As 2010 comes to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on exciting new developments over the past year. There were many to choose from, as it was an absolutely enlightening year in nutrition. There were many new discoveries. Some of these discoveries involve new natural products, but most are centered on new positive research on well-established dietary supplements. Here are my top five natural health stories of 2010.
Let’s start with something new. PQQ, short for pyrroloquinoline quinone, is a vitamin-like cofactor that exerts a synergistic effect with CoQ10. It is also vital for the function of mitochondria—the energy-producing compartments of our cells. Like CoQ10, PQQ protects brain cells from damage. It has been shown to enhance memory in animal and human studies, and its antioxidant activity is completely off the charts—about 5,000 times the antioxidant power of vitamin C!
In one study, researchers compared the effects of PQQ and CoQ10 in combination and also alone (20 mg of PQQ and 300 mg of CoQ10 daily). Subjects were asked to perform a Stroop test at the beginning of the study, and then again after four and eight weeks of supplementation. What’s a Stroop test? It’s a standard test used to measure mental processing. Subjects are asked to quickly identify the color of words. It doesn’t sound too tough, but it is—the words are actually non-matching colors. For example, the word “red” is printed in green ink. After eight weeks of supplementation, PQQ produced a 4.2-second improvement, CoQ10 a 1.8-second improvement, and the combination of the nutrients, a 6.3-second improvement. Look for PQQ and CoQ10 products to become very popular in 2011.
2. Vitamin D
|Most health experts suggest 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily—even in apparently healthy adults.|
Without question, the hottest area of research in nutritional supplements is vitamin D. Most of us know how vital vitamin D is for healthy bones, but its role in our health goes beyond that. Modern research shows that vitamin D targets more than 2000 genes in the human body! Higher levels of vitamin D in the diet are associated with a 7 percent increase in life expectancy. Low levels of vitamin D are a major factor in the development of at least 17 varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, influenza—and many other common health conditions.
It is estimated that one out of every two Americans is likely to have blood levels below 20 ng/ml, which indicates vitamin D insufficiency. Most health experts (myself included) now suggest 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily—even in apparently healthy adults. The research definitely supports this higher dosage level. You can also get your vitamin D levels checked through a simple blood test; ask your doctor for more information.
It seems as though Americans are finally discovering maca (Lepidium meyenii), the legendary plant from Peru. Although unrelated to ginseng, maca has been dubbed “Peruvian ginseng” for its ability to increase stamina, energy, and sexual function in men and women. Maca also has been used for centuries in the Andes to enhance fertility in humans.
Maca has been shown to increase seminal volume, sperm count, and sperm motility in healthy adult men; increase sexual desire in menopausal women; help relieve anxiety and depression; and help counteract the negative sexual side effects associated with antidepressants. Interestingly, maca does not appear to affect hormone levels. In an animal study, maca was shown to protect against bone loss without producing any estrogenic effects—promising news for women.
Ch-OSA, short for Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid, is a bioavailable form of silicon, a popular “beauty-from-within” supplement that improves hair, skin, and nail health. More recently, ch-OSA’s bone-protective and collagen-building benefits have come to light. In addition to increasing collagen throughout the body, ch-OSA also boosts the collagen content of bone. A double-blind study showed that 12 months of Ch-OSA supplementation increases bone collagen production by 22 percent and improves bone density by 2 percent—both phenomenal numbers. Ch-OSA may offer an alternative to osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax, Actonel, and Boniva, which are quickly falling out of favor due to lack of real efficacy and serious side effects.
5. Fish Oils
One of the major advances in nutritional medicine has been the introduction of high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade fish oils. According to the latest scientific evidence, a daily dosage of 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) offers protection against heart disease and stroke. When there is a therapeutic indication for EPA and DHA, such as
in elevated triglycerides, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and asthma, the daily dosage is usually 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA. These dosages are based on the levels of EPA and DHA—not the amount of fish oil in the capsules or liquid. Read labels carefully to ensure
you are getting the correct amount.
Michael T. Murray, ND, is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.
Add a little maca to your day with Paradise Herbs & Essentials new Maca Pro (in Chocolate and Vanilla). In addition to maca, the nutrient-dense powder has a full serving of vegetarian pea protein—perfect for smoothies.
Carlson Labs Super D Omega-3 liquid gives you 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 (the most well-absorbed form of vitamin D) and roughly 1,000 mg of DHA and EPA—all in one product.
Quality of Life Labs VitaPQQ has three exciting uses—to help slow the aging process, boost energy, and improve cognitive function.
Natural Factors BioSil offers the ch-OSA form of silicon in veggie capsules and liquid drops (shown here). Read the label carefully for dosage instructions—you’ll need more for the bone-building benefits.