Fruits and Veggies – Do You Get Your 5-a-Day?

Fruits and Vegetables – Do You Get Your “5-a-Day”? If not OJC Can fill the Gaps

Five a day, every day. That’s the widely accepted goal for the number of fruit and vegetable servings we should eat every day. With ever-mounting scientific evidence about the many health benefits of fruits and vegetables, gleaned from a plethora of research studies, government agencies and health experts are on the same page. While recommendations vary somewhat for different age groups, a good rule of thumb is that we should aim for two to three servings of both fruits and vegetables. And this should be a daily dietary practice, not something we do once or twice a week, or when we get around to it.

Here’s a sampling of government recommendations for daily consumption of veggies and fruit:
• USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)—Veggies: 2-3 cups. Fruit: 1½-2 cups.
• Health.gov—Veggies: 4 servings (1 serving = ½ cup cooked). Fruit: 3 servings (1 serving = 1½- cup cooked, canned or chopped fruit, or 1 medium apple, banana, orange or pear).
• CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)—Veggies: 2½-3 cups. Fruit 1½-2 cups.
• Health Canada—Veggies and Fruits: 7-8 servings for teens and adults.

Health Canada’s recommendation lines up with a recent analysis of data form the 2001-2008 Health Surveys for England. This large-scale population study of 65,226 people found a strong connection between intakes for fruit and vegetables and longevity. Eating more than 2-3 servings a day increased the likelihood of living longer, with the greatest benefit realized at seven servings.

Just how well are we doing at following these dietary guidelines? The sobering truth is not good news. According to the CDC, the average number of daily servings eaten by Americans is a mere 1.6 for veggies and 1.1 for fruit. Most of us are clearly falling far short of the mark. Realistically, it can be a challenge to keep up, day in and day out. Maybe we’re dieting, skip meals or frankly don’t have the time.

There’s help from Purity Products! You can use Purity’s OJC Greens to fill the gap. OJC brings farm fresh organic fruits and veggies right to your door with a diverse array of health-fueling phytonutrients, all in one, easy to take, certified organic greens drink. Organic Juice Cleanse is power-packed with dozens of organic, nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable concentrates. Just mix a tablespoon of Organic Juice Cleanse powder in eight ounces of pure water and drink. When you’re in a hurry, on the go, at the office and just about anywhere else … nourish your body with a serving of Organic Juice Cleanse and relax, knowing that you’re a long way toward crossing the goal post for fruit and vegetable intake.

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More Health Benefits of Pycnogenol

Health Benefits of Pycnogenol

Happy Blood Vessels and Well-Supported Peripheral Circulation

The circulation in the lower limbs can be effected over time as a result of free radical damage to the walls and valves of healthy arteries and veins. This may result in inefficient flow through these vessels back to the heart and throughout the body. The supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues may be disrupted and affecting the body’s natural healing abilities.

Pycnogenol’s antioxidants absorb and quench free radical electrons with great efficiency and can vastly maintain the resistance of small blood vessels and capillaries throughout the body to oxidative damage. The results of human clinical trials published recently in Angiology4 and Clinical Applications in Thrombosis and Hemostasis5 showed clear improvements in the ability of veins to expand and dilate, and blood flow and nutrient delivery to the lower legs with the consumption of 50 mg of Pycnogenol three times daily for 4 to 6 weeks.

Further research shows that dietary supplementation with 150 mg of Pycnogenol daily promotes optimal microcirculation in capillary networks of the lower legs in men and women.6 A recently published study also found that taking 200 mg of Pycnogenol daily was effective for reducing muscle cramps in healthy adults who experienced occasional cramps while consuming placebo.7 These researchers yet again confirmed previous findings that consuming Pycnogenol daily facilitates healthy blood flow and nutrient supply throughout the body.

Stay Healthy in the Air

Prolonged air travel has been associated with cardiovascular issues caused by inactivity (sitting in one place for extended periods of time) and dehydration.8 Compression of veins by the edge of a seat could contribute to slowing of venous return of blood to the heart and pooling of fluid in the lower legs. Dehydration in an aircraft cabin also can cause some swelling in the lower legs. The inability to move freely combined with the subnormal air pressure and oxygen content within an airplane can also interfere with healthy circulation. Long airplane flights are especially concerning because of their prolonged nature and potential to have a greater impact on cardiovascular health.

Effective preventive measures while traveling include standing and stretching exercises, drinking copious amounts of water, and avoidance of tightly-fitting clothes, salty foods and alcoholic beverages.

Dietary supplementation with Pycnogenol, which is rich in veno-supportive nutrients, can be highly beneficial. The results of a placebo-controlled clinical trial published recently in Clinical Applications in Thrombosis and Hemostasis suggest that every traveler should add Pycnogenol to their travel preparations. In this study, 200 mg of Pycnogenol or of placebo were consumed 2 to 3 hours before take-off and again after 6 hours in the air.8 As opposed to the placebo, Pycnogenol was found to be highly supportive of venous circulation during the flights – an indication that Pycnogenol promoted circulation while supporting healthy vascular function within the adverse environment of an aircraft at high altitude for many hours.

Pay Attention, Please!

Several studies in recent years have looked at Pycnogenol’s ability to support cognitive function, mood, and attention and concentration. A double-blind, placebo controlled pilot study was conducted in which 61 children aged six to fourteen years were given a daily dosage of 1 mg of Pycnogenol per kilogram body weight or a placebo for four weeks.9 The researchers found that Pycnogenol intake for one month significantly enhanced concentration and attentiveness in these children. Scientists have suggested that these effects may be due to the antioxidant activity of Pycnogenol and may also be a result of Pycnogenol’s ability to enhance the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that supports increased circulation through arteries and veins, thus making it easier for nutrients to reach organs and systems, including brain tissue. In fact, further research on Pycnogenol in children found that the same dose (1 mg per kilogram body weight) given over a one-month period increased total antioxidant status and was able to induce a highly significant increase in the level of reduced to oxidized glutathione in the blood.10 As is widely known, glutathione is one of the most abundant antioxidants in cells throughout the body. What is interesting is that research shows that the lower the intracellular glutathione concentrations go, the faster cells (and hence tissues!) age. Glutathione is the key antioxidant protector of proteins, fats and DNA in cells. Maintaining glutathione concentrations in cells is critical for healthy aging. Even more important is ensuring that there is a healthy balance of the reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione. The reduced form is crucial for glutathione’s free-radical scavenging capability. Pycnogenol recycles glutathione and keeps more of it in the free-radical attacking reduced form.

Pycnogenol also has shown the ability to support memory function in the elderly. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology highlighted research looking into the effects of Pycnogenol supplementation over a three-month period on cognitive function and memory.11 In this placebo-controlled trial, healthy elderly individuals were asked to take Pycnogenol at a daily dose of 150 mg per day or placebo. The results of the trial showed significant benefits in memory function in the Pycnogenol group after 3 months, indicating Pycnogenol’s beneficial effect on cognitive function. Once again, researchers attribute this benefit of Pycnogenol to its powerful antioxidant functions and its ability to protect brain cells from free radical damage.

Tree Bark and Human Health – Strong Links

Pycnogenol – the unique water extract from the French maritime pine tree – has numerous tonic effects for the human body. This well-researched product deserves to be included as a core component of everyone’s health and wellness armamentarium. Pycnogenol reinforces the establishment of a healthy balance between oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity throughout the body. By doing so, Pycnogenol is a strong and potent ally of visual health, vascular health, immune wellness and in the management of the inflammatory response, cognitive function and memory, and as a key nutrient for Healthy Aging.

References:
4. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi BM, Ledda A, Di Renzo A, Stuard S, Dugall M, Pellegrini L, Rohdewald P, Ippolito E, Ricci A, Cacchio M, Ruffini I, Fano F, Hosoi M. Venous ulcers: Microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with local use of Pycnogenol. Angiology 2005;56:699-705.
5. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, Pellegrini L, Ledda A, Vinciguerra G, Ricci A, Gizzi G, Ippolito E, Fano F, Dugall M, Acerbi G, Cacchio M, Di Renzo A, Hosoi M, Stuard S, Corsi M. Comparison of Pycnogenol and Daflon in treating chronic venous insufficiency: A prospective, controlled study. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2006;12:205- 212.
6. G. Belcaro, M. R. Cesarone, B. M. Errichi, A. Ledda, A. Di Renzo, S. Stuard, M. Dugall, L. Pellegrini, G. Gizzi, P. Rohdewald, E. Ippolito, A. Ricci, M. Cacchio, G. Cipollone, I. Ruffini, F. Fano, M. Hosoi. Diabetic ulcers: Microcirculatory improvement and faster healing with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hem 2006;12:318-323.
7. Vinciguerra G, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Rohdewald P, Stuard S, Ricci A, Di Renzo A, Hosoi M, Dugall M, Ledda A, Cacchio M, Acerbi G, Fano F. Cramps and muscular pain: Prevention with pycnogenol in normal subjects, venous patients, athletes, claudicants and in diabetic microangiopathy. Angiology 2006;57:331-339.
8. Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Rohdewald P, Pellegrini L, Ippolito E, Scoccianti M, Ricci A, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Ruffini I, Fano F, Acerbi G, Vinciguerra MG, Bavera P, Di Renzo A, Errichi BM, Mucci F. Prevention of edema in long flights with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost 2005;11:289-294.
9. Trebatická J, Kopasová S, Hradecná Z, Cinovský K, Skodácek I, Suba J, Muchová J, Zitnanová I, Waczulíková I, Rohdewald P, Duracková Z. Treatment of ADHD with French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006;15(6):329-35.
10. Dvoráková M, Sivonová M, Trebatická J, Skodácek I, Waczuliková I, Muchová J, Duracková Z. The effect of polyphenolic extract from pine bark, Pycnogenol on the level of glutathione in children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).Redox Rep. 2006;11(4):163-72.
11. Ryan J, Croft K, Mori T, Wesnes K, Spong J, Downey L, Kure C, Lloyd J, Stough C. An examination of the effects of the antioxidant Pycnogenol on cognitive performance, serum lipid profile, endocrinological and oxidative stress biomarkers in an elderly population. J Psychopharmacol. 2008;22(5):553-62.

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Statement Calls for Higher Omega-3 Consumption

In an effort to inspire more individuals to seek ways to support their brain health, attendees of the Global Omega-3 Summit on Nutrition, Health and Human Behavior, which was recently held in Brugels, Belgium, signed a policy statement that calls for educating lawmakers and the public on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids.

The statement says that the health benefits of the nutrients have been proven. Study after study has shown that omega-3s are an effective means for supporting heart and brain health and that they are an indispensible part of a healthy diet.

However, far too many people fail to get adequate amounts of omega-3s into their diet. To remedy this, the statement recommends that individuals immediately reduce their intake of unhealthy saturated fats and replace them in their diet with more omega-3s.

Furthermore, the statement says that educating stakeholders, which include lawmakers, the public and healthcare professionals, about the benefits of omega-3s will play a critical role in increasing consumption.

The nutrients can be found in fatty fish and some vegetables. Additionally, krill oil supplements have high levels of omega-3s.

As individuals age, they often begin to experience joint health problems. These are most common in the knees, making mobility an issue for millions of seniors. However, experts say that certain nutrients may be able to support strong joint health well into adulthood.

Dr. Mehmet Oz recently wrote in the Calgary Herald that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This is one of the main culprits behind joint health issues, and reducing swelling may help support improved function.

He said that omega-3s are most abundant in fish. Salmon and tuna are among the best sources of the nutrient. Even canned tuna can provide extremely high levels of omega-3s, which may make adding more of the nutrient to a diet relatively simple.

Studies have also shown that omega-3s can support healthy weight, which is another major factor that Oz said can impact joint health.

Joint health problems are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Carotenes v. Cataracts

The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are many and science has certainly come a long way from the days when it was just Mom’s advice, or her direct order, to eat our veggies. Health experts and government agencies advise eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day. These recommendations are based on the growing volume of research that reveals how fruits and veggies work in the body to maintain health and even promote longevity.

Eye health is an important area where fruits and vegetables do a world of good, especially the one’s rich in carotenes, which include carrots, spinach, kale and others. Two research studies, one on women and one on men, provide evidence that vegetables and fruits can protect against cataracts. This is a major global health problem; according to the World Health Organization, cataracts cause about 50 percent of the world’s blindness, representing some 20 million people.

In a prospective study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the intake of carotenes was correlated with the risk of age-related cataracts in men. According to the report: “Dietary antioxidants, including carotenoids, are hypothesized to decrease the risk of age-related cataracts by preventing oxidation of proteins or lipids within the lens.” In layman’s language, nutrients in fruit and vegetables protect delicate eye tissues from damage caused by rogue molecules called free-radicals that build up in the body. Lutein and zeaxanthin in particular, carotenes high in kale, spinach and other greens, are known to be especially beneficial for the eyes. The study found that men in the highest fifth of lutein and zeaxanthin intake had a 19 percent lower risk of developing cataracts severe enough to require surgical removal, when compared to men in the lowest fifth. “The present findings add support for recommendations to consume vegetables and fruit high in carotenoids daily” the report concludes.

In the study on fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of cataracts in women, the fruit and vegetable intake of 35,274 female professionals free of cataracts was assessed using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. After 10 years of follow-up, women in the highest fifth of fruit and vegetable intake had a 10 to 15 percent lower risk of developing cataracts.

The message is clear: for your eyes’ sake, be sure to eat your “5-a-Day.”

References:

Brown L, et al. A prospective study of carotenoid intake and risk of cataract extraction in US men. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(4):517-24.

Christen WG, Liu S, Schaumberg DA, Buring JE. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cataract in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81(6):1417-22.

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Magnesium and Cardiovascular Disease — A Direct Link and a Health Tip

Magnesium is an essential mineral required in human nutrition. Among nutritional minerals, it’s also one of the most versatile: a broad range of physiologic processes depend on magnesium to function properly. A co-factor for more than 300 enzymatic reactions, magnesium plays a key role in generating metabolic energy in cells. Magnesium helps regulate the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels and muscles. It’s no mystery that the heart, the body’s hardest working muscle, needs magnesium. Magnesium also helps prevent calcification of blood vessels; in the heart this is known as Coronary Artery Calcification or “CAC.”

CAC, an indicator of advanced atherosclerosis, is seen as a predictor of cardiovascular disease. The Framingham Study, a long-term research study conducted by the USDA’s Human Nutrition Center on Aging, examined the magnesium intakes of people who were free of cardiovascular disease at the start, over a period of 11 years. “We observed strong, favorable associations between higher self-reported total (dietary and supplemental) magnesium intake and lower calcification of the coronary arteries,” the researchers reported. In study participants with the highest magnesium intakes, compared to those with the lowest, the odds of having CAC were 58 percent lower. The reports concludes as follows: “In community-dwelling participants free of cardiovascular disease, self-reported magnesium intake was inversely associated with arterial calcification, which may play a contributing role in magnesium’s protective associations in stroke and fatal coronary heart disease.”

So here’s an important health tip: If you’re not consuming an abundance of magnesium-rich foods on a daily basis, taking a magnesium supplement is a safe, low-cost way to make sure you’re adequately nourished with this potentially life-saving essential mineral.

Reference:
Hruby A, et al. Magnesium intake is inversely associated with coronary artery calcification: the Framingham Heart Study. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2014 Jan;7(1):59-69.

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Hyaluronic Acid and Vision

Hyaluronic acid is synthesized within the human eye and is secreted into both tears and the aqueous humor of the eye in its non-acidic form, hyaluronidate. On the ocular surface, tears with normal hyaluronidate content exhibit greater lubrication during blinks. Yet while the eyelid is still, hyaluronidate maximizes the thickness of the protective fluid covering the surface of the eye – another reflection of the special properties of hyaluronidate. Within the eye itself, hyaluronidate forms part of a web of large molecules that confer structural stability to the retina and help keep it attached to the underlying cell layers.

Both advancing age and dry eyes reduce tear production and the amount of hyaluronidate that is secreted in tears; complaints about burning, itching, a sensation of the presence of a foreign body, redness and heaviness of the eyelids are common. Hyaluronic acid replacement, via drop form, can promote normal eye functions, as shown by the results of a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, which assessed the effects of eye drops containing hyaluronic acid.5

Research consistently demonstrates that the insertion into the eyes of drops containing sodium hyaluronidate several times daily decreases burning, dryness, “foreign body” sensation, itching and mucous discharge. At the same time, tear formation is increased. These tears help protect the cornea from environmental insults, indicating that hyaluronic acid acts both on the surface of the eye and within the eye. The chemical process of vision produces a number of oxidizing by-products.6 The gradual steady accumulation of oxidative damage interferes with the functions of all parts of the eye. The hyaluronic acid in tears acts as a powerful antioxidant that preserves the structure and function of the visual apparatus.7

References:
5. Aragona P, Papa V, Micali A, Santocono M, Milazzo G. Long term treatment with sodium hyaluronate-containing artificial tears reduces ocular surface damage in patients with dry eye. Br J Ophthalmol 2002;86:181-184.
6. Rotstein NP, Politi LE, German OL, Girotti R. Protective effect of docosahexaenoic acid on oxidative stress-induced apoptosis of retina photoreceptors. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2003;44:2252-2259.
7. Debbasch C, De La Salle SB, Brignole F, Rat P, Warnet JM, Baudouin C. Cytoprotective effects of hyaluronic acid and Carbomer 934P in ocular surface epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2002;43:3409- 3415.

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Allicin

 

For many centuries alliums have been grown for their characteristic flavors and beautiful flowers. In addition to its esthetic and culinary attributes, the root bulb (“clove”) of garlic (Allium sativum) has been cherished by many cultures as a powerful promoter of good health.

Sanskrit records contain evidence that garlic was being used “medicinally” about 5,000 years ago and about 4500 years ago Charak, the father of Ayurvedic medicine, claimed that garlic maintains the fluidity of blood and strengthens the heart. The 3500-year old Egyptian Codex Ebers touts garlic, Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder were garlicophiles, Pasteur wrote about garlic’s activity in 1858 and garlic preparations were used on the battlefield in the 20th century.

Garlic and Healthy Blood Vessels

Modern research continues to affirm the health benefits that can be obtained by including raw garlic, whole garlic powders or extracts of garlic in the diet or consuming them as dietary supplements. As pointed out by the authors of a review published recently in the Journal of Nutrition, the evidence from studies in humans shows that the consumption of garlic supports many aspects of blood vessel health.1 The blood vessels are the all-important corridors of the cardiovascular system. While the heart is the engine that pumps our blood, without healthy blood vessels, it can’t reach the tissues where it’s needed.

As an example of garlic’s blood vessel-supportive prowess, the results of a human clinical trial published recently in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that the daily consumption of a modest amount of an extract of whole garlic cloves for 6 weeks on average doubled the ability of the brachial artery to expand in response to increased need for blood flow in healthy men and women.2 Not only were the big blood vessels affected – the small capillaries in the skin also increased their ability to circulate fresh blood after 6 weeks of garlic consumption. Increased ability of an artery to respond to increased demand for blood flow to tissues without impacting blood pressure (“arterial compliance”) and increased capacity of the small blood vessels within tissues to distribute that blood reflect a healthy cardiovascular system; this investigation provides persuasive evidence that garlic consumption is a major contributor to healthy cardiovascular function.

The results of other studies in healthy humans, also published recently in the Journal of Nutrition may explain how garlic can help maintain pliable arteries and open vessel channels in tissues.3,4 In these studies investigators found that garlic has potent antioxidant properties and slows the rate of oxidation of circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles and promotes the integrity of blood vessel walls. Researchers agree that these two factors are of primary importance to maintaining excellent cardiovascular health. Keeping arteries healthy and discouraging the oxidation of lipids and fats in the blood go a long way to living a productive and heart-healthy life.

Another way garlic supports healthy blood vessels is by promoting the healthy metabolism of glucose in the blood. High blood glucose levels may adversely impact blood vessel health over time by reacting with proteins in the blood and vessels. This reaction effectively damages the protein, leading it to lose its functionality. Research published recently in the Journal of Nutrition shows how the bioactive compounds in garlic can prevent the formation of these sugar-protein complexes and keep your blood vessels healthy.5 Let the proteins play their role and let blood sugar perform its function and go where it’s meant to.

Where Does Allicin Come In?

A clove of garlic contains an extremely large amount of biologically active sulfur-containing phytonutrients. However, allicin, the most intensively studied phytonutrient associated with garlic and the source of garlic’s distinctive fragrance, is not found in the clove but instead is formed when a clove is chopped, crushed, cut or chewed (breaking up the garlic cells in the clove stimulates an enzyme to produce allicin quickly). Allicin is absorbed into the human bloodstream and either exerts its benefits directly or is converted into an effective alternative compound.

Experiments in mice published recently in Pathobiology “connect the dots” linking allicin to garlic’s vascular protective actions.6 Dietary supplementation with pure allicin resulted in the incorporation of allicin into all lipid-containing particles produced by the intestines and liver. As the lipid particles contained allicin, they contained less cholesterol and were more resistant to oxidation. This experiment was conducted in mice that were genetically programmed to produce numerous arterial plaques as a model for atherosclerosis. The daily consumption of pure allicin drastically decreased the size of the plaques that were formed. While these mice had a genetic predisposition to a chronic condition, this dramatic illustration suggests that healthy humans with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease may benefit greatly from the consumption of garlic and allicin, as this compound promotes arterial health and wellness. The dose used in this mouse study was the equivalent of daily supplementation in humans with about 500 to 600 mg of pure allicin daily.

References:
1. Rahman K, Lowe GM. Garlic and cardiovascular disease: A critical review. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):736S-740S.
2. Weiss N, Ide N, Abahji T, Nill L, Keller C, Hoffmann U. Aged garlic extract improves homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction in macro- and microcirculation. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):750S-754S.
3. Lau BH. Suppression of LDL oxidation by garlic compounds is a possible mechanism of cardiovascular health benefit. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):765S-768S.
4. Ide N, Keller C, Weiss N. Aged garlic extract inhibits homocysteineinduced CD36 expression and foam cell formation in human macrophages. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):755S-758S.
5. Ahmad MS, Ahmed N. Antiglycation properties of aged garlic extract: Possible role in prevention of diabetic complications. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):796S-799S.
6. Gonen A, Harats D, Rabinkov A, Miron T, Mirelman D, Wilchek M, Weiner L, Ulman E, Levkovitz H, Ben-Shushan D, Shaish A. The antiatherogenic effect of allicin: Possible mode of action. Pathobiology 2005;72:325-334.

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Creatine for Strength in Older Women

Creatine is well-known for its potent ability to build muscle strength, enhance exercise performance and increase lean body mass. Backed by a noteworthy dossier of research studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, creatine is a hugely popular dietary supplement among body builders of both sexes. It works for men of all ages. A recent study now shows that older women are not left out. And this is important news: while the average senior woman may not be that interested in joining ranks with body builders, maintaining muscle strength and lean (fat-free) muscle mass is vitally important to healthy aging and longevity in women.

Published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, this double-blind clinical trial assessed the effects of creatine supplementation in a group of healthy 60 to 70 year old women. The ladies took 5 grams of creatine a day or a placebo while participating in a resistance training regimen three days a week for twelve weeks. At completion of the program those taking creatine realized greater increases over the placebo group in bench press strength, knee extension and biceps curl. As stated in the published report: “These results indicate that long-term creatine supplementation combined with resistance training improves the ability to perform submaximal-strength functional tasks and promotes a greater increase in maximal strength, fat-free mass and muscle mass in older women.”

Reference:
Aguilar AF, et al. Long term creatine supplementation improves muscular performance during resistance training in older women. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Apr;113(4):987-96.

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Astaxanthin, the “Natural Brain Food” That Benefits Cognitive Function

In a previous Research Spotlight, we summarized research showing that astaxanthin—the beta-carotene-like natural pigment that makes salmon red—protects brain cells from damage by toxic free radicals, a biological phenomenon known as “oxidative stress.” Astaxanthin is described in a report published in Forum of Nutrition as “a potential candidate for natural brain food.”

While inhibition of oxidative stress in brains cells is important enough by itself, does the protective effect make any difference in thinking? A placebo-controlled, double-blind study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition — a peer-reviewed scientific publication—found evidence that it does. Ninety-six heathy middle-aged and elderly people who experienced the kind of mild forgetfulness that commonly occurs with aging were recruited to participate in this research. The volunteers took astaxanthin, extracted from Haematococcus pluvialis, an algae naturally-rich in astaxanthin, or a placebo (“dummy pill”) daily for 12 weeks. Two modest doses of astaxanthin were used: 12 mg in the “high-dose group” and 6 mg in the “low-dose group.” Tests of cognitive function were administered to all subjects every four weeks. Improvements were seen in both dosage groups at the end of the 12-week study period. Interestingly, the low-dose group raised their scores earlier than the high-dose group in one of the tests:the Groton Maze Learning Test. The sample-size, i.e. the number of subjects, was too small for the data to reach “statistical significance,” nonetheless the report concludes that “the results suggested that astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract improves cognitive function in the healthy aged individuals.” No side-effects occurred; astaxanthin, like other carotenes, is completely safe as nutritional supplement that can be taken on a daily basis.

High quality natural Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis, grown under controlled conditions to ensure purity and safety, is available as a supplement in the US.

References:
Liu X, Osawa T. Astaxanthin protects neuronal cells against oxidative damage and is a potent candidate for brain food. Forum Nutr. 2009;61:129-35.

Katagiri M, et al. Effects of astaxanthin-rich Haematococcus pluvialis extract on cognitive function: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Biochem Nutr 51(2):102-7.

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