Supplements In The News

Policosanol improves cholesterol profiles for diabetics; also suppresses HIV-related lipodystrophy.

Policosanol is a mixture of long-chain alcohols purified from sugar cane wax. Its cholesterol-reducing abilities have been known for more than ten years. Short-term studies during the 1990s showed improved cholesterol profiles for people with diabetes-related cholesterol problems. Now the results of longer-term studies are being reported.

Genistein taken in infancy may prevent obesity later in life.

Genistein, an isoflavone extracted from soybeans, has shown a wide variety of intriguing and beneficial effects when used as a supplement. Among these are effects on insulin levels, sugar metabolism, and body fat.

Statin drugs cause Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies.

Not everyone is convinced that animal fat and high cholesterol levels are responsible for cardiovascular disease. A group called ‘The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics’ (THINCS) considers the campaign to lower cholesterol to be a scheme by pharmaceutical companies to scare the public into buying expensive drugs. THINCS claims that the statin drugs have dangerous side effects, and that there is no scientific evidence that they have saved anyone’s life.


Neuropathy suppressed by acetyl-L-carnitine

Since the mid-1990s research groups in Italy have been studying the use of acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) to prevent or treat nerve damage, especially that caused by certain AIDS drugs. Recent research studies have now shown that ALC is effective in treating diabetic neuropathy and in preventing neuropathy caused by anti-cancer drugs such as paclitaxel and cisplatin.

Supplements for wound-healing: vitamin C, bromelain, rutin, grapeseed extract

A study conducted at the University of Texas has shown that a combination of four oral supplements significantly accelerates and improves the healing of wounds. The supplements used were vitamin C, bromelain, rutin, and grape seed extract. The patients healed 17 percent faster than patients not receiving the supplements, and also had less redness and swelling.

Vitamins and Alzheimer’s, endometriosis, colorectal and liver cancer, and deficiencies

Vitamins have been much in the news lately, and some of the reports have exciting implications.

Researchers at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging report that higher intake of the vitamin B3 (niacin) seems to have a protective effect against the development of Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related cognitive decline.


Are supplements taken as sprays more effective than pills?

An increasing number of supplement products are appearing on the market that are based on the idea that substances are absorbed better if sprayed into the mouth rather than taken as capsules or tablets. The merit of this concept is debatable, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times. Although certain specific substances have been shown to be well absorbed sublingually (under the tongue), there is no reason to think that this process works for substances in general. Each substance needs to be tested individually, and these tests generally have not been done.

Antioxidants for prevention of prostate cancer

An exciting research report from Toronto, Canada concludes that a combination of antioxidant supplements can prevent prostate cancer from developing. The study was done in mice, but the treatment is currently being studied in humans, as well. Mice with a predisposition to get prostate cancer were given a supplement containing selenium, vitamin E, and soy powder. 80% of the animals that received the antioxidants developed no prostate tumors, and the few that did had much smaller ones compared to animals that received a placebo.

Vitamin C was misrepresented by the U.S. government, professors claim

In the 1970s Linus Pauling made some very strong claims about the value of high doses of vitamin C for preventing and treating diseases, including cancer. Because so many people paid attention to him, the medical establishment within the U.S. government conducted some studies, ostensibly to test Pauling’s claims, but more likely to debunk them. Now, two pharmacology professors say that the government’s studies were done so poorly that the official dosage recommendations that came out of them are worthless. In fact, the official Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin C may be too low by more than a factor of twenty, and may have cost millions of people their health and their lives.


Folic acid associated with decreased risk of cognitive impairment

Homocysteine concentrations in the blood appear to be associated with higher risk of vascular disease, which in turn might play a role in vascular dementia and in Alzheimer’s Disease. If so, then one might expect that supplements which decrease homocysteine levels would also decrease the incidence of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. A new study now confirms that this is the case.

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