Sunday, September 29, 2013

Three-Step Strategy to Reverse Mitochondrial Aging

Reposted from Life Extension

By Michael Downey
Have you ever wondered how long you’re going to live? The potential answer can be found in the energy-producing cellular powerhouses called mitochondria.
According to a growing number of cell biologists, the number and functionality of the mitochondria specifically determine an individual’s life span.1-3
When we’re young, we are relatively protected against mitochondrial deterioration. As we age, however, changes within our cells lead to the destruction of mitochondria—paving the way for aging and disease.4-8
In 2007 scientists made a remarkable age-reversal discovery:
Damage to mitochondrial DNA becomes permanent a decade after mitochondrial dysfunction begins—and in the early stages, this damage remains reversible.9
In this article, you’ll learn about a 3-step program aimed at restoring your body’s vital mitochondrial health:
Step 1: Boost your body’s natural mitochondrial DNA defenses with CoQ10.
Step 2: Stimulate the creation of new mitochondria with PQQ.
Step 3: Support your body’s mitochondrial defense system with shilajit.
This strategy to reduce damage to existing mitochondrial DNA and create new mitochondria—is essential to inhibit a destructive cycle believed to be a root cause of aging.

Why We Need Mitochondria

Three-Step Strategy to Reverse Mitochondrial Aging  
Found inside the body’s cells, mitochondria are responsible for producing our primary source of energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides at least 95% of the cellular energy that powers all living functions.
Unfortunately, a byproduct of this energy generation is the formation of a huge stream of free radicals.4-7 Free radicals are molecules that possess a free electron—a property that makes them react with other molecules in volatile and highly destructive ways.10-12
Free radicals attack the structure of our cell membranes, creating metabolic waste products that disturb DNA and RNA production, interfere with the synthesis of protein, and destroy important cellular enzymes. Vital tissues and molecules decay under the assaults of free radicals.10-14 In addition, free-radical disruption of cell mechanics creates mutant cells, which are linked to cancer and cellular aging.15,16
Mitochondria are the easiest targets of free-radical injury for two reasons:
  1. They are located exactly where these free radicals are produced, and
  2. They lack most of the antioxidant defenses found in other parts of the cell.17,18
Evidence strongly indicates that over time, accumulated damage to the DNA of the mitochondria in particular leads directly to metabolic disorders (such as diabetes) and degenerative disorders (such as Alzheimer’s).4-8,19-23
Mitochondrial dysfunction is primarily seen in organs and tissues that have a high demand for energy—explaining why cardiovascular tissue and brain neurons are among the most susceptible.24
When we’re young, we are largely protected against mitochondrial deterioration because our bodies produce substances to defend mitochondria from the onslaught of free radicals. However, as we age, that protection wanes, setting us up for a destructive cycle that accelerates aging and disease. As a result of this rapidly accelerating process, mitochondria in the cells of elderly people are mostly dysfunctional, whereas young individuals have virtually no mitochondrial damage.8,25-27

The Mitochondrial Theory of Aging

Over time, there are three devastating changes within our cells that lead to the destruction of mitochondria—paving the way for aging and disease:4-7
  • The rate of cellular production of two free radicals—superoxide anions and hydrogen peroxide —significantly increases, attacking mitochondria the most.
  • At the same time, intracellular levels of endogenous antioxidants that help prevent the harmful effects of free radicals decrease. There’s also a reduction in activities of free radical-scavengers that neutralize free radicals before they can attach themselves to other molecules. These decreases diminish the mitochondria’s normal defenses.
  • The accumulated oxidative damage to the mitochondrial DNA and other mitochondrial components (as well as the cell as a whole) leads to decay of the mitochondria—and from that decay, the release of even more free radicals!
According to the mitochondrial theory of aging, this ever-increasing spiral is—in itself—an aging process.4-8, 25,26 In fact, a growing number of cell biologists have suggested that the number and functionality of the mitochondria can specifically determine an individual’s longevity.1-3
Based on this body of scientific evidence, scientists determined that a key to slowing—and even reversing—a “natural” aging process would be a substance aimed at revitalizing youthful mitochondrial protection from free radicals.27
They discovered this mitochondrial solution in a substance that may already be in your nutrient regimen…coenzyme Q10.
What You Need to Know
Block Mitochondrial Aging

Block Mitochondrial Aging

  • Daily damage to mitochondrial DNA appears to be a root mechanism of aging.
  • If caught before it becomes permanent, early stage mitochondrial dysfunction can be reversed!
  • Levels of CoQ10—the body’s natural mitochondrial defense—decline rapidly with age. But breakthrough research has found that supplemental CoQ10 blocks mitochondrial aging.
  • Shilajit works synergistically with CoQ10 by replenishing its electron supply and increasing CoQ10 levels.
  • PQQ powerfully supports the protection afforded by CoQ10 and shilajit by triggering the creation of new mitochondria.
  • Taken together, CoQ10, PQQ, and shilajit offer a potent program to inhibit the intensely destructive cycle believed to be one of the root sources of aging!

Coenzyme Q10 Protects Mitochondria

Scientists have established that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an essential nutrient for normal mitochondrial function (namely, the production and transfer of energy).28-30 When CoQ10 levels fall, mitochondrial dysfunction skyrockets.28 Studies have found that boosting CoQ10 levels via supplementation increases mitochondrial electron transport—whether the cells are deficient in CoQ10 or not.29,30
CoQ10’s ability to protect the vital mitochondria helps put an end to the vicious cycle that underscores a critical aspect of pathological aging. In fact, research with laboratory models has suggested that CoQ10 may be one of our most potent anti-aging nutrients. Studies have found that when cells or organisms are deficient in CoQ10, mitochondrial oxidative stress increases and aging is accelerated.28,31 However, supplementation triggers a significant slowing down of the aging process and an extended life span.32,33
One study showed that rats supplemented with CoQ10 experience a 24% increase in maximum life span and an 11.7% increase in average life span.34 In human terms, based on today’s life expectancy of 78.5 years, this mean increase translates to a more than 9-year increase in life span!35
CoQ10 also seems to work via a multi-targeted set of epigenetic mechanisms that not only slow aging—but that also protect against a variety of mitochondria-related diseases.36-38 Epigenetic mechanisms involve changes in gene function that do not relate to changes in gene structure.39 Studies have shown that CoQ10 protects against neurodegenerative diseases40-42 and mental health disorders,43 enhances lung function,44,45 guards against the effects of elevated glucose in diabetes and metabolic syndrome,46-48 and offers impressive defense against cardiovascular disease, one of the primary diseases of aging.49-51
Animal studies demonstrate that supplementation with CoQ10 reduces oxidative stress and reduces the buildup of amyloid-beta plaque (associated with Alzheimer’s disease)40-42,52,53 —resulting in a significant improvement in cognitive performance and memory.53
In human studies, 4 weeks to 6 months of CoQ10 supplementation at 60-300 milligrams a day was shown to improve cardiac systolic function and ejection fraction.49,50 One study showed that 8 weeks of CoQ10 supplementation at 300 milligrams a day improved heart-muscle systolic function by enhancing both mitochondrial performance and endothelial function.50 And in a 5-year, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial among elderly individuals, CoQ10 combined with selenium slashed the death rate from cardiovascular disease by more than half!54 In fact, the authors of one study recognized CoQ10 as a “scientific breakthrough in the management of chronic heart failure.”55
CoQ10 offers a powerful way to help slow—or even reverse—a natural aging process by restoring youthful mitochondrial protection from free radicals.27,56

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Statin Use Tied To Cataract Development

Reposted from FoxNews

The risk of developing cloudy lenses in the eyes may be linked to the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins, according to a new study.
While the researchers can't prove the drugs caused the eye condition, they found that people who took statins - such as Zocor and Lipitor - were about 27 percent more likely to develop cataracts, compared to people who didn't take the medication.
"The results were consistent that there was a higher risk of being diagnosed with cataracts among statin users," Dr. Ishak Mansi, the study's senior author from UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Dallas VA Medical Center in Texas, said.
Statins are popular drugs that block a substance the body needs to make cholesterol, which can get trapped in arteries and ultimately lead to heart attacks and strokes.
About one-quarter of U.S. adults aged 45 and older take statins. The drugs are especially recommended for people with diabetes or a history of cardiovascular problems.
Researchers have looked at the link between statins and cataracts before with mixed results. While some studies found that taking statins lowered the risk of developing cataracts, other studies found the drugs increased the risk.
For the new research, Mansi and his colleagues used data collected from the medical records of people between the ages of 30 and 85 years old who were enrolled in one healthcare system in San Antonio, Texas, and received care between 2003 and 2005.
In one analysis, they compared about 7,000 people who were on statins for at least 90 days to about 7,000 people who were not on statins but were similar in about 40 other characteristics, including other health conditions, medications and healthcare use.
About 36 percent of statin users were diagnosed with cataracts, compared to about 34 percent of people not taking statins.
In a second analysis, the researchers looked at people with no other known health conditions. It included 6,113 statin users and 27,400 people who did not take statins.
After adjusting the results for the participants' age, sex, weight, medications, healthcare use, other vision conditions and cigarette, alcohol and drug use, the researchers found about 34 percent of statin users were diagnosed with cataracts, compared to about 10 percent of people not taking statins.
What's more, the researchers found that the risk of developing cataracts increased with the length of time a person took the medication.
While Mansi and his colleagues can't say how statins may affect the formation of cataracts, they write in JAMA Ophthalmology that there are a few possible explanations.
One is that the body needs high levels of cholesterol to maintain a clear lens and statins may interfere with the cells that control that process.
Dr. Jack Cioffi, head of ophthalmology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said the study is very well done, but has some limitations, including that the researchers used billing data rather than medical records, so they can't say how severe the cataracts were.
"I don't think we should overstate the significance of this. It goes back to if there is a good reason for you to be on that statin, it outweighs the risk of a mild increase in risk of cataract," Cioffi, who was not involved in the new study, said.
He added that the treatments for cataracts have evolved over time. The National Institutes of Health says the procedures to remove cataracts are some of the most common and safest surgeries performed in the U.S.
"For patients themselves, my advice is to discuss what your benefit and risk ratio is for you with your doctor," said Mansi, who added that he hopes the results will also encourage people to improve their cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes.
"This should motivate patients to do their part. Quit smoking, eat healthy and be active so doctors don't have to give you a tablet that may have some side effects," he said.

Read more:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Statin Drugs Cause Even More Nerve Damage Than We Thought

Reposted from Live In The Now

Have the nerve-damaging properties of now been confirmed? There are over 300 adverse health effects associated with the use of this chemical class of -lowering medications known as , with myotoxicity (muscle-damaging) and neurotoxicity (nerve-damaging) top on the list. When will the FDA step in and warn the public, as proof of the problem in the biomedical literature reaches an alarming level of clarity?
The neurotoxicity of statin drugs are back in the news. Following on the heels of the FDA decision earlier this year to require statin drugs manufacturers to add “memory loss” as a side effect of this chemical class, a new study in published in the Journal of Diabetes reveals a clear association between statin use and peripheral neuropathy in a US population 40 years of age and older.
The study found “The prevalence of peripheral neuropathy was significantly higher among those who used statins compared to those who did not (23.5% vs. 13.5%; p < 0.01),” which is a 75% increase in relative risk.
Case reports of statin-induced peripheral neuropathy have existed in the medical literature for over 15 years. Now, larger human studies are confirming that statin drugs do damage to the peripheral nerves. Moreover, much of the damage is occurring below the threshold of clinical surveillance, silently causing harm in unsuspecting patients.
For example, in 2011, the results of a 36-month prospective clinical and neurophysiological follow-up of patients treated with statins over 3 years was published in the journal Neuro Endocrinology Letters, revealed in forty-two patients that despite the fact that they did not report subjective symptoms typical for peripheral neuropathy, damage was occurring.  They concluded: “The study confirmed that long-term treatment with statins caused a clinically silent but still definite damage to peripheral nerves when the treatment lasts longer than 2 years.” Click the hyperlink to view all 9 studies on statin-induced peripheral neuropathy on Or, view an even more sizeable dataset (54 studies) on statin-associated neurotoxicity.
While this research is adding to a growing awareness of the nerve-damaging properties of statins, this side effect is just the tip of a massive iceberg of under reported deleterious effects. For example, our project has identified 314 possible adverse effects of statins thus far.  Conversely, we have identified a wide range of health benefits of cholesterol, running diametrically opposed to the over-simplification inherent in the cholesterol hypothesis (some say “cholesterol myth“) of heart disease causation.
For those who are interested in learning more about natural cholesterol modulating substances, or, better yet, the wider array of research relevant to cardiovascular health, visit this Health Guide: Heart Health.
[1] Pavel Otruba, Petr Kanovsky, Petr Hlustik. Treatment with statins and peripheral neuropathy: results of 36-months a prospective clinical and neurophysiological follow-up. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011 Sep 3 ;32(5):688-690. Epub 2011 Sep 3. PMID: 22167150
[2] T Phan, J G McLeod, J D Pollard, O Peiris, A Rohan, J P Halpern. Peripheral neuropathy associated with simvastatin. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1995 May ;58(5):625-8. PMID: 7745415

This article is republished with permission from Green Med Info, November 15, 2012. Go straight to the source.

Sayer Ji is the founder and director of and co-author of the book The Cancer Killers: The Cause Is The Cure. His writings and research have been published in the Wellbeing Journal, the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, and have been featured on,,,, and Check out his newest project with co-author Tania Melkonian: EATomology: An Edible Philosophy of Food

Monday, September 9, 2013

DHA linked to Intelligence in Children

Reposted from Dr. Mercola

By Dr. Mercola
If you want your child to reach his or her maximum intellectual potential, the research is clear that plentiful intake of the omega-3 fat DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is essential.
In the US, most kids get hardly any of this healthful fat, found primarily in seafood, in their diets, and may be missing out on this simple opportunity to boost brain performance.
Most recently, two new studies have confirmed that boosting your child’s intake of DHA as an infant and into the school-age years may be a simple way to generate measurable improvements in their brain function.

Low DHA Levels May Impact Reading, Memory and Behavior  

The first study involved children aged 7-9 who had below-average reading scores. In these kids, low levels of DHA and other omega-3 fats were associated with poor reading, memory and behavioral problems.1
Previous studies have also found children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior/learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels that could benefit from supplementation.
The new study was unique in that it looked at healthy children without learning disabilities, but with poor reading skills, and still found a link with low omega-3 levels.
These findings require confirmation, but suggest that the benefits from dietary supplementation with Omega-3 LC-PUFA [long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids] found for ADHD, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, and related conditions might extend to the general school population,” the researchers concluded.

DHA Supplementation Early in Life Increases Intelligence as Older Children

In the second study, a group of infants received either an omega-3 fat supplement or a placebo.2 Tests to evaluate their cognition were given every six months starting at age 18 months and continuing until they were 6 years old.
While no changes were noted in the early test done at 18 months, the study found that infants consuming omega-3 fats consistently outscored the placebo group later, between 3 and 5 years old.
Specifically, the omega-3 fat group scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary and intelligence testing, which suggests early omega-3 fat supplementation, during the key period when your child’s brain is still developing, may translate directly into greater intelligence in the pre-school and school-aged years. The researchers noted:
“ … although the effects of LCPUFAs [omega-3 fats] may not always be evident on standardized developmental tasks at 18 mo[nths], significant effects may emerge later on [for] more specific or fine-grained tasks.”

Omega-3s Found to Alter and Boost Brain Function

Sixty percent of your brain is made up of fat. DHA alone makes up about 15 percent to 20 percent of your brain's cerebral cortex. It's found in relatively high levels in your neurons – the cells of your central nervous system, where it provides structural support.
Because your brain is literally built from omega-3 fats, it makes sense that it would play an integral role in brain function (and even may help support healing after a brain injury).
Still more research found, for instance, that DHA supplementation might affect functional cortical brain activity in 8-10-year-old boys.3
The study included 33 healthy boys who were randomly assigned to receive a daily dose of either 400 milligrams (mg) of DHA, 1,200 mg of DHA, or a placebo, for two months. Researchers then measured the boys’ brain activation patterns, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while the boys were playing video games.
In the group receiving the highest daily dose, the DHA levels in the membrane of red blood cells (erythrocytes) increased by a whopping 70 percent. The lower dose group saw an increase of 47 percent, while the placebo group had an 11 percent reduction in DHA levels while performing this type of sustained attention task.
The fMRI data indicates that there were significant increases in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain in the groups receiving supplemental DHA. This is an area of your brain that is associated with working memory.

They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control). The researchers noted:
“These findings suggest that this imaging paradigm could be useful for elucidating neurobiological mechanisms underlying deficits in cortical activity in psychiatric disorders associated with DHA deficiencies, including ADHD and major depression.”

Omega-3 Fats Are Essential During Pregnancy (and Later in Life) Too

A high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement is something that I recommend for virtually everyone, especially if you're pregnant, as the benefits likely begin in utero. Research has, in fact, linked inadequate intake of omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, in addition to hyperactivity in children. So not only is this one healthful fat your children should be consuming, but you should likely be consuming as well – and this includes in later life, too.
It is a point well worth emphasizing that omega-3 fats are considered essential because your body cannot produce them, and must get them from your daily diet. DHA-rich foods include wild fish, liver, and brain—all of which are no longer consumed in great amounts by most Americans. When your omega-3 intake is inadequate, your nerve cells become stiff and more prone to inflammation as the missing omega-3 fats are substituted with cholesterol and omega-6 instead. Once your nerve cells become rigid and inflamed, proper neurotransmission from cell to cell and within cells become compromised.
It's thought that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that in addition to their importance during brain development, the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration becomes.4
For example, low DHA levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's disease, and research suggests degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed. For example, in one study, 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 mg of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.5 The point is, consuming omega-3 fats is a lifelong habit you should get into, just as important as drinking plenty of pure water and eating vegetables…

What’s the Optimal Source of Omega-3 Fats?

While a helpful form of omega-3 (ALA) can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 -- containing the two fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which are essential to brain function -- can only be found in fish and krill. While your body can convert ALA into DHA/EPA, it does so at a very low ratio, and only when sufficient enzymes (that many people are deficient in) are present.
Unfortunately, nearly all EPA- and DHA-rich fish are now severely contaminated with toxic mercury, which is why I generally don’t recommend consuming fish on a regular basis. About the only exception to this rule is wild-caught Alaskan salmon or very small fish, like sardines. Alaskan salmon is really the ONLY fish I eat regularly, and the only one I feel comfortable recommending as a good source of healthful fats. AVOID farmed salmon, as it contains only about half of the omega-3 levels of wild salmon. Farmed salmon may also contain a range of harmful contaminants, including environmental toxins, synthetic astaxanthin, and dangerous metabolic byproducts and agrichemical residues of genetically engineered organisms from the corn- and soy-based feed they’re given.
My latest recommendation for a source of high-quality omega-3 fats is krill oil. The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won't cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products. Additionally, it contains naturally occurring astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant—almost 50 times more than is present in fish oil.
This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue. In laboratory tests, krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours. Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage (i.e. rancidity) compared to fish oil! When purchasing krill oil, you'll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity.

Tips for Giving Omega-3 Fats to Kids

As for your kids, I recommend supplementing with krill oil before and during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. Infants receive vital DHA through your breast milk, so if you can continue breastfeeding through the first year, you will give your child a great head start for success in life.
Then, as soon as your child can safely swallow a capsule, he or she can start taking a high-quality krill oil supplement. The capsules should be kid-sized – about half the size of a regular capsule – and odor-free, making them easy and palatable for kids to swallow.

References provided at original link

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Flaxseed: Protection against Heart Disease, Cancer and more.

Reposted from Life Extension

By Milly Dawson
Protection Against Cancer, Heart Disease, and More
Revered for its benefits as far back as 4,000 years ago to the time of Hippocrates,1 flaxseed has been a long-held staple of human diets across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Lately, this versatile grain has begun to receive well-deserved attention in North America for its ability to help fend off the major life threatening diseases including cancer and heart disease.
A rich source of minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, phytoestrogens, and soluble and insoluble fiber, abundant evidence supports the value of flaxseed in preventing diverse illnesses such as heart disease and cancer,2,3 as well as helping to address common ailments such as menopausal complaints and digestive irregularity.4,5
As part of a snack or meal, it’s easy to incorporate tasty and nutritious flaxseed as a staple ingredient in your own diet.

Protecting Against Heart Disease

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids have proven their mettle as preventive therapy against cardiovascular disease.2 Fish oil is the richest source of these heart-healthy fats. Among the plant foods that offer omega-3s, flaxseed stands far above the rest. Analyses have shown that while canola and corn oil contain approximately 10% and 1% omega-3s, respectively, flaxseed oil contains a far greater concentration of 57% omega-3s, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.6-8
Protecting Against Heart Disease
The value of omega-3s has emerged repeatedly from large population studies that normally consume large amounts of these heart-healthy oils.2 Scientific support for flaxseed is also abundant from dietary-modification studies, which have shown the benefits of omega-3-rich seeds in decreasing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.9,10
Typical of these experiments is a recent study in which postmenopausal women with mildly elevated cholesterol levels supplemented with approximately 30 grams of flaxseed (just over four tablespoons) daily for three months. Flaxseed supplementation lowered total cholesterol by 7% and decreased dangerous low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by 10%. These findings led the study authors to conclude that regular flaxseed consumption may offer cardiovascular disease protection by modulating blood lipid levels.9
Another study compared the effect of flaxseed with cholesterol-lowering statin therapy in people with a high total cholesterol level (more than 240 mg/dL). Researchers divided subjects into three groups: a low-fat diet plus either a statin drug or 20 grams (about three tablespoons) of ground flaxseed daily for two months, while a third control group received the low-fat diet only. Supplementation with flaxseed reduced blood lipids: total cholesterol levels fell by 17%, LDL levels dropped by 4%, and triglycerides plummeted by 36%. These improvements in total cholesterol and LDL levels in the flaxseed group were comparable to those seen in the statin group.10

Fighting Cancers

Scientists have estimated that a remarkable 30-40% of all cancers could be prevented through dietary and lifestyle strategies alone. Flaxseed may play an important role in a cancer-preventive diet. “Intake of flaxseed, especially its lignan fraction, and abundant portions of fruits and vegetables will lower cancer risk,” notes one research review.3
Fighting Cancers
The phytoestrogens so richly present in flaxseed—known as lignans— have proven, in numerous studies, to have great value in blocking hormone-dependent cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.3,11
Canadian researchers studied the effects of dietary flaxseed on key markers of tumor activity in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. For approximately one month, patients in one group ate a flax-rich muffin (containing 25 grams flaxseed) daily, while a control group ate an ordinary muffin each day. The flax-eaters showed significantly reduced levels of a marker for tumor-cell growth and increased levels in the orderly process of cancer cell death (called apoptosis).12 The investigators concluded that dietary flaxseed may help reduce tumor growth in breast cancer patients.
Growing evidence suggests that flaxseed may also help avert prostate cancer by boosting blood levels of beneficial enterolactones. After flaxseed is consumed, its lignans are converted in the intestine into enterolactones, which then enter the bloodstream. In a large study that examined blood enterolactone levels in men with prostate cancer versus healthy controls, men with the highest enterolactone levels were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer.13
Further studies are needed to determine if flaxseed may offer protection against other cancers.
Flaxseed Nutritional Facts15
Flaxseed is a rich source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed (7 g) contains the following:
 Daily Value (DV)*
  • Calories 37
  • Calories from fat 25
  • Total fat 3 g
  • Saturated fat 0 g
  • Trans fat 0 g
  • Omega-3 fatty acids 1,597 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids 414 mg
  • 5%
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Sodium 2 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 2 g
  • Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Sugars 0 g
  • Protein 1 g
  • 0%
  • 1%
  • 8%
  • Thiamin 0.1 mg
  • Magnesium 27.4 mg
  • Copper 0.1 mg
  • Manganese 0.2 mg
  • 8%
  • 7%
  • 4%
  • 9%
Daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Easing Symptoms Tied to Menopause

Rich in phytoestrogens, flaxseed may offer welcome relief to women suffering the discomforts of menopause.11
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic demonstrated that flaxseed significantly decreased the occurrence of hot flashes in women who chose not to take estrogen therapy. Women suffering from regular hot flashes consumed 40 grams of flaxseed daily for six weeks. The daily frequency of hot flashes was reduced by a dramatic 50% at the study’s end, from an average of 7.3 hot flashes daily to 3.6 hot flashes per day.14
Nutritional scientists increasingly believe that phytoestrogens may help moderate a variety of other menopausal symptoms ranging from night sweats to moodiness.11 Ongoing research is investigating this promising possibility.
Scientists describe phytoestrogens as plant-derived compounds that exert both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic effects in the body. As such, they may offer relief of symptoms associated with low estrogen levels, without the risks associated with estrogen itself. Flaxseed is rich in the phytoestrogens known as lignans, while soy provides an abundant source of the isoflavone phytoestrogens.11

Flaxseed Fiber Supports Healthy Digestion, Blood Sugar

Flaxseed is a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.5 Soluble fiber forms a gel-like matrix with water that adds bulk to stools and promotes more regular bowel movements.
Nutritional scientists believe that the insoluble fiber found in flaxseed helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream following a meal, preventing spikes in blood glucose levels.5
One ounce of flaxseed contains 32% of the fiber recommended by the US Department of Agriculture.15 If you increase your intake of flax, remember to drink plenty of water as well.

An Adaptable Ingredient

Choose ground flaxseed rather than whole. The whole form simply passes through your digestive tract without surrendering its beneficial components. Alternately, you can grind whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder before consumption. Sprinkle flaxseed on cereal, yogurt, steamed vegetables, and salads. Bake it into meat loafs and muffins, and use it as a healthful coating on oven-baked chicken or fish. For best results, store ground flaxseed in the refrigerator.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Health Advisor at 1-800-226-2370.
1. Available at: Accessed July 9, 2007.
2. Psota TL, Gebauer SK, Kris-Etherton P. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake and cardiovascular risk. Am J Cardiol. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):3i-18i.
3. Donaldson MS. Nutrition and cancer: a review of the evidence for an anti-cancer diet. Nutr J. 2004 Oct 20;3:19.
4. Tham DM, Gardner CD, Haskell WL. Clinical review 97: Potential health benefits of dietary phytoestrogens: a review of the clinical, epidemiological, and mechanistic evidence. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Jul;83(7):2223-35.
5. Dahl WJ, Lockert EA, Cammer AL, Whiting SJ. Effects of flax fiber on laxation and glycemic response in healthy volunteers. J Med Food. 2005;8(4):508-11.
6. Available at: Accessed May 15, 2008.
7. Available at: Accessed May 15, 2008.
8. Available at: Accessed May 15, 2008.
9. Patade A, Devareddy L, Lucas EA, Korlagunta K, Daggy BP, Arjmandi BH. Flaxseed reduces total and LDL cholesterol concentrations in Native American postmenopausal women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 Apr;17(3):355-66.
10. Mandasescu S, Mocanu V, Dascalita AM, et al. Flaxseed supplementation in hyperlipidemic patients. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2005 Jul;109(3):502-6.
11. Stark A, Madar Z. Phytoestrogens: a review of recent findings. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;15(5):561-72.
12. Thompson LU, Chen JM, Li T, Strasser-Weippl K, Goss PE. Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2005 May 15;11(10):3828-35.
13. Hedelin M, Klint A, Chang ET, et al. Dietary phytoestrogen, serum enterolactone and risk of prostate cancer: the cancer prostate Sweden study (Sweden). Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Mar;17(2):169-80.
14. Pruthi S, Thompson SL, Novotny PJ, et al. Pilot evaluation of flaxseed for the management of hot flashes. J Soc Integr Oncol. 2007;5(3):106-12.
15. Available at: Accessed February 15, 2007.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Beyond Sleep: 7 Ways Melatonin Attacks Aging Factors

Reposted from Life Extension

By Claudia Kelley, PHD, RD, CDE
Beyond Sleep: 7 Ways Melatonin Attacks Aging Factors
Melatonin is known for helping some people achieve a better night's sleep, which is how it earned its nickname as "the sleep hormone."
While melatonin is involved in regulating our internal body clock, that's just the beginning of its health-promoting benefits. Based on extensive research, scientists have discovered that this hormone has beneficial effects on everything from heart disease and diabetes, to bone health and obesity. And best of all, emerging science now suggests that it may protect our genetic material and guard against age related disease and decline.1
Preclinical studies found that melatonin increased the life span of animals by up to 20%—prolonging their youthful character in the process.2-4 Scientific evidence now suggests that melatonin plays a crucial role in a variety of metabolic functions,5 including antioxidant and neuroprotection,6,7 anti-inflammatory defense,8 and immune system support.9
Because melatonin production reduces with age,10-14 experts believe that its decline contributes to both the aging process and a generalized deterioration of health.5,15-17 Years ago, scientists could only speculate at the underlying mechanisms behind melatonin's anti-aging properties. A growing body of evidence reveals how melatonin is able to play such a major role in the combating aging process.18-20

#1: Antioxidant Defense—Combat Free Radical Damage While You Sleep

Since its discovery over 50 years ago, melatonin has demonstrated itself as a functionally diverse molecule, with its antioxidant properties being amongst its most well-studied attributes.26,27 Since then, a vast amount of experimental research has revealed its vital role in the body's defense against numerous cell-damaging free radicals—and for good reason.27-30 Melatonin has been found to possess 200% more antioxidant power than vitamin E.31 Melatonin has been found to be superior to glutathione as well as vitamins C and E in reducing oxidative damage.6
As such a potent antioxidant, melatonin plays a powerful role in fighting free-radical-related diseases—from cardiovascular disease to cancer and practically everything in between.
In post-menopausal women, for example, melatonin has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation (damage to your fat cells caused by free radicals), thus leading to decreased levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,31 one of the primary ingredients for the formation of atherosclerosis. A newer study on men confirmed these findings, suggesting that melatonin leads to overall lower levels of oxidative stress in humans.32 In individuals undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, melatonin exhibited a higher reduction in lipid peroxidation and improvements in red blood cell membrane stiffness.33
Other widely feared free radical diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD),34 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS),35 glaucoma,36 and sepsis37 have also been responsive to increased melatonin levels.

#2: Melatonin Fights Back Against America's Major Killer

Melatonin Fights Back Against America's Major Killer
Since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, melatonin's ability to protect against heart damage is especially noteworthy.38 In the past decade, melatonin has received considerable attention investigating its potential as a cardioprotective nutrient. Animal studies have provided ample evidence supporting melatonin's antioxidant protection against heart muscle injury,39,40 reducing the damage done by a heart attack,41,42 and improving the strength of the heart's pumping action following a heart attack.43-46
Other investigators reported that it decreases total cholesterol and LDL levels and increases HDL cholesterol levels.33,34 Scientists have discovered that individuals with metabolic syndrome have a lower melatonin production rate compared to healthier counterparts without metabolic syndrome and that individuals with metabolic disturbances in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar management (all classic features of metabolic syndrome) possess lower melatonin levels than those with normal metabolic function.47 Additional in-vivo studies have confirmed that melatonin can lower blood pressure levels.44-48

#3: Cancer Therapy Adjuvant and Immune Regulator

Emerging research suggests that melatonin has anticarcinogenic properties—that is, it has the ability to prevent cancer from occurring, or to induce the cancer cell death if it does occur. This has been attributed to melatonin's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and hormone-modulating properties.49,50
Melatonin's ability to interfere with cancer cell multiplication and growth ("proliferation"), as well as inducing cancer cell death ("apoptosis"), has been documented in cancer patients.51, 52
It has been successfully used in individuals with advanced stage cancers undergoing conventional anticancer therapy, by either slowing disease progression and/or decreasing treatment side effects.53-60 In a review of 8 randomized, controlled clinical trials evaluating the benefits of melatonin as an adjuvant therapy for cancer patients with solid tumors undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, researchers found that concurrent use of 20 mg of melatonin once daily versus conventional treatment alone, improved the rate of complete or partial remission by nearly 50%, increased the one-year survival rate by 45%, and decreased the devastating side effects of conventional therapy such as low platelet count, neuropathy, and fatigue by 89%, 83%, and 65% respectively.59 What's more, these effects were consistent across different types of cancer and there were no adverse events reported.59
Melatonin's anticarcinogenic properties can also be attributed to its effect on your immune system. Laboratory studies revealed that melatonin can activate T-helper cells, which triggers other immune cells in order to help kill off foreign invaders or pathogens.61,62 Additionally, melatonin stimulates natural killer cell, monocyte, and macrophage synthesis, and has been found to facilitate healthy cell-to-cell communication, which enhances the body's appropriate immune system response to foreign invaders.63,64 Based on available evidence, leading experts suggest that patients with cancers and particularly metastatic solid tumors, might benefit from melatonin use, potentially leading to improved therapeutic outcomes.62-70 Certainly, more research is warranted.

#4: Protect Against Diabetic Complications

Protect Against Diabetic Complications
Diabetes—as with cardiovascular disease and cancer—belongs to the family of "free radical diseases."71 Research has found that people with type 2 diabetes and retinopathy experience alterations of their melatonin secretion.72 Considering the large body of evidence identifying melatonin as a major free-radical scavenger, it is not surprising that preclinical research repeatedly and consistently documents its beneficial antioxidative effects in diabetics and those with high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).73,74
Melatonin has also been shown to protect pancreatic beta-cells and several diabetes-affected organs (including kidney, retina, brain, and vasculature) from free radical damage.75 In studies, melatonin treatment has produced reductions in blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and cholesterol.75
Scientists see great promise for melatonin's potential to improve quality of life by alleviating many of the complications associated with diabetes, such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and cardiovascular disease.49,74,75
What You Need to Know: More Than Sleep; Melatonin's Multiple Benefits
  • Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan and widely distributed in food sources, such as milk, almonds, bananas, beets, cucumbers, mustard, and tomatoes.21-23
  • In humans, melatonin is primarily synthesized by the pineal gland, but it is also produced in the gastrointestinal tract and retina.24,25
  • Melatonin and its metabolites are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, cell communication enhancing, cancer fighting, brown fat-activating, and blood-lipid-lowering effects, thereby protecting tissues from a variety of insults.5-9
  • Melatonin has been shown to support circadian rhythm, hormone balance, reproductive health, cognition, mood, blood sugar regulation, and bone metabolism, while improving overall antioxidant status and lowering blood pressure.1,10-17
  • Melatonin may assist in preventing diabetic complications, and improving treatment outcomes in patients with cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.1,2,7,9,10