Specific Supplements and a Few of Their Numerous Benefits

Vitamin E  (d-alpha tocopherol, d-gamma tocopherol)

Not long ago, widespread interest was ignited by studies that reported associations between antioxidants and reduction in death from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Interest continued to increase as even larger studies were published by researchers from Harvard Medical School, who saw a link between higher vitamin E blood levels and lower numbers of cardiovascular deaths. As time goes on, the more we are learning about the tremendous benefits of various antioxidants, as well as minerals, in reducing the risk of developing most chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It helps protect LDL cholesterol, as well as all cell membranes in all organ tissues from oxidative damage. Vitamin E rides along with the triglycerides and cholesterol protecting them from oxidative damage. This has been known for years, and medical studies have touted the benefits of vitamin E. Recent studies show that the natural form of vitamin E is able to reduce the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis beyond its antioxidant effect.  (The full range of the natural form of vitamin E includes: d alpha tocopherol, gamma tocopherol, delta tocopherol, and the tocotrienols.)

Knowing all the benefits of vitamin E, can you imagine my shock in 2005 when I read in one of my medical journals a three page report regarding the results from the Nurses Health Study that vitamin E was “shown NOT to reduce the risk of heart disease?” This was a powerful and statistically significant study, and the main report was actually about how aspirin reduced the risk of stroke in healthy women by 24%. I read that and thought to myself, “okay, I can buy that. I see how aspirin, which thins the blood can reduce the risk of stroke, ...and 24% is statistically significant.”

I also know that aspirin kills over 21,000 people in the United States alone due to gastrointestinal bleeds. The shock came when I saw on the third page of the report, a small headline regarding this study’s corollary findings. The headline read, “Vitamin E Shown Not to Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Heart Disease.” I couldn’t believe it. I wondered how this could be, after 30+ years of studies showing the benefits of vitamin E in maintaining a healthy heart.

Since I knew better, I needed to read further. Sure enough, from the Nurses Health Study about the prevention of heart disease and vitamin E, the report stated …and I’ll quote, “vitamin E showed neither any harm or benefit in all the clinical parameters examined.” My first thought was, good, I’m glad there was no harm …but, how could it be that there was NO benefit? This sounded very definitive. “NO BENEFIT IN ALL THE CLINICAL PARAMETERS EXAMINED!”

Then, I read the very next sentence, “The one exception, vitamin E was shown to confer a 24% decreased risk of cardiovascular death.” As if I was not stunned enough already, after reading this I was really confused. “Wait a minute? ….the previous sentence said that vitamin E showed no benefit in all the clinical parameters in reducing the risk of heart disease ….the one exception being a 24%, decreased risk of cardiovascular death!” Decreasing the risk of cardiovascular death is quite a benefit, wouldn’t you think?

Look at it this way, aspirin reduced the risk of stroke by 24% and it got all the praise, despite it being responsible for killing 21,000 people every year in the U.S. Vitamin E showed no harm whatsoever, and it reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by 24%, and somehow this was of no benefit?

It took a few minutes, but I figured out what was going on. Vitamin E did not show any benefit in all the clinical parameters examined, …you see, I discovered that death was NOT one of the clinical parameters of the study. They just happened to notice that there was a 24% decreased risk of death. The parameters of the study were things like blood pressure, heart rate, arrhythmias, cholesterol levels and ratios, etc. Vitamin E did not change these parameters …all it did was prevent DEATH! Since it did not show any benefits according to the parameters of the study the authors concluded it didn’t do anything ...except prevent against death.

The researchers stated that they were unable to explain the reduced risk of death from heart disease. I can explain it …here, it’s simple: vitamin E protects cholesterol from oxidation. Cholesterol that is not oxidized does not stick to the arterial walls, and if it doesn’t stick to the walls, there is less atherosclerosis, and less atherosclerosis means less heart attacks, and less heart attacks, translates into a reduced risk of death. Can you imagine what the researchers would witness if they had followed the percentage of oxidized cholesterol levels? If they would have tested for lipid peroxidation, that is oxidized cholesterol and triglycerides, they would have seen a profound reduction in this “parameter.”

This Nurses Health Study involving vitamin E was the largest and longest study ever conducted regarding vitamin E among women. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005, this study involving over 40,000 women found that vitamin E reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in women under the age of 65 by 24%, …and even more impressive, in women over the age of 65, vitamin E was shown to reduce the risk of DEATH by an astounding 49%!

A study published in the 1996 report from the National Institutes of Health (Division on Aging), showed impressive results among a study population of 11,178 people using multiple antioxidant vitamins who were followed for ten years. The group of elderly people that supplemented with vitamins E and C above the amounts found in a common multi-vitamin had one-half the number of deaths from heart disease of those who did not supplement. That is a 50% reduction in the number one cause of death!

Furthermore, the supplemented group demonstrated fewer overall deaths from NEARLY ANY CAUSE, INCLUDING CANCER, which was decreased by nearly 60%. Not one study involving drugs comes close to showing such benefits without the risks. Even more impressive, these benefits were found with the use of only a few antioxidants. Can you imagine the benefits possible from using a full range of quality supplements?

Similar findings were published in 1996, by researchers at Cambridge University, in the respected British journal, The Lancet. In the Cambridge Heart Anti-Oxidant Study, or “CHAOS,” 2002 people with advanced heart disease were selected to take either vitamin E supplements or a placebo. Among those taking either 400 IU or 800 IU of vitamin E, non-fatal heart attacks were greatly reduced by as much as 77%. This implies that taking antioxidants is more effective in reducing the risk of nonfatal heart attacks and possibly fatal heart attacks than current treatments, such as the use of aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs combined.


B Complex Vitamins, Vitamin D, and Co-Enzyme Q10

Antioxidants provide protection from many diseases. B-complex vitamins, folic acid and B6, are associated with a reduced risk of heart attack. Researchers also believe that vitamin C provides protection to arterial walls and reduces plaque formation by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage elastic tissues and affect cholesterol profiles.  The epidemic deficiency of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, and supplementation with at least 1000 IU of vitamin D revereses this deficiency and provides numerous and amazing health benefits.  Others have studied the usefulness of a combination of antioxidants, particularly vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C in the prevention of heart disease and found them to be beneficial. In addition, bioflavonoid antioxidants are associated with a reduction in many diseases, including cardiovascular disease.  Add to this benefits of co-enzyme Q10 and olive phenol antioxidants—and one can truly benefit beyond taking any medications.


Vitamin C

Various antioxidants work synergistically, each contributing to the fight against free radicals in different areas and in different ways. In the blood stream, water-soluble antioxidants, such as vitamin C, and grape seed extract come in contact with and neutralize free radicals before they damage LDL-cholesterol. Other antioxidants saturate arterial walls and other tissues, and protect collagen and elastic fibers from free radical damage, reducing inflammation and plaque formation. The fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin E, beta carotene, and co-enzyme Q10 ride along in the blood fat (triglycerides) and LDL cholesterol, protecting them and the endothelium from oxidation. Vitamin E sits on the surface of LDL cholesterol, protecting it from free radical damage.

Vitamin C intake is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. One study found that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 42% lower in men and 25% lower in women who consumed more than 300 mg/day. Recent results from the Nurses’ Health Study, based on the follow-up of more than 85,000 women over a sixteen-year period, also suggest that higher vitamin C intakes may be cardioprotective. Vitamin C and grape seed extract in combination are very powerful in preventing oxidation in all areas; the cholesterol, the endothelium, and deeper in the arterial walls. Furthermore, the two antioxidants replenish vitamin E and other antioxidants to synergistically protect cholesterol and the arterial walls.


Beta Carotene, Grape Seed Extract, Betaine (TMG)

Beta carotene, grape seed extract and olive extract penetrate deeper inside the LDL cholesterol and arterial walls, adding more protection from oxidation. Quercetin and alpha lipoic acid work through nitrous oxide pathways to reduce high blood pressure and prevent spasms of coronary arteries, both being major risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks, and death.

Studies have shown how the B-complex vitamins, particularly folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 help reduce homocysteine levels by facilitating the conversion of homocysteine into the safe amino acid, cysteine. This leaves less homocysteine to oxidize and nick the arterial walls and LDL cholesterol. To further reduce homocysteine levels, one can take the amino acid betaine, also known as tri-methyl-glycine (TMG), as it “back-converts” homocysteine into the safe amino acid, methionine.

The bioflavonoid class of antioxidants such as grape seed extract and quercetin, has been associated with reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke by as much as 50% and possibly as high as 70%. Grape seed extract is one of the more potent antioxidants that neutralize free radical oxidation of cholesterol, the arterial lining, the arterial wall, the liver, the brain, the kidneys, and the skin. Both work synergistically with other antioxidants.

Studies have demonstrated the ability of bioflavonoid antioxidants such as quercetin, to reduce high blood pressure, a well-known risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Doctors commonly turn to antihypertensive medications to lower blood pressure as the first line of treatment for hypertension rather than through safer means. Diet, exercise, weight loss, and the use of vitamins and minerals have all been shown to reduce high blood pressure. If people truly knew how powerful grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid, and quercetin are in reducing LDL oxidation, increasing HDL levels, strengthening arteries and capillaries, and reducing high blood pressure every person would be taking these nutrients.


Green Tea Extract, Soy Isoflavones, Amino Acids

Green tea extract helps to both reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and to lower LDL cholesterol.122 Both actions are necessary, not just the lowering of LDL cholesterol, as with prescription drugs. Green tea extract also reduces the oxidation of the endothelium (the thin layer of cells that line the heart, blood vessels, etc.) Green tea extract increases HDL cholesterol and it helps prevent cancer.

Olive extract has been shown to be even more effective in protecting LDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer than most other antioxidants, but it’s more effective if used in combination with a myriad of antioxidants.

Soy isoflavones have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. A meta-analysis of eight randomized, controlled clinical trials published in the September 1, 2004, issue of the Journal of Nutrition found that soy isoflavones were successful in lowering serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Again, lowering LDL cholesterol is secondary to the primary protective means of protecting LDL from being oxidized; but the action of soy includes cholesterol lowering, plus inhibiting LDL oxidation, protecting against development of atherosclerosis, and reducing risk of thrombosis. The active constituents in soy responsible for these benefits are the isoflavones: genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. Soy along with Co-Q10 has been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer.

The amino acid compound, L-carnosine (not carnitine), is an antioxidant that protects against free radical damage to proteins and DNA. It slows down the aging process of essentially all tissues in the body, i.e., the skin, arteries, and all the other organs, including the brain, therefore reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. And, as mentioned earlier, it is powerful in preventing glycosylation of proteins in diabetics, protecting them from the high levels of oxidative damage that lead to atherosclerosis.  These benefits are magnified when combined synergistically with grape seed and olive extracts, as well as with an important and effective amino acid, L-carnitine.

A differnt amino acid, often confused with L-carnitine, L-carnosine has been shown to help the heart contract more effectively, through enhancing the heart muscles’ use of calcium. This is a very important adjunct to Co-Q10 for those with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy. L-carnosine works in conjunction with L-carnitine to repair and strengthen both skeletal and heart muscle.


Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid protects against oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol and reduces the inflammatory cellular response within arterial walls that produces more oxidative damage and plaque formation. Alpha-lipoic acid along with magnesium is able to prevent and help reduce high blood pressure in diabetics. This happens by raising the levels of glutathione to protect bio-mechanisms that regulate arterial tone. Furthermore, alpha-lipoic acid prevents reperfusion injuries after ischemic injuries, i.e., damage done to tissue when the blood flows back into damaged vessels and leaks into the heart muscle after heart attacks.

The combination of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), vitamin E, grape seed extract, olive extract, green tea extract, quercetin, and Co-Q10 synergistically work together in the prevention of oxidation of LDL cholesterol and the arteries much better than any working alone. All these antioxidants prevent cancer by inducing apoptosis, the self destruction of cancer cells.


Olive Extract

Olive oil and olive extract bestow incredible health benefits. There are particular powerful phenol antioxidants within the fruit of olives that are associated with a significant decreased risk of heart attack and cancer. The Mediterranean diet, in which olive oil is the primary source of fat, has been shown to provide the longest lifespan and lowest incidence of heart disease and cancers. Many studies have shown olive oil reduces death from heart disease by reducing atherosclerosis, plaque formation, lowering LDL cholesterol, preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol, raising HDL cholesterol, and preventing abnormal and potentially lethal clot formation.

Researchers found that countries in which people consumed the highest amount of olive oil had the lowest incidence of heart disease and cancers. People of Greece were found to have the highest consumption of olive oil, particularly those on the island of Crete. On Crete, people traditionally consume 2 to 3 oz. of olive oil per day.

On the island of Crete heart disease and cancers have been rare; 37 times (not 37 percent, but 37 times) lower incidence than that found in the United States! In essence, we can think of heart disease and cancers as rare on Crete as scurvy and rickets are in the United States.

Anyone could consume 2 to 3 oz. of extra virgin olive oil every day to obtain these same benefits, but that would add about 500 to 750 calories to one’s diet and cost an additional $100 U.S. per month. Then, there’s the problem that not all olive oil brands are consistent in their concentrations of antioxidants. The best way to get olive phenol antioxidants is to take a standardized, pharmaceutical-grade olive extract.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids  (Fish Oil, Flax Seed Oil)

Fish oil supplements: essential fatty acids, especially the type that contain concetrated levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) along with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol and inflammation of arteries, and thereby protect the heart. Most commercially available fish oil supplements consist primarily of EPA, yet scientific evidence shows it is the DHA component that is more effective in preventing heart disease. Worse is the concern for mercury – which is more of a problem with eating fish. The best advice I can give is to find a pure fish oil supplement with concentrated DHA levels.

Once again, let us compare the effectiveness of statin drugs with something as simple as fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements. Statin drugs lower LDL, but that has not translated into significantly fewer heart attacks and death, because lowering LDL cholesterol is not the key to preventing disease.

However, the omega-3 essential fatty acids, the components in fish and flaxseed oils that make them so beneficial, actually do decrease death and disease. Fish oil and flaxseed oil reduce ventricular dysrrhythmias, platelet aggregation, and triglycerides. These oils serve to decrease the number of immune cells that adhere to arterial walls, and thus reduce plaque formation. They also increase nitric oxide production, which
lowers blood pressure. And, they reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol!

Omega-3 fatty acids, as found in nuts, oily fish, and flax seed help protect LDL from oxidation, and therefore act like “antioxidant” fats. These fats do not cause damage, do not solidify, and do not stick to the walls of the arteries. They get incorporated into LDL cholesterol and protect it from being oxidized. Thus fish and flaxseed oil reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. There is no comparison between the “benefits” of statin drugs and the actual benefits seen with omega-3 fatty acids.

In a study consisting of 11,323 people who had suffered a heart attack within the previous three months, fish oil supplements (850 mg of EPA=DHA) were shown to reduce the risk of sudden death and repeat heart attacks by 45%, and provide a 20% decrease in total mortality, versus placebo. That is much more significant than any statin drug. Many more studies confirm these powerful and significant results. However, the campaign to put everyone who has survived a heart attack on a statin drug continues, while at the same time a cynical doctor says, “Taking fish oil only gives you bad breath.”

A report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2005 looked at 97 double-blind controlled studies comparing the efficacy of cholesterol lowering statin drugs to fish oil.203 They found that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs reduced the risk of death from heart disease by only 13%, and interesting enough it was NOT due to the effect of lowering cholesterol. The benefits, although small, were derived from the fact that statin drugs have a slight antioxidant effect.

Even more interesting, the salmon oil was shown to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by 23%, nearly double the benefit of statin drugs. Salmon oil is an omega-3 fatty acid that gets incorporated into cholesterol and triglycerides and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Since LDL cholesterol is protected from excessive oxidation there is less plaque build up and less risk of heart disease.



Magnesium relaxes smooth muscles in the arterial walls, thus opening up arteries. It also helps incorporate calcium into the bones when intake of calcium and magnesium are properly balanced, as in a good supplement. Magnesium helps maintain the rhythm of the heart.

Magnesium helps to reduce the risk of arrhythmias and other electrical dysfunctions following a heart attack.

Damage that leads to abnormal heartbeats is worsened by magnesium deficiencies. In addition to magnesium supplementation, researchers are finding promise in the higher rates of survival after heart attacks when high-dose antioxidants are commenced shortly after an attack. Apparently, antioxidants help prevent the mechanisms that lead to vasospasm (the spasm and closing off of small arteries) and blood clot formation. Magnesium can even help reduce the incident and severity of migraine headaches, especially in combination with the other vitamins and minerals, particularly the grape seed extract and turmeric extract. 


Fiber, The Key to "Low Glycemic" Eating

Fiber is essential in the diet in order to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Fiber helps to control the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Diets high in both soluble and insoluble fiber help reduce blood lipid levels, cholesterol, and insulin resistance. Most people barely consume five grams of fiber per day. However, our target should average around 30 grams of fiber per day. High fiber and less simple and starchy foods are what constitutes a healthy “low-glycemic” diet.  (For more information on a low glycemic diet, or weight loss program, please see the Weight Management section.)

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