Tag Archives: cardiovascular

L-Carnitine Supplement Could Treat Heart Disease

An animal study has identified a potential new therapeutic option for treating cardiac fibrosis: L-carnitine supplementation. Could L-carnitine prevent the development of heart failure?

Researchers (Y Omori, T Ohtani, et al), at the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan, developed an animal study to analyze potential new treatments for heart failure—specifically heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in hypertensive heart disease.

Hypertensive heart disease is caused by hypertension, or high blood pressure. Hypertensive heart disease with heart failure is a serious condition, which can lead to ischemic heart disease and heart attacks. Heart disease is leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The researchers were aware that prognosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction is poor. They knew that hypertension causes decreased free-carnitine levels in the heart. Would L-carnitine supplements have an effect?

Carnitine is a non-essential amino acid, synthesized in the human body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine is also found in food, especially red meat and dairy products. L-carnitine is simply the biologically-active form of carnitine.

Carnitine has a substantial antioxidant effect, which greatly benefits health by preventing free radical damage. The researchers hoped that the carnitine supplements would also combat hypertension.

L-carnitine treatment and heart failure study

Rats were given a high-salt diet, which models hypertensive heart failure. Their free carnitine levels were measured, and were found to be low in the left ventricle of the heart. The rats were then given L-carnitine supplements.

This L-carnitine treatment had a significant impact. It restored the levels of carnitine in the chambers of the heart, and even reversed fibrosis. Cardiac fibrosis is a thickening of the heart valves, which is often found in heart failure.

The affect L-carnitine has on reversing, or thinning, the level of cardiac fibrosis means that L-carnitine could become a therapeutic option for treating hypertensive heart disease in the future.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22796714

Is Taurine in Energy Drinks Safe? Maybe…

There is a lot of energy in the media and within consumers about the health benefits as well as dangers of energy beverages, including some warnings about the amino acid taurine in energy drinks, but is taurine safe? How much is okay versus too much? Are there any health implications or hidden issues with the taurine in energy drinks?

According to Dr. Oz, says the Herald Tribune, the number of visits to the emergency room have doubled in the last four years, and hit more than 20,000 in the year 2011. But are these super-charger energy drinks really to blame for some of the cardiac issues that some people have or are claiming? Is the taurine in energy drinks, or the caffeine, or sugar, or other supplements added to these beverages the cause of these heart issues?

How taurine in energy drinks affects your heart

In one study mentioned by the article mentioned above, which measured how 18 peoples’ (15 men, 3 women, around age 27) hearts reacted about an hour after consuming taurine in energy drinks (16 oz), the MRI showed a “significantly increased peak systolic strain” in the left ventricle of the heart.

Although black coffee or even caffeinated water was suggested (one might also consider green tea or white tea due to the enormous health benefits, since it also contains caffeine); however, real energy can come from 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten raw, steamed, or even made into smoothies. Plus raw foods are packed with enzymes, anti-oxidants, and other vitamins and minerals.

Do we really need taurine in energy drinks?

If the amino acid taurine in energy drinks may keep your left heart ventricle contracting too severely, sometimes causing palpitations, anxiety attacks, or other cardiac related issues, then is it really wise to consume them? Energy drinks may only say they have “amino acids” but they also may have creatine, lecithin, phenylalanine, tyrosine, choline, citicoline, plus taurine, of course.

Additionally, some of the main ingredients in energy or power drinks include: caffeine, glucuronolactone, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, l-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, sugars, antioxidants, as well as trace minerals. According to one study even coaches have to advise their athletes about taking energy drinks because of the effects and risks associated with consuming them, even after exercise.

Overall the ingredients may be natural, or commonly found in food (amino acids, for instance, are in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.), eggs, and fish. However, a combined effect of all of these ingredients may have some serious health consequences if consumed regularly, or especially in excess.

Adverse effects of taurine in energy drinks or their other ingredients can include: restlessness, heart palpitations, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, dehydration, and increase blood pressure. Long term effects have not been established. Those with heart disease or cardiac issues, or children, should probably avoid taurine in energy drinks, or power beverages in general.

Positive information on taurine

Taurine, in and of itself, is an amino acid that the body needs for neurological development, and for regulating water levels and mineral salts within the blood. Taurine also has antioxidants, is found in breast milk, and can be purchased as a dietary supplement.

People with congestive heart failure who took taurine supplements 3x/day (for two weeks) did show an improvement in their capacity to exercise. Up to 3,000 mg of taurine per day is considered safe. Of course, these people were taking supplements, not drinking energy beverages.

Most people can consume up to 16 oz. (500 milliliters) in energy drinks per day and still feel good, although the sugars are high and so these things need to be weighed out in terms of what is actually healthy for the human body.

References:

http://health.heraldtribune.com/2014/01/07/dr-oz-avoid-energy-drinks-with-amino-acids-on-the-label/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966367/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/taurine/faq-20058177

Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease has many facets, and the metabolism of branched-chain amino acids also play a role in heart disease. Branched-chain amino acids, also referred to as BCAA’s, also play a key role in organisms in general, concerning the metabolism processes as well as in cardiovascular protection, say VH Lyzohum, TV Zaval’s’ka, et al., from the Ukraine.

The researchers said that branched-chain amino acids were pivotal in the “mitochondrial biogenesis, antioxidant and antiaging processes, its antihypertension and antiarrhythmic effects, its role in obesity and diabetes mellitus” as well. Cardiovascular disease and BCAA/BCKA catabolism’s role in the action of heart failure are related. But how?

Branched-chain amino acids role in heart disease

The images in this article, according scientists, Y Huang, M Zhou, et al., from the Department of Pathophysiology, Key Laboratory of Cell Differentiation and Apoptosis of Chinese Ministry of Education, at the Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, in Shanghai, China, are of the “potential impact of reduced expression of PP2Cm in stressed heart in BCAA catabolism and cardiac remodelling. … BCAA, branched-chain amino acids; BCKA, branched-chain keto acids…” and show the role of branched-chain amino acids.

But what exactly is the role of branched-chain amino acids in such heart disease? The researchers’ question was whether it was an epiphenomenon or an actual culprit?

Their research showed that in order to understand the pathogenesis of why the heart fails, there has to be metabolic remodeling. They claim that even though we have knowledge about heart failure, less is known about why amino acid metabolism has to do with the onset of heart disease itself. They said, “Although most amino acid catabolic activities are found in the liver, branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) catabolism requires activity in several non-hepatic tissues, including cardiac muscle, diaphragm, brain and kidney.”

The researchers focused on new discoveries from genetic models that were developed using branched-chain amino acids catabolic defects as well as studies in metabolomics (for both humans and animals). What they found out is that, indeed, the “potential role of BCAA catabolism in cardiac pathophysiology and have helped to distinguish BCAA metabolic defects as an under-appreciated culprit in cardiac diseases rather than an epiphenomenon associated with metabolic remodelling in the failing heart.”

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References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24605627

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21502372

Homocysteine, Cysteine, and Colorectal Cancer

Researchers investigated the link between levels of plasma homocysteine and colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women. Will the results shed light on the risk of developing this cancer?

Colorectal cancer—also known as bowel cancer–is a cancer of the colon (large intestine) or rectum. It’s the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death when statistics for both sexes are combined.

Improved screening techniques have led to the death rate dropping for colorectal cancer. The polyps which form in the early stages can be removed before they develop into cancers, and early detection also means much better prognosis. All cancers are easier to treat when they are detected early.

But better understanding of colorectal cancer is an important topic of research. And new screening techniques could help diagnose the disease even earlier.

JW Miller, SA Beresford, et al, researchers at the Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, USA, developed a study to assess the links between the amino acids homocysteine, cysteine, and the incidence of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

Homocysteine is a non-protein amino acid. It’s similar in formula to cysteine, though homocysteine is biosynthesized in our bodies, from the amino acid methionine. It can also be converted into methionine or cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins. We also get cysteine from food, especially high-protein foods like meat, cheese, and eggs.

High levels of homocysteine have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Would they also be linked to colorectal cancer?

Results of homocysteine, cysteine, and colorectal cancer trial

The trial found some significant results. High levels of homocysteine were associated with proximal colon tumors, though not distal or rectal tumors.

They concluded that high plasma homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. High levels of cysteine indicate a decreased risk.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23426034

Amino Acids for Women who Exercise

When it comes to women, amino acids definitely have their place as far as supplements go. Amino acids play a crucial role in women’s health because they are the building blocks of proteins, and affect hair, bone, skin, and even hormones and exercise, plus muscles, tissues and organs. There are some amino acid supplements for women that you can take to aid exercising regimes, which can be purchased at supermarkets or vitamin shops.

Amino acids supplements

Amino acids for women are the same as they are for men. There are 22 amino acids that are broken down into these categories: essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids, as well as semi-essential or conditional aminos. Amino acids can be taken in the form of capsules but they also come from protein foods like meats (beef, lamb, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and even eggs) and dairy, beans, and nuts.

Taking amino acids for women can help boost fat burning and muscle building, and should be taken along with proper exercise and a healthy diet in order to keep a fit physique and lean and strong muscles.

Amino Acids for Women:

L-arginine:
L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which helps keep the body healthy. L-arginine also dilates blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the muscles for fat burning. Arginine also boosts HGH (human growth hormone) that comes from the pituitary gland. HGH also helps with women who have low testosterone levels, which does less for muscle burning, but more for fat burning. 3-5g in the morning and a half an hour before bed or exercise will do the trick.

L-glutamine:
Another of the amino acids for women is L-glutamine, which enhances the recovery time for muscles after they’ve been used or damaged. Glutamine also helps with energy, fat burning, and boosts immunity. If you are dieting or doing some really intense workouts you can lose muscle and metabolic function, but glutamine protects lean muscle from breaking down when the muscles are stressed. Stressed muscles can trigger the cortisol-connection. Cortisol, which is a stress hormone, can actually stop fat burning and promote the storage of fat in those troublesome areas like the buttocks, hips, and thighs.

L-carnitine:
One of the well-known amino acids for women is L-carnitine. Carnitine plays a role in energy production (co-factor). Cells cannot make energy without carnitine’s help because it is what transports fatty acids into the mitochondria, which in turn produce the energy. Carnitine is also one of those amino acids for women with the nitric oxide connection, which is a systemic gas that helps bring faster results when working out in the gym. Heart health is also boosted in women, thanks to carnitine, since the heart muscle requires heavy energy production so it can beat efficiently. You can take 1-3g of carnitine up to three times per day.

Beta-Alanine:
Beta-alanine is also one of the amino acids for women that I will cover today. Beta-alanine increases the intramuscular levels of L-carnosine (don’t confuse it with L-carnitine above). Carnosine buffers lactic acid levels in the cells of muscles. Lactic acid is what builds up and makes your muscles feel sore after an extra-long or extra-hard workout or muscle contraction. Lactic acid makes you feel the “burn” in the muscles. Carnosine buffers and allows you to work harder or longer in the gym. Taking beta-alanine also can be taken with creatine to further boost body fat loss and muscle building. Take 1-3 g just before and after your workouts.

BCAA’s:
Last but not least, BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) are also amino acids for women, which helps the female body to lose weight fater. BCAA’s help prevent muscle breakdown by keeping the supply needed by working muscles in check. This is important since they fuel muscles directly for energy, while also triggering lean muscle building and the burning of fat. 3-5g of BCAA’s can be taken before and after workouts.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/267249-amino-acid-supplements-for-women/

Cysteine – Anti-Aging Amino Acid?

Cysteine often called an anti-aging amino acid.  It appears to have many qualities that prevent or reverse aging. In fact, it has been said that aging may actually be a deficiency in cysteine.  

Cysteine is an anti-aging supporting anti-oxidant that protects cells by scavenging free radicals and chelating with heavy metals in order to keep the body clean of these ‘criminal’ elements that cause aging.

In fact, if you are into scientifically specific material, I highly suggest that you read Wulf Dröge’s article “Oxidative stress and aging: is aging a cysteine deficiency syndrome on the Royal Society Publishing website.

Cysteine – an anti-aging machine?

Cysteine, and its N-Acetyl Cysteine form, is also a precursor that provides another important anti-oxidant: glutathione. Glutathione is seen to be depleted in people who have many of the diseases frequently associated with old age. Cysteine provides a boost in glutathione levels even where it has been seen to be low in people with ailments such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Cysteine is one of the anti-aging supporting building blocks required along with glutamine and glycine to make glutathione.   In fact, article the Washington Times called glutathione an anti-aging machine!

Cysteine and N-Acetyl-Cysteine are powerful detoxifiers – leading to a potential anti-aging effect

In a young, healthy system, cysteine is recirculated and works to remove toxins every day, bringing natural anti-aging health benefits on a daily basis.  It is when the system gets overloaded with heavy metals, poisons, radiation and free radicals of every kind that cysteine levels are seen to fall and gradually the body loses the ability to restock its storehouse of cysteine in order to prevent these toxins from causing aging.  Cysteine deficiency is a symptom of aging that can be rectified and the effects of aging and disease stopped through proper diet and the use of supplements.

N-Acetyl Cysteine form of cysteine is often used in emergency rooms to detoxify the liver if a patient has overdosed on Tylenol (acetaminophen) and is experiencing a liver failure. Obviously, there are numerous anti-aging effects of cysteine and its other forms.

Cysteine is absorbed through diet as well as the body’s anti-aging functions being able to make much of its own cysteine.  It is found in foods like poultry, eggs yolks, red peppers, garlic, onions and brussel sprouts. These are all known to be natural anti-aging type foods—and they all have cysteine! It is also easy to take through supplements.  If you are interested in anti-aging, maybe you should look into cysteine supplements to see if they might work for you!

The author of this story, Michelle Carraway, is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, which include Medicinal Mushroom Information Center, Amino Acid Information Center, Vancouver Health News and Today’s Word of Wisdom.  The opinions are the writer’s own and the owner and publisher of the site assume no responsibility for the accuracy of the content. Our articles are for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only. Please do your own due diligence, verify any health claims by doing additional research and consult your doctor before starting any supplementation program or making any lifestyle changes, including changes to your medication and supplementation.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC436956/

http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/360/1464/2355.long