It worked again!

This was more of an annoyance than anything, but over Friday and Saturday, I started to get a head cold. No sore throat or aches but a stuffy nose and head, general fatigue. Once again, I started up with my favorite combo of beta glucan, Resist Immune and extra vitamin C. I normally take about 4-5 grams a day, so this time I was only adding a few extra grams. Today, Sunday, the head cold is virtually gone, energy is better. This happens consistently when I’ve used this combo and a few people I’ve tried this with have had similar success. I’d say it is worth a shot! Others also swear by Heath Concerns Cold Away (we are out just at the moment but should have more in in a couple of weeks.) What works for you?

Taking Vitamin D3 supplements for more than 3 years linked to lower mortality

We’ve heard a lot about Vitamin D in the past few years. There have been studies linking low Vitamin D levels to a host of health issues, from heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, to higher probability of developing the flu, especially during the winter season, when you get less exposure to the sunshine that allows the body to produce its own supply of the vitamin.

Now here’s an interesting meta-analysis (=review of previously published research) that looks at the connection between long-term use of Vitamin D3 supplements (“long-term” defined, in this case, as more than three years). Reviewing data from 42 earlier trials, this investigation found that those who supplemented with Vitamin D for longer than three years had a significant reduction in mortality. Specifically, this research found that the following groups showed a lower risk of death when supplementing with Vitamin D over a period longer than three years: women, people under the age of 80, those taking a daily dose of 800IU or less of Vitamin D, and those participants with vitamin D insufficiency (defined as a baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D level less than 50 nmol/L).

Here’s the conclusion reached by the researchers:

The data suggest that supplementation of vitamin D is effective in preventing overall mortality in a long-term treatment, whereas it is not significantly effective in a treatment duration shorter than 3 years. Future studies are needed to identify the efficacy of vitamin D on specific mortality, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality in a long-term treatment duration.

Our comment: We’re not surprised that supplementing over a period of years proves, in this review, to be more beneficial than briefer periods of supplementing. Vitamin D, like many supplements, shouldn’t be seen as treatment for an acute condition. It doesn’t act like an antibiotic, which may clear up an infection with a couple weeks of treatment. Instead, think of the body as having a long-term, continual need for Vitamin D; and note as well that seasonal change, or a particular health status (for example, being HIV+), may lead to deficiency and thus increase your need for supplementing. We were somewhat surprised to see that a significantly lowered risk of mortality was found even with a moderate rate of supplementation (800 IU daily dose). On this Blog you can read about other research that links decreased risk of flu, for example, with a daily Vitamin D dose of 2000IU. At any rate, there are no known “adverse events” at either of these doses of the vitamin, so not to worry, whether you’re following the lower or a higher recommendation.

See the NYBC catalog for Vitamin D3 offerings:

http://nybcsecure.org/index.php?cPath=25

Reference:
Zheng Y, et al. Meta-analysis of long-term vitamin D supplementation on overall mortality. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 3;8(12):e82109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082109.

Who’s Afraid of Cold and Flu Season? Not NYBC!

As the days get shorter and we approach the end of October, here in the Northern Hemisphere many worry about the Cold and Flu Season. Colds and flus aren’t fun for anyone, and people with compromised immune systems may be especially vulnerable. Here are some recommendations from NYBC, both in the prevention department and in the symptom alleviation department. Using these supplements, we believe, can make the Cold and Flu Season a lot less scary!

Vitamin D. According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 2000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C. Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention. According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking between one and three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose–especially when you’re fighting cold or flu symptoms.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides. Also note that NYBC stocks several varieties of probiotic supplements, including Jarrow’s Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, which has helped many maintain healthy digestive function, always a key to getting proper nutrition into your system and thus supporting immune strength.

And this just in: See posts on this blog for Beta Glucan, which, according to very recent research reports, may be of substantial benefit for fighting colds.

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.

Beta Glucans to thwart colds?

Purely anecdotally, I’ve been using beta glucan to nip colds in the bud for years. If I can catch it, just at the onset of that first tickle, one or two do the trick. But if I forget or miss it and something’s trying to settle in, I wind up taking several through the day, along with increasing my dose of vitamin C from the usual 4 grams/day to about 6-8 grams (staying home especially if I’m worried about reaching bowel tolerance).

Some research is beginning to support these anecdotes of mine and several NYBC members. One small (industry) study showed reduced number of symptoms. Another study among 182 marathoners who may be more prone to colds due to suppressed mucosal immunity after a run, showed those using the beta glucans experienced “a 37% reduction in the number of cold/flu symptom days postmarathon compared to placebo (p = .026).” In a second study by the same researchers, they observed that beta glucan use was associated with “a 32% increase in salivary IgA (p = .048) at 2 hr after exercise compared to placebo.” That might provide a partial understanding of how these compounds work to stimulate a key feature of immunity.

Others have found that higher doses (8 g/day) may help lower LDL. Clearly, more studies can help us to understand the benefits, limitations and contraindications or side effects of this intriguing polysaccharides. Would that research were run based on science and the actual needs of medicine instead of the anti-science distortions of greed!

See nybuyersclub entry on Beta Glucan

Beta Glucan studied for colds: European Journal of Nutrition

NYBC has stocked Beta Glucan for quite a while, due to the variety of evidence about its capacity to enhance immune system function. On a more personal level, some at NYBC have taken to using it as a cold remedy or cold preventative, and generally–we’re speaking of the “anecdotal” level of evidence–have found it worthwhile.

Now we’re pleased to note a newly published, well-designed study in the European Journal of Nutrition that finds that beta glucan can reduce the number of colds by about 25%, and also acts to significantly decrease cold symptoms, including sleep disruption.

See NYBC’s product description:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=50&products_id=40

Reference: Auinger, A. et al. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects.
European Journal of Nutrition. January, 2013.

The Versatile Vitamin C

Most people associate Vitamin C with help in reducing cold symptoms. Indeed studies have shown that taking high-dose Vitamin C (500- 1000mg every hour) at the first sign of a cold can shorten its duration by one-third, helping to relieve symptoms faster. Vitamin C revs up the immune system by increasing the body’s production of antibodies, white blood cells, and interferon (a natural antiviral), and so it may be effective against many infections.

But that’s not the only way Vitamin C can keep you healthy. Here’s another major benefit of this versatile vitamin:

Joint health. Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory properties help the body maintain cartilage, the all-important connective tissue that keeps your joints working smoothly. It’s also important to note that NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), a whole group of drugs commonly used for arthritis pain, regularly deplete Vitamin C, so anyone taking these medications (which range from aspirin to prescription items like Celebrex) absolutely needs to replace the lost Vitamin C. In short, supplementing with 1000-3000mg of Vitamin C per day is essential if you’re also taking NSAIDS.

For some Vitamin C supplement choices, see NYBC’s descriptions of:

C1000- Ascorbic Acid Plus Olea

Vitamin C – Buffered

C-Esterol (Allergy Research Group)

What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet for Cold & Flu Season?

Here are some recommended supplements great for cold and flu season that have been the subject of recent, good research.

Vitamin D.  According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 1000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks  over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C.  Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention.  According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking  between  one  and  three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up convincing evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Elderberry extract (as found in Jarrow Formulas’ Wellness Optimizer) and American ginseng (found in two Health Concerns formulas) are two other botanicals that have been studied for cold and flu symptoms in recent North American research, with some promising results. Also, a study conducted by Israeli scientists showed that elderberry extract suppressed the growth of influenza viruses in lab dishes. The same research team reported that patients given the extract recovered from the flu faster. The perennially popular echinacea, however, has generally disappointed in cold prevention studies, but is still touted by some as beneficial at the onset of a cold.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides.

NYBC stocks eight varieties of probiotic supplements, ranging from Florastor capsules, a favorite of international travelers, to the 40 billion beneficial baceteria-per-capsule Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, to Green Vibrance, a powder added to fruit juice or another beverage of choice (complimentary shaker cup included!).

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.