Resveratrol: more evidence of its potential benefits

Resveratrol, found in red wine and now widely used as a supplement, is back in the news this month. A research report in the highly respected journal Science identifies the precise mechanism by which resveratrol regulates sirtuins, proteins in the body which have been linked to the prevention of many age-related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Type-2 diabetes.

This finding adds further support to the idea that resveratrol or a derivative of resveratrol might represent a breakthrough treatment for some of the major disease threats faced by humans as they age.

We first read about the new research in our hometown paper, The New York Times, but the story has been widely reported. (See reference to the article in Science below.)

NYBC stocks Resveratrol and Resveratrol Synergy from Jarrow. Of course we’d welcome any reports from our members about their use of these products.

Reference: Hubbard, et al. Evidence for a common mechanism of SIRT1 regulation by allosteric activators. Science, March 8, 2013.

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B vitamins and brain function: the latest studies

The evidence continues to pile up that levels of the B vitamins, in particular B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), and B12 (cyanocobalamin), are closely related to maintaining cognitive function and warding off brain-related disorders like Alzheimer’s as we age. Well-designed studies, including the Veterans Affairs (VA) Normative Aging Study, have pointed particularly to Vitamin B deficits being associated with buildup of homocysteine, which in turn may be responsible for impairment to cognitive function.

B Vitamins are central to the preservation of mental capacities as we age. At the same time, the aging digestive system may not absorb nutrients as effectively as it once did; so an obvious strategy is to consider B complex supplementation as well as good dietary habits as we get older.

Read more on the B vitamins on the NYBC site:

B-right (Jarrow) We selected this as a good comprehensive B vitamin supplement.

B-12 Methylcobalamin (Jarrow) Studies have suggested that this is a very effective way to supplement with B12, which may not always be well-absorbed by the body when taken in other formats.

Some References:

Kim JM, Stewart R, Kim SW Changes in folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine associated with incident dementia. J Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 2008;79;864-868.

Tucker KL, Qiao N, Scott T, et al. High homocysteine and low B vitamins predict cognitive decline in aging men: the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;82(3):627-35.

Wang HX, Wahlin A, Basun H, et al. Vitamin B12 and folate in relation to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurology 2001;56:1188-94.

Ginkgo biloba: new research on a traditional botanical used for cognitive decline and circulatory health issues

Ginkgo biloba, thought to be the oldest living tree species on Earth, is also the source for one of the most widely used medicinal botanicals in the world. It is widely prescribed in Europe as a treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and for memory loss and cognitive decline. In the US, where it is available as a dietary supplement, ginkgo has been the subject of intensified research in the last few decades, which has highlighted its capacity to improve blood flow/circulation and the benefits of its particular blend of antioxidants (called “flavonoids” and “terpenoids”).
There are a number of impressive findings from research on gingko:
1. Several investigations have found that ginkgo is comparable in effectiveness to leading prescription medications for Alzheimer’s in delaying the symptoms of dementia. In people with Alzheimer’s it has been shown to improve thinking, learning, and memory, and may also relieve depression.
2. A clinical study suggested that ginkgo can reduce the side effects of menopause and the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Menopausal women seeking to avoid hormone replacement therapy due to the side effects (such as increased risk of breast cancer) may be able to use ginkgo as an alternative.
3. The flavonoids in ginkgo may lessen problems in the back part of the eye (the retina). In particular, research suggests that ginkgo may help preserve vision in people with age-related macular degeneration, a retinal condition that is the number one cause of blindness in the US.
4. Ginkgo has been used for erectile dysfunction, especially in people who experience sexual dysfunction as a side effect of antidepressants. In one study of 60 men with ED, there was a 50% success rate after six months of treatment with ginkgo.
5. Three research centers at the National Institutes of Health are collaborating on a large-scale, long-term study to find out if ginkgo can prevent or delay the kinds of changes in memory and thinking that can occur as people get older. A secondary aim of the study is to assess the botanical’s ability to reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease as people age. This research may provide further guidance about the potential of ginkgo to prevent the onset of cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease.
6. A two-year study of health outcomes for HIV positive people who use botanical or herbal remedies concluded that ginkgo was associated with beneficial results in several measures of health status. This research was presented at the 15th International Conference on AIDS in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004.
For further information, see the description of the MMS standardized Ginkgo Biloba Extract on the NYBC website. Concentrated extracts, which are prepared from the green leaves of the tree, appear to be the most clinically effective form. Note that ginkgo is well tolerated and has few side effects, but should not be used with blood-thinning medications (like aspirin or Coumadin), since one of its main actions is also to thin the blood.

NYBC also stocks the SuperNutrition product Think Clearly, a formula that includes Ginkgo biloba along with other nutrients that support cognitive function.

Acetylcarnitine and Alzheimer’s Disease

The Journal of Neuroscience Research featured an article in 2006 on acetylcarnitine and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
that outlined the possible mechanism of this supplement in counteracting the effect of AD. Essentially, acetylcarnitine antioxidant workings may be able to prevent, or helpt to prevent, the deformations of brain structure associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. The authors of this NIH-funded research conclude that acetylcarnitine “may be useful as a possible therapeutic strategy for patients with AD.”

For more on this supplement, including its applications for neuropathy, see the NYBC entry Acetylcarnitine.

Gingko Biloba used for dementia and for Alzheimer’s Disease

The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine website, reviews recent studies of gingko biloba for dementia, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Here is an excerpt:

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. It use is primarily due to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain and because of its antioxidant properties. The evidence that ginkgo may improve thinking, learning, and memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been highly promising.

Clinical studies suggest that ginkgo may provide the following benefits for people with AD:

Improvement in thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
Improvement in activities of daily living
Improvement in social behavior
Fewer feelings of depression

Several studies have found that ginkgo may be as effective as leading AD medications in delaying the symptoms of dementia in people with this debilitating condition. In addition, ginkgo is sometimes used preventively because it may delay the onset of AD in someone who is at risk for this type of dementia (for example, family history).

Citation (one of several recent studies cited by UMMC): Mazza M, Capuano A, Bria P, Mazza S. Ginkgo biloba and donepezil [Aricept]: a comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur J Neurol . 2006;13(9):981-5.

See also the NYBC entry on Gingko Biloba for additional information on use of this botanical for cognitive function.

Gingko biloba and omega-3 fatty acids for cognitive health

In its annual bibliography of significant advances in dietary supplement research for 2006, the National Institutes of Health focused on two studies in the category of “cognitive health.” One, involving gingko biloba, found that a component of this botanical may have therapeutic potential for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This research on gingko provides further background information for of two large randomized controlled investigations that are now underway: the Gingko Evaluation of Memory study, and the GuidAge study.

A second study in the “cognitive health” category was a clinical trial that followed patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease who took omega-3 fatty acid supplements, as compared to those taking placebo. A significant reduction in cognitive decline was found in those with very moderate dysfunction who took the omega-3.

This investigation also was undertaken in support of a wider investigation on Alzheimer’s and omega-3s, which is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.