Vitamin C deficiency linked to higher risk of stroke

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.

Reference:
News of this preliminary study was widely reported, but we accessed some information at

http://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20140214/can-vitamin-c-ward-off-stroke

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Joint Builder ULTRA: A combination supplement for joint health

We recently heard from two NYBC members who have found Jarrow’s Joint Builder ULTRA very effective in supporting healthy joint function. Indeed, they were quite pleased with improvement in joint function within a few weeks to a month of starting to take this combination supplement. So we thought we’d review this formula a little more thoroughly.

First, here’s the list of ingredients, together with the supplier’s recommendation on dosage and how to take:

Ultra Joint Builder (Jarrow) Each bottle, 90 tablets. Each tablet, 500 mg glucosamine sulfate, 500 mg MSM, 167 mg Yucca juice extract (Yucca schidigera, 4:1), 34 mg ApresFLEX (Boswellia serrata extract, 20% 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid); 13.3 mg hyaluronic acid, 1 mg boron (citrate). Suggested use is 3 tablets per day. Studies for inflammation suggest 1.5 grams per day. Start slowly and build up the dose over a few days.

Glucosamine is the most familiar part of this formula, and plays an important and well-documented role in the body’s production of the connective tissue around joints, and the production of synovial fluid (the lubricant in joints, basically). Glucosamine thus has the potential to offset the destructive effects of arthritis and osteoarthritis. MSM, a supplement providing sulfur, also plays a role in these joint supportive processes.

The Jarrow combination also includes two botanicals that have long been used for their anti-inflammatory effects. Yucca schidigera is a medicinal plant which may have beneficial effects in the prevention and treatment of arthritis. Boswellia serrata has a long tradition of use for arthritis in the Ayurvedic tradition; some recent Western study of its effectiveness has suggested benefit, but other research has been less clear.

Note that Vitamin C is another important joint-supporting supplement, since it is required for the synthesis of collagen and cartilage; be sure that your intake of this Vitamin is adequate.

For best results with Joint Builder ULTRA, some suggest also using Jarrow’s Biosil, containing the biologically active form of silicon.

See further information in the NYBC catalog:

JOINT BUILDER ULTRA (JARROW)

and

Biosil

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.

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.

Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Alternative Medicine 2011

This is an easy-to-read, magazine-style guide created by the Mayo Clinic, the world-famous healthcare facility which also happens to have a long-standing receptiveness to alternative and complementary therapies for wellness and prevention. (That’s one of the reasons why it has recently been cited as an example of best practices in American healthcare–the kind of practices that need to be more widely imitated.)

The section on dietary supplements provides capsule reviews of the scientific evidence for the safety and effectiveness of several dozen popular products, from botanicals like ginseng, echinacea and St. John’s Wort, to vitamins C, D, E, B-3 (niacin), and B-9 (folate or folic acid), as well as minerals like selenium, calcium and zinc. Also discussed are fairly well-known categories of supplements, including probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids (these often obtained with fish oil supplements).

The guide rates these supplements with a green, yellow or red light symbol, depending on the strength of the evidence for their use and their safety profile. We weren’t too surprised by most of the ratings. For example, green for niacin, folic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, but a yellow caution light for Vitamin E, which has shown no effectiveness in several good studies dealing with cardiovascular health and cancer, leading some researchers to wonder if the standard “alpha-tocopherol” form of the vitamin is a good format for supplementation. Also, a yellow light for St. John’s Wort, not because it isn’t effective for mild/moderate depression, but because it can interact with a lot of other medications.

Other supplements getting the green light from the Mayo Clinic editors: SAMe (for depression); saw palmetto (for enlarged prostate); green tea (for cardiovascular health, possibly for cancer prevention, and apparently–according to a large epidemiological study–for longevity); gamma linolenic acid (for peripheral neuropathy); CoQ10 (for cardiovascular health, for which it’s used by millions in Japan); glucosamine chondroitin (for osteoarthritis).

Also getting the green light, a supplement most have probably never heard of, but which is featured in the Health Concerns formula Cold Away, available from NYBC: the botanical Andrographis (a cold remedy, showing promise where many other products have disappointed).

See the NYBC entries for more details on how best to take supplements:


http://www.newyorkbuyersclub.org/

Antioxidants for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

We were interested to read about an antioxidant therapy for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN). It includes alpha lipoic acid, which has been studied quite extensively for diabetes, as well as evening primrose oil (gamma linolenic acid being the active component) and Vitamin C:

…a recommendation for treatment of DPN by use of anti-oxidants, and is based on the research of Stan Angilley. It has been used successfully by many diabetics to reduce or even eliminate DPN. Before starting on this regimen, you should discuss it with your doctor, as you may have other medical issues which would contraindicate its use. It is likely that your doctor will have heard little or nothing about this approach, so we have provided citations to applicable literature below.

The DPN cocktail has three components: Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) as contained in Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), and Vitamin C.

Read more at:

http://www.diabetes-support.org.uk/joomla/neuropathy-treatment

See www.newyorkbuyersclub.org for more on these supplements.