July 28th, 2015

Another Cardiovascular Effect of CoQ10 Discovered

Introduction

One of the most important nutrients for heart and vascular health is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Its role in the heart is similar to the role of a spark plug in a car engine. Just as the car cannot function without that initial spark, the heart cannot function without CoQ10. Although the body can make CoQ10, considerable research shows significant benefits with supplementation in various health issues, especially those affecting the heart as well as diabetes. It is also critical that people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g., statins like Lipitor and Crestor) take supplemental CoQ10.

Results from a new double-blind study show another interesting effect on vascular health that highlights the importance of CoQ10 in protecting against cardiovascular disease, especially in people with type 2 diabetes.

Background Data:

In order to appreciate the new way CoQ10 improves cardiovascular health, it requires a brief anatomy lesson. All blood vessels have a lining of cells along the interior surface. The lining is referred to as the endothelium and the cells that form this lining are called endothelial cells. These cells are responsible for:

  • Barrier function – the endothelium acts as a semi-selective barrier controlling the passage of materials into and out of the bloodstream.
  • Inflammation – the endothelium helps to control inflammation in order to protect the deeper layers of blood vessels.
  • Blood clotting (thrombosis & fibrinolysis). The surface of the endothelium normally possesses factors that prevent the formation of blood clots. When it lacks these protective factors, it can lead to the formation of blood clots that could lead to the build up of plaque or the formation of a large clot that may break off and cause a heart attack or stroke.
  • The constriction and dilation of blood vessels. The endothelium plays a key role in controlling blood flow and blood pressure.
  • In some organs, there are highly differentiated endothelial cells to perform specialized ‘filtering’ functions. Examples of such unique endothelial structures include those found in the kidneys (the renal glomerulus) and those that protect the brain (the blood–brain barrier).

The loss of proper endothelial function is a hallmark for vascular diseases, and is often regarded as a key early event in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Impaired endothelial function is often seen in patients with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, as well as in smokers.

The main causes of endothelial dysfunction are high blood sugar levels and damaged caused by free radicals and pro-oxidants. One of the key consequences of this damage is a diminished ability to manufacture nitric oxide, a key chemical messenger used by the endothelial cells used to perform its duties. Nitric oxide is especially important in regulating proper blood vessel tone and blood flow.

New Data:

Numerous studies have shown supplementation with CoQ10 improves endothelial function, especially in patients with type 2 diabetes. Researchers at Tehran University of Medical Sciences designed a study to further evaluate the effects of CoQ10 on endothelial function in 64 patients with type 2 diabetic patients who were randomly assigned to take either 200 mg per day of CoQ10 or a placebo 12 weeks. Clinical and biochemical assessments were performed before and after the trial. The primary markers for evaluating endothelial function were measurements for as asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) and nitric oxide levels. Clinical measurements also included hemoglobin A1c and a lipid profile.

ADMA is gaining a lot of attention as an indicator of endothelial function and a risk factor in cardiovascular disease. If ADMA increases in vascular endothelial cells it inhibits the activity of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase resulting in lower production of nitric oxide. Lower levels of nitric oxide makes the blood vessels more rigid as well as promotes inflammation and clot formation. Obviously, lower levels of nitric oxide would increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Results after 12 weeks of supplementation showed significant improvement in ADMA, nitric oxide, low-density lipoprotein and hemoglobin A1c levels in the CoQ10 treated group compared to the placebo group. These results highlight the importance of CoQ10 supplementation in people with type 2 diabetes.

Commentary:

CoQ10 supplementation is very important in patients with type 2 diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes represents a very serious metabolic disorder that requires serious nutritional support. Taking CoQ10 alone is not the complete answer. Diabetes requires an overall comprehensive strategy that utilizes diet, lifestyle, and other nutritional products (especially PGX) helpful in blood sugar control. For example, alpha-lipoic acid. This vitamin-like substance works very closely with CoQ10 in cellular metabolism. In double-blind studies at dosage of 400 to 600 mg daily, alpha lipoic acid has been shown to improve blood sugar control, increase blood flow to peripheral nerves, and actually stimulate the regeneration of nerve fibers. In addition, alpha-lipoic acid has also been shown to lower ADMA levels.

Reference:

Hosseinzadeh-Attar M, Kolahdouz Mohammadi R, Eshraghian M, et al. Reduction in Asymmetric dimethylarginine plasma levels by Coenzyme Q10 supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Minerva Endocrinol. 2015 Jul 3.

Dr. Michael Murray
7/28/2015

July 21st, 2015

New Study Adds to the Evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease is “Diabetes of the Brain”

Alzheimer’s DiseaseIntroduction:

The parallel epidemics of Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes share many common features. Chief among them are insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. In fact, some researchers have referred to Alzheimer’s disease as diabetes of the brain and even “type 3 diabetes.” A new study from researchers affiliated with Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston provides additional evidence on the link between blood sugar control, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Background Data:

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a degenerative brain disorder associated with progressive deterioration of memory and cognition. In the United States, Alzheimer prevalence is now estimated to affect about 20% of individuals in the 75–84 years group and 42% people older than 84 years old. These numbers are striking when compared to data from the 1960s indicating an incidence of only 2% in people over the age of 85 years. The tremendous increase in AD in people over 85 years of age is often referred to as the “Alzheimer’s epidemic.”

The primary brain lesions of AD are the result of deposits of a substance known as beta-amyloid. Although the immune cells in the brain normally remove beta-amyloid and plaque, research is beginning to characterize a chronic and excessive inflammatory reaction to amyloid proteins in the brain in susceptible individuals that can promote AD.

The tremendous increase in AD parallels the rise in type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance suggesting a possible connection. It is well established that type 2 diabetics have a 1.5 to 4-fold risk for AD, as well as dementia caused by damage to the blood vessels of the brain. Insulin resistance in the brain is associated with poor uptake of glucose by brain cells and localized inflammation that leads to beta-amyloid formation. Hence measures to improve blood sugar control and improve insulin sensitivity appear to be important steps in the prevention of AD.

New Data:

The study subjects were 65 people with an average of 66 years. Of these subjects, 35 had type 2 diabetes (T2D). All subjects were tested at the start of the study and then two years later with a MRI scan to measure blood flow, various blood tests including C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation) and several tests of cognitive ability.

At the end of two years, people with diabetes had greater declines in gray matter volume, composite scores on mental tests, and in rates of blood flow to the brain than those in the control group. They also had greater increases in blood measures of inflammation. Among the group with diabetes, those with more severe declines in brain blood flow had correspondingly greater declines on tests of mental skills.

These results indicate that inflammation due to insulin resistance leads to changes in blood flow and blood vessel flexibility that consequently accelerates the decline in mental function and daily activities performance in older people with T2D.

Commentary

The take away message of this article once again highlights the importance of eating to control blood sugar levels. Preventing insulin resistance is clearly a primary goal for a longer and healthier life. In addition, dietary strategies to further reduce chronic inflammation and the formation of beta-amyloid are also critical. Key dietary practices are to focus on vegetables, fish, and mono-unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, etc.); liberal use of spices and herbs; avoid high glycemic load foods and unhealthy fats; and achieve ideal body weight.

As far as dietary supplements, in addition to taking a high potency multiple, sufficient vitamin D3, and 1,000 mg of EPA+DHA each day, I would recommend taking a special form of curcumin (the yellow pigment of turmeric). There is considerable experimental evidence that curcumin protects against age-related brain damage and in particular, AD. Researchers began exploring this effect after noting that elderly (aged 70-79) residents of rural India who eat large amounts of turmeric have been shown to have the lowest incidence of AD in the world: 4.4 times lower than that of Americans. In test tube and animal studies curcumin has been shown to inhibit beta-amyloid as well as other effects beneficial in AD. Unfortunately, the two clinical trials conducted to date failed to show any benefit. However, the failure to produce positive results may have been due to the poor absorption profile of the curcumin used in the trials. There now exist several products on the marketplace that enhance the absorption of curcumin. Of these, Theracurmin shows the greatest absorption. Currently there is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study underway with Theracurmin in AD being conducted at UCLA.

Reference:

Chung CC, Pimentel D, Jor’dan AJ, et al. Inflammation-associated declines in cerebral vasoreactivity and cognition in type 2 diabetes. Neurology. 2015 Jul 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Dr. Michael Murray
7/21/15

July 17th, 2015

Immunity All-Stars

These five antiviral herbs and nutrients are safe enough to take every day—and strong enough to prevent colds and flu

While there really isn’t any single magic bullet that can immediately restore immune function, there are certain nutrients that offer a powerful protective measure against colds and flu. The following are among my favorites for bolstering the body’s defenses against viral invaders.

Dried-Astragalus-root1. Chinese Astragalus Root

This traditional Chinese herb has been used for years to treat infections. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective in preventing colds. It has also been shown to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold, as well as to raise white blood cell (WBC) counts in people with chronic low levels of WBCs.

Dosage: Astragalus is available as a dried root, tincture, liquid extract, and powdered extract. In general, you want 1–2 grams three times daily of the dried root, or 2–4 mL three times per day of a tincture. A typical capsule dosage is 100–150 mg three times daily.

2. Wellmune WGP

This proprietary extract from baker’s yeast is rich in immune-supportive beta-glucans. Wellmune WGP has been heavily researched and shown to reduce the signs, symptoms, frequency, and duration of upper respiratory infections. In a study of marathon runners (who experience increased infections after super-long runs), Wellmune WGP significantly reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract
infection (sore throat, stuffy nose, etc.) in test subjects.

Dosage: Take 250–500 mg per day.

3. Selenium & Zinc

The mineral selenium affects all components of the immune system, including the development and expression of white blood cells. Selenium deficiency has been shown to inhibit resistance to infection as a result of impaired white blood cell and thymus function, while selenium supplementation (200 mcg daily) has been shown to stimulate white blood cell and thymus function.
Zinc is another mineral that plays a vital role in many immune system reactions. In particular, it inhibits the growth of several viruses, including common cold viruses and the herpes simplex virus. Throat lozenges containing zinc have become popular in the treatment of colds for good reason—they work. But regular zinc supplements are effective too.

Dosage: Take 200 mcg of selenium daily; use 20–30 mg of zinc at the onset of illness.

4. Vitamin D

This key vitamin has been shown to produce a wide range of immune-enhancing effects, including protecting against the development of autoimmune diseases (e.g., Crohn’s and multiple sclerosis) and reducing the frequency of viral upper respiratory infections. The sunshine vitamin appears to be especially important in protection against viral or bacterial upper respiratory infections.

Dosage: Take 2,000–4,000 IU per day (It’s ideal to measure your blood levels of vitamin D and then adjust your dosage accordingly.)

5. Vitamins A & C

Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining the integrity of the skin and linings of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts,. Vitamin A has been shown to stimulate and/or enhance numerous immune processes. Also, vitamin A deficiency may predispose an individual to an infection, and during the course of an infection, vitamin A stores typically plummet.

Vitamin C has demonstrated many immune-stimulating effects, and numerous studies support the use of vitamin C in treating infectious conditions and possibly even cancer at very high intravenous dosages. Vitamin C levels are quickly depleted during the stress of an infection, as well as in chronic disease. It is useful to take vitamin C with flavonoids, which raise the concentration of vitamin C in some tissues and potentiate its effects.

Dosage: Take either 2,500 IU of vitamin A or 25,000 IU of beta-carotene daily; for vitamin C, try 500 mg every two hours at the first sign of illness.

Is Your Immune System Tough Enough?

Recurrent or chronic infections, even very mild colds, happen only when the immune system is weakened. If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you likely need to enhance your immune system with the help of diet, supplements, and lifestyle changes. In addition to the nutrients mentioned here, see “31 Day Immune Challenge.”

  • Do you catch colds and flu easily?
  • Do you get colds or flu more than three times a year?
  • Are you suffering from chronic infection?
  • Do you get frequent cold sores or fungal nail infections, or do you have genital herpes?
  • Are your lymph glands sore and swollen at times?
  • Do you have now or have you ever had cancer?