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Tru-E Bio Complex
December 08, 2005 04:58 PM
Tru-E Bio Complex TMNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 7/27/05
LIKELY USERS: Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin E 8,9,10; People needing superior antioxidant protection3,5,6; People needing cardiovascular or cholesterol support27,30,31; People needing nervous system support7; Those wanting healthier skin6; Diabetics may need additional Vitamin E24 KEY INGREDIENTS: Tocopherols from IP-Preserved, non-GMO Soy; Tocotrienols and tocopherols from non-GMO virgin palm; Tocotrienols from non-GMO annatto seed
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: NOW Tru-E Bio ComplexTM is a unique biologically balanced, patent-pending formula designed to provide optimal Vitamin E activity. This product features 100% natural, Non-Genetically Modified sources of all 8 isomers (forms) of the Vitamin E “family” in ratios similar to what is found in a healthy diet. It provides the superior benefits of foodsource Vitamin E versus those obtained from traditional E supplements.
NOW® Tru-E Bio ComplexTM has been carefully blended to supply high levels of the natural gamma and delta “desmethyl” forms of both tocopherols and tocotrienols. This is important because recent research indicates that these isomers work best as a team to quench the lipid and nitrogen free radicals known to cause injury to cells and tissues. This product supports a healthy cardiovascular system, youthful skin and nervous system function with potent antioxidants. This science-based natural Vitamin E supplement is unlike any other and the first to combine all of these benefits in one convenient non-GMO formula! 25-32
Recent research indicates that these isomers work best as a team to quench the lipid and nitrogen free radicals known to cause injury to cells and tissues.1-4, 25-32
This product supports a healthy cardiovascular system, youthful skin and nervous system function with potent antioxidants.1,4-7
Levels of Vitamin E above 100 IU daily are associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease and certain types of cellular disorders, as well as enhancement of immune function. These vitamin E intakes are considerably above levels obtainable from diet alone. 11,12,13
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT USE INFORMATION & QUALITY ISSUES:
This is a product that is Patent Pending, based on months of research into optimal forms, potencies and ratios of the 8 isomers of natural Vitamin E. All of the Vitamin E formulas currently on the market use potencies of tocopherols that are very dissimilar to what is found in a healthy diet, with either too low or too high amounts of gamma and alpha tocopherols for a good balance. Some do not even include tocotrienols.
All of the Vitamin E formulas on the market that do contain a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols tend to use either 400 IU or 100 IU of alpha tocopherol, some as little as 50-60 IU, combined with varying doses of gamma tocopherol. We have reduced the alpha tocopherol from the standard 400 IU per capsule to 200 IU, allowing more gamma tocopherol in the capsule to follow the typical ratio in a healthy diet. Other brands either cut the alpha tocopherol too low (to keep the gamma tocopherol at a good level) or else cut the gamma and other tocopherols too low (to keep the alpha tocopherol at 400 IU).
Special care was used to maintain a certain ratio of tocopherols and of tocotrienols that is unique and from natural sources. Our formula is also unique in mixing sources of tocotrienols to achieve our desired balance, whereas other formulas include only one source, despite the dissimilarity of the mixture to what is found in a healthy, varied diet.
Other formulas use either Vitamin E derived from genetically engineered soybeans and/or add soybean oil from similar sources as a base. NOW uses expensive non-GMO sources, the first formula to do so, with no soybean oil added. This enhances the quality of our product compared to every other formula on the market.
We use the expensive virgin palm oil rather than the cheap palm distillates because it is un-denatured and contributes additional, valuable oil nutrients such as CoQ10, Squalene and Sterols. Also, much of the clinical research done on tocotrienols was done using virgin palm oil sources 32
Natural Vitamin E is more effective than synthetic Vitamin E.14 - 23
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: One or two capsules per day, preferably with meal(s). Oils enhance the absorption of Vitamin E. Concentrated fiber supplements may decrease the absorption of Vitamin E, so it is best not to take both at the same meal.
SYNERGISTS: Antioxidants (Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin C Complex, Pine or Grapeseed Extracts, VitaBerry Plus+, CoQ10, etc.), Plant Sterols, Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil, GliSODin, EGCg Green Tea Extract, Lecithin, Nuts and Seeds
SPECIFIC: Aspirin and blood thinners should not be taken with Vitamin E without physician’s approval. Many other pharmaceutical drugs deplete Vitamin E, adding to the likelihood that a person will be deficient.
GENERAL: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. This information is based on my own knowledge and references, and should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim. This document has not been reviewed by the FDA or by the company posting it. Information given here may vary from what is shown on the product label because this represents my own professional experience and understanding of the science underlying the formula and ingredients. When taking any new formula, use common sense and cautiously increase to the full dose over time.
1. Jiang Q, Christen S, Shigenaga MK, Ames BN (2001) g-Tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in the US diet, deserves more attention. Am J Clin Nutr 74:714-722.
Comprehensive Prostate Formula-the Clinical Studies
October 13, 2005 04:32 PM
Helps maintain a healthy prostate gland.
Supports normal urinary function.
Comprehensive Prostate Formula-the Clinical Studies
Saw palmetto extract is one of the world's leading herbal products for prostate support. Widely-cited clinical studies conducted over the last fifteen years suggest Saw palmetto extract can produce major improvements in prostate-related urinary function. In clinical studies, Saw palmetto extract has produced measurable improvements in urinary functions and prostate size. Quality of life scores have also improved. The results with Saw palmetto extract have been duplicated in open trials and controlled, double-blind studies.11,12,13 For example, in a large open trial, 505 men took 320 mg of Saw palmetto extract daily for three months.1 The results were evaluated with various measurements such as the International Prostate Symptom Score, the quality of life score, urinary flow rates, residual urinary volume, and prostate size. After 45 days these parameters improved significantly. After 90 days of treatment nearly ninety percent of both the doctors and patients regarded Saw palmetto extract as effective as therapy for the prostate.
The changes in prostate health that accompany middle age are related to the hormone DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, a metabolite of testosterone. DHT levels rise, and DHT binds to prostate cells, accelerating growth of prostate tissue. Saw palmetto extract has been shown to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase, an enzyme that controls conversion of testosterone to DHT.14 Experimental evidence suggests Saw palmetto extract blocks the binding of DHT to prostate cells.15 The fatty acids and sterols in Saw palmetto are believed to be responsible for these actions.14,16 These include oleic acid, lauric acid, campasterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol and others. Clinical studies have used extracts containing 85 to 90 percent fatty acids and sterols.
Like Saw palmetto, Pygeum contains natural sterols and fatty acids.2 Although the mechanisms for its effect have not been clearly established, animal experiments suggest Pygeum may work by inhibiting prostate cell proliferation and reducing inflammation.17,18 In several European trials, Pygeum has successfully improved urinary function. In a large double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 263 men were given 100 mg of Pygeum extract a day for 60 days. Urination improved in 66 percent of the men taking Pygeum, compared with 31 percent on placebo, based on subjective and objective tests.19
Nettles are approved by the German Commission E as effective for relieving inflammation in the urinary tract.20 As far back as 1950, German investigators have observed favorable effects on the prostate with the use of Nettle root. These initial findings have been confirmed through case studies, as well as double-blind studies, published mainly in German medical journals. In a recent double blind study published in the journal Clinical Therapeutics, 134 men took a combination of Nettle root extract and Pygeum extract over a period of 56 days.3 Urination was significantly improved.
As noted above, Drs. Feinblatt and Gant discovered that a combination of the amino acids L-alanine, glutamic acid and glycine has a positive effect on prostate-related urinary function.5 A controlled study of 45 men was conducted to follow up on these initial observations.21 The majority of subjects experienced complete or partial relief in urinary complaints such as nighttime urination and urgency.
2. Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Pygeum. Jan 1998. Facts and Comparisons, St. Louis, MO.
3. Combined extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: double-blind comparison of two doses Clinical Therapeutics 1993; 15(6):1011-19.
4. Wagner, H., Willer, F., Samtleben, R., Boos, G. Search for the antiprostatic principle of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) roots Phytomedicine 1994; 1:213-224.
5. Feinblatt, H.M., Gant, J.D. Palliative treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy. Journal of the Maine Medical Association, March 1958:99-124.
6. Giovanni, E., et. al. Intake of carotenoids and retinol in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1995;87(23):1767-76.
7. Wallace, A.M., Grant, J.K. Effect of zinc on androgen metabolism in the human hyperplastic prostate. Biochemical Society Transactions 1975; 3(3):540-42
8. Badmaev, V., Majeed, M., Passwater, R. Selenium: A quest for better understanding. Alternative Therapies 1996; 2(4):59-67.
9. Fouhad, M.T. Selenium and cancer, chromium and diabetes: two trace elements that have merits as dietary supplements in human nutrition. Journal of Applied Nutrition 1979:31(1&2):14-17.
10. Vescovi, P.P., et. al. Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) decreases opoids-induced hyperprolactinemia. Horm. metabol. Res. 1985; 17:46-47.
11. Tasca, A., et. al. Treatment of obstructive symptomatology caused by prostatic adenoma with an extract of Serenoa repens. Double-blind clinical study vs. placebo. Minerva Urologica e Nefrologica 1985; 37:87-91.
12. Champault, G., Bonnard, A.M., Cauquil, J., Patel, J.C. Medical treatment of prostatic adenoma. A controlled test of PA 109 vs. placebo in 110 patients. Ann. Urol. 1984; 18(6):407-410.
13. Crimi, A., Russo, A. The use of Serenoa repens extract in the treatment of functional disturbances caused by prostate hypertrophy. Med. Praxis 1983; 4:47-51.
14. NiederprŸm, H.J., Schweikert. H.U., ZŠnker, K.S. Testosterone 5 alpha-reductase inhibition by free fatty acids from Sabal serrulata fruits. Phytomedicine 1994; 1:127-133.
15. Sultan, C., et. al. Inhibition of androgen metabolism and binding of liposterolic extract of Serenoa repens B in human foreskin fibroblasts. J. Steroid Biochem. 1984; 20(1):515-519.
16. Weissner, H., et. al. Effects of the Sabal serrulata extract IDS 9 and its subfractions on 5 alpha-reductase activity in human benign prostatic hyperplasia. The Prostate 1996;28:300-06.
17. Yablonsky, F. Nicolas, V., Riffaud, J.P., Bellamy, F. Antiproliferative effect of Pygeum africanum on rat prostatic fibroblasts. J. of Urology 1997; 157:2381-87.
18. Marconi, M. et. al. Anti-inflammatory action of Pygeum extract in the rat. Farmaci. & Terapia. 1986; 3:135.
19. Barlet, A, et. al. Efficacy of Pygeum africanum extract in the treatment of micturational disorders due to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Evaluation of objective and subjective parameters. A multicenter, randomized, double-blind trial. Wien. Klin. Wocheschr. 1990; 22:667-73.
20. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. 1998, Blumenthal, M., ed., (p.216) Austin, TX: American Botanical Council.
21. Damrau, F. Benign prostatic hypertrophy: amino acid therapy for symptomatic relief. American Journal of Geriatrics 1962; 10:426-30.
Sytrinol - A Natural Solution for Addressing Cholesterol
June 21, 2005 05:16 PM
By Richard F. Staack, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Sytrinol™, a patented proprietary formula derived from natural citrus and palm fruit extracts, combines citrus polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), palm tocotrienols and other proprietary constituents. This combination results in a synergistic effect for maintaining cholesterol levels in the normal range, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, as demonstrated by a long-term, three-phase clinical trial. This trial is extremely significant because it is a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover design, one of only a few in the dietary supplement industry. Sytrinol has also been shown to maintain normal levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the beneficial cholesterol. Additionally, Sytrinol is a powerful antioxidant with numerous heart health benefits and also plays a significant role in reducing cellular irritation.
What are polymethoxylated flavones?
Polymethoxylated flavones are a highly methoxylated sub-classification of citrus flavonoids. This process occurs naturally and results in a more biologically active molecule. This is especially true for tangeretin and nobiletin, two of the primary polymethoxylated flavones in Sytrinol. Tocotrienols, naturally occurring analogues of tocopherol (natural vitamin E), are the other proprietary ingredient in Sytrinol and are a group of minor dietary constituents that have been studied for their effect on heart health.
Sytrinol's Proven Benefits
Sytrinol is the result of over 12 years of research focusing on the relationship between polymethoxylated flavonoids, tocotrienols, and cardiovascular health. Sytrinol?s benefits have been shown in vitro, in vivo, and in multiple clinical studies. In these studies, subjects consumed 150 mg of Sytrinol twice per day (300 mg/day) and were instructed to keep the same dietary habits and maintain their caloric intake. Fasting blood samples were drawn at study onset, and at 4-weeks, 8-weeks, and 12-weeks. The results of the clinical studies were all similar in their effect, with a reduction of total cholesterol up to 30 percent, LDL cholesterol up to 27 percent, and total triglycerides up to 34 percent in twelve weeks compared to the placebo group. Additionally, the LDL/HDL ratio was significantly reduced in all clinical studies up to 30 percent. Another very important benefit of Sytrinol that cannot be claimed by other cholesterol-addressing supplements is its effect on C-reactive protein (CRP), which plays a role in cardiovascular challenges. Recent research has established that inflammation may cause C-reactive protein to be produced in the body. Specific PMFs, including nobiletin and tangeretin, have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties, suggesting that Sytrinol may have a positive effect on CRP Sytrinol has also been shown to be a powerful antioxidant. The polymethoxylated flavones have been researched for over 25 years demonstrating their antioxidant effects for heart health. Studies have shown that polymethoxylated flavonoids and their metabolites are excellent sources of dietary antioxidants that are able to suppress many of the events of free radical damage, including cellular irritation. The tocotrienols in Sytrinol have a higher antioxidant activity than tocopherols. Alpha-tocotrienol has been shown to be up to 60 times more potent than alpha-tocopherol in the prevention of lipid peroxidation. Other research has demonstrated that the delta and gamma isomers of tocotrienols also have potent antioxidant activity.
Sytrinol has three complementary mechanisms of action in the body that delivers cardiovascular benefits. *Polymethoxylated flavones decrease apolipoprotein B, the structural protein needed for endogenous synthesis of LDL cholesterol. *Polymethoxylated flavones (tangeretin & nobiletin) decrease diacylglycerol acetyl transferase, a liver enzyme needed for endogenous synthesis of triglycerides. *Tocotrienols inhibit HMG CoA reductase, the liver enzyme responsible for endogenous synthesis of cholesterol. These mechanisms work synergistically to support normal total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, more significantly than other natural supplements on the market today. Sytrinol can also be combined with other ingredients such as phytosterols. Phytosterols help block cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract while Sytrinol helps block cholesterol synthesis in the body. This suggests that, when combined, a more pronounced effect on maintaining normal cholesterol levels would result.
The ease of compliance for consumers is a major consideration for a successful natural heart health product. Consumers do not have to take Sytrinol prior to, immediately following, or directly with their meals and, as a result, are more likely to take the correct dosage and continue using the product. Sytrinol can be taken in tablets, or softgels, which are easy to swallow because of the low dosage. Sytrinol will also be available in functional foods.
Dr. Richard Staack is the Vice President of Business Development, Technology, and Science at SourceOne™ Global Partners. He received his Master of Science and Doctorate in Nutritional and Biochemical Toxicology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his Master of Business Administration with Distinction from DeVry University. Dr. Staack has received several awards and honors in the field of nutrition, is associated with numerous professional affiliations, and has published several articles on nutrition and toxicology in peer-reviewed journals.
Disclaimer: the above article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat a particular illness. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of a holistically competent licensed professional health care provider.
Truth in Labeling
June 14, 2005 10:44 AM
Truth in Labeling by Diane Stanton Energy Times, June 14, 2004
Do you or don't you read food labels when you shop? If you don't, you're missing out on a prime source of information about your meals. If you want control of your health, focus on package labels and pick your foods carefully.
The large print on food labels focus on what are called macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. Some of the smaller categories convey information about vitamins, fiber, and minerals, as well as the totals of fat and saturated fat contained in food. So, you have no excuse for claiming ignorance about your diet: the truth is in the labels.
Food labels can be confusing to the uninitiated. Go into a big food store and you can be faced with what seems to be a forest of food information: more than 15,000 labels. Add to that fact that every year more than 30,000 new food products can be introduced to the marketplace, and what you're faced with is a jungle of food labels.
That overwhelming wealth of food label information doesn't mean you should throw up your hands in dismay and give up reading and deciphering labels. You should arm yourself against that sea of labels with knowledge and, by understanding them, end your confusion and build your health.
A hundred years or so ago, food labels were only required to list the name of the food contained inside the package. The contents, quality and processes used to make the food were often a mystery. Little or no disclosure to consumers was made about how their food was created.
By the early 1920s, the federal government, via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), began requiring food companies to list the net weight of food on labels as well as the names and addresses of food processors and distributors. Finally, by the 1970s, listing basic nutritional information was mandated in a uniform way so that shoppers could have some basis for comparing foods. Then, in 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act made major alterations to the kinds of labels that had to be included on food packages.
The FDA and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) required significant changes to food labels that were supposed to make it easier for consumers to eat healthier diets. The labels requirements of 1994 included five major changes:
Consumer questions regarding food labels have led researchers to look into ways to help shoppers comprehend what food labels tell them. These studies are designed to help consumers match up their nutrition requirements with the foods they buy.
For instance, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, scientists have devised a label tool called See It, Do It, Teach It to help people improve their diets through comprehension of food label information. " One of the goals of the project was to help...teenaged girls and menopausal women understand how they can get the daily requirement for calcium into their diet in order to help prevent osteoporosis," says Karen Chapman-Novakofski, PhD, associate professor and nutritionist in the school's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
According to the See It, Do It, Teach It program, you should think of food labels as consisting of two sections:
" Much more attention has been paid to what people should limit rather than the nutrients needed. The average consumer doesn't know, for instance, how much vitamin A 10% of the Daily Value is, or how much calcium 25% of the Daily Value is," Dr. Chapman-Novakofski says.
Upping Calcium Intake
In their eight-week study of people's calcium consumption (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 4/04), the University of Illinois research team found that people didn't know how much calcium was in the food they ate.
After the initial part of the study, in which participants were shown how to look for calcium on labels, "the post-test revealed that the participants significantly increased their calcium intake to 821 mg per day, up from 372 mg per day," notes Dr. Chapman-Novakofski.
" That's a lot closer to the daily requirements of 1,200 mg per day for men and women over 50, 1,000 mg for men and women aged 19 through 50 and 1,300 mg per day for [youths aged] 9 to  years," she adds.
Parts of the Label
The first item at the top of a nutrition food label tells you the portion size that the label measures. An important point to remember: these sizes are determined individually by each manufacturer. Consequently, all of the other values on the label are measured per portion.
So, if you are comparing foods made by two different companies that employ very different portion sizes in their nutritional calculations, your label comparisons may be complicated.
Another fact to be aware of: the listed portion size may be an odd division of the food within the container and not reflect a common-sense division. For instance, some food packages are labeled as containing 2.5 portions.
And, to make things even more interesting, small boxes of candy that you might think contain barely enough for one helping may be labeled by the manufacturer as having two or more portions. As a result, if you eat the whole box, you often have to at least double the number of indicated calories, etc. to figure out the nutrients and calories you are consuming.
The section of the label that notes calories, calories from fat and percent daily values is listed under the portion size. Here you are told how many calories you consume when you devour one portion and how many of those calories are derived from fat.
This label focus on fat originated when consumers and dietitians were very concerned about Americans' fat consumption and hadn't yet switched their focus to carbohydrate consumption as a prevalent dietary health priority.
Also included on the label: the daily value percentages aimed at showing you how much out of a total day's intake of various nutrients a portion bestows upon you.
These percentage numbers are based on a theoretical analysis of a diet that contains 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. (A notation at the bottom of the label tells you whether the calculation is based on 2,000 or 2,500.)
If you've been eating a low-carb diet (or are planning this type of diet), the section of the label that lists carbohydrates may be especially useful. Under this heading, the label lists the totals for fiber and sugar.
No matter what diet you are on, dietary fiber is desirable, since it represents indigestible carbohydrates that both pass through you without conveying any calories and keep beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract healthy.
Most people want to limit their sugar totals, however, since this nutrient may raise your risk of being overweight and, when you eat a lot of it, may contribute to immune problems.
Interestingly enough, when food chemists compute what is in food, they perform lab tests known as assays to distinguish its ingredients. (The manner in which these tests are performed are very strictly regulated by the FDA.)
In fact, just about every nutrient listed on a food label is determined by laboratory test except for the carbohydrate content: the amount of water, fat, crude protein and ash are determined this way. But the total carbs are computed by simply subtracting the total of the other ingredients from the total amount of food, a kind of process of elimination.
So while fat and protein are measured with precise lab tests, carbohydrate totals are figured by the leftovers. (The water and ash, by the way, are not usually listed on food labels.)
Within the general carbohydrate group, are several categories of carbohydrates that produce very different effects in your body. These categories can be divided into sugar, sugar alcohols, dietary fiber and a collection of various chemicals that include organic acids, flavonoids, gums, lignans and others.
According to the FDA, the food label only has to list the total carbs, sugar and dietary fiber. But some food companies now list things like sugar alcohols.
Blood Sugar Effects
Not all of these types of carbohydrates behave the same way in your body. For example, when your body digests table sugar, it turns immediately into blood sugar. So sugar and most other carbohydrate is what we call "digestible carbohydrate." Other carbs, such as sugar alcohol or glycerine, can be digested but do not turn to blood sugar. Still others, such as dietary fiber, are indigestible and pass through your body without impacting your blood sugar level.
To date, the FDA has not focused on these important biochemical differences and treats all carbohydrates alike. This means that when you look at a food label, you do not see a number for the carbs that impact your blood sugar level. To do so, simply subtract the number of grams of fiber from the total number of carbohydrate grams.
Recently, the phrases "low carb," "net carb" and "impact carbs" have begun to appear on food labels. These are not defined by the FDA; they were put on labels by by companies to help consumers pick out foods that are acceptable on low-carb diets. To arrive at the total of net carbs, food companies subtract the total amount of fiber and sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates.
Since the body cannot digest fiber, this nutrient (which is still important for good health) is not calculated into the total amount of carbohydrates. As for sugar alcohols, while-technically speaking-these are carbs and they do have calories, they have little effect on blood sugar and usually are not counted in total carbohydrates.
According to the American Dietetic Association, people with diabetes who are managing their blood sugars using the carbohydrate counting method should "count half of the grams of sugar alcohol as carbohydrates since half of the sugar alcohol on average is digested.
" Fiber is not digested, however. If the serving of food has more then 5 grams of fiber one should subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate grams." As you can see, when it comes to food, as in most things, knowledge is power. If you want power over your health, you need power over the food you eat. The road to that power is by reading food labels. What's in the food you're eating every day may surprise you.
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number
June 13, 2005 07:43 PM
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number by Carl Lowe Energy Times, March 10, 2004
As women age, their physical needs shift. The health challenges that face a woman in her thirties do not match those of a woman in her fifties.
At the same time, some basic health needs stay constant: At any age, every woman requires a wealth of vitamins, minerals and the other natural chemicals that fruits, vegetables and supplements supply. She also constantly needs families and friends to support her spiritual health.
As the internal workings of your body alter, your lifestyle must stay abreast of those adjustments. Peak health demands a finely tuned health program designed with your individual needs-and your stage of life-in mind.
Ages 30 to 45
When it comes to maintaining health, younger women might seem to have it easier than older women. If they exercise and stay in shape, they maintain more stamina than women 10 to 20 years their senior.
Unfortunately, many women in this age group mistakenly think they don't have to be as careful about their lifestyle habits and their eating habits as they will in later decades. But even if your health doesn't seem to suffer from poor eating choices or a sedentary lifestyle right away, your foundation for health in later life suffers if you don't care for yourself now.
By age 45 you should have established the good habits that will carry you successfully through the aging process. As an added bonus, good lifestyle habits pay immediate dividends. If you pay attention to your nutrients and get plenty of physical activity when younger, you'll feel more energetic and probably enjoy better emotional health.
Set Health Goals
According to Gayle Reichler, MS, RD, CDN, in her book Active Wellness (Avery/Penguin), good health at any age doesn't just come to you-you have to plan for it. In order to stick to good habits, she says, "living a healthy lifestyle needs to be satisfying." Reichler believes that you need to picture your health goals to achieve them: "Every successful endeavor first begins in the mind as an idea, a thought, a dream, a conviction." Good health at this age and in later years requires a concrete strategy and visualization of how your body can improve with a healthy lifestyle.
Your long-term health goals at this age should include an exercise program that will allow you to reach a physically fit old age with a lowered risk of disability. In addition, your short-term plans should encompass losing weight, staying optimistic, living life with more vim and vigor, increasing your capacity for exercise and lowering your stress.
As Reichler points out, "Your long-term goal and your ideal vision establish what you want to achieve....[You should do] something good...for yourself every day and every week that makes your life easier and more consistent with your goals."
Develop an Eating Plan
Today, the average American gains about two pounds annually. As a result, every year a greater portion of the US population is obese and overweight. By controlling your food intake earlier in life, you may be able to avoid this weight gain. In his book Prolonging Health (Hampton Roads), James Williams, OMD, recommends basic changes to your diet that can provide long-term support of your health:
Get Supplemental Help
If you're in your thirties or forties and you don't take at least a multivitamin, start taking one today! A large body of research shows that taking vitamin and mineral supplements over a long period of time significantly supports better health.
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important supplemental nutrients, helping to build stronger bones now that can withstand the bone-loss effects of aging.
Calcium can also help keep your weight down. One study of younger women found that for every extra 300 milligrams of calcium a day they consumed, they weighed about two pounds less (Experimental Biology 2003 meeting, San Diego).
In the same way, taking vitamin D supplements not only helps strengthen your bones, it can also lower your risk of multiple sclerosis (Neurology 1/13/04). In this study, which looked at the health records of more than 180,000 women for up to 20 years, taking D supplements dropped the chances of multiple sclerosis (although eating vitamin D-rich foods did not have the same benefit). And if you're thinking about having children at this age, a multivitamin is crucial for lowering your baby's risk of birth defects and other health problems. A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that women who take multivitamins during pregnancy lower their children's risk of nervous system cancer by up to 40% (Epidemiology 9/02).
" Our finding, combined with previous work on reducing several birth defects with vitamin supplementation and other childhood cancers, supports the recommendation that mothers' vitamin use before and during pregnancy may benefit their babies' health," says Andrew F. Olshan, MD, professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. "We believe physicians and other health care providers should continue to educate women about these benefits and recommend appropriate dietary habits and daily dietary supplements."
In particular, Dr. Olshan feels that folic acid (one of the B vitamins), and vitamins C and A, are particularly important for lowering the risk of childhood cancers and birth defects.
Ages 45 to 55
When you reach this in-between age-the time when most women have moved past childbearing age but haven't usually fully moved into the post-menopausal stage-you enjoy a propitious opportunity to take stock of your health and plan for an even healthier future. One thing that may need adjustment is your sleep habits, as sleeplessness is a common problem for women in this age group. Even if you haven't been exercising or watching your diet until now, it's not too late to start. Making lifestyle changes at this age can still improve your chances for aging successfully.
For instance, it is at these ages that women should have their heart health checked. Research published in the journal Stroke (5/01) shows that having your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at this time more accurately shows your future chances of heart disease than having it checked at a later date after menopause, in your late fifties.
" The premenopausal risk factors may be a stronger predictor of carotid atherosclerosis [artery blockages] because they represent cumulative risk factor exposure during the premenopausal years, whereas the risk factors...during the early postmenopausal years have a shorter time for influence," says Karen A. Matthews, PhD, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In other words, Dr. Matthews' research shows that if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol before menopause, you are at serious risk for a stroke or heart attack soon after menopause: These are important reasons that you need to start improving your health habits immediately.
Increase in Heart Disease
Before menopause, a woman's hormones and other physiological characteristics usually hold down her chance of heart disease. After menopause, when hormones and other bodily changes occur, the risk of heart attacks and stroke in women rises significantly. (Heart disease is the leading killer of women.) At least part of this increased risk is linked to the postmenopausal decrease in estrogen production.
Dr. Matthews studied about 370 women in their late forties, measuring their weight, their BMI (body mass index, an indication of body fat compared to height), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Ten years later, after the women had entered menopause, she and her fellow scientists used ultrasound to measure blockages in these women's neck arteries (a sign of heart disease).
The researchers found that indications of potential heart problems (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight) when women were in their forties did indeed forecast future difficulties.
" Women who had elevated cholesterol, higher blood pressures and increased body weight before menopause had increased blood vessel thickening and atherosclerotic plaque formation in the neck arteries after menopause. Such changes in the carotid arteries are associated with an increased heart attack and stroke risk," says Dr. Matthews.
Heart Health Factors
The four main lifestyle factors you should adjust at this age to support better heart function are diet, stress, exercise and weight. According to Dr. James Williams, "[M]ore than any other cause, dietary factors are the most critical factor in cardiovascular disease." He recommends eliminating "dietary saturated fatty acids as found in flame-broiled and fried meats." He also urges women to eat more fish and poultry, consume organic fruits and vegetables and cut back on refined sugar.
Stress becomes an ever more important heart disease factor at this age as estrogen begins to drop.
" Our study [in the lab] indicates that stress affects estrogen levels and can lead to the development of heart disease-even before menopause," says Jay Kaplan, PhD, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (The Green Journal 3/02).
Dr. Kaplan's research shows that stress in women ages 45 to 55 may reduce estrogen earlier in life and make women more susceptible to the arterial blockages that lead to heart disease. "We know from [lab] studies that stress can lower estrogen levels to the point that health is affected," he says.
Stress can also hurt bone health: In a study of 66 women with normal-length menstrual periods, estrogen levels were low enough in half of the women to cause bone loss, making the women susceptible to osteoporosis.
Exercise and Weight
Although exercise used to be considered to be mainly a young woman's activity, the thrust of recent research suggests that physical activity actually becomes more important to health as you get older.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that exercising and keeping your weight down is probably the most important thing you can do to lower your risk of heart disease as you enter your forties and fifties (Am J Prev Med 11/03).
Of the people who took part in this study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who performed the most exercise were thinner and had a 50% chance less of dying of heart disease than overweight nonexercisers.
" The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.
An added benefit of exercise: If you burn up calories exercising, you can eat more and not have to worry as much about being overweight.
Supplements and Diet
If you're a woman at midlife, a multivitamin and mineral is still good nutritional insurance. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are also important for getting enough phytochemicals, the health substances in plants that convey a wealth of health benefits.
As you enter this age group, your immune system gradually slows down. To help support immune function, eating produce rich in antioxidant nutrients, and supplementing with antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as carotenoids, can be especially important. For example, a study of people with ulcers found that people with less vitamin C in their stomachs are more likely to be infected with Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers and is linked to stomach cancer (J Amer Coll Nutr 8/1/03).
This research, which looked at the health of about 7,000 people, found that vitamin C probably helps the immune system fend off this bacterial infection.
" Current public health recommendations for Americans are to eat five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day to help prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases," says Joel A. Simon, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
Calcium and Bones
At midlife, calcium continues to be a vital mineral for supporting bone health.
According to Gameil T. Fouad, PhD, "It has been routinely shown that a woman's calcium status and level of physical activity (specifically, the degree to which she participates in weight-bearing exercise) are positively associated with bone mineral density. It is less well appreciated that this is a process which takes place over the course of a lifetime."
Dr. Fouad adds that calcium works in concert with other vitamins and minerals to keep bones healthy: "Research in the United Kingdom involving nearly 1,000 premenopausal women over age 40 illustrates those women with the highest bone density tended to have the highest intake of calcium. Surprisingly, this study also demonstrated that calcium does not act alone: those women with the best bone health also had the highest intakes of zinc, magnesium and potassium."
Dr. Fouad stresses that supplements should go together with a lifestyle that includes enough sleep and exercise to help the body stay in top shape.
" As a general guideline," he says, "a woman concerned with her mineral intake should take concrete steps to make sure she is getting adequate rest, is eating a well-balanced diet focused on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein as well as getting adequate exercise....A multi-mineral containing bio-available forms of zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium is probably a safe addition to anyone's routine. Taking these proactive steps dramatically reduces the chances that deficiencies will arise."
Ages 55 and Beyond
Entering the post-menopausal phase of life can present challenging opportunities for a new perspective on life and health. While some signs of aging are inevitable, experts who have looked at how the human body changes with age are now convinced that healthy lifestyle habits can improve how well you can think, move and enjoy life well past age 55.
As Dr. Williams notes, "In your fifties, the force of aging is undeniably present: Your body shape changes and organ function declines, both men and women have a tendency to gain weight....Heart disease becomes more common, energy and endurance are considerably reduced and your memory begins to slip."
But Dr. Williams also points out that you don't have to age as rapidly as other people do. He believes you should employ a "natural longevity program...[that starts] to reverse the course of aging as early as possible."
One key to staying vital as you age is your outlook on life, an aspect of life that's greatly enhanced by strong social ties.
Avoiding the Aging Slowdown The latest research shows that one of the most crucial ways to slow the effects of aging is to exercise and keep your weight down. It won't necessarily be easy, though. The change in hormonal balance at this age makes the body more prone to extra pounds (Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 11/12/03).
" In women, it has been demonstrated that major weight increases often occur during menopause, the time in a woman's life in which cyclic ovarian function ends and the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone decline," says Judy Cameron, PhD, a scientist in the divisions of reproductive sciences and neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University.
In Dr. Cameron's lab trials, she has found that the decrease in estrogen after menopause "resulted in a 67% jump in food intake and a 5% jump in weight in a matter of weeks."
In other words, the hormonal changes you undergo as enter your late fifties causes your appetite to grow as well as your waistline: Developments that increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and joint problems.
Vigilance against this weight gain is necessary to save your health: Start walking and exercising. Research on exercise in people aged 58 to 78 found that getting off the couch for a walk or other physical activity not only helps control weight but also helps sharpen your thinking and helps you become more decisive (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2/16-20/04, online edition). This recent study, done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that performing aerobic exercise improved mental functioning by 11% (on a computer test).
" We continue to find a number of cognitive benefits in the aerobic group," says Arthur F. Kramer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois. "The brain circuits that underlie our ability to think-in this case to attend selectively to information in the environment-can change in a way that is conducive to better performance on tasks as a result of fitness." In simple terms, that means that walking at least 45 minutes a day boosts brain power as well as protecting your heart.
An Herb for Menopause
The physical changes that accompan> y menopause can be uncomfortable. But traditional herbal help is available: Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), an herb used for eons by aging women, has been shown in recent studies to be both safe and effective (Menopause 6/15/03).
" This [research] should reassure health professionals that they can safely recommend black cohosh to their menopausal patients who cannot or choose not to take HRT [hormone replacement therapy]," says researcher Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Family and Community Medicine.
While HRT has been used to help women cope with menopause, a flurry of studies in the past few years have shown that HRT increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Instead, black cohosh, which alleviates such menopausal discomforts as hot flashes, has been shown to be much safer.
Keeping Track of Crucial Vitamins
While continuing to take multivitamins and minerals at this age is important, some experts believe that as we grow older, vitamin D supplementation, as well as taking antioxidant nutrients, is particularly vital. Arthritis is a common affliction of aging, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one particularly destructive form of this joint problem. But taking vitamin D can significantly lower your risk of this condition.
When scientists analyzed the diets of 30,000 middle-aged women in Iowa over 11 years, they found that women who consumed vitamin D supplements were 34% less likely to suffer RA (Arth Rheu 1/03).
Other vitamins are equally important to an older woman's well-being. For example, vitamins C and natural E have been found to lower the risk of stroke in those over the age of 55 (Neurology 11/11/03). In this study, smokers who consumed the most vitamin C and natural vitamin E were 70% were much less likely to suffer strokes than smokers whose diets were missing out on these vitamins.
Rich sources of vitamin C in food include oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils such as sunflower seed, cottonseed, safflower, palm and wheat germ oils, margarine and nuts.
Saving Your Sight
After age 55, your eyes are particularly vulnerable. Eight million Americans of this age are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that destroys structures in the back of the eye necessary for vision (Arch Ophthal 11/03). But you can drop your risk of AMD by taking supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.
Their research shows that a dietary supplement of vitamins C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene, along with zinc, lowers the chances of progressing to advanced AMD in certain at-risk people by about 25%. Daily supplements also reduced the risk of vision loss by about 19%.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin also help protect aging eyes. When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of these vital nutrients (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
Healthy at All Ages
When it comes to designing a healthy lifestyle, general rules like these can be followed, but you should individualize your plan to fit your needs. No matter which type of exercises you pick out or what healthy foods you choose, look for a strategy and a plan you can stick to. If you think a selection of foods are good for you but you absolutely hate their taste, chances are you won't be able to stick to a diet that includes them.
The same goes for exercise: Pick out activities that you enjoy and that you can perform consistently. That increases your chance of sticking to an exercise program.
Staying healthy is enjoyable and it helps you get more out of life every day, no matter what stage of life you're in.