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Nutrients and Diet
Alpha Lipoic Acid Amino Acids Antioxidants Arginine Calcium Carnitine Carotene Chromium Picolinate Citrulline Coenzyme Q10 DHEA Fat Fiber Fruit and Vegetables Garlic Ginkgo Biloba Glucosamine Vegetarian Diet Green Tea Iron Lutein Lycopene Magnesium Mediterranean Diet Multivitamins Nitric Oxide Nuts Olives Omega 3 Fatty Acids Policosanols Polyphenols Pomegranate Probiotics Pycnogenol Red Yeast Rice Salt Saffron Selenium Soy Theanine Vitamin A Vitamin B Vitamin C Vitamin D Vitamin E Vitamin K White Tea Zinc
15 Tips for a Healthy and Happy Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Here's a fantastic article on ways to stay fit and trim over the holiday. Give it a read today! http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/209290.php
Dr. Andrew Myers: Essential Nutrition from Omega-3 Fats
Understanding Omega-3 Oils and the Importance of EPA and DHA
Omega-3 oils are considered essential fatty acids. They are called essential because like vitamins and minerals, the body cannot manufacture them. For this reason, omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained from food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other marine life such as algae and krill, certain plants, and nut oils.
Omega-3 oils contain specific fatty acids including EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA function as fat-soluble antioxidants in the body, precursors to important biochemicals and as building blocks for important tissues like the brain and nervous system.
The Importance of Omega-3 Oils
Every cell in our body is surrounded by a membrane that is comprised of fat. The cell membrane functions as a protective wall around the working components of the cell (nucleus, mitochondria, and ribosomes) and controls the flow of all substances in and out including nutrients (in) and waste products (out). If our cell membranes are not healthy, then our cells do not function well and our health suffers.
Cells without a healthy membrane lose their ability to hold water and vital nutrients. They also lose their ability to communicate with other cells. Researchers believe that loss of cell-to-cell communication is one of the physiological events that can lead to growth of cancerous tumors. Because cell membranes are comprised of fat, their integrity and fluidity is determined in large part by the type of fat we eat. Remember that saturated fats are solid at room temperature, while omega 3 fats are liquid at room temperature. Diets containing large amounts of saturated or hydrogenated fats produce cell membranes that are hard and lack fluidity. On the other hand, diets rich in omega 3 fats produce cell membranes with a high degree of fluidity and functionality.
Omega-3 and Total Cardiovascular Health
Omega-3 oils like EPA and DHA are incredibly important in supporting optimal cardiovascular health. Research has demonstrated that these antioxidant fatty acids offer the following benefits:
- Decrease the risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death
- Decrease triglyceride levels
- Decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque
- Lower blood pressure
At the level of cells in the cardiovascular system, EPA and DHA help to support the fluidity of cell membranes, which, in turn, helps to maintain the youthful elasticity of our blood vessels. EPA and DHA also protect cardiovascular cells from oxidation by free radicals under conditions of stress.
B vitamins are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine, so it is not uncommon for people fully engaged in the modern Western lifestyle to be deficient in one or more. Vitamin B6 is a constituent of many amino acids, so low levels can contribute to a deficiency of amino acids that promote sleep. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in reduced levels of key neurotransmitters, resulting in loss of memory, restlessness, and fatigue. The brain uses Vitamin B1 (thiamine) to convert glucose into fuel, so deficiency can lead to fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is essential for the uptake of amino acids and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine—deficiency can be a factor in certain types of depression. Folic acid is needed for the manufacture of S-adenosyl methionine, or SAM, a coenzyme that preliminary studies suggest may play a role in preventing depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Ignarro: Nutritional Support for Nitric Oxide Production
Throughout the course of my research, much of my focus has been on Nitric Oxide (NO) and its health promoting benefits in the human body. I have written many articles about NO, and so for this edition I thought I would talk about some of the nutrients that support the function and activity of NO in the body.
NO helps to promote healthy blood pressure while keeping our arteries youthful and elastic. NO is naturally produced in our bodies from the amino acid L-arginine, and that reaction is supported by the additional presence of L-citrulline. What I would like to review for you in this article are the key nutrients that help maintain NO production and its circulation in the body. These are the antioxidants Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Folic Acid.
Most everyone has heard of antioxidants and their benefits in protecting our cells and DNA from the damaging effects of free radicals. By battling the negative effects of free radicals, antioxidants can actually restore the health of the NO-producing endothelial cells that line the arteries and guard against future deficits in NO production.
Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Alpha Lipoic Acid are three antioxidant nutrients that can facilitate our body’s production of NO by neutralizing free radicals that diminish the benefits of NO.
- Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that has been shown to improve endothelial function and enhance cardiovascular health. Vitamin C directly enhances the activity of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme responsible for NO production in the endothelial cells. By promoting endothelial function and protecting NO from oxidation by free radicals, Vitamin C plays a vital role in extending the benefits of NO in our cardiovascular system.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that works in conjunction with Vitamin C. Vitamin E helps stabilize and protect the membranes of endothelial cells from free radical damage. Vitamin E has also been shown to protect blood lipids, like cholesterol, from being oxidized by free radicals.
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is both a water and fat-soluble antioxidant that, while possessing benefits all on its own, is believed to trigger reactions that increase or recycle our levels of Vitamins C and E. ALA can increase the amount of NO as well as improve the stability and duration of the action of NO.
In addition, folic acid, which is a member of the B Vitamin Complex, is a key cofactor in the production of NO. Folic acid has defined benefits in promoting heart health by reducing homocysteine levels. Studies have shown that too much homocysteine in the blood is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Added to these benefits is folic acid’s role in support of the enzymes that are needed in the conversion of L-arginine to NO.
I hope this information helps you understand the importance of the nutrients that support the production of NO in our body. For a more detailed discussion of the health promoting benefits of amino acids, antioxidants and other important nutrients, please look for my book, Health is Wealth.