Special Nutrients I (Vitamin-Like Substances)

Acetyl L-Carnitine, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Choline, CoQ10, EFAs, Inositol & PABA

Vitamin-like substances have varying degrees of importance in human nutrition.  All of the following listed vitamin-like substances are available in supplement form.

Acetyl L-Carnitine –  Acetyl L-carnitine is thought to be a more bioavailable form of L-carnitine, and is composed of acetic acid and L-carnitine that are bound together.  L-carnitine is derived from the amino acids lysine and methionine, and is thought to support the burning of fatty acids for energy by facilitating fatty acid transport into the mitochondria, i.e., the cell’s power plant where the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is produced.  Acetyl L-carnitine supports memory and mental well-being, plays an important role in the production and release of one of the brain’s most vital neurotransmitters, acetylcholine, supports brain and peripheral nerve function, and supports intracellular energy transfer for skeletal and cardiac muscle function. 
ALT:  500 mg to 1,000 mg of acetyl L-carnitine per day for adults.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid (lipoic acid)  –  Alpha-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that is both fat and water-soluble that acts as an essential cofactor for many enzymes, especially as a cofactor in cellular metabolism, and because of it being both fat and water-soluble has the ability to quench free radicals both inside and outside the cells.  In addition to itself being an antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid also extends the life of other antioxidants (such as vitamin C and glutathione), and because it has the ability to modify gene expression it has been used in conjunction with low-dose naltrexone (LDN) (a super-potent immune booster) and other antioxidants against various forms of abnormal cellular growth.  Alpha-lipoic acid supports the conversion of glucose (blood sugar) into energy, supports brain and nerve cell function, and is thought may be beneficial for nerve damage of the extremities, especially of the legs and feet.  Because alpha-lipoic acid has an effect on blood glucose levels, and may also affect thyroid hormone levels, those with blood sugar problems or who take thyroid medication should consult their doctor before taking alpha-lipoic acid. 
ALT:  30 mg to 100 mg of alpha-lipoic acid per day for adults.

Choline –  A water- soluble vitamin-like substance that is similar to the B-complex vitamins that, although not technically a vitamin, is classified as an essential nutrient that supports brain function (especially cognitive function of the brain), liver and nervous system function, is found in lipids (fats and fat-like substances) that make up cell membranes, is a vital component of the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and is naturally present in egg yolks, liver and soy lecithin. 
AI:  425 mg to 550 mg of choline per day for adults.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone, ubiquinol)  –  Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble vitamin-like substance present in cell mitochondria (the cell’s “power plant”) that supports energy production as a component of the electron transport chain, which is a chemical reaction that transfers electrically charged ions across cellular membranes during the conversion of biochemical energy from nutrients into the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy molecule.  Because CoQ10 supports normal heart, muscle and nerve health, it has been used in supplement form for those with a weak heart, and to help replenish its loss of liver production that occurs with cholesterol-lowering statin drug use.  Thus, CoQ10 has been used to prevent or counter the side effects of statin drugs, such as “myopathy” (a painful muscle wasting and weakness condition), and heart and nerve damage.  CoQ10 has a strong antioxidant quality.  It is thought that CoQ10 may help prevent the oxidation of triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), especially when taken with vitamins C and E, and is thought to have a regenerating effect upon other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.  CoQ10, taken together with aged garlic extract (AGE), is believed to strongly support the normal function of the vascular system.  In a recent study (conducted by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor UCLA Medical Center), they found: ”The combination of AGE and CoQ10 was independently associated with significant beneficial effects on vascular elasticity and endothelial function” (Reference: Nutrition, Aug. 1, 2012).  Ubiquinol, a reduced form of CoQ10, is thought to be the most biologically active form.
ALT:  60 mg to 100 mg of CoQ10 per day for adults in good health; 200 mg to 400 mg of CoQ10 per day for those with a weak heart (under medical supervision).

Essential Fatty Acids –  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (LA) (an omega-6 fatty acid), which are considered “essential” because they cannot be synthesized (produced) by the human body and must be acquired from the diet to maintain health.  The typical American diet contains too much omega-6 fatty acids (primarily from polyunsaturated vegetable oils, an excess of which has been associated with certain types of abnormal cell growth and other health conditions).  Canola, olive, peanut, and flaxseed oils contain a better balance of the healthier polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids (however, concentrated and unbalanced intakes of ALA, the major essential fatty acid in flaxseed oil, has been associated in some studies with an increased risk of prostate and eye problems, while no such association has been demonstrated so far with intakes of ground whole flaxseeds).  The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), especially from fish and seafood, help support normal cardiovascular health, are thought to help decrease the risk of certain heart-related conditions and possibly “sudden cardiac death” in those who have a heart condition, are thought to help reduce inflammation and concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP) (an inflammation biomarker in the blood which when elevated is associated with an increased risk for certain cardiovascular conditions or events), are thought to support normal blood flow by helping to make the blood less likely to clot by inhibiting adhesion molecules, may be beneficial for those with blood sugar problems (especially in those who also have elevated blood triglycerides), may help support reduction of inflammation and joint tenderness associated with autoimmune joint disorders, may beneficially support normal mental function (especially cognitive function), and is thought may help support normal eye, prostate, and breast health.  Sources for polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils (such as safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, and sesame oils) and certain nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts and sesame seeds – note that Brazil nuts in excess can have adverse health effects because they contain very large amounts of the mineral selenium).  Sources for polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish and seafood (such as herring, salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters, trout, and albacore tuna, however, larger fish like mackerel and tuna may have mercury contamination while smaller fish like herring, salmon and sardines are less likely to be contaminated).  Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in walnuts, ground whole flaxseeds, and cod liver oil (cod liver oil should be used judiciously so as to not consume too much vitamin A and be a mercury-free source).  Ground whole flaxseeds (with their abundance of nutrients and fiber) are thought to provide a more healthful balance than concentrated flaxseed oil (which is thought by some to have too much unbalanced ALA fatty acid).  Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, and the liquid form (rather than capsules) is believed by some to be a useful adjunct against abnormal cell growth when blended with a sulfur-based protein carrier such as nonfat cottage cheese (which is thought to fully activate the fatty acids in the flaxseed oil).  Their recipe: 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil thoroughly mixed with ½ cup (4 oz) of cottage cheese, per 100 pounds of body weight, per day, in divided servings (Reference: beckwithfamily.com, budwigcenter.com, and survivingcancernaturally.com) - but which has not been scientifically substantiated.  Sources for monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids include avocados, olives, peanuts, certain nuts (such as almonds and cashews), and canola, olive and peanut oils.  A balance between omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids are thought to be healthful, with the most healthful balance currently believed to be in favor of omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids.  In addition to the polyunsatured omega-3 fatty acids, the monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids are thought to be especially healthful.  
AI:  1,600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day from fish oil supplements for adult males, and 1,100 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day from fish oil supplements for adult females.
ALT:  2,000 mg to 2,400 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day from fish oil supplements for adults.  Intakes of more than 3,000 mg (3 grams) of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements per day may increase the risk of bleeding.  It is considered prudent to take the antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin C when taking concentrated forms of EFAs to help prevent oxidation of the fatty acids.  In regards to dietary fish oil consumption and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2)-mediated calcium signaling inflammatory response, a recent study concluded: “This study demonstrated the new mechanism behind the positive effects of dietary fish oils in inhibiting inflammation originates from the rich concentration of DHA, which can directly inhibit the inflammatory EP1-mediated PGE2 receptor signaling, and that the inflammatory response stimulated by PGE2 in the fat stromal cells, which directly related to metabolic diseases, could be down regulated by fish oil and DHA.”  (Reference: “Screening and identification of dietary oils and unsaturated fatty acids in inhibiting inflammatory prostaglandin E” Shui-Ping So and Diana Ruan; BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 12, page 43, Aug. 31, 2012)

Inositol –  A water-soluble vitamin-like substance that is similar to the B-complex vitamins that helps support normal cellular and nervous system function, and is an important part of cell-signaling (communication between cells that allow cells to coordinate their behavior and activity).  Inositol was initially classified as a B-complex vitamin (vitamin B8), but eventually was found to be synthesized by the body and thus was declassified as a vitamin.  It is found in whole grains, legumes (especially beans), nuts and seeds, and certain fruits (especially cantaloupe and oranges).
ALT:  40 mg of inositol per day for adults.

PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)  –   A slightly water-soluble antioxidant coenzyme vitamin-like substance that is similar to the B-complex vitamins that help support normal GI tract health and function, formation of red blood cells (erythrocytes), skin and hair health, is thought to have anti-fibrosis activity (fibrosis is the thickening and scarring of the skin or connective tissue that follows injury, infection, lack of oxygen, or surgery), is thought may help reduce the inflammatory effects associated with the degeneration of joint cartilage, may help reduce fatigue, may help limit the effects associated with mental depression, and may increase oxygen uptake at the tissue level.  PABA is found in whole wheat, wheat germ, liver, eggs and molasses. 
ALT:  50 mg of PABA per day for adults.  PABA can interfere with sulfa drugs.

Vitamin-like substances work hand-in-hand with all the other nutrients.

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