Should We Worry about Mercury in Fish Oil? - Life Extension Blog


Fish and fish oils, which are high in the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are among the super foods whose known benefits continue to expand over decades of research.

Studies have documented protection against chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, depression, age-related macular degeneration, attention deficit disorder, cognitive decline, arthritis, and much more in association with fish and/or fish oil intake.

The extent of the research documenting the benefits of fish is so impressive as to have led one gerontologist to quip that “We ought to put fish in the water.” The predicament is consumers are concerned about consuming [enough] fish because of the potential for mercury contamination.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that has no known benefit in the human body.

The element, which is present in the air due to natural and manmade causes, becomes methylmercury in water.

Larger fish that are higher on the food chain concentrate more methylmercury in their bodies than small fish.



Some of these fish, including swordfish, tilefish, shark, king mackerel and, to a lesser extent, white albacore tuna, have high methylmercury levels and pregnant women are advised to avoid consuming them due to an associated risk of brain damage, vision and hearing problems in their infants.

At one time, pregnant women were advised to limit the intake of other fish as well, but this is no longer the case.

Risk vs. Benefit Analysis

In 2002, the American Heart Association issued a Scientific Statement recommending the intake of omega-3 from fish and plants to help protect the heart.1 While plants such as soy and flax contain the omega-3 fatty acid alpha linoleic acid (ALA), this fatty acid has not been associated with as many benefits as EPA and DHA, which are found in fish or the algae they consume.

A review published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association evaluated the effects of fish or fish oil on cardiovascular risk, methylmercury and fish oil's effect on early neurodevelopment, mercury's risks in adults, and the health impact of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contained in fish. Authors Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, and E. B. Rimm, ScD, concluded that “For major health outcomes among adults, based on both the strength of the evidence and the potential magnitudes of effect, the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks. For women of childbearing age, benefits of modest fish intake, excepting a few selected species, also outweigh risks.”2

In 2008, research reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at Harvard and the Statens Serum Institut in Cophenhagen concluded that mothers who consumed more fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding actually had children who experienced improved development in comparison with children whose mothers consumed less.3

Seven years later, the journal published a study of Seychelles Islanders, where the larger fish intakes result in methylmercury exposures that are ten times higher as compared to people in the U.S.4 "These findings show no overall association between prenatal exposure to mercury through fish consumption and neurodevelopmental outcomes," reported study coauthor Edwin van Wijngaarden, PhD, of the University of Rochester Department of Public Health Sciences. "It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially adverse effects of mercury."



Interestingly, a study of rats exposed to methylmercury found that supplementation with fish oil  protected DNA from damage that normally results from mercury exposure.


The authors of the study suggest this benefit is due to fish oil’s ability to reduce inflammation.5




An investigation of five brands of fish oil conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found levels of mercury that ranged from negligible to nondetectable.6 Authors S. E. Foran and colleagues noted that the mercury content of fish oils was similar to that which normally occurs in human blood. They suggest that consuming fish oils may be safer than eating fish.

Recent advancements in fish oil production have made the likeliness of any significant presence of mercury even lower than indicated by studies such as these. An effort is made by fish oil suppliers to obtain fish from areas of the ocean that have low contaminant levels. High quality fish oil is distilled, extracted and redistilled which ensures removal of any potential contaminants and a higher concentration of EPA and DHA.

The Bottom Line

While it’s still a good idea to avoid eating swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel, there’s no reason to be concerned about mercury in fish oil if purchased from a reliable supplier. Look for a fish oil that has a Five-Star International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS™) rating to ensure top quality and safety.

References

  1. Kris-Etherton PM et al. Circulation. 2002 Nov 19;106(21):2747-57.
  2. Mozaffarian D et al. JAMA. 2006 Oct 18;296(15):1885-99.
  3. Oken E et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):789-96.
  4. Strain JJ et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar;101(3):530-7.
  5. Grotto D et al. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2011 Mar;74(3):487-93.
  6. Foran SE et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2003 Dec;127(12):1603-5.

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Why “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Work for Nutrition - Life Extension Blog

Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP)

Why We Need Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins are organic compounds needed in the body. These are micronutrients that are essential to life.

We only need vitamins in relatively small amounts (as compared to macronutrients such as carbs, proteins, and fat), but they are incredibly important due to their roles in growth, digestion, energy transfer, nervous system function, and more.

These micronutrients also act as co-factors for enzymes, allowing all activities that occur in the body to be carried out properly.

Minerals serve as building blocks for body structures and can act as electrolytes. They are needed for the formation of blood and bone, to maintain healthy nerve function, to regulate muscle tone, and more. Like vitamins, they act as co-enzymes and are essential for the proper use of vitamins and other nutrients.

Many factors can influence our vitamin and mineral requirements including gender, malabsorption problems, exercise, and age-related changes. For this reason, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to meeting vitamin and mineral needs.

Is the RDA enough? What is ODI?

Estimated Average Requirement (EARs) is used to calculate the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals. It is important to know that EARs only accounts for the bare minimum required to ward off vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and rickets, in half the healthy individuals in a life-stage and gender group. They do not account for the amounts needed for optimal health status. Optimum Daily Intakes (ODIs), on the other hand, are the amounts of nutrients needed to enhance our health. Why should we settle for the bare minimum when it comes to our health, shouldn’t our goal be to achieve optimal health?

In an ideal world, we would get the nutrients we need from our food, but in reality, that is rarely the case. A study of 70 athlete diets showed that every single diet analyzed was deficient in at least three nutrients while other diets were deficient in up to 15 nutrients! Another study looked at four popular diet plans, like the Atkins Diet, and found that all four diets failed to meet minimum RDAs for all 27 micro-nutrients analyzed.

In our modern world, we are surrounded by chemical pollution and are chronically stressed, which both increase our nutritional requirements. Meanwhile, conventional farming practices have depleted the soil of many key nutrients. Along with harvesting and shipping practices, extensive processing and improper storage, the food that is finally reaching our tables has far from the nutrient density it used to have.

For these reasons, supplementation is necessary for optimum health. Use only quality supplements from trusted sources. Inexpensive supplements can mean lower quality and less of the actual beneficial active ingredients.

Common Nutrient Deficiencies

In Canada, where I am from, many adults have inadequate intakes of vitamin D, vitamin A,
magnesium and calcium. Many male adults have inadequate intake of zinc, while female adults have inadequate intake of folate and vitamin B6.

Do you suffer from these common vitamin deficiencies?

Vitamin D

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, so the best source is sun exposure in moderation. Of course, in our neck of the woods that can be difficult for a good portion of the year. In the absence of sun exposure (winter months), a supplement is strongly recommended. A vitamin D deficiency can precipitate and worsen osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. In children, a vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, deformed bones, stunted growth and soft teeth. Vitamin D is also necessary for the absorption and transportation of calcium for bone formation.

Major food sources of vitamin D are eggs, liver, oily fish and mushrooms.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important in the formation of bones and teeth, protects against colds, flu and infections and prevents eye problems as well as some skin disorders.

A deficiency of vitamin A can cause dry hair, dry skin, poor growth, night blindness, insomnia, fatigue, reproductive difficulties, frequent colds and respiratory infections and skin disorders like acne.

Major food sources of vitamin A are carotenoids (red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables), green leafy vegetables, animal livers and eggs.

Magnesium

Nearly 300 essential metabolic reactions rely on magnesium including carbohydrate metabolism, wound healing and DNA and protein synthesis.

Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disorders and alcoholism are at risk of deficiency. Additionally, high intakes of zinc, fiber and protein can decrease absorption.

Supplementation of magnesium can help prevent cardiovascular disease, PMS, depression and muscle twitching. Deficiency signs can include insomnia, irritability, rapid heartbeat and poor digestion.

Food sources of magnesium include whole grains, almonds, green leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, apricots, pumpkin seeds, salmon and beans.

Calcium

Needed for the formation of strong bones and teeth, for the maintenance of healthy gums and the maintenance of a regular heartbeat, calcium is an important mineral also essential in blood clotting and helps prevent cancer.

Deficiency can lead to aching joints, brittle nails, eczema, heart palpitations and tooth decay.

Major food sources of calcium are salmon (with bones), dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast and sesame seeds. Many herbs also contain calcium, including alfalfa, cayenne, chamomile, dandelion and fennel seed.

Contrary to popular belief, some alternative health professionals believe that dairy does NOT contribute to bone strength, and consumption of dairy can actually contribute to the depletion of bone strengthening minerals. Now there’s some food for thought!

Sandy Cardy (CPA, CA, CFP) is a leading authority on tax and estate planning, for many years Sandy helped individuals grow their net worth. But after her own battle with cancer and subsequent full recovery, she immersed herself in researching how to protect your health, as well as your wealth. Today, she shares her practical and inspiring knowledge of how to build a lasting legacy, in all senses of the word. To read more from Sandy please visit her website www.sandycardy.com. You can follow Sandy on Twitter and Like her on Facebook.

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Natural Ways to Protect Against Skin Cancer


After decades of heightened sun-risk awareness, skin cancer is still the most common malignancy in the United States.1 In fact, one in every three diagnosed cancers is a skin malignancy.2

About 87,000 new cases of melanoma of the skin are predicted to be diagnosed in the US in 2017. Nearly 10,000 Americans will die from metastatic melanoma.3

And according to the latest report by the Environmental Working Group,4 almost 75% of sunscreens contain “worrisome ingredients” and offer inferior sun protection. For example, about 70% still contain a compound that, when applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight, generates reactive oxygen species4-6 — meaning increased sunscreen use may be a factor in increased skin cancer rates! Few people realize that the highest-SPF products are often the riskiest.7

Game-changing sunscreen formulas have been developed that block the full spectrum of harmful ultraviolet radiation and provide plant extracts that inhibit and even reverse solar-induced skin damage.

Over the past 40 years, deadly skin melanoma cases have skyrocketed more than four-fold for young men — and more than eight-fold for young women!8 Non-melanoma cases of skin cancer affect over 3 million people.3 Meanwhile continuing ozone layer depletion continues to increase skin cancer risk globally.2

The Escalating Skin Cancer Epidemic

This daily risk goes beyond cancer.

Sun-induced aging of the skin (photoaging) is clinically characterized by deep wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, rough skin, skin-tone loss, dryness, spider veins, leathery appearance, loss of elasticity, and precancerous lesions.9,10 Photoaging occurs most frequently on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, upper chest, hands, and forearms.10

Only about 14% of men and 30% of women regularly wear sunscreen on their face and other exposed skin.11 Many people half-heartedly limit their sun exposure. But effective protection is needed every day, as solar rays damage skin far more than anyone realizes!

Even those who wear sunscreen daily generally apply it incorrectly and fail to reapply it regularly as required. Many consumers apply only 25% to 50% of the recommended amount.12 And it’s still important to avoid unnecessary sun exposure even after proper sunscreen application.13,14

Consumers are often fooled by a high and very misleading sun protection factor, or SPF. All SPF means is that these creams block the UVB rays that affect the superficial epidermis skin layer.7,15 Sure, this helps prevent sunburn — but does nothing to block the UVA radiation that makes up 95% of ultraviolet radiation and causes vastly greater damage.4,15 UVA penetrates more deeply — accelerating skinaging, suppressing immunity, and fostering skin cancer.16-18

Equally misleading are the labels on so-called “broad-spectrum” sunscreens that claim to block carcinogenic UVA radiation in addition to sunburn-causing UVB. The Environmental  Working Group determined that only half of all sunscreens would offer enough UVA protection to be sold in Europe (which has much higher standards).19

Most frightening, the public is led to believe that higher SPF ratings are superior, but they give people a false sense of security. A 100 SPF blocks barely 1% more UV rays than a 50 SPF —although the higher rating encourages longer exposure.7

But any sunscreen will provide some cancer defense, right? Wrong. A 2016 review of sunscreen products found that almost three-fourths of the examined sunscreens contain “worrisome ingredients” that may increase cancer risk, thus defeating the purpose of using them. For example, 70% of the sunscreens evaluated in this report still contain a compound (oxybenzone) that, when applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight, generates reactive oxygen species (ROS).4-6

Armed with a unique new sunscreen option, individuals now have the ability to ensure they don’t become a part of these statistics.

Blocking the Multiple Mechanisms of Ultraviolet Radiation

An effective sun-protection formulation needs to work on different levels because skin damage itself occurs via multiple mechanisms.

UV rays generate free radicals and other substances that damage DNA.20

And ultraviolet light decreases Langerhans cells, specialized immune cells found abundantly in the skin that protect against invading pathogens and participate in the immune response against skin cancer.20-22

UV-ray photons oxidize proteins, correlating with accelerated aging.23-25 This activates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes that break down elastin and collagen, proteins responsible for firm and supple skin.23

Solar radiation-induced oxidative stress also triggers the release of proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors, further damaging elastin and collagen and breaking down the skin’s structural integrity.26

Unique Formulation Safely Blocks Skin Cancer

Science-based topical formulas are now available that safely block solar radiation — while adding a second line of defense against the destructive mechanisms of any UV light reaching the skin.

One of these new sunscreens can be found in a light lotion that readily absorbs into the skin without a white, greasy mess. Health-conscious individuals should apply this formula daily, even on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours if they are remaining outdoors.

This new sunscreen lotion contains ingredients that safely block UV radiation and may reverse its DNA damaging and photoaging effects. Unlike many commercial products, the ingredients in this new lotion formulation rate scores of between 1 and 3 on the hazard scale of the independent Environmental Working Group — a scale that rates “high hazard” chemicals as being between 7 and 10.

The new lotion formulation includes zinc oxide, which blocks both UVA2 and UVA1 rays. Although some products exclusively rely on zinc oxide to fight UVB, it provides incomplete UVB protection. Therefore, this new lotion also contains titanium dioxide, which more effectively reflects and blocks UVB and further blocks UVA2.27

Convenient Spray Bottle Option

For convenient whole body application, a new sunscreen spray has been developed that provides similar benefits to the new lotion. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide cannot be used in this formula because they will clog a spray bottle.

To accommodate a spray mist, scientists combined the following UV-blocking agents: avobenzone to absorb UVA1 rays;27 octocrylene to filter out UVA2 and UVB;27,28 and octisalate and homosalate to fully enhance UVB radiation defense.27

Most spray-on sun products are slow-drying, but this formulation contains just enough alcohol, allowing for instant drying and encouraging convenient reapplications throughout the day.

A review panel assessing this (FDA-approved29) alcohol found no evidence of phototoxicity on the human skin, even at higher concentrations.30

This sunscreen innovation includes a botanical second line of defense against skin cancer and photoaging.

Let’s review its UV-protective mechanisms:

Inhibiting UV’s Skin-Damaging Mechanisms at the Cellular Level

Formulators included an exciting skin-protective discovery — oat beta-glucans — found in cell walls of whole oat (Avena sativa) kernels and clinically demonstrated to provide strong skin-regenerative effects.

Also included are extracts of green tea, licorice, milk thistle, and rosemary, collectively shown to deliver potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and DNA-protective effects that inhibit and repair UV radiation’s skin-destructive effects.

This lineup was specifically indicated by studies that concluded: “These botanicals may favorably supplement sunscreen protection and may provide additional anti-photocarcinogenic protection, including the protection against other skin disorders caused by solar UV radiation.”31

Oat Beta-Glucans

Published in Phytotherapy Research in 2014, a review concluded that beta-glucans strengthen the 24
skin’s ability to inhibit environmentally triggered aging and wrinkling.




Green Tea Extract

Green tea-treated skin has shown less depletion of epidermal Langerhans cells, and photoprotective 25, 32-34
effects against UVA. Adding green tea extract to sunscreens may help thwart skin cancer at multiple stages in its development.

Beyond cancer, studies show that green tea and green tea extract prevent photoaging when used orally or topically.35-39 Significantly, a lab study demonstrated that topically applied green tea polyphenols and EGCG have clearly greater photoprotective efficacy than when taken orally.25

In 2017, a review of previous studies concluded that green tea polyphenols “protect against UV irradiation-stimulated skin photoaging” and inhibit its hyperpigmentation, wrinkling, and immunosuppression.40

Licorice Root Extract

A double-blind study concluded that licorice extract is potentially effective for treating atopic dermatitis — a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. 41 So it came as no surprise when two years later, other researchers found that the licorice constituent glycyrrhizin “might offer protection from the damage induced in humans by UVB radiation.”42


Milk Thistle Extract

Studies document that milk thistle compounds — silibinin and silymarin — deliver potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing properties. 43-48 Significant decreases in skin cancer number and size were shown for topical application of both silymarin and silibinin.47,48


Specifically investigating UV radiation, scientists found that silibinin blocks DNA skin damage and impedes cancer cell growth in mice.48 It may do this in part by enhancing the activity of the p53 gene, which protects against cancer.43 Compellingly, researchers found that silibinin helps repair DNA damage caused by previous exposure to UVB radiation.49

Similarly, silymarin exceptionally protected against skin tumor promotion.47 One investigation concluded that silymarin “may favorably supplement sunscreen protection and provide additional anti-photocarcinogenic protection.”43

Rosemary Extract

Critically, rosemary enhances the body’s ability to eliminate potential carcinogens.50 It slows or stops 51-53 Two rosemary compounds — carnosic and ursolic acids — particularly benefit the skin.54-56

 DNA damage and tumor-cell proliferation, induces tumor-cell apoptosis, and markedly suppresses genes that enable tissue invasion and metastatic spread.

Ursolic acid inhibits reactive oxygen species in skin cells and prevents the skin-aging effects of UVA rays.57 Remarkably, ursolic acid also powerfully blocks the growth of cancerous melanoma cells.56

References

  1. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/index.htm. Accessed February 14, 2017.
  2. Available at: http://www.who.int/uv/faq/skincancer/en/index1.html. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  3. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2017.
  4. Available at: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  5. Schallreuter KU, Wood JM, Farwell DW, et al. Oxybenzone oxidation following solar irradiation of skin: photoprotection versus antioxidant inactivation. J Invest Dermatol. 1996;106(3):583-6.
  6. Hanson KM, Gratton E, Bardeen CJ. Sunscreen enhancement of UV-induced reactive oxygen species in the skin. Free Radic Biol Med. 2006;41(8):1205-12.
  7. Available at: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/whats-wrong-with-high-spf/. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  8. Reed KB, Brewer JD, Lohse CM, et al. Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: an epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clin Proc. 2012;87(4):328-34.
  9. Yaar M, Eller MS, Gilchrest BA. Fifty years of skin aging. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2002;7(1):51-8.
  10. Helfrich YR, Sachs DL, Voorhees JJ. Overview of skin aging and photoaging. Dermatol Nurs. 2008;20(3):177-83; quiz 84.
  11. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/study-most-americans-don-t-use-sunscreen. Accessed February 17, 2017.
  12. Available at: https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  13. Wang SQ, Dusza SW. Assessment of sunscreen knowledge: a pilot survey. Br J Dermatol. 2009;161 Suppl 3:28-32.
  14. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK247163/. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  15. Pandel R, Poljšak B, Godic A, Dahmane R. Skin photoaging and the role of antioxidants in its prevention. ISRN Dermatol. 2013 Sep 12;2013:930164.
  16. Available at: http://www.who.int/uv/faq/uvhealtfac/en/. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  17. Available at: http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  18. Schwarz T. Ultraviolet radiation--immune response. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2005;3 Suppl 2:S11-8.
  19. Available at: http://www.ewg.org/release/Sunscreens-Get-Flunking-Grade-for-UVA-Protection. Accessed February 15, 2017.
  20. Lee CH, Wu SB, Hong CH, et al. Molecular Mechanisms of UV-Induced Apoptosis and Its Effects on Skin Residential Cells: The Implication in UV-Based Phototherapy. Int J Mol Sci. 2013;14(3):6414-35.
  21. Kolgen W, Both H, van Weelden H, et al. Epidermal Langerhans cell depletion after artificial ultraviolet B irradiation of human skin in vivo: apoptosis versus migration. J Invest Dermatol. 2002;118(5):812-7.
  22. Nakano T, Oka K, Sugita T, et al. Antitumor activity of Langerhans cells in radiation therapy for cervical cancer and its modulation with SPG administration. In Vivo. 1993;7(3):257-63.
  23. Fisher GJ, Datta SC, Talwar HS, et al. Molecular basis of sun-induced premature skin ageing and retinoid antagonism. Nature. 1996 Jan 25;379(6563):335-9.
  24. Du B, Bian Z, Xu B. Skin health promotion effects of natural beta-glucan derived from cereals and microorganisms: a review. Phytother Res. 2014;28(2):159-66.
  25. Vayalil PK, Elmets CA, Katiyar SK. Treatment of green tea polyphenols in hydrophilic cream prevents UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins, depletion of antioxidant enzymes and phosphorylation of MAPK proteins in SKH-1 hairless mouse skin. Carcinogenesis. 2003;24(5):927-36.
  26. Chen L, Hu JY, Wang SQ. The role of antioxidants in photoprotection: a critical review. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;67(5):1013-24.
  27. Available at: http://www.skinacea.com/sunscreen/uv-filters-chart.html#.Voj3MO9Iiob. Accessed February 21, 2017.
  28. Available at: http://www.smartskincare.com/skinprotection/sunblocks/sunblock_octocylene.html. Accessed February 21, 2017.
  29. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/Labeling/Claims/ucm2005201.htm. Accessed February 21, 2017.
  30. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Final report of the safety assessment of Alcohol Denat., including SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40, SD Alcohol 40-B, and SD Alcohol 40-C, and the denaturants, Quassin, Brucine Sulfate/Brucine, and Denatonium Benzoate. Int J Toxicol. 2008;27 Suppl 1:1-43.
  31. Baliga MS, Katiyar SK. Chemoprevention of photocarcinogenesis by selected dietary botanicals. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb;5(2):243-53.
  32. Chung JH, Han JH, Hwang EJ, et al. Dual mechanisms of green tea extract (EGCG)-induced cell survival in human epidermal keratinocytes. Faseb J. 2003;17(13):1913-5.
  33. Katiyar SK. Skin photoprotection by green tea: antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. Curr Drug Targets Immune Endocr Metabol Disord. 2003;3(3):234-42.
  34. Chiu A, Kimball AB. Topical vitamins, minerals and botanical ingredients as modulators of environmental and chronological skin damage. Br J Dermatol. 2003;149(4):681-91.
  35. Katiyar S, Elmets CA, Katiyar SK. Green tea and skin cancer: photoimmunology, angiogenesis and DNA repair. J Nutr Biochem. 2007;18(5):287-96.
  36. Elmets CA, Singh D, Tubesing K, et al. Cutaneous photoprotection from ultraviolet injury by green tea polyphenols. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001;44(3):425-32.
  37. Rees JR, Stukel TA, Perry AE, et al. Tea consumption and basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer: results of a case-control study. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;56(5):781-5.
  38. Chiu AE, Chan JL, Kern DG, et al. Double-blinded, placebo controlled trial of green tea extracts in the clinical and histologic appearance of photoaging skin. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31(7 Pt 2):855-60; discussion 60.
  39. Song XZ, Xia JP, Bi ZG. Effects of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate on expression of matrix metalloproteinase-1 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 in fibroblasts irradiated with ultraviolet A. Chin Med J (Engl). 2004;117(12):1838-41.
  40. Roh E, Kim JE, Kwon JY, et al. Molecular mechanisms of green tea polyphenols with protective effects against skin photoaging. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(8):1631-7.
  41. Saeedi M, Morteza-Semnani K, Ghoreishi MR. The treatment of atopic dermatitis with licorice gel. J Dermatolog Treat. 2003;14(3):153-7.
  42. Rossi T, Benassi L, Magnoni C, et al. Effects of glycyrrhizin on UVB-irradiated melanoma cells. In Vivo. 2005;19(1):319-22.
  43. Katiyar SK. Silymarin and skin cancer prevention: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects (Review). Int J Oncol. 2005;26(1):169-76.
  44. Gazak R, Walterova D, Kren V. Silybin and silymarin—new and emerging applications in medicine. Curr Med Chem. 2007;14(3):315-38.
  45. Svobodova A, Zdarilova A, Maliskova J, et al. Attenuation of UVA induced damage to human keratinocytes by silymarin. J Dermatol Sci. 2007;46(1):21-30.
  46. Wright TI, Spencer JM, Flowers FP. Chemoprevention of nonmelanoma skin cancer. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(6):933-46; quiz 47-50.
  47. Lahiri-Chatterjee M, Katiyar SK, Mohan RR, et al. A flavonoid antioxidant, silymarin, affords exceptionally high protection against tumor promotion in the SENCAR mouse skin tumorigenesis model. Cancer Res. 1999;59(3):622-32.
  48. Mallikarjuna G, Dhanalakshmi S, Singh RP, et al. Silibinin protects against photocarcinogenesis via modulation of cell cycle regulators, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and Akt signaling. Cancer Res. 2004;64(17):6349-56.
  49. Singh RP, Agarwal R. Mechanisms and preclinical efficacy of silibinin in preventing skin cancer. Eur J Cancer. 2005 Sep;41(13):1969-79.
  50. Tsai CW, Lin CY, Wang YJ. Carnosic acid induces the NAD(P)H: quinone oxidoreductase 1 expression in rat clone 9 cells through the p38/nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 pathway. J Nutr. 2011;141(12):2119-25.
  51. Slamenova D, Kuboskova K, Horvathova E, et al. Rosemary-stimulated reduction of DNA strand breaks and FPG-sensitive sites in mammalian cells treated with H2O2 or visible light-excited Methylene Blue. Cancer Lett. 2002;177(2):145-53.
  52. Kar S, Palit S, Ball WB, et al. Carnosic acid modulates Akt/IKK/NF-kappaB signaling by PP2A and induces intrinsic and extrinsic pathway mediated apoptosis in human prostate carcinoma PC-3 cells. Apoptosis. 2012;17(7):735-47.
  53. Yesil-Celiktas O, Sevimli C, Bedir E, et al. Inhibitory effects of rosemary extracts, carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid on the growth of various human cancer cell lines. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010;65(2):158-63.
  54. Huang MT, Ho CT, Wang ZY, et al. Inhibition of skin tumorigenesis by rosemary and its constituents carnosol and ursolic acid. Cancer Res. 1994;54(3):701-8.
  55. Offord EA, Gautier JC, Avanti O, et al. Photoprotective potential of lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C and carnosic acid in UVA-irradiated human skin fibroblasts. Free Radic Biol Med. 2002;32(12):1293-303.
  56. Harmand PO, Duval R, Delage C, et al. Ursolic acid induces apoptosis through mitochondrial intrinsic pathway and caspase-3 activation in M4Beu melanoma cells. Int J Cancer. 2005;114(1):1-11.
  57. Soo Lee Y, Jin DQ, Beak SM, et al. Inhibition of ultraviolet-A-modulated signaling pathways by asiatic acid and ursolic acid in HaCaT human keratinocytes. Eur J Pharmacol. 2003;476(3):173-8.

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Beyond Vitamin C: The Health Benefits of Rose Hips


Rose hips are best known in the field of nutrition as a significant source of vitamin C. Vitamin C
supplements with added rose hips have long been a staple of health food store shelves and rose hip tea is popular for colds or flu.

What are rose hips? Rose hips are the small, red fruit of the Rosa genus, which contains more than a hundred species of roses. The fruit appears after the flowers have been pollinated and ripens during late summer and autumn. While indigenous medicine has utilized rose hips from a variety of roses, the dog rose (Rosa canina) is a common source of commercially available rose hips today.

After harvesting, rose hips can be used in tea, jams, syrups, wine, or powdered and added to supplement formulas. In addition to vitamin C, they contain the carotenoids beta-carotene and lycopene, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin which may help protect against macular degeneration. Other compounds identified in rose hips include pectins, organic acids, flavonoids, tannins, fatty acids and vitamins B1, B2, E and K.1

An experiment that tested the effects of a rose hip extract deprived of vitamin C on a type of white blood cell under inflammatory conditions found an inhibitory effect on reactive oxygen species, demonstrating that rose hips’ antioxidant effects are not due solely to their vitamin C content, but also to polyphenolics such as proanthocyanidins and flavonoids.2

Arthritis and Inflammation Management

In addition to helping alleviate the symptoms of colds, rose hips may be worth trying for those who suffer with osteoarthritis. A randomized, double-blind trial that compared the effects of four months of rose hip supplementation to a placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip found improvement in hip joint mobility and discomfort among those treated with rose hips.3 Another randomized trial of knee and hip osteoarthritis patients revealed a reduction in discomfort and the need for medication after three months of daily treatment with rose hips in comparison with a placebo.4 A systematic review of rose hips’ clinical efficacy in supporting joint comfort concluded moderate evidence for powdered rose hip husks and seeds.5

A survey of patients with acute exacerbations of chronic pain, nonspecific low back pain, nonspecific low back discomfort with joint discomfort, and specific lower back discomfort found that treatment with rose hip and seed powder for up to 54 weeks was associated with overall improvement without serious adverse events.6

In rheumatoid arthritis, a double-blind, placebo controlled trial found improvement in disease duration, quality of life and other factors among participants who received encapsulated rose hip powder for six months in comparison with those who received a placebo.7

Rose hips contain a galactolipid compound that has been shown to ease inflammation, which could help explain its benefit in maintaining joint comfort and other inflammatory issues.8 Other research has revealed activity against cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and COX-2, both of which are involved in inflammation.9 In research involving human white blood cells and cartilage cells, powdered rose hips with or without rose hip seeds demonstrated the ability to ease inflammation and support cartilage structure.10

In a study of healthy humans, daily intake of rose hip powder lowered C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, leading the researchers to conclude that “These results indicate that rose hip can ease inflammation and might be used as a replacement or supplement for conventional drug therapies in some inflammatory issues such as joint soreness.”11

Heart and Metabolic Health

Supplementing with rosehips has also been associated with a cardiometabolic benefit. In mice, rose hip supplementation was associated with improved glucose tolerance, less liver fat accumulation, downregulation of lipogenic protein expression, and lower total plasma cholesterol and LDL to HDL ratio in comparison with animals that were not given the supplement.12

Another rodent study found improvements in impaired glucose tolerance, pancreatic beta-cell function and other metabolic factors in spontaneously diabetic rats supplemented with rose hip extract for 12 weeks.13

In obese men and women with or without impaired glucose tolerance, six weeks of daily supplementation with a drink that contained powdered rose hips resulted in lower systolic blood pressure, plasma total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and LDL to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio compared to those who received a control drink, indicating a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.14

Anti-Aging Effects

Most recently, rose hips have been recognized as a source of trans-tiliroside, a compound that increases the activation of the enzyme adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is the body’s master regulating switch. AMPK, found in every cell, stimulates the biogenesis of mitochondria — the cells’ energy-producing plants. It has been described as “a major survival factor in a variety of metabolic stresses and also in the aging process.”15

AMPK activation results in many of the benefits of calorie restriction, an approach that has resulted in an extension of life span in nearly every species in which it has been tested.16 It has been proposed that AMPK ultimately controls the aging process, via its signaling network.17 Loss of AMPK activation during aging has been associated with impaired metabolic regulation and increased oxidative stress, leading to chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders.

Research involving tiliroside derivatives has found an increase in GLUT-4, which transports excess glucose from the blood to the cells where it is used for energy.18 In mice given trans-tiliroside, blood glucose levels after glucose loading were significantly reduced.19

“The Rosa genus is a treasure waiting for further exploration by researchers interested in the development of safe and effective anti-arthritic agents,” concluded a review published in Pharmacological Research.20 Perhaps more exciting is rose hips’ recently discovered benefit as an AMPK activator that could help prevent some of the signs of aging.

It will be interesting to observe the unfoldment of future research associated with the rose: “Queen of Flowers.”

References

  1. Roman I et al. Chem Cent J. 2013 Apr 23;7(1):73.
  2. Daels-Rakotoarison DA et al. Phytother Res. 2002 Mar;16(2):157-61.
  3. Warholm O et al. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp. 2003 Jan;64(1):21-31.
  4. Winther K et al. Scand J Rheumatol. 2005 Jul-Aug;34(4):302-8.
  5. Chrubasik C et al. Phytother Res. 2006 Jan;20(1):1-3.
  6. Chrubasik C et al. Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1141-8.
  7. Willich SN et al. Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):87-93.
  8. Larsen E et al. 2003 Jul;66(7):994-5.
  9. Jäger AK et al. Phytother Res. 2007 Dec;21(12):1251-2.
  10. Schwager J et al. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:105710.
  11. Kharazmi A et al. 1999;7(4):377-86.
  12. Andersson U et al. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jan;300(1):E111-21.
  13. Chen SJ et al. J Sci Food Agric. 2017 Feb 9.
  14. Andersson U et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;66(5):585-90.
  15. Salminen A et al. J Mol Med (Berl). 2011 Jul;89(7):667-76.
  16. López-Lluch G et al. J Physiol. 2016 Apr 15;594(8):2043-60.
  17. Salminen A et al. 2012 Apr;11(2):230-41.
  18. Shi L et al. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 May;92(2):e41-6.
  19. Ninomiya K et al. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2007 Jun 1;17(11):3059-64.
  20. Cheng BC et al. Pharmacol Res. 2016 Dec;114:219-234.

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Decluttering Your Space for Health and Happiness

Jesse Silkoff

If you think the decluttering craze is just for Martha Stewart-wannabes, think again. Environmental factors, like whether our homes are cluttered or clean, can play a big part in our happiness, mental wellness, and ultimately our physical fitness.

In fact, health professionals have linked excess clutter to increased anxiety, depression, and even weight gain. A study led by Cornell University’s Food & Brand Lab, for instance, found that people with messy kitchens tend to consume more calories — and often make worse food choices than those with tidier homes.

This finding supports what decluttering experts have been saying for years. There’s a link between chaotic environments and out-of-control eating habits. Our homes often correlate to our inner life, and if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you may feel like you have absolutely no time for picking up.

Sadly, however, that may end up contributing to anxiety, rather than relieving it, since cluttered environments can tax your brain’s cognitive functioning. Specifically, here’s how clutter affects your mental and physical health — and what you can do about it.

Your Brain on Clutter

There’s a reason we hang on to things long after they’ve stopped serving their purpose. Yale imaging studies show that decluttering actually triggers the same regions of the brain that are stimulated when we feel pain. So if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious in your day-to-day life, keeping these items around you may help you avoid additional suffering — at least in the short term.

Unfortunately, just like overeating, hoarding behaviors avert perceived pain rather than offering solutions to life’s problems. Ironically, these kinds of emotional “shortcuts” usually end up causing more frustration and anxiety in the long run. For instance, a cluttered environment can overtax our cognitive centers, overwhelming the brain with external stimuli — which ratchets up anxiety and competes for our attention when we try to complete high-concentration tasks.

If you’re already prone to self-soothing with external items, like food or shopping, then that clutter can soon become part of a negative cycle: You buy or acquire new things to feel less stressed, then feel more stressed because your home is cluttered with too many things, so you go shopping again. Somewhere, you have to draw the line and take back control over your life. That’s where this next part comes in.

Taking on a Really Messy Home

If you’ve really let your house go (don’t feel embarrassed, we’ve all been there), sometimes just getting started is the biggest obstacle to a clean, decluttered home. Not only do you have to overcome any shame you may feel, you may also feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin — particularly if your emotional resources are overtaxed as it is.

Start Small: Begin with a smaller task, like clearing off a countertop, the kitchen table, or a small part of the floor. Narrowing your focus this way makes the whole job seem less intimidating—and helps you celebrate the small victories. Whatever you do, don’t try to clean your whole house in a day. Organizing experts say that people rarely have the stamina for an extended eight-hour cleaning session.

Don’t Just Sort It, Get Rid of It. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: you’re knee-deep in piles of clothes. You’ve got your “to donate” pile, your “to toss” pile, and your “to keep” pile. But instead of going the full mile and actually taking the clothes to the donation center or out to the curb, you let them sit in a heap in your room for a couple weeks, where eventually they merge with all the junk on your floor. When you start cleaning your home, try to take each job to completion — even if that means a drive to Goodwill.

Find a Home for Things. Try to think of the surfaces in your home as workspaces — not just another place to store junk. For instance, your kitchen counters should be used for food preparation and cooking, and not to hold overflow for a stuffed pantry. Cooking instruments that you don’t use regularly, like a food processor or a rice steamer, can go in the closet or an extra drawer to keep things clear. No room? Purchase a utility shelf from a restaurant supply store — anything to get those surfaces cleaned off.

Cleaning and Exercise Go Hand and Hand

If you’re trying to declutter and get healthier, you’re in luck. Many household chores burn calories, too. According to Reader’s Digest, sweeping or mopping burns about 240 calories an hour — about on par with an hour-long walk. Moving boxes or adjusting furniture, meanwhile, nets you more like 340 calories per hour, so you can definitely fit in a light workout while you clean up.

Of course, if you really want to lose weight and get healthy, you’ll probably need to add in a full workout routine. Stressed, busy people often find that a personal trainer helps keep them going — especially when life gets hectic. A trainer can act like a personal support system, offering the inspiration you need to hit the gym when you feel a little overwhelmed. Hey, you may even find that working out is an even better way to cope with stress than adding to your shoe collection. Your closets will thank you!

Jesse Silkoff is an avid runner and tennis player. He currently resides in Austin, TX where he works as the President and Co-Founder of FitnessTrainer, the leading online marketplace to find a local personal trainer that can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.

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