Lutein and Zeaxanthin Supplement Better Absorbed than Spinach Source Carotenoids

September 08, 2004

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that accumulate in the lens and macular region of the eye. Studies show that these carotenoids protect eye tissue from free radical damage that can cause cataracts and macular degeneration - the major causes of vision loss and blindness with aging. This study compares the absorption of Lutein and Zeaxanthin from spinach puree and from a fatty-based supplement and different models of digestion. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are fatty soluble substances (versus water soluble substances) like all other carotenoids. The digestive tract is an aqueous environment and to absorb fatty soluble nutrients they have to be incorporated into a structure called a micelle just like any other fat, otherwise they will not be absorbed and will not protect you. In this study both Lutein and Zeaxanthin from a fatty based supplement were incorporated into a micelle better than Lutein and Zeaxanthin from spinach puree, indicating they would have better absorption and bioavailability. The study is published in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

This is very important research proving that supplementing the diet with additional Lutein and Zeaxanthin is desirable for protecting eye tissue. In this study both spinach and supplement derived carotenoids were absorbed with the supplement outperforming the spinach.

Heavy Coffee Drinking Increases the Risk of Dying from a Heart Attack

The effects of coffee drinking on both nonfatal and fatal eart attack was studied in 1971 men aged 42 to 60 years old and free of symptoms of coronary heart disease in the years 1984-1989. The men were followed for an average of 14 years in which time 269 suffered acute coronary events. Drinking a cup and a half daily (375ml or less which is 12.5 ounces) was considered light coffee consumption, and drinking over 3 cups a day (814ml or 27 ounces) was considered heavy consumption. Heavy coffee consumption absolutely increased the current risk of developing a major heart attack or dying from a heart attack independently of known risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. The study is published in the September 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Night Light Suspected in Increased Number of Childhood Leukemia Cases

The incidence of childhood leukemia has risen by approximately 50% in children under five years old since the 1950s. Ionizing radiation, chemicals, viruses and other infections, and electromagnetic fields have been associated with the disease. There is growing evidence that increased night light is associated with particular cancers; light at night and shift work disrupts the body's internal clock (the circadian rhythm of sleep, awake, hunger, etc.), and this is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer, now scientists are suspecting a link with the increased levels of childhood leukemia. Exposure to light at night suppresses the normal nocturnal production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-awake and other normal patterns of a normal-healthy life. Reducing levels of melatonin is linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. As an antioxidant-hormone melatonin protects genetic material (DNA) from inflammatory damage. Once DNA is damaged it can mutate and pass these mutated genes along to emerging cells, initiating the cancer process. Genes and proteins that react to the melatonin-controlled circadian rhythm interact closely with the cycle of healthy cells and the proliferation of cells. Cancer can develop when the cycle of a cell is disrupted and the cells proliferate abnormally. The timing of chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of children's leukemia's and the risk of relapsing cancer is connected showing a correlation with rhythm. Increasing levels of nighttime light that disturbs the circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin production may be associated with the increase in childhood leukemia. The research was presented this week at the First International Scientific Conference on Childhood Leukemia.

Valerian and Sleep

Scientists reviewed available research on the herb Valerian and found that it has sedative and muscle-relaxing effects. Studies on Insomnia shows that it can significantly improve sleep complaints with remarkably few side effects - it is very safe. Early research indicates that Valerian has activity and characteristics different than benzodiazepine drugs (such as Valium which is named after Valerian), making Valerian more suitable for long-term use. The study appears in the October 6th, 2001 issue of the journal CNS Spectrum.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

The German E-Commission official monograph approves Valerian for restlessness, and sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions. Valerian has been reported to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasms, decrease stress and anxiety, and improve sleep quality. The World Health Organization recognizes Valerian for the following - mild sedative (relaxing, antistress), sleep-promoting agent, useful for treating states of nervous excitation and anxiety induced sleep disturbances. I find Valerian works especially well with the herb Hops and the amino acid L-Theanine.

A Combination of Valerian and Hops Successfully Opposed Stimulation by a High Dose of Caffeine

EEG brain reading shows that a combination of the herbs Valerian and Hops reduced stimulation by a 200mg dose of caffeine (a high dose) and totally inhibited the stimulation with a higher dose of Valerian/Hops. The study is published in the July 2004 issue of the journal Planta Med.

Valerian Prevents Alzheimer's Brain Damage in Mice

Beta-amyloid is a protein that causes massive brain cell destruction in Alzheimer's disease. Valerian extract prevented brain cell damage that would normally be caused by the toxicity from an injection of beta-amyloid protein. The Valerian extract worked in many ways to prevent neurological damage including preventing over-excitation that can lead to toxic damage to brain tissue, and also as an antioxidant. The study is published in the journal Neurotoxicity Research, 2004;6(2).