Posts Tagged ‘antioxidants’

Over the years there has been a lot of hype about the health benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acids (particularly flax seed and fish oil). And rightfully so, as they are essential and can be difficult to get in adequate amounts from diet alone. Additionally, they can often directly address certain health conditions.

That said, when taking flax seed or fish oil from supplements, there are several things that need to be taken into consideration.

1) Freshness: Both flax seed and fish oil are quite volatile and can go rancid (or oxidize) very easily. Consuming rancid fats is equivalent to directly consuming harmful free radicals that can wreak havoc on the cells in your body. Free radicals have been implicated as contributing to many degenerative diseases. To understand more on free radicals and oxidation, read my article on the aging process. As a result of this, it’s important to make sure that the oil you are consuming has not been sitting on a shelf for very long. Many times the label will say when the product was manufactured. You should be fine if it was manufactured within three months from when you purchase it. Keep in mind that flax seed oil is more unstable and likely to go rancid much quicker than fish oil. Also, some manufacturers will add antioxidants to the product to help keep it from oxidizing and extend the shelf life – whether that shelf is in the store or your home. By the way, it’s best to keep any oil refrigerated at home.
P.S.: Never heat or cook with flax oil. And generally, the only oils I recommend people cook with are olive and coconut, as they have high “smoke points” and will likely remain stable when heated to reasonable cooking temperatures.

2) Antioxidant levels in your body: You can consume the freshest of any essential fatty acid, but if you don’t have enough antioxidants in your bloodstream, the fat can actually go rancid inside your body. Again, this will create an excessive amount of free radicals and cause more harm than good. Living in today’s industrialized world contributes plenty to our free radical burden, so make sure you have enough antioxidants anyway; but especially if you are supplementing with essential fatty acids. You can obtain these through your diet from foods such as: berries, pomegranates, curcumin (the spice curry is made from), rosemary, 100% raw cacao (or chocolate), green tea and most fruits and vegetables in smaller amounts, among other sources. Additionally, you can take a broad-spectrum anti-oxidant supplement.

3) Source: If you are (or plan on) taking fish oil, be sure it comes from a reputable manufacturer. Otherwise, it’s quite likely that you’ll be consuming harmful chemicals (known as PCB’s) and the toxic metal mercury which unfortunately have made their way into the oceans and rivers, and ultimately fish.

I have found many over-the-counter brands that were more harmful than helpful to my patients. I’m not saying that all brands bought in stores are contaminated or rancid; just be careful. I determine how good an oil is for my patients based on specialized muscle testing techniques, palpatory pain thresholds and range of motion testing.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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“Added value” is in quotes because it is the title of an article written by Sarah Murray, and published in the “Health” magazine of yesterday’s (9/16/09) Financial Times newspaper. The subtitle is: “Public-private partnerships in food fortification are an efficient and sustainable way of improving the health of the world’s poorest”. I will speak about the health related topics. This article is intended to explain the value of nutritional supplements of human health.

Many people believe that supplements are not necessary and some go as far as saying that the body won’t utilize supplements for the intended purposes, basically saying they don’t work. I imagine these people would agree that supplements derived from whole foods (dried and ground into a tablet, capsule, or powder) will work. However, I’ll be referring to both natural supplements and those synthesized in a laboratory; which end up as the exact molecule (vitamin, mineral, or amino acid) contained in food; or even further, it’s activated form (i.e.: the form the body converts it into to make it usable at the cellular level). Let’s begin with some information contained in Murray’s article.

In 2007, health specialists evaluated students in Beijing, and concluded that their ability to learn was not hampered by mental factors, but in fact physical. “Many of the children had iron-related anemia and were deficient in vitamins A and B.” The children were then fed a diet fortified with these nutrients. As Murray states: “The impact was dramatic. There was a fall in the anemia rate from 13.7% to 2.5%, and vitamin B1 deficiency dropped from 24.8 to 4.5%, while vitamin B2 deficiency fell from 17.7% to 7.9%. As a result, the children’s attention rates increased considerably and their performance improved markedly.” The rest of the article speaks mainly about helping feed and nourish the world’s poorest, and the economics of it. This clearly illustrates that supplementing one’s diet (through fortification in this instance) can have a marked, measurable change on a person’s health and functioning. I do not recommend my patients eat fortified food however, because they are often highly refined and processed. And they may even require the body to use up extra nutrients (those that were provided by nature and removed by man) in order to be properly metabolized.

images-1I would also like to bring attention to a book written by Gary Null, Ph.D., titled “The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Healing – The first comprehensive guide to scientific peer reviewed studies of natural supplements and their proven treatment values“. The inside cover reads: “Covering more than 1.3 million studies, Null looked at each of the primary nutrients found in both foods and herbs as well as in supplemental and higher therapeutic dosages”. Null’s book contains 857 pages of text, but then again the 1.3 million studies says it all. I don’t know the process which he went through to analyze these studies, however, I do know he is probably one of the brightest individuals in the world; and I believe he is a researcher and certainly knows the process well. Also, Appendix C contains “toxicity studies” – this section makes up 21 pages of the 857 pages of text (not including table of contents or index). PS: I bought mine when it was first released, there are now updated versions available (I have no financial connection with this product).

I have one quick word on therapeutic dosages and toxicity. If you are taking supplements at less than therapeutic dosages or less than recommended time, you may not see any change in your health or health condition. Therefore, it would not be “fair” to say that supplements don’t work, or that you don’t need that supplement. Additionally, if you are taking dosages that are above therapeutic ranges, you may potentially experience side effects. Obviously, therapeutic dosages will vary individually. Remember, too much of anything, including water, can actually actually kill a person. A quick note about myself. My doctor (and one of my mentors), Tim Francis, DC, DIBAK who practices in Las Vegas, NV once prescribed me 180 mg of zinc (in a single dose) for about 6 months before decreasing it. Studies vary tremendously on toxicity levels with some reporting as low as 75mg, some saying 500-1,000mg, and one reporting 10,ooomg or more in one single dose resulting in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea from zinc. The higher doses were reported from the highly reputable National Research Council. The information was obtained here. I only noticed beneficial effects and “watched” excessive levels of lead, mercury, and copper “pour” out of me (via lab tests). And, in case you were wondering; yes, I make it point to travel there at least once a year, consult with him throughout the year, and get treated structurally and emotionally by local doctors.

Here is some information prescription drugs. According to this reference (the article was first released in 2004): “Over 100,000 people are hospitalized each year with GI complications caused by NSAID use, and an estimated 16,500 patients die from NSAID induced GI bleeding. This is far more people than die of AIDS (13,500). In fact, such GI bleeding is the 14th leading cause of death in this country, according to the CDC”. Examples of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are ibuprofen and naproxen (of which one brand name is Aleve®). Let us not forget the complications with Vioxx® and the enormous experiment on the female population with hormone replacement therapy (and it’s devastating effects). There are many, many more examples of death from drugs I choose not to explore. They should be easy to find. One more thing about Null. He co-authored an amazing study with other medical doctors titled “Death by Medicine”. The study begins by saying; “These statistics contained in this report confirm that American medicine is the number one cause of death in the United States”. Additionally, it reports that outpatient adverse drug reactions total 199,000 deaths and $77 billion in cost per year.

Let’s forget about statistics, and go back to why I feel supplements are usually necessary. First, I do believe we should get our nutrients from whole, organically-grown foods. However, I feel it can be close to impossible to correct certain nutrient deficiencies through food alone; especially if you are already suffering from a health concern related to nutrient deficiencies. Also, your condition may not necessarily be “related” to a nutrient deficiency, but high levels of nutrients may be necessary to correct its problem. For example, excessive toxic metals in my case. That may be considered a toxic exposure and not a nutrient deficiency case, however, I can’t figure out how I would have gotten those metals out in that amount of time without supplementing (with high doses of zinc). And I also don’t consider more than 6 months of supplementation very quick. Could it have been done through diet, maybe. Do you realize how many oysters I would have had to eat on a daily basis to get that same amount of zinc. And I really don’t care for oysters. And I’m just like you; how much time are you really willing to wait before you feel better?

I’ll finish off with some simple examples of how nutrients get used up quickly during normal lifestyle activity.
1) The mineral molybdenum is required to detoxify aldehydes. You are exposed to aldehydes every time you smell perfume or cologne, and smell the wonderful fragrances when you walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. Here is a patient example for you: after not getting adequate results from treating a woman’s chronic neck pain structurally; I probed deeper into her lifestyle and asked her to avoid spraying perfume on her neck. And sure enough, she no longer noticed that neck pain. This example did not require supplementation; however, if she insisted to continue with perfume, that would have been the next step. I will continue to look deeper to find out if supplementing with molybdenum may help other aspects of her health; as I don’t really think she consumes enough through her diet. This could easily be considered “toxic exposure”, but if her molybdenum stores were optimal, and she was able to detox the aldehydes, would you still call it that?

2) Every time we smell diesel fumes from the trucks that go by, our anti-oxidant stores and depleted. By the way, they are depleted from many other environmental toxins we may not even be aware of. And, you may not have enough stores in the first place. Or they may be used up through the body’s natural and normal production of them to run biochemical cycles. Also, exercise increases free radical production.

3) The alcohol that might be enjoyed at celebrations requires a zinc-dependent enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, to be metabolized properly. Don’t forget you may need that zinc to detox heavy metals; and definitely for the enzyme DNA polymerase (necessary for EVERY CELL in the body to grow properly).

There are plenty of more examples. Diet is primary, supplements are secondary. However, supplements are often necessary based on the conditions I see in my patients. If you don’t have a particular health concern, you may consider using supplements for prevention purposes. Here’s another article on wrote on my top 5 recommended supplements for overall health. And another article on why it may be necessary to supplement. Lastly, one great way to get your nutrients through food is by drinking organic green vegetable juices daily. Thanks for reading!

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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The word inflammation comes from the Latin word inflamatio, which translates into: “to set on fire”. It is a term that describes the biological response to an injury or protection from a microbe. Essentially, this “injury” can only come from about 5 things: 1) physical trauma (e.g.: ankle sprain, etc.); 2) allergic reactions; 3) infections; 4) chemical toxins (e.g.: toxic metals, environmental chemicals. etc.) and 5) ionizing and UV radiation (e.g.: x-ray, sunlight, etc.). The”hallmarks” of inflammation are a change to the micro-circulation and build-up of inflammatory cells in the damaged area. The five key signs of inflammation are pain, redness, edema (or swelling), heat, and loss of use. You may not have all five, but in the most extreme case they all exist. These five signs are generated by the biochemicals which respond to any sort of tissue damage.

The biochemicals released are designed to help heal the damage that has taken place. They help clean up the debris from the damaged cells, bring more blood to the area to restore new growth, and improve the drainage. There is much controversy over when to “artificially” (through ice, nutrients, or medication) reduce inflammation. However, it’s generally accepted that acute (24-72 hours) inflammation is necessary to begin the healing process. Inflammation (that is one or all of the five key signs) that persists for longer than this time (that is sub-acute or chronic) may indicate an inability to repair properly; appropriately coined a “cumulative repair deficit” by Dr. Stuart White. Therefore, intervention in the sub-acute or chronic stages is usually necessary and certainly desired by the patient.

Let’s now discuss some natural ways to deal with chronic inflammation, considering that it is normal to have inflammation in the acute (and sometimes sub-acute) time-frames. First and foremost, the source(s) of inflammation needs to be avoided. For example, exposure to food allergies/sensitivities, chemicals, toxic metals, radiation, etc.. Additionally, if the inflammation is the result of a structural impediment, you may need muscle and joint re-balancing done by a doctor. If the source is not avoided or addressed, you are simply “painting over the rust” and dealing with symptoms as opposed to the cause.

The main natural remedy to alleviate inflammation would be Omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve often used Omega-6 fatty acids also; particularly gamma linoleic acid or GLA (found in black currant seed, evening primrose oil, and borage oil) with great success in patients that have chronic musculoskeletal inflammation. Generally speaking though, most people have too many Omega-6 fats compared to 3’s in their diet; so Omega 3’s are generally recommended more often. Omega 3’s are best found in fish and krill oil. Flax oil does contain Omega 3’s, however, many biochemical steps need to occur before they are converted into to EPA (the anti-inflammatory substance). And very often, these steps can be disrupted through faulty sugar metabolism, alcohol, and trans-fats. As a result, it’s quite possible that you’ll never achieve the potential anti-inflammatory effects you are looking for. Fish and krill oil on the other hand need no conversion, as they actually contain EPA. I do not recommend that you eat fish unless you absolutely know it’s “clean”, click here to read why.

Other natural anti-inflammatory compounds include turmeric, resveratrol, ginger, quercetin, garlic, onion, boswellia, rosemary, vitamins C + E, and should also be considered. However, keep in mind that no one ever has an “herb-deficiency”. Therefore, make sure you’ve covered your nutritional bases first; that is essential Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C +E at a minimum. There may be other natural anti-inflammatory compounds as well, but the ones I mentioned should be more than enough.

Additionally, don’t forget that you need certain nutrients to rebuild the damage that has occurred from the inflammation. For this, think about rebuilding collagen, the most abundant connective tissue in the body. Therefore make to sure you have a sufficient amount of protein and vitamin C (the most basic nutrients) to build collagen. Some other nutrients for collagen formation would include: zinc, manganese, iron, vitamin A, sulphur, copper, and perhaps others indirectly.

In conclusion, it’s usually not apparent when you have chronic inflammation. The 5 key signs more often accompany acute inflammation and often are not observed with chronic inflammation if you don’t have pain or some sort of loss of function. This is especially true when there is inflammation in the arteries, which can lead to hardening of the arteries and ultimately cardiovascular disease. I most commonly see chronic inflammation as a result of poor dietary choices, environmental chemicals (and metals), and sub-clinical infections. Inflammation was the topic of a front-page article in Time Magazine titled “Inflammation: The Secret Killer”. It mentions the links between chronic inflammation and heart attacks, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. So make sure you are getting anti-inflammatory compounds on a daily basis, through diet and/or supplements.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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What is rust?  Well, the technical/scientific name for rust is called oxidation.  You are probably familiar with rust as it relates to metals.  Essentially, rust occurs when oxygen comes in contact with the metal.  The extent of the “rust” or oxidation is dependent on how long the oxygen is in contact with the substance.  Hence, the older the car, the rustier it gets.  Other common examples of oxidation are when an apple turns brown after being cut into, and when a copper penny turns green.

Now, how are rust and aging synonymous?  Living tissues can rust, that is they can oxidize.  As you know, oxygen is our most important “nutrient” so there is no way around it.  When living tissues oxidize they produce molecules called free radicals.  This is where the aging comes in.  I’ll do my best to explain what a free radical is without boring you.

Most stable molecules inside the body have a balanced electrical charge, with an evenly paired number of electrons, giving it a neutral charge.  Free radicals, on the other hand, are highly unstable molecules that have an unpaired electron with an extra negative charge.  These free radicals then react with other molecules in an attempt to “steal” an electron in order to become electrically balanced.  This sets off a chain-reaction by creating another unstable molecule that again seeks balance by “stealing” an electron from a stable molecule, and so on.  During this process of “stealing” electrons, the unstable molecules that are created cause tissue damage.

As you know it’s the process of a chemical reaction known as oxidation that produces these free radicals.  The terms “oxidative stress” (or “oxidative damage”) is often used when referring to free radical tissue destruction.  Keep in mind, oxidation reactions are a normal and necessary part of a person’s biochemistry.  However, there are many ways that we get exposed to an excess amount of free radicals.  These include, but are not limited to: unhealthy, processed, chemically-laden food and tainted water, pesticides, smoke and smog, radiation (x-ray, cosmic, etc.), sunlight, toxic chemicals in plastics, and from environmental pollution in general.  The list is practically endless.  But think unnatural, synthetic chemicals especially, along with poor dietary choices.

This is where antioxidants come into the picture to stop the chain reaction caused by free radicals.  Antioxidants have the ability to “donate” an electron, thus stabilizing or deactivating the free radical.  As a result, the chain reaction stops because the free radical becomes electrically balanced without the need to “steal” electrons and disrupt other molecules.  Finally, the tissue damage stops.

Now that you understand the concept of oxidative (free radical) damage.  Let’s move a step further to talk about the impact free radicals can have on the body in a way that we can relate.   Here are some common examples.  Oxidative damage to the… blood vessels causes arterio- and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arterioles and arteries) leading to heart disease and stroke; brain causes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; eyes causes cataracts and macular degeneration; skin causes wrinkles, sagging and “age spots”; connective tissue causes faulty collagen and elastin formation, possibly leading to tendonitis/osis, and other musculoskeletal complications and injuries; etc..  Oxidative damage has also been implicated in all types of cancer.  (Don’t get me wrong, free radicals may not be the only reason these conditions occur.)

So remember, the key to stopping this damage is through an abundant supply of antioxidants.  Just about every fruit and vegetable contains one or more antioxidants.  Organic food would obviously be better, because it would help avoid the exposure to pesticides.  Also, your body innately has antioxidant enzyme systems in place to help counteract the normal oxidation reactions that occur naturally.

There are hundreds of antioxidants and you probably already know some.  There are so many great food sources that are readily available; blueberries, pomegranate (w/out added sugar) and cocao (the unadulterated “chocolate” bean) come to my mind first.  With the current state of the environment it’s often extremely help to add some by way of supplementing.  Again there are dozens.  I prefer grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid, green tea extract, co-enzyme Q10, N-acetyl cysteine, bilberry, milk thistle, turmeric, rosemary, and so on.  Also, don’t forget the basics – vitamins A, C, and E.  Additionally, the minerals manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium are necessary to make the body’s own natural antioxidants known as superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase.

So how do we know which antioxidant would be best to take?  As an applied kinesiologist, I would use muscle testing to “challenge” the body.  One way might be to have a person inhale a very small amount of chlorine bleach (one of the most oxidative substances) in order to smell the vapors, and see if a previously facilitated muscle becomes inhibited.  If so, the person can ingest different types of anitoxidants to see which one(s) returns the muscle to a facilitated state.  Or, pick your favorite color of the many anitoxidant rich fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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If you are a patient of mine, you know that I don’t “shotgun” any supplements.  That is, I don’t ever just give out supplements because they’re “good for you” or because the “the book” or “experts” say they are the best for a particular condition.  You know that I am extremely specific to my patient’s needs.  I’m able to be extremely specific because I use muscle testing.  Muscle testing allows me to have a “window” into the nervous system.  Therefore, I can find out what nutrients my patients will respond to best, based on the outcome of the test.

That said – I’m still willing to talk about what I feel are the top 5 supplements for overall well-being.  Please keep in mind that the order of importance for any given person will vary, even if they are just being used for general health.  That’s because everyone lives a different lifestyle and is exposed to different stressors.  Let’s begin:

#1 – Probiotics – These are more specifically known as acidophilus and bifidus, or “good” bacteria.  There are in fact many different names for probiotics, as there are many different strains of good bacteria.  The term probiotic means: pro- “for”  biotic- “life”.  Sounds like it should be in the top 5, doesn’t it?  Essentially, we have hundreds of strains of bacteria in our intestines.  Some of them are helpful, some are harmful.  For optimal health, we need to strive for a balance between the helpful and harmful.  Unfortunately, most people have too many harmful ones.  The function of these good bacteria helps all of the following: the immune system; proper digestion and absorption; food allergy/sensitivity reduction; production of certain vitamins and nutrients- such as vitamin K, choline, fatty acids, and more; and prevention of bad bacteria/pathogens from overpopulating the gut.

#2 –  Antioxidants – You’ve probably heard of these compounds.  They essentially “quench” free radicals that are formed inside the body.  Free radicals are unstable molecules (because of an unpaired electron in the outer shell) that can cause a domino-effect of damage to the cells.  Free radicals will damage your DNA – the blueprint your genes use to express themselves healthfully.  They are formed naturally through normal metabolic processes; however more sources of free radicals include poor food choices, certain prescription medications, environmental pollution, tobacco smoking (including second-hand), stress, ultraviolet light, oxygen and radiation.  Also, don’t forget that a lack of sufficient antioxidant levels will perpetuate the damage from existing free radicals by failing to neutralize them.  There are dozens of antioxidants.  Some are even essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A,C,E, and the minerals selenium and zinc to name a few.  Some of my favorite antioxidants are grape seed extract, turmeric, rosemary, green tea extract, and alpha-lipoic acid.

#3 – Omega 3 (or 6) Fatty Acids – By now, everyone is talking about Omega 3’s, usually referring to fish oils. Keep in mind that there are plant-based sources also. Fish (and krill) is more easily used by the body, and we’ll discuss why that is another time.  Your medical doctor may even be talking about fish oils.  Why?  Well, one reason is that they are essential fatty acids.  “Essential” refers to the fact that they are essential to human health, but your body cannot make them with other nutrients you’ve eaten.  They MUST be consumed in the diet, unlike certain other fatty acids which can be manufactured inside the body.  Essential fatty acids have been found to be important for proper functioning of the immune, cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems.  Also, did you realize that our brains are made up of roughly 60% fat – another great reason to make sure you’re not deficient in this vital nutrient.  Most people consume enough (really too many) carbohydrates.  Many people consume enough essential amino acids (protein).  Very few people consume enough essential fatty acids, without supplementing. By the way, some people may need Omega 6 essential fatty acids more so than 3’s – don’t ever “shotgun” it, remember. Get checked!

4 – Vitamin D – This is another one of those supplements that is causing a lot of M.D.’s to jump on the band wagon.  Well frankly, good for them, and more so for their patients.  Relatively recently, this has been found to be an almost pandemic deficiency – especially in areas where people are not exposed to the sun for much of the year.  Research on vitamin D seems to be growing at a rapid pace these days.  So far it has been shown to treat or prevent osteoporosis (it’s necessary in absorbing calcium), infections (including colds and flu), diabetes, tuberculosis, inflammation, depression, and neurological disorders.  That list barely gives vitamin D the credit it deserves.  Get your blood levels checked!  And get out in the sun, before summer is over.

5) – A Multi-mineral supplement – You must have noticed how I didn’t say a multi-vitamin supplement, although that would be fine to add as well.   In my practice, I find that minerals are a much more common deficiency than vitamins.  Minerals act as catalysts in the body.  Essentially that means they drive chemical reactions.  They do this partly by activating enzymes.  So they are responsible for converting one chemical into another, which is really what makes all biochemical processes go around.  If there were no minerals to drive reactions, our bodies would essentially stop in their tracks.  In fact, they are even necessary for vitamins to work effectively because they help convert them from their inactive to their active form; so those vitamins can actually perform their proper biochemical role.  I find deficiencies of all different types of minerals, daily.  But if I had to choose only two, they would definitely be zinc and magnesium.

The 5 supplements above have been reviewed for general health.  However, they can obviously address specific ailments for certain people.  Again, if you have a specific health concern, it is most important to figure out exactly what you are deficient in, instead of throwing the whole kitchen sink at the problem.  I do this through highly specific muscle tests, along with blood, urine, and saliva tests for all my patients.  When people simply look things up in books (and “shotgun” their supplements), they often don’t work.  Then, unfortnately, people lose faith and decide that supplements or alternatives are ineffective across the board.  Figure out what your body needs, and you’ll see amazing results. Check back for more specific information on all of the above!
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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