Alpha Lipoic Acid
By M. Lorenz, MS
Recently the antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) has fallen out of the limelight to make room for newer, more exotic sounding products which the media has been giving a lot of attention to. However Alpha Lipoic Acid's benefits may help people affected by some of the major issues of today, prompting us to say maybe it's time to take another look at this important nutrient.
Although ALA can be obtained through diet, there is strong evidence that the amounts needed for it to work as an antioxidant can only be reached through supplementation. Alpha Lipoic Acid is a unique antioxidant in that it is both water and fat soluble, allowing it to work throughout the body. As ALA is able to pass through cells, its antioxidant effects help protect areas in the body that other antioxidants cannot, like the brain.
Its ability to move throughout the body also benefits the nerves. Research has mostly concentrated on neuropathy, more particularly from diabetes, with good results being reported.
Another benefit of ALA which may assist diabetics or pre-diabetics is its ability to help the body utilize glucose more efficiently, helping to reduce glucose intolerance. If you are diabetic and are thinking about taking ALA, it is recommended to discuss this with your doctor, especially if you are taking insulin.
Because antioxidants are used up in their work of attacking free radicals, some have a relatively short life cycle. ALA helps boosts the benefits of some of these antioxidants by helping to "recycle" them, most notably vitamins C and E and glutathione.
Like many antioxidants, ALA works in the body to slow some of the effects of the body's normal aging processes. As the body gets older, more free radicals circulate, and less "cleanup" occurs. This may result in visible age markers such as wrinkles. Helping the body maintain its defenses, giving it a boost to keep its natural processes in balance may help in this area.
Summary of the benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Water and fat soluble antioxidant
- May support vital organs
- May support nerves
- Important for the body to properly process glucose
- Helps boost the benefits of vitamins C and E and also glutathione.
The Importance of Calcium Part II
By Dr. Philip Zimmerman, Ph.D.
Chief Chemist, Freeda Vitamins, Inc.
Calcium metabolism is an involved subject, and even today, when many advances have been made in this area, we do not possess all of the answers. However, enough is known to provide us with basic guidelines.
INTAKE AND ASSIMILATION
The very first aspect of Calcium metabolism is the amount taken into the system. This is often limited due to the special diets, which avoid the use of dairy products and vegetable sources of Calcium. Even those who take Calcium in nutritional supplements may have difficulty in assimilating this element if the sources provided are not of an easily digestible type. It is possible that some people who are taking, the popular Oyster Shell Calcium (this source is being used strictly an example as Oyster Shell Calcium is NOT kosher) are not deriving full benefit from this substance. One must remember that the shell of an oyster remains in the ocean for a great length of time without dissolving indeed, the shell is nature's way of protecting the oyster from dissolving in the sea. Some individuals who experience difficulty digesting this form of Calcium do very well with other forms, such as Calcium citrate.
The assimilation of Calcium depends on several nutrients the body requires to properly utilize its Calcium intake. Should any of these be missing or lacking, Calcium absorption will be diminished. Chief among these factors is Vitamin D. Those on special diets, which avoid Vitamin D enriched milk, as well as individuals who are not properly exposed to the sunlight, may have a deficiency of Vitamin D. Other factors needed for proper assimilation of Calcium are Vitamin C, and trace minerals. Usually the ingestion of a good multivitamin-mineral preparation will supply the factors needed to help the body assimilate Calcium.
Another factor, more difficult to supply is the female hormone, Estrogen, which is generally in short supply in women in the post-menopausal state. Some physicians recommend the use of Estrogen compounds to supplement this missing factor.
Some nutritionists are wary of the potential side effects of such Estrogens and recommend natural compounds such as citrus-bioflavonoids, which have a low-level estrogenic activity for the same purpose.
Silica, in a form, which the body can assimilate, often is helpful. Silica helps provide the "envelope" of cartilage in which the bones grow, and strong "covering" helps in the proper assimilation of Calcium by the bones. Plant sources of Silica are often absorbed easily by the body. An example of this is the horsetail plant that is an excellent natural source that supplies readily available Silica.
Although it may come as a surprise to some people, excessive protein, as is often found in the American diet, may serve to drive out Calcium. Many people are on diets that feature large quantities of protein, much in excess of the amounts needed to maintain normal protein stores. Women on high protein diets should check with their physicians if the amount of protein they are taking is excessive and may be depriving the body of needed Calcium.
There are several foods, which while harmless by themselves, if taken in large quantities, contain chemical factors called Oxalate, which combines with the Calcium in the body to form an insoluble compound that cannot be nutritionally utilized by the system. Problems with these Oxalate substances do not usually arise unless an excessive amount of the food in question is consumed. Individuals who do consume large amounts of these substances should be aware that their Calcium absorption could be compromised. Chief among the Oxalate vegetables are spinach, rhubarb, beets, and beet greens. Among nuts, which are high in Oxalates are almonds and cashew. Yet other sources of these potential troublemakers are cocoa and chocolate.
It has been known for some time that excessive Phosphorus may tend to drive down Calcium levels. Phosphorus, while itself an essential nutrient, is generally not in short supply. A major source of excessive Phosphorus is various carbonated cola beverages that contain Phosphoric Acid. Such beverages should be used sparingly.
Another substance, which may be involved in Calcium metabolism is caffeine, mainly found in coffee, tea, and many cola beverages. Some reports show that women who drink coffee may be more susceptible to Osteoporosis than those who do not.
Calcium metabolism is important for everyone. Osteoporosis, which is mainly attributed to a lack of Calcium, afflicts both women as well as men. Every individual should attempt to maintain proper intake and assimilation of Calcium and its co-factors to insure that bodily health and vigor is maintained all through life.