All Posts tagged dietary supplements

Papaya Promotes Healing and Aids in Digestion

Papaya is a colorful, pear-shaped fruit. Its skin is yellow, and its flesh varies from pink to bright orange.  Its center is composed of small black seeds.  Ripe, it is sweet and juicy.  Some say its flavor is similar to that of a cantaloupe.  Papaya is rich in many vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants including vitamin C, folate, potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, carotenes, flavonoids, B vitamins, magnesium and pantothenic acid.  Its vitamin concentration in works well to help avert the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol is allowed to oxidize, it adheres to and accumulates in the walls of blood vessels.  Therefore, its supplement may help ward off atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.  In addition, the carotenoids, antioxidants and vitamins in papaya can help keep your eyes healthy.  In fact, they may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related condition resulting in loss of vision.

The vitamins and nutrients in papaya are definitely beneficial, but the primary therapeutic benefit is derived from its enzyme, papain.  Papain is a cysteine protease enzyme that is well known for its various digestive health benefits.  Papaya has been used for its medicinal benefits since the 18th century, but it wasn’t until 1870 when the papain enzyme itself was discovered.  Since that time, extensive research has been performed on its health benefits.

Papaya helps sooth the digestive system

  • As a useful digestive enzyme, papain helps the stomach to break down protein easily in order to facilitate the absorption of nutrients.
  • Its anti-inflammatory effects also helps soothe the stomach when it is upset.
  • It has been shown to be effective in treating ulcers.
  • Papain has been shown to help in regulating irritable bowel syndrome.
  • It helps to facilitate proper digestion and dissolves fats, relieving heartburn.
  • The enzymes also have been effective in relieving various food allergies.

Papaya helps maintain healthy-looking skin

  • Its enzymes help to soften the texture of the skin by dissolving various fats.
  • These enzymes are also helpful in treating swelling and bruising by reducing swelling.
  • Papain is known to help in cleaning the dead cells/tissues in the body, leaving healthy-looking skin.
  • Papain is also effective in curbing swelling that develops after surgery.

Papaya helps alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu.

  • Its enzymes reduce swelling and thin mucous.
  • Studies have revealed that papain helps in alleviate sore throat swelling as well as sinus pain.
  • Various studies have proven that papain is an excellent immunostimulant, which helps in boosting our immune system.

Papaya promotes healing.

  • With its anti-inflammatory effects, it helps reduce the pain and swelling of sprains/strains.
  • It reduces the swelling and speeds up the healing of burns.
  • It helps in the treatment of cold sores.
  • It helps promote wound healing, although this has not been scientifically proven as of yet.

You don’t need to consume papain supplements to gain its benefits; these benefits can be enjoyed by eating the papaya fruit as well.  However, if you do want to take the supplements, they come in the form of tablets as well as powder.  The supplements are generally produced by collecting the latex from the papaya fruit by scoring its neck.  The latex is either allowed to dry on the fruit itself or to drip inside a container suspended from the fruit.  Following this step, it is allowed to dry until it becomes a dry and crude material.  This is followed by a purification step in order to remove all the contaminants from it, and then the purified enzyme is supplied in the form of papain tablets or papain powder.  Like any other nutritional supplements an overdose of papaya enzyme can also lead to papaya enzyme side effects, and hence it’s important to have it in smaller doses. Ideally, one should have a nutritional diet with a small amount of papaya enzymes in it. These enzymes are very effective, and even a little amount of papaya enzymes is enough to keep you healthy and for tackling various disorders.


Vitamins Your Teen Needs To Be Taking

We all know that during adolescence our bodies go through many physical and biochemical changes.  As a result, we have an increased need for certain vitamins.  Here are some vitamins that we need to make sure our teens have adequate amounts of: Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed as tissue synthesis occurs rapidly.

  • As the calorie intake increases, the need for vitamin B1 (thaimin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B3 (niacin) also increases.
  • Vitamin B6 and vitamin D are needed in higher amounts for tissue growth and skeletal growth.
  • The completed structure and function of newly formed cells relies on the presence of vitamins A, C, and E.
  • There is a continued need for calcium, magnesium and zinc so that the bones can increase their density.

Because of the often inadequate diets of teenagers, the following problems have been found in relation to the nutrient intake of teens:

  • Calcium, zinc and iron are often lower than the required amounts.
  • Vitamin A and vitamin C have also been found to be low.
  • The phosphorus intake can be high because of the quantity of soft drinks consumed and this can have an adverse effect on the calcium balance in the body.
  • There can be an over consumption of high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.

It is recommended that in addition to trying to eat a healthy diet that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following: Contents Per Tablet

  • Vitamin A                                    500 – 1,200 IUs
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)              2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)         2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)      2 – 15 mg
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)     10 – 25 mcg
  • Vitamin C                                    25 – 150 mg
  • Vitamin E                                   10 – 50 IUs
  • Biotin                                           20 – 50 mcg
  • Calcium                                      50 – 150 mg
  • Choline                                       5 – 15 mg
  • Bioflavonoids                           5 – 25 mg
  • Folic Acid                                  50 – 100 mcg
  • Beta-carotene                          2 – 5 mg
  • Iodine                                         10 – 25 mcg
  • Chromium                                20 – 30 mcg
  • Iron                                             2 – 3 mg
  • Magnesium                              20 – 60 mg
  • Selenium                                   10 – 25 mcg
  • Zinc                                             2 – 4 mg

Is Wheatgrass a Wonder Plant?

When I was an intern in chiropractic school, a patient of mine would always come in promoting the benefits of wheatgrass.  I must admit, at the time, I couldn’t develop a taste for it.  However, I am now starting to see the benefits of how it can impact your health.   For those of you who don’t know, wheatgrass is actually what its name implies, the grass of the young wheat plant.  However, at this early stage of the plant’s life, it is considered a vegetable rather than a grain and is safe for gluten-sensitive individuals.  Wheatgrass  can be eaten as fresh produce, juiced, or taken as a powder or tablet supplement, and consuming it is an exceptional way to increase dark green leafy vegetables in the diet.

Before we look at the health benefits of wheatgrass, let’s look at some of its nutritional benefits.  It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and enzymes.  It contains more than 90 minerals, including high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium, and it has more vitamin C than oranges and twice the vitamin A as carrots.  Wheatgrass also contains 19 amino acids, the building blocks of protein, including arginine, serine, absenisic, lysine, aspartic acid, glycine, alanine, methionine, leucine, tryptophane, phenylalanine, and valine.  In addition, it contains many essential enzymes including:  protease (which assists in protein digestion), cytochrome oxidase (which is a powerful anti oxidant), amylase (which facilitates digestion), lipase (which is a fat splitting enzyme), and superoxide dismutase or SOD (which is found in all body cells and is known for its ability to lessen the effect of radiation and slow cellular aging).  To compare wheatgrass to the nutritional value of other vegetables, 30 ml of freshly squeezed juice is equivalent to 1 kg of leafy green vegetables.  Just one teaspoon of wheatgrass powder, weighing 3.5 grams, is nutritionally equal to an entire spinach salad weighing 50 grams.

With all of those nutrients, the health benefits of wheatgrass are too numerous for this post, but here are some of the main ones:

  1. It helps your body to build red blood cells which increases the blood’s oxygen-carrying ability.
  2. It lowers blood pressure by dilating the blood pathways throughout the body.
  3.  Wheatgrass stimulates the thyroid gland, helping with obesity, indigestion, and a host of other complaints.
  4. It restores alkalinity to the blood.  Its abundance of alkaline minerals helps reduce over-acidity.
  5. It is a great source of vitamins B, C, E and carotene which are hugely effective in destroying and eliminating free radicals and cleansing the body.
  6. Because it is also high in saponin, wheatgrass offers excellent support to the lymphatic system, helping to carry away hundreds and thousands of toxins from the cells of the body.
  7. It has been used to treat digestive complaints such as peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, constipation, and diarrhea.
  8. It is a powerful detoxifier of our liver and blood.  The enzymes and amino acids in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens.  It strengthens our cells, detoxifies the liver and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants.
  9. Similarly, wheatgrass fights tumors and neutralizes toxins.  Recent studies show that the juice has a powerful ability to fight tumors without the usual toxicity of drugs that also inhibit cell-destroying agents. The many active compounds found in grass juice cleanse the blood and neutralize and digest toxins in our cells.
  10. Externally applied to the skin can help eliminate itching almost immediately.
  11. When rubbed into the scalp before a shampoo, wheatgrass will help mend damaged hair and alleviate itchy scalp conditions.
  12. It is soothing and healing for cuts, burns, scrapes, rashes, poison ivy, athlete’s foot, insect bites, boils, sores, open ulcers, and sunburns.  Use it as a poultice and replace every 2-4 hours.
  13. Wheatgrass powders and juices are an extremely effective way of boosting the body’s immune system to fight against and recover from illnesses and ailments.
  14.  One enzyme found in wheatgrass, SOD, lessens the effects of radiation and acts as an anti-inflammatory compound that may prevent cellular damage following heart attacks or exposure to irritants.

With all of these benefits, you may want to add wheatgrass to your diet.


Nutritional Supplements for Osteoarthritis

There are a number of nutritional supplements that have been proven to help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis.  If you suffer from osteoarthritis, I hope these supplements may give you some relief.

Vitamin C supplementation can help counter the wearing away of cartilage.  Vitamin C is used throughout the body to manufacture a variety of tissues, including collagen.  Collagen forms a network of protein fibers that lay down the structural foundation for many tissues, including cartilage, bone, tendons and muscles, all necessary to keep joints strong and operating smoothly.  One study by the University of New York at Stony Brook found that vitamin C encourages the growth of cartilage cells by stimulating synthesis of these cells’ genetic material.  The recommended dosage is 3,000-10,000mg daily in divided doses.  High doses of vitamin C can lead to diarrhea so gradually start taking it until you see how sensitive you are to it.

Vitamin E supplementation can provide some pain relief.  Vitamin E fights inflammation by neutralizing the biochemicals that are produced during inflammation.  These biochemicals, which are released by immune cells, contain free radicals that can damage your cells.  Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant which protects the cells from the free radicals.  In a study by Israeli researchers, people with osteoarthritis who took 600 IU of vitamin E per day for 10 days had significant reduction in pain compared to those not taking vitamin E.  The recommended dosage is 400-600 IU/day.  You can also supplement with selenium, a mineral that increases the effectiveness of vitamin E in an amount of about 200 micrograms a day.

Vitamin B12 can help build up bones.  A few years ago researchers at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles discovered that B12 stimulates cells in the bone that generate new bone.  This could be important to people with osteoarthritis because underneath the degenerating cartilage, the bone also deteriorates, causing additional pain and further cartilage erosion.  This led researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia to try giving B12 to people with osteoarthritis in their hands.  They found that people who took 20 micrograms of B12 and 6,400 micrograms of folic acid (another B vitamin that works in concert with B12) for two months had fewer tender joints and better hand strength and took less medicine for pain that people not getting this B vitamin combo.

Niacinamide can also help osteoarthritis.  Niacinamide is a form of niacin, one of the B-complex vitamins.  Niacinamide is often recommended as an alternative to n iacin because it produces fewer side effects.  Some nutrition-oriented doctors have been recommending nicinamide for osteoarthritis since the 1940s, when it was found to be helpful in relieving swelling and joint pain and improving muscle strength.   Improvement is usually noticeable after the first few weeks and becomes even more pronounced with continued treatment.  Very severely damaged arthritis joints respond slowly or don’t respond at all.  If you decide to try niacinamide for osteoarthritis, make sure you do so under medical supervision.  Treatment requires dosages of 500 mg twice a day to 1,000 mg three times a day.  Any dosage of 1,500 mg/day or more has the potential to cause liver problems.  Blood tests for liver enzymes should be performed after three months of treatment and then annually thereafter to make sure there is no liver damage.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate have both been proven to help with osteoarthritis.  These supplements give your body the nutrients it needs to build cartilage.  You can see the research behind these supplements in a previous post I wrote on Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate.  A few warnings about these supplements:  glucosamine sulfate can raise blood sugar in diabetics.  Chondroitin sulfate can cause bleeding in those taking blood thinners.  Also glucosamine sulfate should not be taken if you are allergic to shellfish because it is derived from the shells of shellfish.


Supplements: How Do You Choose Which Brand to Take

There are hundreds of thousands of vitamin supplements available on today’s market.  You can buy them at health food stores, drug stores, grocery stories, various retailers, through health care professionals, and on the internet.  When choosing a supplement, how do you determine which one to buy?  Do you look at the package details, the manufacturer, the ingredients, and the label claims?  But how do you really know for sure you are getting the best supplement for you?

It can be very confusing to determine which supplement to buy.  Understanding the label will help you know if you are taking a quality supplement.  Look at the ingredients listed on the label.  Do you recognize any of them?  Just like any other food label, the nutrients are listed in a particular order and some manufacturers put the source next to the nutrient.  In a quality, wholesome product you will recognize and be able to pronounce most of the ingredients on the label.

I personally recommend whole food supplements.  Whole food supplements are made by concentrating foods.  When concentrated correctly, the foods supply a multitude of nutrients.  These nutrients work together to provide you with optimal nutrition for good health.  Only whole food ingredients can provide you with all the nutrients contained within the food.  For example, I looked at a supplement a patient brought in the other day and one of its ingredients is dl-alpha tocopherol acetate.  That is a manmade component of the vitamin E complex.  If you were to take a supplement with just dl-alpha tocopherol, you would be missing at least 5 other important nutrients as well as hundreds of other nutrients that occur within the whole vitamin E complex.  These nutrients are only available by consuming a natural, whole food form of vitamin E, such as wheat germ oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts and carrots.

Just like any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product.  Therefore, it’s good to answer all of the following questions when evaluating a supplement and its effectiveness.

  • Where do the ingredients come from?  Manufacturers who grow many of their ingredients have the unique ability to control the quality of the ingredient from seed to supplement.
  • When are ingredients processed?  When you buy a tomato, you inspect it for quality.  You wouldn’t knowingly buy one that was mushy or bruised.  This same principle holds true for the ingredients in your supplements.  Once they are ready for harvest and are harvested, the ingredients begin to lose their value.  If there is a delay of hours, days, or months from when an ingredient is harvested to when it’s processed, many of its very delicate phytonutrients are lost.
  • Are the ingredient’s vital factors retained?  Each ingredient has its own set of rules in relation to how to best package its vital components.  The manufacturing process needs to retain the vital nutrients within the ingredients.  Too much heat will destroy enzymes and phytonutrients.  The manufacturer should use a low-temperature high-vacuum process to make sure that the ingredient’s nutrients are preserved.

Now you may be saying, how am I supposed to answer these questions about the supplement I’m taking?  You may not be able to.  However, if you’re taking a certain brand of supplements and only that brand, you may want to do a little research into that company.  For example, I utilize the Standard Process supplements a lot, and if I go to their website I’m able to get these questions answered.  A good supplement company should be willing to disclose information about how it manufactures their vitamins.  Another thing that I like about Standard Process is the company is partnered with MediHerb, an Australian-based company.  You may or may not know that in the United States the FDA does not regulate vitamins or supplements.  I know this is a political issue right now for some, but one thing that FDA regulation does do is it ensures that what the manufacturer says is in that supplement is in the supplement.  Well, in Australia, their supplements are regulated by their version of the FDA.  Therefore, you know that what the label says is correct.

The main thing you need to remember when purchasing a supplement is you want one that’s from a reputable company with the least amount of man-made products.