Beat The Odds Laboratory Health Panels – Why Bother?
By James A. Jackson, Ph.D.
The intention of most laboratory tests is to detect or monitor a disease. Only a few of these tests will tell you the “nutritional” status of your body. Yet the literature is filled with thousands of reports showing that many degenerative diseases can be prevented by having adequate levels of certain nutrients in the body, especially antioxidants. Over 4,000 reports have been written on vitamin C (ascorbic acid) alone.
It is much less expensive to prevent a disease than to treat it!
Since 1992, The Center has offered a program to the public to let them monitor the level of nutrients in their body. We have progressed from one basic antioxidant panel to eleven different health panels. Knowing your nutrient level is important. There are about 55 essential factors that your body cannot make; 45 of these are nutrients. These “Health Panels” have been designed so that you may select the panel that is most beneficial to you. Here is an example. Suppose that you have a family history of heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, etc. Many research articles have shown that certain nutrients may delay or prevent the onset of these diseases. It is much less expensive to prevent a disease than to treat it!
By measuring blood levels of these nutrients, you can also tell if you are absorbing what you eat. Remember, it is what you eat, digest, absorb, metabolize, and excrete that keeps you healthy.
Also remember, the “RDA” is designed to prevent deficiency diseases, not necessarily to keep you healthy.
Let’s look at “Heart Biomarkers.” There are many nutrients and other factors (stress) that are important to prevent heart disease. There are over 2,600 deaths a day from heart disease, yet 50% of the heart attack victims had no abnormalities in the traditional heart disease markers!
Vitamins E and C prevent bad LDL from oxidizing; therefore, it cannot attach to the artery wall and form plaques. CoQ10 is a nutrient that is used by the mitochondria of cells to make A TP, or energy. It is also a very strong antioxidant. CoQ10 prevents heart attack and hypertension.
Magnesium is a mineral that is important to just about everything in the body. It is hard to absorb, and 74% of Americans fail to meet the RDA. In a study performed on patients just entering the hospital after a heart attack, of all the interventions tried on the patients, those having the best statistical chance of survival were the ones given intravenous magnesium chloride.
Homocysteine, a metabolite of the amino acid methionine, is a good predictor of heart disease. It can damage the heart and brain arteries similar to low density lipoprotein (LDL). A 4.0 mM/L increase in homocysteine is equivalent to 20 mg/dL increase in cholesterol. An elevated homocysteine in men makes them three times as likely to have a heart attack, and it can usually be brought back down to acceptable levels by taking vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid.
Another test that is gaining more and more interest in heart health is the ultra-sensitive C-Reactive Protein, or US-CRP. This is an indicator of inflammation at a very low level. Since plaque formation is a type of inflammation, an elevated CRP could indicate early problems with the arteries in the heart (and brain). Other tests included in the heart health panel are lipoprotein(a), lycopene, a lipid profile, red blood cell selenium, and urine vitamin C.
An important panel is “Breast Health.” Many women may not have enough vitamin D. This fat-soluble vitamin has anti estrogen activity. It is necessary for normal cell growth and suppresses cancer cell growth.
Selenium is a mineral that is included in many of the panels. This is a very important antioxidant enzyme that destroys hydrogen peroxide. A government study was done on 1312 people over a4 l/2 year period. Half the people got 200 micrograms of selenium in yeast; the other half got a sugar pill. Those getting the selenium had a 50% reduction in cancer mortality.
High CoQ10 levels can mean a lower cancer risk. Folic acid deficiency is associated with cancers of the epithelial cells, including the ductile tissue of the breasts. Taken appropriately, selenium, CoQlO, folic acid, and vitamin D appear to increase your protection against breast cancer. Other nutrients measured in this health panel are vitamins A, C, & B6, lycopene, and urine vitamin C. Vitamin C is important against all cancers in that it destroys free radicals and inhibits the formation of carcinogens.
Another important health panel is Eye Health. One in 25 people over the age of 65 has significant vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S. Both of these conditions can be delayed, if not prevented, with proper nutrition.
The National Eye Institute conducted a study to see if nutrients would have any effect on AMD or cataracts. The nutrients used were 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 80 mg of zinc oxide, 2 mg of copper oxide, and 15 mg of beta carotene. Although the study showed little or no effect on cataract formation (probably because the doses of nutrients were too low), it did show a reduced risk of AMD by 25% and vision loss by 19%.
Other studies have shown that lutein, a carotenoid responsible for macular pigment optical density (MPOD), alone or in combination with antioxidant vitamins and minerals, improved the MPOD and near visual acuity, slowed the progression of AMD, and improved the central vision of patients with existing AMD. It is also interesting to note that the vitamin C concentration in the front part of the eye is about six times that in the blood.
The Prostate Health panel measures many of the nutrients necessary for a healthy prostate. These include vitamins A, C, & E, urine vitamin C, lycopene, selenium, and zinc. More than 180,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. More than 40,000 men will die from the disease. It is increasing at a rate of 6.4% a year among men 59 to 79 years old.
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in red tomatoes and watermelon, etc., is a very strong antioxidant and is probably in the highest concentration of any antioxidant in the tissue. Several studies have shown that men in Italy have 60% less prostate cancer than men in the U.S., England, and Ireland. It is thought this is related to the amount of tomatoes and tomato products Italian men eat.
For those with a history of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, a BrainHealth panel might be in order. From 65-74 years of age, 3% of people have Alzheimer’s; 75-84 years, 19% have the disease; and above 84 years, 47% of people have it. This panel contains vitamins A, C, E, Bl, B3, B6, & B12, folic acid, fatty acids, CoQ 1 0, homocysteine, amino acids, a lipid profile, C-Reactive Protein, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and urine vitamin C & pyrroles.
Vitamin B deficiencies result in memory loss and ataxia. People with increased homocysteine have 2 to 4 times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Homocysteine also causes vascular disease of the cerebral arteries and is a neurotoxin to the brain. Vitamin A protects the brain cell membranes while vitamin E protects the cells from lipid peroxidation and may protect from a stroke. A form of vitamin B 1 is important for some enzymes in the brain. Many of these enzymes have been found to be low in the brains of patients who have died with Alzheimer’s. Low levels of selenium and vitamin E increase the risk of stroke by 4 times in men, CoQ10 increases HDL and decreases Lipoprotein(a). Zinc is involved in over 100 enzymes in the brain.
Amino acids are important for brain health. Taurine is most prevalent in the brain. Leucine and isoleucine stimulate the upper brain and make you more alert. Low levels of lysine lead to an inability to concentrate. Methionine clears the brain of metabolic and toxic wastes (cadmium and mercury). Phenylalanine brightens mood and improves long-term memory. Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter. Valine promotes a calming effect on our emotions. Certain fatty acids are useful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and some fatty acids are low in children with ADHD.
Other panels available are the Bone Health, Pre-conception/Fertility Health, Skin, Hair, and Nail Health, a “Mega Health-Basic,” and a “Mega Health Comprehensive.” The mega health panels are the most comprehensive. These are available to the public, usually in April and October. Visit our website, www.brightspot.org. to see dates and a sample of a mega panel.