New research on the supplement CoQ10, recently published in American and European medical journals, shows that it increases survival rates and decreases hospitalizations for people being treated for heart failure. CoQ10 (also called Coenzyme Q10, among other names) is a powerful antioxidant and acts as an essential factor in the heart’s energy production. In the past, clinical studies have provided evidence of its value as an adjunct treatment for angina, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and hypertension (high blood pressure). In addition, researchers have found that statin drugs deplete CoQ10, and so it has been suggested that people taking these cholesterol-lowering drugs should also use CoQ10 to support healthy heart function.
CoQ10 (also called Coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinone, among other names) is a powerful antioxidant and acts as an essential factor in the heart’s energy production. A naturally occurring and powerful antioxidant nutrient, it retards free radical formation in biological systems, and resembles vitamin E and vitamin K in chemical structure. Biochemically, it functions much like vitamin E in that it participates in antioxidant and free radical reactions.
NOW AVAILABLE FROM NYBC’S ONLINE CO-OP: Jarrow Formulas’ Q-Absorb, available in two strengths, utilizes a “completely natural proliposome lipid soluble delivery system clinically shown in humans to increase Co-Q10 levels up to 400% – three to four times better absorbed than chewable Co-Q10 tablets.” Price: $21- $29.
Douglas Labs’ Cardio Edge* employs plant sterols (phytosterols) from soy, Sytrinol (a proprietary extract of polymethoxylated flavones and tocotrienols from citrus and palm fruits), and pomegranate extract. Their Ultra Coenzyme Q10 ($121.60) has 60 chewable tablets with 200 mg CoQ10 combined with 500 mg lecithin.
* Note: Prices on Douglas Labs’ products are considerably lower for NYBC members!
The study lasted for two years and compared heart failure patients taking 100mg CoQ10 three times per day with patients who were not taking the supplement. By the end of the two-year period, the CoQ10 group showed a significantly lower rate of hospitalization for heart failure, significantly better functional capacity, and a significantly lower rate of death from cardiovascular disease.
NYBC has stocked CoQ10 since our founding, and has recently expanded its offerings. We’re happy that we’ve been able to provide this important supplement at discounted prices to our members over the years, and we’re happier still to see this new research strengthening the case for a supplement that already had a considerable amount of evidence demonstrating its benefit for heart health.
Here are some additional NYBC suggestions for cardiovascular health. All are based on our reading of the always-evolving research on nutrition and nutritional supplements:
Eating fatty fish (such as wild salmon) once or twice a week is an excellent approach to maintaining cardiovascular health; however, regular supplementation with fish oil can also provide the omega-3 fatty acids (called DHA and EPA) that have been closely linked to cardiovascular benefit. Note that supplements, when properly purified, avoid the problem of mercury contamination, a concern for those who eat sea food regularly.
Niacin, a B vitamin, is still one of the best agents for supporting cardiovascular health. In a long-term study, it was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death related to cardiovascular disease. (Don’t be misled by some recent reports about Niacin’s lack of effect, which only appeared in a study using a particular form of the supplement together with a statin drug.) The main drawback of Niacin is that it may cause flushing and itching, which make it difficult or impossible for some to take. Starting with a low dose of about 100 mg and working up to about 1,000 mg per day may minimize this reaction.
Other helpful agents include carnitine (which may lower triglycerides), pantethine (a B vitamin) and phytosterols, such as those in Douglas Labs’ CardioEdge.
You may have received an email from us last month informing you that we had made the painful decision to close the purchasing co-op component of the New York Buyers’ Club after ten years.
BUT NOW WE HAVE A PLAN FOR CONTINUING AND EXPANDING THE CO-OP!
A longtime member with significant nonprofit experience and passion about NYBC’s mission, Bob Lederer, has presented a plan that the board has accepted, to lead an effort to revitalize the organization. Bob will spend the next 3 months fundraising for and conducting a needs assessment of current and former Club members. To the extent the fundraising is successful, he will then spend up to another 7 months researching ways to strengthen the Club’s online and in-person marketing, and exploring partnerships in NYC and nationwide with healthcare organizations and groups representing people with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Bob estimates that this work, and a very necessary upgrade of our software to a state-of-the-art online commerce site so we can better compete with supplement retailers, will require a total of about $100,000.
We have already begun to receive generous contributions and pledges. So we have decided to keep the purchasing co-op open, even as we continue to reorganize, and, most importantly, as we continue our fundraising campaign to stabilize and strengthen NYBC. Please spread the word to your friends! (Order through our website or (800) 650-4983).
We don’t know whether this revitalization effort will succeed, but we want to give it our best shot. Key to the plan’s success will be the involvement of our members. That’s where you come in. There are several ways you can get involved, whether you are in New York or ANYWHERE.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us how you can help us revitalize by:
• Joining us at the first of a series of NYBC Membership Meetings on Thursday, July 17 at 6:00 PM at DC 1707 (the union that houses us), 420 W. 45th St., in Manhattan, bet. 9th & 10th Aves. (room to be announced). Refreshments at 6 PM, meeting promptly at 6:30. We will put forward our preliminary analysis of fiscal and technological challenges that we face, as well as our initial revitalization plans, seek your input and suggestions, and break into working groups to begin the tasks of outreach, fundraising, and marketing that are necessary to revitalize this grassroots organization! We are also arranging for remote participation using conference call, Google Hangout (somewhat like Skype), and perhaps other online methods – details to follow. Please RSVP.
• Making a donation. Please be as generous as you can. We are grateful to those who have already stepped forward.
• Reaching out to your friends and colleagues to raise funds. But note that while we always welcome any contributions that people can comfortably afford to give, at this time we are focusing on obtaining major donations of $1,000 or more. So we’d welcome any introductions to such potential donors. We can send a board or staff member along with you to a meeting with such folks if you’d like.
• Helping with:
o grant writing
o writing/editing educational or marketing materials
o doing design/layout work
o computer work
o outreach to other health and community organizations about our services.
• Offering suggestions either for fundraising or marketing to expand the pool of people we serve.
• Sending us a short testimonial (1 to 4 sentences) that we can use publicly about why NYBC’s services and/or particular products have been particularly important in maintaining your health or staving off symptoms or side effects.
• Joining us in a follow-up briefing/work session by conference call and/or online services such as Google Hangout, to be held later in the summer (details to be announced).
You the members are our strength. Together, we can save and grow NYBC!
Thanks for all you’ve done,
George Carter, NYBC Administrator/Education Director
and the Board of Directors of NYBC
SUPPLEMENT: Newsletter of the New York Buyers’ Club is back again and feeling the love – thanks to those who made our recent indiegogo campaign a success! All articles are archived here on our blog, or you can download the printer-ready version.
At the end of 2013, there was much buzz about new studies showing that curing insomnia in people with depression might double the chance of a complete recovery from depression. The studies, financed by the National Institute of Mental Health, were welcomed as the most significant advance in treating depression since the introduction of the “selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor” (SSRI), Prozac, twenty-five years ago. In effect, the new research findings turn conventional wisdom on its head, since they suggest that insomnia can be a main cause of depression, rather than just a symptom or a side effect, as previously assumed. If you can successfully treat a depressed person’s insomnia, according to the new view, you eliminate one of the main factors causing the depressed state.
New research findings turn conventional wisdom on its head suggesting that insomnia can be a main cause of depression rather than just a symptom or a side effect as previously assumed
As we followed reports on this breakthrough research on insomnia and depression, we were especially encouraged to read comments like the one from Washington DC psychiatrist James Gordon, who has advocated an integrative approach to treating depression. Here’s his letter to The New York Times:
I welcome a new report’s finding that cognitive behavioral therapy is improving the outcome for depressed people with significant insomnia (“Sleep Therapy Seen as an Aid for Depression,” front page, Nov. 19).
It reminds us that changes in attitude and perspective, and a therapeutic relationship, can right biological imbalances — like disordered sleep — and significantly enhance the lives of troubled people. The study also puts the therapeutic role of antidepressant medication in perspective: the depressed participants who received behavioral therapy did equally well whether or not they were taking the drugs.
I hope that these results will encourage the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers, clinicians and all of us to expand our horizons.
There are a number of other nonpharmacological therapies, including meditation, physical exercise, dietary change and nutritional supplementation, acupuncture and group support, that show promise for improving clinical depression and enhancing brain function.
At NYBC we have long believed that non-prescription therapies, such as supplements, are valuable alternatives for treating mood disorders and sleep disorders When the Centers for Disease Control surveyed use of antidepressant drugs in 2008, it found that one in 10 Americans was taking an antidepressant, and many had taken these drugs for years. Over a period of ten years, antidepressant use in the U.S. had shot up by 400%! So the question arises: how much of this spectacular increase represented real gains in treatment, and how much was over-prescribing? As Dr. Gordon mentions in his letter above, in some cases behavioral therapy for depression has worked just as well whether people were taking antidepressants or not—hardly a strong argument for the value of the prescription drugs.
A well-publicized 2008 report in the New England Journal of Medicine found that pharmaceutical companies had consistently reported only the most favorable trial outcomes for their popular antidepressants
A well-publicized 2008 report in the New England Journal of Medicine found that pharmaceutical companies had consistently reported only the most favorable trial outcomes for their popular antidepressants, passing over evidence that suggested a more limited effectiveness. Furthermore, as with many drugs, especially those used over a long period, antidepressants have side effects. Higher bone fracture risk and multiple cardiovascular risks have been identified; sexual side effects are common with antidepressants in both men and women; and withdrawal symptoms for those tapering off antidepressants include a long list of problems, such as panic attacks, insomnia, poor concentration and impaired memory.
Turning to the alternatives, we describe below supplements that NYBC has highlighted over the years for sleep and mood disorders. Note cautions about their use, but also note that some of these products may actually carry added benefits, rather than unwanted side effects.
1. Melatonin is a hormone occurring naturally in the body, but some people who have trouble sleeping have low melatonin levels. Melatonin has been used for jet lag, for adjusting sleep-wake cycles for people doing shift work on varying schedules, and for insomnia, including insomnia due to high blood pressure medications called beta-blockers. It is also used as a sleep aid when discontinuing benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Xanax, etc.) and to reduce side effects when quitting smoking.
2. Fish Oil. Epidemiologists have noted that populations that eat fish regularly have low rates of depression. And research has found that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements can be of benefit in treating depression and bipolar disorder. Fish oil can also be taken with other anti-depressants as an adjunct therapy. Doses found effective in treating depression are quite high, 3 to 9 grams per day, so be aware of potential problems related to the supplement’s blood-thinning properties. Added benefit: fish oil can help manage cholesterol, and supports cardiovascular health.
3. Deficiencies in the B Vitamins, especially B12 and folate, can result in neurologic symptoms — for example, numbness, tingling and loss of dexterity — and the deterioration of mental function, which causes symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, disorientation, depression, irrational anger and paranoia. A number of studies have shown that vitamin B12 is deficient in a large percentage of people with HIV, and the deficiency can begin early in the disease. Supplementing with a B complex protects against deficiency and supports cognitive health and mental function.
4. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depressed states. Lack of the “sunshine vitamin” may be especially associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the “winter blues.” Vitamin D also supports bone health, and may protect against colds and flus.
5. Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, acts as a relaxing agent by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters (=brain chemicals that shape your mood), including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). Human studies have been limited to date, but 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. Note that NYBC stocks Theanine Serene (Source Naturals), a combination supplement that includes theanine and GABA.
6. Probiotics. Very recent research has looked into the communication between the digestive system and the brain, with a goal of understanding how gut health may influence chronic conditions, including mood disorders like depression and anxiety. For example, it has been shown that certain probiotics promote production of the calming, anti-stress neurotransmitter GABA in the body, pointing to a direct influence of probiotics on mood. Other potential links between the gastrointestinal system’s microorganisms and brain function are currently being explored.
7. L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP (5-hydroxy L-tryptophan). These closely related supplements are converted in the body to serotonin and to melatonin. (Take L-tryptophan with carbohydrates to make it effective.) Their use as antidepressants has been studied, and they have also been found to aid sleep and suppress appetite. (To minimize appetite suppression, take the supplement an hour before bedtime.) Although L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP are close relatives, people may respond somewhat differently to them, so it may be worthwhile to try the other if the first doesn’t produce an effect An added benefit: 5-HTP may also decrease symptoms of fibromyalgia and migraine headaches.
8. In research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) was found to be an effective therapy for mild-to-moderate or severe midlife depression, on par with some prescription drugs. Moreover, the research showed that taking DHEA promoted both a significant lifting of depressive symptoms and an improvement in sexual functioning. Note that dosing recommendations vary for men versus women, and DHEA is not recommended for those diagnosed with prostate conditions or cancer.
9. SAMe (S-adenosyl-l-methionine) is produced naturally in the body from the amino acid methionine. Supplementing with SAMe increases concentrations of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Several studies show SAMe having an antidepressant effect comparable to that of some prescription drugs. SAMe should be avoided in people with bipolar disorder, and should be used cautiously with other antidepressants, because the combination may push serotonin levels too high. Taking a B-complex vitamin while using SAMe can counter build-up of homocysteine, which has been linked to heart disease SAMe may also support joint health and liver function. Caution: the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has posted a warning that SAMe may increase likelihood of pneumocystis infection in immune-compromised people. Note: see also Trimethylglycine (TMG), which includes the raw materials that the body uses to manufacture SAMe. TMG is much less expensive than SAMe.
10. St. John’s Wort is a widely used herb with clinically demonstrated (multiple, well-controlled studies, mostly in Europe) anti-depressant effects for mild to moderate depression – generally without the side effects of prescription antidepressants. High doses of the herb may cause a sensitivity to light (phototoxicity), so avoid direct sunlight or sunbathing while using. Do not take St. John’s Wort with 5-HTP, serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (like Prozac), or with protease inhibitors, as it may affect beneficial liver enzymes. St. John’s Wort may also have activity against Epstein-Barr and herpes infections.
11. Finally, we’ll mention another combination supplement that NYBC has stocked: GABA Soothe (Jarrow). The GABA in this supplement is the neurotransmitter that promotes calmness coupled with mental focus. Also included is theanine (see above for a description of its anti-anxiety effects) 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.
Turner, E et al. Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trials and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy. New England Journal of Medicine, 2008; 358:252-260 January 17, 2008 doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa065779
Logan, A.. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: A primer for the mental health professional. Lipids Health Dis. 2004; 3: 25; doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-3-25
Sudden cardiac death secondary to antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, March 2008; 7(2):1081-194
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.
Carpenter, D J. St. John’s wort and S-adenosyl methionine as “natural” alternatives to conventional antidepressants in the era of the suicidality boxed warning: what is the evidence for clinically relevant benefit? Altern Med Rev. 2011 Mar;16(1):17-39.
Foster, J A et al. Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression Trends in Neuroscience. 2013 May;36(5):305-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.01.005.
Rao, A V & Bested, A. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathog. 2009; 1: 6 doi: 10.1186/1757-4749-1-6
ThiolNAC, custom-manufactured and available exclusively through New York Buyers’ Club, is back in stock after our recent and successful fundraising campaign – thank you!
ThiolNAC is a combination of two powerful agents: N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA). Recently reformulated, three ThiolNAC tablets per day now provide the same exact dose of these key antioxidants, used in Dr. Jon Kaiser’s groundbreaking 2006 study of HIV-positive patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ARV), which proved that a combination of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and trace elements) and antioxidants could boost CD4 counts (24%, on average). This formula subsequently became the basis for the very popular K-PAX®.
With our new supply of ThiolNAC, the New York Buyers’ Club continues to offer a supplement combination of quality comparable to K-PAX named NYBC MAC Pack (for Multivitiamin-Antioxidant Combintation) – at less than half the price.
About NAC and ALA
Data show the benefits of NAC in conditions ranging from pulmonary problems to possibly reducing the potential for cancer cells to metastasize. Notably, NAC is effective in replenishing the body’s glutathione (sometimes called the “master antioxidant,” responsible for counteracting many damaging inflammatory processes). Individuals with HIV and other chronic infections often see a reduction in glutathione; by working to replace lost glutathione, NAC may help slow disease progression and lessen some medication side effects, particularly if used as part of a comprehensive plan for managing such symptoms and side effects (read: plays well with others!).
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a liver protective agent, and has been studied for peripheral neuropathy and lipodystrophy. It may slow HIV replication, and counter HIV-related dementia. ALA is very important in several ways. It easily crosses cell membranes and works as anantioxidant in both lipid (fatty) and aqueous (watery) parts of the body. It is a versatile and powerful antioxidant, both reducing oxidative stress in the body, and indirectly protecting, recycling, or regenerating other major antioxidants.
There is also good evidence that ALA has beneficial effects for those with type 2 diabetes and some of its complications. Its wide-ranging benefits for diabetes, according to recent research, include improved glycemic control, improved insulin sensitivity, as well as reduction of oxidative stress and neuropathy.
Our colleague Lark Lands, an expert on supplementation for people with diabetes and people with HIV, has drawn our attention to the concern that alpha lipoic acid may produce symptoms of hypothyroidism in some people. Partly due to this concern, NYBC has also reduced ALA in our ThiolNAC, such that 3 tabs/day equals 400mg – below the dosages generally of concern in Lark’s analysis. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include fatigue, low body temperature, weight gain, hair loss, splitting fingernails, depression, memory problems, muscle weakness, elevated cholesterol, and/or skin that is dry, rough or scaly. NYBC recommends monitoring the thyroid while taking ThiolNAC or ALA by itself. For more on ALA and the thyroid, click here.
The New York Buyers’ Club Co-Op’s Treatment Director advocates for more useful research on supplements from the federal government, and shares his long expertise and personal experience in managing liver health with supplements:
Instead of Overly Restrictive Rules, Can We Please Have More Useful Research and Education on Supplements from our Federal Agencies?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a proposed new rule, which many believe could unnecessarily restrict consumer access to supplements introduced after 1994. (Access to supplements on the market before 1994 is generally protected by the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act, passed that year.)
Perhaps the greatest concern is the form of vitamin B6 known as pyridoxal- 5′-phosphate or P5P. (Used for example, in the MAC-Pack, NYBC’s low-cost alternative to the K-PAX multivitamin/antioxidant combination for people with HIV.) There has been a concerted effort by pharmaceutical companies over the years to turn this vitamin into a drug, thus restricting access to it, and likely raising the price.
Overall, it is unclear what benefit the proposed new FDA rule would have for supplement users—if any. Certainly we believe there is much the FDA can do for consumers, including a robust program to test supplements for identity, potency and purity and broadcast the results quickly and widely. And, turning to the major health research agency of the federal government, we would welcome the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducting more clinical trials to assess benefits and limitations of supplements. This type of research can answer important clinical questions and truly help consumers.
I am living with hepatitis C and without health insurance, and have relied on diet, lifestyle changes and supplements—identified through years of personal research–to normalize my liver enzymes, slow disease progression and keep my viral load fairly low while I try to enroll in a clinical trial. * Why can’t our federal agencies promote more research on supplement combinations like the ones I have used and circulate useful knowledge about the results, rather than wasting resources on restricting access to widely used supplements like the form of vitamin B6 mentioned above?
*You can find a pocket guide to my recommendations for using supplements for liver health in NYBC’s Summer 2010 Supplement Special Issue, 50+ Ways to Love Your Liver.
You can also find a library of other useful guides to using supplements to maintainn and improve your health at NYBC’s SUPPLEMENT Archive Page:
And, yes! You’ll find liver healthy supplements like silymarin, alpha lipoic acid and Chinese herbal formulas, all described in detail with usage recommendations in a special section of the NYBC catalog pages: