Russell Jaffe, MD, Ph.D., CCN, FASCP, FRSM
Fellow, Health Studies Collegium
CEO, PERQUE, ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies and RMJH Rx
PERQUE quality supplementation is needed to sustain long-term health, vitality, resilience, and overall well-being. If you’ve heard the opposite, please read on.
Recent headlines and some news stories conclude that supplements are not helpful and may even cause harm. Other reports show more and more evidence that intensive supplements are required, and are actually essential to withstand the toxins to which we are all exposed at a low yet significant level. The negative view of supplements is, in essence, “take none a day” because, “supplements only make expensive urine.” Some recent technical and news stories are categorical in their conclusion that the “data are in and the answer is that supplements never help and may harm.”
Reports such as these disregard other data that active and bioavailable supplements are needed, often at relatively high dose, because of today’s total or allostatic toxin and stress load to which people are routinely exposed.
There are just four categories of toxins. Each and all are oxidative stressors. Collectively, they use up protective antioxidants and minerals while depleting essential amino acids needed for detoxification and cell energy. In turn, this imposes a detoxification burden or biological tax on living systems. Corresponding increases in protective antioxidants are required to reverse this detoxification burden and pay back this biochemical tax on health:
1. Solvents from benzene to chloroform known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs),
2. Persisting organic pollutants (POPs) from fire retardants to phenolic derivatives used in plastics and medicines that too often interfere with hormone messages,
3. Toxic minerals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, nickel…) from chemical production catalysts to mouth amalgams, and
4. Radioisotopes (radioactive iodine, cesium, plutonium…) from Chernobyl, Fukishima, and other sources.
For background, there are over 100,000 novel chemicals in large-scale production. Of these 100,000+ chemicals, barely four percent or 4,000 have been studied alone; less than 40 chemicals have been studied for interactions, according to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Deputy Director. This means there is an absence of data on the impact of these individual chemicals and even more lack of data on what happens when multiple exposures occur regularly. By analogy, toxins are like a dripping faucet that initially stains and then corrodes the vessel or body into which it drips.
As Professor Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of The Autism Revolution, says, “these [toxic] exposures strain the metabolism, physiological adaptive capacities and clearance capacities of the organism beyond anything it was adapted for, particularly in the setting of various common genetic weak points that increase vulnerability.” She stresses that without adequate nutritional supplementation, “this is a recipe for health deterioration, stress, serious disease and eventually even accelerated, costly, painful, early death.”
Another problem is that the scientific method used by those who conclude, “take none a day” is biased and perhaps fatally flawed. The essence of the problem is that these researchers use the following filters that let only information supportive of their point of view be analyzed:
1. Only large scale, long term studies,
2. Only studies that report death (mortality), and,
3. Only the most common commercial forms of nutrients.
With just these three filters, you can start with 20,000 scientific articles and find that barely a few actually meet your “objective” criteria. From the few studies that meet this standard for inclusion, none include the use of safer amounts of standardized natural products shown and multiply confirmed to be of benefit in smaller yet significant studies. Only “work a like” isolated nutrient forms that do not fully work alike are reviewed and, justifiably, rejected. Further, absence of death is often taken as a beneficial outcome in studying nutrients rather than a reason for exclusion from consideration.
In December 2013, a National Library of Medicine PubMed search found 44,388 articles indexed on dietary supplements (1) of which 2,646 are identified as showing favorable outcomes (2).
Specifically, we have always and only used and continue to recommend:
1. Mixed natural forms of vitamins E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) along with selenomethionine are heart, blood vessel, and stroke protective rather than d-alpha tocopherol succinate or acetate, that has no benefit to heart health and dilutes heart-healthy gamma form when taken in larger amounts. (3,4,5,6,7)
2. The eight natural forms of folate rather than folic acid are more helpful and lower risk in nerve development and nerve function from conception through old age (8). Anti-acid medications and anti-inflammatory medications increase the need for folate. (9)
3. Balanced bio-identical B complex vitamins, not pharmacologic use of a single B vitamin, are stimulated to work best as a “team” of enzyme catalysts that make life possible. (10,11,12) B vitamins and sulfur containing amino acids such as cysteine and methionine are responsible for methylation reactions that are critical to successful epigenetic modulation of gene expression (13). Oral contraceptives, common diabetes medications, and stomach acid inhibitors all reduce uptake of vitamins and minerals, particularly B12 and magnesium.
4. Mixed carotenoids, rather than isolated beta-carotene, offer wide-ranging health benefits, from the prostate to the retina because different locations in the body require slightly different forms of antioxidant carotenoid protection. Cancer risk is reduced and nerve function is preserved when full spectrum carotenoids are used for long periods at adequate intake to achieve tissue saturation, while high dose beta-carotene dilutes other carotenoids and thus reduces their benefit. (14,15)
5. Fully buffered and reduced l-ascorbate, not just plain, synthetic “vitamin C,” protects and recycles the body’s connective tissue infrastructure while recycling many other antioxidants from vitamin E to glutathione, taurine to alpha lipoic acid and protects critical cell structures and the mitochondria cell battery from oxidative damage. (16,17) Oxidative stress and inflammation that play important roles in most chronic illnesses means at the cellular level that ascorbate and other protective antioxidants have been depleted. Restoring antioxidant sufficiency recharges the body’s ability to overcome repair deficits and thus resolve inflammation.
6. Helpful fat is turned into powerful communication messengers known as cytokines. While Omega 6 fats are abundant in most people’s diet, individuals who do not consume large amounts of sea vegetables and traditional seafood need to supplement with Omega 3 fats EPA, DHA, and DPA in particular to achieve a healthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats. From lowering blood fats to helping the brains of babies to grow, EPA and DHA are helpful. Use only oils that are molecularly distilled under a nitrogen blanket to remove toxins like mercury and to protect the delicate unsaturated fats from oxidative damage during production.
7. Quercetin dihydrate and soluble orthoproanthocyanidins (OPCs), not other polyphenolic antioxidants that enhance ascorbate benefits more safely and help to sustain innate immune system functions. (18)
8. Sufficient vitamin D requires regular supplementation (19,20), to reduce cancer, autoimmune, and cardiovascular disease risks.
9. Sufficient antioxidants to balance oxidative stress are attainable only through consistent, comprehensive supplementation. (21)
10. Sufficient buffering minerals, particularly magnesium and potassium necessary to balance net cell acid excess production and to block toxic mineral effects (22,23), are attainable only through a healthier diet with regular supplementation. Stomach acid inhibitors reduce mineral uptake and thus promote fracture risks and osteoporosis. (24)
11. At least 40+ grams daily of prebiotic dietary fiber are necessary to feed healthy probiotic organisms. Fermented foods and supplements sufficient to deliver 40+ billion active live organisms each day. It is increasingly clear that healthy microflora crowd out and prevent pathogens from multiplying. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites express themselves when the gut lacks prebiotic fiber and insufficient healthy probiotic microflora to crowd out pathogens; when the microbiome is dysbiotic because of prior uncompensated medical therapy, stress or toxin exposure.
While I was initially a skeptic about the value of intensive supplements, my ignorance came from a lack of education in nutrition during medical and post-graduate training. When I went to debunk attitude and nutrition, environment, and biochemical individuality, I had the great good fortune to meet people eager to open up their rich and deep libraries of information to any and all interested in drinking deeply and experientially. Overcoming my ignorance I have learned that absence of data is too often confused by those not fully informed, with data of absence.
With the current load of toxins in our environment, this is exactly the time to invest in functionally superior and safer, more evidence-based natural products that can neutralize the effects of toxins today, reduce disease risk tomorrow, and help to sustain a prosperous, productive future for generations to come.
Conclusion: Take sufficient safer, effective supplements along with a wide variety of tolerant foods to remove obstacles to recovery due to essential nutrient deficits. In essence, sustainable health includes eating what you can digest, assimilate, and eliminate without burdening your immune defense and repair system.
4. Saldeen T, Li D, Mehta JL. Differential effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol on low-density lipoprotein oxidation, superoxide activity, platelet aggregation and arterial thrombogenesis. J American College Cardiology. Oct 1999; 34(4): 1208-1215.
5. Huang HY, Appel LJ. Supplementation of diets with alpha-tocopherol reduces serum concentrations of gamma- and delta-tocopherol in humans. J Nutrition. Oct 2003;133(10):3137-3140.
6. Jiang Q, Christen S, Shigenaga MK, Ames BN. gamma-tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in the US diet, deserves more attention. American J Clinical Nutrition. 2001; 74(6): 714-722.
7. Ohrvall M, Sundlof G, Vessby B. Gamma, but not alpha, tocopherol levels in serum are reduced in coronary heart disease patients. J Intern Med. 1996;239(2):111-117.
9. Drug induced nutrient depletion handbook by Ross Pelton et al., Lexi-Com, 1999.
10. Kennedy D O et al, Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males, Psychopharmacology, 2010; 211:55–68.
11. Smith AD, Smith SM, de Jager CA, et al. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. PloS one. 2010;5(9):e12244.
12. Selhub J, Bagley LC, Miller J, Rosenberg IH. B vitamins, homocysteine, and neurocognitive function in the elderly. American J Clinical Nutrition. 2000;71(2):614s-620s.
13. Stefan et al. DAN Methylation profiles in type 1 diabetes twins point to strong epigenetic effects on etiology. J Autoimmun. 2013; 47: 1-110.
14. Carughi A et al, Plasma carotenoid concentrations before and after supplementation with a mixed carotenoid mixture, Am J Clin Nutr, 1994; 59(4): 896-899. 15. Kontush A, Spranger T, Reich A, Baum K, Beisiegel U. Lipophilic antioxidants in blood plasma as markers of atherosclerosis: the role of alpha-carotene and gamma-tocopherol. Atherosclerosis. 1999; 144(1):117-122.
16. Englard S, Seifter S (1986) The biochemical functions of ascorbic acid. Annu Rev Nutr 6:365–406
17. Dakhale G N. Supplementation of vitamin C with atypical antipsychotics reduces oxidative stress and improves the outcome of schizophrenia, Psychopharmacology, 2005; 182: 494-498.
18. Jaffe R, Mani J, Polyphenolics Evoke Healing Responses: Clinical Evidence and Role of Predictive Biomarkers, HSC report, 6-2011.
19. Holick M. Vitamin D: Importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, Am J Clin Nutr, 2004; 79(3): 362-371.
20. Li YC. Vitamin D: roles in renal and cardiovascular protection. Current opinion in nephrology and hypertension. 2012;21(1):72-79.
21. Kim S-Y et al, Vitamins, stress and growth: the availability of antioxidants in early life inﬂuences the expression of cryptic genetic variation, J Evol Biol, 2013; 26: 1341-1352.
22. Lu K et al. Arsenic exposure perturbs the gut microbiome and its metabolic profile in mice: An integrated metagenomics analysis. Envion Health Perspect, 2014: DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307429
23. Sofi M H et al. pH of drinking water influences the composition of gut microbiome and type 1 diabetes incidence. Diabetes, 2013; PMID: 24194504
24. Seifter JL. Acidbase disorders. in: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011: chap 120.