Confusion about Omega-6

February 6, 2007

Confusion regarding the essential fatty acids is the rule rather than the exception while research regarding their good effects piles up. It’s hard to find head or tail in this subject, but the quick answer is: Eat more fish!

If you want to delve into the depths of this answer, then fasten your safety belt and read on!

There is general agreement that omega-3 fatty acids have a high health value in all of their sources, from linseed oils alpha-linolenic acid to fish’s docosahexaenoic acid and prostaglandin E3.

Is this true about the omega-6 fatty acids?

There is common confusion about the health benefits of essential fatty acids, and this has not been reduced by recent public warnings against the use of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids.

Let’s look into this:

The most common misconception is that it is possible to generalize about all omega-6 fatty acids. It is not. In the industrialized world the problem is that we are inundated with cheap linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found in e.g. corn and sunflower oil. Linoleic acid alone is not that healthy either. If you eat too much of it, you build up deposits of NEFA (which has nothing to do with bicycle lights!) but means that linoleic acid builds up as a non-esterized fat, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (1).
The ratio between our consumption of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be close to 2:1, but unfortunately it is closer to 20:1. The problem with linoleic acid is that we get too much of it because it is cheap.

Linoleic acid must be converted to gamma linolenic acid (GLA), followed by DGLA and prostaglandin E1, before we have the equivalent of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The first conversion (to GLA) requires an enzyme called delta-6-desaturase. There are many people this enzyme. These people are primarily people with allergies and people with diabetes. When you lack this enzyme the only way to avoid getting too much linoleic acid is to take supplementary GLA. GLA is found in evening primrose oil or borage seed oil.

If you do not lack delta-6-desaturase, the best thing to do is to limit linoleic oil intake and increase fish oil consumption.

If we eat fatty fish and fish oil we save more of the enzyme needed to convert linoleic acid to GLA. Therefore, if we balance our linoleic acid consumption with fish oil then we will not suffer as many harmful effects from unconverted omega-6 fatty acid.

Another way of reducing the amount of accumulated linoleic acid is by taking the amino acid L-Carnitine. L-Carnitine functions as a kind of oil pipeline which transports the linoleic acid directly into the cells power plant (the mitochondria), where, with the help of Q10, it is made into energy. This reduces the amount of freely circulating linoleic acid in the blood.

As explained in the above, we should avoid too much linoleic acid, whereas its converted product, GLA, is healthy and good. So the health value of omega-6 fatty acids is dependent on which omega-3 fatty acid is being discussed.

In a large summary article in Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (2), the authors assess a long list of illnesses where GLA has an amazing effect. These include inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and cancers. GLA has been shown to be able to inhibit osteonectin, which is a protein connected cancer metastasis. GLA also has been shown to increase nerve impulse speed in diabetics.

Therefore, omega-6 fatty acids cannot be seen as either all bad or all good. This is especially true when comparing GLA with linoleic acid. Supplementation of both fish oil and GLA is a good idea.

By: Vitality Council

1. Circulating Nonesterified Fatty Acid Level as a Predictive Risk Factor for Sudden Death in the Population. Xavier Jouven, MD, PhD; Marie-Aline Charles, MD; Michel Desnos, MD; Pierre Ducimetière, PhD. Circulation. 2001;104:756.
2. Gamma linolenic acid: an antiinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. Kapoor R, Huang Y-S, Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 2006; 7(6): 531-4.

Remember your daily egg

November 28, 2006

Two new studies indicate that important nutrients, contained in, among other things, egg, play a part in the prevention of the most common type of age related blindness.

Macular degeneration, otherwise known as retinal calcification, is the degeneration of retinal cells in the eye’s macula (a yellow spot in the middle of the eye which is the centre of the visual field and has a high concentration of cells responsible for colour vision). Because the macula is in the centre of the eye, if one looses cells in the macula, one also looses sight in the centre of the eye. This means that peripheral vision is retained. With macular degeneration, it is possible to become oriented in, for example, a room, but it is difficult to see what lies directly ahead, including faces, the TV, or a newspaper. One retains ones sense of space, but is functionally blind. It is very irritating for sufferers because they cannot recognize their children or close friends it they meet them on the street. They cannot see their faces, only a black dot.

The first sign of macular degeneration is that straight lines aren’t seen as being straight, but bend so that text and the blinds in front of the window “bulge.” The next sign is the loss of colour vision, because the macula has the highest concentration of colour discerning cells (cones) in the eye.

Earlier studies have shown that it is possible to reduce the risk of macular degeneration with certain antioxidants. Recent studies are interesting because thy have shown that natural measures can be used to in increase the retina’s contents of important chemicals, thereby decreasing the risk of macular degeneration.

At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA, an analysis of 1,700 older women from the huge Women’s Health Initiative (a study over what it now a period of 15 years including 161,000 women of the ages 50 – 79) showed that their density of macula pigment was positively correlated with the amount of carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and negatively correlated with diabetes and obesity.

A coinciding intervention study was undertaken at the University of New Hampshire, USA, where a group of 24 women, aged 24-59, ate 6 eggs weekly over a period of 12 weeks.

Both lutein and zeaxanthin is found in eggs yolks from which they are readily absorbed into the blood and thereafter concentrated in the retina.

One group received eggs with 331 micrograms lutein and zeaxanthin per yolk. Another received eggs with 964 micrograms lutein and zeaxanthin per yolk and a third group received a daily sugar pill, which they were told contained lutein and zeaxanthin.

I both of the groups which ate the daily egg their levels of lutein and zeaxanthin increased. The same was not true of the group which received the sugar pill. This effect was known from earlier studies with eggs, but this study went one step further and measured the participants density of macula pigment as well as serum – cholesterol and triglycerides at the start of the study and after 4, 8, and 12 weeks.

Serum – cholesterol was not increased in either of the groups which received eggs, but both cholesterol and triglyceride levels increased significantly in the participants who received sugar pills.

Conversely, serum zeaxanthin (not lutein) as well as, importantly, the retina’s content of sight pigment increased in the eggs groups, but not in the sugar group.

Even though there are significantly more carotenoids in vegetables, such as spinach, the authors of the study prefer eggs because of their high bioavailability of lutein and zeaxanthin.

It is nice to, one more time, establish that eggs are good. And they don’t taste too bad either!

By: Vitality Council

• Mares JA, Larowe TL, et al. Predictors of optical density of lutein and zeaxanthin in retinas of older women in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative. Am J Clin Nutr., 2006, 84(5): 1107-1122.
• Wenzel AJ, Gerweck C, et al. A 12-wk egg intervention increases serum zeaxanthin and macular pigment optical density in women. J Nutr., 2006; 136(10): 2568-2573.

Children with ADHD lack magneisum

March 17, 2006

A majority of restless ADHD children were lacking in magnesium. All children improved when given magnesium and B6-vitamin supplements.

In almost all kindergarten classes there are one or two so-called ADHD-children giving the teacher a hard time with their continuous restlessness, running about, violent behaviour and inattentiveness. (ADHD stands for Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder).

Two studies – the only ones conducted – have now shown that a combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 helps.

Why should magnesium help? In a French study 52 children, all diagnosed with ADHD, were examined. The children were typically six years old. If the serum level of magnesium was measured in a normal blood test, normal values were seen. But since almost all magnesium in the body is found inside the cells, this says nothing. It is inside the cells that we must look.

On average, the children only had 4/5 of the amount of magnesium in the cells (in this case, the red blood cells) present in normal adults. They were deficient in magnesium!

Therefore they were given a daily supplement of 6 mg. of magnesium and 0.8 mg. Vitamin B6 per kilo body mass for one to six months. After this, no less than all the children got better. For example, at the beginning of the experiment 26 of the children were deemed physically aggressive. After four months, only six. At the same time their ability to concentrate and their attention span improved (evaluated in an approved manner). Statistically, these results were quite credible.

A weakness in the French study was that it was a so-called open study. There was no untreated control group and the treatment was not blind. This leaves room for coincidence and over-interpretation. On the other hand, the study showed exactly the same as a similar study from 1997. Also, the improvements occurred at the same time as the measurable magnesium deficiency disappeared. When this had happened, treatment was stopped.

Magnesium in the Diet
If it works, it may not be that surprising. The same course of treatment seems to have helped women suffering from irritability and imbalance due to PMS (PreMenstrual Syndrome) in several studies. On top of this comes the generally sedative effect on nerves (magnesium can be used as a local anaesthetic). Magnesium has a relaxing effect on muscles. Does magnesium also have a calming effect on the central nervous system?

Another question is why ADHD-children apparently are deficient in magnesium. The French suggest that genetic factors play a role, but in a majority of the parents, it was not just one, but both of them who were deficient in the mineral. This suggests that nutrition is more important.

A British evaluation indicates that foodstuffs’ content of magnesium has decreased in the past 60 years. It is estimated that today there is 24 and 16 percent less magnesium in vegetables and fruit, respectively, than in 1940. On top of this is an increase in the consumption of sugar. Those who dauntlessly claim that 10 percent of the calories in the diet can be contributed by sugar, are also saying that you can easily omit 10 percent of the diet’s magnesium. Furthermore, less physical work means a decreased need for food generally, thereby decreasing the amount of magnesium we consume. A typical magnesium consumption rate today (3-400 mg. a day) is probably half of what it was 100 years ago.

Something else to consider also is that there is a row of more or less confirmed observations of connections between behavioural disorders in children and teenagers (and criminals) and an unhealthy diet. Is this purely coincidence?
It will take several months to rectify a magnesium deficiency, but it might be worth it to try.

By: Vitality Council

1. Mousain-Bosc et al. Magnesium VitB6 intake reduces central nervous system hyperexcitability in children. J Am Coll Nutrition 2004;23:545S-548S
2. Starobrat-Hermelin et al. The effects of magnesium physiological supplementation on hyperactivity in children with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). Magnes Res 1997;10:143-8

By all Means: Enjoy a great Sauce!

February 11, 2006

One of the know-it-all expert councils has turned out to be wrong – again! A diet without fat does not benefit health.

When it comes to nutrition, the word from on high should be reconsidered. There are many who preach old advice with enthusiasm, sometimes without spouting a glimmer of truth. Nutrition is a question of religion. But it has been ten years since margarine was pushed off its pedestal, two years since sugar fell, and now the end is near for light products.

For years we have been brainwashed to believe that we must eat lean foods in order to be healthy and thin. Even though it seems obvious, this dogma has received some criticism in recent years; including from the results of multitudes of studies where fatty foods replaced easily absorbable carbohydrates. Despite these results, supporters of the old dogma recently had wind in their sails when a well known American nutrition expert misinterpreted a study and claimed that there was proof that when one eats pasta, potatoes and bread, one becomes thin.

Nobody noticed that the study had proven the opposite. Even when one eats lean foods for seven years, there is only a 400 g weight loss. Pasta and bread were not what it took to achieve this miniscule weight loss. In the study more fruit and vegetables made the food light, whereas intake of pasta and corn products was reduced by 20%.

We are used to being led astray, but now we can set the fact that in practice one does not become thinner by avoiding fat in stone. But that isn’t all; three other parts of the same study (Women’s Health Initiative) have now shown that one does not become healthier by avoiding fat.

In any event, a healthy woman between the ages 50 and 79 years cannot count on avoiding breast cancer, colon cancer, stroke, or coronary disease by reducing fat intake by 25% for eight years. Nor does it play a role for her to simultaneously increase fruit and vegetable intake from four to five portions daily.

A large and very thorough interventions study has shown this. It has been called the “Rolls Royce” of studies and it has been so expensive (three billion dollars) that it probably will never be repeated. The conclusions that we must make must therefore be taken from this study.

48,836 American women have participated. Of these 40% were placed on a diet while the rest were used as controls. Typically the women were slightly overweight but, even though they set their fat intake down from 38% to 29% of their caloric intake, they lost very little weight (waist measurement was reduced by an average of 0.8 cm). Blood pressure and cholesterol fell just as little, and the risks of falling ill with the aforementioned diseases did not change.

What was not studied
“The results for all three studies is a complete nothing,” declared leading researcher Michael Thun of the American Caner Society.

“The results must be taken seriously. Diet does not protect at all,” stated statistician David Freedman of Berkeley University. He added: “We in the scientific community often give conclusive advice based on weak groundwork. There we must do experiments.”

But does all this mean that what we eat is not important. Not even close – of course not! One must consider everything that the study did not take into account.

In the first place, there was no focus placed on the use of fish. The Italian intervention study, GISSI, which included 12,000 participants, showed a few years ago that just three grams fish oil daily reduced cardiac death in a high risk group by 30%. It is not the amount, but the kind of fat that is important.

Neither was there focus put on antioxidants. But according to a large American randomised study from 1996, supplements of the antioxidant selenium (200 microgram per day) reduce the risk of many forms of cancer by up to 50%.

That antioxidants are interesting was also seen in the seven year French SUVIMAX study form 2004. Here a fall in mortality was seen in men who received a number of antioxidants (selenium, zinc, vitamins C and E, zinc, and beta carotene) in moderate doses.

Nor was there focus on vitamin D, which is believed to have a future in the prevention of prostate cancer, enlarged prostate, breast cancer, arthritis, among others. Folic acid, which is believed to prevent breast cancer, osteoporosis, and more, was also lacking from the study.

The list could easily be longer. The important find of the study is that the dietary advice that experts have given out for years, without any doubts at all, has been disproved! It has only benefited the lucrative industry of light products.

This should be a wake up call in all camps. When is one an expert?

A study involving an increased fat intake has actually not been made. Therefore results of eating in this way are as yet unknown. Maybe we should just concentrate on eating fat of a higher quality that we are used to. Let us enjoy good butter and healthy olive oil.

By: Vitality Council

1. Prentice R et al. Low fat dietary pattern and risk of invasive breast cancer. JAMA 2006;295:629-42.
2. Buzdar A U. Dietary modification and risk of breast cancer. JAMA 2006;295:691-2.
3. Kolate G. Low-fat diet does not cut health risks, study finds. The New York Times 8.2.06.
4. Beresford S A A et al. Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of colorectal cancer. JAMA 2006;295:643-54.
5. Howard B V. Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease. JAMA 2006;295:655-66.
6. Appel L A. Dietary modification and CVD prevention. JAMA 2006;295:693-5
7. Howard B V. Low-fat dietary pattern and weight change over 7 years. JAMA 2006;295:39-49.

Green Diet And Antioxidants Act Against Prostate Cancer

August 16, 2005

A radically changed lifestyle together with antioxidant supplementation seems to stop the growth of early prostate cancer, while the blood becomes eight times more capable of fighting cancer cells.

Some studies with humans and numerous animal trials and population surveys have indicated that antioxidants counteract cancer. Nevertheless, only a few researchers have examined whether they help against cancer in humans when the disease is a reality. An American trial now shows that this may be the case, at least by cancer in the prostate.

The trial, which has just been published, included 93 men with early-stage prostate cancer. They were selected because they had refused to accept usual cancer treatment.

44 of them were instructed to follow a fairly strict diet where only 10% of calories were allowed to come from fat. They had to have a pure plant diet and avoid dairy products, but in return received a protein supplement in the form of a soy drink. In addition, they had to exercise equivalent to half an hour of brisk walking a day and had to perform various yoga exercises and meditate for another hour. Of course they weren’t allowed to smoke!

You’d think most people would quickly give up such a strict lifestyle. But the vast majority persist, perhaps because they are doing well. The leader of the trial, Dean Ornish, has described that when he let a group of men with bad hearts follow this recipe, their atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries of the heart decreased – mind you, not just in the first year, but quietly in a continuing process that all in all lasted at least five years.

In the current trial, however, Ornish supplemented with nutritional supplements:

  • Vitamin E 400 units/day.
  • Vitamin C: 2 grams/day.
  • Selenium: 200 micrograms/day.
  • Fish oil: 3 grams/day.

Better after a year
All had the so-called PSA value measured, first at the start of the experiment, and again after one year. PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) is an approximate expression of the spread of the cancer. That was the main purpose of the trial to measure what happened to PSA.

What happened was that when a year had passed, the PSA value had fallen by an average of 4% in the 44 in active treatment, while that in the control group – which was closely followed by their own doctor – had increased by 6%.

That in itself was an exciting result. But in addition, six men from the placebo group became so ill that they had to withdraw from the trial and undergo traditional treatment. If the six men from the control group had not dropped out – because they became very ill – the difference would have been even greater.

No actively treated patients left the trial
As a supplement to the PSA measurements, one more experiment was performed. They took serum from all participants and examined how it affected the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory experiments. After a year, a huge difference had emerged: the treated men’s serum inhibited the growth of cancer cells eight times as much as the control group’s!

These results are statistically very confident. One must therefore expect that there is an effect, but what causes it? Was it the predominantly green diet, soy, exercise – or perhaps yoga and meditation? Or was it the antioxidants?

One can only guess. Dean Ornish believes that overall lifestyle changes made the difference. But the assumption that antioxidants help against cancer is of course supported. In any case, the experiment is highly thought-provoking.

By: Vitality Council

Ornish D et al. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. The Journal of Urology 2005;174:1065-70.
Ornish D et al. Intensive lifestyle changes for reversal of coronary heart disease. JAMA 1998;280:2001-7.

Fried Herrings – Are They Really Good For The Heart?

March 15, 2005

An American study says that you can avoid heart flutter (atrial fibrillation) by eating fatty fish. Danish researchers have come to the exact opposite conclusion. Is that because the Danes like fried fish?

An American study concludes that you can avoid atrial fibrillation by eating fatty fish. Danish researchers have come to the exact opposite conclusion.

In the summer of 2004, researchers at Harvard University in Boston published an article stating that if you eat lots of fatty fish, your risk of atrial fibrillation will be reduced.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cause of irregular heartbeat that will occur in a large number of elderly people and will require lifelong anticoagulant treatment.

To be precise, the American researchers had found that the risk of atrial fibrillation was reduced by 35% in people who consumed fatty fish at least five times a week and by 24% in the ones who consumed fatty fish 1 – 3 times a month – compared to people who only ate fish very rarely.

However, the matter is more complex than that: In January 2005, two Danish doctors published an article stating that a large consumption of fatty fish increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. They found the risk to be increased by 44% in the 20% who consumed the most fatty fish compared to the 20% who consumed the least.

Were do we go from that, then? If we take a rough average of the two studies, it will indicate that it does not matter whether or not you eat fatty fish.

But why are the results so conflicting? If we move below the surface, it turns out that the two studies are very different.

The American study included 5000 trial subjects with an average age of 73 years. The Danish study included 50,000 trial subjects with an average age that was 18 years less than the American study, i.e. 55 years.

Almost every fifth of the old Americans suffered atrial fibrillation during the 12-year duration of the American study. In comparison, the same was true for less than 2% of the Danes during the 6-year duration of the Danish study.

In total, the Americans observed more than twice as many trial subjects with atrial fibrillation compared to the Danes (980 and 456, respectively).

Frying distorts the fish oil
How were the person with atrial fibrillation indentified? The American trial subjects went through a cardiac examination every year in which all cases of atrial fibrillation were discovered. Contrary to this, information about the health state of the Danes was solely obtained from the hospitals – it was obviously assumed that all the trial subjects who had suffered atrial fibrillation had been hospitalized.

This discrepancy involves some uncertainty: Even though most trial subjects with atrial fibrillation were hospitalized, it is far from certain that this applied to everyone. Atrial fibrillation can very well be treated by a GP.

It was particularly important that the Americans observed that there is difference in the effect of fried fish and other kinds of fish. Fried fatty fish slightly increased the risk while non-fried (fatty) fish decreased the risk. Fried fatty fish neither increased the blood levels of fish oil (N-3 fatty acids) as non-fried fish does.

The Danish study does not explain how the fish were prepared. There was no distinguishing.

None of the studies explained how many and who took fish oil supplements: In the Danish study the trial subjects had not been given this question and in the American study, the information apparently did not alter the overall result.

To conclude: A detailed and precise American study has established that fatty fish reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation by approximately 33%.
A less detailed Danish study has established the opposite.

However, the size of the study is hardly decisive. It is probably more essential to pay some attention to how the fish was prepared. Fish oil is destroyed by high temperatures which, more or less, transforms the N-3 fatty acids into N-6 fatty acids, transfatty acids, and harmful oxidation products.

The American group has recently published some more news: Fatty fish – that has not been fried – reduces the risk of cerebral haemorrhage to approximately the same degree as is the case with atrial fibrillation. Fatty fish, on the other hand, increases this risk!

By: Vitality Council

1. Dariush Mozaffarian et al. Fish intake and risk of incident atrial fibrillation. Circulation 2004;116:368-73.
2. n-3 Fatty acids consumed from fish and risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter : The Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:50-4
3. Mozaffarian D et al. Fish consumption and stroke risk in elderly individuals: the cardiovascular health study. Arch Intern Med 2005 Jan 24;165(2):200-6.

Broccoli and Spinach are Not Likely to Affect INR Blood Test

December 10, 2004

Promising Dutch study of Vitamin K. The somewhat cryptic headline is probably nonsense to most people, but nevertheless has great importance to all those taking blood-thinning (anticoagulating) medicines such as Marevan (Warfarin) and who are doing the regular blood test control, called INR.

If you are undergoing treatment with anticoagulant drugs such as Marevan, you should regularly be tested with a blood test called INR.

This blood test is designed to estimate if the dose you receive is correct, but it should also prevent overdosing in which the blood would get “too thin”. This condition is dangerous and can result in internal bleeding.

12 healthy volunteers were included in a study in which they were given a correct dosage of anticoagulants for 13 weeks and adjusted to a maintenance dose with a constant and stable INR value that would prevent them from forming blood clots.

Then, they were given increasingly large daily doses of vitamin K from 50 mcg. to 500 mcg. during the course of one week. Not until the dose reached 150 mcg. of vitamin K a day taken as a dietary supplement, was any effect on INR observed. Even at this dose, INR was only affected in 3 out of the 12 trial subjects.

When the trial subjects were given food that is particularly rich in vitamin K, i.e. broccoli and spinach, there was no clinically relevant effect on INR because the effect was so transient, and the authors suggest that the reason might be a poor bioavailability of the vegetables. This may be surprising, as kale, spinach, and broccoli can contain up to 400 mcg. of vitamin K per 100 g.

Doses of 100 mcg. vitamin K as an easily absorbable dietary supplement had no effect on INR.

If this study on healthy, young trial subjects can be repeated with the same result on patients with a predisposition to forming blood clots, it would make life significantly easier on a great number of people who every day stare in despair at the long list of foods containing vitamin K that they are not allowed to eat while taking Marevan.

By: Vitality Council

Schurgers LJ, Shearer MJ, et al: Effect of Vitamin K Intake on the Stability of Oral Anticoagulant Treatment. Dose-Response Relationships in Healthy Subjects. Blood 2004;104(9):2682-2689.

The First Table of the Antioxidant Content of Food

August 12, 2004

Because of the growing interest in antioxidants, two scientific institutions under the American Ministry of Agriculture have prepaired the first extensive table of antioxidants in the diet.

The growing interest in antioxidants has made two scientific institutions under the American Ministry of Agriculture compile the first comprehensive table of the antioxidant content of food.

The reason for this is the increasing belief in antioxidants protecting against atherosclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, old age blindness – and for that matter ageing in general. The latest news is that people who develop oesophageal and gastric cancer generally get significantly less dietary antioxidants than others.

The new table has required an enormous amount of laboratory work and comprises 100 foodstuffs from the vegetable kingdom which, as we know, are the main source of dietary antioxidants. Not only does it show which foodstuffs contain the most antioxidants, it also points out the one with the fewest antioxidants. The type of antioxidants (vitamin E or -C, phenols, carotenoids) is not specified – only the total effect.

Among berries and fruits, the most antioxidants can be found in cranberry, blackcurrants, raspberry, red apples, prunes, and plums. By contrast, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, watermelons, and pineapples are quite poor sources.

In the vegetable group, artichoke is number one, but also dried beans, onions, cabbage, peppers, spinach, and boiled potatoes are good sources of antioxidants, while salad (particularly Iceberg salad), green peas, and raw tomatoes contain significantly less antioxidants. At the bottom is cucumbers with a very low content of antioxidants.

90% of the antioxidants are water-soluble while the rest are fat-soluble and have other properties. It is difficult to get enough of these through the diet but they are present in nuts, oatmeal, avocadoes, broccoli, and artichokes.

Incredibly rich sources of fat-soluble vitamins are the spices cinnamon and (particularly) clove, followed by oregano and basil quite a way down the list. Even small amounts of these spices can have important effects. Chocolate also provides a decent supplement.

Compared to vegetables, berry, fruits, and nuts, cereals such as cornflakes and white bread contain only few antioxidants. People who live on a diet of bread and meat without many spices, who have a traditional breakfast, rarely get other kinds of fruits than bananas, and stick to Iceberg salad with cucumber and tomato will not get many dietary antioxidants!

By: Vitality Council

Xainli Wu, Gary R Beecher, Joanne Holden et al. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric. Food Chem. 2004;52:4026-37.

Feel Safe to Use Ginkgo biloba

June 24, 2004

A large number of people use this natural remedy on account of its ability to improve memory. This ability has been documented in numerous studies, including British ones. According to the press, the WHO is quoted for having warned against a danger of hemorrhage when Ginkgo biloba is consumed together with anticoagulants.

There are reports of two deaths and a number of non-fatal bleedings from a total of 22 countries. The suspicion is that Ginkgo biloba enhances the effect of the anticoagulants.

Anticoagulants themselves involve a serious risk of internal bleedings, and every year, hundreds of people die as a result of taking anticoagulants. Therefore, without a scientific investigation, it is impossible to know whether it is Ginkgo biloba, the anticoagulants, or solely a combination of both that is responsible.

Every year, several hundred people – in Scandinavia alone – die from this inevitable side effect of anticoagulants, but a great many more are saved by it. The fact that some of the people who have suffered a cerebral haemorrhage have used Ginkgo biloba at the same time, in no way proves that the combination is risky.

More than 30 medicaments in general use can either fortify or weaken the effect of anticoagulants. Both situations can be highly dangerous. Examples of medicine that fortify the effect of anticoagulants are sulpha drugs used against cystitis, a number of antibiotics, and common painkillers like aspirin.

Kale, chicory, spinach, and many other vegetables also affect the treatment. That Ginkgo biloba should affect the treatment, however, has been repudiated in the only serious study performed to date. It is of Danish origin and was published in the Danish Weekly Magazine for Medical practitioners last year.

In a double-blind, randomized trial it was established that neither Ginkgo biloba nor co-enzyme Q10 had any influence on the haemorrhagic tendency in the 24 participants who were all being long-term treated with warfarin which is the most commonly used anticoagulant.

Unfortunately, anticoagulants do involve a risk of internal bleedings. This is unevitable. However, there is nothing to indicate that the this risk should be increased by taking Ginkgo biloba. On the contrary; present knowledge indicates the opposite!

Professor Ralph Edwards of the WHO Monitoring Centre in Uppsala, Sweden, feels abused by the press in this matter, as he says:
“We have NOT warned against Ginkgo biloba. There is no news in the statement of the WHO which is only a press release about new guidelines on information regarding dietary supplements and natural medicine. It is not even very likely that Ginkgo biloba should interact with anticoagulants, but it is common sense not to use a vasodilating supplement together with anticoagulants or in relation to an operation.”

By: Vitality Council

Ugeskr Laeger. 2003;4;28;165(18):1868-71. [Effect of Coenzyme Q10 and Ginkgo biloba on warfarin dosage in patients on long-term warfarin treatment. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial].

Also see the original press release of the WHO.

You are Safe to Eat Fruit and Vegetables. No Basis for Over-interpretating scientific study

December 23, 2003

An observational study of 400 women having breast cancer compared with 400 women not having breast cancer has shown, that there is increased risk of Vitamin C intake by eating fruit and vegetables compared with Vitamin C intake by taking dietary supplements.

When we think about it a little bit, we know that it is healthy to eat fruit and vegetables, and so in the name of decency you have to check out such a study carefully.

The authors themselves write quite sensibly that its result is contrary to previous scientific studies about this and that it needs to be investigated further. – Fair enough.

By: Vitality Council

1. Intake of vitamins A, C and E from diet and supplements and breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Cancer Causes and Control 2003;14:695-704. Oct. 2003.
2. Fish intake is positively associated with breast cancer incidence rate. J. Nutrition 2003;133:3664-3669. Nov. 2003.
3. Fruits and vegetable intake differentially affects estrogen receptor negative and positive breast cancer incidence rates. J. Nutrition 2003;133:2342-2347. July 2003.