Pomegranate juice and heart health

In the past decade, there have been a number of studies of the potential of pomegranate juice to support cardiovascular health and provide additional health benefits as well. Recently we reviewed a research report published in 2012 that looked at the cardiovascular and immune system benefits of pomegranate juice for hemodialysis patients. This was a randomized placebo controlled double-blind trial (a kind of research design that is likely to produce reliably objective findings). The patients were followed for one year as they used pomegranate juicee three times a week while continuing their dialysis treatments. The results:

Pomegranate juice intake resulted in a significantly lower incidence rate of the second hospitalization due to infections. Furthermore, 25% of the patients in the pomegranate juice group had improvement and only 5% progression in the atherosclerotic process, while more than 50% of patients in the placebo group showed progression and none showed any improvement.

And the conclusion:

Prolonged pomegranate juice intake improves nontraditional CV [cardiovascular] risk factors, attenuates the progression of the atherosclerotic process, strengthens the innate immunity, and thus reduces morbidity among HD [hemodialysis] patients.

Of course, this research involved a special group of patients, those on hemodialysis. But, as a well-designed study, it does, we think, provide a fairly strong endorsement of the health benefits of pomegranate juice.

For more on pomegranate juice, see the NYBC entry

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=40&products_id=333

Note that NYBC also carries the Douglas supplement Cardio-Edge, which includes pomegranate:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=35&products_id=284

Reference: Shema-Didi, L et al. One year of pomegranate juice intake decreases oxidative stress, inflammation, and incidence of infections in hemodialysis patients: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Jul 15;53(2):297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.05.013. Epub 2012 May 17.

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CoQ10 with statins

Researchers studying the effects of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs over the last decade found that patients taking statins were likely to also have lowered levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a coenzyme naturally produced in the body and important to the function of organs such as the heart. Further study has also indicated that supplementing with CoQ10 while taking statins can reverse the deficiency and limit the side effects.

A few facts and recommendations about CoQ10:

CoQ10 functions inside cells to make energy; the highest amounts of the coenzyme are found in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas. The muscles of the heart are especially sensitive to CoQ10 deficiency.

Statins act by inhibiting an enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, that is responsible for synthesizing both cholesterol and CoQ10. So statins seem to simultaneously decrease cholesterol and CoQ10 levels.

A 2004 report in the American Journal of Cardiology found that 70% of people in a study group taking the statin Lipitor showed heart muscle weakness after six months. This weakness was reversed by taking CoQ10.

CoQ10 has also been studied for these statin side effects: muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, memory loss, shortness of breath and peripheral neuropathy.

A common recommendation for those taking a statin: supplement with 100 mg CoQ10 softgel twice daily, in the morning and at noon. Avoid insomnia by taking it early in the day. Be sure to consult your doctor about the possibility of CoQ10 interacting with any blood thinner you may be taking.

Reference: Marc Silver et al. Effect of atorvastatin on left ventricular diastolic function and ability of coenzyme Q10 to reverse that dysfunction. American Journal of Cardiology. Volume 94, Issue 10 , Pages 1306-1310, 15 November 2004.

See the NYBC entries for more details:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=317
(Jarrow 100mg CoQ10 Qsorb)

or

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=357(Douglas Labs 200mg chewable tablet formula)

CoQ10 for heart health

Clinical studies have shown repeatedly that CoQ10 has potent abilities to assist the heart muscle, and as an adjunct treatment for angina, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, hypertension (high blood pressure), and drug toxicity. In Japan, it has been widely used, and over several decades, for these types of heart health issues, and that’s one reason why its potential effectiveness and safety profile are at this point quite well characterized.

Research has also shown that as cellular levels of CoQ10 decrease, HIV disease progresses. Other studies have documented CoQ10’s immune restorative qualities, including restoration of T cell function. Many people with HIV find that CoQ10 is an important nutrient to aid in detoxification if one uses nucleoside analogs (AZT ddI, ddC, d4T, etc.), or other toxic drugs. (For example, studies have shown clear benefit when used with a heart toxic chemotherapy drug called adriamycin.)

In addition, we’ve seen widely circulated the recommendation, based on various levels of evidence, that people taking statin drugs—used to manage cholesterol—also take CoQ10. (Levels of CoQ10 in the blood are notably depleted when using this class of drugs, and there is potential for metabolic disruptions in the body as a result.)

A 2007 pilot study showed relief of muscle pain (myopathy) in people taking statins who also took 100mg/day of CoQ10. However, we have also found recommendations for higher dosages (200mg/day or more) for a variety of heart-related conditions.

For further details, see NYBC’s entry on Q-sorb Plus 100mg (Jarrow), specifically designed for enhanced absorption.

See also other forms of CoQ10, at both higher and lower dosages and in combination with other supplements, at
http://nybcsecure.org/index.php?cPath=47

Vitamin D for heart health

Our hometown newspaper, The New York Times, carried an article
on 11/16/2009 entitled “Vitamin D Shows Heart Benefits in Study.” The piece will not come as any terrific surprise to readers of this blog, since we’ve already cited under “Vitamin D” a recent article in the American Journal of Cardiology that suggested supplementing with Vitamin D as an important and economical option for preventing cardiovascular disease.

Quite a few NYT readers sent in comments on the article, mentioning a variety of other recent findings about the “sunshine Vitamin” (many of which we’ve already cited on this blog). We do know that a federal panel is reviewing recommendations on daily intake of Vitamin D, and is expected to issue new guidelines in the next year or so. But we hadn’t heard, as one NYT reader pointed out, that, as of recent years, the general practice in Canada is to recommend up to 2000IU of Vitamin D3/day for children to support and promote good health. Here’s an extract from the Canadian Paediatric Society’s 2007 position statement on Vitamin D supplementation (yes, all of those numbers in parenthese refer to scientific journal articles):

The emphasis is no longer solely on preventing rickets,
which requires only a relatively small amount of vitamin D
supplementation. The focus is now also on the prevention
of associated childhood and adult diseases. New findings
suggest that adequate vitamin D status in mothers during
pregnancy and in their infants may have lifetime implications.
These findings modify our knowledge and understanding of
vitamin D metabolism, our basis for diagnosis of vitamin D
deficiency and our recommendations for supplementation.

It is now clear that vitamin D is involved in the regulation
of cell growth, immunity and cell metabolism. Vitamin D
receptors are found in most tissues and cells in the body (7).
The interaction of 1,25(OH)2D with these receptors may
result in a variety of biological responses influencing disease
processes (8). Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to
osteoporosis (9); asthma (10); autoimmune diseases such as
rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (11) and inflammatory
bowel diseases (12); diabetes (13); disturbed muscle function
(14); resistance to tuberculosis (15); and the pathogenesis of
specific types of cancer (16,17) (evidence level III).

Maternal vitamin D status during gestation and lactation
may influence the health status of the child later in life.
Bone density in nine-year-old children (evidence level II-3)
(9), the severity of asthma in three-year-old children (10)
(evidence level II-2) and the susceptibility to type 1 diabetes
(11) (evidence level II-2) have been linked to low
vitamin D status during fetal life. Intervention trials have
demonstrated that supplementation with vitamin D or its
metabolites may improve blood glucose levels in diabetics
and decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple
sclerosis (11,13) (evidence level III).

Read the full text at:

http://www.cps.ca/ENGLISH/statements/II/VitaminD.pdf

See also the NYBC entries:

Vitamin D3 2500IU

Vitamin D3 1000IU

Vitamin D3 400IU

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice has become a very popular new drink among the health-conscious in the last few years. Indeed there is an interesting body of research about this fruit, including indications that it may help lower “bad [LDL] cholesterol,” or that it may slow progression of prostate cancer. One caution, however: pomegranate juice may interact with certain drugs, in particular blood pressure-lowering drugs. For that reason, it’s advisable for anyone taking prescription drugs to consult with their health care provider before adding pomegranate juice to their daily routine.

NYBC stocks a pomegranate juice concentrate, which can be mixed with other beverages. Using a concentrate such as this can be significantly less costly than buying the well-known juice brands from your local grocery or health food store.

Here’s the basic NYBC entry:

Pomegranate Juice CONCENTRATE (Jarrow) Each bottle, 12 oz (355 ml) of 100% pomegranate juice concentrate. This is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants, superior even to blueberries and strawberries. Derived from a California variety, this juice is concentrated to a level of 4 times that of ordinary pomegranate juice…it is thick! The antioxidants found in the juice include ellagic and gallic acid, anthocyanins and tannins, and punicalagin. Punicalagin is perhaps the most powerful. Various studies suggest that this may help to improve the level of glutathione in cells (see the entries on NAC and glutathione), particularly macrophages. It may have benefit for maintaining platelet levels, lowering LDL and sustaining vascular tone.

You can read more in the full entry:

Pomegranate Juice Concentrate (Jarrow)

“Good Fats/Bad Fats”: new dietary recommendations for supporting heart health and reducing cardiovascular risk

We were interested to read the Personal Health column by Jane Brody in the New York Times earlier this month. The article was entitled New Thinking About How to Protect the Heart, but you might also give this advice column on cardiovascular health the title of “Good Fats/Bad Fats.”

The main reason for revisiting diet recommendations for people trying to reduce their risk of heart attack is a new focus on the importance of inflammation in assessing cardiovascular risk. It’s been found, for example, that even people with normal cholesterol levels have a heightened risk of heart attack if they have a high reading of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation that correlates with clots that block blood flow to the heart.

So, if it’s not just cholesterol levels that people should be watching in order to minimize cardiovascular risk, what kind of diet should they be following to support a healthy heart? The short answer is not entirely new: it’s the Mediterranean diet, which actually turns out to be quite high in fats–think olive oil, oily fish, nuts, seeds and certain vegetables. It’s just that these are sources of “good fats”–not the heart-unfriendly saturated fats (=solid at room temperature) derived from red meats and cheese. And guess what? These “good fats” are found not only to lower cholesterol ratios, but also to decrease inflammation levels.

Recent studies, from the last 10 years or so, are pretty clear in showing the value of the Mediterranean diet, which is not only tasty and easy to follow for most people, but also appears to reduce the rates of heart disease recurrence and cardiac death by 50 to 70%.

As cardiovascular research sorted out the role of inflammation markers and the good fat/bad fat distinction, there also emerged a better understanding of the potential of supplements to maintain heart health. Fish oil, with its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, is now widely recognized as a useful supplement for reducing cardiovascular risk. Other supplements, which incorporate elements of the Mediterranenan diet (such as olives), have also become available.

Here are a few entries from the NYBC catalog that are of special interest for this discussion:

Fatty Acids (see especially MaxDHA, and the ProOmega fish oil supplements)

C-1000 Ascorbic Acid plus Olea Fruit Extract This Vitamin C supplement from Jarrow has been enriched with an olive extract in a combination designed to support cardiovascular health.

“Vitamin D Deficiency: An Important, Common, and Easily Treatable Cardiovascular Risk Factor?” – A review article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Up to half of all adults in the US are estimated to be deficient in Vitamin D, so the “State of the Art” review published in the December 9, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology could prove quite momentous. This article, which marshals evidence from a number of high-quality studies, highlights significant associations between low levels of vitamin D and some of the main common risk factors for cardiovascular disease (including high blood pressure and diabetes).

In their review, the authors note that low levels of vitamin D activate the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which can lead to hypertension and thickening of the heart and blood vessel walls. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with altered hormone levels, which in turn increase the likelihood of diabetes, a well-known risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, in a long-term study of heart health, participants who had low levels of vitamin D upon enrollment showed twice the risk for subsequent cardiovascular disease compared with those who initially had higher levels of the vitamin.

This review article certainly bolsters our understanding of the beneficial effects of Vitamin D, which has long been known for its role in bone health. We’re also glad to see that, after much fanfare accorded last month to a new study of statins (a relatively costly and sometimes side effect-prone drug prescribed to reduce cardiovascular risk), the health research community is not neglecting the idea that substantial risk reduction might also be obtained from a “simple, safe and inexpensive” (quoting from the article abstract) dietary supplement like Vitamin D!

Reference: John H. Lee, MD, James H. O’Keefe, MD, David Bell, MD, Donald D. Hensrud, MD, MPH and Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD. Vitamin D Deficiency: An Important, Common, and Easily Treatable Cardiovascular Risk Factor? J Am Coll Cardiol, 2008; 52:1949-1956

See the NYBC entries for information on Vitamin D3 (the effective form):

Vitamin D3

Note the NYBC also stocks Jarrow’s Bone Up, a supplement that provides dosages of both D3 (1000 IU) and Calcium (1000mg) close to those used in the federally-funded study that showed a substantial reduction in cancer rate among post-menopausal women.