Thursday, March 29, 2007

Canadian study indicates that quality of nutritional supplements is still a concern

In a recent study, researchers discovered that more than half of the nutritional supplements tested did not disintegrate properly. Included in the test were 39 tablets and 10 capsules containing minerals and vitamins commercially available on the Canadian market. USANA's Multimineral was included in the test. The first disintegration stage was performed using Simulated Intestinal Fluid (SIF) pH 6.8 for 20 minutes. Products which did not disintegrate were further analyzed using USP disintegration conditions for dietary supplements. Of the 39 tablets tested, only 18 products (which included Usana's Multimineral) disintegrated fully at the first stage. The 21 tablets that did not pass the first stage were then tested for disintegration using USP conditions. Nine tablets still failed to disintegrate, including all three timed-release products tested. Forty-percent of the capsules also failed the first stage, although all ten eventually passed when subjected to USP testing conditions. This study illustrates that disintegration, one basic indicator of product quality, is still a concern for dietary supplements. J Pharm Pharmaceut Sci ( 9(1):40-49, 2006 (1)/Loebenberg.R/tablets.pdf

The mediterranean diet

Description of the Mediterranean Diet

What are the key aspects of the Mediterranean
diet? Surprisingly, the Mediterranean diet
contains higher levels of fat intake than even the
typical western diet. However, the primary source
of fat in the Mediterranean diet is made up of
omega-3 essential fats and monounsaturated fats.
(These fats are found primarily in our vegetables,
nuts, legumes, and cold-water fish.) Both of these
fats have actually been shown to lower total
cholesterol along with LDL (bad cholesterol). In
fact, 20% to 30% of the calories in the
Mediterranean diet come from these fats, while
less than 10% of the calories come from saturated
fat. This group of foods contains almost no fat
from trans-fats.
The Mediterranean diet is loaded with fresh fruits,
fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts
which contain the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants,
and fiber that are critical for optimal health. These
carbohydrates also contain the good fat and the
good protein. About 50 to 60% of the calories in
the Mediterranean diet come from these types of
carbohydrates. The diet contains a large intake of
olives and olive oil, but is low in red meat and
most dairy products, though low-fat cheese is
consumed frequently.

The Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is characterized by an
expanding waistline, increasing blood pressure,
poor lipid pattern, increased risk of heart disease
and diabetes. It is the underlying problem of the
obesity and diabetes epidemic that modern
civilization faces today. On top of that, people with
metabolic syndrome have increased inflammation
in their arteries along with dysfunction and
damage to the very fine lining of their blood
vessels, called the endothelium. Over 25% of the
population in the US and Canada already have
the metabolic syndrome and another 25% are well
on their way to developing it.

The lead study in last month’s JAMA investigated
180 patients who had the metabolic syndrome.
They divided these individuals into two groups.
One group was placed on the Mediterranean diet
and the other ate the typical American diet. Both
of these groups had similar activity levels and
received similar instruction on healthy living. They
followed these two groups closely over the next
two years.

After 2 years, the patients on the Mediterranean
diet were experiencing these results:
*Significant decrease in body weight
*Decreased waist circumference
*Decreased blood pressure
*Decreased fasting blood sugar
*Increased HDL (good cholesterol,)
*Decreased triglyceride level.

In fact, nearly half of this group actually reversed
their insulin resistance and their metabolic
syndrome. They also had a significant reduction
in the inflammation of their arteries and
improvement in the function of their endothelium.
Investigators obviously concluded that the
Mediterranean diet is a safe strategy for treating
metabolic syndrome and for reducing the
incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
without the use of drugs and the risks that come
with them. Doesn’t it make sense that
developing a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy
and delicious diet, should be our first-line therapy
for the treatment of the metabolic syndrome?

The other study investigated the effects of the
Mediterranean diet and lifestyle factors on
healthful aging. In the industrialized countries,
about 75% of deaths in individuals over the age of
65 are due to either cardiovascular disease or
cancer. Numerous studies show that diet and
lifestyles are directly linked to these degenerative
diseases, regardless of predisposing factors.
People in this 10-year study who ate a
Mediterranean-style diet, exercised moderately,
limited their alcohol intake, and did not smoke or
who had not smoked for at least 15 years, lived
longer, healthier lives. In fact, they had over a
50% decrease in deaths from all causes of death,
including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
These findings were true even in elderly subjects
who made these healthy lifestyle changes.

Use my username 'andrewwilmot' and password 'james'
Healthy for Life Newsletter
November 2004 Vol.1 No. 10

Read full article here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Did anyone see Horizon's "Prof Regan's Beauty Parlour"?

... on Tuesday 27 March 2007, 9pm, BBC Two???

Summary and podcast here ...

Professor Regan is one of the UK's most well-respected (and glamorous) medical experts. She turned her scientific eye on the world of cosmetics. She's just turned 50, and was out to create an experimentally proven beauty cabinet.

She wanted to find a collection of scientifically-tested and proven beauty products such as face creams/moisturisers and hair products which met her high standards.

She didn't find many and those she did weren't the expensive brand names ... for the face products she tested six leading brands of which one was a control - a simple moisturiser E45 which fell at the first hurdle.

What worked for her was a product with at least SPF15 and with high amounts of antioxidants C and E.

I wonder what she would have made of my recommended products with patent-pending self-preserving formulas, SPF15, high amounts of grape seed extract and a stable form of vitamin C which does not so readily oxidize in contact with air - and with clinical test results through independent third party laboratories.

Her concluding advice was:

  • prefer PL products - a licenced medicine with a product licence - many cosmeceuticals do not go this down this route as it would take years of testing;

  • read the small print - several banned adverts from leading brands were given for illustration; and

  • have there been scientific tests? If not then test yourself - one side of your face or hair with product A and the other side with Product B for example ... and then get 100 friends to do the same.

  • So my offer to you is to try a sample of my recommended products from a science-based research company in the form of a handy travel pack at a 50% discount of wholesale cost i.e. say £7.

    Any takers?

    Best wishes,

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    Cellular nutrition - a new concept in nutritional medicine

    There are over 180 epidemiologic studies (studies that involve a very large number of people) that all show the very same thing. Those individuals who have the highest levels of total antioxidants in their body compared with those who have the lowest levels have a 2 to 3 fold decreased risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s dementia. Obviously, those individuals who consume more of the fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain a large amount of these antioxidants, had the highest levels of antioxidants in their body. This only makes logical sense when you understand the concept of oxidative stress as being the root cause of over 70 of these chronic degenerative diseases.

    Therefore, a physician would conclude the best thing that they could advise their patients to do is to be consuming at least 8 to 12 servings of fresh whole fruits and vegetables each and every day. The second best thing would be to recommend high quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements that provided cellular nutrition.

    Cellular nutrition would be defined as providing ALL of the micronutrients to the cell at these optimal or advanced levels that have been shown to provide a health benefit. Only one or two that showed a positive result in the medical literature. In other words, you would want your supplementation needs to be balanced and complete, much like a healthy diet is.
    The only difference is the fact that, unlike today’s food supply, supplementation can provide all of these nutrients at optimal levels. We all need to be supplement a healthy diet.

    Cellular nutrition has been shown in our medical literature to build up our body’s natural immune system, antioxidant system, and repair system. You not only replenish any nutritional deficiency within 6 months of supplementation, but you also optimize all of the body’s micronutrients. You are given the absolute best chance to reverse or prevent any oxidative stress and protect your health. You see, nutritional supplementation is really about health—not disease. Nutritional supplements are natural to the body and the nutrients the body requires to function at its optimal level.

    Every man, woman, and child should not only supplement a healthy diet but also be involved in a modest exercise program. This is the key to protecting and maintaining your health. However, what if you have already lost your health and have developed one of these chronic degenerative diseases? Does supplementation provide any hope? This is the question that I had to answer for myself and for my patients. This has been the focus of my practice for the past 11 years and why I have developed my online practice located at

    For full article from Dr. Ray Strand, see here.

    To access, feel free to use my username 'andrewwilmot' and password 'james'.

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Vitamin D deficiencies widespread among pregnant women and infants despite prenatal vitamin usage

    Vitamin D deficiency early in life is associated with rickets, a disorder characterized by soft bones. New research has shown that despite taking a prenatal vitamin, vitamin D deficiency is very common in pregnant women and newborn infants. Higher-dose supplementation and increased sun exposure is needed to improve maternal and infant vitamin D status.

    Even among those taking prenatal multivitamin supplements, vitamin D levels were found to be insufficient or deficient in pregnant women, particularly in African-American women and women living in northern regions, according to new research published in the Journal of Nutrition. Researchers took blood samples from 400 pregnant women - 200 black women and 200 white women - before 22 weeks gestation and again after delivery. More than 80% of African American women and nearly half of white women tested at delivery had levels of vitamin D that were insufficient, even though more than 90% of them used prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. In addition, umbilical cord blood from newborns showed 92.4% of African American babies and 66.1% of white infants had insufficient vitamin D levels at birth, leaving them at risk for rickets and other health problems. A newborn relies completely on its mother for its vitamin D stores. These results suggest that black and white pregnant women and newborns residing in the northern US are at high risk of vitamin D insufficiency, even when mothers regularly take prenatal vitamins. Higher-dose supplementation is needed to improve maternal and infant vitamin D status.

    Higher antioxidant intakes reduce risk of lung cancer in male smokers

    Research in the 1990's seemed to indicate that beta-carotene supplements may increase lung cancer risk in smokers. However, a new analysis of dietary records from one of these studies led researchers to a different conclusion. Male smokers with the highest overall antioxidant intake, including beta-carotene, actually had a reduced risk of lung cancer.

    In observational studies, a high intake of individual antioxidants was related to increased lung cancer risk in male smokers. However, data from many experiments suggest that there are interactions among antioxidant nutrients; therefore, consideration of multiple antioxidants simultaneously may be important in terms of assessing risk. Yale University researchers evaluated dietary records of participants in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study (ATBC). A group of over 27,000 Finnish male smokers aged 50-69 had food records analyzed along with intakes of carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin C. After evaluating the overall intake of antioxidants in this group, the conclusion differs somewhat from the original study. According to this new analysis, the men with higher overall intakes of antioxidants had lower relative risks of lung cancer, regardless of their assigned study group (beta-carotene or placebo). While researchers of the ATBC study concluded that high-dose beta-carotene supplementation may increase lung cancer risk in male smokers, these findings support the hypothesis that a combination of dietary antioxidants reduces lung cancer risk in men who smoke.

    Source: Development of a Comprehensive Dietary Antioxidant Index and Application to Lung Cancer Risk in a Cohort of Male Smokers, Margaret E. Wright, Susan T. Mayne, Rachael Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, Zhaohai Li, Pirjo Pietinen, Philip R. Taylor, Jarmo Virtamo, and Demetrius Albanes, American Journal of Epidemiology 2004 Jul 1; 160(1):68-76

    JAMA meta-analysis of antioxidants - flawed data, biased analysis, and inappropriate conclusions

    Recent news stories sensationalizing the results of a new controversial study reported in the February 28, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) imply that antioxidants do not have health benefits, and in fact, may lead to increased mortality. In our analysis of this study, we see little or no evidence to support this conclusion.

    Source: Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Bjelakovic et al, JAMA. 2007;297:842-857

    It is important to understand that this current study is not a new clinical trial, but a statistical analysis determined from many studies (called a meta- analysis). Meta-analysis studies are actually designed to pool similar studies for statistical comparison. However for this meta-analysis, the authors combined studies that differed vastly in design, use rates, duration, and study population. After careful review, it appears that the authors simply analyzed data that fit a predetermined conclusion, which is an invalid use of a statistical method. This is a great example of improper statistical use in research methodology.

    There is a large body of data including observational studies, prospective epidemiological studies and randomized clinical studies that have shown positive benefits of antioxidant supplementation (including reduced cardiovascular disease, some cancers, immune support and reduced progression of eye disease). Interestingly, these studies were excluded from the analysis. And while the initial analysis examined 1201 research papers from 815 trials, only 68 trials were actually used in the final analysis. Furthermore, when the initial results from this data did not show any effect on death rates, the authors removed an additional 21 studies (called a sub analysis) to draw their conclusion that supplements increase risk of mortality.

    Interestingly, in these 47 remaining studies, the doses used greatly exceeded normal use rates, and in many cases, were well above tolerable upper intake limits (UL) (i.e. they used doses that may not be safe). In contrast, the studies eliminated from this study generally used doses that did not exceed the UL and were more in line with actual use rates.

    Finally, the majority of the studies examined are secondary prevention studies. That is, the study populations had already been diagnosed with diseases such as heart disease and cancers. This is a very risky population to study, and conclusions from these studies should not be used to make recommendations for prevention in generally health populations.

    We are not the only ones who have criticized these results. Several scientific organizations and other researchers have already published criticisms of this paper. Professor Balz Frei director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University stated:

    "This is a flawed analysis of flawed data, and it does little to help us understand the real health effects of antioxidants, whether beneficial or otherwise. Instead of causing harm, the totality of the evidence indicates that antioxidants from foods or supplements have many health benefits, including reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, eye disease and neurodegenerative disease. In addition, they are a key to an enhanced immune system and resistance to infection.

    The "meta-analysis" published in JAMA, which is a statistical analysis of previously published data, looked at 815 antioxidant trials but included only 68 of them in its analysis. And two of the studies excluded " which were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and the prominent British medical journal Lancet " found substantial benefits and reduced mortality from intake of antioxidant supplements."

    "If these two large studies had been included, none of the reported effects on increased mortality would have been significant, with the exception of the effects of beta carotene. And the research showing a higher incidence of lung cancer in smokers who take supplements of beta carotene or vitamin A is old news, that's been known for many years. Very high doses of vitamin A are known to have multiple adverse health effects."

    "All the new study really demonstrates, is a bias toward identifying studies or research that show harm caused by antioxidants, and selective removal of research that shows benefits."

    We don't know why the authors chose to evaluate this small carefully selected group of studies, or why they ignored the larger body of evidence published on the benefits of antioxidants. But it appears to be an obvious attempt to sensationalize incomplete data that serves no purpose other than to alarm a large portion of the supplement using population. We are not fooled by this report. Furthermore, we will continue to provide our associates and customers with a wide array of antioxidants to be used as part of an overall comprehensive nutritional program.

    John Cuomo, Ph.D. Executive Director R&D USANA Health Sciences, Inc.

    The full text of the Linus Pauling Institute press release can be found here.

    Additional comments on the JAMA study can be found at the following links:

    Council for Responsible Nutrition
    Natural Products Association
    Alliance for Natural Health

    High antioxidant levels are associated with a reduced risk of periodontitis

    Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the supporting tissues of the teeth and is associated with an increased risk of stroke, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. A new study reveals that increased serum antioxidant concentrations are associated with a reduced risk of periodontitis, even in people who have never smoked.

    Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition of the tissue surrounding the teeth which has been linked with an increased risk of stroke, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease. A new report published in the Journal of Nutrition revealed that higher serum antioxidant levels are associated with a reduction in the risk of periodontitis. The current research examined data from 11,480 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), for whom periodontal measurements and serum levels of several antioxidants had been recorded.

    These antioxidants included alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, selenium, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, vitamins A, C and E, and total antioxidant levels. Mild periodentitis was found in 14% of the subjects and 5% had severe disease. Higher vitamin C and total antioxidant levels were associated with a lower incidence of periodontitis, especially with severe disease. Individuals whose vitamin C levels were in the top 20% of participants had a 39% lower risk of periodontitis than participants with the lowest intakes. For subjects who had never smoked, those with the highest intake of vitamin C experienced only half the risk of periodontitis compared to those with the lowest vitamin C levels.

    Vitamin C has a role in collagen synthesis and maintenance of connective tissue, which may explain its benefit in protecting against periodontitis. In addition, it is known as a potent antioxidant that may also help reduce inflammation.

    Source: The Prevalence of Inflammatory Periodontitis Is Negatively Associated with Serum Antioxidant Concentrations, Iain L. C. Chapple, Mike R. Milward and Thomas Dietrich, Journal of Nutrition Vol. 137, 657-664, March 2007

    Increased fiber intake protects against cardiovascular disease risk factors


    Increasing dietary fiber intake to at least 25 grams per day from varied sources provides a significant protective effect against cardiovascular disease. Researchers presumed that fiber intakes of 30- 35 grams per day would likely provide an even greater protective effect.

    Increased dietary fiber intake is associated with reduced levels of a number of cardiovascular disease risk factors. The results of a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition add to a growing body of evidence linking higher dietary fiber intake with a lower risk of heart disease. Nearly 6,000 men and women were selected from participants in an ongoing trial designed to evaluate the effect of antioxidants on cancer and heart disease incidence over an eight year period. The highest total of insoluble dietary fiber intakes were associated with reductions in the risks of overweight and elevated waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and homocysteine. Fiber from cereals was associated with a lower body mass index, blood pressure, and homocysteine concentration; fiber from vegetables with a lower blood pressure and homocysteine concentration; and fiber from fruit with a lower waist-to-hip ratio and blood pressure. Fiber from dried fruit or nuts and seeds was associated with a lower body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and glucose concentrations. The findings of this study illustrate the significance of increasing fiber intake from various dietary sources. The results also indicate that 25 grams total dietary fiber per day is the minimum intake required to attain a significant protective effect against cardiovascular disease, and that total dietary fiber intakes of 30-35 grams/day will likely provide an even greater protective effect.

    Source: Dietary fiber intake and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in French adults, Denis Lairon, Nathalie Arnault, Sandrine Bertrais, Richard Planells, Enora Clero, Serge Hercberg and Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 6, 1185-1194, December 2005