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Main Content Column

HealthBeat Update: Comments on The Readers Digest Article: "The End of Aging"

The latest edition of Reader's Digest talks about two "miracle" supplements that will extend life: alpha-Lipoic Acid (a-LA) and acetyl-L-Carnitine (a-LC). While the article and its "punch line" are WAY over-stated, these two nutrients DO offer significant benefit. Reader's Digest "over-reported" the benefit (a salute to "media spin"!), but other publications may be under-reporting the value of these two nutrients. Here's my "take" on both, and how important they may be to your supplement program. 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a neurological antioxidant that chelates free iron from the forebrain, thereby protecting against free radical damage. It also improves mitochondrial function (mitochondria are the energy-producing units of cells). It works especially well in conjunction with CoQ10 and acetyl-L-carnitine to improve energy production. Because of its utility for preventing brain aging and preserving neurological function, plus its use in cataract prevention, diabetes, congestive heart failure and neurological diseases, it can correctly be classified as an important anti-aging/ life-extending nutrient.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, a derivative of the amino acid L-carnitine, is a vitamin-like compound that transports fatty acids ("fuel") into the body cells. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant in the brain. The acetyl form of L-carnitine (ALC) has been shown to be substantially more active than L-carnitine in brain cells.

ALC has been the subject of numerous studies. It bears a close similarity to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which led researchers to study its use in age-related memory changes. ALC has been proven to offer significant benefit to patients with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and also for people with memory impairment and age-onset depression.

L-carnitine and its more active form, A-LC have also been shown to be effective as part of weight (fat) loss programs, enhancing the body's fat-burning ability. This effect proves true even when no deficiency of carnitine is present, meaning that all overweight people will benefit.

BOTTOM LINE: While these two nutrients probably won't "end aging" as Reader's Digest suggests, they will go a long way toward life-extending, memory enhancing, weight loss benefits.

Suggest Dose of Each: Acetyl-L-Carnitine: 500mg (1 cap) per day; Alpha Lipoic Acid: 200mg (2 Caps) per day.

Hot Flashes:

Heart attack symptoms are often different in women than in men, this "new news" reported in the medical journals this week. Insomnia, or difficulty sleeping, daytime fatigue (more than can be explained from the insomnia), and anxiety may be early symptoms.

Dr. Myatt's comment: better safe than sorry. Get your annual check-up, and report fatigue or sleep distress symptoms to your physician. If he/she ignores them, consult a cardiologist for a work-up. This is one diagnosis you don't want to miss!!!

Ask Dr. Myatt

Q: This was forwarded to me from a friend regarding microwaving food. What do you think?

Carcinogens cause cancer. Especially breast cancer. He [the doctor] was talking about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxins into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Dioxins are carcinogens and highly toxic to the cells of our bodies. (Dr. Myatt's note: this is true) Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware, or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results without the dioxins.

So such things as TV dinners, weight watchers dinners, lean cuisine dinners, instant ramen cup of noodles, and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. Just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He said we might remember when some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. To add to this: saran wrap placed over foods as they are nuked, with the high heat, actually drips poisonous toxins into the food, so use paper towels instead.

A: My research convinces me that it is A.O.K. to use a microwave as long as you don't use plastic or plastic wrap to heat things. "Nuking" actually preserves nutrients. The microwave oven is designed on a vacuum principle that prevents leakage during operations. I'm still using mine and wouldn't give it up without a fight! Heat items in glass containers with paper towels (preferably unbleached paper) or microwave-safe covers as a top.


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