Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ginkgo Biloba Dietary Supplements

We recently had a reader write in and ask us our opinion on Ginkgo Biloba, a supplement not currently in the Cooper Complete line.

According to the Nutrition Business Journal, Americans spent about 107 million on Ginkgo biloba supplements in 2007. Ginkgo is most commonly taken by older adults worried about memory loss issues. While consumers typically believe that ginkgo will minimize the impact of dementia or Alzheimer’s, the research is pretty inconsistent and inconclusive.

The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 3,069 participants aged 72 to 96 years, was conducted in 6 academic medical centers across the US between 2000 and 2008, with the average participant followed for 6.1 years. Over the five year period, half the group received twice-daily doses of 120 mg extract of Ginkgo, while the other half received a placebo. Participants took the Modified Mini-Mental State examination and Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale test every six months until 2004, and then annually along with 10 other neuropsychological tests. Unfortunately, the changes in cognition of the Ginkgo and placebo groups were about the same, leading researchers to conclude that 120 mg Ginkgo twice daily was not effective in reducing all-cause dementia or development of Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason, taking Ginkgo as a “preventative” doesn’t seem to be helpful.

The research to date on the potential impact of Ginkgo on Alzheimer’s (versus general cognitive decline) has primarily been in small studies. One of the larger trials was back in 1997, when researchers enrolled more than 300 participants with Alzheimer’s disease or non-Alzheimer’s dementia. Half the group took 40 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract three times daily for a year, while the control group took a placebo. The resulted showed significant, but not completely consistent improvements in the group that received the Ginkgo biloba. In 2007, another study followed 400 people for 22 weeks. In this study, half the group received 80 mg of Ginkgo biloba 3 times daily, and the results indicated that Ginkgo was significantly superior to the placebo. We need significantly more research, with higher numbers of participants and much longer study times, to determine if Ginkgo is worth the expense of consuming and the risk of increased bleeding.

Ginkgo is available in leaf, leaf extract, and seed formulations. Ginkgo leaf exact is the most commonly used form in studies. Although ginkgo seeds were traditionally used in China, the fresh seeds are toxic and potentially deadly. Ginkgo supplements are generally considered safe, but since ginkgo may increase the risk of bleeding, anyone taking anti-coagulants or with known clotting disorders should not take Ginkgo too. Also, Ginkgo should be discontinued two- to three weeks prior to many surgical and dental procedures, due to the increased risk of bleeding.

When ConsumerLab reviewed ginkgo product in 1999, they found that nearly 25 percent of the 30 brands tested had issues. When they tested Ginkgo products again in 2003, they found that seven of the nine ginkgo products tested lacked adequate levels of certain marker compounds. According to ConsumerLab, a lot of the Ginkgo on the market seems to be adulterated or “spiked” with other compounds.

While the conventional “man-on-the-street” opinion tends to be that Ginkgo biloba is beneficial in slowing or reducing cognitive decline, the research just doesn’t conclusively give the same results.

To purchase Cooper Complete supplements, visit the Cooper Store.

Ginkgo biloba for Prevention of Dementia

Ginkgo biloba for Preventing Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

Effects of ginkgo biloba in dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis

Thinking about Ginkgo?

Jill Turner is VP Operations for Cooper Concepts, the company that markets Cooper Complete nutritional supplements. Email (jsturner@cooperwellness.com) or call 972-560-3262 with your questions and comments regarding supplements.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prenatal Products

We received this question today via email:

The Email
"Hello - My active wife, for our first time, became my active pregnant wife. I did not see prenatal products on your site and wondered (a) if you had such a product, and (b) if not, could you recommend a few companies' products that are very good (and why, if you have time). Thanks so much for all you do and for looking into this specific request. All the best, Paul N."

Our Answer
Congratulations on the upcoming arrival! The only product we have specifically targeted to expectant moms is our Omega Soft DHA Product. You’ll see it under the category of kids, but the package label actually says “for kids and expectant moms.”

There are tons of prenatal products on the market. We’ve had many expectant moms report that their gynecologists have approved use of Basic One With Iron or the original Cooper Complete With Iron formulations for prenatal use. However, the rule here is to talk with your particular doctor and get their feedback as everyone is different, and all doctors tend to have their preferred products (over the shelf or prescription).

As far as omega-3 fatty acids go, please make sure your wife is getting plenty of omega-3’s overall, but in particular DHA. While EPA is great for heart health, DHA is an awesome powerhouse for helping in cell development.

Ocean Nutrition, the company who supplies us with the raw materials for our omega-3 product, says the following:

Pregnant and Nursing Women
Research indicates that Omega-3 EPA and DHA play an essential role before, during, and after pregnancy. As the sole source of nutrients for her developing baby, a mother needs to consume ample amounts of Omega-3 EPA/DHA, which are integral to the healthy development of the fetus’s vital organs, such as the brain and eyes. Additionally, Omega-3 EPA and DHA support a healthy pregnancy and labor. Even after childbirth, a mom still needs to watch her Omega-3 EPA and DHA intake, as her child will continue to absorb nutrients from her breast milk.

Research indicates that consuming foods rich in Omega-3 EPA/DHA may help to:

  • Prevent early labor
  • Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of preeclampsia (a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy)
  • Reduce the risk of post-partum depression
  • Provide the mother with enough EPA and DHA to meet her infant’s needs through breastfeeding
  • Ensure adequate levels of Omega-3 EPA and DHA to support another healthy pregnancy

Fetuses and Infants
DHA is essential to the development of the nervous system — which includes the brain, spinal cord, and network of nerves — and the eyes, particularly the retina. Because the formation of these organs is complete by the age of three or four, it’s critical that the growing child get plenty of DHA during fetal development and throughout the early years of life.

Research indicates that Omega-3 EPA and DHA plays many roles in supporting the health of the fetus and infant, including helping:

  • Develop a fully functional nervous system, including a healthy brain
  • Develop healthy eyes and visual acuity
  • Reduce the risk of allergies in at-risk infants
  • Increase birth size and weight
  • Reduce the risk of cerebral palsy
  • Increase IQ and ability to solve problems
  • Support visual acuity
  • Promote good coordination and motor skills
  • Contribute to good behavior
In addition to the omega soft product that we offer, we also have a traditional soft-gel product http://www.coopercomplete.com/store/detail/179.php. Two omega-3 softgels provides 1,000 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA, so if your wife can swallow soft-gels it’s a easy and inexpensive way to get a nice punch of EPA and DHA.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Aches and Pains – Will Supplements Help?

People regularly e-mail or phone looking for a supplement that will help alleviate their aches and pains. When asked if we have a product, I always say, “It depends.”

Joint Maintenance Formula is a blend of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, as well as gelatin, magnesium and bromelain. Originally developed for people who suffer from osteoarthritis, I regularly hear from people with tennis elbow and other repetitive motion pain who find relief with Joint Maintenance Formula, so when pain is an issue, I always suggest this product.

Glucosamine is an amino sugar that is the fundamental building block of the molecules that attract and hold water in cartilage. Amino sugars are the basis of virtually all connective tissues and lubricating fluids in the body. Although the body makes glucosamine, injuries and aging may result in a deficiency. Supplemental glucosamine has been shown to be a successful treatment of osteoarthritis by effectively controlling pain and halting or reversing the progression of the disease. Several studies have shown that besides stimulating the production of cartilage, glucosamine helps to reduce pain and improve joint function in those with osteoarthritis.

Chondroitin sulfate helps promote water retention in the cartilage, which is essential for shock absorption. It has been reported to maintain joint viscosity, stimulate the mechanisms for cartilage repair, and inhibit enzymes that break down cartilage. In the early stages of joint disease there are changes in chondroitin that affect the response of the chondrocytes (cells that form cartilage) to damage in the cartilage that surrounds the joints. When taken orally, chondroitin provides the necessary compounds for the formation of healthy tissue that otherwise may not be available due to the joint disease.

Bromelain is an extract from the pineapple stem and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. Many times, new Joint Maintenance Formula users will call us 4 or 5 days after they’ve started the product to report that the product is making an amazing difference for them. When we get these early reports, we know it’s the bromelain providing relief.

Glucosamine and chondroitin don’t work for everyone who has joint issues. The ingredients also take a period of time to work into our system. For this reason, we suggest that you take the product for two months, and then evaluate if the product is providing the desired relief.

Another supplement that may help with pain relief is Advanced Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids were originally added to our product line because EPA and DHA, the compounds in the fish oil, working together provide great heart health benefits. However, in addition to omega-3 heart health benefits, studies show that EPA is also a great overall inflammation fighter.

Each two softgel serving of Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 provides 1,000 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA. Our general recommendation for people experiencing pain is to double-up the normal serving and to take four softgels daily for a few weeks to see if that provides relief. After relief is achieved, an attempt can be made to go back down to the two softgels daily and see if pain relief is maintained.

Jill Turner is VP of Operations for Cooper Concepts, the company that markets Cooper Complete nutritional supplements. E-mail jsturner@cooperwellness.com or call 972-560-3262 with your questions and comments regarding supplements.