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Potassium: Cardiovascular Health, Muscle Function, Cellular Activity, And Blood pH
May 11, 2011 12:58 PM
Potassium is a dietary mineral required in relatively large quantities in comparison with other minerals found in the human diet. It is the most abundant positively charged ion, or cation, in the cytosol, the liquid cytoplasmic matrix found inside all cells of the human body. It has a special relationship with sodium, the major cation outside animal cells. Together they facilitate cellular reformations and Intercellular activities, greatly influencing the development of muscles, the brain, and the heart.
Electrolytes are solutions of bases or acids that help maintain a healthy pH inside the body. Potassium is an electrolyte absolutely necessary for the upkeep of cells. They enable organic compounds to move charges, which is central to neuronal activities, muscle contraction, and endocrine functions. The presence of potassium is also required to activate the catalytic functions of several enzymes. Some of these enzymes are indispensable in the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Powers Cellular Activities
A cellular phenomenon described as membrane potential affects several types of cells throughout the human body, such as neurons, muscle cells, and endocrine cells. Potassium is involved in this phenomenon, powering countless molecular devices found in the cell membrane much like a battery. It also participates in transmitting signals between cellular organelles, creating an electric current that flows between different parts of the cell.
Intercellular communication that induces the release of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other related organic compounds throughout the body rely on healthy levels of potassium. For example, it allows the beta cells of the pancreas to respond to levels of carbohydrates that get in and out of the systemic circulation, releasing insulin when needed. It fuels a chain of cellular events that lead to many bodily functions.
Promotes Muscle Function
It is not a coincidence that unhealthy levels of potassium lead to bouts of muscle cramps. While involuntary contractions of the skeletal muscles are often associated to older populations, they may afflict people of all ages at any time of the day. More often than not, the underlying cause is malnutrition, especially deficiency in dietary minerals like potassium.
Contractions produced by skeletal muscles are a classic example of physiological functions that necessitate the presence of potassium. When electrical impulses of cell membranes rise and fall at a very fast rate, it results in a cellular event called action potential, igniting a chain of events that lead to muscle contraction. This is the reason why potassium is important in the maintenance of healthy muscles.
Maintains Cardiovascular Health
Potassium is particularly good for the heart. The cardiac muscle is engaged in continuous coordinated contractions that propel blood out of the atria and ventricles to the rest of the cardiovascular system. A condition called hypokalemia, in which the level of potassium in the blood is low, has been linked to abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure. Not surprisingly, potassium supplements are used as a therapeutic remedy in the treatment of these diseases.
Potassium has a pH of 14. Taking potassium daily can help you regulate your pH so you can maintain a pH of 7 throughout the day. By maintaining a pH of 7, you can improve your health and reduce the instance of illness.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
October 22, 2008 04:59 PM
It is known that aging is largely a result of the effect of free radicals on our body cells, and that green coffee bean extract can be used to fight against these. While we intuitively understand what the term ‘aging’ means, very few people can actually describe it in words, although there are several theories of why it occurs.
The most viable of these include the Error Catastrophe Theory, related to faulty molecular transcription and errors in cellular function, the Crosslinkage Theory, in which progressively increasing cross-linking between proteins slows the body functions down, and the Neuroendocrine Theory, in which changes in homeostasis and hormone levels occur through time due to an increasing loss of sensitivity of receptors to feedback inhibition.
However, by far the most acceptable and best understood theory is the Free Radical Theory of Aging, which green coffee beans have been found to help fight, and it is on that which we shall focus here.
The Free Radical Theory of Aging
Free radicals are oxidants created by unpaired electrons. Electrons generally go around in pairs, but occasionally molecules lose one of these electrons, creating a situation where it possesses an unpaired electron. In this condition, that molecule has only one purpose in life and that is to oxidize other molecules by stealing an electron from them.
Oxidation can cause untold damage to cell membranes, and also to other molecules that are vital to life, such as DNA. The end result is aging, and the onset of many diseases and conditions connected with aging. Free radicals are believed to be behind inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Crohn’s disease, strokes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer among many others. Each of these is associated with aging.
Free radicals are generated in the body in four different ways:
1. Energy is generated by the Intercellular mitochondria by the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). By-products of the mechanism by which this is done include hydrogen peroxide, the superoxide anion, and a hydroxyl radical. Over 20 billion molecules of antioxidant are produced in each individual cell daily, and every one of these has the capability to do damage to your body. The figure for inefficient cell metabolism is significantly higher.
2. Peroxisomes are eukaryotic cell components that contain oxidative enzymes, whose function is to produce hydrogen peroxide that is then used by another enzyme, catalase, to oxidize other toxic substances. It is used by the liver, for example, to oxidize about a quarter of all the alcohol we drink to acetaldehyde, and also to remove other toxins from the body. The down side is that the hydrogen peroxide can escape and degrade the cell membranes.
3. Chronic infections give rise to a high activity of white blood cells, which utilize oxidants of various kinds to destroy viruses, bacteria and parasites. These include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide and nitric oxide which can also destroy the cells they are protecting.
4. Cytochrome P450 is an enzyme used to clear the body of toxic chemicals in our food such as pesticides and drugs. They also give rise to oxidative by-products.
In addition to these, free radicals are also produced by air pollution consisting of smoking, factory emissions and traffic fumes. Trace metals such as lead, iron and copper, are rich free radical sources, as is the ultraviolet component of sunlight, and caffeine, from tea and coffee, can also contribute to the store of free radicals in your body.
So where does green coffee extract come into this, and how should it be used. Free radicals tend to react very rapidly to accelerate aging, and in order to counter them, and hold the effects of aging at bay, it is necessary to destroy them almost as quickly as they are produced. This is carried out by antioxidants, of which there must be a plentiful supply available in each body cell.
Antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals, and so effectively neutralize them before they can attack the membranes of the cells in your body, or any of the other tissues that they can degrade. Many of the vitamins have a powerful antioxidant effect, among them vitamins A, C and E. Other antioxidants available in our diet include beta carotene and other carotenoids, flavonoids and glutathione, and also cofactors such as lipoic acid. All of these can destroy free radicals by the donation of an electron.
Green coffee beans have also been found to possess a strong antioxidant effect, due largely to the plant phenols, such as caffeic acid that forms chlorogenic acid with quinic acid, both cholorgenic and caffeic acid being string antioxidants. Green coffee bean extract is standardized to 99% chlorogenic acid. This substances not only reacts rapidly with free oxygen radicals but also helps to prevent to formation of hydroxyl radicals.
It has been established that green coffee bean reacts twice as fast as green tea or grape seed extracts, and speed of reaction is critical in the destruction of free radicals that have to be destroyed before they do damage. Other antioxidants found in extracts of green coffee beans include heterocyclic compounds such as pyrroles, furans and maltol.
The extract is made from beans of Coffea Arabica, this containing higher concentrations of chlorogenic and caffeic acids than the Arabica plant. The extract is also produced to be naturally low in caffeine, thus avoiding the negative effects of drinking coffee for its stimulating properties. When the green coffee bean is roasted, the antioxidant effect is found to decrease, and after roasting and brewing both the Arabica and the Robusta beans have reduced in activity to much the same level.
Studies on some of the conditions exacerbated by free radicals have indicated the effectiveness of green coffee beans as an antioxidant. It is believed to help reduce atherosclerosis caused by the oxidation of low density lipids (LDL). Oxidized LDLs tend to be easily absorbed by phagocytes to form plaques and foam cells in artery walls, thus narrowing and hardening the arteries, causing a deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and also increased blood pressure. Antioxidants from the green coffee bean prevent this from happening, and so help to reduce this serious effect of aging.
A good supply of antioxidants will also prevent the cell membranes from being destroyed, one effect of which is to age the skin. Antioxidants in the form of green coffee bean extract can help to maintain a youthful appearance while also aiding in the prevention of the more serious effects of free radicals that can shorten life.
There are no doubts that free radicals contribute significantly to accelerated aging, and that the antioxidants contained in green coffee beans can help hold back the physical signs of aging, while also helping to destroy those free radicals that threaten life by promoting cancer, atherosclerosis, and other similar conditions.
L-Glutathione Can Eliminate Toxins in the Liver
December 07, 2007 11:54 AM
L-glutathione is the reduced form of glutathione, and is a tripeptide synthesized in the animal and plant tissues from glycine, cysteine and glutamate. Commonly known as GSH, it contains thiol groups that are maintained in a reduced state, and is a very powerful antioxidant, considered to be the key antioxidant and protective substance in the body.
Glutathione can reduce any disulfide groups in the cytoplasm within the body of the cell, and ensures that the cytoplasm is a strongly reducing medium protecting against oxidation. It has a synergistic effect with other antioxidants to protect the body against free radicals and oxidizing agents that cause so much damage to the body through what is commonly referred to as ‘oxidative stress’. However, there is more to it than that and it attaches itself to toxic chemicals and drugs in the liver and renders them into a state suitable for elimination from the body.
These toxic materials include poisonous pesticides, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and chromium and many other substances that we come into contact with due to present day pollution of our atmosphere and foodstuffs. Glutathione can also help protect the body from the effects of chemotherapy and evidence is suggesting possible links with the control of some cancers, diabetes, atherosclerosis and many other degenerative conditions caused by free radical attack and the effects of pollutants.
The way that GSH acts in the cells is that the redox state of the glutathione-glutathione disulfide couple is critical to the health of the Intercellular and intracellular fluid. GSH in the reduced state of glutathione reacts with an oxidative agent such as hydrogen peroxide to form the oxidized form, glutathione disulfide and water. It hence mops up oxidizers such as peroxides and free radicals within the cytoplasm of the body’s cells, and also in between the cells. The disulfide is then converted back to GSH by the combined action of the enzyme glutathione reductase and NADPH (the reducing agent nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate).
The cycle then repeats so that two molecules of glutathione continue to reduce damaging oxidizing agents without themselves being consumed. In so doing, the NADPH becomes oxidized. A continuous supply of NADPH is needed to allow GSH to undergo these biochemical reactions, and up to 10% of our blood glucose is used by the pentose phosphate pathway by which NADPH is synthesized.
Since this cycle consumes no glutathione, it would appear that a supplement is unnecessary. However, this is not the case since the molecule takes part in other reactions in the body, particularly in the elimination of toxic heavy metals from the body. Mercury is highly reactive with the thiol that GSH is, and so will bind to form a stable Hg-sulfydryl bond in the liver. This mercury-glutathione chelate is unable to bind to other proteins or gain access to the body cells, and is eventually harmlessly secreted. The same is true of many other heavy metals that are reactive with thiol’s.
In this way the body is protected from the harmful effects of these heavy metals. However, it results in the loss of the glutathione, and the pollution of modern day living can take a heavy toll of the GSH content of our bodies. For this reason a glutathione supplement is recommended, especially for city dwellers that may be exposed to more heavy metals than those residing in rural areas.
However, the form in which this supplement is taken is very important, because the human digestive tract contains a significant amount of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase. That is an enzyme which apparently destroys glutathione before it can be absorbed. However, it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream by dissolving the pill between the teeth and inner cheek. It has also been suggestion that the supplement could be administered by injection.
Others have suggested that rather than administer a supplement, individuals could take other supplements that contain the materials needed to stimulate the formation of GSH. Substances such as vitamin C, selenium (important in GSH biochemistry), methionine, alpha-lipoic acid and glutamine could all help to increase the body’s production of glutathione. A supplement of the constituent parts of cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid should also help. The dosage ranges recommended vary widely from 50mg to 500mg daily, and the effects of supplementation are not yet well know.
Some specific conditions that this wonder antioxidant is useful in treating include liver disease such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and so on. Patients suffering from these diseases show a massive reduction in their GSH content and prior GSH treatment appeared to offer a significant degree of protection in controlled clinical investigations. Patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C have been found to be associated with reduced GSH levels, particularly if also HIV positive.
Similar deficiencies have been noted in some lung conditions such as asthma and other pulmonary conditions. In such cases it has been demonstrated that administration of GSH supplements sufficient to restore normal levels of the substance improved the patients’ conditions by a significant amount. Its effect on atherosclerosis appears to be significant since a decreased level of GSH peroxidase has been recorded in such patients in addition to an increase in lipid peroxides, indicating that oxidation of the arterial wall had been occurring.
Anti-viral therapies that rely on GSH biochemistry for their action have been found to be less effective in those with low GSH levels, and other studies have confirmed that supplementing with GSH improves the response to interferon treatment. These results indicate the activity of oxidizing agents and free radicals in liver conditions, and in fact this has been demonstrated by tests carried out in New York and Philadelphia in the 1990s.
This suggests that the liver is prone to damage by oxidative stress, and that GSH levels may be able to be used as an indication of potential liver disease. What is evident is that a strong case can be made for glutathione supplementation as protection against potential liver, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, especially by those exposed to specific polluting agents such as primary or secondary tobacco smoke, auto and diesel fumes and chemicals and pesticides.
L-glutathione is useful, not only for the elimination of toxins in the liver, but also in protecting this large and vital organ from the oxidative stress that modern living brings. L-Glutathione and its precursors are sold over the counter at your local or internet health food store.
Looking For A Calcium But Not Sure Which Is Best For You?
November 02, 2007 12:23 PM
Calcium is essential to good health, but if you are looking for calcium it can be confusing to decide in which form you take it. There are so many available and every one claims to be good for you, so why the difference? Why not just sell the best and let us all know what it is? Well, this same argument could be applied to all supplements that are sold in different forms, and also to many foodstuffs.
The supplement best for you might not be the best for the next person due to dietary requirements each persons diet is different, so it is better to learn about what is available then make your choice based upon knowledge rather than ignorance. It is not only the source of the calcium you have to bother about, but also the other vitamins that have be present to make sure that that the calcium is absorbed by the body in the way that you want it to be.
To understand that then you need to learn why the body needs calcium, other than just the bones and teeth that everybody knows about. After all, why else do we need calcium? It is only contained in bones and teeth – right? Wrong!
Although 99% of calcium is contained in your bones and teeth, 1% is contained in the blood, muscles and central nervous system. With out that 1% we would all die. Without teeth we would not. Calcium is essential for blood clotting and for the proper function of our muscles, brain and central nervous system. Calcium combines with phosphorus to create healthy bones and teeth, and is essential early in life to build up a strong skeleton. Note that phosphorus is also necessary so we also need an adequate supply of that mineral.
Calcium is essential to allow muscles to properly contract. Without that ability, muscles could not work, and a deficiency of calcium causes muscle cramps and spasms. The movement of the smooth muscles is regulated by a protein that is bound to calcium. This is just one of the uses of the calcium in the body that most people are unaware of.
Calcium also takes part in the binding process of the blood platelets during the coagulation of blood. Although most people are aware of the need for vitamin K and fibrin, in fact calcium is also essential in its interaction with the platelets in the coagulation cascade that eventually results in a blood clot that stops bleeding. Basically, without calcium, the blood could not form a clot. In addition to its effect on blood clotting, calcium also plays an essential part in the movement of ions through the membranes of nerve cells, and without it Intercellular communication could not occur. Our nerve impulses would not occur and the body again would not be in a working condition.
However, the body has a way of modulating the calcium level in the blood past a minimum level needed for effective nerve cell communication, and below a certain level it can even use the calcium in the bones to divert to the more needy areas of the body. It is therefore not possible for the body to fail through a lack of calcium. The skeleton would disintegrate first. Nevertheless, nobody wants a disintegrating skeleton since that would be counterproductive to effective movement of the body, so a good source of calcium is essential for overall bodily health, not just that of the teeth and the bones.
There are many sources of calcium, but some are more suitable for absorption by the body than others. Chalk, or calcium carbonate, is an excellent source of calcium, but will fail to promote bone growth if your diet does not contain sufficient potassium, vitamin D, magnesium and strontium needed to make it work to build healthy bones. It is the most common on the shelves, and likely the cheapest, but not necessarily the best source. It is basically chalk or limestone, and only 10% of the supplement will actually become available for your body to use.
The bioavailability of a calcium supplement is a figure that indicates how much of the calcium is actually absorbed by the body during digestion. It is important that the supplement is digested and absorbed properly or the calcium will not be available for use. This availability is called the ‘bioavailability’. Calcium citrate has a bioavailabilty of 50%, but the size of the citrate part of the molecule is so large that only 10.5% of the molecule is available to the body as calcium. Not much more than the carbonate.
Calcium aspartate is highly soluble and produced by reacting calcium with aspartic acid to form the soluble salt. It is much easier to assimilate and be absorbed by the body than any of the forms above. The amino acid, aspartic acid, delivers the calcium exactly to where it is needed, where it is absorbed and used. Although a bioavailability figure is not available, it is not the amount of calcium that is significant here but the fact that it comes with its own transportation system and is immediately available where needed.
If you want to calculate the availability for yourself, find the molecular weight of the particular calcium product, and then the weight of the calcium contained within it. For example, in calcium carbonate, CaCO3, the molecular weight is 100 (40 + 12 + 3x16) and the atomic weigh of calcium is 40, so the amount of calcium present in 1000g calcium carbonate is 40% or 400g. Only 25% of calcium carbonate is absorbed, so only 10%, or 100g, of calcium is available for each 1000g supplement.
Calcium citrate on the hand (Ca3(C6H5O7)2.4H2O) has a molecular weight of 570, so the amount of calcium present is 3*40*100/570 = 21%. Since the bioavailability of calcium citrate is 50%, the amount of calcium available is only 10.5%, or 105g in 1000g citrate. You can carry out the same calculation on all the molecules if you know how much is absorbed by the body.
The bioavailability is calcium aspartate is 85%. Its molecular formula is [C4H6NO2]2Ca, and molecular weight 304. The calcium availability is therefore 40*100/304 = 13.16%. If 85% is absorbed, then 1000g provides 80% of 13.16 x 10 = 115.6g. The aspartate therefore wins it.
Amino acid chelates can also be used as a source of calcium, and its bioavailability is improved tremendously by including vitamin D and magnesium in the supplement. The bioavailability of these calcium chelates are not quoted, but is claimed to be high. Whether or not it is as high as the aspartame is debatable, though it is claimed to be.
Calcium is a very important mineral for human health, and there are several different supplements that can be used. The bioavailability of the calcium is different in each supplement, though the organic forms, calcium aspartate and amino acid calcium chelates appear to be the highest. When looking for a calcium supplement look for one with additional minerals added as mentioned above to help improve absorption and usability by the body.
AHCC® Fact Sheet - from Now Foods.
December 08, 2005 10:20 AM
AHCC® Fact SheetNeil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA 6/30/05
LIKELY USERS: People needing increased activity of their Natural Killer cells; People seeking improved immune system response; People with a need for tissue repair; People with oxidative challenges; People seeking to increase liver function People defying aging or with a need to improve cellular integrity.
KEY INGREDIENTS: AHCC® (Active Hexose Correlated Compound)
MAIN PRODUCT FEATURES: AHCC® is a proprietary extract produced from specially cultivated and hybridized mushrooms. According to extensive research in humans, as well as numerous non-clinical studies, AHCC®supports immune system function through its effects on macrophages and NK (Natural Killer) Cells. NK cells and the Intercellular mediators they produce are critical for the maintenance of healthy cell cycle function. AHCCR® has also been shown possess antioxidant properties, and supports healthy liver function.
ADDITIONAL PRODUCT USE INFORMATION & QUALITY ISSUES: AHCC® (Active Hexose Correlated Compound) is a patented ingredient that has been the subject of research studies. It is supported by the scientific staff in the laboratories of both NOW Foods and the raw material supplier, both of which have a mutual interest in protecting the integrity and efficacy of this product.
AHCC® is a rich source of polysaccharides such as beta glucan 1,3 and activated hemicellulose produced by enzymatic modification of organic medicinal mushrooms, including shiitake. It also has been shown to support normal levels of macrophages and cytokines, further strengthening the immune system.
This formula is suitable for vegetarians and is offered in Vcaps.
SERVING SIZE & HOW TO TAKE IT: As a dietary supplement, take 2 Vcaps® 3 times daily, preferably on an empty stomach.
COMPLEMENTARY PRODUCTS: Antioxidants, Astragalus, Colostrum, Dr. Verghese Liver Formula, Immune Renew, Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), Inositol Hexaphosphate (IP-6),
PRODUCT SPECIFIC: None
GENERAL: Pregnant and lactating women and people using prescription drugs should consult their physician before taking any dietary supplement. When taking any new supplement, use common sense and cautiously increase to the full dose over time to avoid any potential problems. Packages may contain moisture or oxygen controlling packets or canisters that are not intended for consumption. In order to maintain maximum freshness, please do not remove these from your bottle (until the bottle is empty). Please recycle your container.
DISCLAIMER: Information given here may vary from what is shown on the product label because this represents my own professional knowledge and understanding of the science underlying the formula and ingredients. The information in this review should not be used as diagnosis, prescription or as a specific product claim.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Burikhanov RB, Wakame K, Igarashi Y, Wang S, Matsuzaki S (2000) Suppressive Effect of Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC®) on Thymic Apoptosis Induced by Dexamethasone in the Rat. Endocrine Regulations 34:181-188. Matsui Y, et al. (2002) Improved prognosis of postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients when treated with functional foods: a prospective cohort study. J Hepatol. 2002 Jul;37(1):78-86. PMID: 12076865 Matsushita K, et al. (1998) Combination therapy of active hexose correlated compound plus UFT significantly reduces the metastasis of rat mammary adenocarcinoma. Anti-Cancer Drugs 9:343-350. Sun B, Wakame K, Mukoda T, Toyoshima A. Kanazawa T, Kosuna K (1997) Preventive Effects of AHCC® on Carbon Tetrachloride Induced Liver Injury in Mice. Nat Med 51(4):310-315.
Ye SF, Ichimura K, Wakame K, Ohe M. Suppressive effects of Active Hexose Correlated Compound on the increased activity of hepatic and renal ornithine decarboxylase induced by oxidative stress. Life Sci. 2003 Dec 19;74(5):593-602. PMID: 14623030 Ye SF, Wakame K, Ichura K, Matsuzaki S (2004) Amelioration by active hexose correlated compound of endocrine disturbances induced by oxidative stress in the rat. Endocr Regul 38(1):7-13.
November 23, 2005 06:15 PM
Clinically Shown to Triple Natural Killer (NK) Cell Activity