Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nutrients for the Mind

The following is a description of the benefits and effects of some nutrients on the body and the mind

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE
AKA: ALC, Alcar, carnitine, Carn-itor, D-carnitine, DL-carnitine, L-car-nitine, levocarnitine, Nacetyl- 1-carni-tine, ProXeed, VitaCarn. Though a nutrient, ALC belongs neither to the vitamin nor the amino acid category. It is chemically similar to carnitine but is more efficient. While it is synthesized by the liver from lysine and methionine, adequate amounts of vitamins C, B-3, and B-6, plus iron, lysine, and methionine are needed in the diet for this to occur, and men run a greater risk of deficiency than women. There are two forms of carnitine: L-car-nitine and D-carnitine, the former being the biologically active form and the latter being the inactive form which may counteract L-carnitine's benefits.

Food Sources: Meat, milk and dairy products. The amount of carnitine in meat is in direct proportion to the redness of the meat.

Effects: Chemically related to choline, ALC has many of the same effects. It acts as an anti-oxidant; increases the levels of choline acetyl-transferase in the brain; transports fats into the mitochondria, the part of the cell which creates energy; enhances communication between the brain's hemispheres; reduces triglyceride levels and removes ketones (fat waste products) from the blood; helps control hypoglycemia; alleviates angina attacks; and has been used in the treatment of diabetes, infertility, liver disease, and kidney disease. It may help fight cancer by boosting the effect of lymphocytes, white blood cells that serve the immune system. It also slows down the cell damage caused by agerelated conditions and may accelerate the repair of damaged DNA in cells ravaged by free radicals. It may help protect the brain from the effects of aging by preventing the accumulation of lipofuscin in the brain. Studies have shown that doses of anywhere from 2000 to 3500 mg a day can slow the onset of Alzheimer's and mental deterioration, specifically memory, attention, language ability, alertness, motor activities, and spatial abilities, though it may take up to six months to begin to work. Longchain acetylcar-nitines (LCACs) work counter to ALC, preventing the transportation of fats to the mitochondria and suppressing membrane enzymes. It works synergistically with pho-phatidylserine. A deficiency can cause damage to heart tissue, muscle weakness, extreme confusion, angina, and male infertility.

Precautions: Those with kidney damage should use supplements with extreme caution. It may cause gastrointestinal disorders and a change in body odor, which can be reduced or eliminated with lower dosages. Less frequent side effects include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Overdosing can produce severe muscle weakness, though some have experienced only mild diarrhea with doses as high as 26,000 mg a day. "Vitamin B-T" supplements contain dextro-carnitine as well, which cancels out the effectiveness of levocarni-tine. Valproic acid, used in the treatment of epileptic seizures and manic-depression, will reduce the effect of L-carni-tine. ProXeed, a citrus-flavored drink mix containing two types of L-carnitine, is marketed as a cure for low sperm count, though experts point out that there are many causes of male infertility which carnitine does not cure.

Dosage: 1 to 3 g/day in two divided doses. At present, there is no RDA. Supplements should contain only L-carni-tine, as DL-carnitine will cause some individuals to develop a myasthenia-type syndrome. According to Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D., Ph.D., there is no evidence that supplements will benefit those whose levels are already normal, neither will it build muscle or protect against diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease. At present, it is available in Europe, but not the U.S., and it can be very expensive.

COENZYM Q1O
AKA: CoQIO, Ubiquinone. Classified as a nonvitamin nutrient, CoEnzyme QlO can be supplied by dietary means or from the body's own resources. The body can usually manufacture it from amino acids L-tyrosine and Lmethionine. It is found in high amounts in the human heart and liver, the two organs in the body which need the most energy.

Food Sources: Beef, peanuts, polyunsaturated oils, sardines, seafood, and spinach all have significant amounts, with white albacore tuna packed in cans with spring water having the highest amount. It is also found in chicken, mackerel, monounsaturated oils, walnuts, and whole grains.

Effects: Helps manufacture ATP (used by the brain for energy), protects the cell membranes from free-radical damage, prevents cholesterol from sticking to arterial walls, prevents damage to tissues caused by hypoxia, increases the life span in lab animals up to 56 percent, helps cure some forms of gum disease, and protects against peroxidation (a means by which oxygen and unsaturated fats combine to form free radicals). In this last respect, it acts much the same way as vitamin E, but is superior in that, unlike E, it is not destroyed in the process. Interestingly, CoEnzyme Q10 may protect against or reverse some of the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency. Other effects include weight loss, stimulation of the immune system, improvement of athletic performance, decreased blood pressure, a lower incidence of heart disease, and improved mental abilities. Works synergistically with the co-enzyme NADH. Deficiencies of CoEnzyme Q10 have been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, peri-odontal disease, and those undergoing tube feeding on a liquid intravenous diet (total parenteral nutrition).

Precautions: Can sometimes be metabolized by the body to create certain compounds that have damaging effects similar to those caused by free radicals; adequate amounts of anti-oxi-dant vitamins (beta-carotene, C, and E) should be able to prevent this, however. CoEnzyme Q10 should be yellow or orange in color; if not, it may contain fillers. High doses could cause over-stimulation. Drug use, exposure to cold, illnesses, physical activity, and stress can all drain the body's supply of this nutrient. Exercise, however, can increase levels. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lescol, Lipitor, Mevacor, Prava-chol, and Zocor can also deplete levels of CoEnzyme QlO in the body, and it is advisable to take supplements to counteract this; Joe and Theresa Graedon, Ph.D., say experts recommend between 50 to 150 mg a day.

Dosage: Optimal doses have not yet been determined, but research indicates that a range of 10 to 90 mg/day is safe and effective. Ward Dean, M.D., recommend 60 to 180 mg/day. Most supplements are in the 30 to 50 mg range. It is generally agreed that the liquid form in the soft gelatin capsule is better absorbed than the capsule form. CoEnzyme QlO should be taken with oily or fatty foods (e.g., fish oil), as it is oil-soluble.

CYTOCHROMES
AKA: Cytochrome-C. Cytochromes are a component of ATP production.

Effects: Said to increase energy and endurance.

Precautions: There is no evidence that supplementation produces any benefits.

IDEBENONE
AKA: Avan. An anti-oxidant that is very similar to CoEnzyme QlO.

Effects: The same benefits as CoEnzyme QlO, without the hazard of metabolizing into free radicals.

Precautions: The few studies that have been conducted show no evident toxic side effects.

Dosage: 100 mg/day. LlPOIC ACID AKA: l,2-dithiolane-3-pentanoic acid, alpha-lipoic acid, Alpha Lipotene, LA, thiotic acid. A coenzyme.

Food Sources: Broccoli, carrots, heart, liver, meat, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, yams.

Effects: A potent anti-oxidant which can regenerate other anti-oxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and form another anti-oxidant, dihydrolipoate, in cells. It is said to improve long-term memory by protecting brain cell membranes from damage by free radicals, insure that the two main enzymes that convert food into energy function properly, enhance the synthesis of glutathione, and, unlike other anti-oxidants, can attack free radicals in both the watery and fatty parts of the body. It produces a mild feeling of relaxation and well-being, plus a mild visual enhancement. It may also enhance the immune system and prevent atherosclerosis, and may prove helpful in treating diabetes, cataracts, brain and nerve degeneration, cardiovascular and cere-brovascular diseases, high cholesterol, infections (e.g., HIV), and cancer.

Precautions: Daily doses above 50 mg may result in gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and upset stomach, allergic skin reaction, and overstimula-tion. Very high doses may produce an abnormally low blood sugar.

Dosage: The body manufactures sufficient amounts on its own, though certain medical conditions may cause deficiencies. Ray Sahelian, M.D., recommends 10 to 50 mg/day. Allan Sosin, M.D., and Beth Ley Jacobs, Ph.D., recommend 50 to 100 mg/day and say that there are no serious side effects even in the 300 to 600 mg/day range used to treat diabetics.

OCTACOSANOL
Food Sources: Alfalfa, wheat germ, wheat germ oil, whole grains. Octacosanol is one of several long-chain alcohol molecules found in wheat germ oil.

Effects: It is said to lower blood cholesterol, increase energy storage in muscle tissue, improve stamina and endurance, sharpen reflexes, help the body adjust to high altitudes, improve oxygen utilization, keep the body metabolism balanced under stress, and is an excellent source of vitamin E. It takes about three weeks before the effects are noticed.

Precautions: There is no scientific evidence to support any of its claims.

Dosage: Earl Mindell, R.Ph., Ph.D., recommends 1000 to 6000 mg/day.

SAPONINS
AKA: Triterpene glycosides. Saponins are steroid-like chemicals connected to sugar molecules that occur naturally in plants. Saponins are only one of a class of nutrients called phyto-chemicals which are found in all fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes and whole grains. There are several thousand different phytochemicals, including lycopenes (found in tomatoes), genis-tein (found in soybeans), and flavonoids (found in citrus fruits).

Food Sources: Asparagus, bean sprouts, chickpeas, ginseng, guarana, oats, potatoes, soybeans, tomatoes.

Effects: Saponins are believed to have anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. They may also bolster the immune system. They have been used to treat diabetes; liver ailments such as hepatitis, cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood clots; and mental and physical stress.

SUCCINATES
Succinates are metabolites necessary for energy production in cells.

Effects: Said to increase energy and endurance.

Precautions: There is no evidence that supplementation provides any benefits.

SUPEROXIDE DISMUTASE
AKA: Cell Guard, Cu/ZnSOD, LIP-SOD, MnSOD, SOD. It ranks fifth among proteins in terms of the amount in our bodies, after collagen, albumin, globulin, and hemoglobin.

Food Sources: Barley grass, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, green plants, wheat grass.

Effects: An extremely powerful anti-oxidant enzyme that works syner-gistically with catalase to counteract superoxide, the most common and hazardous free radical. The production of SOD in the body decreases as we age. There are two forms of SOD: copper/zinc SOD (Cu/ZnSOD), which protects the cytoplasm of the cell; and manganese SOD (MnSOD), which protects the mitochondria, where the genetic information resides and cellular energy is produced. Liposomal superoxide dismutase (LIPSOD) is SOD that has been encapsulated in a liposome "delivery vehicle." Both SOD and LIPSOD have been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, damage caused by radiation therapy and heart attacks, unresponsive anemia, and various autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma, Crohn's disease, Behcet's disease, Raynaud's syndrome, and Kawasaki disease. It shows promise in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Peyronie's disease, and possibly AIDS. Superoxide dismutase works synergistically with copper, zinc, and manganese.

Precautions: Stomach acid destroys SOD, so tablet supplements must be enteric coated so that they can be safely absorbed in the small intestine.

TELOMERASE
Called the "immortality enzyme" because it encourages cell division for an indefinite period of time, preventing the cells from dying of old age (normal human cells divide approximately 75 times over a person's life span before the telomere —the protective end of the chromosome — wears away and becomes too short to protect the chromosome, leading to the death of the cell).

Effects: It could extend life span and health indefinitely.

Precautions: There is some debate whether it could be a carcinogen, as it has been found in 90 percent of all cancer cells. Some say that telomerase by itself does not create cancer cells, while others counter that its ability to promote cell division could cause cancer cells to proliferate unchecked.

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