One of the world’s most popular supplements, the chemical coenzyme Q10 has generated great excitement as a heart disease remedy and a cure for countless other conditions. The body naturally produces this compound, which has been dubbed “vitamin Q” because of its essential role in keeping all systems running smoothly. In fact, the scientists who identified coenzyme Q10 in 1957 initially honored its ubiquitous presence–it’s found in every human cell and in all living organisms–by naming it “ubiquinone.” Small amounts are also present in most foods.
In the late 1980s, scientists realized that alpha-lipoic acid, a compound initially classified as a vitamin when it was discovered three decades earlier, possessed potent antioxidant properties that could prevent healthy cells from getting damaged by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals. In fact, this vitaminlike compound has proved to be many times more potent than such old guard antioxidants as vitamins C and E. As a perk, it even recycles C and E (as well as other antioxidants), enhancing their effectiveness.
Resveratrol is a new and very popular supplement currently recommended by nutritionally oriented physicians, including myself, as avery potent antioxidant that may have potential as an anticancer and cardioprotective compound..
Resveratrol is found in the skins of red grapes and is, therefore, a component of red wine. It is also found in purple grape juice, berries such as blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries, and in smaller amounts in peanuts. In the 1990s, the compound began to attract attention as an explanation of the so-called “French paradox,” namely the low incidence of heart disease among French people despite their diet high in saturated fats.
This month’s issue of the International Journal of Cancer published a report from the Leicester Royal Infirmary in which researchers actually tracked the cancer prevention benefits of certain foods. They were interested in a specific group I’ve mentioned in these Health Tips several times: polyphenols, like those found in green tea.