Sunday, June 13, 2010

The most promising antioxidant supplement to date? by Jerry Brainum

"The most promising antioxidant supplement investigated to date," is how the Mannatech corporation describes its  Ambrotose AO (AAO) food supplement. One measure of antioxidant activity is known as the "ORAC" or oxygen radical absorbance capacity test. This tests the abiliity of specific foods or nutrients to soak up or neutralize potentially noxious byproducts of oxygen metabolism called free radicals. While free radicals do play some vital roles in human metabolism, in excess they are associated with most degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.The body has a built-in antioxidant system that blunts the onslaught of excess free radicals, but with age this defense system tends to decline. One way to boost antioxidant activity is to consume foods rich in nutrients that provide antioxidant activity. The best foods for this purpose are fruits and vegetables, which explains why such foods are often recommended for health purposes.
      But one study, in which subjects increased their fruit and vegetable intake from five servings a day to ten servings a day resulted in only a 13% rise in ORAC levels. On the other hand, some fruits and vegetables are far more potent in their antioxidant activity than others, and it isn't clear what types of fruits and vegetable were consumed in this study. Strawberries alone boost ORAC by 13%, spinach boosts it by 28.%.Consuming 100 grams of blueberry powder, considered one of the better antioxidant sources, results in a 16% rise in ORAC. Ingesting 1,250 milligrams of vitamin C produces a 23% rise in ORAC, yet studies that examined combinations of various dietary antioxidants resulted in no change in ORAC levels. Studies commissioned by the Mannatech Corporation of its Ambrotose product have resulted in a 37.4% rise in ORAC with ingestion of 2 capsules, and a 36% rise in another study that provided four capsules of the product.
   So what's in Ambrotose AO that makes it so special? The product contains 18 milligrams of vitamin E as mixed tocopherols, which is an insignificant amount. It also contains the following: 113 milligrams of an antioxidant blend, including quercetin, grape skin extract, green tea extract, Australian bush plum powder (plums rate high in ORAC); 331 milligrams of a proprietary (meaning no precise doses are provided) formula consisting of plant polysaccharides, fruits and vegetables powders. In the company literature provided by Mannatech, the emphasis is placed on the inclusion of the plant polysaccarides, which are glycoproteins, or proteins bonded with carbohydrate. These substances are controversial, and many scientists who study them say that they are not digested in humans because we lack the requisite enzymes to do so. As such, they tend to provide little health benefit, but do increase flatulence. On the other hand, similar compounds in certain mushrooms do provide potent immune-enhancing qualities. 
     Mannatech is a Texas-based company founded in 1993. It is a multi-level marketing company that operates in 16 countries worldwide. It employs 570,000 sales associates, which is a euphemism for those who aren't paid well (Wal-Mart uses the same term to describe its indentured servants known as "workers.").Similarly to other multi-level marketing companies, Mannatech has a shady history. It was the target of a class-action lawsuit in 2005, and was also investigated by the Texas Attorney-general in 2007. The company sells 24 products, with Ambrotose being the flagship product. Just as John D Rockefeller created charitable foundations to deflect his cutthroat business practices, Mannatech has a non-profit foundation called "MannaRelief"that provides free supplements to 83,000 orphans in 80 countries. Personally, I would rather see them provide food and shelter to these children.
     But there is a take home message to be learned from the effects provided by Ambrotose AO. The efficacy of the supplement is based on the inclusion of a wide variety of antioxidants. Studies that show no effects from antioxidants usually involve providing only one or two antioxidant nutrients. But nature--and the human body--doesn't work like that, and responds only to a comprehensive array of nutrients. Keep that in mind when you read the latest results of a lack of benefits found with any particular nutrient.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited

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