In addition to proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils, research has shown that a number of other important substances play vital roles in maintaining and enhancing human health. These nutrients can range from unique forms of amino acids to hormones and other compounds not easily categorized in more traditional forms (ie. amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.).
ALC, also known as Acetyl L-Carnitine, is a naturally occuring substance normally found in small amounts in milk and the human body. As a nutrional supplement ALC has recently become popular based upon compelling evidence of its ability to slow the degredation of mental functions suffered by Alzheimer’s patients. ALC has also grown in popularity as a nutrient taken by healthy people looking to increase mental functions while slowing the loss of memory normally associated with the aging process.
Much of the excitement surrounding ALC has been generated by scientific tests on human patients conducted in Italy, where Alberto Spagnoli, M.D., of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan reported that the drug slowed cognitive decline in 63 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, these patients had significantly better results than untreated Alzheimer’s patients in 13 of 14 measures of mental functioning, including memory, attention, verbal capacity and daily-living activities.
Alzheimers researchers working in the United States and Europe have conducted scores of human studies with ALC, with doses ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams per day. The results of several double-blind, placebo-controlled studies indicate that ALC is effective in slowing the deterioration of cognitive functions of patients with Alzheimers disease. In several studies the progression of the disease was markedly reduced, and researchers noted increases in memory, attention span, and alertness. Scientists also found that ALC often improved moods and seemed to aleviate depression
Researchers have reported that ALC seems to work by preventing normal age-dependent cell changes in the brain, as well as slowing the loss of neurons in the hippocampus. Scientists have also found that ALC is able to increase levels of NGF, also known as nerve growth factor. NGF levels normally decline with increased aging, and their loss has been associated with a subsequent loss of brain functions. Evidence also points to ALC’s ability to increase levels of choline acetyltransferase, a vital brain enzyme that plays an important role in learning and memory.
Scientists have also found that ALC can aid in the repair of damaged DNA strands in white blood cells, suggesting that this nutrient can help to prevent age-related decline of immune system functions. Effective DNA repair is at the very heart of all life functions and it is theorized that with increasing age, diminished DNA repair capacity may play an important role in determining one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
While regarded as a relatively safe substance, ALC should not be taken by pregnant or lactating women. ALC should be taken with food to prevent stomach upset. Other than slightly increased agitation, no major adverse side effects were reported in the Italian study.
Choline, while closely related to the B complex family of vitamins, is not truely considered a vitamin since researchers cannot agree on any common definitions of deficiency symptoms. Choline is found in all living cells, and is known to play a vital role in maintaining the central nervous system and in numerous metabolic functions.
Choline is a component of lecithin and is used in the manufacture of cell membranes. It is also required for the production and metabolization of fats and cholesterol, and helps to protect the liver from the accumulation of excess fatty deposits. Choline’s most vital role may lie in its activity in the brain and central nervous system. Choline is a precursor of the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a chemical used in the transmission of brain impulses between nerves, muscles and organs. In this role it is involved directly with cognition, long and short term memory, stimulus response, and mental energy. Since acetylcholine levels increase rapidly after consuming choline, researchers have employed choline supplements in the treatment of various disorders marked by lowered levels of acetylcholine in the brain, including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and tardive dyskinesia.
There is no recommended daily intake for choline. A deficiency of choline can result in increased fatty deposits in the liver, memory loss, and poor muscle coordination. While not toxic, excess consumption of choline can lead to over-stimulation of muscles, leading to tightening of the shoulders and neck, resulting in a tension headache.
Foods highest in choline include egg yolks, liver, meats, brewers yeast, milk, legumes and whole grain cereals. Choline can be manufactured in the human body with the help of vitamin Bl2, folic acid, and the amino acid called methionine, although not necessarily in optimal amounts. Choline is also available as a dietary supplement, in such forms as phosphatydil choline, choline chloride, or choline bitartrate. Choline supplements should be avoided by persons who suffer from manic depression, as they may deepen the depressive phase of this disorder.
Coenzyme Q-10, also called ubiquinone, is a natural fat-soluble substance produced in the body and found in throughout nature in plants and animals. Similar to vitamin K, CoQ10 is classified as a non-vitamin nutrient that acts as an antioxidant to protect cell membranes from free radical activity. While long overlooked by the medical community, recent research has just begun to outline the role coenzyme Q-10 plays in maintaining life.
Early in the 60’s scientists had already found that CoQ10 played an essential role in cell respiration and electron transfer. Then researchers began to notice that they only found coenzyme Q-10 deficiencies in patients suffering cardiovascular disease. They soon discovered that when coenzyme Q-10 levels fell below 25 percent of normal they began to notice major symptoms of disease. When coenzyme Q-10 fell to 75 percent below normal levels, all life activity stopped and death was inevitable. New research has also discovered coenzyme Q-10 depletion in those suffering from diabetes mellitus, periodontal disease, and muscular dystrophy.
A recent study published in The Journal of Optimal Nutrition documented the life-enhancing effects of co-enzyme Q-10 as a treatment for patients suffering from heart failure so severe that no further conventional therapy was available, except possibly heart transplants. The study compared the blood levels of 154 patients for levels of co-enzyme Q-10, and several other nutrients. At the beginning of the study almost 50% of the patients were close to dying, yet after only 12 months of treatment with coenzyme Q-10, 97% of the patients were alive.
Monitoring the patients evidenced high long-term survival rates of 96% of all patients still alive after 24 months, and 95% alive after 36 months. This survival data on co-enzyme Q-10 must be compared to traditional data that report survival rates of 35-65% after 12 months of treatment with conventional drugs. This extraordinary survival rate for patients taking coenzyme Q-10 is clearly superior to conventional drug treatments and provides evidence of coenzyme Q-10’s indispensable role as a mandatory energy cofactor of myocardial function and contractility.
Patients with less severe heart disease were treated with 100-150 mg. a day of CoQ10, while dying patients were given 150-225 mg. a day. Dosages for patients increased whenever blood levels failed to reach 2 micrograms per milliliter and whenever new medications were added. All patients were followed for up to 58 months. These 154 cases included coronary artery disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, rheumatic cardiomyopathy, chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy, and congenital cardiomyopathy.
94% of these patients improved by one class when treated with dosages of Co-Q-10 ranging from 100 to 255 mg. a day. In studies published in the major medical journals, FDA approved cardiac drugs produce only 50% improvements after 12 months and these studies are the basis for which cardiologists prescribe these medications. Yet none of these FDA approved drugs addresses the underlying cause of these various forms of heart disease, and none of these FDA approved drugs compares to the 97% success rate using high doses of Co-Q-10.
There are no known contraindications for use of Coenzyme Q-10 is available as a supplement. Foods highest in coenzyme Q-10 include beef, spinach, sardines, albacore tuna, and peanuts. Coenzyme Q-10 is also available as a supplement, generally in capsules ranging in size from 10 to 60 milligrams.
DMAE, (Dimethylaminoethanol) is a nutritional supplement that supports the old wives’ tale that fish is a great brain food. DMAE is normally present in small amounts in our brains, and is known for its mental stimulation and enhancement.
Because fish is naturally abundant in DMAE, a diet high in sardines and anchovies will provide higher than average levels of DMAE and choline to the brain, which serve as raw materials for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is responsible for conducting nerve impulses within the brain, and by accelerating the brain’s synthesis of this important neurotransmitter, DMAE may aid in improving memory and learning, as well as preventing loss of memory in adults.
DMAE helps elevate mood, improve memory and learning, increase intelligence and physical energy, and extends the life span of laboratory animals1. It is used by many people for its mild, safe stimulant effect, yet DMAE also makes it easier for most people to get to sleep. Many people report less fatigue in the day and sounder sleep at night, as well as needing less sleep when taking DMAE.
The stimulant effect of DMAE is significantly different from the stimulation produced by coffee, amphetamines, or other stimulant drugs. DMAE does not have a drug-like quick up and down. People who take DMAE have reported that they feel a mild stimulation continually, without side effects. Many athletes using DMAE report an improved energy output in addition to better concentration on form and technique. Also, when DMAE use is discontinued, no depression or let-down occurs. SMART Basics DMAE includes 150 mg B-5, along with other B vitamins to support the activity of DMAE.
Essential Fatty Acids, (EFAs) are fatty acids that researchers now regard to be as vital to human health as vitamins and minerals. Reflecting this new perspective, many nutritionists now refer to this class of polyunsaturates as Vitamin K, and commonly recommend EFAs for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels. EFAs may also play an important role in reducing the risks of heart disease and strokes.
EFAs are major components of all cell membranes, and without adequate levels of EFAs, cellular membranes become stiff and loss their ability for function properly. EFAs are found in particularly high concentrations in the brain where they support the transmissions of nerve impulses. Researchers have documented the importance of EFAs in brain functions, and have found that a deficiency of essential fatty acids rapidly leads to an impairment in ones ability to learn and recall information.
One of the most important functions of essential fatty acids can be found in a process called the Prostaglandin Cascade. Prostaglandins (PGE1 & PGE2) are vital biochemicals that regulate a number of important body processes such as blood pressure and heart and muscle contractions. Prostaglandin production begins when a gland secretes a chemical message in the form of hormones that are released into the bloodstream. After traveling through the body and arriving at the intended cells, these hormones then attach themselves to the outer cellular membranes of the target cells.
Rather than entering the intended cell directly, once attached to a cell, hormones initiate the formation of prostaglandins from fatty acids extracted from the outer cellular membrane. It is these prostaglandins that then enter the cell to begin to direct intracellular activity. In this manner prostaglandins affect cells by directing them to carry out the instructions of the gland releasing the original hormone messenger molecules. This process occurs in a fraction of a second, and immediatly after the prostaglandins have delivered the message they are destroyed. The continual extraction and destruction of fatty acids from the outer cell membranes puts a demand on the body to constantly replenish its supplies of the essential fatty acids. If this process is blocked by a shortage of essential fatty acids, prostaglandin production is impaired, leading to health problems.
LINOLEIC ACID: The most important Essential Fatty Acid is Linoleic Acid which is used in the synthesis of other essential fatty acids such as Gamma Linolenic Acid. Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturate which can be obtained from dietary sources such as seeds, oils, vegetables and grains. Unfortunately many dietary and lifestyle factors can seriously reduce the body’s ability to properly utilize linoleic acid for the synthesis into other EFAs. A deficiency of linoleic acid can produce a form of dermatitis characterized by red, dry, scaly skin that resembles eczema. The blotchy areas appear first on the face, clustered near the oil-secreting glands, and in the folds of the nose, lips, forehead, eyes and cheeks. Dry, rough areas also appear on the forearms, thighs and buttocks.
GAMMA LINOLENIC ACID: Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) is part of the Omega 6 series of essential fatty acids and is a precursor to Series 1 prostaglandins (PGE1) and other hormones in the body. GLA is a key regulator of T-lymphocyte function in the immune system and is involved in cell metabolism and growth. GLA can also help relieve the symptoms of PMS.
Although a healthy body can make GLA from dietary Linoleic Acid (the most common fatty acid found in foods), its production can be blocked by a variety of factors. Conversion of linoleic acid to GLA can be impaired if the body is deficient in zinc, magnesium and vitamins C, B-6, B-3 and A. Conversion can also be blocked if ones diet is high in fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine. GLA is frequently deficient in people with Eczema, Atherosclerosis and Diabetes Mellitus.
Good sources of pre-formed GLA include Black Current Oil, Borage Oil and Evening Primrose Oil.
Glucosamine is a natural compound normally formed in the human body from glucose. Glucosamine is required by the body for the synthesis of an important family of macromolecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These long chains of modified sugars (mucopolysaccharides) make up many body tissues, including tendons, ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid, mucus membranes in the digestive and respiratory tracts, and structures in the eyes, blood vessels, and heart valves.
Researchers have found that glucosamine is the key precursor for all the various sugars found in GAGs, and further, that glucosamine occupies the pivotal position in connective tissue synthesis, acting to stimulate collagen production, and connective tissue.
As humans age the amount of glucosamine normally synthesized by the body declines, leading to a deficiency in the production of these important biological chemicals that form the major cushioning ingredients of the joint fluids and surrounding tissues. This further leads to specific tissue weakness as tissues in the joints become damaged and the lubricating synovial fluids in the joint spaces become thin and watery. The normal cushioning is lost leaving the bones and the cartilage to scrape against each other inside the joint space.
These problems also occur in the spinal column where the individual vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, separated only by the cushioning disc. The space between the vertebrae is where many nerves leave the spinal cord. Any injury to this part of the back can cause the gelatinous cartilage to soften, putting pressure on the nerves, causing damage and loss of nerve function. Glucosamine Sulfate has been shown to help increase the thickness of the gelatinous material, creating more support for the joints and vertebrae.
Inositol is a water soluble nutrient often associated with B vitamins. While its role in human nutrition is a source of ongoing debate, it was finally recognized as a vitamin in 1940. Chemically inositol is a sugar which is metabolized slowly and without the involvment of insulin. Inositol is found in cell membranes throughout the brain and central nervous system, the muscles, heart tissues, reproductive organs, and bones. It is also involved in the transportation and metabolism of fatty acids and cholesterol, and is a component of lecithin and several enzymes. This nutrient is also a hydroxyl free-radical scavenger that may aid in treating arthritis.
Animals fed a diet deficient in inositol evidence symptoms such as fatty liver deposits, intestinal disorders, and nerve damage similar to diabetes. Though such symptoms have never been observed in humans, researchers are studying this nutrient as a possible treatment for diabetes related nerve disorders.
There is no recommended daily intake, nor are there any recognized toxicity symptoms for inositol. Found in a wide range of foods, those highest in inositol include fruits, whole grains, vegetables, meats, and dairy products.
Melatonin is an important neurohormone that plays a role in regulating the neuroendocrine system, controlling such essential functions as metabolism, sex drive, reproduction, appetite, sleep, balance, and muscular coordination. Melatonin also helps control the immune system in fighting off diseases triggered by bacteria, viruses, chemical pollutants, and excessive free radical activity.
Melatonin is normally released by the pituitary gland in response to environmental changes in light levels. The amount of melatonin circulating in the blood has been shown to rise and fall, being relatively low during daylight hours and rising substantially during darkness. Melatonin levels normally reach their peak sometime after midnight. One of the keys to maintaining good health is to maintain normal, youthful patterns of melatonin secretion and activity within the body. Unfortunately, the body’s supply of melatonin declines progressively with advancing age, which renders us increasingly vulnerable to physiological malfunctions such as sleep disorders and lethal diseases.
Studies at MIT have shown that melatonin can quickly and safely hasten slumber, and that it may also be effective in treating jet lag. Taking melatonin at appropriate sleep times allows the body to naturally adapt to altered day and night patterns. Another important function of melatonin appears to be to protect women against breast cancer. There is a correlation between the decline in the synthesis of melatonin with advancing age, and the progressive increase in the risk of breast cancer in women. Moreover, research studies have demonstrated that melatonin can prevent chemically induced mammary tumors in laboratory rats and can also inhibit the proliferation of human breast cancer cells in tissue culture.
Among the health benefits of taking low doses of melatonin on a nightly basis, which have been reported both by physicians and by those taking the hormone, have been improved sleep, increased sex drive, better resistance to viral infections, increased energy levels, and prevention of the side effects of jet lag and other types of time disorientation. Because of melatonin’s regulatory timing effects on the neuroendocrine and immune systems, which control virtually all our life functions, it is clearly associated with the aging process.
Deficiencies of melatonin have been implicated in such diseases as cirrhosis of the liver, Kline-felter’s syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, and haemochromatosis, as well as the potentially dangerous side effects of excessive exposure to microwave radiation and electro-magnetic fields.
Evidence suggests that taking daily doses of supplemental melatonin, in the range of 3 to 9 milligrams per day, taken just before bedtime, can serve as a means of protection against breast cancer, other diseases, and the ravages of aging. Melatonin has been taken by thousands of people without any evidence of harmful side effects.
There are people who should not take melatonin. These include women seeking to become pregnant or who are already pregnant and people suffering from immune system cancers such as leukemia, Iymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, multiple myeloma, etc. Melatonin’s antineoplastic effect does not seem to effect prostate cancer, so we advise prostate cancer patients to avoid taking any more than 3 mg a night. For those suffering from metastasized prostate cancer which has become hormone refractory, melatonin/lnterleukin-2 could be beneficial, but there are no studies to rely on yet.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is the pre-acetylized form of the simple amino acid Cysteine. N-Acetyl Cysteine is a powerful antioxidant and a premier antitoxin and immune support substance. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are produced by normal metabolic activity. When free radicals are left unchecked they cause damage to cells and DNA and are considered by scientists to be a major factor in the aging process.
N-Acetyl Cysteine has been shown to provide protection against free radicals as well as a broad range of toxic hazards such as: acrolein (found in barbecue and cigarette smoke and auto exhaust), bromobenzene, paraquat (a toxic herbicide), overdoses of acetaminophen, and the side-effects of cyclophosphamide and adrimycin (anti-cancer drugs).
The key to this protection may be the sulfur and sulfhydryl groups contained in N-Acetyl Cysteine and its derivative, Glutathione. Both Cysteine and Methionine are good precursors of glutathione, but N-Acetyl Cysteine is better. L-cysteine loses approximately 85% of its sulfur group (which becomes the active part of glutathione) in the digestion process, while N-Acetyl Cysteine, a more stable compound, loses only 15%. This means that N-Acetyl Cysteine has almost six times more effective sulfur groups left after digestion.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is also a better source of glutathione than taking glutathione itself, because less than half of supplementalt glutathione gets out of the digestive system and into the body. This greater efficiency is important since cellular glutathione levels tend to drop 30% to 35% with age. Supplemental N-Acetyl Cysteine may have an anti-aging effect by increasing glutathione levels in the liver, lungs, kidneys and bone marrow.
NAC is currently the dietary supplement of choice for building up or conserving the body’s stores of glutathion, cysteine, and other sulfhydryl antioxidant resources. NAC is well tolerated, is well absorbed, resists enzymatic breakdown, and has been proven to raise internal GSH and cysteine levels when taken orally.
PABA (para-amiobenzoic acid) is another nutrient that is often classified with the B-complex family of vitamins due to its similarity in functions. PABA is an integral component of folic acid, and works to support the body’s use of pantothenic acid. PABA is a potent antioxidant and cell stabilizer that contributes to keep red blood cells intact. PABA also absorbs ultraviolet rays, and is often included in sunscreen products to protect the skin against the damages of sunburn and help protect against skin cancer. PABA is also a coenzyme involved in the metabolism of proteins, and is required in the production of red blood cells.
There is no recommended daily intake for PABA, nor are there any known toxic symptoms. Supplemental PABA should not be taken by those taking sulfa drugs.
Foods containing PABA include liver, whole grains, and molasses.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a compound that could become a key weapon in the battle against mental aging, perhaps helping to restore memory and learning capacity in older people. Phosphatidylserine is found on the surface of membranes in brain cells and synapses (the connections between nerve cells). Among the most important of its many effects is activation of protein-kinase C, an important enzyme whose brain levels are known to decline with age. It also stimulates the production of acetylcholine, a brain messenger chemical that helps regulate memory.
Scientists have been conducting animal experiments with phosphatidylserine since the mid-1970s. These tests show that the substance increased the availability of glucose in the brain, stimulated the production of a number of important brain chemicals (including protein-kinase C, acetylcholine and dopamine). More recent tests show that phosphatidylserine protected against stress-induced behavioral changes and improved learning and memory in old rats.
Perhaps the most eye-opening evidence regarding phosphatidylserine comes from studies of human patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In a 1988 Italian trial in which scientists gave phosphatidylserine to 70 Alzheimer’s patients for three months, the researchers found that memory improved in all patients, and the improvement was maintained three months after the drug was withdrawn. In a more recent American test at the National Institute of Mental Health, 150 otherwise healthy people who suffered from age-related memory impairment showed memory improvement of 15 to 20 percent, perhaps indicating that even healthy people can reap the restorative benefits of this drug. As further evidence, a previously unreported 1991 study by an international team of researchers showed that people who took the drug scored better on memory and concentration tests than people who didn’t. “The results,” concluded the study’s authors, “suggest that phosphatidylserine may be a promising candidate for treating memory loss later in life.”
No serious side effects have been noted. Phosphyatidylserine is often prescribed in Europe for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive impairment.
Pregnenolone is a naturally occurring metabolite of cholesterol that acts as a precursor to DHEA and other steroid hormones. Animal research indicates that pregnenolone possesses memory enhancing activity approximately 100 times higher than that of other compounds with similar effects. Used in the 1940’s for the treatment of arthritis, pregnenolone has a long history of use in humans without toxic side effects.
Quercetin, a cousin of Rutin, is a unique bioflavonoid that has been extensively studied by researchers around the world. Bioflavonoids are found as the pigments in leaves, barks, rinds, seeds, and flowers, usually in close association with Vitamin C. Together the two compounds seem to provide antioxidant protection to plants, helping them withstand exposure to climatic variations in wind, rainfall, temperature and sunlight. Bioflavonoids are also important for human health, but unfortunately cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied either from supplements or foods.
Bioflavonoids were first discovered by Nobel Prize Laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgy in the 1930’s. Bioflavonoids act to protect and preserve the structure of capillary blood vessels, promote circulation, stimulate bile production and lower cholesterol levels.
Since his groundbreaking work researchers have been able to isolate Quercetin from blue-green algae. Quercetin has been the subject of dozens of scientific reports over the past 30 years. Quercetin has a unique synergistic relationship with Vitamin C, and taken together both improve the efficacy of the other.
Trimethylglycine (TMG) is identical to DMG (B15), except that it contains three methyl groups instead of two. After ingestion TMG is rapidly converted into DMG by the liver, providing the body with all the benefits of DMG, as well as detoxifying homocysteine, a by product of methionine metabolism that is a powerful pro-oxidant and free-radical generator known to be a leading cause of heart disease.
If one gets adequate amounts of B6, either from foods or supplements, much of the bodys homocysteine is converted into cystathione, an antioxidant and free-radical deactivator.
About half of our homocysteine is detoxified by this process. The other half is detoxified by a process called transmethylation. One way this happens is that 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which we make from folic acid, donates its methyl group to the homocysteine and thereby converts it to the essential amino acid methionine. Homocysteine is nothing more than methionine deprived of its methyl group.
Another way that homocysteine is converted to methionine is through transfer of the methyl group from trimethlglycine (TMG). We get an additional benefit from this because TMG, in losing its methyl group, becomes DMG. In brief, this simple action detoxifies homocysteine, recycles methionine and supplies B15.
TMG is also called betaine. We avoid this name because betaine is commonly sold in health food stores in it’s hydrochloride form as a hydrochloric acid supplement for people with weak digestive acids. This is not the desired form for the purposes described above. It is very acidic, must be taken only with meals and can otherwise cause severe gastric irritation. The desired material is free-base betaine, which tastes mildly sweet and causes no untoward side effects. In order to make a clear distincion and avoid confusion, we call the acid supplement betaine HCI and the detoxifying nutrient TMG.