Archive for December, 2012

The dangers of energy drinks

Friday, December 14th, 2012

With buzz-word ingredients such as guarana and ginseng, energy drinks have been heralded for their mind and body-boosting qualities. But according to new research, the only useful ingredient in beverages such as Redbull is caffeine.
The study, published in the Nutrition Reviews journal, found that while energy drinks often contain ingredients such as taurine, guarana and ginseng, there is an ‘overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate claims that these ingredients boost performance’.
It has been suggested that these drinks enhance physical and cognitive performance.the new research casts doubt over this, suggesting the main benefit is probably down to a generous dose of caffeine.
Energy drinks often contain taurine, guarana, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, and other compounds. The researchers went through dozens of articles that examined the effects of energy ingredients alone and/or in combination with caffeine.
They say energy drinks – which contain between 10 and 270 calories a serving – should never be given to children.
Instead they should be offered water to quench their thirst, and drink the recommended daily amount of fruit juice and milk with meals.
A hidden problem with energy drinks is caffeine, which can reach toxic levels up to 14 times greater than in other soft drinks. The stimulant has been linked to seizures, diabetes, heart problems and behavioural disorders.
Children’s doctors renewed warnings about energy drinks, and the potential harm from sports drinks, following an expert report by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition.
Dr Holly Benjamin, a lead author of the report, and a doctor at the Comer Children’s Hospital, part of the University of Chicago, said: ‘For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best.’Dr. Holly Benjamin is a specialist in sports medicine and non-surgical musculoskeletal injuries.
Dr Holly Benjamen first voiced concerns with regards energy drinks such as RedBull in 2011In a new report, a large group of American doctors urge kids and teens to avoid energy drinks and only consume sports drinks in limited amount.
The recommendations come in the wake of a national debate over energy drinks, which experts fear may have side effects.

“Children never need energy drinks,” said Dr. Holly Benjamin, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who worked on the new report. “They contain caffeine and other stimulant substances that aren’t nutritional, so you don’t need them.”

And kids might be more vulnerable to the contents of energy drinks than grownups.”If you drink them on a regular basis, it stresses the body,” Benjamin told Reuters Health. “You don’t really want to stress the body of a person that’s growing.”For the new recommendations, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers went through earlier studies and reports on both energy drinks and sports drinks, which don’t contain any stimulants.

They note that energy drinks contain a jumble of ingredients — including vitamins and herbal extracts — with possible side effects that aren’t always well understood.While there aren’t many documented cases of harm directly linked to the beverages, stimulants can disturb the heart’s rhythm and may lead to seizures in very rare cases, Benjamin said.ecently, she saw a 15-year-old boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who came into the hospital with a seizure after having drunk two 24-ounce bottles of Mountain Dew, a soft drink that contains caffeine.The boy was already taking stimulant ADHD medication, and the extra caffeine in principle might have pushed him over the edge, according to Benjamin.

“You just never know,” she said. “It’s definitely a concern.”Earlier this year, Pediatrics published another review of the literature on energy drinks.In it, Florida pediatricians described cases of seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney or liver damage in people who had drunk one or more non-alcoholic energy drinks — including brands like Red Bull, Spike Shooter and Redline.While they acknowledged that such cases are very rare, and can’t be conclusively linked to the drinks, they urged caution, especially in kids with medical conditions (see Reuters story of February 14, 2011).U.S. sales of non-alcoholic energy drinks are expected to hit $9 billion this year, with children and young adults accounting for half the market.

Manufacturers claim their products will enhance both mental and physical performance, and were quick to downplay the February report.”The effects of caffeine are well-known and as an 8.4 oz can of Red Bull contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (80 mg), it should be treated accordingly,” Red Bull said in an emailed statement to Reuters Health.Benjamin said that for most kids, water is the best thing to quench their thirst. If they happen to be young athletes training hard, a sports drink might be helpful, too, because it contains sugar.But for kids who lead less-active lives, sports and energy drinks might just serve to pile on extra pounds, fueling the national obesity epidemic.

TakeOmega3 provides protection and reduces risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are associated with a plethora of health benefits, the most well- known of which is for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to demonstrate in Croda employees the decrease in CVD risk after supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids. 32 participants were supplemented with a total of 1.6g EPA and DHA daily for a duration of 30 days, measuring whole blood omega 3 levels before and after the intervention period. The results demonstrated a 125% increase in mean whole blood omega 3 levels which equated to an 81% reduced risk of CVD related sudden death. In conclusion omega
3 concentrates were an effective strategy for improving whole blood omega 3 levels and reducing the subsequent risk of CVD.

The health benefits of EPA and DHA are now well substantiated, with over 20, 000 studies published to date. Some of the strongest evidence for a beneficial role of these omega 3 fatty acids is for the treatment and prevention of heart disease. Much of this research has stemmed from early studies into the diet of Greenland Inuit’s, where very high intakes of EPA and DHA from an oily fish-rich diet were attributed to very low incidence of CVD1. Since then several studies have helped to corroborate these findings in large scale, randomised clinical trials (RCTs). The most notable of which are the GISSI-P2, JELIS3 and DART4 trials, all of which demonstrated a significant benefit of EPA and DHA in the secondary prevention of heart disease.
In addition to the clinical trials demonstrating a reduction in risk for the secondary prevention of heart disease, a number of large scale population trials have correlated increased blood levels of EPA and DHA to a reduced risk of heart disease6. Using this data it is possible to assess the relative risk of heart disease from any given whole blood omega 3 level.

Physiological role of very long chain omega 3 fatty acids Potential clinical benefit

Regulation of blood pressure Decreased blood pressure
Regulation of platelet function Decreased likelihood of thrombosis
Regulation of blood coagulation Decreased likelihood of thrombosis
Regulation of plasma triglyceride concentrations Decreased plasma triglyceride concentration
Regulation of vascular function Improved vascular reactivity
Regulation of cardiac rhythm Decreased arrhythmias
Regulation of inflammation Decreased inflammation
At the start of the study, eligible participant’s blood fatty acid levels were measured using a self-administered blood test kit (Nutrasource Diagnostics Inc.). After the initial blood test a 30 day supplementation period commenced consisting of two daily 1.2g TakeOmega3 TM soft gel capsules TakeOmega3 TM
This provided a total of 1600mg of EPA and 3000mg of DHA daily. The product is HFL tested and is uniquely manufactured in MHRA facilities in the UK. TakeOmega3 is Halal and contains no animal product or by product.
After the 30 day supplementation period a second blood test was conducted. Compliance was assessed by counting remaining capsules.
Cardiovascular disease risk was calculated using data from the Physicians Health Study7, in which blood EPA and DHA levels from 94 men in whom sudden death occurred as the first manifestation of CVD were compared to 184 matched controls. The relative risk of CVD-related sudden death was estimated by categorising each subject into quartiles, based on the distribution of fatty acid levels in the controls.
In total 32 participants were available for analysis with 12 participants excluded for low blood volume. Out of the 32 participants included in the analysis 16 were male and 16 were female. 81% of participants were based in the UK with the remaining 19% of participants based in various countries throughout Europe, America and Asia.
Baseline Results
The mean omega 3 whole blood score for the group before supplementation was 4.85, which was classified as being at a high relative risk for CVD.
The distribution of participants across the 4 quartiles , with 56% of participants in the very high risk category, 19% in high risk, 9% in moderate risk and 16% in the low risk category.

22% of participants consumed at least one portion of oily fish on a weekly basis, 25% consumed at least one dietary supplement containing EPA and DHA daily and 53% consumed no supplements or oily fish. Whole blood omega 3 baseline scores for each group can be seen in
Participants who consumed no fish or supplements had a mean baseline whole blood omega 3 score of 3.89, which is classified as a very high relative risk.

Fish eaters had a mean score of 4.37 at baseline, placing them in the high relative risk category

Supplement takers had a mean score of 6.73 at baseline, placing them in the low relative risk category.
After the 30 day supplementation period mean whole blood omega 3 scores significantly increased across the whole
group from a level of 3.89 to 8.77 (p=<0.001), equivalent to a 125% increase. This moved the group from a high relative risk to a low relative risk of CVD related sudden death
Results also demonstrated significant increases for both fish eaters (p=<0.01) and supplement takers (p=<0.01). Fish eaters omega 3 scores went from a high relative risk to a low relative risk, whereas supplement takers remained in the low risk category yet still demonstrated a significant increase in omega 3 whole blood levels (p=>0.01). Participants who consumed no fish or supplements also demonstrated a significant increase (p=<0.001) taking them from a very high relative risk to a low relative risk.

The baseline results demonstrated how the majority of participants (52%) were categorised as being at a very high relative risk of CVD, with a mean whole blood omega 3 score of 4.85 (high risk). These results are low compared to other studies that have assessed omega 3 whole blood levels in the general population. The Physicians Health Study7, from which the heart disease risk in this study is extrapolated from, demonstrated mean whole blood omega 3 levels for people who died from CVD related sudden death of 4.82 (high risk), however the control group had significantly higher levels with a mean score of 5.24 (moderate risk). The low results from this study are surprising considering the studied population are well educated on the benefits of long chain omega 3 fatty acids. This is likely reflected in the fact that a high proportion (25%) of participants were taking EPA and DHA supplements on a daily basis. If participants taking EPA and DHA supplements are removed the mean whole blood level drops to 4.1 (very high risk). Participants who ate at least one portion of oily fish a week had a baseline mean whole blood score of 4.37 (high risk).
This is an unexpectedly low result given the high EPA and DHA content of oily fish and may be indicative of the declining levels of long chain omega 3s in oily fish, which has been largely implicated to the replacement of fish oil based feed with vegetable oils in aquaculture. Baseline results from this study would suggest that the widely recommended intake of two portions of oily fish per week does not provide an adequate level of EPA and DHA in the diet, whereas supplementation is an effective way to increase whole blood omega 3.
After the 30 day intervention period there was a large increase in whole blood omega 3, taking the mean level from a high relative risk of CVD related to sudden death to a low risk of CVD related sudden death. Extrapolation of the results from the Physicians Health Study demonstrates an 81% reduced risk for participants who consumed 2 capsules of Takeomega3 daily . It is hypothesised that one of the main mechanisms of action for EPA and DHA in the treatment and prevention of CVD is through its anti-arrhythmic properties which subsequently reduces the risk of sudden death, the GISSI-P study demonstrated this effect in a randomised controlled intervention trial observing a 45% reduction in sudden death risk compared to control.
The results after the intervention period also demonstrated significant increases in whole blood omega 3 for participants taking no-fish or supplements, fish eaters and supplement takers. Participants who consumed no oily fish or omega 3 supplements went from the very high risk category to the low risk category after the intervention period, which equates to a 90% reduced risk of CVD related sudden death. Participants eating at least one portion of oily fish weekly showed similarly impressive increases, improving from the high risk to the low risk category, equivalent to an
81% reduced risk of sudden death. For supplement takers their baseline whole blood omega 3 levels were alreadycategorised as low risk but still demonstrated significant increases, with a 28% improvement in whole blood omega 3 levels, likely due to the unique levels of high EPA and low levels of DHA in a 90% concentration of the capsules used. Each capsule delivering 800mg EPA and 150 mg DHA . This formulation is believed to be the highest concentraton available in UK. TakeOmega3 is HFL tested and Halal and contains no animal products or by products.
In summary, baseline blood fatty acid measurements in Croda employees demonstrated low levels of whole blood omega 3 equivalent to a high risk of CVD-related sudden death. These levels improved after 30 days supplementation 2 capsules of TakeOmega3 by 125%, placing the mean whole blood omega 3 levels in the low risk category.

Concern re the use of NSAIDS by professional and amateur athletes – TakeOmega3 a safe alternative

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

There have been concerns over widespread use of NSAIDS ie ibuprofen by amateur and professional athletes – infact FIFA recently issued a statement voicing concerns about the misuse and overuse of NSAIDS by professibal footballers. The following article appeared this week in the New York Times – Take Omega3 has always been concerned about the use of NSAIDS – and what our research has shown is that the unique TO3 formulation is as effective for pain relief and reducing inflammation as well as having numerous other benefits both physiological and psychological ie increase in lean muscle , improvement in performance due to better oxygen delivery , no gastrointestinal side effects, promotes better focus/ concentration etc. The TO3 does help you train better unlike the aspirin , ibuprofen . This is due to the unique TO3 formulation which is unlike any other omega3 product avalableAthletes often undergo high-intensity training that increases inflammation and the risk for pain and injury. This can decrease exercise performance and the ability to recover properly. Omega-3 fatty acids fish oil specifically EPA iseffective in reducing inflammation. Researcher Dr. William Smith from the University of Massachusetts found that omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation by diminishing the production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances associated with inflammation in the body. Omega 3 EPA is the most powerful natural anti inflammatory and unlike pharmaceutical anti inflammatory products there are no health risks or side effects when taking them .

TakeOmega3 high EPA mproves Body Composition
Athletes often focus on body composition, or fat to muscle ratio, in order to stay in top physical shape and maximize training and performance. In a study published in the October 2010 issue of the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition,” Eric Noreen and colleagues found that participants taking fish oil for six weeks improved their body composition by increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing fat mass. Omega 3 specifically EPA offers better oxygen delivery during exercise and also is key in removing lactic acid from the body.

The New York Times reported that many active people use the painkiller ibuprofen on an almost daily basis. In surveys, up to 70 percent of distance runners and other endurance athletes report that they down the pills before every workout or competition, viewing the drug as a preemptive strike against muscle soreness.

But a valuable new study joins growing evidence that ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory painkillers taken before a workout don’t offer any benefit and may be causing disagreeable physical damage instead, particularly to the intestines.

Studies have already shown that strenuous exercise alone commonly results in a small amount of intestinal trauma. A in a paper published last year found that cyclists who rode hard for an hour immediately developed elevated blood levels of a marker that indicates slight gastrointestinal leakage.

Physiologically, it makes sense that exercise would affect the intestines as it does, since, during prolonged exertion, digestion becomes a luxury, said Dr. Kim van Wijck, currently a surgical resident at Orbis Medical Center in the Netherlands, who led the small study. So the blood that normally would flow to the small intestine is instead diverted to laboring muscles. Starved of blood, some of the cells lining the intestines are traumatized and start to leak.

Thankfully, the damage seems to be short-lived, Dr. van Wijck said. Her research has shown that within an hour after a cyclist finished riding, the stressed intestines returned to normal.

But the most common side-effect of ibuprofen is gastrointestinal damage. And since many athletes take the drug for pain before and after a workout, Dr. van Wijck set out to determine the combined effect of exercise and ibuprofen.

The lastest research, published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands recruited nine healthy, active men and had them visit the university’s human performance lab four times.

During two of the visits, the men rested languorously for an hour, although before one of the visits, they swallowed 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and also the morning of their trip to the lab. (Four hundred milligrams is the recommended non-prescription dosage for adults using the drug to treat headaches or other minor pain.)

During the remaining visits, the men briskly rode stationary bicycles for that same hour. Before one of those rides, though, they again took 400 milligrams of ibuprofen the night before and the morning of their workout.

At the end of each rest or ride, researchers drew blood to check whether the men’s small intestines were leaking. Dr. van Wijck found that blood levels of a protein indicating intestinal leakage were, in fact, much higher when the men combined bike riding with ibuprofen than during the other experimental conditions when they rode or took ibuprofen alone. Notably, the protein levels remained elevated several hours after exercise and ibuprofen.

The health implications of this finding are not yet clear, although they are worrying, Dr. van Wijck said. It may be that if someone uses ibuprofen before every exercise session for a year or more, she said, “intestinal integrity might be compromised.” In that case, small amounts of bacteria and digestive enzymes could leak regularly into the bloodstream.

More immediately, if less graphically, the absorption of nutrients could be compromised, especially after exercise, Dr. van Wijck said, which could affect the ability of tired muscles to resupply themselves with fuel and regenerate.

The research looks specifically at prophylactic use of ibuprofen and does not address the risks and benefits of ibuprofen after an injury occurs. Short-term use of Ibuprofen for injury is generally considered appropriate.

Meanwhile, the Dutch study is not the first to find damage from combining exercise and ibuprofen. Earlier work has shown that frequent use of the drug before and during workouts also can lead to colonic seepage.Several years ago researchers found that runners at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run who were regular ibuprofen users had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstream.

Ibuprofen use, endotoxemia, inflammation, and plasma cytokines during ultramarathon competition.

Nieman DC, Henson DA, Dumke CL, Oley K, McAnulty SR, Davis JM, Murphy EA, Utter AC, Lind RH, McAnulty LS, Morrow JD.

Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Fischer Hamilton/Nycom Biochemistry Laboratory, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA.


The primary purpose of this study was to measure the influence of ibuprofen use during the 160-km Western States Endurance Run on endotoxemia, inflammation, and plasma cytokines. Subjects included 29 ultramarathoners who consumed 600 and 1200 mg ibuprofen the day before and on race day, respectively, and 25 controls that competed in the race but avoided ibuprofen and all other medications. Blood and urine samples were collected the morning prior to and immediately following the race, and subjects recorded muscle soreness during the week following the race using a 10-point Likert scale (DOMS). Race time (25.8+/-.6 and 25.6+/-.8 h, respectively) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE, 6-20 scale) (14.6+/-.4 and 14.5+/-.2, respectively) did not differ significantly between ibuprofen users and nonusers. Ibuprofen use compared to nonuse was linked to a smaller increase in urine creatinine (P=.038), higher plasma levels of lipopolysaccharide (group effect, P=.042), and greater increases (pre-to-post race) in serum C-reactive protein and plasma cytokine levels for interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-8, IL-1 ra, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, monocyte chemotactic protein 1, and macrophage inflammatory protein 1 beta, but not tumor necrosis factor alpha. Post-race DOMS and serum creatine kinase levels did not differ significantly between ibuprofen users and nonusers (20,621+/-3565 and 13,886+/-3068 microcal/L, respectively, P=.163). In conclusion, ibuprofen use compared to nonuse by athletes competing in a 160-km race did not alter muscle damage or soreness, and was related to elevated indicators of endotoxemia and inflammation.

Ironically, this bacterial incursion resulted in “higher levels of systemic inflammation,” said David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University who conducted the study and is himself an ultramarathoner. In other words, the ultramarathon racers who frequently used ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory, wound up with higher overall levels of bodily inflammation. They also reported being just as sore after the race as runners who had not taken ibuprofen.

Animal studies have also shown that ibuprofen hampers the ability of muscles to rebuild themselves after exercise. So why do so many athletes continue enthusiastically to swallow large and frequent doses of ibuprofen and related anti-inflammatory painkillers, including aspirin, before and during exercise?

“The idea is just entrenched in the athletic community that ibuprofen will help you to train better and harder,” Dr. Nieman said. “But that belief is simply not true. There is no scientifically valid reason to use ibuprofen before exercise and many reasons to avoid it.”

Dr. van Wijck agrees. “We do not yet know what the long-term consequences are” of regularly mixing exercise and ibuprofen, she said. But it is clear that “ibuprofen consumption by athletes is not harmless and should be strongly discouraged.”

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