Keeping your brain healthy into old age

Keeping your brain healthy into old age

Your brain is the most sophisticated and fascinating organ in our bodies. It’s our internal ‘supercomputer’, it has the important role of controlling every cell and process in our bodies. Our brain health refers to our ability to think, remember, learn, concentrate and perform everyday tasks. Caring for your brain and keeping it healthy into old age is highly important for its function and your overall health.

How your brain works

The brain is made up of dense and highly organised populations of nerve cells (neurons), which are connected in a complex three-dimensional network. Neurons are cells that process, transmit and receive nerve impulses (electrical signals). Each neuron contains 3 parts, the cell body, the fibres (carries the nerve pulses in to the cell body) and the axon (carries impulses away from the cell body). The fibres are insulated by a layer of protein called myelin to preserve the speed of the signals. Neurons are connected to other neurons via junctions called synapses. Brain neurons are connected to the rest of the body via the spinal cord, and similar to a phone cable it sends and collects signals to and from all tissues and organs at every second. The brain is also the signaling centre for hormone control, metabolic rate and blood pressure.
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Being the control centre of the body, the brain relies on a continuous supply of oxygen to function. If it is deprived of oxygen for just 5 minutes, brain cells will die. The brain receives oxygen from blood and around 30% of blood leaving the heart travels to the brain. Brain health is closely connected with heart and blood vessel health.

The changing brain: Brain development & decline

A surprising fact about the brain is that most of its neurons are made before birth. Our brains reach 90% of adult size by the age of 5. As the brain develops, it increases in the complexity of connections formed between neurons. This is called ‘brain plasticity’, our brain keeps changing, forming new connections and repairing old ones when we learn new skills and have new experiences.

As children learn and grow, their brains form complex networks at a faster rate compared to adults. This is the reason why children can learn new skills and store more information faster than adults. Our brains reach maturity in our 20s when our brain regions for reasoning, planning and impulse-control are fully formed.

When we reach middle age, our brain volume begins to decline slightly as neurons start to get smaller. Gradually short-term memory may be less sharp and reactions to complex stimuli (e.g. puzzles, calculations) may take longer to complete. Other factors that contribute to the decline of brain function include gradual decline in signal speed (neurotransmission), or factors that cause neurons to deteriorate.

Being brain healthy

Caring for your brain is particularly important once you reach middle age because this is when changes in the brain occur and a decline in function can result. Leading a brain healthy life means you need to look after your brain, your heart and your body. Here are some simple steps for being brain healthy [1]:

  1. Looking after your cardiovascular health: ‘What’s good for your heart is good for your brain’, our brain health is linked to our cardiovascular health. The brain is reliant on the heart for the delivery of oxygen via blood for its function. Research indicates that having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and not treating them effectively, can damage blood vessels in the brain, affecting brain function.
  2. Get active: Regular exercise is good for both the body and the brain. Physical activity is associated with better brain function and reduces risk of cognitive decline because it increases blood flow to the brain, and stimulates brain function.
  3. Challenge your brain: Keeping your brain active is important for its health and function. Doing something new (e.g. learn a new language) benefits the brain because it strengthens and creates new connections between neurons. Keeping your brain stimulated throughout life is associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline [2].
  4. A healthy diet: The brain requires a range of nutrients to function, therefore maintaining a healthy diet is important for brain health. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants (e.g. tomatoes, blueberries), polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats i.e. ‘good fats’ (e.g. fats found in fish and olive oil) are good for brain health.

How Pacobra® can support your brain (and heart) health

Pacobra® is a natural formulation consisting to support brain and heart health. Consisting of 5 herbs, Pacobra® works by providing the following main health benefits:

  1. Supports cognitive function: memory, learning, mental alertness
  2. Supports circulation: delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain and body through the circulation of blood
  3. Helps manage stress: provides stress relieve associated with study or work
  4. Antioxidant: provides protection from oxidative stress for neurons and other cells

Understanding how the formulation works

Pacobra® provides the combined benefits of Brahmi, Guaraná, Ginkgo, Korean Ginseng and Schisandra. Each of the ingredients have been carefully formulated at amounts that have shown clinical efficacy in published research studies. Below are the health benefits and function of each ingredient:

Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi)

Bacopa has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a brain tonic. Bacopa contains compounds called saponins, which can suppress oxidative damage, regulate stress hormone activity and counteract inflammatory responses. Several studies [2-4] have found that Bacopa improves cognitive performance, memory, mood, the ability to multi-task, and reduces stress. Adults administered with 300mg of Bacopa per day showed an improvement in memory, cognitive performance and decision making skills [5, 6]. The Bacopa used in Pacobra® is from a high purity source called Bacomind® a proprietary standardized extract. Bacomind® has been clinically proven to improve audiovisual memory in children, and verbal learning in adults and the elderly [7].

Paullinia cupana (Guaraná )

Guaraná is a climbing plant native to the Amazon basin in Brazil. Guaraná extracts contain saponin, tannin and phenolic compounds which are responsible for activating areas of the brain that control visual memory and attention [8-9]. These compounds also provide antioxidant protection. Clinical studies in adults found that single doses of Guaraná (37.5-75mg) resulted in an improvement in cognitive skills, memory and mood ratings [8]. Other studies have demonstrated an improvement in accuracy and reduced mental fatigue [9-11]. The Guaraná used in Pacobra® is of Brazilian origin, and complies with European standards for purity.

Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo)

Pacobra® contains a quality and standardized source of Ginkgo, manufactured by Network Nutrition (a leader in therapeutic grade herbal extracts). It is also compliant with British and US pharmacopoeia standards for purity. Ginkgo is commonly used in herbal medicines for its benefits in cognitive function and circulation. Diterpene lactones and flavonols, two main compounds found in Ginkgo leaves are responsible for these cognitive and circulation effects. Research studies have found Gingko to improve memory [12, 13] and circulation [14]. In a clinical study, elderly participants were given a Ginkgo daily dose of 240mg which resulted in an improvement in carrying out daily activities [15] suggesting it helped maintain cognitive function.

Panax ginseng

Pacobra® contains a GMO-free source of Ginseng in the formulation. Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a revitalising tonic. Found in the Ginseng root are compounds called saponins (ginsenosides) which are responsible for the cognitive function effects. Clinical studies found [16, 17] a 200mg daily dose of the extract resulted in improvements in mental arithmetic, memory, reaction times and accuracy in younger and mature aged adults.

Schisandra chinensis

A herb that has been used in traditional medicine for memory and stress management. Schisandra contains abundant lignans which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A scientific review found that Schisandra supplementation resulted in improvements in perceived energy levels, mood and reduced emotional tension and anxiety [18]. Pacobra® contains a GMO-free source of Schisandra that is standardised against its main lignan called schisandrin.

Synergies of combined ingredients

In clinical trials, various combinations of these herbs displayed a greater enhancement in cognitive performance when combined together, compared to when it is used alone. Combinations include Guaraná and Ginseng, Schisandra and Gingko, Ginkgo and Ginseng.

Summary

Brain health and cardiovascular health are closely linked to each other, hence, Pacobra® is a formulation that has been formulated to benefit both of these health areas. Consisting of five herbs (Bacopa, Guaraná, Ginkgo, Ginseng and Schisandra), Pacobra® supports cognitive function, memory, stress relief and circulation.

References

  1. https://www.yourbrainmatters.org.au/ Accessed 15/3/17
  2. Benson, S., et al., An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood. Phytother Res, 2014. 28(4): p. 551-9
  3. Calabrese, C., et al., Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med, 2008. 14(6): p. 707-13.
  4. Stough, C., et al., The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 2001. 156(4): p. 481-4.
  5. Pase, M.P., et al., The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. J Altern Complement Med, 2012. 18(7): p. 647-52.
  6. Kongkeaw, C., et al., Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. J Ethnopharmacol, 2014. 151(1): p. 528-35.
  7. Natural Remedies, B., India Clinical studies on Bacomind(R). 2007-08; Available from: http://www.bacomind.in/clinical.htm.
  8. Haskell, C.F., et al., A double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-dose evaluation of the acute behavioural effects of guarana in humans. J Psychopharmacol, 2007. 21(1): p. 65-70.
  9. Scholey, A., et al., Acute effects of different multivitamin mineral preparations with and without Guarana on mood, cognitive performance and functional brain activation. Nutrients, 2013. 5(9): p. 3589-604.
  10. Kennedy, D.O., et al., Improved cognitive performance in human volunteers following administration of guarana (Paullinia cupana) extract: comparison and interaction with Panax ginseng. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 2004. 79(3): p. 401-11.
  11. Kennedy, D.O., et al., Improved cognitive performance and mental fatigue following a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement with added guarana (Paullinia cupana). Appetite, 2008. 50(2-3): p. 506-13.
  12. Kaschel, R., Specific memory effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in middle-aged healthy volunteers. Phytomedicine, 2011. 18(14): p. 1202-7.
  13. Mix, J.A. and W.D. Crews, Jr., A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: neuropsychological findings. Hum Psychopharmacol, 2002. 17(6): p. 267-77.
  14. Wu, Y., et al., Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary blood flow in healthy elderly adults: role of endothelium-dependent vasodilation. Phytomedicine, 2008. 15(3): p. 164-9.
  15. Tan, M.S., et al., Efficacy and Adverse Effects of Ginkgo Biloba for Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Alzheimers Dis, 2014.
  16. Shergis, J.L., et al., Panax ginseng in randomised controlled trials: a systematic review. Phytother Res, 2013. 27(7): p. 949-65.
  17. Neale, C., et al., Cognitive effects of two nutraceuticals Ginseng and Bacopa benchmarked against modafinil: a review and comparison of effect sizes. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 2013. 75(3): p. 728-37.
  18. Panossian, A.G., Adaptogens in mental and behavioral disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am, 2013. 36(1): p. 49-64.

Heart and Circulation

A healthy heart and how it has a central role in health

Behind our left breast lies the heart, a vital organ that beats non-stop to keep us alive. Our heart can be labeled as the hardest working organ we have, it’s a muscular pump that beats approximately 100,000 times a day. It is responsible for circulating blood around your body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues. This is why ensuring your heart is functioning healthily is important to looking after your overall health.

Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s largest health problems, affecting one in six Australians [1]. Lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease include smoking, being overweight or obese, and sedentary behaviour. In many of these cases, cardiovascular disease is preventable by making better and healthier choices for yourself. As recommended by Australia’s Heart Foundation, the best way to look after your heart is with a healthy lifestyle.

Another way to look after your heart is the use of complementary medicines. Rejufort® is a comprehensive formulation designed to primarily support healthy cardiovascular function, but it also provides the extra benefit of maintaining healthy skin.

How does Rejufort® work?

Rejufort® provides the combined benefits of fish oil, co-enzyme Q10 (antioxidant), herbs (grape seed, hawthorn berry) and B vitamins (B6, B9 and B12). Each of the ingredients has been carefully selected for its role in supporting cardiovascular health and maintaining skin health. Below are the health benefits and function of each ingredients:

Fish Oil – Omega-3 triglycerides (EPA & DHA)

Fish oil is well known for its cardiovascular health benefits. As part of a heart-healthy diet, The Heart Foundation recommends that all Australians include omega-3s (EPA, DHA) in their diet [1]. These recommendations are based on a clinical review of scientific evidence which found dietary intake of fish was beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease. As a result, The Heart Foundation recommends that all Australians aim to eat two to three serves of fish (including oily fish) per week, to provide between 250-500mg per day of combined DHA and EPA [2]. The Heart Foundation also recommends health professionals to advise adults with elevated triglyceride levels to take EPA and DHA supplements as part of first-line therapy [2]. The Heart Foundation’s recommendations are consistent with the Word Health Organization (WHO).

DHA and EPA have important roles in heart health. They stabilise the lipid membrane of cells, and are involved in the control of inflammatory responses. Both of these processes are important in maintaining tissue integrity and repair, including tissues in the heart muscle and blood vessel walls. In addition, DHA and EPA helps maintain heart rhythm [3] and regulates blood vessel constriction [4].

Fish oil has other benefits that include, brain and eye health – where EPA and DHA contribute to structural maintenance, control of inflammation and prevention from oxidative stress.

Co-enzyme Q10 (Ubidecarenone)

A naturally occurring antioxidant that is found in every cell in the body, and in the heart it is found in high concentrations. CoQ10 has an important role in the production of energy in cells because it is involved in energy extraction from carbohydrates and fats [5]. Being a hard working organ, the heart therefore requires adequate supplies of CoQ10 for healthy function. CoQ10 levels decline with age, supplementation of CoQ10 helps replenish levels. CoQ10 supports cardiovascular health by:

  • Maintaining tissues with high energy demands, e.g. heart muscle, arterial smooth muscle
  • Minimising oxidative damage within blood vessels
  • Minimising oxidation of lipoproteins
  • Stabilising blood cell membranes

Your skin being the largest organ has an extensive vascular supply and barrier function, as a result it has one of the highest CoQ10 requirements for its antioxidant activity. Supplementation of CoQ10 helps prevent oxidative damage to the skin by factors that include sun rays and environmental pollution [6-8].

Vitis Vinifera (Grape seed)

Grape seed contains high concentrations of antioxidants that include catechins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols, compared to the skin or whole fruit. These antioxidant compounds directly control lipid peroxidation [9], and regulate endothelial inflammation, blood vessel function and flow [10]. Clinical usage of grape seed extracts has demonstrated to maintain systolic blood pressure and heart rate [11].

The antioxidant activity of grape seed also has health benefits for the skin. It protects against skin damage (including moles and hyperpigmentation) by detoxifying the effects of free radicals from environmental toxins and photo-damage from exposure to the sun [12-13].

Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn berry)

Hawthorn extracts have been used in traditional European and North American naturopathy as a tonic for cardiac function. It contains a variety of potent antioxidants including tannins, flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. Berry extracts support endothelial function, prevent lipid peroxidation, have vasodilatory (i.e. lower blood pressure), anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet aggregation and anti-arrhythmic effects [14].

Hawthorn berry has other benefits that includes improving metabolic function of cells, improving cognitive function in the elderly, and providing detoxifying anti-microbial effects in the gut [15-16].

B Vitamins: Pyridoxine (B6), Folic acid (B9) and Cyanocobalamin (B12)

These three B vitamins have been linked to preventing cardiovascular disease. Folic acid, Vitamins B6 and B12 play key roles in converting homocysteine into methionine. Insufficient levels of these B vitamins causes this conversion process to become inefficient and consequently homocysteine levels increase. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increase in risk of cardiovascular disease [17]. Studies found that people with higher intakes of folic acid showed lower risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension.

These B vitamins also have other health benefits. Vitamin B6 is needed for protein and carbohydrate metabolism, the formation of red blood cells and certain brain chemicals. Folate is needed to form red blood cells, which deliver oxygen around the body. Vitamin B12 helps to produce and maintain the myelin surrounding nerve cells, mental ability, red blood cell formation, and energy production.

What makes Rejufort® different to other formulations available on the market?

Rejufort® is different to other formulations for a few different reasons that include the formulation, source of ingredients and ingredient levels. Some key differences are:

Fish Oil

Fish Oil is well known for its many health benefits such as supporting heart health. Surprisingly, many heart health formulations rarely include fish oil in multiple ingredient products, and generally leave it as a single ingredient product. The inclusion of fish oil in Rejufort® helps make it a more comprehensive formulation for cardiovascular health, and conveniently provides the benefits of fish oil along with other active ingredients in one formulation.

The source of fish oil used in Rejufort® is VivomegaTM, a high purity omega-3 concentrate from marine sources produced by GC Rieber, a Norwegian manufacturer. It also has a 5 star IFOS accreditation for having the lowest oxidation and environmental toxin levels in the industry, and a longer shelf life of 3 years compared to other products (which generally have a shelf life of 2 years).

Coenzyme Q10 (Ubidecarenone)

CoQ10 has been included in Rejufort® for its cardiovascular health benefits. The recommended dosage for Rejufort® is 1-2 tablets a day, which provides 75mg or 150mg of CoQ10. In a meta-analysis study, researchers found the commonly used dosage for heart health was <150mg/day [18]. Dosages that contain higher levels of CoQ10 may not necessarily provide any additional benefits.

Vitis Vinifera (Grape) seed

Vitis Vinifera seed in Rejufort®, is GMO-free and from an Australian owned source. As a general comparison to other heart health products on the market, Rejufort® contains the highest levels of grape seed (ext. dry conc. stand. equiv. to dry 12g).

Summary

Rejufort® is a comprehensive formulation designed to primarily support cardiovascular health, it also provides the extra benefit of maintaining healthy skin. Each ingredient has been specifically selected for its benefits in heart health and function:

  • Fish oil is well known for its cardiovascular health benefits. The inclusion of this active ingredient in a heart health multiple ingredient formulation makes Rejufort® different to other formulations on the market
  • CoQ10 is an antioxidant important for energy metabolism, cardiovascular health and skin health
  • Grape seed and Hawthorn berry contain high concentrations of antioxidants that support heart and skin health
  • B Vitamins (B6, B9 and B12) intake has been linked to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease

References

  1. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/about-us/what-we-do/heart-disease-in-australia accessed 7/3/17
  2. Nestel, P., Clifton, P., Colquhoun, D., Mori, T. A., Thomas, B. Indications for Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid in the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Heart, Lung and Circulation (2015) 24, 769-779.
  3. Rix, T.A., J.H. Christensen, and E.B. Schmidt, Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiac arrhythmias. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2013. 16(2): p. 168-73.
  4. Lagarde, M., et al., Dose-effect and metabolism of docosahexaenoic acid: pathophysiological relevance in blood platelets. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2013. 88(1): p. 49-52.
  5. Hoppe, U., et al., Coenzyme Q10, a cutaneous antioxidant and energizer. BioFactors, 1999. 9(2-4): p. 371-378.
  6. Inui, M., et al., Mechanisms of inhibitory effects of CoQ10 on UVB induced wrinkle formation in vitro and in vivo. Biofactors, 2008. 32(14): p. 237-243.
  7. Žmitek, K., et al., The effect of dietary intake of coenzyme Q10 on skin parameters and condition: Results of a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. BioFactors, 2016: p. n/a-n/a.
  8. Muta-Takada, K., et al., Coenzyme Q10 protects against oxidative stress-induced cell death and enhances the synthesis of basement membrane components in dermal and epidermal cells. BioFactors, 2009. 35(5): p. 435-441.
  9. Razavi, S.M., et al., Red grape seed extract improves lipid profiles and decreases oxidized low-density lipoprotein in patients with mild hyperlipidemia. J Med Food, 2013. 16(3): p. 255-8.
  10. Leifert, W.R. and M.Y. Abeywardena, Cardioprotective actions of grape polyphenols. Nutr Res, 2008. 28(11): p. 729-37.
  11. Feringa, H.H., et al., The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Diet Assoc, 2011. 111(8): p. 1173-81.
  12. Baliga, M.S. and S.K. Katiyar, Chemoprevention of photocarcinogenesis by selected dietary botanicals. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 2006. 5(2): p. 243-253.
  13. Yamakoshi, J., et al., Oral intake of proanthocyanidin-rich extract from grape seeds improves chloasma. Phytotherapy Research, 2004. 18(11): p. 895-899.
  14. Wang, J., X. Xiong, and B. Feng, Effect of crataegus usage in cardiovascular disease prevention: an evidence-based approach. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2013. 2013: p. 149363.
  15. Tadic, V.M., et al., Anti-inflammatory, gastroprotective, free-radical-scavenging, and antimicrobial activities of hawthorn berries ethanol extract. J Agric Food Chem, 2008. 56(17): p. 7700-9.
  16. Werner, N.S., S. Duschek, and R. Schandry, D-camphor-crataegus berry extract combination increases blood pressure and cognitive functioning in the elderly – a randomized, placebo controlled double blind study. Phytomedicine, 2009. 16(12): p. 1077-82.
  17. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/#b-vitamins-heart-disease accessed 8/3/17
  18. Fotino AD1, Thompson-Paul AM, Bazzano LA. Effect of coenzyme Q₁₀ supplementation on heart failure: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):268-75.

Reproductive Health

Caring for your fertility health is key to starting or growing your family

Fertility is your ability to produce a child, therefore, looking after fertility health is highly important for both men and women when conceiving. There are many factors involved in achieving a successful pregnancy, including the production of healthy sperm and eggs, a healthy embryo and a healthy womb. Creating life is a complex biological event, and is commonly described as a ‘miracle’.

Many factors can affect fertility health including poor nutrition, age, weight, toxins (e.g. alcohol, smoking, drugs, pollution), stress or even high caffeine intake. These factors can reduce the chances of getting pregnant, but in more serious cases can cause infertility (inability to bear children) amongst couples. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), infertility is when a couple is unable to fall pregnant after 12 months of trying to conceive.

OVU-FORT® and SPER-FORT® are formulations designed specifically to support women’s and men’s reproductive health, respectively. Suited for individuals who are planning to conceive, it is recommended that adults take these formulations 3 months prior to conception. Find out how OVU-FORT® and SPER-FORT® can help you on your journey of starting or growing your family in this article.

Conception – How Life Begins

The beginning of creating a baby starts with conception, when a male sperm fertilises a female egg successfully. The chances of an egg being fertilised by a sperm are many millions to one.

After a couple engages in sexual intercourse, semen is deposited at the neck of a women’s uterus and sperm start the journey of fertilising the egg. Fertilisation needs to be completed within 48 hours, before the sperm die. Therefore, once in the female reproductive system, sperm increase their motility to reach the egg quicker. Millions of sperm travel through the womb to reach the Fallopian tube. Up to 1000 sperm surround the egg and try to penetrate it, but only one can do this successfully. As soon as a sperm penetrates the egg, a chemical reaction takes place in the egg’s cell membrane to prevent other sperm from entering. Fertilisation has been completed, and this fertilised egg is now called a zygote.

The zygote divides to form more cells, while it moves along the Fallopian tube. After 4 days the zygote has 100 cells and is called a blastocyst and it will move to implant itself on the uterine wall. The blastocyst secretes the hormone HCG, which is detected in pregnancy tests to confirm the wonderful news that the woman is pregnant. After nine months, the fetus has reached maturity and is ready to enter the world and begin life.

Challenges couples can encounter during conception

In Australia, statistics show that one in six couples experience fertility problems [1], making it a common health issue for couples. Due to the presence of both female and male factors, the causes of conception difficulties and infertility can be wide ranging. Below are some factors that can effect fertility for men and women:

Factors Effecting Female Fertility

In Australia, many women are having children at an older age [1]. A woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early thirties [2], hence, delaying motherhood can affect a woman’s chances of conceiving.

A woman is born with all the eggs she requires for a lifetime, and her eggs will decrease in quality and quantity as she ages [2]. This is the reason why age is the most important factor affecting a women’s fertility.

Other factors that can effect female fertility include problems with the reproductive system (e.g. ovary, fallopian tubes and uterus), hormone imbalances or immune system.

How OVU-FORT® supports female fertility health

Women are responsible for the majority of the reproductive process during pre-conception and fertilisation, OVU-FORT® is designed specifically to support female reproductive health. It provides nutrients important for pre-conception and early embryo development, helps manage irregular periods and overall general wellbeing.

Understanding how OVU-FORT® works

OVU-FORT® is a comprehensive women’s formulation with 15 active ingredients, including herbs (ashwagandha, chasteberry), antioxidants, nutrients (citrus bioflavonoids, inositol), vitamins and minerals. Here is evidence based information on how these active ingredients work to support female reproductive health.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)

Is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for gynecological conditions. Withania somnifera supplementation is likely to work similarly to estrogen during the first half of the month, where it is involved in oocyte maturation and endometrial growth. Pre-clinical scientific research suggested an increase in reproductive capacity and improved pregnancy outcome after short term administration of this herb [3, 4]. This herb also exerts stress relieving properties, clinical results demonstrated it reduced fatigue and improved alertness [5] which can help with the emotional journey of conceiving.

Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry)

Is a traditional herb of Mediterranean origin. It contains a range of compounds that exert similar effects as progesterone. In menstruating women, Vitex agnus-castus has been used to alleviate symptoms of PMS (e.g. cramps, breast pain and fluid retention). It can also help support endometrial growth during conception. In several clinical studies, formulations containing Vitex agnus-castus resulted in improved pregnancy and birth rates in women with progesterone-related cycle problems [6-9] or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCO/PCOS) [10].

Citrus bioflavonoids

A novel proprietary blend of citrus fruits derivatives that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Found in citrus fruits, citrus bioflavonoids (e.g. hesperidin) are water soluble compounds. In a pre-clinical trial [11], results showed that the antioxidant activity of hesperidin protected ovaries from oxidative damage. In addition, hesperidin increased the number of maturing follicles and increased ovary weight [11].

B-vitamins: Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), Folic acid (vitamin B9) & Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)

B vitamins are essential for different metabolic processes in the body. Pyridoxine is required for the formation of red blood cells and influences brain processes and development, immune function and steroid hormone activity [12].

Folic acid is critical for the genetic control of the egg and early embryo. Higher folic acid intake is associated with improvments in implantation and birth rates in infertile women [12].

Cyanocobalamin functions include helping nerve function, mental ability and red blood cell formation.

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and other functions that include involvement in the metabolism of iron and folate [13]. Almost twice as much ascorbate is found in the fluid surrounding the eggs developing in the ovary [14]. Ascorbic acid supplementation (500mg) during the pre-conception stages resulted in improvement in pregnancy rates, and increases in follicular fluid levels of ascorbate [15]. Another trial in infertile women showed improved progesterone levels and pregnancy rates with ascorbic acid (750mg) supplementation [16].

Colecalciferol (Vitamin D)

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, muscles and overall health. It assists calcium absorption in the body, as well as being involved in other metabolic processes. Research indicates that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to infertility, suggesting it has an important role in reproduction [17]. In the ovary, activated vitamin D3 is involved in estrogen synthesis [17]. Vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to an increase risk of gestational diabetes mellitus [18] which is linked to insulin resistance and reduced fertility [19].

Inositol

An important sugar used for the production of phosphatidylinositol (PI) and myo-inositol, two important lipids that form signals to regulate sperm-egg interactions, early cell division in the embryo and implantation. Fallopian tube levels of myo-inositol have been found to correlate with oocyte quality [20]. Supplementation with inositol may assist with lack of mature oocytes and estrogen imbalances in some infertile women [21-22].

Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble antioxidant. In combination with Vitamin C (also featured in OVU-FORT®) they function synergistically to prevent oxidative stress. In a scientific study, vitamin E correlated to improved estrogen production [23]. In a clinical study, supplementation of vitamin E (400IU) resulted in improved endometrial thickness due to its antioxidant effect, which may help implantation [24].

Essential minerals: Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Iodine, Magnesium

Each of these essential minerals are important for pre-conception. Iron is important for hemoglobin production and cardiovascular health [25]. Iron deficiency can result in ovulation problems, making it harder to conceive. The glycinate form of iron used in OVU-FORT®is ideal for women with gastrointestinal problems, because it is easily absorbed.

Selenium is important for healthy immune and thyroid gland function. It is also used in antioxidant production, which is important in the oocyte and early embryo.

Zinc is required to maintain the health of cells. In a clinical trial, zinc supplementation was associated with a reduction in pregnancy complications in zinc deficient women [26].

Iodine is required in our bodies for the production of essential thyroid hormones. The thyroid is a gland in the throat that is responsible for regulating many metabolic processes, such as growth and energy use [27]. Iodine deficiency can impair thyroid function and contribute to infertility [28-29].

Magnesium is required for many processes including stabilisation of DNA and RNA, energy production, muscle and nerve function. In a clinical trial, women were supplemented with a formulation containing magnesium and it was found to improve magnesium levels in the follicular fluid in women having fertility problems [30].

Factors Effecting Male Fertility

Infertility is a common problem, and in approximately one in five infertile couples the problem lies solely on the man [31].
Around two-thirds of infertile men have a sperm production problem, making this the most common cause of male infertility [31]. The sperm production problems are low sperm count (oligospermia) or the sperm produced does not function properly (e.g. asthenozoospermia, where sperm have reduced motility) [31]. Around 30-80% of infertility cases are caused by oxidative stress, and decreased level of seminal total antioxidant capacity which negatively affects sperm quality and function.

Age is a factor influencing men’s fertility, where fertility generally starts to decline after 40 due to a decrease in sperm quality [2]. Increasing male age reduces the overall chances of conception, increases time to pregnancy, or can lead to other pregnancy complications.

Sperm are male reproductive cells that are produced by the testes on a daily basis. Healthy and fully developed sperm are small in size (0.05mm long) and cannot be seen by the human eye. Sperm are specialised cells that are made up of three parts, a head, neck and tail. The head contains the male DNA (genetic material), its designed to bind to and then penetrate the egg. The tail contains the mitochondria which provides energy for the sperm to move. Sperm have a challenging journey through the female reproductive tract to reach the egg for fertilisation, hence, caring for sperm health is important for conception.

How SPER-FORT® supports male fertility health

SPER-FORT® is a formulation designed specifically for men to support healthy sperm production and quality, maintain reproductive health, and general well-being. SPER-FORT® provides the combined health benefits of antioxidants, herbs, vitamins and minerals.

SPER-FORT® works by targeting 3 key factors that affect sperm health:

  1. Antioxidant activity to reduce oxidative stress
  2. Supporting spermatogenesis, the maturation of sperm
  3. Supporting sperm metabolism

Understanding how SPER-FORT® works

SPER-FORT® is a male fertility formulation consisting of 11 active ingredients, including herbs (ashwagandha, stinging nettle), antioxidants (e.g. lycopene, vitamin c), nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Here is evidence based information on how these active ingredients work.

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)

An ayurvedic herb with antioxidant, anti-stress and aphrodisiac properties. In clinical studies, Ashwagandha improved overall sperm health and quality by reducing sperm death and oxidative stress, and improving semen quality, testosterone and antioxidant activity in healthy and infertile men [32-36]. In men with lower sperm counts, Withania improved sperm count (by 167%), motility (by 57%) and semen volume (by 53%) [33].

Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle)

Stinging Nettle has been used in traditional medicine for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [37]. In a scientific study, Stinging Nettle administration inhibited nicotine-induced negative adverse effects on sperm (e.g. reduced viability, count, motility) and increased sperm health, count, motility and testosterone [37]. Another study found that it can provide symptomatic relief from prostate enlargement and urinary infections [38], which are often associated with loss of sperm quality.

Lycopene

A carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables its red colour (e.g. tomatoes) and has antioxidant activity. It is found in high concentrations in the testes and semen, and protects sperm from oxidative stress. Decreased levels of lycopene in the testes and seminal plasma has been demonstrated in men with infertility due to low sperm motility and low sperm count. Clinical trials showed that lycopene supplementation improved sperm parameters, including count, motility and morphology, which contributed to improved pregnancy rates (36%) [39, 40].

L-carnitine

A nutrient required for sperm maturation and energy production, and accumulates in the testes. L-carnitine protects against oxidative stress. Men with infertility had lower levels of L-carnitine in the seminal fluid compared to fertile men [41]. Clinical trials found that maintaining L-carnitine levels in the seminal plasma is important for male fertility health, and supplementation of L-carnitine improved sperm motility in men affected by infertility, leading to increased pregnancy rates [41-42].

Zinc

An antioxidant and essential mineral that is required by all cells. Zinc is abundant in the testes and prostate where it is required for the production of new sperm (spermatogenesis). Men with asthenozoospermia was associated with low serum zinc levels, high oxidative stress, and low antioxidant capacity [43-47]. Zinc supplementation improved sperm parameters in men with asthenozoospermia by preventing oxidative stress, sperm cell death and sperm DNA fragmentation [43, 47].

Selenium

An essential mineral that supports key antioxidant enzymes (e.g. PHGpx, GPX) made by the testes and sperm, to protect sperm DNA, growth and maturation processes. PHGPx activity is higher in fertile men, and is associated with sperm viability and motility [48]. Selenium is also involved in testosterone production [49]. In combination with vitamins A, C and/or E, selenium helped reduce lipid oxidation in semen, improving sperm parameters and testosterone levels in infertile men [49-52].

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)

An antioxidant that is important for the body, and in the testes vitamin C protects sperm from lipid oxidation. Semen vitamin C levels are directly related to sperm health and quality, where low levels of vitamin C are related to low sperm count (oligospermic) and DNA damage [53-55]. Vitamin C supplementation improved sperm count, motility and morphology in oligospermic infertile men after two months [56], and sperm quality in men who were heavy smokers [57].

Alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E)

A fat soluble vitamin, it has antioxidant activity that prevents lipid oxidation in cell membranes. Working with vitamin C, it helps protect new and mature sperm. Infertile men have lower serum and semen vitamin E levels compared to fertile men [58] which correlates to sperm quality. Vitamin E supplementation improved sperm parameters of oligospermia and asthenospermia in infertile men, including increased sperm concentration, motility and rate of natural pregnancy [59]. Supplementation also improved sperm-egg binding ability [59-62] and lowered sperm DNA damage [63].

B-vitamins: Pyridoxine (vitamin B6), Folic acid (vitamin B9) & Cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12)

B vitamins are essential for different metabolic processes in the body and support male reproductive health.

Folic acid is involved in DNA synthesis and methylation, processes that support sperm production, normality and testes health. Low folate levels in semen and blood are associated with low sperm count [64]. Folic acid supplementation improved sperm parameters in fertile and sub-fertile men, including increased sperm count, concentration, motility and morphology [65, 66].

Pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin are involved in energy production. Higher vitamin B6 levels correlated to lower sperm DNA damage [67], while low vitamin B12 levels in semen is associated with low sperm count and motility in men [68-69].

Summary

OVU-FORT® and SPER-FORT® are formulations designed to support female and male reproductive health, respectively.

OVU-FORT® provides nutrients important for pre-conception, helps manage irregular periods and general wellbeing in preparation for conceiving.

SPER-FORT® includes antioxidants and nutrients to supports healthy sperm production and quality, maintain reproductive health, and general well-being.

References

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  32. Ahmad, M.K., et al., Withania somnifera improves semen quality by regulating reproductive hormone levels and oxidative stress in seminal plasma of infertile males. Fertil Steril, 2010. 94(3): p. 989-96.
  33. Ambiye, V.R., et al., Clinical Evaluation of the Spermatogenic Activity of the Root Extract of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in Oligospermic Males: A Pilot Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2013. 2013: p. 571420.
  34. Gupta, A., et al., Efficacy of Withania somnifera on seminal plasma metabolites of infertile males: a proton NMR study at 800 MHz. J Ethnopharmacol, 2013. 149(1): p. 208-14.
  35. Mahdi, A.A., et al., Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2009.
  36. Shukla, K.K., et al., Withania somnifera improves semen quality by combating oxidative stress and cell death and improving essential metal concentrations. Reprod Biomed Online, 2011.
  37. Jalili, C., M.R. Salahshoor, and A. Naseri, Protective effect of Urtica dioica L against nicotine-induced damage on sperm parameters, testosterone and testis tissue in mice. Iran J Reprod Med, 2014. 12(6): p. 401-8.
  38. Safarinejad, M.R., Urtica dioica for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. J Herb Pharmacother, 2005. 5(4): p. 1-11.
  39. Gupta, N.P. and R. Kumar, Lycopene therapy in idiopathic male infertility–a preliminary report. Int Urol Nephrol, 2002. 34(3): p. 369-72.
  40. Mohanty, N.K., et al., Management of idiopathic oligoasthenospermia with lycopene. Indian J Urol, 2001. 18: p. 57-61.
  41. Ahmed, S.D., et al., Role of L-carnitine in male infertility. J Pak Med Assoc, 2011. 61(8): p. 732-6.
  42. Zhou, X., F. Liu, and S. Zhai, Effect of L-carnitine and/or L-acetyl-carnitine in nutrition treatment for male infertility: a systematic review. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2007. 16 Suppl 1: p. 383-90.
  43. Omu, A.E., et al., Indications of the mechanisms involved in improved sperm parameters by zinc therapy. Med Princ Pract, 2008. 17(2): p. 108-16.
  44. Yuyan, L., et al., Are serum zinc and copper levels related to semen quality? Fertil Steril, 2008. 89(4): p. 1008-11.
  45. Hunt, C.D., et al., Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men. Am J Clin Nutr, 1992. 56(1): p. 148-57.
  46. Deng, C.H., B. Zheng, and S.F. She, [A clinical study of biological zinc for the treatment of male infertility with chronic prostatitis]. Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue, 2005. 11(2): p. 127-9.
  47. Omu, A.E., H. Dashti, and S. Al-Othman, Treatment of asthenozoospermia with zinc sulphate: andrological, immunological and obstetric outcome. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol, 1998. 79(2): p. 179-84.
  48. Foresta, C., et al., Male fertility is linked to the selenoprotein phospholipid hydroperoxide glutathione peroxidase. Biol Reprod, 2002. 67(3): p. 967-71.
  49. Safarinejad, M.R. and S. Safarinejad, Efficacy of selenium and/or N-acetyl-cysteine for improving semen parameters in infertile men: a double-blind, placebo controlled, randomized study. J Urol, 2009. 181(2): p. 741-51.
  50. Keskes-Ammar, L., et al., Sperm oxidative stress and the effect of an oral vitamin E and selenium supplement on semen quality in infertile men. Arch Androl, 2003. 49(2): p. 83-94.
  51. Scott, R., et al., The effect of oral selenium supplementation on human sperm motility. Br J Urol, 1998. 82(1): p. 76-80.
  52. Vezina, D., et al., Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men. Effects on semen parameters and micronutrient levels and distribution. Biol Trace Elem Res, 1996. 53(1-3): p. 65-83.
  53. Thiele, J.J., et al., Ascorbic acid and urate in human seminal plasma: determination and interrelationships with chemiluminescence in washed semen. Hum Reprod, 1995. 10(1): p. 110-5.
  54. Song, G.J., E.P. Norkus, and V. Lewis, Relationship between seminal ascorbic acid and sperm DNA integrity in infertile men. Int J Androl, 2006. 29(6): p. 569-75.
  55. Ebesunun, M.O., et al., Plasma and semen ascorbic levels in spermatogenesis. West Afr J Med, 2004. 23(4): p. 290-3.
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PMS & Menopause

PM H-Regulator® – Safe, Effective Menopause Relief


Menopause isn’t a time of life that many women look forward to. Hot flushes, sleepless nights, mood swings, sore breasts, vaginal dryness – these are just some of the major symptoms that confront many women while undergoing ‘change of life.’ But do they need to? The weight of research now suggests that there are a number of viable, natural, scientifically-validated alternative treatments available for women during menopause to help them regain control of their hormones. What’s more, they actually work.


Women have been aware of the benefits of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, during menopause for many years now. Essentially, as menopause sets in, the ovaries begin to function erratically. A woman’s monthly cycle becomes less predictable, periods begin to skip and, eventually cease altogether as the ovaries effectively cease to produce progesterone and the oestrogens, oestradiol and oestriol. [1] Because of the lowered levels of oestrogen in the body during menopause, a hormonal imbalance results, which consequently leads to the unwanted symptoms associated with ‘change of life.’ Therefore, simply enough, hormone replacement therapy endeavours to restore hormonal balance by providing menopausal women with pharmaceutical preparations containing the oestrogen they no longer produce, with some preparations also containing the hormone progesterone. [2] However, despite being effective, long-term treatment with oestrogens may be limited due to its potentially negative health effects: it has repeatedly been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women [2, 3], an increased risk of endometrial adenocarcinoma and endometrial hyperplasia.[4]

Accordingly, current treatment guidelines indicate that HRT should be used only in the short term for moderate-to-severe symptoms, with the lowest effective dose for treatment. [5] As a result, a number of complementary and alternative therapies for PMS and menopause have found favour among millions of women around the world. The therapeutic use of soy isoflavones has garnered particular interest.

Isoflavones

Isoflavones are a naturally occurring type of phytoestrogen, and structurally resemble endogenous oestrogens. These compounds can bind directly to oestrogen receptors, and can act as selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), essentially meaning that they may mediate oestrogenic activity in certain parts of the body, but not in others. [6] Recent findings have shown that by acting oestrogenically, isoflavones are effective in reducing the severity and occurrence of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, increased perspiration and night sweats. [7-10] More importantly, isoflavones do not appear to mediate the negative reproductive effects experienced with chronic oestrogen therapy, and do not seem to increase the risk of endometrial or breast cancer. [11, 12] That is, the use of soy isoflavones for menopausal relief may provide women with all the relief of conventional oestrogen HRT, without any of the unwanted side effects.

Chasteberry

Chasteberry has also been lauded as an effective medicament for women’s health, with clinical trials having demonstrated that treatment with chasteberry can provide relief to women suffering from the symptoms of menopause-related distress. In several double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled studies [13-15], chasteberry has mediated significant improvements in irritability, mood alteration, anger and headache in women relative to placebo controls. Studies have also shown chasteberry to provide relief from the common female symptoms of bloating, general oedema and mastalgia (breast tenderness), providing evidence for its beneficial regulatory effect on hormonal levels prior to, during and post menopause. [16] It is also indicated for irregularities of the menstrual cycle.

PMH-Regulator® and menopause

By combining chasteberry and soy isoflavones into a single formula, PMH-Regulator® has taken a unique approach to women’s health. While both ingredients are clinically proven to be effective, to date PMH-Regulator®  is the only formula available that uses scientifically validated doses of both. Chasteberry is provided to help treat the symptoms of PMS and menopause, as well as for its known ability to help stabilise the hormonal cycle. Soy isoflavones are provided to treat the underlying cause of the negative symptoms associated with menopause – lack of oestrogen. That is, PMH-Regulator®  targets the symptoms and the cause of the unpleasant experiences associated with menopause. What’s more, it’s safe, natural and proven.

In light of the health warnings against conventional HRT, the time to switch to an effective, minimum-risk medication for the management of menopause and general female health could not be better.

 

 

References

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  18. Kapiotis S, Hermann M, Held I, Seelos C, Ehringer H, Gmeiner BM: Genistein, the dietary-derived angiogenesis inhibitor, prevents LDL oxidation and protects endothelial cells from damage by atherogenic LDL. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1997, 17(11):2868-2874.
  19. Kirk EA, Sutherland P, Wang SA, Chait A, LeBoeuf RC: Dietary isoflavones reduce plasma cholesterol and atherosclerosis in C57BL/6 mice but not LDL receptor-deficient mice. J Nutr 1998, 128(6):954-959.