Experts Recommend More Omega-3s

Despite recommendations from most recognized health experts, many people in the U.S. continue to eat low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their normal diets. Instead they opt for foods that contain less healthy fats, like saturated fats and trans fats.

According to the Detroit Free Press, experts say that omega-3s support healthy heart function, while most other types of fats have the opposite effect. This is why consuming nothing but processed foods and beef can have such a damage impact on heart health.

Instead of the normal Western-style diet, eating more fish can be one of the most effective ways to get higher levels of omega-3s into a diet. Experts recommend fatty saltwater fish like swordfish or salmon. These varieties of fish have some of the highest levels of the nutrient.

One of the reasons why it is so important to consume omega-3s as part of a healthy diet is because the human body cannot make the nutrient itself. Unlike vitamin D or many other types of nutrients, which the body can produce naturally, the only way to get the benefits of omega-3s is through diet. Therefore, adding it to a diet or taking nutritional supplements is critical.

“There is substantial evidence to suggest that our levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids may be the most potent cardio-protective factors in the human diet,” said Harvard researcher William Butler. “Optimal omega-3 intake can have a profound effect in safely reducing the risk of cardiac disease and promoting health in men, women and children of all ages.”

Despite the many health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, relatively few people are aware of the important role that they play in their health. Even fewer actually make efforts to incorporate foods containing these nutrients into their diets.

In order to remedy the situation, a group of nutrition researchers recently decided to celebrate an International Omega-3 Awareness Day this week. Officials said that the event is important for helping people understand how critical omega-3s are to their health.
Officials added that studies have shown a high percentage of the people in the U.S. are omega-3 deficient. This contributes to an unnecessarily high rate of disease. They said that inspiring people to consume more of the nutrient could be a major public health victory.

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Magnesium Helps Seniors Keep Muscles Strong

We generally think about muscle strength and performance as a matter of concern for athletes, weekend warriors, folks who work out and anyone just wanting to stay in shape. For seniors however, muscle health and strength is even more important as a health issue. With aging, everyone loses muscle mass and strength to one degree or another, especially as we become less active. Loss of muscle can lead to bone loss, increase the risk of injury and even impair immune function.

Can anything be done to put the brakes on muscle loss? Good nutrition is essential: for starters, adequate intakes of quality protein. Daily mineral intake is another imperative, with special attention to magnesium. It’s common knowledge that magnesium, along with calcium, is important for healthy bones. Magnesium is also required for muscles.

The value of magnesium as a nutritional factor for muscle strength in seniors is underscored in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The “INCHIANTI” study, which examined risk factors for late-life disability, found a direct relationship between low blood levels of magnesium and muscle performance in older subjects. Grip strength, lower leg muscle power, knee extension and ankle extension were significantly better in subjects with higher magnesium levels. In view of this, taking a magnesium supplement—a safe, low-cost nutritional strategy—is a good recommendation for seniors, especially when the daily diet lacks generous helpings of magnesium-rich foods.

Reference:
Dominguez LJ, et al. Magnesium and muscle performance in older persons: the InCHIANTI study. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:419 –26.

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Creatine Builds Muscle, Increases Lean Body Mass, in All Age Groups

Creatine is high on the top-ten list of evidence-based dietary supplements used by athletes and body builders to enhance performance, muscle power and fitness. The science behind creatine is as impressive as its popularity. The benefits of creatine are scientifically validated by a research portfolio replete with published reports and clinical trials.

The exciting news is that creatine is not just for the young. The latest research shows that men and women of all ages can benefit from using creatine to support muscle strength. While the average person over fifty may not be looking to participate in a weight-lifting competition, maintaining muscular fitness is vitally important as we age and a key factor for healthy longevity. Studies have examined the effects of creatine in older men and women and the findings are compelling. Creatine may be one of the most effective supplements for keeping physically and mentally fit throughout life.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, twenty-eight men and women, over age 65, took part in a whole-body resistance exercise program 3 days a week while taking either creatine or a placebo. The researchers measured total body mass and lean body mass along with strength of various body parts. The creatine and placebo groups had improvements in measurements of strength and performance of functional tasks, which is not surprising since exercise helps keep you strong and fit. But only the creatine group showed increases in total body and fat-free mass. The report concluded that “The addition of creatine supplementation to the exercise stimulus enhanced the increase in total and fat-free mass, and gains in several indices of isometric muscle strength.”

Reference: Brose A, Parise G, Tarnopolsky MA. Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Jan;58(1):11-9.

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Feed Your Brain with Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin may not be a familiar name, although you consume a little any time you eat salmon. Astaxanthin is a carotene – carotenes are natural pigments, similar in molecular structure to the more familiar beta carotene that colors carrots and other vegetables and fruits. Astaxanthin gives salmon its distinctive reddish hue, but it does much more: astaxanthin works as powerful antioxidant in plant and animal cells, which translates into a broad range of beneficial effects on cellular function. Astaxanthin, as shown in a growing body of research studies, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, is even more potent and versatile than its carotene cousins.

Like beta carotene, astaxanthin is good for the eyes, the skin and other tissues where antioxidants are needed. Recent studies point to astaxanthin as a nutrient for the brain. An in-vitro (test-tube) study reported to the International Congress of Nutrition and published in the journal Forum of Nutrition, SH-SY5Y cells, which are used in experimental models of neuron function, were bathed in astaxanthin and then exposed to chemicals that cause “oxidative stress” in cells. (Antioxidants are substances that counter oxidative stress in biological systems, hence the term “antioxidant.”) Astaxanthin successfully protected the treated cells from damage. Based on this, and previous research showing that astaxanthin is capable of crossing over from the bloodstream into the brain, the report suggests that “pre-treatment with astaxanthin may be effective for oxidative-stress associated neurodegeneration and a potential candidate for natural brain food.

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

Reference:
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.

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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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