Heart Risk possibilities for those with Touching Toes

In addition to measuring flexibility, touching your toes may indicate your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Performance on sit-and-reach tests can be a sign of the risk of an early death heart attack or stroke among people 40 years old and older, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology.

Since arterial stiffness often heralds cardiovascular disease, a test of how far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position could be a quick, easy, inexpensive indicator of how stiff your arteries are.

“Our findings have potentially important clinical implications because trunk flexibility can be easily evaluated,” said one of the authors, Kenta Yamamoto. “This simple test might help to prevent age-related arterial stiffening.”

Although it isn’t known why flexibility of the body in middle age and older would be related to arterial flexibility, the authors speculate that stretching exercises may trigger physiological reactions that slow the stiffening of arteries connected with aging.

Healthy blood vessels are elastic, and elasticity helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Arteries stiffen with age, and stiff arteries are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death. Previous studies have shown that physical fitness can delay arterial stiffness and the authors of this study theorize that a flexible body could be a quick way to determine arterial flexibility.

The researchers divided 526 healthy, non-smoking adults ages 20 to 83 into three age groups: young (20-39), middle aged (40-59), and older (60-83), to perform a sit-and-reach test. They sat on the floor with their backs against the wall and their legs straight. They slowly bent forward and reached out with their arms. They were classified as either poor or high flexibility, depending on how far they could reach.

The study found that trunk flexibility was a good predictor of artery stiffness among middle age and older volunteers but not among the younger group. They also found that systolic blood pressure (the highest pressure that occurs when the heart contracts) was higher in poor flexibility than in high flexibility groups.

“These findings suggest a possibility that improving flexibility induced by the stretching exercise may be capable of modifying age-related arterial stiffening in middle-aged and older adults,” Yamamoto said. “We believe that flexibility exercises, such as stretching, yoga and Pilates, should be integrated as a new recommendation into the known cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise.”

However, there are other possibilities as to why bodily flexibility should be an indicator of arterial stiffness, including the possibility that the amount of collagen and elastin, which makes muscles flexible, also makes arteries flexible.

Determining the Quality of your Supplements.

Determining the Quality of your Supplements.

Once it’s determined that the ingredients are likely to be safe and effective, the final step is to identify a high-quality product. This step in the process can be particularly challenging because of the disparate manufacturing standards used throughout the dietary supplement industry.

Some industry groups have attempted to resolve this issue through self-regulation and industry-developed GMPs. Some private organizations have also attempted to address these problems by conducting laboratory analysis on dietary supplements and identifying problematic products. But none of these efforts provides a comprehensive, independent program for assuring product quality.

In 2001, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) launched a new program to address the issue of dietary supplement quality.

A Snapshot of USP

  • Founded in 1820
  • Independent, nongovernmental, not-for-profit company
  • Three governing bodies made up entirely of volunteers
    • Convention membership (policy body)
    • Board of Trustees (fiduciary body)
    • Council of Experts and Expert Committees (scientific body)
  • Official standards-setting authority in the US
  • Sets quality standards for Rx and OTC drugs and dietary supplements

The USP program is the most rigorous and comprehensive dietary supplement quality program available. USP conducts a rigorous process of tests and reviews before awarding the USP-Verified Mark to a brand name dietary supplement. Manufacturers voluntarily apply for verification. The process ensures that the supplements meet USP’s high standards for integrity, purity, and potency:

  • Experienced USP scientists direct the testing of supplement samples in well-equipped laboratories. They test these supplements against the official, FDA-recognized public standards that USP itself establishes.
  • USP audits the supplement manufacturer’s facilities, practices, records, and quality control measures.
  • USP tests marketplace samples of verified products to ensure that they continue to retain ingredient strength and stability over their shelf life.
  • Where needed, USP helps manufacturers improve their quality systems or reformulate their products to deliver the intended ingredients.
  • USP reviews supplement labels to ensure that the ingredients are properly listed and that appropriate dosage information and warnings/cautions/contraindications are featured.

USP Verified Supplements

  • Reliably contain the ingredients listed on the product label in declared strengths and amounts.
  • Will break down and release ingredients in the body within a specified amount of time.
  • Do not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
  • Have been manufactured using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) as defined by USP.

As of February 2007, over 800 dietary supplement products have received the USP-Verified Mark. Click here to see how to identify products that have received the USP-Verified Mark.

Introducing – Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions associated with aging.

Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body to use vitamin K.

The ability of vitamin E to prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia, liver disease, and stroke are still not known. At lower levels, vitamin E may help protect the heart.

The best way to get enough essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.

Food Sources – Vitamin E is found in the following foods:

    * Wheat germ

    * Corn

    * Nuts

    * Seeds

    * Olives

    * Spinach and other green leafy vegetables

    * Asparagus

    * Vegetable oils — corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed

Products made from these foods, such as margarine, also contain vitamin E.

Side Effects

In November, 2004, the American Heart Association stated that high amounts of vitamin E can be harmful. Taking 400 IU per day, or higher, may increase the risk of death.

Taking smaller amounts, such as those found in a typical multivitamin, was not harmful.

Recommendations – Did you know that your purchases of Vitamin E can be reimbursed?  Find out how at and Become a member – it’s FREE to register at www. gembpatients.com.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine report the following dietary reference intakes for vitamin E:


    * 0 to 6 months: 4 mg/day

    * 7 to 12 months: 5 mg/day


    * 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day

    * 4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day

    * 9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults

    * 14 and older: 15 mg/day

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

Specific recommendations depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy). Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk (lactating) need higher amounts. Ask your GE E-Care Plan health care provider which amount is best for you.

Vitamin C can Help Protect DNA Damage of Skin Cells

LISBON –  – Researchers at the University of Leicester and Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Portugal have found that vitamin C can help protect DNA damage of skin cells and lead to better skin regeneration.

Previous research has shown that DNA repair is upregulated in people consuming vitamin C supplements.

In the new study, the researchers have provided some mechanistic evidence.

The researchers used affymetrix microarray, for looking at gene expression, and the ‘Comet’ assay to study DNA damage

“The exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation increases in summer, often resulting in a higher incidence of skin lesions. Ultraviolet radiation is also a genotoxic agent responsible for skin cancer, through the formation of free radicals and DNA damage,” said lead researcher Tiago Duarte, formerly of the University of Leicester, and now at the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology in Portugal.

“Our study analysed the effect of sustained exposure to a vitamin C derivative, ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (AA2P), in human dermal fibroblasts.

“We investigated which genes are activated by vitamin C in these cells, which are responsible for skin regeneration.

“The results demonstrated that vitamin C may improve wound healing by stimulating quiescent fibroblasts to divide and by promoting their migration into the wounded area. Vitamin C could also protect the skin by increasing the capacity of fibroblasts to repair potentially mutagenic DNA lesions,” Duarte added.

The researchers hope that the results will be of great relevance to the cosmetics industry.

“The study indicates a mechanism by which vitamin C could contribute to the maintenance of a healthy skin by promoting wound healing and by protecting cellular DNA against damage caused by oxidation,” said Dr Marcus S. Cooke from the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Department of Genetics, at the University of Leicester.

“These findings are particular importance to our photobiology interests, and we will certainly be looking into this further,” Cooke added.

The findings have been published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine. (ANI)

Vitamin Supplements Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Good news for those who take vitamin supplements: people who take a multivitamin and vitamin E nearly every day for 10 years seem to have a slightly lower risk of death from heart disease, study findings hint.

Those who take vitamin E and C supplements may also have a lower risk of death overall in a five-year period, while those who take vitamin C may have a lower risk of death from cancer, note study authors Dr. Gaia Pocobelli, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle, Washington, and colleagues.

Vitamins E and C are antioxidants that are thought to protect against damage the body’s cells, but scientists have “no clear evidence” that their use staves off death.

While the findings of the current study back earlier studies, many of the decreased risks are small, and may have more to do with other healthy behaviours in which people who take vitamins are likely to take part, the authors are quick to add in their report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

How the study was done

The team surveyed 77 719 men and women in Washington State who were between 50 and 76 years old. Overall 67, 47, and 48% of the study group had ever used multivitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E supplements, respectively.

Overall, there were 3 577 deaths in the group over five years. Among those who did not use vitamins, there were 350 deaths from heart disease, while there were 519 deaths among those who used vitamins between a few days and seven days per week.

After adjusting for gender and age, lifestyle, diet, and medical conditions, the researchers saw no differences between non-users and those who used multivitamins for zero to two days, three to five days, or six to seven days per week on average over 10 years.

By contrast, they saw slightly decreased risk for death from heart disease among those reporting the most frequent multivitamin use.

What the study revealed

When the researchers looked at vitamin C use, those who took more than 322 milligrams per day had a slightly decreased overall and cancer-related risk of death within five years, compared with non-users. Those with a history of heart disease who took this level of vitamin C had slightly decreased risk for death from heart disease.


Compared with non-users, men and women reporting more than 215 milligrams per day of vitamin E per day – roughly the amount found in a typical supplement — had slightly decreased total and heart disease-related risk of death. The investigators saw no association between cancer death risk and vitamin E intake.

Even though the study took lifestyle into account, the authors that many of the findings “should be interpreted cautiously because healthy behaviors” – some of which may not have been measured – “tend to be more common in supplement users than in nonusers.”