Sunteți pe pagina 1din 8

Antioxidants. Studies on supplements for allergies, in contrast to dietary examples are scarce.

Nevertheless, two Italian studies provide useful evidence. In 1990, compared with placebo, a single dose of 2g of vitamin C was shown to improve lung capacity after one hour in sixteeen hayfever sufferers4. A larger study on 96 subjects with eczema reported reduced symptoms in those taking vitamin E (natural source, 400iu per day) compared to placebo. Furthermore, there was a near-complete remission in some subjects taking vitamin E, compared with none on placebo5. 4 Bucca C et al. (1990). Ann Allergy 65, 311. 5 Tsoureli-Nikita E et al. (2002). Int J Dermatol 41, 146. _____________________________________________________________ Alleviating allergies Diet. A diet rich in antioxidants and high in omega 3 essential fatty acids is generally anti-inflammatory and there are a lot of good theoretical reasons for this. Three studies reported in 2003 indicate that this strategy is also helpful for people suffering from allergies. The first study was by Italian researchers1, in which parents of 4,104 children aged six to seven with asthma and allergies completed a questionnaire. Results showed that, compared with children on low intakes, high intakes of fruit and vegetables, especially citrus fruit, reduced wheezing, while consumption of margarine increased it. The second2 was a fouryear study of 2,531 children by Norwegian researchers. They found that those who ate fish before their first birthday had less hayfever and asthma. The third was undertaken in Germany when 344 adult hayfever sufferers were compared with healthy people3. It was found that a high intake of food rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin C reduced the risk of hayfever. Hence, if you have an allergy, it is especially important that you eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day to keep up your antioxidant level. To improve your fatty acid balance, cut down on sunflower and other seed oils and replace them with olive oil and olive oil products. This reduces your intake of omega 6 fatty acids, which are too high in modern diets. Next, increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids by eating oily fish and/or taking a fish oil supplement. Several articles, including one written by myself, have appeared in previous Healthspan magazines to explain the hows and whys of achieving a proper fatty acid balance. ____________________________________________________________ The incidence of allergic conditions is increasing rapidly: according to a recent estimate, up to 20 per cent of children in the West have asthma, while between 15 and 23 per cent get hayfever and 15 to 19 per cent suffer from eczema. Overall, about 7% of the population suffer from hayfever, a seasonal allergic condition that can cause sore eyes, sneezing and a runny nose.

In the past, hayfever was thought to be separate from eczema and asthma. However, recently, the overlap between these conditions (collectively called atopic disease) has become evident. In fact, most people who suffer from asthma are prone to hayfever. And hayfever can exacerbate symptoms of eczema and asthma

4. An antioxidant supplement Advances in science have also uncovered important information about cell ageing. Free radicals are harmful molecules that cause cell damage and ageing, and are continuously produced in the body. Thats why we should all aim for a good intake of antioxidants (e.g. selenium, vitamins A, C and E, green tea, lycopene and pycnogenol) Antioxidants are protective substances that help to quench free radicals, limiting cell damage and helping to stop us going rusty inside! They have been associated with reducing the risk of some of the diseases of old age like cancer and heart disease. We know that antioxidants are team players - they work best in combination - thats why we developed our Selenium + Vitamin A,C and E formula.

A winning combination! As unique individuals with vastly different lifestyles, we all have very different nutritional needs. In an ideal world, wed all have access to a personal nutritionist who would tell us exactly what we should eat, drink and which supplements would be beneficial to our health. In the absence of that luxury, heres a no-nonsense guide to the top six nutritional supplements from our comprehensive range that we think everyone should consider as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Tired all the time? By: Dr Ann Walker Persistent fatigue which is not alleviated by sleep is a characteristic of many chronic conditions. Debilitating fatigue can also occur without an obvious illness and, after six months, is classified as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Milder forms have been dubbed TATT (tired all the time).

Fatigue can often be traced back to a viral infection, but this may not be the only culprit. It usually results from a combination of several factors, such as poor diet, overwork, a viral or bacterial infection, bereavement, stress, physical exhaustion, exposure to toxins etc. Its does not respond readily to modern drugs, so many sufferers turn towards alternative and complementary medicine in their quest for a solution. In this article, I discuss the nutritional and herbal approaches which I have used with fatigued patients with considerable success, provided that a moderate lifestyle, in terms of paced exercise and adequate rest, is also adopted. Symptoms of fatigue Fatigue can manifest as a puzzling array of seemingly unconnected symptoms, spread throughout the bodys systems. At its worse, sufferers may feel joint or muscle pain or tingling sensations in the legs and muscle weakness. The most obvious signs in the nervous system can be poor concentration and memory, but intolerance to bright lights and loud music is also common, as is low mood. Dizziness and headaches can be experienced and these symptoms may or may not be associated with nausea. Many sufferers also complain of a sore throat or tender, raised glands, particularly when tired and continual catarrh is commonly experienced. Research indicates that fatigue which is not alleviated by rest is associated with subtle alterations in the immune system1 and these may be features central to the condition. Boosting recovery The immune system is a complex, delicate system, whose proper functioning can be undermined by a lack of any nutrient. We know from studies on people of all ages that even relatively mild deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid and vitamins A, C, E and B6 can cause reduced immune function.2 Indeed, the few studies which have been undertaken on fatigued subjects have concentrated on individual nutrient supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium.3/4 However, from clinical experience, I am certain that the best nutritional approach to effect recovery from fatigue is to tackle it on all fronts. A mistake often made by sufferers is to use one supplement after another, when, in fact, they would be far more effective if used together. The treatment strategy which has worked with my patients is to close all possible avenues where diet or lifestyle may be inadequate by using a multi-dimensional approach. This means making an effort to ensure an above-average nutrientintake by eating a healthy diet coupled with taking a range of good-quality supplements. In addition, I prescribe herbal medicine with immune-stimulating properties. Nutrition It is especially important for people with fatigue to choose a healthy diet. However, even when eating in this way, a person with fatigue may not reach

daily nutrient-intake targets because of poor absorption and poor appetite due to lack of exercise. Hence, nutrient supplementation is an important, essential strategy to augment a healthy diet. A supplement programme for fatigue should start with a basic multi. This will provide most of the vitamins and minerals needed by the body at essential requirement levels. However, it will not contain enough calcium and magnesium, because these are required in much higher quantities than will fit into a single multi. Extra calcium will be required if fewer than three portions of dairy products are eaten per day. More magnesium is required if the intake of wholegrains, nuts, beans and seeds is low. (In fact, magnesium deficiency is very common in fatigue.) It is best to take these two minerals together in a good bone formula in the ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium A group of symptoms often accompanying fatigue is related to inflammation. This shows up as catarrh, skin rash, dry skin or eadaches. There are two approaches to reduce inflammation: increasing intake of (a) antioxidants and (b) omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Therefore, extra vitamin C is likely to be useful. For optimal nutrition, take at least 500mg daily as a supplement which, again, is much higher than will go into a single multi tablet. I have written about the importance of getting the right balance of essential fatty acids in a previous Healthspan magazine.5 For fatigue sufferers, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties, it is the direct benefit that omega-3 fatty acids have on boosting normal immune function that is particularly important. Herbs For those with CFS, herbal medicine seems to have a very special role in normalising the immune system, which cannot be effected by essential nutrients alone. In fact, the more severe and persistent the fatigue, the more important it seems to be to augment the nutritional approach above with immune-supportive herbs. Since herbal treatments for CFS have to be individually prescribed, a visit to a professional is necessary. Contact the College of Practitioners (01424 776780) or the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (01392 426022) to find a registered herbal practitioner in your area. Herbal prescriptions normally include those with outspoken traditional use for supporting the immune and nervous systems. St Johns Wort is particularly useful, since it appears to act in both domains. Echinacea, which can be used to help overcome exposure to viruses and to reduce the number of relapses, does not raise vitality in the same way. Other vitality-raising herbs for immune support include astragalus, ashwaganda, siberian ginseng, sarsaparilla and liquorice and useful nerve tonics include vervain and scullcap. Conclusion If you suffer from a mild form of persistent fatigue like TATT, then there is a lot that you can do for yourself to ensure that you have an adequate intake of all

nutrients. A good diet and a supplement regime can go a long way towards recovery. Although people with TATT can respond quite quickly, CFS takes much longer. If this is the problem, I would strongly recommend that professional advice is sought, as the condition varies so widely. But you must be patient: remember that it takes at least three months for nutrients to get fully into the bodys cells and longer than that for immune-system repair. The approach I have discussed in this article is not instant, like the wave of a magic wand, but it offers a steady route to renewed vitality. 1Rasmussen AK et al. 1994, J Rheumatol 21 1527. 2Chandra RK 2002 Eur J Clin Nutr 56 Suppl 3, S73. 3Behan PO et al. 1990, Acta Neurol Scand 82, 209. 4Cox IM et al.1991 Lancet 337, 757. 5Healthspan Magazine, March 2003.

Whats the evidence for antioxidants? By: Dr Patricia Macnair The price that we pay for life is that our bodies slowly die. This isnt some deep philosophical reflection but a simple biological fact - the very processes that keep us alive also generate toxic chemicals that can damage and eventually destroy the bodys cells. One of the most important of these processes is a chemical reaction involving oxygen called oxidation. This is common throughout nature, causing iron to rust, for example, or butter to go rancid. In humans, oxidation is an essential part of normal metabolism, where by nutrients are broken down to be used by the body for energy, growth and repair. But oxidation also leads to degeneration and ageing. During oxidation, positively and negatively charged particles are formed, known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or more commonly free radicals. Within the cells, free radicals break down other chemicals such as fats and proteins, causing destruction that may contribute to problems such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, cataracts and chronic inflammatory diseases. Antioxidants may prevent oxidative damage All this damage doesnt go unchecked. Many chemicals have an antioxidant effect, preventing oxidation or mopping up free radicals. But although the body produces its own supply of antioxidants, levels drop as we age. In addition, environmental factors such as pollutant chemicals cause oxidation, so speeding ageing and increasing the risk of disease. Fortunately many foods contain antioxidants and it is easy to take in more simply by improving our diet. However, many studies of antioxidants have found that high doses may be needed for the best effect and antioxidant

supplements may provide better protection. ACE vitamins are antioxidants Perhaps the best known antioxidants are vitamins and minerals, in particular vitamin A, C, and E. A group of chemicals called carotenoids are especially important. These include provitamin A (or B-carotene) and are found in red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruit (for example, carrots, peppers, mangos and apricots). Lycopene, found in high levels in tomatoes, watermelon and apricots, is another example. The flavonoids are another important group of antioxidants. Red wine is packed with flavonoids and research has pinpointed these to explain lower rates of heart disease in countries such as France, where red wine intake is higher. Tea contains a type of flavonoid called catechins. Scientists at the University of Kansas, USA, have shown that these are dozens of times more powerful than vitamin E or C. In particular flavonoids may stop oxidative damage to the genetic material or DNA, so protecting the cells against genetic mutations which can trigger cancer. Green tea contains the most catechins, but black tea also has antioxidant effects. Recent research has shown that antioxidants work together to prevent free radical damage. For example, after vitamin E has neutralised a free radical, it becomes a weak free radical itself. Vitamin C then works on this spent form of vitamin E to recycle it back to normal. Similarly vitamin C must then be recycled by a chemical called glutathione. Antioxidants also need a little help from other micro-nutrients in order to workproperly; these include selenium, copper, magnesium, zinc and manganese. An answer to ageing? Its possible that certain antioxidants may provide better protection than others against particular diseases. But research is still at an early stage and the exact picture isnt clear. However, there is growing evidence that, in general, antioxidants can hold back the ravages of time. For example, antioxidants may be the first-ever treatment to have some effect against a common eye disease called age-related macular degeneration or AMD. Researchers have found that a high-dose combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and zinc slows progression of the condition by about 25% among those people at high risk of advanced AMD. Meanwhile, another carotenoid antioxidant called lutein helps to protect the retina from toxic compounds which are activated by incoming blue light. Not only does lutein help to prevent AMD but it may also hold back ageing of the lens and prevent the formation of cataracts. Research at the University of California at Berkeley has led to claims for a less well-known antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid. More potent than 6

vitamins C and E, alpha-lipoic acid is the only antioxidant that can easily move from the blood stream into the brain and so may be useful in preventing damage from a stroke. Another antioxidant that may help keep the brain young is acetyl-L-carnitine. Studies show that acetyl-L-carnitine can delay the onset of age-related cognitive decline (ARCD), a common condition which may be an early form of dementia. People with ARCD experience deterioration in memory learning and other mental functions. When acetyl-Lcarnitine was given to people with mild ARCD it led to significant improvements, especially in memory, mood and responses to stress. An antioxidant called co-enzyme Q10 also looks promising and may slow the progression of diseases such as early-stage Parkinsons or Huntingdons. Scientists believe co-enzyme Q10 works by improving the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses that produce energy in cells and protecting vulnerable areas of the brain. Antioxidants and heart disease Antioxidants are being extensively studied in heart disease. Oxidation of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL) leads to the build-up of fatty deposits inside arteries called atherosclerosis. Once atherosclerosis has developed, a heart attack will occur if a clot forms in the narrowed artery - a process which also involves oxidation. People with a high intake of vitamin E have been shown to have a lower risk of coronary artery disease and it may slow the development of atherosclerosis. Vitamin C has also been linked to lower rates of coronary artery disease, while researchers are now looking at whether vitamin A might reduce the risk of heart attack. Keeping cancer at bay? Early laboratory studies made researchers optimistic that antioxidants could slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer. But tests among real people have so far shown inconsistent results. One large trial (The Chinese Cancer Prevention Study) has shown that a combination of beta-carotene, vitamin E and selenium may significantly reduce the risk of both gastric and other cancer. Another Chinese study found men who drank green tea could halve their risk of stomach or oesophageal cancer. The antioxidant lycopene is thought to explain why prostate cancer is relatively rare in southern Mediterranean countries. A study at Harvard Medical School found that foods rich in lycopene, such as tomato sauce, could be linked to lower levels of prostate cancer. But many other studies have failed to find any effect and some have suggested that antioxidants might even increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Researchers from the University of California have pointed out that 7

the situation is very complex and that in some cases, such as when the body is under stress, antioxidants may lose their effect and start to promote oxidation. Around the world large trials of antioxidants are currently under way. These should help to improve our understanding about how this important group of compounds works. Is it, for example, really the antioxidant action that is preventing disease, or do they act in other ways? The future looks very promising but for now the jury is still out.