Tag Archives: Bioavailablility

Why is beta-carotene so important?

Beta-carotene is a member of over 380 compounds called carotenoids. Carotenoids help give the distinctive deep-colour vegetables their colours. These dark coloured vegetables are the main focus of our antioxidant investigation.

Beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A (which is retinol) in the body as the body needs it; so beta-carotene is pre-vitamin A. Beta-carotene intake is measured in two ways, by International Units (IU) or milligrams (mg). One milligram is equal to 1,666 IU. While vitamin A can be toxic in large amounts, beta-carotene is not, even at high levels. Because of this, it is the ideal vitamin A supplement. Besides being a safe storage form of vitamin A, beta-carotene has other very powerful protective effects on the body.

As a free radical fighter beta-carotene goes after a couple of free radicals for which no enzyme system exists. It is also unique in that it is not destroyed or made inactive when it quenches a free radical. It is also very effective at interrupting oxidant chain reactions spreading from one molecule to another.

Vitamin A is important for immune systems because it keeps skin and mucous membrane cells healthy and moist. Membranes that are healthy stay moist and resistant to cell damage. The moistness inhibits bacteria and viruses from replicating and starting infectious diseases. Healthy cells are also resistant to cancer. This makes it ideal in treating deficiency syndromes.

Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant by helping to protect our cells by supporting skin-cell turnover; the process that keeps cell growth and development running efficiently. Without enough A, skin becomes dry, tough, and scaly. It also helps the health of our eyes, improves night vision and prevents night blindness, promotes formation of strong bones, guards against bacterial, parasitic and viral infections, keeps skin healthy and smooth, guards against heart disease, stroke and lowers blood pressure.

Many researchers believe most people are so deficient in beta-carotene they recommend increasing the foods that contain a lot of beta-carotene as well as taking a supplement. To show that there is no danger of overdose here are some facts. People with a skin disease call porphyria, sensitivity to light, require up to 500,000 IU a day. Children with this disorder have taken up to 100,000 IU a day for years with no adverse effects. You will know if you are getting too much; your skin, especially the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, will turn orange-brown colour. Once the amount is cut back skin returns to normal.

Finding ways to incorporate beta-carotene into your normal everyday foods can be fun and tasty. Pumpkin is one delicious way to get vitamin A into your diet. Just ½ cup of canned pumpkin has more than 16 milligrams of beta carotene, 160%-260% of the daily amount recommended by experts. Other top sources of beta-carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, winter squash, broccoli, apricots, spinach, collard greens, red peppers and blueberries. Kale is another green that cannot be ignored, along with spinach, broccoli and collard greens, it is chock full of zeaxanthin and lutein two powerful antioxidants that help protect against cataracts, retinal disease and damage, and macular degeneration do to age.


Try an apricot, cantaloupe and blueberry salad. Add red peppers or roasted red peppers to broccoli for a nice kick. Use spinach and collard greens with onions and garlic and cook up with ground meat to use in any number of dishes from tacos to meatballs. Make healthy cooking fun by experimenting with different vegetables, herbs and spices. Make a “greens” salad with the kale, spinach and collard greens and season it lightly with healthy vinegrettes and a few spices instead of a regular iceberg lettuce salad. Above all take a great beta-carotene supplement along with the change in diet.

By changing the way we eat, what we take and how we prioritize nutrition we can give our bodies the fuel to fight all kinds of diseases and sicknesses. Talk with your doctor about where your health stands now and what your problems are. A little research should help you get a picture of what deficiencies certain vitamins and minerals help. Start eating creatively, get some exercise.  Do this now and make the change. Keep a journal of how you feel over the next year or two to see what improvements you experience. Plus, taking CarotoMax now will give you the carotenoids you need to fight whatever comes later.






Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has been used by people for centuries. From Mesopotamia to ancient Egypt to Babylon, the Greeks to Medieval times and up through our modern era its benefits have been observed and scientifically proven. Medical history records the medicinal effects of garlic have been consistent and in use as medicine as a diuretic, digestive aid, antibiotic, anti-paracitic, anti-congestant, to soothe continuous coughing, clearing arteries, treat asthma, colds, edema, and cancer prevention among other uses.

References to garlic can be found throughout history but in 1562 the first valid work on herbs by William Turner, herbalist to Queen Elizabeth I, was published as William Turner’s New Herbal. In 1812 garlic was used extensively by doctors in England and can be found in Jonathan Stoke’s, A Botanical Materia Medica. It lists comments on garlic from over forty medical books of the time. If garlic did not work well, it would have fallen out of the historical record some time ago. Instead, it has cemented itself in medical and human history, truly withstanding the test of time.

Since around the time of the Industrial Revolution the search for the chemical constituents of plant medicines began to appear. We got morphine from the opium poppy, quinine from chichona bark and aspirin from the willow.  This is also the time work on garlic started.

Scientists wanted to know why it worked and what made the distinct smell of garlic when it was cut or crushed. They found in the garlic bulb there is alliin and alliinase in a non-reactive state. When the bulb is crushed or cut the components combine to form allicin which has health enhancing properties.

Allicin can then break down into ajoene and the some 70 sulfur-containing garlic oils, most of which can help our health in a different way than allicin. These eventually break down into a mixture of polysulfides which have no health or medical value. This means in a few weeks or months extracts will lose all their power unless protected in some way. Fresh garlic contains the most health benefits. Boiling garlic completely removes all benefits.

 These compounds make up a tiny fraction, only 0.1% to 0.36% of the total weight of a garlic bulb. Other compounds include: water, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, B vitamins 1,2 and 3, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, manganese, germanium, selenium, copper, iron, adenosine (a nucleic acid).

A few points on these compounds: B1 is bound to the allicin, very rare in the plant kingdom. The combination called allithiamine is extremely easy to absorb and is used in Japan in nutritional supplements. Adenosine is a nucleic acid, a building block of DNA and RNA which contributes to garlic’s beneficial effects on the blood; plus garlic contains more of this substance than any other plant food.

Germanium and selenium minerals are both present in significant amounts which have been discussed in literature as being anticancer substances. The carbohydrates consist of at least 10 different sugars. One of these, scordinin, is regarded by the Japanese as a basic health enhancer.

The Evidence Mounts

With more than two decades of use as a supplement, you can imagine that the tiny herb and cooking spice has been studied constantly. Its power over cholesterol seems to hold up over and over again!

A study took 220 individuals, divided into two groups. One group took 800 milligrams of powered garlic for a period of four months. The other group took an inert placebo.

The group with the active garlic supplement experienced a 12 percent drop in their lipid levels. The group that took the placebo, by the way, experienced no significant change in their lipid levels.

Interestingly, garlic is so effective at reducing cholesterol that it’s considered a licensed medicine in Germany for the treatment of atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries.

In a German study, a group of individuals were placed on a low-fat diet. Their cholesterol count fell by 10 percent before it stabilized. The researchers then added a garlic supplement to their daily habits. This prompted another 10 percent drop in their cholesterol.

In another study, this one conducted at Tulane University of Medicine in New Orleans, 42 individuals were divided into 2 groups. Each group had elevated cholesterol levels. One received 900 mg of garlic extract — divided among three capsules daily. The second group received a placebo.

At the end of 12 weeks, those who took the garlic had a six percent drop in total cholesterol. On average, total lipid counts went from a high of 262 mg/dL to 247 mg/dL. Specifically, the bad cholesterol dropped about 11 percent, from 188 to 168 mg/dL.

This compared with those participants who took the placebo, whose total cholesterol fell no more than three percent. If you decide to take a garlic supplement, you can expect to experience a drop of close to 10 percent in your total cholesterol.

Because of garlic’s recognized importance as a fantastic aid to health through all of history and its newly discovered significance for our generation, garlic’s chemistry has been well researched. Literally hundreds of compounds interact within garlic to make it one of the best health foods of history and modern times. The sulfur compounds work to interfere with many bad compounds that cause viral and bacterial infections, cancers, cholesterol, blood clots etc.

Eating raw garlic is the best way to get the benefits but garlic breath can cause the loss of friends, relatives and others close to you. Some people can get a temporary upset tummy from consuming raw garlic while others can get a rash from handling raw garlic. The garlic in the stores is not fresh, it is usually harvested between July and November, the freshest garlic is the best for you. To get consistent potency and a measured delivery of the beneficial materials garlic should be consumed in a food supplement form.

Look for a pure, natural and pesticide free garlic product, preferably one that uses the cool-dry process. This will preserve as much of the active ingredients as possible. The label should state how much dried and fresh garlic is in each capsule or tablet. It should also tell you how many pills equal one clove of garlic; 1-2 cloves is usual for prevention of circulatory problems, 3 cloves is minimum for therapeutic effects such as antibacterial. It is also vital that the garlic you use has the distinct smell of garlic; the smell should be apparent when you break open a pill or capsule and/or put it into water.

Shaklee’s Garlic Complex combines the health benefits of garlic with the antioxidant properties of spearmint and rosemary. This supplement helps with cholesterol and healthy levels of microorganisms among other benefits.

Studies show that garlic promotes cardiovascular health by helping to retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels naturally when used as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol.  Allicin, a compound found in garlic, has been shown to be responsible for many beneficial actions, including the support for the maintenance of healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms.

Garlic Complex

  • Helps retain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels*
  • Promotes cardiovascular health*
  • Helps maintain healthy levels of beneficial microorganisms*
  • Unique Shaklee formulation
  • Combines the health benefits of garlic with the antioxidant properties of spearmint and rosemary*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

How Do I Know If My Multivitamin Safe?

The Best Multivitamin – What is In It and What is Not?

Nearly 50% of adults take a multivitamin. How do you know you are getting what you need? How do you know are not getting what you don’t need? Most vitamin companies that sell their wares in the grocery and health food stores, do not have proof or studies showing that they actually work. Some even contain dangerous toxins like sodium selenite and selenate that do more harm than good. Taking some multivitamins does nothing good at all for our bodies, they just drain the bank account and make you think multivitamins don’t work.

If many of us use a multivitamin anyway why not re-route the money going toward dangerous and ineffective pills to a product that actually works and has the proof to back it up? I came across an article and comments that help back up the philosophy I am talking about. If you are going to buy vitamins, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best product decision possible. Changing brands can change your life.

Read the label; not all vitamins are the same. Some are made with synthetic fillers and modified forms of the nutrient. The only kind of vitamin supplement you should be taking is the one most like whole food. The best way to get your nutrition is by eating non-genetically modified foods so that you know the nutritional value of that food is not diminished. The soil nutrients are being depleted of selenium. To remedy this most companies add back in the lost selenium with a synthetic one. Opening the door for synthetic tampering of supplements and foods. When people genetically modify food the nutritional value of that food goes down; that is another reason taking a high quality supplement is so important in today’s day of food quantity instead of quality.

Quality is the most important ingredient in a supplement. Not many companies do quality testing on their products, let alone third party tests. Only Shaklee does over 1,000 quality tests each time they make Vita-lea; a convenient and easy open packet of every vitamin and mineral your body needs to feel its best every day. Not only do they do their own tests, they have many third party laboratories study their products as well. Since January of 2011 Shaklee already has 3 clinical studies published that are more than most vitamin companies have in total. And the studies and proofs keep coming.

Here is some information on what to look for in your vitamins and the kind of supplements you are using…

 If Your Multivitamin Contains These Ingredients – Dump them now

sodium selenite

Both sodium selenite and selenate are classified as dangerous and toxic to the environment. They can be carcinogenic and genotoxic, and may contribute to reproductive and developmental problems in animals and humans. Nonetheless, they are the primary forms of the mineral sold on the mass market today.

Most mass-market vitamins actually contain chemicals that the EPA has banned from public drinking water at levels above 50 parts per billion. That’s the equivalent of a tablespoon of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.

If supplements are so good for us, why aren’t we getting healthier?

Part of the reason could be that many people mistakenly believe that a vitamin is a vitamin, and one form of a mineral is equal to any other, failing to understand the inherent differences between synthetic chemicals and whole food nutrients. Many also mistakenly use supplements as a way to avoid having to change their dietary habits. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, because if you eat a diet consisting primarily of processed junk food, and take cheap synthetic vitamins and minerals, you’re not likely to see a major change in your health status…

It has always been my belief that supplements should be used in addition to, NOT in place of, a sound diet. You simply cannot cover your nutritional- or lifestyle “sins” by taking a handful of supplements.

Why Selenium Supplements have Become More Popular

Selenium is an essential trace mineral found primarily in plant foods, and is known to have powerful antioxidant activity. Past studies have shown it can play a beneficial role in:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Cognitive decline
  • Cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Cold sores and shingles
  • Osteoarthritis

The selenium content in whole plant foods depend on the level of the nutrient in the soil, and, unfortunately, many farming areas around the world are becoming increasingly selenium depleted. Most of the selenium is also lost when the food is processed or refined, so unless you consume lots of whole organic produce, you may be at risk of selenium deficiency.

It is because of these facts that supplements containing selenium have increased in popularity in the United States, to the extent that close to 25 percent of Americans over 40 take a selenium supplement or multivitamin that includes selenium. However, supplementing with sodium selenite and selenate may do more harm than good…

 Beware of Inorganic Selenium

As explained earlier, sodium selenite and selenate are two potentially problematic ingredients found in many multi-vitamins. According to PAN, a database for pesticide chemicals, both sodium selenite and sodium selenate are classified as “Highly Toxic,” based on oral administration trials using rabbits and rats.  And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the highest allowable level of selenium in public drinking water is 50 parts per billion, which is equivalent to 50 micrograms, dry weight.

Studies have shown that:

  • Long-term exposure to selenium, sodium selenite, sodium selenate, or selenium dioxide may cause paleness, coated tongue, stomach disorders, nervousness, metallic taste and a garlic odor of the breath. Damage to the liver and spleen in animals has also been observed, according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  • According to the 1986 edition of the Handbook of the Toxicology of Metals, daily intake of about one milligram of selenium as selenite can be toxic.
  • In one study, sodium selenite was found to induce substantial DNA damage in human fibroblasts.
  • More recent research also indicates that too much selenium may contribute to the onset of diabetes.

It’s very important to realize that these potentially toxic chemicals are some of the primary forms of selenium sold as dietary supplements on the market today. As discussed in earlier, such inorganic minerals cannot replace biologically active trace minerals.

Other Problematic Ingredients Found in Many Multi-Vitamins

In the U.S., many supplement makers add so-called ‘flowing agents’ into their capsules. Two common additives are:

  • Magnesium stearate
  • Titanium dioxide

Now, neither of these will cause any major harm in small doses. But they do add up over time, and magnesium stearate can cause a biofilm to be created in your intestine, which will prevent the absorption of nutrients.  The only purpose of it in the supplement is to help the raw materials become more slippery and easily flow through the machines that create the supplements.

Magnesium stearate is not a supplemental source of magnesium but rather a form of stearic acid. It’s essentially chalk, and previous research has shown that it suppresses your natural killer cells, which are a key component of your immune system. Unfortunately, this chalk filler stimulates your gut to form a biofilm – a sort of sludge lining – that acts as an effective barrier to the absorption of not only that particular vitamin but all the nutrients you’d normally get from food sources as well. This is a major reason for focusing on nutritional foods rather than taking handfuls of vitamins each day.

Titanium dioxide is another absolutely unnecessary color agent you don’t want to see in your supplements, as it has been shown to cause autoimmune disorders.

The Problem with Synthetic Vitamins

Most natural health experts agree on one thing: No matter which foods you eat, whole foods are far better for you than refined foods. So why do some people believe the rules of nutrition would suddenly change when it comes to vitamins and other nutritional supplements?

Whole food supplements are what their name suggests: Supplements made from concentrated whole foods. The vitamins found within these supplements are not isolated or synthetic. Rather they are highly complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators and many other unknown or undiscovered factors that work together synergistically, to enable this vitamin complex to do its job in your body.

Synthetic nutrients, on the other hand, are not natural, in that they are never found by themselves in nature. When you take these isolated nutrients regularly, especially at the ultra-high doses found in formulas today, it’s more like taking a drug… At best, they will not benefit you as much as high quality food and food-based supplements. And at worst, they may cause problems.

Nature does not produce any nutrient in an isolated form. The nutrients in foods are blended together in a specific way and work best in that format. For an isolated nutrient to work properly in the body, it needs all the other parts that are naturally present in the food too. If the parts are not all there from the start, they are taken from your body’s stored supply. This is why isolated nutrients often work for a while, then seem to stop working.

Once your body’s store of the extra nutrients is used up, the isolated nutrient you’re taking just doesn’t work as well anymore. Worse yet, a deficiency in these extra nutrients can be created in your body.

Studies also show your body treats these isolated and synthetic nutrients like xenobiotic (foreign substances). This is why your urine will oftentimes turn some shade of glow-in-the-dark yellow when you take certain synthetic vitamins, as your body simply flushes these foreign substances out.

How to Identify High Quality Multi-Vitamin Supplements?

We do believe that dietary supplements — including vitamins and minerals — can help compensate for some of the damage your body incurs through modern living. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices…

There are times when supplements can be quite useful, such as a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement, for example, are essential for nearly everyone. This is because the main source of animal based omega-3 fats in your diet comes from fish – most of which is now so grossly polluted with heavy metals, PCBs and other environmental toxins that no longer are recommended sources for optimal omega 3 levels. Another supplement that many people need is vitamin D3, unless you can get sufficient amounts of safe sun exposure year-round, or use a safe tanning bed.

Another incredibly useful supplement is probiotics, which influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner. You can get these healthy bacteria from eating fermented foods, and if you eat them enough you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria, but there may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, such as when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar; if you have to take antibiotics; or when traveling to foreign countries for example.

 There are other instances when supplements may be useful as well, such as in the case of CoQ10 if you’re taking statin drugs, but their effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the supplement itself.

You may also want to take one or more food-based supplements to ensure you are getting an adequate variety of nutrients. However, I strongly recommend you make whole food supplements your first choice, and steer clear of synthetic vitamins.  How do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice?

For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:

  • It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
  • Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
  • Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and NSF Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
  • The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
  • It works! Always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high quality products that produce good clinical results.

If you are interested in optimizing your health your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and eat a wide variety of whole organic foods. Once you have addressed your diet and are looking for further improvement, odds are you would likely benefit from some supplements, like an animal-based omega-3 supplement and a probiotic, for example. There are many others you could consider depending on your specific circumstances, but just about everyone would benefit from these two.

Just remember to do your homework first and use only those that come from a reputable manufacturer using whole-food, natural ingredients that are free from additives, and have gone through a vigorous quality control process.






Protein Sources: plant-based versus animal source, which one you should choose?

Are you concerned about the nutritional content of your food? If so, you’re not alone. A 1999 survey indicated that 87% of consumers reported changing their eating habits due to specific health concerns. Among the greatest worries were heart health and dietary cholesterol intake. The major dietary concern (reported by almost half of those surveyed) was reducing fat.

Animal source of protein

It is important to consider the amount, quality and balance of essential amino acids in the proteins that we ingest.   Animal protein is a major contributor to the fat in the most people diet. They eat plenty of protein, but it is mostly from meat, eggs, and dairy sources, which are usually high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Animal proteins are easily digested and generally contain a mix of amino acids that is very similar to ours (complete protein source).   Plant sources of protein are not as easily digested and more than one source of plant protein is required in order to create an optimum amino acid profile or complete protein.  Consuming poor quality protein sources that are either not complete or non-complementary increases the amount of protein required in order to obtain amino acids in the correct proportions to meet our needs.

Plant-based of protein

Thanks to Shaklee, using the newest methods for assessing the quality of protein and equal to that given animal proteins such as those from eggs and milk. Energizing Soy Protein is high in protein that is naturally low in fat, and naturally lactose and cholesterol free. It provides all the amino acids, including the nine essential ones your body needs but cannot manufacture itself. It is also a good source of calcium and iron.

In addition, Energizing Soy Protein provides naturally occurring beneficial plant compounds that are being extensively studied. Soy contains isoflavones, especially genistein and daidzein. These are intriguing to researchers because they are phytoestrogens and may be related to soy’s ability to regulate hormonal balance and deliver long-term health benefits.

Soy protein isolate

Some soy protein products are alcohol-processed, which removes isoflavones. Energizing Soy Protein is water-washed to retain naturally occurring isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein. Shaklee uses only non-genetically modified (GMO) soy protein certified through an Identity Preservation Program (IPP). This program assures that the soy we use is tightly monitored and controlled from planting and harvesting to processing.

The tremendous benefits of soy protein include sustained energy, vitality, and stamina — plus the benefits of naturally occurring isoflavones compounds not present in meat or dairy foods.

Who Might Benefit from Energizing Soy Protein?

  • People who are concerned about heart health
  • People interested in reducing their intake of the typically high-fat, high-cholesterol animal sources of protein and supplementing their diet with a plant-based protein source that is naturally low in fat and lactose and cholesterol free.
  • Vegetarians or vegans looking for a high-quality protein source that contains no animal products
  • People interested in the health benefits associated with consuming soy
  • Anyone interested in supporting the body’s natural ability to ward off hunger and maintain energy for hours

How Does Shaklee Soy Protein Work to Sustain Energy?

The key to Shaklee Soy Protein’s amazing ability to help people feel energized for hours is something scientists refer to as glycemic response.

Glycemic response describes the effect a food has on blood sugar. Foods like a hot-fudge sundae can cause your blood sugar to spike and then plummet rapidly. A short time after you’ve finished the last spoonful, you feel tired, irritable, and surprisingly hungry considering the number of calories you’ve just consumed. This is exactly the opposite of how you feel after a serving of Shaklee Soy Protein.

In a clinical study, subjects consumed 110 calories from carbohydrates alone and their blood sugar was measured every half hour. As expected, blood sugar shot up immediately and then quickly crashed. It’s this “rollercoaster” response that can lead to feelings of jitteriness, irritability, and hunger.

However, when subjects consumed 110 calories of Shaklee Soy Protein, the results were significantly different. Blood sugar didn’t spike, nor did it plummet. Instead, it remained essentially level. The body’s natural metabolic balance was undisturbed.

Why Choose Shaklee Energizing Soy Protein?

  • 14 grams of protein per serving
  • Uses only IPP-certified non-GMO soy protein
  • Highest-rated protein quality
  • Natural vegetarian protein source
  • Naturally cholesterol free
  • No saturated fat
  • 1 gram of total fat per serving
  • Naturally lactose free
  • 50% of your daily needs for calcium
  • All the amino acids, including the nine essential ones you must get from food
  • Water-processed to retain naturally occurring isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein
  • Choice of Creamy Cocoa or Natural Vanilla flavors
  • No artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives added
  • Kosher certified

Heart Health Benefits of Soy

A meta-analysis of 38 studies indicates that consuming protein from soy foods is linked to retaining normal cholesterol levels. Another study suggests that soy protein may have antioxidant properties that helps protect “bad” (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing.

Beyond the potential of soy to positively impact the cholesterol that travels through arteries, soy isoflavones may also support the healthy function of the arteries themselves. One study showed that menopausal women taking soy protein supplements (rich in isoflavones) experienced a significant improvement in elasticity of their arteries.

This elasticity has been shown to decline with age, a change that is viewed as a risk factor for cardiovascular health. Some scientists are predicting that these isoflavone effects may prove to be as valuable in supporting heart-healthy aging as their potential to retain normal cholesterol levels.

What Are Phytoestrogens and How Do They Work?

Soybeans are rich in a class of phytochemical compounds called isoflavones, particularly the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein. Phytoestrogens are remarkably similar in molecular structure to the female hormone estrogen. They are thought to behave in the body like estrogen but at just a fraction of the strength of the powerful estrogens naturally produced by the body. Scientists suspect that it’s the relative weakness of these phytoestrogens that may actually work to support and protect our health.

Body tissues that utilize estrogen for normal, healthy function contain estrogen receptors, which bind to the estrogen that circulates in the blood. Researchers have hypothesized that when a diet is rich in soy foods, phytoestrogens may bind to some of these receptors. Phytoestrogens are currently being studied for heart, bone, and breast health.

Soy and Bone Health

Peoples typically think of dairy products as the best source of calcium, but there are many other good sources of calcium. In fact, Energizing Soy Protein is an excellent source of dietary calcium, providing 50% of the daily value of this important nutrient per serving.

Protein from soy may also offer bone-health advantages by replacing sources of animal protein in the diet. For long-term bone health, calcium intake is only part of the story. Urinary calcium loss is another factor that contributes to a negative calcium balance. High consumption of animal proteins, which are high in sulfur amino acids, appears to be responsible for this effect.

Soy protein, which has less sulfur amino acids relative to meat and other animal protein sources, may result in less calcium being lost in the urine and help keep calcium in the skeleton. In one study, calcium excretion was found to be 30% lower when dietary protein from soy sources was compared to equal amounts of protein from beef, fish, and chicken in healthy adults consuming a constant amount of calcium.

The isoflavones in soy foods may also help support healthy bones. A recent study showed that dietary intake of soy products containing isoflavones had a significant positive impact on bone turnover in healthy postmenopausal women.

Soy and Breast and Prostate Health

It has long been known that many soy-consuming Asian populations have better rates of breast and prostate health than do Western populations. There are many factors involved in prostate health, but a recent, large-scale population-health study suggests soy intake as one of those factors. In this study, men who reported frequently consuming soy milk (which contains isoflavones) were 70% more likely to maintain prostate health during a follow-up period, compared to the men who had little or no soy in their diet.

A recent population-health study conducted in China investigated the relationship between soy intake during adolescence and breast health later in life. After adjustments for known risk factors, higher soy food intakes reported during the teen years were associated with significantly better breast health when these women reached their pre- and postmenopausal adult years. Researchers believe that soy intake starting at a young age and continued throughout life is linked to maintaining breast health.

Another way that soy may promote heart, breast, and prostate health is by providing protection against oxidation damage. The soy isoflavone genistein has been shown to have antioxidant properties.

Soy and Menopause

Cross-cultural studies of menopausal women have found that women in Japan experience a smoother transitional period than women in the West. Soy foods are commonly consumed in Asian countries, providing an estimated 25–45 mg of isoflavones per day for the average person.

For the menopausal woman, soy has particular interest, as it is studied for both its apparent beneficial effect during menopause as well as for bone-building and helping to retain normal cholesterol levels.

What Vitamins Will Stop Free Radical Damage?

The terms free radicals, antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, superoxides, superoxide dismutase, oxidants, and lipid peroxy radicals sound foreign and complex. What do they really have to do with health?

To begin with you may have heard that these words have to do with causing cancer, heart disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, premature aging, suppressing the immune system, Parkinson’s, arthritis, male infertility, multiple slcerosis, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases.

What are free radicals and oxidant particles? The terms are basically interchangeable and describe incomplete and unstable molecules. Molecules are the basic building blocks in nature, such as fatty acids, oxygen, and amino acids. Normal molecules have electrons in pairs, electrons hold molecules together.

Let’s use the oxygen molecule as an example. The oxygen molecule has four pairs of electrons. If the molecule loses one of its electrons it becomes a free radical. A free radical or oxidant particle that has for one reason or another lost an electron becomes unbalanced and looks to replace the missing electron. It will go so far as to steal an electron from another molecule, injuring or even killing it, which in turn steals an electron from another molecule and so on, damaging more and more cells. This then damages the cell DNA and can alter future generations even turning them cancerous.

Here is a list of the most common free radicals our bodies have to deal with, our body’s antioxidant systems, and the antioxidants that are vital to our health.

The Villains

SUPEROXIDE – This is usually the first free radical formed and is an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron. The damage begins here as most others come from the super oxide radical.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE – Formed by conversion of the superoxide radical, it can pass through the cell membrane and harm the delicate inner parts of the cell.

HYDROXYL RADICALS – These are the most dangerous of all free radicals. Formed when superoxide and hydrogen peroxide react together, which causes an extreme reaction; they will attack any molecule around them.

LIPID PEROXY RADICALS – Formed when oxygen attacks fatty acids in the cell membranes. This is very common because the fat in the membranes is very reactive and is the choice of the oxygen molecules. This is the same reaction that causes fatty meat left in a warm room to turn rancid. During the lipid (lipids are a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that deal with energy storage, as structural components of cell membranes, and as important signalling molecules) breakdown chain reaction the fatty molecules release more free radicals. This chain reaction can spread across the membrane of the cell destroying the basic function of the cell.

 The Heroes

Our antioxidant system works in two parts: the enzyme systems and the antioxidant vitamins. The enzymes work pretty much inside the cell while the vitamins can work both inside and outside the cell. There are two main antioxidant systems in our body and antioxidants work to keep them functioning.

SUPEROXIDE DISMUTASE (SOD) – These are trace minerals that consist of several forms which are used both outside and inside different parts of the cell. They require different minerals as cofactors (“helper molecules” that assist in biochemical transformations), which completes the enzyme and helps it to function thousands of times more effectively.

GLUTATHIONE PEROXIDASE (GP) – Requiring selenium as a cofactor, this works in many places inside the cell. While it helps SOD do a more complete job, it performs a function SOD cannot; prevent the dreaded hydroxyl radical from being formed.

You only have so many enzyme systems in each cell and as the oxidant (free radical) load builds it will eventually outstrip those systems. The only way to reverse this destructive overload is to increase antioxidant nutrients to fight the free radicals.

Vitamins that Stop Free Radical Damage

VITAMIN C – Important water-soluble (something that can be dissolved in water) antioxidant vitamin that works hard to protect the fatty cell membranes. The fluid surrounding our cells is mostly water based. This is where Vitamin C is found working hard to neutralize free radicals before they can work their way into the fatty cell membrane. C can also be found inside the cells protecting the water-soluble areas. It also plays a vital role with vitamin E, revitalizing E when it is rendered inactive after it has done its job; like a battery charge.

VITAMIN E – Our fat-soluble (something that dissolves in fat or fat solvents) antioxidant vitamin. Oxidant particles are attracted to fat, especially polyunsaturated fat. Vitamin E does wonders fighting against lipid peroxy radicals. The cell membranes are mostly polyunsaturated fat; so it’s important to have plenty of E availability.

BETA-CAROTENE – Is wonderful because it works in both fat- and water-soluble areas as a free radical destroyer.

Cells and cell membranes need adequate levels of these three nutrients to protect against destructive lipid oxidation. Areas between cells should also contain enough levels of these vitamins to prevent oxidant particles from reaching the cell membrane to begin with. Working together these antioxidant vitamins enhance the effectiveness of each other.

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