What happened to the product scores?
The short answer is that we just don't believe readers got enough information from the raw product scores. Without something more to go on, there's just no way to tell what the differences are between two similarly-rated products. For example, a product with a score of 6.38 may contain potentially toxic levels of iron, while a product scoring slightly lower, 6.32, does not. Which is really better for you?
In the fourth edition of the NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, we've excluded the raw scores and replaced them with a better tool: the Health Support Profile. These horizontal bar graphs show how the product fared on each of our eighteen rating criteria, so you can see if a product is weak or strong in a particular area. Each manufacturer's top-rated product (if at least one product scores three stars or better) has both a Nutrient Profile Graph and a Health Support Profile graph. Information that's visually appealing and informative is just more useful for consumers.
We are unable to complete a comparison of food products, including Juice Plus, Seasilver, Noni Juice, Xango and other foods, because no documentation of the amount of nutrients is available. Companies producing these products have no way to control the exact amount of vitamin C and other nutrients in each batch of the product, since it is created from actual fruit, which will vary in its composition due to weather, ripeness, soil conditions and other environmental factors. Based on the available nutrition information for these products, they would not even register against our Blended Standard. To inlcude them in our work would not be appropriate.
I was wondering if you can elaborate on some speculation that Lyle MacWilliam had ties to USANA ... I just want to know the facts since the Internet can be untrustworthy. Marie S
Thank you for directing this question to us. We are aware that there is material circulating on the internet that seeks to discredit Mr. MacWilliam and have attempted to contact the party responsible to correct erroneous comments; unfortunately, the ownership of the website is hidden from disclosure.
Lyle served as a scientific consultant on the Medical Advisory Board of USANA Health Sciences for some years. He resigned this position precisely because of the notion that it could be perceived as a possible conflict of interest. As a consultant to the natural health products industry, Lyle has also worked with other major nutritional manufacturers. All of this is a matter of public record, and none of Lyle's professional duties has posed a risk of bias in the rating of products in our comparative guides.
The products listed in our comparative guides are evaluated in comparison to the Blended Standard, which is compiled from the collective recommendations of twelve independent nutritional authorities. Mr. MacWilliam is not included in this panel; therefore his opinion concerning optimal nutrition is not reflected in the development of the Blended Standard. In addition to the recommendations of the twelve nutritional experts, emerging consensus in the scientific community from recent findings in nutritional science is employed in establishing the Health Support Profiles, which incorporate specific health pararmeters used in the rating of each product.
We highly recommend that you read Chapters 8 and 9 of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, 4th (Professional) edition, where the rating process is fully disclosed.
An athlete I am close to wishes to make a Canadian Olympic rowing team in a few years but is reluctant to take antioxidants because of studies he has read online saying they may impair the body's powers to grow stronger without them. In your research, and I understand you to be an athlete yourself, is he making the correct decision? Thanks in advance for any response you might care to make.
Robert N, Duncan BC
As to your query, I have never read any credible research suggesting that supplementary antioxidants can impair the body's anabolic (tissue growing) potential. However, I have read a considerable volume of material suggesting that there is a great necessity -- for athletes in particular -- to supplement with sufficient antioxidants to protect against the catabolic (tissue wasting) effects of high levels of oxidative stress (a consequence of high output physical activities).
High output activities (such as running or rowing) substantially increase the body's oxygen consumption and create high levels of oxidative stress within the mitochondria. These tiny organelles are found in all our cells but are particularly prevalent in our muscle tissues. Mitochondria are the body's cellular furnaces, responsible for nearly all the cell’s ongoing energy production (a process known as cellular respiration). Throughout the respiratory process, electrons invariably escape and react with ambient oxygen to generate toxic free radicals within these tiny structures. It is estimated that 2% to 5% of the electrons that enter the mitochondrial furnaces are converted to reactive oxygen species (free radicals), generating considerable oxidative stress for both the organelle and the cell. At the upper limits of respiratory capacity, mitochondrial energy output can increase by up to 20 times (remember, the higher the oxygen consumption, the higher the level of oxidative stress for the muscle cell).
Consequently, high-level physical activities, which create extraordinary energy demands on the body, also create damaging levels of reactive oxygen species. Without a plentiful store of dietary and endogenous antioxidants to quench this excessive production of free radicals, significant oxidative damage can occur to both the mitochondria and the muscle cell, resulting in accelerated mitochondrial and cellular aging. Two of these antioxidants are coenzyme Q10 and glutathione.
Co Q10 is an important respiratory enzyme and antioxidant. Working alongside other energy transfer compounds, Co Q10 is directly involved in electron transfer reactions critical for the production of ATP (ATP is the cell’s principal form of energy currency). This respiratory process is what fuels the muscle’s energy requirements . Working with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E (which protects against lipid peroxidation in within cellular membranes), CoQ10 works to quench excess free radical production and protect the delicate mitochondrial membrane. Insufficient CoQ10 stores can result in oxidative damage to the inner membrane of the mitochondria and in impaired aerobic capacity of the cell. It is believed that one of the reasons people lose both strength and aerobic capacity as they age is because of the reduced production of this critical respiratory antioxidant and the cumulative oxidative damage to the mitochondria that ensues. Coenzyme Q10 levels can be easily restored by supplementation with the nutrient.
Another important endogenous antioxidant that is affected by high output exercise is glutathione, the principal component in the body’s Glutathione Peroxidise Pathway (this metabolic pathway is responsible for removing damaging peroxide radicals from our cellular tissues). Liver glutathione is also the body’s premiere detoxicant, chelating with and removing accumulated environmental toxins, such as heavy metals. Animal studies show that even one bout of exhaustive exercise can deplete our muscle and liver glutathione stores by 40-80%. Glutathione depletion at the cellular level invokes extensive damage to the mitochondria and consequently to the muscle tissues. Depletion of mitochondrial glutathione, in fact, may be the ultimate factor determining a cell’s vulnerability to oxidative attack. You cannot prevent muscle damage and maintain intensive training without first regenerating your cellular glutathione stores – and you can do that through supplementation with cysteine, n-acetyl cysteine, vitamin C, selenium and some of the B-complex vitamins.
The short of it is this: physical activity requires increased oxygen consumption, and increased oxygen consumption without adequate stores of both endogenous and dietary antioxidants will result in accelerated tissue damage and accelerated cellular aging. You can protect against such depletion and replenish antioxidant stores through a comprehensive program of supplementation.
Your contact may wish to read some of Dr Michael Colgan's work in this area. Dr Colgan is a well-respected sports nutritionist, who now resides on Saltspring Island, BC. I refer you to his book, Optimum Sports Nutrition: Your Competitive Edge: A complete Nutritional Guide for Optimizing Athletic Performance (1993).
Another good reference source is Gerutti et al, Oxy-radicals in Molecular biology and Pathology, New York, 1988.