Can Supplements Prevent Sunburn?

Summer is here and along with summer comes sunburns, that we all hate.  We’ve been told for years to slather on the sunscreen, but still a long day at the beach on on the lake you still end up pink.  So wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop a few pill and skip the sunburn?

Lets talk for a minute about what makes up the sun, or at least the part that causes damage and pain. Those are the ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types UVA and UVB:

  • UVA – These are the UV rays which cause damage to the skin. Think of UVA as UV-Aging. These cause can lead to cancer, dried out leathery skin, etc. These don’t cause the burn though.
  • UVB – These are the UV rays which cause burning, so think of UVB as UV-Burning. UVB rays also cause the conversion of cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D.

Ok, so now a bit about sunscreen. Many sunscreens just block the UVB rays, so they prevent the burning but also block the production of vitamin D, but they don’t block the UVA rays, so the rays which can damage the cells and possibly cause skin cancer get right in.  So when you shop for a sunscreen make sure it is a full spectrum sunscreen that blocks both the UVA and UVB rays.

OK, so about that magic pill that prevents sunburn.  Sadly there isn’t a pill that will totally prevent sunburn, but there are a number of vitamins that have been shown to lessen the burning. So you may still burn, but not as bad. These are:

  • Beta Caroteen – Beta Caroteen is found in high concentrations in carrots – that is what gives carrots their orange color. Many supplements will also use beta carotene as their source of vitamin A.  Your body can break down beta carotene to make vitamin A as it needs it without the risk of too much vitamin A. This, like all those that follow isn’t a morning after pill. It takes 10 to 12 weeks of daily supplementation to reduce the redness and burning.
  • Lutein and Lycopene are carotenoids that also show some protection. Lutein especially for the eyes. (Make sure your sunglasses block UV rays, not all do.)
  • Astaxanthin – This is another carotenoid that is found in krill and salmon giving them their red color. (Note only wild caught salmon have high levels of this. Farm raised salmon (often called Atlantic or Norwegian salmon) are fed feeds which don’t contain astaxanthin, so they add red dye to the salmon’s feed to make the flesh red. Yech.  This works quicker, within a week or two of daily consumption (salmon or astaxanthin supplements)
  • Coco flavanols – Yep, chocolate has been shown to reduce redness from UV exposure in women, though I bet it would work for men too. Unflortunaely eating a handful of Hershey Kisses won’t work (well maybe a bag full) but the chocolate you reach for has much more fat, sugar, and milk that actual chocolate. Instead reach for a 90-100% dark chocolate. My favorite is the Lindt 99% chocolate (hard to find in the US, but you can find the 90 and 95%)
  • Vitamin C and vitamin E – when taken together in high doses daily. One study found that 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol – the natural form) taken daily for 8 days modestly reduced redness caused by UV light – Equivalent to SPF 2. Note that these higher doses can cause problems for some people. A top rated multi vitamin has 1,300mg of Vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E and this is well tolerated by most people. So take that daily for a base, then jump up to the higher levels before you head to Bali – just make sure you don’t have any side effects (common is diarrhea from vitamin C)
  • Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®, Flavangenol®) has been found in clinical studies to significantly increase the amount of simulated UV-radiation required to cause redness and skin damage, as well as reduce measures of skin damage caused by UV exposure. It has also been found to decrease the color of age spots in healthy young women.

Some supplements like St John’s Wort and dong quai (found in some menopause supplements) can increase photosensitivity, so avoided these if you are going out in the sun.

The big fear is skin cancer. Maintaining optimal  levels of vitamin D and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancers.   This leads to the vitamin D paradox – You need sun to naturally produce vitamin D and vitamin D has been shown to reduce the incidence of many types of cancer, including skin cancers. (Here is an article about vitamin D and its role in skin cancer)  Applying a high SPF sunscreen before going in the sun blocks that production, so you lose that protection.  So go out for 20 minutes or so, then apply sunscreen.  The recommendations above may help lessen the redness and damage and help a bit when you forget to reapply sunscreen. If you’re in and out of the water all day, or sweating and wiping your face, you just forget or can’t keep reapplying sunscreen. Here is an article that explains how sunscreens work and SPF ratings.

So what do I do?  I take our USANA Essentials and Visonex daily.  These provide high levels of most of the vitamins and carotenoids above. I’m not one that tans easily and I run for an hour daily usually around noon plus all the other Colorado outdoor activities, skiing, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, etc. I live in Colorado so high altitude and lots of reflection from the snow in the winter and water in the summer. I rarely use sunscreen unless I’m out all day, then usually just one application around noon. I can’t remember the last sunburn I’ve had.

Enjoy the sun and the water this summer!


FDA Finds Problems at 62% of Supplement Manufactures

Consumer Labs today reported that the FDA has found 62% of the 483 dietary supplement manufacturing facilities failed their inspections in 2014.  These were for noncompliance with the current Good Manufacturing practices (cGMP) which they are required to follow. Sadly they only inspected a small number of the total number of manufactures.

The FDA reported an average of 6 infractions per facility. The most common infractions were:

  • Not conducting at least one appropriate test or examination to verify the identity of a dietary ingredients and/or
  • Not establishing product specifications for the identity, purity, strength, and/or composition of the finished dietary supplement.

The list of results by manufactures inspected can be found on the website. This site requires a member sign in.  I am a member and reviewed the list and there are some big names that received letters. There are challenges though, with seeing if your favorite company was inspected and how they did for several reasons:

  • Most retailers and distributors don’t manufacture their own products. They outsource the manufacturing to contract manufactures who actually produce the product for a number of different companies.  So you buy Brand X, but Brand X doesn’t have a manufacturing facility because they contract with Company Z to do the manufacturing. The inspection would be of Company Z, not the brand you buy.
  • There are a very few manufactures of dietary supplements, such as the one I use and recommend, who are registered with the FDA as pharmaceutical drug manufactures and must adhere to much more stringent pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices. So this company would fall into a different category of FDA inspections.
  • Only a small percentage of the total number of manufacturing facilities were inspected. So if your favorite company isn’t listed it isn’t because they passed or failed, but just weren’t inspected this year.

So what do you do?

  • Figure than when you look at the vitamin aisle at the health food store that over half the bottles on the shelf came from manufactures who failed their inspection.
  • Look to 3rd parties for validation of your brand. Some good sources are:
    • This is a membership site but they routinely examine and test a number of different products each month.
    •  Is the public health and safety organization. NSF certifies facilites  and also lists products they’ve approved Safe for Sport – they they insure don’t have any unlisted contaminants.
    • – This is the Physicans Desk Reference for pharmaceutical drugs.  There are a few high quality supplement brands who are listed in this reference.  If it is listed in the PDR, your doctor knows it is safe and high quality.
    • Comparative guide to Nutritional Supplements – This publication has ranked over 1,600 different products on a 0-5 scale. The initial rating is based on the label, so no testing. But for those who were rated a 5, then they are invited to have 3rd party labs verify their products and they must have their manufacturing facilities tested as well.

The brand I use has passed all the above tests and has been the #1 ranked product in the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements in all 5 editions.  Ask me and I’ll tell you who they are.




Helping Your Heart

In case you weren’t aware, February is American Heart Health Month — 28 days dedicated to taking a closer look at the hardest working muscle in your body.
Did you know that your heart can pump up to 2,500 gallons of blood each day, or that your heart has the ability to beat more than three billion times throughout your life? Yeah, you might say the heart does its fair share of work.
And because the heart does so much for your body, return the favor by brushing up on the best, scientifically proven ways to keep your heart protected.

Value in Vitamin C

In a recent report titled Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University say that the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 75 milligrams of vitamin C for women and 90 milligrams for men isn’t sufficient.
“We believe solid research shows the RDA should be increased,” says Dr. Balz Frei, director of LPI. “A 200 milligram intake of vitamin C on a daily basis poses absolutely no risk, but there is strong evidence it would provide multiple, substantial health benefits.”
The report notes that, “Higher levels of vitamin C could help reduce the chronic diseases that today kill most people in the developed world — heart disease, stroke, cancer, and the underlying issues that lead to them, such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, poor immune response, and atherosclerosis.”

Fiber is Your Friend

Most of us know that fiber is associated with numerous health benefits, but certain research suggests how, over time, fiber can be used as a preventative measure for certain cardiovascular diseases.
In an article published online at, a group of researchers examined, among other things, the association between the intake of dietary fiber and the prevalence of ischemic cardiovascular disease (iCVD) in both men and women. Information was collected from thousands of participants in a wide range of ages, and scientists followed up with them after a mean of 13.5 years. Results of the study concluded that, “High fiber intakes were associated with lower incidence rates of iCVD in women and of ischemic stroke in men.”

The Power of Flavonoids

Flavonoids, or bioflavonoids, are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing — and repairing — cellular damage. Flavonoids may also protect against cardiovascular disease.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined the relationship between flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD). After following 38,180 men and 60,289 women over a seven-year period, the researchers concluded that, “Flavonoid consumption was associated with lower risk of death from CVD. … suggesting that even relatively small amounts of flavonoid-rich foods may be beneficial.”
Foods that are rich in flavonoids include apples, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, onions, strawberries, red grapes, red wine and tea.

Explore for Yourself

There’s plenty of research on the topic of heart health. But it doesn’t do any good if it’s not studied and shared by healthy individuals like you.
American Heart Health Month is intended to get you thinking and remind you of the importance of a healthy heart. So don’t hold back — hop on the computer and research to your heart’s desire.

Why do I need nutritional supplements?

For more than 50 years, the general public has been led to believe that RDA nutrient levels are adequate…

…but adequate for what? Adequate to prevent clinically obvious nutritional deficiencies like scurvy, beriberi, rickets, and pellagra?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board (under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health):

“The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the requirement of nearly all apparently healthy individuals in a particular life stage and gender group.”

The Food and Nutrition Board further defines “requirement” as:

“…the lowest continuing intake level of a nutrient that, for a specified indicator of adequacy, will maintain a defined level of nutriture in an individual.”

Basically, the RDA is – by definition – the lowest level of nutrient intake necessary to prevent deficiencies. This is clearly important for helping individuals avoid acute deficiency diseases, but it fails to address the issue of optimal nutrition.

It is wonderful that the RDAs have been so successful in reducing blatant deficient diseases (including scurvy, pellagra, rickets and beriberi) to their lowest levels in recorded history. It is also good that products based on RDA amounts help combat deficiency diseases by providing minimal amounts of important vitamins and minerals.

However, as more and more of the general population is able to meet minimal nutrient requirements, new questions arise. For example, are RDA levels of vitamins and minerals enough to help prevent other degenerative diseases? What about providing protection from oxidative damage?

Nutritional researchers believe there are more benefits to nutritional supplementation than merely preventing increasingly rare deficiency diseases.

The top rated nutritional products are formulated with the most up-to-date nutritional research in mind, which may or may not have relevance to the RDAs. Rather than just looking to prevent total vitamin deficiencies, we are concerned with the vast majority of people who are “apparently” healthy. Many degenerative diseases and chronic illnesses develop over a lifetime, striking otherwise healthy individuals when they least expect it. For the millions of “apparently” healthy individuals in the world, minimal nutrient intakes may not be adequate to address modern health challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), much of the illness, disability, and death associated with chronic disease is avoidable through known prevention measures. Furthermore, recent studies examining the potential economic benefits of vitamin supplementation have concluded that substantial cost reductions can be associated with the use of vitamin supplements, based on principles of preventative nutrition.

One question that commonly arises is, “if I eat a healthy diet, do I still need to take supplements?” Let it be clearly stated that a healthy diet is a necessary foundation for any program of optimal nutrition, and there is no substitute for eating well. In this context,  nutritional supplements are designed to complement a healthy diet, not replace it. Top rated supplements are designed to provide advanced levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are difficult to obtain from diet alone – levels that individuals can use every day to promote a lifetime of good health.

Researchers are certainly not the only group convinced of the health benefits of nutritional supplements. In June 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association published two articles by health researchers at Harvard University. The articles were entitled “Vitamins for Chronic Disease Prevention in Adults”. Through their research, these independent researchers concluded:

“…suboptimal intake of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly. Suboptimal folic acid levels, along with suboptimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases.”

The scientific evidence supporting health benefits of nutritional supplements is solid and growing daily, and more health care professionals than ever before are now siding with these conclusions.

The levels of supplements discussed above are far above what you’d find in Centrum, One A Day, Kirkland, Nature Made, etc.  Less than 1% of the nutritional supplements available in North America meet these optimal levels – far above the RDA.  The on I use and recommend is the #1 rated in North America in the 5th edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.

Bendich A, Mallick R, Leader S. Potential health economic benefits of vitamin supplementation. West J Med 1997 May; 166(5):306-12. This study used published relative risk estimates for birth defects, premature birth, and coronary heart disease associated with vitamin intake to project potential annual cost reductions in U.S. hospitalization charges. Epidemiological and intervention studies with relative risk estimates were identified via MEDLINE. Preventable fraction estimates were derived from data on the percentage of at-risk Americans with daily vitamin intake levels lower than those associated with disease risk reduction. Hospitalization rates were obtained from the 1992 National Hospital Discharge Survey. Charge data from the 1993 California Hospital Discharge Survey were adjusted to 1995 national charges using the medical component of the Consumer Price Index. Based on published risk reductions, annual hospital charges for birth defects, low-birth-weight premature births, and coronary heart disease could be reduced by about 40, 60, and 38%, respectively. For the conditions studied, nearly $20 billion in hospital charges were potentially avoidable with daily use of folic acid and zinc-containing multivitamins by all women of childbearing age and daily vitamin E supplementation by those over 50.

Fairfield KM, Fletcher RH. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: scientific review. JAMA 2002; 287:3116-3126. CONTEXT: Although vitamin deficiency is encountered infrequently in developed countries, inadequate intake of several vitamins is associated with chronic disease. OBJECTIVE: To review the clinically important vitamins with regard to their biological effects, food sources, deficiency syndromes, potential for toxicity, and relationship to chronic disease. DATA SOURCES AND STUDY SELECTION: We searched MEDLINE for English-language articles about vitamins in relation to chronic diseases and their references published from 1966 through January 11, 2002. DATA EXTRACTION: We reviewed articles jointly for the most clinically important information, emphasizing randomized trials where available. DATA SYNTHESIS: Our review of 9 vitamins showed that elderly people, vegans, alcohol-dependent individuals, and patients with malabsorption are at higher risk of inadequate intake or absorption of several vitamins. Excessive doses of vitamin A during early pregnancy and fat-soluble vitamins taken anytime may result in adverse outcomes. Inadequate folate status is associated with neural tube defect and some cancers. Folate and vitamins B(6) and B(12) are required for homocysteine metabolism and are associated with coronary heart disease risk. Vitamin E and lycopene may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Vitamin D is associated with decreased occurrence of fractures when taken with calcium. CONCLUSIONS: Some groups of patients are at higher risk for vitamin deficiency and suboptimal vitamin status. Many physicians may be unaware of common food sources of vitamins or unsure which vitamins they should recommend for their patients. Vitamin excess is possible with supplementation, particularly for fat-soluble vitamins. Inadequate intake of several vitamins has been linked to chronic diseases, including coronary heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Fletcher RH, Fairfield KM. Vitamins for chronic disease prevention in adults: clinical applications. JAMA 2002; 287:3127-3129. Vitamin deficiency syndromes such as scurvy and beriberi are uncommon in Western societies. However, suboptimal intake of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly. Suboptimal folic acid levels, along with suboptimal levels of vitamins B(6) and B(12), are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E, and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases. Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements. The evidence base for tailoring the contents of multivitamins to specific characteristics of patients such as age, sex, and physical activity and for testing vitamin levels to guide specific supplementation practices is limited. Physicians should make specific efforts to learn about their patients’ use of vitamins to ensure that they are taking vitamins they should, such as folate supplementation for women in the childbearing years, and avoiding dangerous practices such as high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy or massive doses of fat-soluble vitamins at any age.

Kant AK. Consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods by adult Americans: nutritional and health implications. The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Oct; 72(4):929-36. BACKGROUND: Current dietary guidance recommends limiting the intake of energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods, but little is known about recent consumption patterns of these foods. OBJECTIVE: The contribution of EDNP foods to the American diet and the associated nutritional and health implications were examined. DESIGN: Data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (n = 15611; age >/=20 y) were used. EDNP categories included visible fats, nutritive sweeteners and sweetened beverages, desserts, and snacks. The potential independent associations of EDNP food intake with intakes of energy, macronutrients, micronutrients, and serum vitamin, lipid, and carotenoid profiles were examined with linear and logistic regression procedures. RESULTS: EDNP foods supplied approximately 27% of energy intake; alcohol provided an additional 4%. The relative odds of consuming foods from all 5 food groups and of meeting the recommended dietary allowance or daily reference intake for protein and several micronutrients decreased with increasing EDNP food intake (P: < 0.0001). Energy intake and percentage of energy from fat were positively related to EDNP intake. Serum concentrations of vitamins A, E, C, and B-12; folate; several carotenoids; and HDL cholesterol were inversely related (P:

Patterson BH, Harlan LC, Block G, Kahle L. Food choices of whites, blacks, and Hispanics: data from the 1987 National Health Interview Survey. Nutr Cancer 1995;23(2):105-19. Dietary guidelines posit an association between diet and cancer. Different cancer mortality rates among whites, blacks, and Hispanics may be related to differences in diet. Food frequency data from the 1987 National Health Interview Survey on 20,143 adults were used to estimate the percentage of adults, by gender and race/ethnicity, who consume some 59 foods six or more times per year, median number of servings for consumers, and frequency of consumption of skin on poultry and fat on red meat. On the basis of percent consumption of these foods, women appear to have a more diverse diet than men. Women eat more fruits and vegetables, less meat, and fewer high-fat foods and drink fewer alcoholic beverages. Whites eat a more varied diet than blacks and Hispanics; blacks eat more fried and high-fat food; consumption of high-fat foods is lowest among Hispanics. Public health messages, especially those aimed at cancer prevention, should be targeted at increasing the overall consumption of fruits and vegetables, decreasing consumption of high-fat foods, especially among white and black men, and increasing consumption of those healthful foods already consumed by particular race/ethnicity groups.

Starkey LJ, Johnson-Down L, Gray-Donald K. Food habits of Canadians: comparison of intakes in adults and adolescents to Canada’s food guide to healthy eating. Can J Diet Pract Res 2001 Summer;62(2):61-9. Over 25 years have elapsed since national food and nutrient intake data became available in Canada. Our goal was to describe present dietary intakes based on sociodemographic and 24-hour recall dietary interviews with adults and adolescents from households across the country. Within a multistage, stratified random sample of 80 enumeration areas, 1,543 randomly selected adults (aged 18-65) were enrolled in the study; 178 adolescents within the sampled households also participated. A comparison of food intake with Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating indicated that only males aged 13-34 met the minimum recommended intake levels for all four food groups. Mean milk products intake was below the minimum recommended level for all age groups of females and for men aged 35-65 years. Adolescent girls had low intakes of meat and alternatives. Daily grain product intakes were below five servings for women aged 50-65, as were vegetable and fruit intakes for women aged 18-40. Food choices from the “other foods” group contributed over 25% of energy and fat intake for all age and gender groups. These up-to-date data will be useful to dietitians, nutrition researchers, industry, and government in their efforts to promote Canadians’ continued progress toward meeting food intake recommendations.

Nicklas TA, Baranowski T, Baranowski JC, Cullen K, Rittenberry L, Olvera N. Family and child-care provider influences on preschool children’s fruit, juice, and vegetable consumption. Nutr Rev 2001 Jul;59(7):224-35. Children’s intakes of fruit, juice, and vegetables (FJV) do not meet the recommended minimum of five daily servings, placing them at increased risk for development of cancer and other diseases. Because children’s food preferences and practices are initiated early in life (e.g., 2-5 years of age), early dietary intervention programs may have immediate nutritional benefit, as well as reduce chronic disease risk when learned healthful habits and preferences are carried into adulthood. Families and child-care settings are important social environments within which food-related behaviors among young children are developed. FJV preferences, the primary predictor of FJV consumption in children, are influenced by availability, variety, and repeated exposure. Caregivers (parents and child-care providers) can influence children’s eating practices by controlling availability and accessibility of foods, meal structure, food modeling, food socialization practices, and food-related parenting style. Much remains to be learned about how these influences and practices affect the development of FJV preferences and consumption early in life.

Magarey A, Daniels LA, Smith A. Fruit and vegetable intakes of Australians aged 2-18 years: an evaluation of the 1995 National Nutrition Survey data. Aust NZ J Public Health 2001 Apr;25(2): 155-61. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the fruit and vegetable intakes of 2 to 18-year-old Australians. METHODS: Intake data were collected as part of the National Nutrition Survey 1995 representing all Australian States and Territories, urban, rural and remote areas. Dietary intake of 3,007, two to 18-year-olds was assessed using a 24-hour structured diet recall method. Intake frequency was assessed as the percentage of participants consuming fruit and vegetables on the surveyed day, and variety was assessed as the number of sub-groups of fruit and vegetables eaten. Intake levels were compared with the recommendations of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, the 1993 Goals and Targets for Australia’s Health in 2000 and beyond, and intakes of the 1985 National Dietary Survey. RESULTS: One-quarter of children and adolescents did not eat fruit on the day of survey and one fifth did not eat vegetables. Adolescents were less likely to include fruit (65%) than young children (80%) but slightly more adolescents (85%) included vegetables than young children (77%). Less than 50% of all participants (<25% of adolescents) had an adequate fruit intake, and only one-third of children and adolescents met the vegetable intake recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: Fruit and vegetable intakes of Australian children and adolescents fall well below recommendations and appear to have declined in the past 10 years. IMPLICATIONS: Strategic approaches involving a broad range of sectors are urgently needed to create a supportive environment for consuming recommended levels of a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.

Kantor LS, Variyam JN, Allshouse JE, Putnam JJ, Lin BH.Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains: a challenge for consumers. J Nutr 2001 Feb; 131(2S-1):473S-86S. The 2000 edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the first to include a specific guideline for grain foods, separate from fruits and vegetables, and recognize the unique health benefits of whole grains. This paper describes and evaluates major tools for assessing intakes of total grains and whole grains, reviews current data on who consumes grain foods and where, and describes individual- and market-level factors that may influence grain consumption. Aggregate food supply data show that U.S. consumers have increased their intake of grain foods from record low levels in the 1970s, but consumption of whole-grain foods remains low. Data on individual intakes show that consumption of total grains was above the recommended 6 serving minimum in 1994-1996, but consumption of whole grains was only one third of the 3 daily servings many nutritionists recommend. Increased intake of whole-grain foods may be limited by a lack of consumer awareness of the health benefits of whole grains, difficulty in identifying whole-grain foods in the marketplace, higher prices for some whole-grain foods, consumer perceptions of inferior taste and palatability, and lack of familiarity with preparation methods. In July 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a health claim that should both make it easier for consumers to identify and select whole-grain foods and have a positive effect on the availability of these foods in the marketplace.

Cavadini C, Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM. US adolescent food intake trends from 1965 to 1996. West J Med 2000 Dec; 173(6):378-83. OBJECTIVE: To examine adolescent food consumption trends in the United States with important chronic disease implications. METHODS: Analysis of dietary intake data from 4 nationally representative US Department of Agriculture surveys of persons aged 11 to 18 years (n = 12,498). RESULTS: From 1965 to 1996, a considerable shift occurred in the adolescent diet. Total energy intake decreased, as did the proportion of energy from total fat (39%-32%) and saturated fat (15%-12%). Concurrent increases occurred in the consumption of higher-fat potatoes and mixed dishes (pizza and macaroni and cheese). Lower-fat milks replaced higher-fat milks, but total milk consumption decreased by 36%. This decrease was accompanied by an increase in the consumption of soft drinks and noncitrus juices. An increase in high-fat potato consumption led to an increase in vegetable intake, but the number of servings for fruits and vegetables is still lower than the recommended 5 per day. Iron, folic acid, and calcium intakes continue to be below those recommended for girls. CONCLUSIONS: These trends, far greater than for US adults, may compromise the health of the future US population.

Johnson RK. Changing eating and physical activity patterns of US children. Proc Nutr Soc 2000 May:59(2):295-301. The number of US children who are overweight has more than doubled over the last decade. This change has broadened the focus of dietary guidance for children to address nutrient overconsumption and physical activity patterns. Total fat consumption expressed as a percentage of energy intake has decreased among US children. However, this decrease is largely the result of increased total energy intake in the form of carbohydrates and not necessarily due to decreased fat consumption. The majority of children aged 5-17 years are not meeting recommendations for Ca intakes. Much of this deficit is attributed to changing beverage consumption patterns, characterized by declining milk intakes and substantial increases in soft-drink consumption. On average, US children are not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. US adolescents become less active as they get older, and one-quarter of all US children watch > or = 4 h television each day, which is positively associated with increased BMI and skinfold thickness. There is an urgent need in the USA for effective prevention strategies aimed at helping children grow up with healthful eating and physical activity habits to achieve optimal health.

How do you Determine if a Supplement is Good or Bad?

The supplement industry is a totally unregulated industry and buyer beware is the rule, but so few people know what to look for. How do you tell a fantastic supplement from a worthless one? The labels look the same, they both claim to be the best and complete form A to Z – So how do you know?

First many claim they have 100% of the RDA, but what does that really mean?  Most people, nor doctors,  don’t know that the RDA was started in the 1940s during WW2 as the bare minimum a solider needed to avoid diseases of deficiency. So if you had 100% of the RDA you would be just avoiding beri beri, scurvy, pellagra, rickets, etc. So in school terms the RDA is a D- grade, just passing, but barely. Though far from the A+ you’d hope you kids got.  The A+ levels are usually dozens or hundreds of times higher than the RDA.

Many think that if the manufacture is FDA approved, then they products are good. Sadly the FDA will step in if they the products are laced with undeclared drug substances, but those are usually in the weight loss, body building, and male enhancement areas. Very occasionally they they may step in if there are dangerous levels of toxic substances such as lead, mercury, PCB, etc. California did this a year ago or so when they sent notices to half a dozen fish oil supplement makers because the levels of PCBs were to high for the state. For supplements though the FDAs main concern is just that they are safe, they don’t certify that they are effective.

There are several independent organizations who do analysis of supplements  One is They conduct tests of supplements looking for active ingredients below, or way above the label claim amount and they also look for the usual contaminants like lead and mercury.  Each month they test maybe 20-30 products and 3-4 have way less than the label amount and 1 or 2 have high levels of contaminants. But they don’t test all products from a category so a perfectly good product may not be tested for years. is an organization which does certifications of products and tests for the stated quantities of ingredients in supplements and that there are no contaminants. They also have a Certified Safe for Sport certification which also tests for the typical performance enhancing ingredients which are banned in sports. Of the thousands of supplement makers out there only 44 have received the general NSF certification and  33 are certified Safe for Sports.

One key criteria to look at is how the company manufactures their supplements. There are two different grades of manufacturing stipulated by the FDA. Pharmaceutical GMPs (good manufacturing practices) are what the FDA requires for prescription drugs. The other is Food grade GMPs, which supplements are required to meet as are the foods you buy.

The focus of Food GMPs is to insure that the product is safe, uncontaminated, not spoiled, minimal rat fur, etc.  Think of a can of spam.  No e-coli, staph, mold, etc. No spoilage, and it has been kept either below or above a certain temperatures, etc.  Basically is it safe to eat from a sanitary standpoint, but which cuts of meat go into it, which by-products, etc is unregulated.

Pharmaceutical GMPs on the other hand are concerned not only with sanitary production like food, but also to insure that the amounts of the ingredients are precisely controlled.  If you’re taking a 20mg drug tablet you need to be assured that there is exactly 20 mg of the active ingredient in each and every tablet. There are very involved procedures to go through to insure this. To manufacture a multivitamin to food GMPs can be done with 2-4 pages of paperwork and documentation. To manufacture the same to pharmaceutical GMPs requires close to 100 pages with hundreds of signatures, often two people are required to look at say a weight and verify the number is correct.

Unfortunately very few supplement manufactures manufacture to pharmaceutical GMPs. Why not? Because it is very expensive to implement the additional controls and documentation which are required. Plus the market place isn’t asking for it, so why do it.  The few who do follow pharmaceutical GMPs do so because they are compelled to for internal reasons and hold your health to a higher standard.
Next is the ingredients they use, the forms, ratios, etc.  For a given generic name of an ingredient there are different forms. For example Vitamin E. There is the form our bodies rapidly absorb and utilize (d-alpha-trocopherol.  The other form, which is poorly absorbed, but much cheaper is dl-alpha-trocopherol.  For minerals there are the oxide forms, like magnesium oxide, these are basically mineral salts and very poorly absorbed. At the other end of the spectrum are the chelated minerals. This is where the mineral is bound to a bit of amino acid. These will usually have the ending of something like citrate, carbonate, etc.  usually ending with “ate” these are much more expensive, but much more readily absorbed.

So two products with similar looking labels can be vastly different in price and effectiveness depending on the forms of the vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients they use.The “Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements” Published in Canada by Nutrisearch is now in its 4th edition and they first consulted with a dozen of the worlds experts about what would the ideal multivitamin be composed of. They then analyzed and ranked all the available nutritional supplements available in North America against this standard. So this guide along with and NSF can give you a good indication of the quality of a multivitamin.

Vitasmart line for example is NSF certified, but the Comparative Guide ranks them a zero (0).  So basically very safe pressed dirt.  Of the over 1500 different products only 18 rated the top score of 5 (0-5 scale) they then asked those to prove they mfg to pharmaceutical GMPs and to submit their products to an independent lab to confirm that what is on the label is what is in the product. Only 4 could meet those requirements.  They then looked at those for products and looked a the company behind the product: green initiatives, humanitarian efforts, etc. and one was head and shoulders above the others.  That one company has earned the trust of many Olympic athletes, professional athletes, and physicians across the globe.

I don’t want to advertise for them, but write me and I’ll tell you who that #1 rated company’s product  is.Finally there is a ton of hype and many companies make up their spin to try and different their products. Sadly the published medical research just doesn’t support some of their claims. One claim a few use which has no credible research to support it is that vitamins and minerals from living plants have a certain “resonance” that our bodies recognize and reject anything which doesn’t come from living sources. Sorry, but the research doesn’t support that.  Another along similar lines is that your body only absorbs vitamins, minerals, etc from plant sources. So they dehydrate, crush, and extract the ingredients form living plants.  The marketing usually goes on to say that our bodies don’t recognize synthesized molecules.  If that was the case then aspirin, viagra, codeine, and all the pharmaceutical drugs wouldn’t work, but out bodies do react to those molecules.  Also the thousands of published medical research articles which have show very positive results using different vitamins and minerals for the most part have used the commercially available forms. Often when extracting the natural form there is more contamination from the extraction process than producing it in a factory. If the molecules are identical in form, then they will work the same.

If you want to check something out, go to  and search through the research. This is the governments repository of published research papers from journals around the world. If you see some company making a claim for their secret ingredient, or secret source, go there and check it out. If legitimate research has been done, you’ll find it there.

Multivitamin use associated with lower heart attack risk in women

An article published online on September 22, 2010 in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports an association between multivitamin use and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) in older women.
The current study included 2,262 women with a history of cardiovascular disease and 31,671 women with no history of the disease who participated in the Swedish Mammography Cohort established between 1987 and 1990. The participants completed a dietary questionnaire in 1997 which provided the Karolinska Institutet researchers with information concerning supplement use.
Over the 10.2 year average follow-up period, 269 heart attacks occurred among women who had cardiovascular disease, and 932 occurred in those with no history. Among women who had no history of the disease, those who reported using a multinutrient supplement had a 27 percent lower adjusted risk of heart attack than those who were not supplement users. Using a multivitamin along with other supplements was associated with a 30 percent lower risk, and use for at least five years was linked to a 41 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction compared to nonusers. Multivitamin use was not associated with a significant benefit in those with pre-existing disease.
Concerning the contradiction of the current study’s findings in light of other research which failed to uncover a benefit, the authors explain that ingredients and dosage of the components of multinutrient supplements vary, that some trials were conducted in subjects with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and that the majority of trials had short follow-up periods. They attribute the vitamins’ protective benefit to their antioxidant properties, which retard atherosclerosis via free radical scavenging, and the ability of B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels. Minerals included in multinutrient supplements may also have cardioprotective effects, including the possibility of magnesium to inhibit insulin resistance, decrease vascular tone, and prevent pro-inflammatory changes and endothelial dysfunction, and the incorporation of selenium into protective antioxidant enzymes.
“We observed that multivitamin use is inversely associated with myocardial infarction among women with no history of cardiovascular disease,” the authors conclude. “Further studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings and, if confirmed, to clarify what composition of multivitamins (doses and ingredients included) and duration of use is needed to observe beneficial effects on MI.”
These are great results from using any multi-vitamin. I wonder what the results would have been if they had used a very high quality multivitamin with optimal levels of all the essential vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, trace elements, antioxidants, etc? Here in North America 95% of the supplements are of marginal or very low quality and potency.  There is a Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements which is published in Canada which analyzed over 1,500 different multivitamins available in North America. 

Boomers and recessionary fears drive supplement growth

Economic uncertainty and concerns over healthcare costs are driving growth in the nutritional supplements, with the market expected to hit almost $10billion in retail sales.

According to an updated report by Packaged Facts, growth of the US nutritional supplements market has increased by from 5.5 percent in 2007 to 9.5 percent in 2009. Retail sales, dominated by Walmart, were worth $9.4 billion last year, said the report.
While many segments of the US economy have suffered during the economic downturn, the US nutritional supplement market remains strong. Packaged Facts forecasts annual sales growth will gradually improve over the new few years with sales exceeding the $13 billion by 2014. Baby Boomers and other health conscious consumers continue to favor supplements as alternatives to costly medications.
“Part of the resiliency of nutritional supplements during this trying economic period stems from the fact that Americans are losing confidence in their ability to pay for healthcare, even as the economy shows signs of turning around,” said Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts“Compared to doctors visits, hospital stays, and prescription drugs, nutritional supplements can be a bargain.”
Report facts
Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 4th Edition by market research publisher Packaged Facts, examines the US market for vitamins, minerals, herbals, homeopathics and combination products sold to consumers through the full retail spectrum. The report also takes an in-depth look at condition-specific products in segments including joint, children’s, eye, energy, heart, men’s, women’s, brain, digestive and cosmetic.
According to a Packaged Facts Internet survey conducted in May and June 2010, more consumers are purchasing their supplements from Walmart. Of the 1,881 adults polled, 63 percent said they had taken nutritional supplements in the last 12 months, and of that group, 43 percent had purchased supplements at Walmart.
Another big growth area is the purchase of supplements via the internet. The online consumer pool also revealed that 26 percent of supplement users purchased vitamin, mineral, or supplement products online.
Support from the herbal sector
Similar findings were recently reported by the American Botanical Council (ABC) in May, with US sales of herbal supplements in mainstream market channels last year seeing the largest growth levels in recent memory.
A report in the May issue of ABC’s journal HerbalGram identified a 14 percent sales hike in this channel, to reach a total of $335,585,700 for 2009.
When other market channels are included in the equation, the overall all sales increase dips to 5 percent, with total estimated sales of just over $5bn.

We’ve all see the RDA on foods, But do you really know what it is?

We all see the RDA amounts listed on the side panel of almost every packaged food. We also see on our supplements that they contain XXX% of the RDA. This is important information, but what is that RDA amount and how is it determined?

The RDA was developed by the US Army during World War II. The Army wanted to know what the MINIMUM amount of vitamins and minerals the troops needed to avoid diseases of deficiency such as Beri Beri, Rickets, Pellagra, scurvy, etc. So if you get 100% of the RDA of all the essential vitamins and minerals you should be just above the level of deficiency. Lets put this in another term we can all relate to. We all know in school that an “F” grade is failing, but a “D-” is passing, just barely. Well the RDA is the “D-” amount that just keeps you from developing the diseases of deficiency.

Unfortunately many people and even many doctors believe the RDA is all you need or a maximum. I even heard a pediatrician on a morning talk show talking about kids nutrition. She said that you do not want to exceed the RDA, so if your child takes supplements make sure that the amount of say Vitamin A they get in their diet plus the amount in the supplement doesn’t exceed the RDA!! This is insane, that is like telling parents to not let their kids do better than a “D-” in school!

For example if you look at the RDA (or now the RDI) for Vitamin C for an adult man it is 90mg (link to USDA RDA tables) but the nutritional experts recommend 1,500-2,000 mg of Vitamin C a day.  So 90 mg will prevent you from having scurvy, but to benefit form the potent antioxidant properties of Vitamin C to protect you from the environmental toxins and protect your cells it takes 2000% of the RDA.  So back to the classroom analogy, 90mg gets you a “D-” 2,000mg gets you an “A+”

Similar for Vitamin E. The RDA is 15 IU, but the optimal amount is 400 IU.  Can you get these amounts from your diet alone? Well the RDA probably yes, but to consume the optimal amount you’d need to eat:

  • 3.5 pounds of wheat germ (vitamin E fortified) daily, or
  • 2.3 pounds of almonds daily, or
  • 28.8 pounds of spinach daily, or
  • 3.6 cups of safflower oil daily.
I love spinach and almonds, but no way could I eat that much every day. It is estimated that to consume the optimal levels of the essential vitamins and minerals daily would require about 22,000 calories of food every day! Not very practical. So the only alternative is to use high quality nutritional supplements.
So next time you look at the RDA see that as the absolute minimum you should have, but know that it is far below what is optimal. Your body is made up of trillions of individual cells. If each one of those cells has all the essential vitamins and minerals readily available to function, grow, and multiply, then you will be your healthiest, but feed your cells only the minimum (RDA) and they will just barely function.

Vitamin combo may delay ageing

A cocktail of vitamins, minerals and herbals may delay the major aspects of the ageing process and extend lifespan by 10 per cent, according to a mouse study from Canada.

Mice fed a supplement containing 30 dietary ingredients did not experience a 50 per cent loss in daily movement like other non-supplemented animals, according to findings published in the current issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
The benefits were linked to increases in the activity of mitochondria, the power plants of the cells, as well as by reducing levels of free radicals produced by the mitochondria, say researchers from McMaster University, led by David Rollo.
“For ageing humans maintaining zestful living into later years may provide greater social and economic benefits than simply extending years of likely decrepitude,” said Rollo.
“This study obtained a truly remarkable extension of physical function in old mice, far greater than the respectable extension of longevity that we previous documented. This holds great promise for extending the quality of life of ‘health span’ of humans,” he added.
However, it is not known if the effects would be repeated in humans and years of clinical trials would be necessary before any firm conclusions could be drawn, cautioned the researchers.
Study details
Rollo and his co-workers used bradykinesis, or declining physical movement, as a biomarker of ageing and mortality risk. Mice were divided into two groups: One was fed a normal diet, while the other was supplemented with a cocktail of dietary supplement ingredients.
“Dosages were derived from recommended human doses adjusted for body size and the 10-fold higher metabolic rate of mice,” explained the researchers.
Results showed maintenance of youthful levels of locomotor activity into old age in the supplemented animals, whereas old non-supplemented mice showed a 50 per cent loss in daily movement, said the researchers. This was accompanied by a loss of mitochondria activity, and declines in brain signalling chemicals relevant to locomotion, such as striatal neuropeptide Y. This chemical is associated with a range of functions, including maintaining energy balance, as well as effects in memory and learning.
No such declines were observed in supplemented animals, said the researchers.
“Although identifying the role of specific ingredients and interactions remains outstanding, results provide proof of principle that complex dietary cocktails can powerfully ameliorate biomarkers of aging and modulate mechanisms considered ultimate goals for aging interventions,” stated Rollo and his co-workers.
The researchers confirmed that development of new and “hopefully more effective supplements” is ongoing.
The supplement was composed of vitamins B1, B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C, D, E, folic acid, beta-carotene, CoQ10, rutin, bioflavonoids, ginko biloba, ginseng, green tea extract, ginger root extract, garlic, L-Glutathione, magnesium, selenium, potassium, manganese, chromium picolinate, acetyl L-carnitine, melatonin, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, acetylsalicylic acid, cod liver oil, and flax seed oil.
The study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine
2010, Vol. 235, Pages 66-76, doi:10.1258/ebm.2009.009219
“Dietary amelioration of locomotor, neurotransmitter and mitochondrial aging”
Authors: V. Aksenov, J. Long, S. Lokuge, J.A. Foster, J. Liu, C.D. Rollo

Vitamin K study supports triage hypothesis of degenerative disease

An analysis conducted by Joyce C. McCann, PhD and Bruce N. Ames, PhD at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute provides support for Dr Ames’ triage hypothesis, which proposes that our bodies have evolved to allocate often scarce micronutrients to functions that are critical to short term survival rather than to those which protect long term health.

Chronic insufficient intake of many vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids causes DNA damage, mitochondrial decay and cellular aging, which, while not affecting immediate survival, can lead to degenerative diseases later in life. “Natural selection favors short-term survival at the expense of long-term health,” explained Dr Ames in an introduction to his hypothesis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. “I hypothesize that short-term survival was achieved by allocating scarce micronutrients by triage, in part through an adjustment of the binding affinity of proteins for required micronutrients. If this hypothesis is correct, micronutrient deficiencies that trigger the triage response would accelerate cancer, aging, and neural decay but would leave critical metabolic functions, such as ATP production, intact.”
Drs Ames and McCann reviewed hundreds of articles concerning vitamin K and its 16 known dependent proteins for the current analysis. Studies of mice in which vitamin K-dependent proteins were rendered inoperative revealed that five of these proteins have functions that are essential to survival, and 5 are less critical. The body preferentially distributes vitamin K to the liver to preserve coagulation when vitamin K levels are reduced; however, suboptimal vitamin K intake and anticoagulant-induced vitamin K deficiency have been linked with such age related conditions as bone fragility, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer. “A triage perspective reinforces recommendations of some experts that much of the population and warfarin/coumadin patients may not receive sufficient vitamin K for optimal function of vitamin K-dependent proteins that are important to maintain long-term health,” the authors write.
The report, which appeared online on August 19 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was published in the October, 2009 issue. The analysis is the first in a series conducted by Drs Ames and McCann to test the triage hypothesis. “Encouraging support for the triage theory from our vitamin K analysis suggests that experts aiming to set micronutrient intake recommendations for optimal function and scientists seeking mechanistic triggers leading to diseases of aging may find it productive to focus on micronutrient-dependent functions that have escaped evolutionary protection from deficiency,” Dr McCann stated.
This study supports the premise of general nutritional supplementation. If you give your body all the nutrients it needs in optimal levels then your body will use what it needs for survival today and will still have nutrients left over for long term health. 
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Vitamin Supplementation Improves Bone Quality in the Elderly

A study reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April of 2009 showed that supplementation with a multivitamin raised micronutrient concentrations, improved bone quality, and reduced the risked of falling. Ninety-two elderly individuals living in Australia were assigned to take a multivitamin or placebo and then were followed for six months. The multivitamin group achieved significantly higher blood levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folate when compared to the placebo group. The multivitamin group also had significantly higher bone density measured in the heel and a trend toward a 63% lower likelihood of falling.

Want to imporve your skin? The Great Skin Diet

This article from Self Magazine shows you what to look for, and what foods to AVOID to improve your complexion. And to optimize the results from your diet, don’t forget to supplement with omega-3, coenzyme Q10 and grape seed extract and use skin care products that are safe for the skin!

The great-skin diet

All sorts of supplements, special eating plans and complexion drinks promise glowing skin from the inside out. But not everything that is being dished out is based on science. SELF digested the research and polled experts to determine which foods to add to your diet to truly benefit skin, which may be worth an occasional munch and which to pass up. Get ready to eat, drink and be beautiful!

By Beth Janes
From the October 2008 Issue

Proven complexion perfecters

Pile these on your plate. All pack nutrients essential for healthy skin.

Strawberries, citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli

Beauty benefit: a smooth texture
Eat-right evidence: Vitamin C, plentiful in this produce, is vital for the production and formation of collagen, skin’s support structure, says Toby Amidor, R.D., director of nutrition for in New York City. And a strong support layer helps smooth what’s on top and prevent wrinkles, she says. Aim for: two 1-cup servings of fruit and 1 cup of red peppers and/or broccoli a day

Sunflower seeds and almonds

Beauty benefit: sun protection
Eat-right evidence: These seeds and nuts are loaded with vitamin E. Collectively, antioxidants act like an army, protecting skin from UV-spawned free radicals. But E is on the front lines; skin’s top layers contain high levels that guard cells’ outer membrane so cells stay healthy. Plus, strong membranes hold water in, keeping skin hydrated. Aim for: 2 tablespoons hulled seeds or 23 almonds daily

Dark orange, leafy green and red veggies

Beauty benefit: a fresh complexion
Eat-right evidence: Squash, sweet potatoes and spinach are full of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Your body converts it to vitamin A, which regulates cell production and turnover so skin’s surface is smooth, says Valori Treloar, M.D., coauthor of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland House Publishing). Carotenoids may also decrease skin’s sensitivity to sun. Aim for: three 1-cup servings a day

Fortified cereal, lean meat, pork, poultry, oysters

Beauty benefit: a youthful glow
Eat-right evidence: You’ll get zinc and iron, minerals key to skin functioning. Zinc contributes to cell production, plus natural cell sloughing, which keeps dullness at bay. Red blood cells need iron to carry oxygen to skin, helping give you a glow, says David Bank, M.D., a derm in Mount Kisco, New York. Aim for: 1 serving of cereal (a cup), 1 palm-sized serving of meat or poultry or 3 oysters per day


Beauty benefit: dewy skin
Eat-right evidence: Skin cells contain mostly water, and if you’re dehydrated, skin will look and feel parched, too. But you needn’t chug 8 cups a day; University of Pennsylvania researchers found no studies to back up the recommendation. Simply ward off dehydration—and dryness—by drinking when you’re thirsty. Aim for: 6 cups a day. It’s a good starting point, says Keri Gans, R.D., of NYC.

Smart skin suggestions

New research hints at these foods’ beauty power, but effects aren’t totally proven yet. No need to wait, though; the goodies are part of a healthy diet.

Wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, walnuts

Beauty benefit: fewer wrinkles
Eat-right evidence: These fish and nuts, plus fortified eggs, are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation in the body caused by sun and stress. “Inflammation produces free radicals, and free radicals contribute to aging by attacking collagen,” says Susan Taylor, M.D., a dermatologist in Philadelphia. But research still needs to connect the dots definitively and show that the anti-inflammatory abilities of omega-3s translate to younger-looking skin, she says. One study did find that older people who consumed more fish and veggies over their life had fewer wrinkles than those who ate more meat, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports. The research didn’t focus solely on fish, however; vegetables’ antioxidants, for example, may have been a factor. Aim for: two 5-ounce servings of fish per week; on other days, 1 oz of walnuts or 2 omega-3 eggs

Whole wheat and grains

Beauty benefit: clearer skin
Eat-right evidence: In the past, derms have maintained that unless you wipe greasy fingers on your face, food doesn’t cause zits. But some are rethinking the party line: Australian researchers found that a low-glycemic diet (more whole grains, protein and produce versus refined carbs such as white bread) may reduce acne. One explanation: Low-glycemic foods keep insulin steady, and refined carbs and sugar spike it. The surges may boost production of androgens, hormones that, when elevated, can cause zits. After 12 weeks of a low-glycemic diet, subjects’ pimple counts dropped 20 percent, a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes. More studies are needed to prove the link, but no doctor will discourage you from eating whole grains and veggies! Aim for: 3 servings a day (one serving equals a slice of bread or 1/2 cup cooked grains)
Today’s special: gorgeous skin If your complexion could choose everything you ate for the day, here’s what would be on the menu, says Keri Gans, R.D., who put together this plan.


  • 1 cup whole-grain, fortified cereal such as Total
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries or 1 medium grapefruit
  • 1 cup green tea


  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • 5 oz chicken breast
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 leaf lettuce
  • 1/8 of avocado
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 medium apple


  • 5 oz wild salmon
  • Spinach salad
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • Toss with 1 tbsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato


  • 8 oz nonfat plain yogurt or 1 part-skim string cheese
  • 1 oz sunflower seeds
  • 1 small orange or 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 oz dark chocolate or 1 glass red wine

Beauty treat or trouble?

Guess if the following foods are good or bad for your skin—and find out the reasons why.


Trouble Chowing candy and other sugary snacks may make you feel like a kid, but it’s likely aging you. The rush of glucose into your bloodstream sets off a process known as glycation, in which sugars attach to proteins and form advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These molecules naturally build up in skin as you get older, but the more sugar you eat, the more AGEs you have. Bad news: They cross-link with collagen and elastin fibers, making the normally resilient tissues weak or inflexible, Dr. Bank says. And skin that doesn’t bounce back easily leads to wrinkles and sagging. In fact, the study showing fish lovers had fewer wrinkles revealed the opposite for those with a sweet tooth.

Dark chocolate

Treat Although there might be some truth to the claims that sugar-laden chocolate contributes to acne (and wrinkles), the high-quality, dark variety—70 percent or more cocoa—may actually be good for your skin. Preliminary studies found that cocoa’s flavonols (a potent type of antioxidant) can help increase blood flow, supply skin with oxygen, improve skin hydration and reduce sun sensitivity. But dark chocolate is high in calories, so treat yourself to only 1 oz a day.


Trouble Got acne? Milk may not be doing your skin good. Three new studies have found a connection between teens’ milk intake and pimples. This could potentially translate to adults; however, it’s not been proven. More research is under way, but the probable explanation is hormone-related. Androgens naturally found in milk (even organic versions without added hormones) may add to a drinker’s own level of androgens, which are associated with oily skin and acne. Milk also raises insulin levels and contains growth factors that act like insulin, Dr. Treloar says. Both may lower the production of molecules that bind to and deactivate hormones—meaning there may be more free-roaming androgens able to cause pimples. It’s too early to prescribe a dairy ban for anyone zit-plagued. But it may be worth experimenting with a milk-free diet if you have excessive, stubborn breakouts, Dr. Treloar says. (Be sure, however, to take a calcium supplement with vitamin D.)

Spicy foods

Trouble Rosacea sufferers know to avoid five-alarm meals. But if you have fair, sun-damaged skin, hot-and-spicy foods may lead to the condition or to a red, blotchy complexion. “UV exposure weakens blood vessel walls. If your skin then repeatedly flushes, which swells vessels, they may not be able to shrink back down,” Dr. Treloar says.


Treat Reds are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that help fight skin-damaging free radicals. But sip no more than one glass a day, says Katherine Brooking, R.D., of NYC. Excessive alcohol halts your body’s release of its antidiuretic hormone. As a result, you make extra visits to the ladies’ room and end up not only feeling dehydrated, but having skin that looks dry, with a dull tone and more visible wrinkles. So enjoy wine in moderation—and make a toast to great skin!

What if you can’t get all the right foods every day? Then a high quality pharmaceutical grade supplement which provides optimal levels of all the essential nutrients should be part of your daily diet.

Your Glucosamine product may be useless.

Every day you see ads on TV, online, and in print touting some joint product. Walk down the supplement aisle and you’ll see dozens of different products. All will have Glucosamine, but look closely 99% use Glucosamine Hydrochloride or (HCL). A very few will use Glucosamine Sulfate. If you look at the human trials of the two different forms, the huge majority used and found positive results with glucosamine sulfate, unfortunately Glucosamine HCL is very ineffective in human trials when taken by mouth, but it is also much cheaper than the sulfate form. (see research note below.)

Many companies are very good at marketing hype and making money, they take an inferior product add MSM and chondroitin to help a little, but still the medical research shows that glucosamine sulfate alone is more effective than the other three ingredients combined!

Steven Vlad published a study in the Journal of ARTHRITIS & RHEUMATISM, Vol. 56, No. 7, July 2007, pp 2267-2277 titled: Glucosamine for Pain in Osteoarthritis,Why Do Trial Results Differ? The authors conclusion is “However, we believe that there is sufficient information to conclude that glucosamine hydrochloride lacks efficacy for pain in OA.(Osteoarthritis)” Click here to read the report (You’ll have to create an account with Wiley Intl)

Doctors and Drugs

Have you ever wondered why, if nutritional supplements are so good, why don’t doctors recommend them more? There are thousands of published medical studies which show that nutritional supplements can be extremely effective in preventing and treating many diseases, even some types of cancer can be killed by antioxidants. So why don’t doctors use these instead of drugs which often have dangerous side effects?

Lets first look at the FDA. The FDA says that “Diseases are treated by drugs…” And only doctors can prescribe drugs. So a pharmaceutical company can create a drug, get FDA approval that it is effective against some disease or condition, then they can say that drug X is approved to treat this disease. Doctors can then prescribe that drug for that disease. Conversely, you can not say that a nutritional supplement can treat a disease since they are not drugs.

Next lets look at the pharmaceutical companies. They have worked very hard with the FDA to get all sorts of condition’s classified as a disease. Obesity once was just because you were fat and ate too much. But now obesity is classified as a disease, now you can only treat obesity with a drug. So now that the big pharmaceutical companies have many conditions classified as diseases they can create drugs to treat them. A pharmaceutical company will spend millions on developing are getting FDA approval for a drug. Then they get a patent on that drug and have a lock on that drug for 11 years and can recoup their R&D investment, plus make a nice profit.

So now we have a drug to treat a disease, how do the doctors find out about it? Well sit in a doctors waiting room for a while, especially just before lunch. You’ll see a stream of drug sales reps parading in to pitch their drugs to the doctors. I spoke to one doctor who said that is how he finds out about what is new. So why don’t drug companies market nutritional supplements to the doctors? Simple, they can’t get a patent on a vitamin, mineral, or herb, so there is no money in it.

It is interesting, the drug companies will take a vitamin or herb which is effective against a condition and will try to develop a similar molecule, but different enough to get a patent on it. One example was Saw Palmetto which is very effective against men’s prostrate issues, one drug company came up with a drug which is very similar to the active ingredient in saw palmetto. But it isn’t nearly as effective as saw palmetto and it also has some dangerous side effects – but they got a patent and they now have a drug for doctors to prescribe.

You will also hear of studies which find that a certain vitamin or mineral has no effect against some drug. Dig into these studies and you’ll find that they were often funded by pharmaceutical companies as a way to throw doubt on the effectiveness.

What is difficult for those of us in the nutritional supplement business is that we know there are more effective and more affordable alternatives to many drugs, but since they aren’t drugs we can’t say they can treat a disease. Many companies have been shut down or sanctioned by the FDA for making disease treatment claims. What we can do though is point to published scientific research which shows the effectiveness of some supplement against a disease or condition, and, by the way our product has 100mg of this nutrient in it. For example:

León H, Shibata MC, Sivakumaran S, Dorgan M, Chatterley T, Tsuyuki RT. at the Epidemiology Coordinating and Research (EPICORE) Centre, Edmonton, AB, Canada. found that:
Fish oil supplementation was associated with a significant reduction in deaths from cardiac causes…

Now I can’t say fish oil capsules treat cardiac disease because it is only fish oil – a food, but an intelligent person could make the connection.

Unfortunately big pharma is too big and is too tight with the FDA to ever change this, so it is up to the consumer to search for the truth.