the astringent qualities of the dried bilberry fruit and of bilberry tea also may provide some benefits and help to explain the use of these in folk medicine to soothe the gastrointestinal tract.8 In Europe, bilberry extracts are accepted conventionally as a normal part of health care for the eyes.

    Much of the modern research on bilberry extract has focused upon the benefits to the eyes. Bilberry anthcyanosides provide three primary benefits to these organs. First, these highly colored plant pigments nourish the retina. Night vision depends upon the retina’s ability to constantly regenerate visual purple (rhodopsin), and anthocyanosides serve as “building blocks” for this important substance. Tests have confirmed these benefits. When subjects with normal vision supplemented with bilberry extract, it was found that the acuity of their nighttime vision improved, as did the speed at which they adjusted to darkness and the rate at which they recovered from blinding glare.9,10 After reviewing the literature, some authors have suggested that bilberry extract provides benefits even in cases of myopia.11 These findings may reflect the importance of visual purple for visual acuity in general.

    The benefits of bilberry anthcyanosides extend beyond the regeneration of visual purple, however. The eye depends upon a very high relative blood flow and is exposed to large amounts of oxygen. Such factors mean that the eye is extremely vulnerable to problems arising from capillary fragility and that prevention of damage by free radicals plays a major role in maintaining eye health. In Europe, bilberry extracts are widely supplemented by individuals who are known to be subject to eye capillary permeability and retinopathy. The expected benefit is improved integrity of the collagen that is integral to the support structure of the capillaries.12

    Similarly, several types of deterioration, which are typical of aging eyes, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, appear to be influenced by the rate of generation of free radicals. In laboratory trials, changing the diets from commercial laboratory chow to "well-defined" diets rich in flavonoids has been shown to be beneficial.13,14 Interesting results have been found with human trials in which bilberry extract was supplemented, either alone or in combination with vitamin E.15,16

    Both grape seed extract and Ginkgo biloba extract enhance the circulatory health of the eyes. Grape seed extract has been studied very widely for it ability to reduce capillary fragility and excessive permeability.18 It benefits to the circulatory system are not in doubt; nor are its antioxidant benefits. Somewhat surprising, however, are grape seed extract's benefit with regard to recovery from glare, an important aspect of night vision. It now appears that grape seed extract complements the benefits in the area of night vision that are found with bilberry.

    As is true of the Chinese herbal tradition, the Indian Ayurvedic healing tradition associates Ginkgo with long life. Modern Western research supports these beliefs from two ancient healing traditions and has led to Ginkgo biloba extract becoming one of the most widely used of all herbal products.19 The extract often is recommended for improving memory and reaction time20, for improving circulation21, and for protecting against free radical damage. Ginkgo biloba also is suggested in traditional practices for improving the physiologic effects of other herbs and nutrients.

    The eyes are particularly vulnerable to certain of the long-term effects of poor blood sugar control. As is true of the nerves, the eyes can be damaged by the products of the enzyme known as aldose reductase. Poor control of blood sugar levels also places the tissues of the body under oxidative stress. Blood glucose-related vulnerabilities need to be taken into account when considering eye health. Alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to be a potent antioxidant for the eye in both cataract22 and glaucoma.23 It is complemented in these actions by the flavonoid quercitin, an inhibitor of the actions of aldose reductase.

    The eyes are vulnerable organs, but deterioration can be protected against to a remarkable degree through sound dietary practices. Dark green vegetables and fruits in shades of blue, purple and red can be highly protective. The secret is to consume these items daily, or at least several times per week. A judicious use of special herbs and other supplements will complement—not substitute for—these dietary measures.

    1. Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr. Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):352S-355S.
    2. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD, Hiller R, Blair N, Burton TC, Farber MD, Gragoudas ES, Haller J, Miller DT, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. JAMA. 1994 Nov 9;272(18):1413.20.
    3. Johnson EJ, Hammond BR, Yeum KJ, Qin J, Wang XD, Castaneda C, Snodderly DM, Russell RM. Relation among serum and tissue concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin and macular pigment density. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1555.62.
    4. 4 Hankinson SE, Stampfer MJ, Seddon JM, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Speizer FE, Willett WC. Nutrient intake and cataract extraction in women: a prospective study. BMJ. 1992 Aug 8;305(6849):335.9.
    5. Seddon JM, Ajani UA, Sperduto RD, Hiller R, Blair N, Burton TC, Farber MD, Gragoudas ES, Haller J, Miller DT, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. Eye Disease Case-Control Study Group. JAMA. 1994 Nov 9;272(18):1413. 20; Jacques PF. The potential preventive effects of vitamins for cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 1999 May;69(3):198.205.
    6. Mares-Perlman JA, Brady WE, Klein BE, Klein R, Haus GJ, Palta M, Ritter LL, Shoff SM. Diet and nuclear lens opacities. Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Feb 15;141(4):322.34.
    7. Salvayre R, Braquet P, et al. Comparison of the scavenger effect of bilberry anthocyanosides with various flavonoids. Proceed Int'l Bioflavonoids Symposium, Munich, 1981, 437.42.
    8. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, vol. 1. (New York: Dover Publications, 1971)385.6.
    9. Jayle GE, Aubert L. Action des glucosides d'anthocyanes sur la vision scotopique et mesopique du sujet normal. Thereapie 1964;19:171.85.
    10. Caselli L. Clinical and electroretinographic study on activity of anthocyanosides. Arch Med Int1985;37:29.35.
    11. Mowrey D. Next Generation Herbal Medicine. (Comorant Books, 1988)15ff.
    12. Mian E, et al. Anthocyanosides and the walls of microvessels: Further aspects of the mechanism of action of their protective effect in syndromes due to abnormal capillary fragility. Minerva Med 1977;68:3565.81.
    13. Hess H, et al. Dietary prevention of cataracts in the pink-eyed RCS rat. Lab Anim Sci 1985;35:47.53.
    14. Pautler EL, et al. A pharmacologically potent natural product in the bovine retina. Exp Eye Res 1986;42:285.8.
    15. Bravetti G. Preventive medical treatment of senile cataract with vitamin E and anthocyanosides: Clinical evaluation. Ann Ottamol Clin Ocul 1989;115:109.
    16. Scharrer A, Ober M. Anthocyanosides in the treatment of retinopathies. Klin Monatsbl Augenheilkd 1981;178:386.9.
    17. Delacrois P. Double-blind study of Endotelon in chronic venous insufficiency. La Revue De Med. 1981;27:28.31.
    18. Boissin JP, Corbe C, Siou A. [Chorioretinal circulation and dazzling: use of procyanidolic oligomers (Endotelon)]. Bull Soc Ophtalmol Fr. 1988;88(2):173-4, 177.9. [French text]
    19. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs (Rodale Press, 1991).
    20. Schmidt U, Rabinovici K, Lande S. Enfluss eines Ginkgo biloba Specialextraktes auf doe befomdlickeit bei zerebraler Onsufficizienz. Muench Med Wochenschr 1991;133( Suppl. 1): S15-S18.
    21. Ernst E. Pentoxifylline for intermittent claudication. A critical review. Angiology 1994 ;45: 339.45.
    22. Maitra I, Serbinova E, Trischler H, Packer L. Alpha-lipoic acid prevents buthionine sulfoximine-induced cataract formation in newborn rats. Free Radic Biol Med. 1995 Apr;18:823.9.
    23. Filina AA, Davydova NG, Endrikhovskii SN, Shamshinova AM. [Lipoic acid as a means of metabolic therapy of open-angle glaucoma] Vestn Oftalmol 1995 Oct-Dec.;111 : 6.8.
  • Do you have insomnia? Perhaps you just have occasional difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Either way, lack of sleep is a relatively common problem and is frequently treated with medications or alcohol. A consensus from population-based studies1 and other research2 indicate that approximately 30 percent of adult samples drawn from different countries report one or more of the symptoms of insomnia. A U.S. regional survey3 reported that about 20 percent or more of older American adults use some form of sleep aid, including prescription or over-the-counter drugs or alcohol.

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine's PubMed Health4 website indicates that while over-the-counter sleep medicines to treat insomnia can sometimes be useful, there can be side effects such as daytime sleepiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. These effects may be worse in the elderly. Furthermore, stopping these medications suddenly can cause rebound insomnia and withdrawal. Likewise, the Mayo Clinic5 indicates that taking prescription sleeping pills, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) or ramelteon (Rozerem) may also help induce sleep. Side effects, which are often more pronounced in older people, may include excessive drowsiness, impaired thinking, night wandering, agitation, and balance problems. Prescription sleeping pills are generally not recommended for more than a few weeks, but several newer medications are approved for indefinite use. Nevertheless, some of these medications are habit-forming. Finally, alcohol is a sedative that may help induce sleep, but it also prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes an awakening in the middle of the night.6

    So, what are the natural alternatives? Certainly, a variety of dietary supplements are commonly self-prescribed for treating sleep problems. Some of the most well known—of which include melatonin and valerian root—"old school" remedies which, nevertheless, do have adequate research to support their use for this purpose. However, it should be noted that melatonin and valerian are not always without side effects. Although generally well tolerated, the most common side effects of melatonin include daytime drowsiness, headache, and dizziness—although these don't seem to occur any more frequently than with placebo.7 Likewise, although generally well tolerated, valerian side effects reported in clinical studies include headaches, gastrointestinal upset, mental dullness, excitability, uneasiness, and cardiac disturbances.8,9 Luckily, there are some other natural remedies, which have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without these side effects. These remedies include GABA, Apocynum venetum, ashwagandha, and lutein/zeaxanthin.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum
    GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the primary neurotransmitter in the central nervous system for exerting sedative and anti-anxiety effects.10 Apocynum venetum is an herbal remedy with a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine for soothing the nerves, insomnia, and for other purposes.11 These two nutraceuticals have been used together and individually in human clinical research for their stress reducing, mood enhancing, and sleep-promoting effects. The stress-reducing effects are also important for sleep since stress can make it difficult to get to sleep and sustain sleep.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum STUDY 1
    A double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study12 was conducted to examine the stress-reducing effect of ingesting 25 mg/day GABA, and 25 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron®), a combination of both, or a placebo. Following intake, subjects were exposed to a stress-inducing mental task and then tested for the stress marker known as salivary chromogranin A (CgA), and scored on a mental questionnaire. Results showed that the combination significantly reduced salivary CgA secretion compared to placebo. Individually, GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract also reduced CgA secretion, but they did not reach statistical significance over placebo. In conclusion, the combination of GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract was able to reduce markers of cognitive-induced mental stress.

    GABA AND Apocynum venetum STUDY 2
    In another study, the effects of 100 mg/day GABA and 25 mg/ day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron), were investigated on sleep improvement in a single-blind, placebo-controlled study.13 The electroencephalogram (EEG) test revealed that both nutraceuticals had beneficial effects on sleep. GABA shortened the time it took to fall asleep and increased non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time. Simultaneous intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract shortened the time it took to fall asleep and increased non-REM sleep time. The result of questionnaires showed that GABA and Apocynum venetum leaf extract enabled subjects to realize the effects on sleep. These results mean that GABA can help people to fall asleep quickly, Apocynum venetum leaf extract induces deep sleep, and they function complementarily with a simultaneous intake. The researchers concluded that this combination can be regarded as safe and appropriate for daily intake in order to improve the quality of sleep.

    Apocynum venetum LEAF EXTRACT STUDY 1
    In a double-blind, randomized trial14, individuals with mild depression and symptoms of anxiety, were treated with 50 mg/ day Apocynum venetum leaf extract (Venetron) or placebo at different times over eight weeks. Global scores of depression and blood samples for serotonin levels were measured at baseline and after eight weeks. The changes were assessed using a 17-item Hamilton Depression (HAM-D) rating scale that evaluates depressed mood, vegetative and cognitive symptoms of depression, and anxiety symptoms. Global scores of depression and blood samples for serotonin levels were measured at baseline and after eight weeks. The results were that after eight weeks of treatment, 40 percent of the subjects in Apocynum venetum leaf extract group showed a greater-than-10-point decrease in HAM-D scores. Likewise, 50 percent had a decrease of 50 percent or greater in the symptoms of depression as compared with the placebo group. There were also significant improvements of decreased anxiety and reductions of insomnia in the middle of the night and later in the sleep cycle. In the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group, 50 percent of subjects had increased serotonin concentrations, demonstrating biochemical evidence of improvement (since maintaining healthy serotonin levels are necessary for healthy mood and sleep). HAM-D scores decreased by 50 percent or greater in the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group. Also, 60 percent of the Venetron group had a HAM-D score of eight or less by week eight. Other symptoms that showed significant improvements within the Apocynum venetum leaf extract group included middle- and late-night insomnia, work, activities, and anxiety. In conclusion Apocynum venetum leaf extract significantly improved anxiety and reduced insomnia in the middle of the night and later in the sleep cycle.

    Apocynum venetum LEAF EXTRACT STUDY 2
    In this human clinical intervention trial15, the symptoms of depression were assessed in subjects having widely varying severity using the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS). This scale used to measure depression was developed to assess functional impairment using three interrelated areas: work/school, social, and family life. The patient is able to rate the extent that work/ school, social life, and home life or family responsibilities are impaired by symptoms of depression as a composite of three self-rated items designed to measure the extent to which these three major life sectors are impaired by panic, anxiety, phobic, or depressive symptoms. Patients took 50 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract for 14 days. Results were that the SDS scores of subjects improved in symptoms of depression ranging from minimal to mild depression and moderate to severe depression. The mean measurement significantly declined to the normal range after 14 days of ingestion. In conclusion, Apocynum venetum leaf extract improved depression in patients with varying degrees of symptom severity.

    A human clinical intervention trial16 consisting of case studies was conducted. Subjects included one 29-year-old woman with PMS, a 39-year-old woman with PMS, a 55-year-old woman, a man, 36 years old, and two older men, one 66 and the other 75 years of age. All subjects received 50 mg/day Apocynum venetum leaf extract. The results were as follows: In the 29-year-old woman with PMS, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for one month reduced melancholy and overeating. In the 39-year-old woman with PMS, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for two weeks before menses and over a 3-month period, improved emotional symptoms such as irritability and depression. In the 36-year-old man, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for six months resulted in improvements in concentration and his feeling more optimistic. The 55-year-old woman, using Apocynum venetum leaf extract decreased fatigue and grief. In the 66- and the 75-year-old men, Apocynum venetum leaf extract for two weeks resulted in decreases in the frequency of waking up throughout the night and promoted deeper sleep. In conclusion, case studies have shown very good results in patients with depressive PMS disorders, and in younger and older depressed patients. The types of symptoms that improved include melancholy, overeating, emotional symptoms such as irritability, difficulty in concentrating, optimistic outlook, fatigue, and grief, and improvements in sleep.

    Two studies17 investigated the effect of GABA on relaxation and stress in humans. The first study evaluated the effect of GABA intake on their brain waves. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were obtained after three tests on each volunteer as follows: intake only water, 100 mg GABA, or 200 mg L-theanine. After 60 minutes of administration, GABA significantly increases alpha waves (i.e. relaxing brain waves) and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. The second study was conducted to see the role of relaxant and anxiolytic effects of 100 mg GABA intake on immunity in stressed volunteers. Eight acrophobic subjects were divided into two groups (placebo and GABA). All subjects were crossing a suspended bridge as a stressful stimulus. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva were monitored during bridge crossing. The placebo group showed a marked decrease of their IgA levels, while GABA group showed significantly higher levels. In conclusion, GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within one hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety. Moreover, GABA administration could enhance immunity under stress conditions.

    Researchers studied18 the psychological stress reducing effect of chocolate enriched with 28 mg/day GABA, on stress induced by an arithmetic task using changes of heart rate variability (HRV) and salivary chromogranin A (CgA). Fifteen minutes after eating GABA-enriched chocolate, subjects were assigned an arithmetic task for 15 minutes. After that, an electrocardiogram was recorded and saliva samples were collected. HRV was determined from the electrocardiogram, and the activity of the autonomic nervous system was estimated through HRV. The CgA concentration of all saliva samples, an index for acute psychological stress, was measured. From HRV, those taking GABA chocolate made a quick recovery to the normal state from the stressful state. The CgA value after the task in those taking GABA chocolate did not increase in comparison with that before ingestion. From these results, GABA chocolate was considered to have a psychological stress reducing effect.

    Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha, has historically been used in Asia for treating stress-related health conditions. In this study,19 researchers investigated the effects of standardized ashwagandha root and leaf extract (Sensoril®) in chronically stressed humans in a clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to receive different doses of ashwagandha root and leaf extract, or placebo. Stress levels were assessed at Days 0, 30, and 60 using a modified Hamilton anxiety (mHAM-A) scale. Between Days 0 and 60, those receiving 125 mg/day ashwagandha root and leaf extract experienced a significantly greater decrease than placebo for the average mHAM-A score, serum cortisol, serum C-reactive protein, pulse rate, and blood pressure. In addition, those receiving 125 mg/day ashwagandha root and leaf extract had an improvement in the sleeplessness score from 3.1 on day 0, to 1.9 on day 30, to 0.9 on day 60—a percentage change of about 71 percent. Therefore, this study provides evidence that the consumption of ashwagandha root and leaf extract significantly reduced experiential and biochemical indicators of stress without adverse effects.

    Reduction in gross stress condition in 30 and 60-day periods

    To understand why lutein/zeaxanthin is beneficial for sleep, you must first understand a little bit about blue light, a powerful and potentially damaging component of visible light from the sun, digital devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and artificial light.20,21,22,23,24,25 As it passes through the lens of the human eye, the visible wavelengths of light, including ultraviolet and blue light, focus upon the macular area of the retina. In particular, the blue wavelengths penetrate deeply into the eye, and have the greatest potential to damage retinal tissue by inducing free radicals, etc.26,27,28,29 In fact, ongoing exposure to blue light (regardless of the source) is a major risk factor for various retinal damage.30,31,32,33

    Research indicates that chronic exposure to blue light can cause a variety of symptoms. These include headaches, eye fatigue and other indications of eye strain are associated with the daily use of video display terminals on computers and other electronic devices and are common with three or more hours/day of exposure. In addition, blue light has been shown to delay or suppress the release of melatonin, your body's sleep hormone.34,35,36 Unfortunately, 30 percent of adults spend more than half their waking hours (more than nine hours) using a digital device, 50 percent of Americans use digital devices more than five hours a day, and 70 percent use two or more digital devices at the same time.37 Consequently, it's not surprising that so many people have problems with eye fatigue, eye strain and sleep.

    The good news is that lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (rr- and rs-(meso)-zeaxanthin), macular carotenoids well known for the role they play in supporting eye health, can help mitigate the effects that blue light has on common retinal damage. The way it works is that lutein/zeaxanthin have a yellow coloration. Because yellow pigments absorb blue light, lutein effectively protects the retina from the region of the light spectrum that can cause tissue damage, and also limits the ability of light to generate free radicals. Basically, lutein/zeaxanthin act as a sort of internal pair of sunglasses, protecting the macular region of the retina from blue light damage. In addition, various studies have shown that supplementation with 10 mg/2 mg–20 mg/4 mg lutein/zeaxanthin (Lutemax®2020 Marigold flower extract) can help make users of computers and other digital devices more comfortable throughout the day, reducing eye strain and relieving tired eyes. Supplementation also protects eyes against harmful blue light and against oxidative stress and harmful free radicals.38,39,40

    More specific to the subject of this article, there is a direct connection between blue light, lutein/zeaxanthin, and sleep. It has to do with melatonin, a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland,41 whose primary role is regulation of the body's circadian rhythm, and sleep patterns.42,43 Specifically, light, including blue light, inhibits melatonin secretion and darkness stimulates secretion.44,45 Consequently, too much light exposure, particularly at night, can inhibit melatonin secretion and interfere with sleep. Interestingly, research has shown that, at night, even blue light from smartphones can negatively impact sleep.46 That's where blue-light filtering lutein and zeaxanthin isomers can help.

    To determine if increasing macular levels of lutein/zeaxanthin, by supplementing lutein/zeaxanthin isomers, would affect sleep quality, a two-part study47 was conducted. The first part was a 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Subjects in the active supplement group ingested lutein/zeaxanthin isomers daily (LutemaxR2020 Marigold flower extract). Sleep quality was evaluated with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Critical flicker fusion frequency1 (CFF) and contrast sensitivity (CS) were also measured. Outdoor and indoor exposure to light (UV) and electronic devices before and after supplementation were recorded. The results showed that the lutein/zeaxanthin group exhibited significant improvement in overall sleep quality and levels of macular pigments, as well as CS and CFF, at three months. There were no changes in the placebo group. This trial found that increasing macular pigments via lutein/zeaxanthin isomers supplementation, might serve to absorb more blue light from sources (such as computer screens, tablets, or smartphones) that can be used during nighttime hours, and would otherwise provide a circadian signal to stay awake.

    (1. CFF is a diagnostic tool used for several purposes, including the degree of light or dark adaptation, i.e., the duration and intensity of previous exposure to background light, which affects both the intensity sensitivity and the time resolution of vision.)

    The second part was also a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 34 healthy individuals participated. The same supplementation regimen and assessment methods were used as with the 3-month study. Results were that at six months macular pigments, CFF, CS, sleep quality improved with lutein/ zeaxanthin supplementation, with no changes in the placebo group.

    Lack of sleep is a relatively common problem and is frequently treated with medications or alcohol— both of which are associated with undesirable side effects. Even melatonin and valerian root may have side effects for some individuals. Alternatively, include GABA, Apocynum venetum, ashwagandha, and lutein/zeaxanthin are other natural remedies, which have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without these side effects. Since these natural remedies work by different mechanisms, they can all be used at the same time without redundancy. They can also be used individually.


    1. Ancoli-Israel S, Roth T. Characteristics of insomnia in the United States: results of the 1991 National Sleep Foundation Survey. I. Sleep. 1999;22(Suppl 2):S347.53.
    2. Morin CM, LeBlanc M, Daley M, Gregoire JP, Merette C. Epidemiology of insomnia: prevalence, self-help treatments, consultations, and determinants of help-seeking behaviors. Sleep Med. 2006;7(2):123.30.
    3. Johnson EO, Roehrs T, Roth T, Breslau N. Epidemiology of alcohol and medication as aids to sleep in early adulthood. Sleep. 1998 Mar 15;21(2):178.86.
    4. PubMed Health: Insomina. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine Bethesda MD. Review Date: 8/16/2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011 from Insomnia/.
    5. Insomnia: Treatment & Drugs. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Jan. 7, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011 from Insomnia.
    6. Insomnia: Ibid.
    7. Buscemi N, Vandermeer B, Pandya R, et al. Melatonin for treatment of sleep disorders. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment #108. (Prepared by the Univ of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract#290-02-0023.) AHRQ Publ #05-E002-2. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. November 2004.
    8. Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1999;56:125.38.
    9. National Toxicology Program, US Department of Health and Human Services. Chemical Information Review Document for Valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) [CAS No. 8057-49-6] and Oils [CAS No. 8008-88-6]. Supporting Nomination for Toxicological Evaluation by the National Toxicology Program. November 2009.
    10. Kalant H, Roschlau WHE, Eds. Principles of Med. Pharmacology. New York, NY: Oxford Univ Press, 1998.
    11. Xie W, Zhang X, Wang T, Hu J. Botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Apocynum venetum L. (Luobuma): A review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 May 7;141(1):1.8.
    12. Yoto A, Ishihara S, Li-Yang J, Butterweck V, Yokogoshi H. The Stress Reducing Effect of γ-Aminobutyric Acid and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract on Changes in Concentration of Salivary Chromogranin A. Japanese Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 2009 14(3): 55.59.
    13. Yamatsu A, Yamashita Y, Maru I, Yang J, Tatsuzaki J, Kim M. The Improvement of Sleep by Oral Intake of GABA and Apocynum venetum Leaf Extract. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol(Tokyo). 2015;61(2):182.7.
    14. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What was the effect of a daily dose of 50 mg of Venetron® in individuals with mild depression over 8 weeks?
    15. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What effect does Venetron® have on patients with various degrees of depression?
    16. Venetron® brochure, Tokiwa. Summarized in Maypro document "Venetron Clinical Evidence." Topic: What have been the results of Venetron® in case studies of patients having depression, PMS, anxiety, and/or insomnia?
    17. Abdou AM, Higashiguchi S, Horie K, Kim M, Hatta H, Yokogoshi H. Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Biofactors. 2006;26(3):201-8.
    18. Nakamura H, Takishima T, Kometani T, Yokogoshi H. Psychological stress-reducing effect of chocolate enriched with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in humans: assessment of stress using heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 5:106.13.
    19. Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, Abedon B, Ghosal S. A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. JANA. 2008;11(1):2008:50.56.
    20. Nakashima Y, Ohta S1, Wolf AM2. Blue light-induced oxidative stress in live skin. Free Radic Biol Med. 2017 Mar 15. pii: S0891. 5849(17)30134-X.
    21. Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61.72.
    22. The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report.
    23. The Vision Council. Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect your eyes from digital devices. 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report.
    24. Smick K, et al. Blue Light Hazard: New Knowledge, New Approaches to Maintaining Ocular Health. Report of a Roundtable: March 16, 2013, New York City, NY, USA. Essilor of America.
    25. Kuse Y, Ogawa K, Tsruma K, Shimazawa M, Hara H. Damage of photoreceptor-derived cells in culture induced by light emitting diode-derived blue light. Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 9;4:5223.
    26. Tosini, Ibid.
    27. Wu J, Seregard S, Algvere PV. Photochemical damage of the retina. Surv Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep-Oct;51(5):461–81.
    28. Algvere PV, Marshall J, Seregard S. Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006 Feb;84(1):4–15.
    29. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). 2012. Health Effects of Artificial Light. Accessed from
    30. Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R, Klein BEK. Sunlight and age-related macular degeneration—the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111:514–8.
    31. Klein R, Klein BEK, Jensen SC, Cruickshanks KJ. The relationship of ocular factors to the incidence and progression of agerelated maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 1998;116:506–13.
    32. Algvere, Ibid.
    33. Taylor HR, Muñoz B, West S, Bressler NM, Bressler SB, Rosenthal FS. Visible light and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 1990;88:163–73.
    34. Figueiro MG. Individually tailored light intervention through closed eyelids to promote circadian alignment and sleep health. Sleep Health. 2015 Mar 1;1(1):75–82.
    35. Daneault V, Dumont M, Massé É, Vandewalle G, Carrier J. Light-sensitive brain pathways and aging. J Physiol Anthropol. 2016; Mar 15;35:9.
    36. Lockley SW, Evans EE, Scheer FA, Brainard GC, Czeisler CA, Aeschbach D. Short-wavelength sensitivity for the direct effects of light on alertness, vigilance, and the waking electroencephalogram in humans. Sleep. 2006 Feb;29(2):161–8.
    37. Richer S. Lutein and zeaxanthin protect against "bad blue" light. Eye Health Insider. December 2016: 4.
    38. Stringham J. Effects of three levels of lutein supplementation on macular pigment optical density, psychological stress levels, and overall health. Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Georgia. Unpublished. 2016:17 pgs.
    39. Lutein/Zeaxanthin Isomers Supplementation Impact on Vision Health. Unpublished. 2016:8 pgs.
    40. Blue Light Study Eye Stress. Unpublished. 2016: 2 pgs.
    41. Nurnberger JI Jr, Adkins S, Lahiri DK, et al. Melatonin suppression by light in euthymic bipolar and unipolar patients. Arch Gen Psychiatr 2000;57:572-9.
    42. Brzezinski A. Melatonin in humans. N Engl J Med 1997;336:186-95.
    43. Lissoni P, Barni S, Meregalli S, et al. Modulation of cancer endocrine therapy by melatonin: a phase II study of tamoxifen plus melatonin in metastatic breast cancer patients progressing under tamoxifen alone. Br J Cancer 1995;71:854-6.
    44. Brzezinski, Ibid.
    45. Daneault, Ibid.
    46. Yoshimura M, Kitazawa M, Maeda Y, Mimura M, Tsubota K, Kishimoto T. Smartphone viewing distance and sleep: an experimental study utilizing motion capture technology. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 Mar 8;9:59-65.
    47. Stringham JM et al. Short-term macular carotenois supplementation improves overall sleep quality. ARVO 2016 Annual Meeting Abstracts
  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the July 2018 issue of TotalHealth Magazine Online.

    This July issue 2018 celebrates the Fourth of July and the USA—United We Stand. Let our voices be heard at the voting booth and in the meantime treat others with kindness. Good for our health.

    This issue begins with Charles K. Bens, PhD, "Drug Resistant Germs, A Real Threat," educates us on what natural medicine has for you to use to conquer the bad viruses.

    Dallas Clouatre, PhD, provides information on a natural therapy many of us are not yet familiar with: Shilajit, Fulvic, And Humic Acids. "Shilajit typically is a blackish brown rock exudate that contains fulvic and humic acids (up to 85 percent of the total weight) along with a number of non-humic components, including local plant metabolites." Other names include "mineral pitch" and "moomio." Revered in the Indian Ayurvedic tradition," it is found exuding from rock fissures in the mountains of Asia. Most often it is found in the Himalayan foothills.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, discusses, "GABA, Apocynum Venetum, Ashwagandha, And Lutein/Zeaxanthin For Healthy Sleep." These natural remedies have shown promising results for promoting healthy sleep, but without the side effects of many of the pharmaceutical brands prescribed today. It is unwise to stop the prescription medications without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

    Jacob Teitelbaum, MD begins a four-part series on "Night Sweats—No Sweat." Taking a look at the causes and the remedies on how to address them. Don't be surprised if more than one underlying process is contributing.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM, focuses this month on, "Treating Feline Leukemia." What causes this condition and the treatment available to treat cats.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "French Fry Nightshade-FREE Alternatives." Those photos alone will make your mouth water and inspire you to purchase the ingredients on your next trip to the grocery store.

    Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, continues her Smart Fats Series with "Omega-7 And Butter," for all of us struggling to take off weight. Gittleman's expert experience will be of interest. And there will be no question of what you purchase in the future.

    Thanks to all the authors who make TotalHealthOnline possible.

    Happy 4th!

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full July 2018 issue.

    Click here to read the full July 2018 issue.

  • Blue light-which comes from sunlight, digital devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and artificial light,1,2,3,4,5,6 penetrates deeply into the human eye and has great potential to damage retinal tissue.7,8,9,10 This ongoing exposure to blue light (regardless of the source) is a major risk factor for various retinal pathologies.11,12,13,14 In fact, research15 has demonstrated that headaches, eye fatigue, disturbed visual acuity, mucosal dryness, and eye burning and other indications of eye strain are associated with the daily use of video display terminals on computers and other electronic devices, and are common with three or more hours/day of exposure. Furthermore, some research indicates blue light exposure from sunlight is a risk factor for the development of age-related macular degeneration.16,17 Such visual health-related symptoms in adults and children resulting from blue light digital exposure is now referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).18 Perhaps most alarming, children may be at higher risk for blue light retinal damage than adults, since their eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens.19,20

    Children's exposure to blue light
    More than 70 percent of American adults report their children receive more than two hours of screen time per day-and among the most popular activities children engage in are playing on a digital device (23.1 percent) and watching TV (20.1 percent). Not surprisingly, American adults report their children experience the following after being exposed to two or more hours of screen time:21

    • Headaches (8.8%)
    • Neck/shoulder pain (5%)
    • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes (9.1%)
    • Reduced attention span (15.2%)
    • Poor behavior (13.3%)
    • Irritability (13.5%)

    Now consider that personal electronic devices are able to stimulate blue-light-sensitive ganglion cell photoreceptors that regulate circadian rhythms.22 As a result, cellular telephone, tablet and personal computer use before bedtime can delay sleep onset, degrade sleep quality and impair alertness the following day.23 Extended use of these devices has also been shown to cause symptoms of dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches.24 Limitation of personal electronic device use before bedtime is recommended to be the most effective method for reducing light-induced sleep disruption in children.

    The importance of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers
    So besides restricting digital device us, what can concerned parents do to help protect their children's eyes from damaging blue light? Enter lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (rr- and rs-(meso)-zeaxanthin). These carotenoids (related to beta-carotene and lycopene) are found in high concentrations in the part of the retina where they play a critical role in protecting against blue light.25 Furthermore, supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin isomers can provide substantial protection against blue light damage.

    Of all the carotenoids, only lutein and zeaxanthin isomers are located in the eye, and make up the macular pigment. As a result of these carotenoids being yellow, they selectively absorb blue light, which protects the retina from associated damage. In short, they act as primary filters of blue light.

    However, the average daily intake of lutein and zeaxanthin in the U.S. is less than 2 mg and less than 0.5 mg, respectively-which is far below the 10-20 mg of lutein and 2-4 mg of zeaxanthin shown in research to be beneficial. That's why supplementation with these carotenoids is so important.

    Eye strain, eye fatigue, headache and visual performance

    A study conducted at the University of Georgia showed a relationship between exposure to blue light from digital devices and visual performance. They found that supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (as Lutemax® 2020 from OmniActive Health Technologies) reduced headaches, eye fatigue, and eye strain. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-month trial26,27,28 examined the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (as Lutemax® 2020) versus placebo. Two levels of daily lutein supplementation were used: 10 mg (2 mg Z), and 20 mg (4 mg Z). The results were that both doses significantly improved contrast sensitivity (CS), glare performance, and photo stress recovery (i.e. a clinical procedure measuring the amount of time required for the macula to return to its normal level of function after being exposed to a bright light source). In addition, lutein/zeaxanthin improved levels of BDNF, a neurotrophin that is particularly active in hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain-areas that are involved in learning, memory, and higher cognitive processes.29

    Stress and health
    Another 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial30 was conducted at the University of Georgia in 28 healthy subjects using three different daily dosage levels of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers (as Lutemax® 2020) versus placebo. The three doses of lutein were 6 mg (1.5 mg Z), 10 mg (2 mg Z), and 20 mg (4 mg Z), versus placebo. The results were that supplementation with lutein/zeaxanthin isomers increased the amount of optical pigment density (greater increase with higher doses), which helped subjects maintain a lower psychological stress profile (p = 0.0087). After 12 weeks of lutein supplementation, psychological stress levels were found to be reduced significantly. The placebo group did not change in this regard. Furthermore, those with higher optical pigment density tended to have fewer health-related problems, such as being sick less often and suffering less from allergies (p = 0.002). After 12 weeks of lutein supplementation, each group exhibited a significant reduction in health-related problems (6 mg: p = 0.041; 10 mg: p = 0.029; 20 mg: p = 0.047).

    Quality of sleep
    The primary function of melatonin, a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland,31 is regulation of the body's circadian rhythm, and sleep patterns.32,33 However, too much light exposure, particularly at night, can inhibit melatonin secretion and interfere with sleep.34,35 Even blue light from smart phones can negatively impact sleep with nighttime exposure.36 But lutein and zeaxanthin isomers can help. A 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 45 healthy individuals (the first of a two-part study37) found that 20 mg lutein and 4 mg zeaxanthin isomers daily (as Lutemax® 2020) significantly improved overall sleep quality (p = 0.0063), with no changes in the placebo group. The second 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 34 healthy individuals found similar results.

    Delivery forms
    Generally, lutein/zeaxanthin isomers are readily available as capsule or tablet supplements for adults. Children, however, cannot easily swallow capsules or tablets. Consequently, chewable tablets or gummies are preferable lutein/zeaxanthin isomer delivery forms for children. Gummies, in particular, are likely the best choice as children tend to see gummies as a treat, rather than treatment-so to speak.

    Blue light, especially from digital devices, has the potential to damage retinal tissue and cause a variety of eye-related problems, including eye strain, eye fatigue, headache, visual impairment, psychological stress, and poor sleep quality. This is particularly true in children since their eyes absorb more blue light than adults. The good news is that daily supplementation with lutein (10-20 mg) and zeaxanthin isomers (2-4 mg)-most likely in a gummy supplement-can help reduce these risks and support eye health.


    1. Nakashima Y, Ohta S1, Wolf AM2. Blue light-induced oxidative stress in live skin. Free Radic Biol Med. 2017 Mar 15. pii: S0891-5849(17)30134-X.
    2. Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61-72.
    3. The Vision Council. Eyes Overexposed: The Digital Device Dilemma. 2016 Digital Eye Strain Report.
    4. The Vision Council. Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect your eyes from digital devices. 2015 Digital Eye Strain Report.
    5. Smick K, et al. Blue Light Hazard: New Knowledge, New Approaches to Maintaining Ocular Health. Report of a Roundtable: March 16, 2013, New York City, NY, USA. Essilor of America.
    6. Kuse Y, Ogawa K, Tsruma K, Shimazawa M, Hara H. Damage of photoreceptor-derived cells in culture induced by light emitting diode-derived blue light. Sci Rep. 2014 Jun 9;4:5223.
    7. Tosini G, Ferguson I, Tsubota K. Effects of blue light on the circadian system and eye physiology. Mol Vis. 2016 Jan 24;22:61-72.
    8. Wu J, Seregard S, Algvere PV. Photochemical damage of the retina. Surv Ophthalmol. 2006 Sep-Oct;51(5):461-81.
    9. Algvere PV, Marshall J, Seregard S. Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006 Feb;84(1):4-15.
    10. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). 2012. Health Effects of Artificial Light. Accessed from
    11. Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R, Klein BEK. Sunlight and age-related macular degeneration-the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 1993;111:514-8.
    12. Klein R, Klein BEK, Jensen SC, Cruickshanks KJ. The relationship of ocular factors to the incidence and progression of age-related maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol.1998;116:506-13.
    13. Algvere PV, Marshall J, Seregard S. Age-related maculopathy and the impact of blue light hazard. Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 2006;84:4-15.
    14. Taylor HR, Muñoz B, West S, Bressler NM, Bressler SB, Rosenthal FS. Visible light and risk of age-related macular degeneration. Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 1990;88:163-73.
    15. Kowalska M, Zejda JE, Bugajska J, Braczkowska B, Brozek G, Mali?ska M. [Eye symptoms in office employees working at computer stations]. [Article in Polish] Med Pr. 2011;62(1):1-8.
    16. Tomany SC, Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R, Klein BE, Knudtson MD. Sunlight and the 10-year incidence of age-related maculopathy: the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Arch Ophthalmol. 2004;122:750-7.
    17. Cruickshanks KJ, Klein R, Klein BE, Nondahl DM. Sunlight and the 5-year incidence of early age-related maculopathy: the beaver dam eye study. Arch Ophthalmol. 2001;119:246-50.
    18. Akinbinu TR, Mashalla YJ. Impact of computer technology on health: Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Medical Practice and Review. 2014;5(3):20-30.
    19. Boettner EA, Wolter JR. Transmission of the Ocular Media. Investigative Ophthalmology 1962;1:776-83.
    20. Behar-Cohen F, Martinsons C, Viénot F, Zissis G, Barlier-Salsi A, Cesarini JP, Enouf O, Garcia M, Picaud S, Attia D. Light-emitting diodes (LED) for domestic lighting: any risks for the eye? Prog Retin Eye Res. 2011 Jul;30(4):239-57.
    21. Digital Eye Strain. The Vision Council. Retrieved February 19, 2019 from
    22. Berson DM, Dunn FA, Takao M. Phototransduction by retinal ganglion cells that set the circadian clock. Science 2002;295:1070-3.
    23. Chang AM, Aeschbach D, Duffy JF, Czeisler CA. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015;112:1232-7.
    24. Klamm J, Tarnow KG. Computer Vision Syndrome: A Review of Literature. Medsurg Nurs 2015;24:89-93.
    25. Bone RA. Landrum JT. Distribution of macular pigment components, zeaxanthin and lutein, in human retina. Methods Enzymol 1992:213:360-6.
    26. Stringham JM, O'Brien KJ, Stringham NT. Macular carotenoid supplementation improves disability glare performance and dynamics of photo stress recovery. Eye Vis (Lond). 2016 Nov 11;3:30.
    27. Stringham NT, Holmes PV, Stringham JM. Supplementation with macular carotenoids reduces psychological stress, serum cortisol, and sub-optimal symptoms of physical and emotional health in young adults. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Feb 15:1-11.
    28. Contrast sensitivity - Accepted (IOVS) in press.
    29. Stringham NT et al. Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Increases Serum BDNF in Healthy Young Adults. EB Abstract 2016.
    30. Stringham J. Effects of three levels of lutein supplementation on macular pigment optical density, psychological stress levels, and overall health. Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory, University of Georgia. Unpublished. 2016:17 pgs.
    31. Nurnberger JI Jr, Adkins S, Lahiri DK, et al. Melatonin suppression by light in euthymic bipolar and unipolar patients. Arch Gen Psychiatr 2000;57:572-9.
    32. Brzezinski A. Melatonin in humans. N Engl J Med 1997;336:186-95.
    33. Lissoni P, Barni S, Meregalli S, et al. Modulation of cancer endocrine therapy by melatonin: a phase II study of tamoxifen plus melatonin in metastatic breast cancer patients progressing under tamoxifen alone. Br J Cancer 1995;71:854-6.
    34. Brzezinski A. Melatonin in humans. N Engl J Med 1997;336:186-95.
    35. Daneault V, Dumont M, Massé É, Vandewalle G, Carrier J. Light-sensitive brain pathways and aging. J Physiol Anthropol. 2016 Mar 15;35:9.
    36. Yoshimura M, Kitazawa M, Maeda Y, Mimura M, Tsubota K, Kishimoto T. Smartphone viewing distance and sleep: an experimental study utilizing motion capture technology. Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 Mar 8;9:59-65.
    37. Stringham JM et al. Short-term macular carotenois supplementation improves overall sleep quality. ARVO 2016 Annual Meeting Abstracts.
  • A close look at the research today, shows that eye health is only part of the Lutein story. Lutein is an antioxidant, and its antioxidant properties have great potential for the body . . .

    The eye nutrient lutein (pronounced LOO teen) has seen steady growth in the dietary supplement aisle of natural food stores for more than five years. Primarily due to the body of evidence showing its role in long-term eye health. Now manufacturers and consumers are discovering additional benefits offered by this powerful antioxidant.

    For decades researchers have been studying lutein-where it is found and what its role is in nature. And since the early 1980s, many scientists have investigated its role in humans, with the major focus being eye health. The majority of evidence indicates that consumption of lutein, found abundantly in dark green leafy vegetables, may reduce the risk of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.

    Recent scientific studies showing a clear association between lutein intake and a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts are capturing the attention of both consumers and their eye doctors. The need is growing clearer:

    • One out of four people aged 65 or older has early signs of AMD.
    • One out of two people aged 65 or older has a cataract or cloudiness in the eye's lens.
    • As the largest population group in the United States ages, many people are facing the likelihood of what some simply accept as part of aging, vision loss.

    A Food and Nutrition Board report found that lutein is the nutrient most strongly associated with decreased risk of AMD and cataracts.

    Lutein and Age-related Macular Degeneration
    Prevent Blindness America estimates that 13 million people in this country have evidence of AMD, a condition that gradually destroys central vision. While the exact cause of this debilitating condition is still unknown, family history and age are known factors.

    Lutein is found in the macula's "yellow spot," a tiny region at the center of the retina. This tiny yellow spot filters blue light for the color vision cells within the retina. The researchers found that lutein is deposited in the retina and macula, increasing its density and protecting the tissue from oxidation by filtering blue light and quenching free radicals.

    Experts say that by the time a person exhibits symptoms of AMD the disease has been developing for decades. Baby Boomers are showing concern about their aging eyesight and stocking up on supplement products formulated with lutein to reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration. Lutein and Cataracts
    While cataracts generally occur in people over the age of 65, they are occasionally found in younger people as well. A cataract is a clouding that develops in the normally clear lens of the eye. This process prevents the lens from properly focusing light on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in a loss of vision.
    Lutein's link to cataracts is recent but well documented. Studies published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intake of lutein and its fellow carotenoid antioxidant, zeaxanthin, had a 22 percent reduced risk for cataracts; men had 19 percent reduced risk.

    "Many people have been told that nothing can be done about cataracts-that they are a natural effect of the aging process," says Robert Abel, Jr. M.D., author of The Eye Care Revolution and member of the Lutein Information Bureau Advisory Board. "But they're now finding out that dietary changes, including consumption of lutein, may have a significant impact on risk reduction."

    "Historically, much of the available information about lutein has been focused on AMD and cataracts because these were the area of concern by the research community early on. And consumers are very interested in eye health, according to a number of surveys," says Amy Cone, product manager for FloraGLO® Lutein at Kemin Foods. "A close look at the research today, however, shows that eye health is only part of the story. Lutein is an antioxidant and its antioxidant properties have great potential throughout the body where lutein is naturally deposited, including the skin, breast tissue and the cervix.

    "This obviously makes lutein a critical nutrient for women in particular," she adds. A recent search of the National Library of Medicine's Medline database shows the number of eye health studies involving lutein has doubled in the past two years to 96. Also more than 35 studies included lutein's role in cardiovascular health; 21 breast cancer studies included lutein; eight studies discussed lutein activity in skin. Over 100 studies report the connection between lutein and various other cancers.

    Lutein is a compelling subject for scientists looking at protecting organs and tissues against oxidation, results in this area are exciting and add to the convincing evidence about lutein and its benefit to health.

    Table 1: Lutein-related research

    Condition February 2003 February 2002
    Eye health 96 44
    Cardiovascular health 36 5
    Breast cancer 21 12
    Diabetes 9 3
    Skin health 8 6
    Immune response 6 5
    Source: Medline search, March 2003

    Some Research Highlights:

    • 2001 observational study in humans and an intervention study of mice indicated that high levels of lutein in the serum help reduce thickening of arterial walls associated with cardiovascular disease.
    • In 2001, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that subjects with the highest serum levels of lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene had 50 percent less risk of developing breast cancer than those with the lowest levels of lutein.
    • In 2001, researchers at Tufts University and the Catholic University in Seoul, South Korea, measured lutein and zeaxanthin in breast cancer patients and a control group, and found the highest level of lutein was associated with an 88 percent decrease in breast cancer risk compared to the lowest serum lutein level.
    • A 2001 intervention study in mice showed that lutein helps reduce skin inflammation caused by UV-B radiation.
    • A German study in 2000 showed that redness of the skin resulting from UV radiation exposure was significantly reduced after supplementation with carotenoids, including lutein.

    While this is good news, the majority of the U.S. population is not currently getting enough lutein through their diet. Researchers estimate that the average American consumes just 1 to 2 mg/day of lutein and zeaxanthin. The majority of the eye health studies, however, suggest a consumption at least 6 mg/day promotes better health.

    Research in other areas has yet to define any ideal or recommended levels, but current published studies suggest that women in particular may need more than 6 mg of lutein per day to protect the eyes, the skin and the breast as well as other organs where lutein may play a role.

    To bridge this gap in lutein consumption, consumers need to eat more of the foods that naturally contain lutein, including dark green leafy vegetables. FloraGLO Lutein is an ingredient that is identical to lutein in leafy green vegetables. FloraGLO can be found in leading multivitamins, supplements and eye health formulas as well as a host of new fortified foods and beverages available at natural foods stores and mainstream grocery stores.

    FloraGLO Lutein is found in a number of dietary supplement products and is now an approved ingredient for use in a number of fortified food and beverage categories, including breakfast and granola bars, fruit juices, fruit drinks, ready-to-eat cereals, meal replacement drinks, mixed vegetable drinks, soy milk, nutritional bars, energy drinks, egg substitutes, fermented milk and yogurt products. This means consumers will soon have even more opportunities to increase lutein consumption, easily and conveniently.


    1. Dwyer, J.H., Navab, M. et al. (2001). "Oxygenated carotenoid lutein and progression of early atherosclerosis: the Los Angeles atherosclerosis study." Circulation Vol. 103(24). pp. 2922-7.
    2. Toniolo, P., Van Kappel, A.L. et al. (2001). "Serum carotenoids and breast cancer." Am J Epidemiol Vol. 153(12). pp. 1142-7.
    3. Kim, M.K., Ahn, S.H. et al. (2001). "Relationship of serum alpha-tocopherol, carotenoids and retinal with the risk of breast cancer." Nutr Res Vol. 21. pp.797-809.
    4. Faulhaber, D., Granstein, R.D. et al. (2001). Lutein inhibits UVB radiation-induced tissues swelling and suppression of the induction of contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in the mouse. The Society of Investigative Dermatology, 62nd Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.
    5. Stahl, W., Heinrich, U. et al (2000). "Carotenoids and carotenoids plus vitamin E protect against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans." Am J Clin Nutr Vol. 71(3) pp. 795-8. Volume 25, No. 2

  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the March 2019 issue of TotalHealth Magazine.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, in “The Biochemistry Of Smoking: Helping the Brain To Live Without Nicotine” gives us an explanation on the effects of nicotine on the brain, showing why it is so difficult to quit smoking. Bens goes on with his experience with several individuals who were able to change their lifestyle through diet and exercise, and lead healthy lives. This is not to say one shouldn’t quit smoking but changing one’s lifestyle is a big influence on one’s health.

    In “Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Protectors for Your Children,” Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), enlightens readers on blue light, especially from digital devices. It has the potential to damage retinal tissue and cause a variety of eye-related problems, including eye strain, eye fatigue, headache, visual impairment, psychological stress and poor sleep quality. This is particularly true in children since their eyes absorb more blue light than adults.

    How Smart Fats Reset Your Hunger Hormones,” Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, focus is on Adiponectin; a real hormone game changer that you may not be very familiar with. It is a big player in firing up belly fat burn and is known as the body’s “fat burning torch.” This special super hormone that flips your body’s fat burning switch is already circulating in your bloodstream because it is made in your fat cells. Adiponectin is balanced by monounsaturated omega-rich foods and oils as: olives and olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, and macadamias and macadamia nut oil.

    Jacob E. Teitelbaum, MD, offers “X-Rays Meaningless for Arthritis and Back Pain?” We’ve known for decades that spinal X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans add very little information about back pain. They most often DON’T tell doctors whether the pain is coming from the spine or from disc, arthritic or bone disease. (Though they MAY reveal if the problem can be fixed with a chiropractic adjustment.)

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, contributes “One Dish Baked Caprese Chicken.” Another of Gilbère’s fabulous recipes from her test kitchen in Ecuador. In addition to this recipe Gilbère offers two recipes to use for leftovers. Included is background on the health benefits of organic chicken.

    Shawn Messonnier’s, DVM, topic this month is “Pinellia Combination in Pets.” Pinellia combination is a Chinese herbal mix. This formula contains ginseng, ginger, jujube, Coptis and Scute, along with pinellia, and is for vomiting in pets. Because of the Chinese diagnosis and classification of diseases, the ingredients in each formula may vary. Individual Chinese pharmacists include herbs in their tented formulas based upon their experience. However, they can compound formulas to the needs of an individual pet.

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

  • Digital device use and screen time have long been on the rise, but now during the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of time we spend in front of screens has skyrocketed.1 Whether we are teleconferencing for work, homeschooling, virtually connecting with family and friends, watching television, streaming, or gaming, increased or prolonged screen time at any age has become the new normal in our daily routines.

    It is no surprise that increased exposure to digital screens and the blue light, which emits from them, has raised health concerns, especially for eye health.

    Blue light is a component of the visible spectrum of light—think of the colors seen in a rainbow. Of the different colors that make up natural light, blue light contains high energy and it is everywhere because the sun emits it and so do artificial light sources such as the digital screens of smartphones, laptops, tablets, computer monitors and even televisions. Blue light also emits via energy-saving bulbs such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

    It is important to distinguish between the health effects of natural and artificial sources of blue light.

    Blue light exposure from the sun plays a role in regulating our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. In the morning, blue light from the sun suppresses a hormone called melatonin, which regulates sleep and signals it is time to wake up. In the evening, less blue light signals an increase in melatonin production, which helps us sleep. However, blue light from digital devices may interrupt this cycle.

    This natural blue light cycle is interrupted by artificial sources of blue light from digital screens, compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, and light emitting diodes (LEDs) to which we are exposed during all hours of the day and night. Studies have shown that increased exposure to blue light during the evening hours, particularly two hours before bedtime, interrupts our circadian patterns, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.2

    More importantly, excessive blue light exposure from digital devices may impact eye health, the most common being digital eyestrain with symptoms that include difficulty focusing, blurred vision, dry eye and light sensitivity to name a few. While there is no evidence linking blue light to permanent vision loss, we should be concerned about protecting our eyes from too much exposure for better health and performance. Additionally, the impact of blue light on children may have a similar or greater effect on vision because their eyes are still developing and may be more sensitive to exposure. There is preliminary research indicating that screen time may contribute to hyperactivity and decreased attention spans.3

    How can we protect against blue light exposure given our unavoidable need for digital devices and often-required high levels of screen time? Though many people may think that blue blocking glasses or screen filters are enough, there are more powerful and natural ways to safeguard against the potential harmful effects of blue light. The most effective way to protect against blue light exposure is by optimizing our intake of three key nutrients.

    Nature has provided our eyes with internal blue light protection—three pigments called lutein, zeaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin. Collectively referred to as the “macular carotenoids,” these three pigments are found in high concentrations within the macula, or central retina.4 These pigments act as a frontline defense by filtering high-energy blue light and protecting against the effects of prolonged screen time. Out of all three pigments, meso-zeaxanthin, is the most potent of the macular carotenoids because of its powerful antioxidant capability.5 Essentially, the three macular carotenoids are our innate blue blockers.

    Because our bodies cannot make these protective pigments, which our eyes need, we must get them as nutrients, either from our diet or from supplementation.

    Lutein and zeaxanthin come from plants that are found abundantly in dark green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and romaine lettuce); yellow and orange bell peppers; cilantro; and parsley. Egg yolk and corn are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin,5 and a rich source of zeaxanthin is the spice, paprika. Unfortunately, unlike lutein and zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin is not readily found in high quantities in foods.5

    Obtaining enough of the macular carotenoids from diet alone can be challenging. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,6 only 10 percent of American adults eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, while only nine percent of America's youth eats the recommended amount of fruits, and two percent eat the recommended amounts of vegetables each day. The lack of adequate dietary intake in children may be even more concerning because, as evidence suggests, their eyes are still developing and, therefore, may be more susceptible to the effects of blue light than an adult's eyes.

    Recommended intake and clinical research indicate the optimum levels of lutein are at least 6-20 mg/day and of zeaxanthin are 1-4 mg/day. However, most people on a western diet usually get only 1-2 mg of lutein daily and less than 1 mg of zeaxanthin. Meso-zeaxanthin, because it is found in only trace quantities in food, may be missing altogether. Thus, many people are deficient in these important eye health nutrients. To make up for the gap, supplementation provides an easy way to protect the eyes against blue light exposure.

    There are a wide variety of eye health supplements available on the market and each has a different formulation, making it difficult to choose. Many only contain two out of the three pigments—often lacking meso-zeaxanthin. In doing research for my book on prevention of macular degeneration through proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, I've reviewed more than 40 of the top eye health supplements. I carefully looked at ingredients, dosing, formulation and bioavailability. In my research, I identified an ingredient called Lutemax 2020, which provides all three of these macular carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. The ingredient is a natural extract of marigold flowers and provides all three nutrients in the same 5:1 ratio as is found naturally in the diet.

    In addition, Lutemax 2020 has strong science to back its benefits for vision and sleep. Multiple clinical studies support the role of Lutemax 2020 in increasing the macular carotenoid pigments in the retina,7 protecting our eyes during prolonged digital device use, improving visual performance and improving sleep quality.8 A double-blind, placebo controlled trial found that supplementing with Lutemax 2020 reduced eye fatigue and eyestrain resulting from prolonged digital device use.8 Also noted in this study were improvements in measures of vision including the ability to recover from bright lights (photo-stress recovery); the ability to judge distance and distinguish different objects from each other (contrast sensitivity); and improve the ability of the eyes to tolerate glare and bright light conditions (glare performance). Lutemax 2020 can be found in a variety of blue light and vision supplements including gummy supplements, which are great for children and adults (just look for Lutemax 2020 on the ingredient label).

    Our society's dependence on digital technology has accelerated significantly during the current pandemic and extended screen time is now becoming the "new normal" not only for adults, but also for children. This trend is expected to continue even when the pandemic is a distant memory. Because of this new reality, it is important to be proactive when safeguarding our eyes from blue light, as well as ensuring optimal visual performance despite the demands of increased screen time.

    1. Nielsen Global Media .
    2. Bedrosian TA, Nelson RJ. Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain circuits. Transl Psychiatry. 2017;7(1):e1017. Published 2017 Jan 31. doi:10.1038/tp.2016.262.
    3. Christakis DA, Zimmerman FJ, DiGiuseppe DL, McCarty CA. Early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems in children. Pediatrics. 2004;113(4):708¡V13. doi:10.1542/peds.113.4.708.
    4. Eisenhauer B, Natoli S, Liew G, Flood VM. Lutein and Zeaxanthin-Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):120. Published 2017 Feb 9. doi:10.3390/nu9020120.
    5. Nolan JM, Meagher K, Kashani S, Beatty S. What is mesozeaxanthin, and where does it come from? Eye (Lond). 2013;27(8):899¡V905. doi:10.1038/eye.2013.98
    6. STATE INDICATOR REPORT ON Fruits and Vegetables.
    7. Stringham JM, Stringham NT. Serum and retinal responses to three different doses of macular carotenoids over 12 weeks of supplementation. Exp Eye Res. 2016;151:1¡V8. doi:10.1016/j. exer.2016.07.005.
    8. Stringham JM, Stringham NT, O'Brien KJ. Macular Carotenoid Supplementation Improves Visual Performance, Sleep Quality, and Adverse Physical Symptoms in Those with High Screen Time Exposure. Foods. 2017;6(7):47. Published 2017 Jun 29. doi:10.3390/foods6070047.