This versatile substance has shown great promise at preventing and treating some of the most troubling health problems of the 21st century. However, there is much more research to be done before science can make definitive statements about its health benefits. Most of the research has been conducted on animals and not on humans, but results are encouraging. Resveratrol is a natural substance used by some plants to protect themselves from fungus and bacteria. The best-known source of resveratrol is red grapes. Other sources include pomegranates, blueberries and Japanese knotweed.
Research in recent years shows resveratrol may slash blood pressure, cut obesity, decrease inflammation, control blood sugar levels, reduce strokes and fight cancer. About a decade ago science identified this red wine ingredient as a substance that may prevent heart disease. Resveratrol amounts in wine do vary greatly from brand to brand, which may be a result of the types of grapes used and where they are grown.
While inflammation is a normal bodily process that helps, you heal, too much inflammation can be a key factor in conditions such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease to name a few. One study used two groups of people, giving one group a resveratrol supplement and the other group a placebo, once a day for six weeks. After blood analysis, the researchers discovered that those who had taken resveratrol showed lower inflammation levels.[i]
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (LA):
Every time you take a breath, you undergo oxidative stress. Your body handles the oxidation process quite well, but a small number of cells will evolve into free radicals. Once let loose, free radicals produce mutant cells and these mutations leave you vulnerable. Free radicals are linked to heart disease and some types of cancer.
Alpha-lipoic acid (LA) is an antioxidant that has been the focus of some health research. It seems to be a versatile nutrient, as it shows potential in treating several health conditions. LA is not only an antioxidant in itself, but it plays a supporting role to other antioxidants, especially glutathione, which is the major antioxidant created by your own body.
Everyone produces small amounts of alpha-lipoic acid naturally. It can also be found in food and is also available in supplement form. LA is found in plant and animal sources. Organ meats like liver are particularly rich in this nutrient. Vegetables that contain healthy amounts of LA include spinach and broccoli. The daily amount of alpha-lipoic acid recommended for healthy people is 200 – 400 mg. If you are a senior or have specific health conditions, ask your chiropractor how to get the right amount of LA.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that can trigger diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In a study of metabolic syndrome, patients receiving 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid over four weeks saw vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) improve 44% compared to the patients who received a placebo.[ii]
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is like a vitamin. It is found in every cell of the body and is used to produce energy your body needs for cell growth and maintenance. It also functions as an antioxidant, which protects the body from damage caused by harmful molecules. CoQ10 is naturally present in small amounts in a wide variety of foods, but levels are particularly high in organ meats such as liver, as well as beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel and peanuts. Coenzymes help enzymes work to digest food and perform other body processes and they help protect the heart and skeletal muscles.
CoQ10 deficiency can occur due to improper diet or if there is a high use by the body. Symptoms of deficiency include heart failure, high blood pressure and chest pain. Depending on the cause of the deficiency, a CoQ10 supplement or increasing dietary intake may be effective. Nearly 40% of hypertension sufferers have low levels of coenzyme Q10.
It may also help reduce the effects certain drugs can have on the heart, muscles and other organs. In 1961, scientists saw that people with cancer had little CoQ10 in their blood. Some research has suggested that CoQ10 helps the immune system and may be useful as a secondary treatment for some types of cancers.[iii]
Reported side effects include rashes, nausea, upper abdominal pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light, irritability, headache, heartburn and fatigue. Taking medication for high cholesterol (statins) or lowering blood sugar causes a decrease of CoQ10 levels and reduces the effects of CoQ10 supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for normal metabolism.[iv] There is tentative evidence that marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce the risk of breast cancer, but this is not conclusive. However, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation greater than one gram daily for at least a year may be protective against cardiac death, sudden death and myocardial infarction in people who have a history of cardiovascular disease. No protective effect against the development of stroke or all-cause mortality was seen in this population.[v] Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids modestly lowers blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) in people with hypertension.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce blood triglyceride levels but do not significantly change the level of LDL or HDL cholesterol in the blood.
Common sources of plant oils containing omega-3 fatty acid include walnut, edible seeds, clary sage seed oil, algal oil, flaxseed oil, and hemp oil. Other sources include fish oils, egg oil, squid oils and krill oil. Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids does not appear to affect the risk of death, cancer or heart disease and fish oil supplement studies have failed to support claims of preventing heart attacks or strokes.
Always tell your medical practitioner or pharmacist about all dietary supplements you are taking before adding another. Your chiropractor can advise you about supplements, nutrition and diet while taking care of your spine. In many cases, no supplements are required if you eat healthy.
[i] An Anti-inflammatory and Reactive Oxygen Species Suppressive Effects of an Extract of Polygonum Cuspidatum Containing Resveratrol – The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 95, No. 9 E1-E.
[ii] Irbesartan and lipoic acid improve endothelial function and reduce markers of inflammation in the metabolic syndrome: results of the Irbesartan and Lipoic Acid in Endothelial Dysfunction (ISLAND) study – Circulation. 2005;111(3):343-348.
[iii] Mayo Clinic research on CoQ10 –
[iv] “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals”. US National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. 2005. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
[v] Casula M, Soranna D, Catapano AL, Corrao G (August 2013). “Long-term effect of high dose omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for secondary prevention of cardiovascular outcomes: A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo controlled trials [corrected]”. Atherosclerosis Supplements. 14 (2): 243–51.doi:10.1016/S1567-5688(13)70005-9.