Friday, December 31, 2010

Understanding amino acid metabolism

Chemical processes by which amino acids are either synthesized or are broken down and are used for energy in the body.
Amino acid synthesis is important because approximately half of the different amino acids used as PROTEIN building blocks can be made from CARBOHYDRATES.
Amino acids such as ALANINE, GLUTAMIC ACID, and GLUTAMINE made by the brain and MUSCLE help transport NITROGEN waste products via the bloodstream to the LIVER for disposal. When amino acids are degraded, the first step (transamination) releases nitrogen with the help of VITAMIN B6. The final nitrogen-containing waste product is UREA. The second step of amino acid degradation requires the oxidation of the carbon atoms of amino acids to produce ATP, the energy currency of cells. The waste product is CARBON DIOXIDE. An alternative route permits the liver to convert most amino acids to blood sugar (GLUCOSE) when the diet does not provide adequate carbohydrates that can be digested to glucose to fuel the brain. This process is called GLUCONEOGENESIS. HEME (the pigment of red blood cells), neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that carry nerve impulses), purines (building blocks of RNA and DNA), and HORMONES represent important amino acid derivatives.

What is Amine?

A very large family of basic organic compounds that contain nitrogen. Amines become positively charged ions (cations) in the blood.
Physiologically important amines include the hormones EPINEPHRINE (adrenaline) and norepinephrine, and neurotransmitters such as ACETYLCHOLINE and SEROTONIN, chemicals released by activated nerve cells. CHOLINE serves as a raw material for both acetylcholine and LECITHIN, a common LIPID of cell membranes. All AMINO ACIDS used to build PROTEINS have properties of amines. Tyramine found in fermented foods is an amine that can cause headache and food sensitivities. A variety of amines in food can react with the food additive nitrite to produce cancer-causing substances (nitrosoamines).

Nutritional Value of Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus; grain amaranth)

A nutritious alternative to WHEAT. The tiny spherical seeds are the size of poppy seeds. Originally grown in Mexico as a staple food of the Aztecs, it was eaten in rituals of Native Americans until the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when its cultivation was outlawed.
Amaranth is now cultivated in the United States, and its excellent nutritional qualities account for its present popularity. Amaranth possesses a higher PROTEIN content than most CEREAL GRAINS; the nutritional value of amaranth protein approaches that of MILK. Its protein contains a high percentage of the essential AMINO ACID lysine, which is low in other grain proteins like wheat. Amaranth does not contain typical wheat ALLERGENS, nor does it contain GLUTEN; therefore, people allergic to wheat can often eat amaranth because it belongs to an unrelated plant family. Amaranth is available in health food stores as a whole grain, a FLOUR, and as CRACKERS and breakfast cereals. Amaranth flour has a nutty flavor and can be used to supplement wheat flour. Popped amaranth seed is mixed with honey to make a Mexican confection known as alegria. Amaranth species have also been cultivated in Asia as a source of greens (een choi in China, hiyu in Japan, and CHAULAI in India). One hundred grams of amaranth provides protein, 15 g; carbohydrate, 66 g; fiber, 4.5 g; fat, 5.7 g; and fat, 4.5 g.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Toxicity of Amanita

A genus of MUSHROOM that includes many poisonous species, along with a few edible ones. Amanita species can be confused with edible mushrooms. The most common cause of mushroom poisoning is the ingestion of A. phalloides (death cap) and A. virosa (destroying angel). These species produce specific toxins called amatoxins and phallotoxins, compounds with cyclic AMINO ACID structures. A single mushroom may contain enough of these poisons to kill an adult. Eating the mushroom can cause LIVER, HEART, and KIDNEY damage, as well as symptoms of common shock and delirium.

Alzheimer’s disease and Nutrition

A progressive, degenerative disease of the brain and the leading cause of SENILITY in the United States. About 4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 65 and nearly half of the population over 85. The disease can also strike younger adults (a small percentage of people in their 30s and 40s have Alzheimer’s). On average, a person lives between eight and 20 years after the onset of symptoms, which include short-term memory loss, difficulty performing simple tasks, and disorientation to time and place. Alzheimer’s disease results from the death of nerve cells in the forebrain and the hippocampus responsible for memory and learning. Patients also have a deficiency of ACETYLCHOLINE, a NEUROTRANSMITTER made by neurons that helps carry nerve impulses between cells. Currently, diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is very difficult, yet a comprehensive diagnosis is critical in treating the senile patient. Symptoms occurring before the age of 65 are designated early-onset Alzheimer’s; after 65, it is called late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Despite intensive research over the last decade, it is not known whether Alzheimer’s disease is a function of AGING, or whether it is the result of a specific disease process. Alzheimer’s seems to be a multifaceted disease, with environmental and genetic factors contributing. There is an association with Down’s syndrome and thyroid disease. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day increases the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Diet also plays a part. A healthy diet with low fat intake may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease; studies also suggest that a high-fat diet during early and mid-adulthood may be associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, especially in people with a genetic marker called apoE-4. In a retrospective study that examined food eaten by 304 men and women (72 with Alzheimer’s disease and 232 healthy individuals), researchers found that people with the apoE-4 gene who also ate the most fat were seven times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than were people with the marker who ate lower-fat diets. In a separate 2000 study of Americans between the ages of 40 and 50, those who carried the apoE-4 gene and whose diet consisted of 40 percent fat calories had 29 times the risk for Alzheimer’s compared to non-apoE-4 carriers on the same high-fat diet.
Some population studies have reported an association between low-fat diets and a lower incidence in Alzheimer’s. For example, in China and Nigeria, where fat intake is low, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is 1 percent at age 65 compared to 5 percent in the United States. In the Netherlands researchers reported an association between dementia and diets high in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
Scientists have identified four genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. APOE-4 is implicated in late-onset cases. This gene can be passed down from one or both parents. Patients who have one copy of the gene have a three times greater risk of developing the disease than do patients who do not. Patients who inherit two copies have an eight times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The other three genes—presenilin 1, presenilin 2, and amyloid precursor protein—are associated with early-onset cases. Nearly everyone who carries one or more of these genes will develop early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Another hypothesis for Alzheimer’s links
chronic CALCIUM deficiency to increased uptake of ALUMINUM and silicon by the brain. Aluminum concentrates in the brains of patients with the disease; whether this is a cause or an effect is unknown. In postmenopausal women, estrogen (hormone) replacement therapy may help prevent Alzheimer’s. The importance of estrogen in brain health is gradually being recognized. Alternatively, there may be alterations in nerve cell membranes. Other evidence links immune system activation with the disease process.
Research points to the following possible causes of senility: exposure to toxins, oxidative damage due to FREE RADICALS, abnormal protein metabolism, slow viruses, the narrowing by cholesterol deposits of arteries feeding the brain, ZINC and VITAMIN B12 deficiencies, head trauma, and adverse drug reactions that decrease blood and oxygen supply to the brain.
Clinical trials of an experimental vaccine for the disease, called AN-1792, were halted abruptly in early 2002 when several participants developed brain inflammation after taking it. The drug was a form of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment found in the amyloid plaques that grow over the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers had hoped exposure to the protein would trigger participants’ IMMUNE SYSTEMs to produce antibodies to the amyloid plaques.
Experiments in mice have shown that FOLIC ACID—a vitamin found in high amounts in dark green, leafy VEGETABLES, CITRUS FRUITS and JUICES, whole wheat BREAD, and dry BEANS—may help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Since 1998 the U.S.
FDA has required the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, CEREALS, FLOURS, CORNMEAL, PASTA, RICE, and other GRAIN products.
There is limited evidence that antioxidants may help fight or prevent some of the brain cell damage in Alzheimer’s disease that may be attributed to free radicals, thus slowing the progression of the disease. In particular, some evidence suggests that vitamin C or vitamin E supplements can slow the course of Alzheimer’s over several years. In a National Institute on Aging study, the antioxidant vitamin E delayed by six months the progression of some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In another National Institute on Aging study, people in the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s who took vitamin E at levels 70 times higher than the recommended daily dose noticed some beneficial effects. At a dose of 2,000 IU daily, vitamin E was able to slow the expected rate of decline compared to patients who did not take the vitamin. Other studies suggest that taking antioxidants (vitamins C and E) might significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In one preliminary Massachusetts study, none of the 50 subjects who used either vitamin C or E developed Alzheimer’s at follow-up studies. In a Dutch study of 5,000 people, a diet high in antioxidants reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Other antioxidants, such as GINKGO biloba and PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE, melatonin, flavonoids (chemicals found in many plants, including fruits and vegetables), and carotenoids (pigments found in plants such as carrots) also may help ease symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Small studies of ginkgo did find slight improvement among patients with Alzheimer’s who took the herb. Although German physicians have approval to use ginkgo to treat Alzheimer’s, and it has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine, North American physicians disagree as to its benefits as a memory treatment.
According to several studies, eating plenty of dark-colored fruits and vegetables may slow brain aging. Extracts of blueberries and strawberries reversed age-related decline in lab animal brain function. Blueberries may be the best anti-Alzheimer’s antioxidant of all. When Tufts University researchers analyzed more than 40 fruits and vegetables, they found that raw blueberries contained the highest level of antioxidants (nearly 60 times the recommended daily levels)—more than blackberries, beets, spinach, and garlic. Animals fed an antioxidant-rich blueberry extract diet showed fewer age-related motor changes and outperformed their study counterparts on memory tests. Some studies on wine have reported a lower risk, but they have not been consistent. It might be that wine may increase even more risk of developing Alzheimer’s for people who carry the apoE-4 gene that has been linked to Alzheimer’s—while protecting people who do not carry the gene. However, supplements containing high doses of antioxidants can cause adverse effects. In addition, high doses of vitamin E are potentially harmful if combined with blood-thinning drugs. No one should take these or any supplements without consulting a doctor.
It is safer to consume antioxidants as part of a healthy diet; antioxidants are found in most dark colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and wheat germ.
Nutritional approaches to treatment employ CHOLINE and LECITHIN (phosphatidylcholine) supplements. The rationale for their use is based on the fact that the brains of diseased patients do not make enough acetylcholine, and supplying this building block could boost acetylcholine production. Results of clinical studies have not shown consistent improvements. Researchers have used drugs that help maintain acetylcholine levels with mixed results. A growth promoter called nerve growth factor may enhance brain function in aged experimental animals. Preliminary research suggests that GINKGO biloba, a leaf extract, is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to enhance NEUROTRANSMITTER function, alleviates the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists are currently studying whether a lowfat, high-fiber diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease just as it lowers the risk of other diseases associated with aging, like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Finnish researchers who studied 1,500 patients for 21 years found that subjects with high CHOLESTEROL and high blood pressure had a corresponding higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. French researchers noted a link between high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s risk.

Aluminum and Human Health

A metallic ion that is widely distributed in water and soil. Drinking water often contains aluminum beyond levels leached from soil and clay because aluminum hydroxide is often added to municipal water supplies to clarify drinking water.
Aluminum is often added to food. Aluminum compounds make PROCESSED FOOD more creamy and pourable. They are quite versatile and are found in INFANT FORMULA, pickles, relishes, BEER, CREAM OF TARTAR, grated CHEESE, canned foods, BAKING POWDER, and self-rising FLOUR. Aluminum is also found in the medicine chest: A major source of aluminum is ANTACIDS (such as Maalox), which have a high aluminum hydroxide content. Antiperspirants, over-the-counter analgesics (pain relievers, such as buffered ASPIRIN for arthritis), and other pain medications contain aluminum. The average daily intake from all sources ranges from 10 to 100 mg. Most of this is not absorbed; of the fraction of aluminum that is absorbed by the body, most is subsequently excreted.
Although aluminum is not a heavy metal, accumulated evidence suggests that this substance may be harmful. Aluminum may cause dialysis dementia, SENILITY, and brain damage in young patients undergoing hemodialysis for kidney failure. Their increased aluminum intake is due to the use of antacids containing aluminum and to the elevated aluminum content of water used for dialysis. More generally, high levels of aluminum may inhibit phosphate uptake by the intestine and may increase CALCIUM losses by excretion by the kidneys. The imbalance may cause brittle bones and may disturb bone formation. Other evidence suggests that excessive aluminum impairs the body’s immunity.
Aluminum seems to accumulate in the brain with age, and high levels of aluminum are found in the brains of victims of ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Whether this is a cause or an effect of the disease is not known.
Patients with kidney disease and anyone regularly consuming antacids that contain aluminum compounds should be aware of the risks. Patients should avoid taking medications containing aluminum with orange juice (CITRIC ACID); this combination can dramatically increase aluminum uptake in the body. Acidic foods like TOMATO sauce, applesauce, and SAUERKRAUT should not be placed in aluminum foil or in uncoated aluminum cookware because these foods dissolve aluminum, which can then be absorbed.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Understanding alpha linolenic acid

Chemically speaking, this FATTY ACID has 18 carbons and a pair of double bonds. It cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. A POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACID, it is classified as an essential dietary nutrient. Alpha linolenic acid is the smallest of the omega-3 family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, distinguished by subtle structural differences in which the double bonds begin at the third carbon from the end. It is the building block of larger omega-3 acids, including EICOSOPENTAENOIC ACID and DOCOSOHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA), which in turn form the PG3 class of PROSTAGLANDINS, hormone-like substances that decrease inflammation, decrease blood clotting and lower blood CHOLESTEROL. PG3 prostaglandins help return the body to equilibrium after physical stress or injury.
Omega-3 fatty acids are deficient in the standard American diet, and this deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and inflammation associated with degenerative disease. Chronic, severe deficiencies impair vision, increase inflammation, and diminish learning curves in experimental animals. The utilization of alpha linolenic acid may be limited in some disease states. The nervous system and brain contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, and there is a positive relationship between the content of these fatty acids in the diet and vision and brain function. Pre-term babies need DHA because their livers are not mature enough to synthesize it from alpha linolenic acid.
Good dietary sources of the omega-3 fatty acids are limited. Breast milk contains omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting their importance in an infant’s growth and development. Food processing destroys or removes the omega-3s, and there are none in FAST FOODS such as PIZZA, fried FISH sandwiches, fried chicken, or HAMBURGERS. The most common sources are fish and FISH OILS, FLAXSEED OIL, and pumpkin seeds; fish oil and flaxseed oil are sold as supplements. Because oils containing essential fatty acids readily oxidize and become rancid they need to be protected from oxygen and heat. They are usually packaged with ANTIOXIDANTS, such as VITAMIN E. Buying small quantities of these oils and refrigerating them in sealed containers after opening reduces the risk of rancidity. These oils should not be used for cooking.

Benefits of Aloe Vera

A succulent plant with long pointed leaves that produces a JUICE with medicinal properties. There are hundreds of different aloe species. Aloe extracts are a folk remedy, long used to treat mild burns, insect bites, abrasions, minor cuts and chafing, fever blisters, poison ivy, and to relieve joint inflammation and allergic reactions. Research has yielded mixed results. Most human studies have been uncontrolled. Evidence suggests that aloe vera may help heal ulcers and gastrointestinal inflammation and fight infections by boosting the immune system. Although a 1985 U.S. FDA study group concluded that aloe vera did not heal burns, recent clinical studies indicate burn healing is speeded up by aloe, possibly by improving collagen formation and by improving blood flow to damaged areas. There is preliminary evidence that aloe may help prevent severe conditions such as CANCER. Very rarely, aloe vera may cause a rash in sensitive people, and pregnant women should not take aloe internally. Aloe vera skin gel may slow the healing of infected surgical incisions.

Nutritional Content of Almond (Prunus amygdalus)

A cultivated, elongated nut with white meat and a brown skin. The almond tree resembles the PEACH, to which it is related. The almond originated in Asia and was known to the Romans as the “Greek nut.” There are two varieties: the sweet almond and the bitter almond, which has a stronger flavor. Almond extracts are used to flavor cakes and pastries, and slivered or flaked sweet almonds are used in cakes, cookies, and pastry. Dried almonds are served raw or roasted and salted. Nuts roasted with coconut or palm oil dramatically increase their caloric content and increase their SATURATED FAT content. Almonds are also used as ingredients of stuffings and couscous, and they can accompany FISH or POULTRY dishes (the garnish is known as amandine). Almonds are a good source of CALCIUM and they are also rich in oil. Most of the oil is monounsaturated and more closely resembles OLIVE OIL than typical vegetable oils like SAFFLOWER oil, which are high in polyunsaturates. One ounce (28 g) of raw, sweet almonds provides 167 calories; carbohydrate, 5.7 g; fiber, 3 g; fat, 14.8 g; protein, 5.9 g; calcium, 75 mg; iron, 1.0 mg; niacin, 0.95 mg; thiamin, 0.06 mg; riboflavin, 0.22 mg.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Immediate Allergy (immediate hypersensitivity)

An inflammatory reaction responsible for the familiar hay fever, asthma, and hives due to exposure to an ALLERGEN. These symptoms seldom leave any doubt as to their cause. The key lies within mast cells, defending cells embedded in tissues, which carry a bound ANTIBODY (IgE) on their surfaces. Upon contact with an invader, mast cells release inflammatory agents such as histamine and leukotrienes that evoke swelling, itchiness, copious mucous secretion, and the spasm of muscles of the intestinal tract and of air passageways (bronchioles). Common materials often trigger fast-developing reactions: dust, pollen, animal dander, medications, disease-producing microorganisms, and pollutants. Seafood, milk, sulfites, PEANUTS, and strawberries are a few of the food-related causes of immediate hypersensitivity. It may come as a surprise that immediate allergic reactions account for a small fraction of food allergies. Most food allergies are of the slow-reacting type.
Anaphylactic shock is the condition resulting from allergic reaction and affects the whole body quickly. It produces labored breathing, fever, erratic heartbeat, violent coughing, hives and edema, even convulsions. This severe response can be life-threatening. Individuals who are susceptible to severe allergy attacks may be advised to carry injectable medications (“bee sting” kits containing adrenalin or other drugs).

Understanding Food Allergy

An abnormal reaction of the IMMUNE SYSTEM to normally harmless foods. An allergic response involves two aspects of the immune system: circulating ANTIBODIES and specialized attack cells. Each branch of the immune system can react to foods as though they were foreign invaders. In contrast, other types of FOOD SENSITIVITY such as LACTOSE INTOLERANCE do not depend on antibody reactions, nor do they involve other aspects of the immune system.
Allergy patterns may change during a lifetime; old sensitivities may vanish, and new ones may appear according to the health of the immune system and to the amount of allergen exposure. Introducing solid foods before an infant’s DIGESTIVE
TRACT is fully developed carries an increased risk of the development of food allergies. Children are more likely to suffer from allergies than adults, though they often outgrow them. Individuals who have relatives with allergies are more prone to develop food allergies themselves. Food allergies are more likely to occur with inadequate nutrition, infections, and physical and emotional stress. Faulty DIGESTION and intestinal inflammation can allow food ALLERGENS to penetrate intestinal barriers and enter the bloodstream.
Depending on how food allergy is defined, estimates of the prevalence of food allergies range from 2 percent to 25 percent of the U.S. population. Opinion is also divided regarding the predominant form of food allergies. Those who consider food allergy an uncommon phenomenon focus on the readily observable, rapid systemic reactions to foods. These generate hay fever–like symptoms (immediate hypersensitivity). Other research indicates that typical food allergies are complex immune reactions resulting in delayed hypersensitivity. They frequently involve antibodies in the blood (IgG type), and symptoms develop over hours or days after consuming the problem food. This delay increases the difficulty in relating a specific food to sometimes vague symptoms.
The most common symptom of food allergy is FATIGUE. Other symptoms range from those typical of PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME to HYPOGLYCEMIA, eczema, irritability, achy joints, puffy eyes with dark circles, or postnasal drip. Food allergies may produce asthma in the respiratory tract; in the brain, insomnia, mood changes, confusion, or fatigue; in the gastrointestinal tract, INDIGESTION, irritable colon, CONSTIPATION, or DIARRHEA.
A simple, proven method of coping with food allergies is abstinence. Avoiding the offending food for several days to several weeks may allow the immune system to return to normal. If symptoms recur when the questionable food is eaten again, that food is probably the culprit. ROTATION DIETS have been devised to minimize exposure to allergenic foods. Because allergy-restricted diets can be difficult to balance nutritionally, those who have multiple food allergies may wish to consult both a physician and a nutritionist. Individuals with food allergies often need to find substitutes for common foods. A wide variety of food allergy cookbooks are now available to help plan delicious, nutritious meals.

Understanding Allergic Rhinitis

This condition refers to allergyn symptoms associated with the chronic inflammation typical of hay fever: a perpetually stuffy, runny nose, sneezing, puffy bags and dark circles under the eyes, and a puffy face. Allergic rhinitis can lead to chronic earaches, especially in children, and to inflamed sinuses (sinusitis). It is more common among children, but can occur at any age. Allergic rhinitis is the result of a specific type of ANTIBODY, IgE, which binds to mast cells, defensive cells of the IMMUNE SYSTEM, to stimulate inflammation. Therefore allergic rhinitis can be measured by a skin test. Nasal symptoms occur immediately after exposure to common allergens, including pollen, animal dander, house dust, mites, insects, MOLD, and foods. Identification of the offending substance and reduced exposure are important; complete avoidance may be curative.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What are allergens?

A substance or agent that causes an allergic reaction. Allergens provoke the IMMUNE SYSTEM when it senses an allergen as a foreign substance and overreacts. This “hypersensitivity” may be immediate, when symptoms appear within minutes to several hours after exposure, or it can be delayed, when symptoms appear hours after exposure or longer.
At the top of the list of food allergens are DAIRY products, PEANUTS, nuts (e.g., HAZELNUTS, CASHEWS), GRAINS (especially WHEAT and CORN), SOYBEAN products, CITRUS FRUITS, and SHELLFISH. The binders and other ingredients of vitamin supplements, as well as HERBS and SPICES, can cause reactions in suscep susceptible individuals. Prescription drugs (including penicillin), antisera, and constituents of infectious agents (including bacteria and viruses, yeast, and parasites) can be allergens. Physical agents, including radiation, heat, and pressure may also provoke inflammation, an aspect of the immune response. In provoking an immune response, allergens typically react with ANTIBODIES, protective proteins formed by specialized cells of the immune system.

What is Alkalosis

Excessive alkalinity (elevated pH) of body fluids caused by either an accumulation of alkaline substances or a reduction in ACIDS. Alkalosis is thus more general than ALKALEMIA (alkaline blood). Respiratory alkalosis occurs with hyperventilation, aspirin poisoning, abnormal brain function, or inadequate oxygen supply, as may occur during exertion at high altitudes. Metabolic alkalosis occurs with severe VOMITING due to losses of hydrogen ions and chloride ions (STOMACH ACID); losses of POTASSIUM due to diuretic therapy; and ingestion of BAKING SODA (or other alkaline substances). Symptoms of both types of alkalosis include shallow breathing, a tingling sensation at fingertips and toes, muscular cramps, and convulsions. Like prolonged ACIDOSIS, alkalosis requires medical intervention.

Alkaloids in our food

A large, diverse class of organic compounds prevalent in the plant kingdom that contain nitrogen and function as bases. Often alkaloids profoundly affect the body’s physiology, and purified alkaloids are even more active. Examples of potent alkaloids include morphine, cocaine, quinine, strychnine, nicotine, CAFFEINE (COFFEE), and theobromine (CHOCOLATE). Depending upon the application and the dose, alkaloids may be used in therapy or they may cause toxicity. Socrates was killed by the alkaloid coniine that occurs in hemlock. Eating quail that have eaten poison hemlock can cause food poisoning in humans. Alkaloids such as nicotine and caffeine are addictive substances. Morphine and cocaine are controlled substances due to their addictive properties.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What is alkaline tide

The slight rise in blood pH following a meal, when the BLOOD temporarily becomes more ALKALINE. When the STOMACH produces hydrochloric acid (STOMACH ACID) for use in DIGESTION, it removes a fraction of negatively charged CHLORIDE ions from circulation. Chloride is then replaced by BICARBONATE in the blood, which tends to raise blood pH. As the meal is digested, chloride ions are reabsorbed by the INTESTINE and again enter the bloodstream. In turn, bicarbonate is reabsorbed and the pH returns to normal. The URINE may become more alkaline during digestion as the body compensates for the change in blood pH.

What is Alkalemia

A blood condition characterized by excessive alkalinity (excessively high pH). A blood pH greater than 7.4 is considered alkaline and rep represents an accumulation of hydroxide ions and depletion of hydrogen ions, CARBON DIOXIDE, and CARBONIC ACID. The body is exquisitely buffered to keep blood pH slightly alkaline, within a very narrow range, 7.35–7.45. However, this equilibrium can be shifted by loss of STOMACH ACID through vomiting; by the consumption of alkaline medications such as those used to treat ulcers; and by rapid breathing (hyperventilation), which rapidly decreases the body’s stores of carbon dioxide. The body compensates for alkalemia and reestablishes normal blood pH by slowing the respiration rate (breathing); this increases the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, which spontaneously forms more carbonic acid. The KIDNEYS can compensate for elevated pH by excreting alkaline urine.

Understanding Alitame

A non-caloric ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER that is 2,000 times sweeter than sugar that has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This sweetener was developed to be safer than ASPARTAME. Unlike aspartame, alitame does not contain phenylalanine and consequently would likely be safe for individuals with PHENYLKETONURIA (PKU), a genetic intolerance to this amino acid.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Understanding Alimentation

The physiologic processes by which food nurtures and maintains the body. These include chewing (MASTICATION), swallowing, and digesting food. Alimentation also encompasses the ABSORPTION of NUTRIENTS (VITAMINS MINERALS, AMINO ACIDS, FAT, CARBOHYDRATES) by the intestine and their use in CATABOLISM (energy production) and in ANABOLISM (building cellular constituents). The term alimentary canal refers to the digestive cavity running from the MOUTH to the anus. Artificial alimentation refers to feeding a patient artificially either by intravenous procedures or by a nasal tube. Forced alimentation is feeding a patient who is unwilling to eat.

Understanding Alginate

(ammonium, calcium, potassium, and sodium salts of alginic acid) A food additive obtained from the giant kelp, a brown algae commercially harvested off the coast of California. Alginate is a major constituent of the cell wall and consists of polymers of acidic sugars Alginate is used by the food industry as a thickening and stabilizing agent because calcium alginate forms very stable gels in water. It prevents jelly in pastries from melting during baking and provides smooth textures to ICE CREAM, YOGURT and CHEESE, CANDY, whipped cream in pressurized cans, and canned frosting. Alginate also helps keep cocoa butter dispersed in chocolate milk. The red PIMENTO stuffed in green OLIVES contains the most alginate (6 percent) of any food source. Alginate is not used in acidic foods and beverage such as salad dressings and SOFT DRINKS, because it forms sediment under these conditions.
Alginate is on the GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE (GRAS) list of the U.S. FDA. Short-term animal testing indicates the alginate is not absorbed by the body and is not toxic. Because alginate forms highly charged gels in water, it remains to be determined whether it can limit the absorption of minerals and other nutrients by the body.

Edible Algae (seaweed)

Simple plants found in fresh water and oceans throughout the world. Algae are largely undifferentiated and, unlike terrestrial plants, algal leaves and stems are composed of the same tissue. Edible species are either grown or collected along coastal intertidal zones. In Japan, six types are consumed, and together they account for an estimated 10 percent of the country’s total food production.
Edible brown algae, which represent most of the edible seaweed harvested worldwide, include arame, hiziki, kelp, and kombu. Edible red algae include CARRAGEENAN (Irish moss), dulse, and nori.
These “sea vegetables” are rich sources of MAGNESIUM, IRON, IODINE, and CALCIUM, and some are as rich in vitamins such as VITAMIN C, BETA-CAROTENE, VITAMIN E, and the B COMPLEX as the best cultivated sources. In addition, various algae are used commercially as sources of gums (AGAR, carrageenan, and ALGINATE). Carrageenan has the ability to form salt gels in milk products and is used to keep fats from separating, and to thicken ICE CREAM. Alginic acid (alginate) in brown seaweed can bind toxic metals in the body and speed their removal. These algae can be added to SOUPS, VEGETABLES, SALADS, BEAN dishes, and GRAINS to add zest and boost nutritional value. Their flavor is neither fishy nor salty. There is little information on toxic metal contamination of any domestic or imported seaweed. One study found very low amounts of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in common imported varieties; the levels were well below limits set by the Food Chemicals Codex of the Food and Nutrition Board. Mercury levels were far below the limits set for fish.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Alfalfa and Nutrition

(Medicago sativa) A LEGUME used primarily for fodder throughout the world. As a nutritional supplement, this plant is a rich source of TRACE MINERALS, BETA-CAROTENE, ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS, VITAMIN K, and the B COMPLEX vitamins. Alfalfa contains significant FIBER and is a rich source of PROTEIN (25 percent by weight). In Asia, alfalfa leaves are used in the form of greens as a VEGETABLE.
Claims that alfalfa boosts the IMMUNE SYSTEM may relate to its trace mineral content. It also has antibacterial activity, and there is some evidence that alfalfa can induce LIVER detoxifying enzymes that destroy toxins and pollutants. Alfalfa contains several classes of compounds, including SAPONINS, STEROLS, and FLAVONOIDS, which can affect the body. For example, alfalfa saponins decrease blood cholesterol levels in lab animals. Alfalfa may reduce damage due to radiation, perhaps due to the ANTIOXIDANTS it contains. Individuals who have heart disease, who are pregnant, who have a tendency to clot easily or take anticoagulants should avoid alfalfa supplements because their vitamin K content may promote blood clotting. Avoid consuming excessive amounts of alfalfa during pregnancy and when breast-feeding, because it contains substances with weak estrogenic activity. Alfalfa sprouts are a healthful alternative to LETTUCE because it contains beta-carotene, VITAMIN C, and trace minerals at levels higher than those found in iceberg lettuce. In contrast with most lettuce, alfalfa sprouts are not treated with PESTICIDES. Alfalfa sprouts (100 g) provide 54 calories; protein, 6 g; carbohydrate, 9.5 g; fiber, 3.1 g; fat, 0.4 g; calcium, 215 mg; iron, 2.3 mg; thiamin 0.13 mg; riboflavin, 0.14 mg; niacin, 0.5 mg.

What is Aldosterone?

A hormone of the adrenal glands responsible for regulating SODIUM in the blood. It is classified as a corticosteroid, a group of hormones synthesized by the adrenal cortex. Aldosterone is the principal MINERALOCORTICOID, which directs the KIDNEYS to conserve SODIUM by reabsorbing sodium and water from urine. In the kidneys, aldosterone stimulates the renal tubules to release POTASSIUM and hydrogen ions in place of sodium, thus increasing urine acidity. Mineralocorticoids also increase sodium reabsorption from sweat, SALIVA, and GASTRIC JUICES. Other steroid hormones, deoxycorticosterone, corticosterone, and progesterone, can also cause sodium retention, though they are much less active.
Stimuli that increase aldosterone secretion include SURGERY, anxiety, physical trauma, high potassium intake, low sodium intake, and diseases of the heart, LIVER, and kidneys. The pituitary hormone ACTH stimulates steroid hormone release from the adrenal glands. Aldosterone is also regulated by the kidneys in response to low serum sodium levels. The kidneys produce an enzyme, RENIN, which forms the hormone ANGIOTENSIN in the blood that stimulates aldosterone release.

What is Aldicarb?

(Temik; Carbamyl) A very toxic insecticide widely used on POTATOES, SOYBEANS, PEANUTS, and citrus crops for control of chewing and sucking insects. Aldicarb was assumed to break down rapidly after application. However, tests show that it can persist in soil for years and contaminate crops planted in the same soil later. Several instances of aldicarb poisoning indicate the potential hazard of using this pesticide.
Symptoms of aldicarb toxicity include seizures, disorientation, blurred vision, and gastrointestinal disorders. The EPA recently limited the use of aldicarb and directed states to determine areas susceptible to contamination and then to monitor them, to assure concentrations do not exceed the limits set by the EPA. Activated charcoal filters can remove aldicarb from drinking water.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Understanding Alcoholism

A condition characterized by an uncontrollable urge to drink, a tolerance to increasing quantities of ALCOHOL, blackout episodes, and withdrawal symptoms during abstinence. Alcoholics frequently deny that they have a problem.
The costs of alcoholism to society are enormous. Excessive alcohol is involved in one out of 10 deaths in America and typically shortens the life span by 10 to 12 years. Alcoholism contributes to accidental death, crime, violence, and abuse. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, half of all fatalities due to automobile accidents have occurred in crashes in which the driver or pedestrian had been drinking. Estimates of the total cost of alcoholism to society range from $65 billion to $117 billion. Alcohol abuse occurs among young people as well as the elderly, encompasses people of all social and economic backgrounds, and women as well as men. Children of alcoholics are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. Individuals may be born susceptible to alcoholism due to imbalanced body chemistry; however, the social environment obviously plays an important role.
Alcoholism leads to disturbances of the GASTROINTESTINAL TRACT: Excessive ethanol directly or indirectly increases chronic intestinal inflammation associated with MALABSORPTION, comprised digestion, and “leaky gut,” in which the intestine more readily absorbs toxins and potentially harmful substances from food and microorganisms that the body recognizes as foreign (antigens). This can set the stage for FOOD INTOLERANCE and systemic effects. Alcohol affects the LIVER, where altered GLUCOSE and GLYCOGEN METABOLISM, fat formation, and fat export can lead to fatty deposits (FATTY LIVER). The ability of the liver to detoxify other potentially damaging materials can also be compromised.
The alcoholic individual faces profound health consequences in terms of MALNUTRITION, heart failure, high blood pressure, damage to pancreas, liver, stomach and brain, and increased risk of CANCER of the mouth and esophagus. Even moderate alcohol intake can cause birth defects if the mother drinks during pregnancy.
Alcoholism is treatable; however, recovery depends on the person’s willingness to accept help. Individualized recovery programs work best and may incorporate family counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, rehabilitation programs, education, behavior modification, vocational guidance, and exercise. Nutritional and medical treatment is often recommended to remedy nutritional deficiencies and alcohol-related disorders and to speed detoxification. A number of clinics treat alcoholism by incorporating lifestyle changes affecting DIET and EXERCISE, while eliminating CAFFEINE and nicotine. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide a very strong support system for recovery.

Understanding alcohol-drug interactions

ALCOHOL interacts with many medications. Drinking alcohol can alter the way the body metabolizes drugs. As an example, the LIVER adapts to alcohol consumption by increasing its battery of drug-destroying ENZYMES. Because a heavy drinker may metabolize a sedative rapidly, its effects could wear off sooner than in a non-drinker, leaving the heavy drinker undersedated. Patients should read prescription labels carefully before drinking, and inform dentists, physicians, pharmacists, and other health care providers if they drink.
Interactions include:
Analgesics Non-prescription pain killers, such as Tylenol, that contain acetaminophen can damage the liver of those who consume several drinks a day. ASPIRIN together with alcohol increases stomach bleeding.
Antidepressants Monoamine oxidase inhibitors,
AMPHETAMINES, and tricyclic antidepressants such as imipramine cause severe reactions and increased sedation, if taken with alcohol. Taking any one of several antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, can increase the effects of alcohol, including drowsiness and impaired motor skills.
Antihistamines Drinking after taking drugs like benadryl can lead to excessive drowsiness. Arthritis Medications Indocin and other drugs prescribed for arthritis taken with alcohol can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and may cause dizziness.
Barbiturates Alcohol should never be combined with drugs like amytal or phenobarbital, which is the most hazardous combination. The additive effects of taking the depressants can lead to respiratory failure and coma.
Diabetic Medications Individuals taking Diabinese, Orinase, and other sulfonureas to treat diabetes will probably not be able to tolerate alcohol because these drugs can make the user ill after drinking alcoholic beverages.
Niacin Large doses of niacin taken with alcohol can reduce blood pressure excessively. Prescription Pain Killers Codeine and narcotics combined with alcohol cause increased sedation. Sedatives and Tranquilizers Combining alcohol and tranquilizers such as Valium and Thorazine can lead to oversedation and extreme drowsiness.

Bad Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Possible consequences of excessive alcohol consumption including the following:
Birth Defects and Mental Retardation in Infants Drinking during pregnancy can lead to.
Addiction Alcoholism is one of the most common addictions.
Intoxication Excessive alcohol can lead to a progressive deterioration of mental functioning.
Alcohol is a depressant and slows down the nervous system, especially the brain. While moderate drinking can be relaxing, being intoxicated means the control centers are blocked, which can lead to memory lapses, decreased coordination, loss of inhibitions, confusion, mood swings, and depression. Most individuals will be adversely affected when the alcohol content of the blood rises above a threshold value. Legal intoxication in the United States is often defined as having a blood alcohol content ranging from 0.01 percent to 0.02 percent, depending upon the state. (Normally, the alcohol content of the blood is negligible.) Drunk drivers contribute significantly to traffic fatalities in the United States. Aggravated High Blood Pressure Excessive alcohol consumption can worsen hypertension. Increased Risk of Disease Alcohol injures the liver (CIRRHOSIS), the pancreas (PANCREATITIS), and the brain. It causes intestinal inflammation, interferes with nutrient uptake and may increase uptake of toxins. Heavy drinkers have increased risk of heart failure, and alcohol causes a dangerous enlargement of the heart. For this reason some researchers do not recommend that anyone past the age of 50 drink alcoholic beverages. Alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus, mouth, larynx, liver, and breast. Women who drink two to five alcoholic drinks a day increase their risk of invasive breast cancer 30 percent to 40 percent, according to the American Medical Association. Invasive cancer is the type most likely to spread to other TISSUES or organs.
Surplus Calories One gram of ethanol provides seven CALORIES, almost as much as FAT. One beer is equivalent to 150 calories. One shot (1.5 fl. oz.) of 80 proof gin, vodka, or rye whiskey contributes about 110 calories that supply no other nutritional value. Alcohol even increases the body’s need for vitamins.
Exposure to Sulfites Wine contains SULFITE, which can cause reactions in sensitive people.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Alcohol (ethanol, grain alcohol, ethyl alcohol)

A common term for the simple alcohol ETHANOL, the product of FERMENTATION. As a constituent of alcoholic beverages, ethanol is the most common, and longest used, sedative. To produce alcohol, special strains of yeast are incubated with CARBOHYDRATES of FRUIT juices and GRAINS together with other nutrients.
Under ANAEROBIC conditions (in the absence of oxygen), these microorganisms ferment sugar to ethanol and CARBON DIOXIDE to obtain energy. The immediate product of the fermentation of grapes is WINE. When malted grains and hops are fermented, the product is BEER. Distillation, a process introduced in the Middle Ages, produces alcoholic beverages with a higher alcohol content. These include rum, whiskey, liqueurs, and the like. Beer and wine are perhaps the most popular beverages among moderate drinkers. A mug of beer (11 oz., 4.5 percent), a glass of table wine (4 oz.) and a shot (jigger;
1.5 fl.oz.) of liquor (80 proof) contain about the same amount of alcohol (9 to 13 grams.) Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause MALNUTRITION because alcoholic beverages contain little else besides CALORIES. A glass of red wine contains 88 calories; a bottle of regular beer, 146; and a shot (1.5 fl. oz.) of whiskey (90 proof), 110 calories. VITAMIN, PROTEIN, and MINERAL content of alcohol is exceedingly low, though wine may contain a significant amount of IRON. For this reason, alcoholic beverages are classified as low-nutrient density or EMPTY CALORIES. To the extent they are consumed, they displace nutrient-dense foods. The blood alcohol level is affected by the amount of alcohol ingested. Water and juice slow the absorption of alcohol, while carbonation increases the rate of uptake into the bloodstream. Alcohol taken with food is less intoxicating. How alcohol is metabolized is another factor. A portion of the ingested alcohol is destroyed by ENZYMES in the stomach that are more active in men than in women; consequently, women generally have a lower tolerance to alcohol. The liver’s capacity to destroy alcohol in the blood is limited, and when the liver’s metabolic system is saturated, a fraction of ethanol in the blood is destroyed each hour. The remaining alcohol readily penetrates the bloodbrain barrier and interacts with the central nervous system. Alcohol can pass from maternal blood into breast milk; therefore, lactating mothers may wish to abstain from drinking.
Some studies suggest that a single alcoholic drink a day may slightly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in some individuals. Moderate alcohol consumption increases the level of HDL, the beneficial form of cholesterol that tends to protect against heart disease. Alcohol also inhibits platelet formation, which is required to form blood clots. Moderate alcohol use may also help prevent age-related decline in reasoning and problem solving. The apparent benefits decline after more than one or two drinks, however. The American Heart Association does not recommend drinking alcoholic beverages to prevent heart disease because of the hazards of alcohol abuse.


A class of water-soluble PROTEINS that are soluble in dilute salt solutions but are insoluble in pure water. Important members of this class are serum albumin and ovalbumin. The LIVER produces serum albumin, the most plentiful protein in serum. Serum albumin transports ions like CALCIUM, free FATTY ACIDS, and fat-soluble materials like BILIRUBIN through the blood. Serum albumin also helps buffer the blood. It is a highly charged molecule (polyelectrolyte) that cannot pass through cell membranes and thus helps maintain the electrolyte balance of body fluids. Ovalbumin is one of the most abundant proteins of egg white. The Roman author Pliny recorded the name of egg white as albumen. Ovalbumin is an excellent source of sulfur-containing amino acids, such as CYSTEINE, and this accounts in part for the excellent food value of egg protein.

The Nutrition value of Albacore (Thunnus alalunga)

A type of tuna with white meat. Albacore is characterized by a large pectoral (side) fin. One of the smallest tuna, albacore usually weigh less than 40 pounds (18 kg). They are found near the surface of warm or temperate seas throughout the world, where they feed on ANCHOVIES, SARDINES, and other small fish.
Albacore have been called the “chicken of the sea” because their white meat is comparable to chicken in flavor. Albacore is the highest quality canned tuna and is an excellent PROTEIN source. The food value of 3 ounces (85g) (packed in water): calories, 135; protein, 30 g; fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 48 mg; calcium, 17 mg; iron, 0.6 mg; sodium, 468 mg; zinc, 0.94 mg; vitamin A, 32 retinol equivalents; thiamin, 10.03 mg; riboflavin, 0.1 mg; and niacin, 13.2 mg

Friday, February 26, 2010

Alar (daminozide)

A chemical formerly used to improve the color, yield, and storage qualities of APPLES. It is not a PESTICIDE. Until the late 1980s, Alar was used on an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of the American apple crop. It was also used on CHERRIES and PEANUTS. Alar is a systemic pollutant, meaning it is distributed throughout the plant and cannot be washed off. Because alar has caused CANCER in experimental animals, experts worried
that because young children drink more apple juice for their body weight than do adults, they are more susceptible to the potential risk.
In 1989 Alar was withdrawn by the manufacturer, Uniroyal Chemical Company. The following year it was formally banned by the EPA. Alar is still sold abroad, however. About 50 percent of apple concentrates for apple juice comes from foreign countries where Alar is widely used, and imports may be contaminated by Alar.

Alanine (Ala, L-alanine)

One of the simplest AMINO ACIDS used to build PROTEINS. Alanine is readily formed in the body from PYRUVIC ACID, a direct product of GLUCOSE utilization; hence, it is classified as a non-dietary, essential amino acid. In addition to serving as a protein building block, alanine plays an important role in transporting the toxic waste product, AMMONIA, out of muscle. Ammonia is produced when muscle cells break down amino acids for energy. Cells couple ammonia with a simple acid called pyruvic acid to form alanine, which is then released into the bloodstream.
The LIVER next absorbs alanine and removes ammonia, which it rapidly converts to UREA, the ultimate nitrogenous waste of the body.
The liver converts pyruvic acid back to glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. Blood glucose is taken up by the muscle, where it is broken down to pyruvic acid, which is then ready to accept ammonia and thus completes the cycle.

Airline Meals and Nutrition

Over the years, airlines have revised the meals they serve in order to meet consumer expectations for more healthful choices. Changes include more chicken and less beef and fewer saturated fats, like coconut and palm oil.
On noncharter flights passengers can choose from up to a dozen special dietary meals. The requests must be made at least 18 hours ahead of the scheduled flight. Religious meals include kosher, Hindu, and Muslim. For medical conditions, bland, diabetic, GLUTEN-free, low-CALORIE, low-CARBOHYDRATE, low- CHOLESTEROL, low-fat, and low-SODIUM meals may be offered. Other options include a FRUIT plate, SEAFOOD, strict VEGETARIAN, ovolactovegetarian, and infant, toddler, and child meals. First-class meals follow the same nutritional standards.
Passengers on long flights, especially those who have been diagnosed as having phlebitis, inflammation of the VEINS in the leg, or who have a history of heart disease or stroke are considered at high risk of developing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). A person suffering from deep-vein thrombosis has one or more blood clots in the body’s deep veins, often those in the legs. Because constant air circulation in planes promotes DEHYDRATION, and this, coupled with prolonged sitting, increases the risk of DVT in even healthy people, passengers should drink plenty of fluids, including water and JUICE, and avoid ALCOHOL, COFFEE, and TEA on long flights. About 4 percent to 5 percent of high-risk patients may suffer DVT on flights of 10 hours or more. A brown-bag, carry-on meal is always an option for those with special dietary needs or with food sensitivities.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Nutrients for AIDS Patients

There is no cure for AIDS; however, several nutrients, food-related materials, and ENZYME preparations boost the immune system and may offer protection against the risk of CANCER and infection in some individuals with AIDS. Trace Nutrients ZINC deficiency is common in patients with AIDS and may indicate trace mineral malnutrition or malabsorption. Zinc plays an important role in maintaining the immune system. Zinc inhibits an enzyme needed for HIV production.
SELENIUM deficiency may be part of the malnutrition seen in AIDS patients. It is a COFACTOR for enzymes that serve as ANTIOXIDANTS. Selenium helps protect against liver and colon cancer in experimental animals, and clinical studies of the effects of selenium supplementation on cancer prevention are being carried out. Other vitamins and minerals, such as VITAMIN A, FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12, and POTASSIUM, may be deficient in some AIDS patients.
Enzymes Megadoses of a variety of enzymes, including SUPEROXIDE DISMUTASE, are being used as antioxidants. There is no clear evidence that their use diminishes or prevents symptoms.
Antioxidants Evidence suggests that HIV infected patients have lower levels of antioxidants, ncluding VITAMIN C, CAROTENOIDS, COENZYME Q, LUTATHIONE, and selenium. Such oxidative stress can promote HIV replication and decrease immunity. Antioxidant nutrients may lower the risk of cancer in the general population, and the same may be true for HIV-infected patients. BETACAROTENE and carotenoids may lower the risk of many cancers, including those of the lung, bladder, stomach, esophagus, and prostate. Beta-carotene can increase the numbers of T-helper cells. Significantly, the standard American diet is deficient in beta-carotene. Vitamin C boosts immunity, helps protect against viral and bacterial infections, and may decrease the risk of stomach, esophageal, and cervical cancer. It increases blood antibody levels and supports the function of the THYMUS GLAND and lymphocytes. Furthermore, vitamin C supports healthy connective tissue and assists in wound healing. FLAVONOIDS are associated with vitamin C in plants and enhance vitamin C therapy. Many flavonoids function as antioxidants and several types may stimulate the immune system. GLUTATHIONE supports the immune system and functions as a major antioxidant. N-acetylcysteine, a derivative of the sulfur amino acid CYSTEINE, can enhance glutathione levels.
Egg Lipids Mixtures of LECITHIN and other fatty materials from eggs have been used with some positive results in small clinical studies. Although there is a lack of strong evidence of its effectiveness, these mixtures are still being used. They are apparently nontoxic, though long-term effects are unknown.
Herbs Several herbs, such as GOLDENSEAL (Hydrastis canadensis), have been shown to enhance several aspects of immune function. The most active component of goldenseal is berberine, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent effective in treating the severe DIARRHEA that is typically seen in AIDS patients. Herbal treatment based on Chinese medicine is also being studied. Certain formulations inhibit viruses and boost the immune system. Some research suggests garlic may enhance immunity and help combat opportunistic organisms associated with AIDS, including Candida albicans, cryptococcus, herpes virus, and mycobacteria.

Antioxidants for Seniors

Several nutrients seem to protect the body throughout life against damage by free radicals, highly reactive forms of oxygen that can attack cells. Trace minerals like copper, SELENIUM, and zinc, as well as vitamins C and E plus BETACAROTENE, function as antioxidants. Together with vitamin A they also keep the immune system balanced. The immune system protects the body against bacterial and viral diseases and defends against cancer.
Other ingredients in foods, especially fruits and vegetables, act as ANTIOXIDANTS. They strengthen the body’s defenses and protect against cancer. These include FLAVONOIDS, PHYTOESTROGENS (ISOFLAVONES), and ISOTHIOCYANATES. Many more remain to be identified. From hundreds of studies, it is clear that diets that provide ample fruits, legumes, and vegetables protect against many of the degenerative diseases that commonly occur with aging. As an example, middle-aged men and women who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are significantly less likely to experience cardiovascular disease and strokes.
More research is required to determine the optimal intake of anti-aging nutrients. Foods with antiaging nutrients include orange vegetables (CARROTS, SQUASH) and dark green leafy vegetable (CHARD, KALE, SPINACH) for vitamin A and betacarotene.
Fresh fruit like ORANGES, frozen citrus juices, and BROCCOLI provide vitamin C. VEGETABLE
OIL, WHEAT germ, and nuts supply vitamin E, while whole GRAINS, SEAFOOD, CABBAGE, ONIONS, and GARLIC provide selenium

Vitamins for Seniors

Research suggests there may be increased vitamin needs in elderly people; however, no definite proof that vitamin supplements increase the life span has been offered. Many elderly Americans obtain less than 50 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of VITAMIN antihypertensive drugs interfere with absorption of this vitamin. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are less well absorbed in elderly persons, and the RDAs should be higher. Inadequate diet and decreased uptake of fat-soluble vitamins probably account for the increased need for VITAMIN A and VITAMIN E with aging, and extra vitamin E may boost immunity, thus helping elderly persons resist disease. Vitamin E has also shown promise in slowing decline in mental functioning in the elderly. One study showed that people who took high amounts of vitamin E had a 70 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In another study researchers followed more than 2,800 people over the age of 65 for three years. Those participants who had the highest amount of vitamin E consumption showed the slowest decline in mental alertness. Vitamin D requirements may increase during aging because the skin gradually loses its ability to manufacture the vitamin. Patients with hip fractures may be deficient in vitamin D. Another problematic nutrient for elderly people is VITAMIN C, a versatile antioxidant. Consumption may be low with diets relying on processed, overcooked foods and lacking adequate fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C may protect against cataracts and atherosclerosis.
The RDA for RIBOFLAVIN is believed to be too low for elderly people. Geriatric outpatients can exhibit low-THIAMIN levels and evidence suggests that RDA of this critical nutrient is greater for older people than for middle-aged individuals.