Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in 5 Americans is dealing with some form of heart disease. Much of this is needless suffering and can be alleviated with appropriate life style strategies.

Exercise is important. So is making good food choices and being a non-smoker. But there is nothing more important than getting on a good nutritional supplement program. Last post we listed the first part of the top 12 supplements for cardiovascular health.

Heart NutrientsWe conclude with Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2 below. For more detailed information make sure to listen to The Bright Side on the Genesis Communication Network, daily 8 to 9 PST, 11-12 EST (The Bright Side).

Omega 3s –thin the blood and relax blood vessels allowing for more blood flow and oxygen to the heart. Provide well-researched and dramatic protection against cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks. Reduces inflammation and may improve blood fats and cholesterol too. Fish oil works but Krill Oil may be
even better.

CoQ10 –super vita-nutrient for the heart. Used by cardiac cells to produce energy and as a defense against rogue oxygen “sparks”. Thousands of studies show protection against all forms of heart disease.May help lower blood pressure too. Look for oil-soluble gel caps.

B Vitamins –protection from cardio-toxic homocysteine. Intimate involvement in energy production chemistry make these nutrient absolutely indispensable for protection against all forms of heart disease. Vitamin B3 helps lower triglycerides and cholesterol too. Water-soluble format leads to rapid excretion and potential deficiencies.Dissolve in liquid and drink them all day long for maximum benefits.

Carnitine – take as L-Carnitine or for maximum cardiac benefits as Propionyl L-Carnitine. A must-have supplement for all form of heart disease.Critical for the production of energy from fat (fat-burning) by cardiac cells.Numerous studies demonstrate benefits for coronary artery disease as well as myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart).

Vitamin E – provides vital cardiac protection from oxidized (rancid) cholesterol plaques.Thins blood and helps maintain heart oxygenation.Reduces free radical activity in heart.Take as both tocopherols and tocotrienols (mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols) in mixed format for best results.Especially important for smokers and as protection from a second heart attack.

Chromium – low levels associated with increased risk of heart attacks.Chromium deficient diabetics especially at risk for heart attacks.Critical role in sugar metabolism provides benefits for the cardiovascular system.May improve high blood pressure too.Niacin bound form (chromium polynicotinate) most effective for protection from heart disease.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we defined some of the common terms associated with heart disease. Now, for some of the important nutrients you can take to protect your heart and avoid the cardiologist’s office or even worse, his knife! And, to keep you off the especially dangerous drugs. Cardiac and circulatory drugs are among the most toxic and deadliest of the entire prescription pharmacopeia. If you’re on medication now, you can ask you can ask (or even better insist!) that your physician wean you off your meds and get you on some non-toxic, good nutrition. And if you’re not on meds, there is nothing like a good diet and supplement strategy to keep you far away from the pharmacy for heart meds or anything else.

Heart Nutrients

By Rahul Sharma (Annayu) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

In no particular order, here’s the first 6:

Vitamin C– this powerful nutrient sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to
cardiovascular health. Animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) all make their own Vitamin C and animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) don’t get heart attacks!

Magnesium – keeping blood from becoming sticky and blood sugar control are just two of
the mechanisms associated with this under-appreciated and often time deficient
mineral protects the heart. Some scientists believe that the cardiovascular benefits attributed to aspirin should have be credited to the magnesium found in the “Bufferin” that was used in the original studies.

Selenium– Known as the heart mineral, selenium deficiencies are also somewhat common
and numerous studies show that supplementation can deliver many cardiovascular
benefits. It’s especially helpful in protecting the heart form low levels of oxygen and it’s protective against heavy metal poisoning of heart cells. Deficienciesare associated with Keshan Disease, a particular fatal form of cardiomyopathy.

Arginine –protects the cardiovascular health in so many ways, it’s a must-have for anyone concerned about heart disease. Lowers blood cholesterol very effectively, especially in high doses (10 to 15 grams a day), improves coronary , as well as general circulation and lowers high blood pressure. Helps prevent blood clots and helps strengthen heart muscle. Very important for angina suffererers. In Europe and Japan it is injected directly by cardiologists to reopen blocked circulation.

Vitamin K – helps maintain clotting balance, especially when using Vitamin E. Protective against hardening of the arteries and calcium regulation function helps maintain heart rhythm and
contractility. Use with medical guidance when taking blood thinning medication like Plavix or warfarin.

Taurine – Helps lower blood pressure and improves the excretion of excess fluid which
takes pressure off of blood vessels. Strengthens heart muscle and helps maintain calcium balance in heart cells. Critical in maintaining heart muscle

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we discussed all the ways zinc and the lack of it can affect the body. Skin clarity, bone health and immune system integrity are just some of the ways this essential nutrient can impact health. Taking a daily 50mg dose of zinc can help prevent and reduce the duration of colds (as I write this post, there’s a television commercial running that promotes the use of a cold remedy called “Cold-Eeze” which contains a small amount of zinc gluconate), eliminate acne and improve eczema. Zinc’s powerful hormone balancing properties can help improve prostate health and prevent male pattern baldness. And zinc is important for the health of sperm cells and may improve male fertility. All in all, zinc is important for hundreds of different biochemical reactions; this stuff is amazing!

Think ZincThat’s what I mean when I talk about the importance of nutritional supplementation. Think about the leverage here: one little pill with 50mg of Zinc in it (about the amount of zinc that would fit on the head of a pin) can control and stabilize and spark several hundred chemical processes in the body. Now that is some serious clout!

And, the most incredible part is how little 50mg of zinc costs. What would you expect to pay for a (magic) pill that could keep hair on your head, cure your acne, strengthen your bones, build your immunity, enhance your digestion, improve the function of your heart and help you think more effectively? And, with no downside when taken as directed. Would you expect to pay 100 dollars for a month supply? It would be worth it! In fact, for all those benefits, 100 dollars a month would be an incredible bargain. Well, surprise, surprise! A 30 day supply of zinc at a health food store will typically cost less than 5 bucks!

You can tell if you’re deficient in zinc by doing the “zinc taste test”. You can use a solution of zinc sulfate and water (available online) or you can place a zinc sulfate tablet on your tongue. If you’re not instantly repelled by a strong metallic taste chances are pretty good that you’re suffering from a lack of zinc.

The best way to get zinc into the body is supplementally in the picolinate and monomethionine forms. These are available in most health food stores, but they are harder to find at drug stores where the typical forms available are zinc gluconate and zinc sulfate. The bio-availability of these cheaper zinc varieties is less than satisfactory and many people find that they can cause nausea or other digestive distress. A good daily dose is 50mg a day and once you get going you can skip a day or two here and there. Interestingly the signs of zinc deficiency (such as acne, hair loss, frequent colds and flues) can be duplicated by taking too much zinc (100mg a day is too much). It’s also important to note than there is an antagonistic relationship between zinc and copper and it’s probably a good idea to take 2 mg of copper with every 50mg of zinc. Look for chelate or glycinate forms of copper which are easily handled by the body.

For those of you who want to try to obtain zinc through diet, in addition to the aforementioned oysters and the Rocky Mountain variety, the best sources include liver, lamb, venison, and sesame and pumpkin seeds. However, it should be noted than even then highest zinc concentration foods provide only 10mg or so per serving.

-Zinc deficiency is relatively common.
-It’s important for hundreds of different biochemical systems to work

-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-Deficiencies can show up in dozens of different ways including depressed immunity, bone problems, skin rashes, eczema and acne, digestive distress and hormone issues.-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-All you need is a couple cents worth of zinc (50mg a day) to meet your zinc requirements and prevent the signs of deficiency.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

In Dr. Ananda PrasadIn’s seminal book “The Biochemistry of Zinc”, the nutritional chemist’s go-to guide for all things zinc, there is ample picture proof of the tragedy of deficiencies in the super, unbelievable important mineral. Page after page of photographs taken of children and adults who suffer from nutritional lack of zinc depict the impact of deprivation of this vital nutrient. Stunted growth, skin lesions, hair loss, wasting away syndromes, where the body becomes emaciated and frail, are all vividly portrayed. And zinc deficiency can cause less dramatic health problems too: immunity, skin and bone, the brain, the eye, reproductive and general hormone health, and blood sugar balance and insulin and digestive integrity largely depend on the presence of this incredibly important nutritional metal.

Think ZincThe scariest thing about zinc deficiency is its frequency, which makes it one of the most significant and widespread nutritional deficiencies in the world. 1 out 3 people world-wide is at risk for zinc deficiency and in developing countries, where cereals and grains (which contain zinc-binding compounds and are often-times grown on zinc deficient soils) provide the bulk of caloric intake, it is the 5th leading risk for disease.

Zinc is involved in over 200 different enzyme systems in the body. In other words, if there is any manner of deficiency, literally hundreds of biological systems will be operating at less than peak efficiency. The net result of zinc deficiency is a body that is dramatically less effective at growing, repairing and cogitating and is less able to perform, thrive and resist stress and disease.

Zinc is a key component of the body’s wound healing system. This can be especially helpful pre and post surgery. And, one of the best ways to help heal a sore throat and shorten the duration of a cold or a flu) is to suck on zinc lozenges. Most people notice relief within a day.

Zinc may be the single most important nutrient for acne-prone skin. In a laboratory, acneic lesions can be induced in animals by creating zinc deficiencies. Anyone who suffers from acne or acne-like blemishes should consider add a daily 50mg dose of zinc to well-rounded supplement program.

Pregnant women would be especially wise to watch out for zinc deficiencies. Not only does the developing fetus benefit from this critical nutrient, but deficiencies are associated with the development of stretch marks. And mothers to-be should be aware that there is scientific literature that indicates that zinc deficiency may persist for generations. In an article published in the journal “Science”, test animals who were deprived of zinc demonstrated a depressed immune system that persisted for 3 generations! Men get special benefits too. Supplementing with zinc is one of the best ways to protect the prostate. It’s important for improving sperm count, semen is especially rich in zinc. And, zinc’s supportive role in testosterone metabolism has given the mineral a well-deserved reputation as nutritional support for libido. Perhaps this accounts for the notoriety that oysters and the Colorado variety, Rocky Mountain oysters (which are both relatively high zinc) get for being aphrodisiacs.

Zinc is plays a critical part brain function and mental health. It’s been used to treat autism, ADHD and depression. Low levels in children have been associated with learning disabilities. In the 1970’s Dr. Carl Pfeiffer reported that zinc supplementation, when taken with Vitamin B6 was 95% per cent successful in treating certain types of schizophrenia.

There’s an important relationship between zinc and vitamin A. Zinc is required for Vitamin A to be activated and transported in the body. In the absence of zinc, Vitamin A deficiency is sure to follow. Vitamin A is required for eye, skin, bone, and heart and brain health and is also an important part of the immune system. In other words, in addition to all of the problems directly associated with a lack of zinc, deprivation of this key mineral can also induce a long list of Vitamin A deficiency symptoms as well.

We’ll continue with some practical ways to maintain Zinc health in a coming post…

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Fructose is Natural, but …

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

I’ve been thinking a lot about fructose lately. And it seems like so are a lot of other people. Every week I get between 10 and 20 letters asking for clarifications about this not-so-sweet subject. Fructose, known colloquially as fruit sugar seems like such an innocuous substance. After al, it come from fruit. And we all know how wonderful fruit is, right? And besides, it’s natural!

Fructose is NaturalWell, at the risk of bursting nutritional and mythological bubbles, it seems that, much like everything else, even natural fruit sugar has a dark side. The problem is that humanity’s exponentially evolving skills at manipulating technology has gotten so sophisticated that we can now extract sugars from plants with such proficiency that we are all getting far more fructose than the body, and specifically the liver can handle. The average American is ingesting around 60 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and 140 pounds of sucrose every year. When you do the math (HFCS is usually around 55% fructose and sucrose, ordinary table sugar, is around 50% fructose) we’re looking over two pounds of fructose a week, per person, per year. And that doesn’t include the amount people are getting from fruit and honey and other sources. That’s a lot of fructose for a body has evolved and is equipped to handle the sweet stuff in only the smallest of quantities.

So, what’s the problem with fructose? Well, because of the human body is not supposed to be dealing with alot of fructose (for millennia it was a rare find), the metabolic systems that metabolize (process and store) it are easily overloaded. This is especially problematic for the digestive system in general and specifically for the liver. The alarming incidences of fatty liver disease (which is so prevalent that it is now considered a normal part of aging) and pervasive intestinal illnesses are at least partially related to the skyrocketing fructose ingestion statistics.

There is some interesting chemical choreography that is associated with fructose metabolism. One of the most relevant biochemical ballets when it comes to human health or the lack thereof, involves the way fructose can combine with the amino acid tryptophan. The resulting interaction can keep tryptophan from getting to the brain and when this happens BIG trouble can follow!

Tryptophan is incredibly important. It’s a must-have for the repair, recovery and the building of tissue. And, it’s mega, mega important for mood and well being and for getting a good night’s sleep. It gets turned into melatonin and serotonin which are arguably the two most important chemicals in the brain and fundamental to mental health. You can think of tryptophan as natural Prozac and from many people fructose will be blocking it’s access to the brain.

And there’s a fascinating fructose/tryptophan connection to eating behavior. Appetite and satisfaction (the feeling of fullness) a regulated by the brain. We eat or don’t eat in response to signals from the brain and one of the most important determining factors in what type type of signals will be sent is the presence or absence of certain chemicals. One of these is tryptophan. The brain in constantly scanning the blood looking for tryptophan and if it can’t find any, it sends it’s owner out on a highly focused, one-pointed hunt for food. If fructose is complexing with this vital amino acid, dietary tryptophan can become unavailable to the brain and there won’t be enough to activate the satisfaction centers vs. the “let’s go get a Coke or an apple or some kind of sugar” centers. An insatiable appetite for sugar or other foods is the ultimate result.

Another indication of fructose/tryptophan complexing issues is digestive symptoms like gas and bloating and loose stools, although it can show up in other ways. Especially when they occur after eating and drinking fruits, fruit juices and HFCS containing foods. This is especially a problem with big hits of liquid or powdered fructose which are quickly absorbed. Little kids are major victims because of of the vast variety of fructose-containing processed foods that target children. And mothers, please do not do the “apple-juice-in-the-pacifier-tipped- bottle” thing where your baby sucks the sweet toxin out at his leisure. When your baby cries for his apple juice he’s going through withdrawal symptoms that’s are just as severe as those associated with opium. The same with adults. There is a well-researched link between the sweet taste and so-called “opioid” receptors in the brain. These receptors are called “opioid” because they respond to opium. In other words, sugar and opium (think heroin) both “turn on” the same chemical systems in the brain. Which means, sugar is essentially brain heroin and when a baby (or adult) goes without it he screams because he’s withdrawing! That’s one of the main reasons it’s so hard to get off of sugar. It’s a withdrawal stress on, what is for most people, an already stressed out body system. In a way, ingestion of fructose and the associated problems are better than adding another stress in the form of withdrawal.

Taking 500-1000mg of tryptophan or 100-200mg of 5HTP once a day is a great way to stabilize mood and suppress the appetite. It may also be helpful for sugar cravings. 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of glutamine powder taken once or twice a day may also be helpful. Glutamine powder is tasteless and dissolves easily in a glass of water. Like tryptophan, high brain blood concentrations of glutamine signal satiety. Both of these supplements can be supportive if you’re trying to lose weight. There’s alot more you can do if you’re trying to extricate yourself from the fructose morass. We’ll be addressing those strategies in a later post.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition