July 23, 2014
The Real Story On Niacin: Niacin associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular disease and mortality
You may have heard some recent reports on Niacin (one of the B-vitamins) that seemed to suggest it wasn’t of benefit for cardiovascular disease. Actually, the recent studies fueling these reports only looked at certain special forms of niacin taken together with a statin drug. These studies proved a disappointment to the statin drug makers, because the research didn’t show any additional benefit in adding the niacin. (By the way, some researchers have pointed out problems with the special forms of niacin used in these studies.)
Given the confusion in some news reports about Niacin, we at NYBC think it’s important to repeat what researchers stated about Niacin in a March 2014 article in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. This article reviewed the recent Niacin studies, and also reiterated the well-known and well-documented benefits of Niacin for cardiovascular health:
1. In a long-term study called the Coronary Drug Project, “niacin treatment was associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular events and long-term mortality, similar to the reductions seen in the statin monotherapy trials.”
2. “In combination trials, niacin plus a statin or bile acid sequestrant produces additive reductions in coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality and promotes regression of coronary atherosclerosis.”
3. Niacin is the “most powerful agent currently available” for RAISING levels of HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called “good cholesterol”); and it can also REDUCE levels of triglycerides and LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called “bad cholesterol”).
Here’s the reference for these three important points about Niacin:
Boden, W E, Sidhu M S, & Toth P P. The therapeutic role of niacin in dyslipidemia management. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar;19(2):141-58. doi: 10.1177/1074248413514481.
NOTE: NYBC stocks Niacin No-Flush (Source Naturals): http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=439; Niacin TR Niatab 500mg (Douglas): http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=249; and
Niacin TR Niatab 100mg (Douglas) http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=252
As always, we strongly recommend that you consult your healthcare provider when using supplements.
April 9, 2014
The movie Dallas Buyers Club scored a couple of splashy wins at the Oscars on March 2: Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey (playing Ron Woodroof, the cantankerous founder of the early AIDS buyers’ club); and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto (playing Rayon, a transgender HIV+ woman who becomes Woodroof’s sidekick). Bravura performances indeed, and controversial, too (just read the blogs!).
Meanwhile for us at the New York Buyers’ Club… real life goes on. We think Dallas Buyers Club does an important job in casting its bright Hollywood lights on the work of buyers’ clubs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, beginning in the early days of the pandemic. But here at NYBC –the last HIV/AIDS buyers’ club standing- we would like to present our own award: to YOU! For being an NYBC member, and thereby participating in a long-running community effort to distribute the best available information about managing symptoms and side effects of HIV and HIV meds, while also helping to make beneficial supplements widely accessible through a nonprofit co-op. And a special thanks to the many contributors out there who lent their financial support to NYBC’s recent successful fundraising campaign—you’re our equivalent of the Hollywood producer, without whom the magic can’t happen!
Of course much has changed, and a great deal has changed for the better, since the days depicted in Dallas Buyers Club. Some may even ask why we need a buyers’ club, given that HIV meds have advanced so much in the past 20 years. Unlike Ron Woodroof’s Dallas Buyers Club, NYBC is not importing unapproved drugs or trying novel therapies—that desperate search for any sort of treatment has abated (at least in the wealthier countries). We can look back at the time when New York was home to the PWA Health Group and DAAIR (from which NYBC arose), and there were buyers’ clubs for people with HIV/AIDS in Boston, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix, among other places. But what need does the New York Buyers’ Club fill today?
Some ask why we need a buyers’ club,
given that HIV meds have advanced so much
in the past 20 years? What need does
the New York Buyers’ Club fill today?
Well, recent research brings into sharper focus what we have understood for quite a while: living long term with HIV is a huge challenge. Antiretroviral (ARV) therapy works to reduce the risk of an AIDS-defining illness to nearly zero, while offering the prospect of a normal life span. But problems abound. First, several non-AIDS-defining conditions become more common. These include several cancers, some stemming from infections like HPV. Then there are the longer term effects of ARV, which can threaten quality of life and increase mortality risk, including challenges to the cardiovascular system, nerves, cognitive function, liver, kidneys, and bones.
These side effects are being understood today by some old mechanisms that are getting new attention. At NYBC’s community event on HIV and Aging, held last March, our speaker Steve Karpiak, Ph.D. emphasized the inflammatory processes that continue throughout HIV infection and the cascade of damage that persistent inflammation causes, even as ARV therapy holds the virus in check. And just last October, we were interested to read a comprehensive review on the health effects of chronic inflammation during HIV infection. According to this overview, many markers of inflammation remain high during HIV infection, and those inflammatory problems are linked to elevated risk of cardiovascular, liver, kidney, bone, and neurologic diseases. But none of this is really news to us: addressing the chronic inflammation that accompanies HIV has been central to our work at NYBC—and between those of us at NYBC and those who go back to DAAIR days, we’ve been addressing this model of the disease for over 20 years!
Probiotics may help in countering
the damaging inflammatory processes that are found in HIV infection,
even when the virus is held in check by meds.
The recent review of inflammation effects during HIV did suggest that probiotics, for example, may hold promise for countering inflammatory processes that are concentrated in the gut. Indeed, probiotics have been a staple in the NYBC catalog from the start, even when we were simply recommending them to support gastrointestinal health and improve absorption of nutrients. Now we’re looking forward to new research on supplements, which in this case may help us understand the additional benefits of probiotics as anti-inflammatories. Meanwhile, NYBC continues to search out the latest news about a wide array of topics, from hepatitis C coinfection, to alternative treatments for sleep and mood disorders, to the value of a daily multivitamin + selenium for people with HIV.
In conclusion (music coming up now, so we must hurry), see Dallas Buyers Club, both for the Oscar-winning performances, and for its slice of history about HIV/AIDS buyers’ clubs. But please remember to think of the New York Buyers’ Club as well, and what it’s doing for you today!
Enid Vazquez. “Houston Buyers Club: Desperate Days Beyond Dallas.” Positively Aware, Jan-Feb 2014.
An excellent review of Dallas Buyers Club, with much background on the HIV/AIDS buyers’ club movement
Deeks, Steven G et al. “Systemic Effects of Inflammation on Health during Chronic HIV Infection.”
Immunity, October 17, 2013
We’re tempted to file this story under the heading of “news that we already knew,” but it’s still good to get a stamp of approval in the form of publication in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one of the top medical journals in the U.S., if not the world.
At NYBC and at our predecessor DAAIR we have long recognized the development of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in HIV, and have long recommended multivitamin/mineral supplements to counter those health-threatening deficiencies. We have also followed for years the work of Marianna Baum, lead author of the JAMA study, who has focused attention on the mineral selenium, which may have an important role in preventing replication of HIV. So, while this story doesn’t come as a complete surprise, it’s great to have further support for some long-held practices.
The combination of a daily multivitamin
plus the mineral selenium
proved to be an effective regimen,
cutting by about half
the risk of reaching the point
where ARV therapy would be recommended
Baum’s study was conducted in Botswana, where nearly one in four adults is infected with HIV. The trial followed about 900 newly infected adults who were not yet taking any HIV medications. These participants were divided into groups that randomly received different combinations of vitamins, the mineral selenium, or a placebo. Over the study’s two-year period, the combination of a daily multivitamin plus the mineral selenium proved to be the effective regimen, cuting by about half the risk of reaching the point where ARV therapy would be recommended in Botswana (CD4 count of 200-250).
Baum’s findings are especially relevant for early-stage HIV infection, where the multivitamin + selenium combination proved its value in cutting risk of progression, and actually decreased the likelihood that participants would reach the point where antiretroviral meds would be recommended. Other research, such as Dr. Jon Kaiser’s study of a multivitamin + antioxidants, has been directed at those who are using antiretroviral meds, and may have developed some symptoms or side effects such as peripheral neuropathy. Kaiser’s finding that the multivitamin + antioxidants combination could increase CD4 counts led to the development of K-PAX, and also motivated NYBC to offer its MAC Pack, a close equivalent of K-PAX, assembled from hand-picked products from NYBC’s catalog.
Taken together, the Baum and Kaiser studies suggest to us the value of long-term supplementation strategies that can slow progression of HIV, oppose the known, damaging deficiencies that are likely to develop with HIV, and help stabilize and even improve health for people with HIV, whether they are taking antiretroviral meds or not.
If you’d like to get started with NYBC’s MAC-Pack, or if you’d like to find a multivitamin + selenium combination,
please visit our website. You can also call our toll-free number at (800) 650-4983
for further information and advice about supplement strategies for HIV.
Baum, M. et al. Effect of Micronutrient Supplementation on Disease Progression in Asymptomatic, Antiretroviral-Naive, HIV-Infected Adults in Botswana: : A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2013;310(20):2154-2163. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280923.
Kaiser, J. Micronutrient Supplementation Increases CD4 Count in HIV-infected Individuals on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy: A Prospective, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Kaiser JK, et al. JAIDS 2006;42: 523-528.
April 6, 2014
While reading through PozHealth (a terrific Yahoo group for discussion about issues around living with HIV), one participant noted a terrific website on neuropathy! Written by Dave R, a neuropathy sufferer, it is a terrific collection of data and experience. Check it out.
April 4, 2014
A vast review of studies on Vitamin D has concluded that people with low levels of the vitamin had a 35 percent increased risk of death from heart disease, a 14 percent higher risk of death from cancer, and a greater risk of death from all causes as well.
The authors of this review, who came from a wide range of European and US universities, also looked at the usefulness of supplements, and found that there was no benefit from taking Vitamin D2. However, when they studied middle-aged and older adults who took Vitamin D3, they found an 11% reduction in risk of death from all causes. They also estimated that up to two-thirds of the people in Europe and the US are deficient in Vitamin D, and they calculated that about 13% of all deaths in the US, and about 9% of all deaths in Europe, are linked to low Vitamin D levels.
NYBC’s comment: This review suggests that it is crucial to supplement with Vitamin D3—-which is the type of Vitamin D stocked by NYBC. Older forms of supplementation, such as Vitamin D2-fortified milk, may not have benefit, according to this research. Secondly, though some have argued that low Vitamin D may simply be a side effect of disease processes that can’t be reversed by supplementing, we believe that this study also offers evidence that, especially when people are known to be deficient in Vitamin D (as is often the case in older populations, or among HIV+ people), supplementing with D3 has the potential to reduce disease risks, and indeed may reduce the overall risk of mortality.
See NYBC’s catalog for more detailed recommendations on Vitamin D3 supplementation:
Chowdhury, R et al. Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies. BMJ April 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1903
March 23, 2014
A preliminary study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April-May 2014 suggests that being deficient in Vitamin C raises your risk for a stroke. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Stéphane Vannier, M.D., of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France, said that the research pointed to Vitamin C deficiency as a risk factor for the often deadly hemorrhagic type of stroke, just like high blood pressure or being overweight. He also called for further research to identify exactly how Vitamin C levels affect stroke risk (for instance, as an influence on blood pressure).
This study finds still another negative consequence of Vitamin C deficiency, since low Vitamin C levels have also been linked to anemia, a lower capacity to fight infection, lower wound healing capacity, gingivitis, and joint pain. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges and peppers, and can also be obtained through supplementation.
NYBC stocks several different forms of Vitamin C, including Buffered Vitamin C (Jarrow), which is easier on the stomach than other forms; a Vitamin C with Olea Extract (Jarrow); and C Esterol (Allergy Research), which combines Vitamin C with other plant extracts rutin, quercetin, and grape seed proanthocyanidins.
News of this preliminary study was widely reported, but we accessed some information at
March 18, 2014
Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Halcion and others) are anti-anxiety drugs that work by affecting the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in your system that produces relaxation effects. These drugs are meant to be used for short periods (2-3 weeks), but many people end up taking them for much longer periods, resulting in tolerance (meaning you need a higher and higher dose to get the same effect), followed by addiction, and, when discontinuing use, withdrawal effects that can be severe. Benzodiazepines also deplete many important nutrients in the body: Vitamins D and K, folic acid, calcium, and melatonin (the naturally produced hormone in the body that regulates sleep).
So, many in the Complementary/Alternative Medicine field have looked for alternatives to benzodiazepines, to minimize both side effects and potential long-term harm. One of the most interesting alternatives is Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea. Theanine acts as a relaxing agent by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. One small study showed that theanine decreases stress responses such as elevated heart rate. Another investigation compared theanine’s calming effect to that of a standard anti-anxiety prescription drug, and found that theanine performed somewhat better.
NYBC stocks Theanine (Jarrow).
NYBC also stocks two combination supplements that include theanine:
Theanine Serene (Source Naturals), which includes theanine and GABA.
GABA Soothe (Jarrow), which includes theanine, GABA, and an extract of ashwagandha, an herb which has long been used in the Ayurvedic tradition of India to reduce fatigue and tension associated with stress.
Alramadhan E et al. Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Med Sci Monit. 2012 Apr;18(4):RA40-8.
Rogers PJ, Smith JE, Heatherley SV, Pleydell-Pearce CW. Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2008;195(4):569–77.
Kimura, K et al. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol. 2007 Jan;74(1):39-45.
March 4, 2014
Vitamin K2, which is best known for its role in supporting bone health and its potential for countering osteoporosis, has also been investigated recently for other health benefits. A 2013 study reported that Vitamin K2 significantly decreased disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. And other research, also published in 2013, found evidence that Vitamin K2 is active in suppressing various types of prostate cancer cells. The authors of this study conclude that Vitamin K2 “may be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of prostate cancer.”
For further information about Vitamin K2, see the NYBC catalog entries for the Bone Up, Bone Up Ultra, and Vitamin K supplements (all from Jarrow):
Ebina, K, et al. Vitamin K2 administration is associated with decreased disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Mod Rheumatol. 2013 Sep;23(5):1001-7. doi: 10.1007/s10165-012-0789-4.
Samykutty, A, et al. Vitamin k2, a naturally occurring menaquinone, exerts therapeutic effects on both hormone-dependent and hormone-independent prostate cancer cells. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:287358. doi: 10.1155/2013/287358.
March 1, 2014
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at the relationship between consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and some physical measures of the brain that have been linked to “brain health” and “cognitive health.” This research was a bit different from many other studies of omega-3 fatty acids and potential health benefits, because most other studies have looked for relationships between dietary intake of these compounds (found especially in deep water fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel) and major health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease or depression. The JAHA article, on the other hand, narrowed the focus by examining measurable small-scale physical changes in the brain over a period as long as five years.
The results: people with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels showed a significantly lower number of the small-scale physical brain changes that may be associated with brain dysfunction or cognitive decline.
The study authors concluded that, among the older men and women who were the study’s subjects, higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, “and in particular DHA, were associated with specific findings consistent with better brain health.”
Our comment: a fascinating study, because it adds another level of evidence contributing to the already widely accepted view that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for your brain, and indeed may provide important help in maintaining brain function as you age.
See the NYBC catalog for a selection of fatty acids, and note especially the Nordic Naturals Pro Omega choices, which are excellent quality fish oil supplements, containing the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids studied in the JAHA article:
Of special interest is the Jarrow supplement Max DHA, which provides an enhanced dose of the omega-3 fatty acid often associated with brain health:
Virtanen JK, Siscovick DS, Lemaitre RN, Longstreth WT, Spiegelman D, Rimm EB, King IB, & Mozaffarian D (2013). Circulating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and subclinical brain abnormalities on MRI in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2 (5) PMID: 24113325