Thursday, March 4, 2010

Antioxidants and injuries

When I hurt my ankle (really badly--the swelling was unbelievable), I had excellent attention from the physical therapists I work with. Beyond their treatments and icing, I knew I needed a strong anti-inflammatory program to calm down the inflammation surrounding the injury and my body's higher level of stress. My body needed more fuel and ingredients for the healing process. I didn't want to take any drugs that may have side effects, so I went the natural route of antioxidants and diligently took a therapeutic program of: OPC, Vitamin C, CoQ10, Omega-3, and Quercetin.

As you might know, the vitamin levels recommended as the RDA are not necessarily sufficient for optimal health. Rather, those levels are to set at rates to keep you from getting diseases like scurvy. Different wellness doctors recommend levels of vitamin C that would be tough to include in your food diet. Optimal health levels can be found in nutrition books like The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (a lit review by well-respected nutrition and health writers Shari Lieberman, PhD & Nancy Bruning, MPH). I really like this book because it does a thorough literature review, so you're not getting one isolated study that happened to hit the news. I could eat a lot of my favorite fruits high in vitamin C, like kiwis and strawberries, but when dealing with an injury, I wouldn't be able to eat enough fruit to get the therapeutic dosages I was looking for.

For your body to use vitamins well there are 3 factors:
1) Input -- Does the food or supplement have the vitamins and levels you want?
2) Digestion/Absorption -- Does your stomach/gut break down the pills, vitamins or food well?
3) Usability -- Is the vitamin in a form that your body can use it well? Do you have a genetic pre-disposition that doesn't use the vitamin well? If so, do you need more or a different form of that vitamin or mineral?

I personally don't like taking pills (nor does my stomach because there are some fillers and binders in pills that need breaking down), so whenever I can get a more absorbable liquid formulation, it means my body is absorbing and using more (factors 2 and 3). And when it is isotonic-capable, I'm absorbing up to 94% of what the label says, instead of the up to 40% in pill form. A leading wellness doctor used to give her patients IV vitamin therapy, and now she rarely uses the IV when there is the less expensive and very powerful option of a patient taking her vitamins daily--vitamins that are absorbed at the highest capacity.

* OPC=oligomeric proanthocyanidins which is the family of antioxidants including resveratrol (red wine extract), bilberry extract (cousin of blueberry), pine bark extract, and grapeseed extract

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