Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Aspergillus Niger Safety

Fermentation is a process where a microorganism is utilized as a factory to produce certain nutrients or other biologically useful substances for humans. The culture, environment, and feed can encourage production of various products including enzymes and organic acids that are commonly used in foods and supplements. Some molds are benign; think of Saccharomyces boulardii (related to the yeasts in bread or beer) or blue cheese. 

While Aspergillus niger is a black mold, it is not the black mold that contaminates homes. As with the enzymes produced by A. niger, inhalation of mold or enzymes is not healthy for the lungs, and precautions are taken during production. In addition, A. niger is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA and has been used for a century to produce citric acid and enzymes. Enzymes produced by A. niger do not contain significant amounts of the culture after isolation and purification to USP monograph standards of purity. Just as milk does not contain a cow, enzymes produced by A. niger do not inherently contain black mold. 

The U.S EPA has reported: 

“Exposure to Aspergillus must be nearly universal but disease is rare. The physiological condition of the exposed individual thus appears to be of paramount importance. Patients exhibiting aspergillosis are generally immunocompromised, and thus susceptible to otherwise common and usually harmless microorganisms. Factors that may lead to immunosuppression include an underlying debilitating disease (e.g., chronic granulomatous diseases of childhood), chemotherapy, and the use of supraphysiological doses of adrenal corticosteroids (Bennett, 1980)…A. niger is not a significant human pathogen. Throughout years of use and widespread exposure to A. niger in the environment, there are only several reports of aspergillosis with A. niger, and in Nigeria, one report of a number of cases of otomycosis. There have been only several reports of allergic reactions, which are not uncommon for aspergilli in general, and not unique to A. niger. A. niger is capable of producing several mycotoxins. However, mycotoxin production appears to be controlled by the conditions of fermentation.”  

EPA’s Final risk assessment for Aspergillus niger

Monday, April 26, 2021

Blood pH and diet

Blood pH is relatively constant at around 7.4 because the body will strip calcium from bones, if necessary, to buffer it in the absence of alkaline-forming food components. That is not homeostasis. But blood pH does vary (typically within a range of 6.8 to 7.8, with potentially lethal effects beyond that range) and affects urine pH, which we can easily measure. 

Dietary compounds formed in the body affect blood pH; not the contrasting pH levels in the digestive tract (acid in the stomach and neutral in the small intestine) or the apparent acidity of foods, but what happens after digestion. The minerals or weak acids (citrates, et al) in alkaline-forming foods are used to make alkaline compounds in the body, which won't happen efficiently with a processed food or a non-plant-derived diet. Scientists have measured this effect and doctors have utilized it in practice, so it's not theoretical or based on pH limited to areas of the digestive tract. 

"An advanced understanding of acid–base physiology is as central to the practice of critical care medicine, as are an understanding of cardiac and pulmonary physiology. Intensivists spend much of their time managing problems related to fluids, electrolytes, and blood pH. Recent advances in the understanding of acid–base physiology have occurred as the result of the application of basic physical-chemical principles of aqueous solutions to blood plasma. This analysis has revealed three independent variables that regulate pH in blood plasma. These variables are carbon dioxide, relative electrolyte concentrations, and total weak acid concentrations. All changes in blood pH, in health and in disease, occur through changes in these three variables. Clinical implications for these findings are also discussed." 

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Mayo Clinic researchers: vitamin B12 deficiency can cause premature graying of hair (PGH), which could be reversed thru supplementation. Low vitamin & mineral levels have also been associated with PGH, reversed by supplements: B5, PABA, D, copper, (iron). PMID: 30607038

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Fish Oils: Ethyl Ester versus Triglyceride forms

Low strength natural fish oils are in triglyceride (TG) form, as are most natural oils. To purify the oils by removing impurities and less desirable fatty acids and to concentrate the EPA and DHA fatty acid components, molecular distillation is used.  This process allows the oil to vaporize at low temperatures under pressure and is also known as vacuum distillation. The resulting vapor is collected and cooled, stratifying into distinct layers of fatty acids. This allows a purer esterified oil (called an ethyl ester form, or EE) with higher levels of EPA-DHA than crude fish oils and removal of triglycerides and cholesterol as well as other undesirable components. 

Some companies like to add triglycerides back in; this dilutes the fish oil concentrate by about 20% and the process also introduces mono- and di-glycerides, which don’t exist in natural fish oils to a significant degree but are thought responsible for higher absorption levels of this reconverted triglyceride form (rTG) oil over natural triglyceride and ethyl ester forms. If no triglycerides are added back, the body’s own store of triglycerides will be used to bond to the fatty acids after absorption, potentially lowering serum triglycerides more than an rTG oil. 

Absorption from our guts is always in the form of free fatty acids, so the oil’s original triglycerides are typically discarded during digestion and reattached later from body stores. This lowers the potential of the TG or rTG oils to lower triglycerides already in our bodies since they introduce additional triglycerides, which may be absorbed either into the body (adding more triglycerides into the liver) or into fiber or other materials that carry cholesterol out through the stool (potentially reducing the removal of cholesterol by competitive absorption). 

The prescription fish oils are in the ethyl ester form, not triglyceride form, because of the higher purity and higher strength of EE fish oils over TG or rTG forms resulting in better study outcomes on cardiovascular health measures. 

Krill oil is distinct because of its phospholipid matrix that greatly enhances omega-3 absorption more than the EE, TG, or rTG forms of fish oil.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Do bioflavonoids enhance Vitamin C absorption?

Vitamin C absorption from the gut is governed by sodium content for active transport. For passive absorption throughout the length of the intestine the vitamin does not use a similar co-factor.

The bioflavonoids come into play after vitamin C has been absorbed and is in circulation.  This vitamin has a relatively short half-life and depends on other antioxidants to act as electron donors to 'reduce' oxidized vitamin C (dehydroascorbate) back into the antioxidant form (ascorbate; ascorbic acid).  Various antioxidants, including bioflavonoids and polyphenols in fruits, are typically used to provide that extra benefit.  So the recycling and longevity of vitamin C after absorption depends greatly on the presence of other antioxidants; including not only rutin and bioflavonoids but also alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, and numerous other antioxidants.

So there is a benefit to using a base, often called vitamin C complex, in a vitamin C formula, but not so much in the initial absorption as in the vitamin's retention and recycling for re-use over time.  The variety of antioxidant-related nutrients in the human diet is thought responsible for why humans can retain vitamin C between meals when we cannot manufacture our own from blood sugar at will, as most mammals can.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Aluminum in chlorella and other foods

Aluminum is one of the most abundant elements on earth and is correspondingly present in both food and water supplies. It is not a toxic heavy metal and so it is not routinely tested in foods or other raw materials, but the reported levels in chlorella are still low compared to common produce and other food staples; and chlorella’s serving size is also much smaller, which minimizes any potential risk even more.  
Aluminum in foods is not a cause for concern for toxicology experts because orally consumed aluminum is not considered to be very bioavailable from the gut, nor persistent in the body. Less than 1% is typically absorbed from our G.I. tracts, and virtually all of that has been shown to be excreted in the urine or feces. (Injectable sources, such as vaccine adjuvants, present a separate issue as absorption is not constrained by an effective gut barrier.)
Some companies tout lower levels of aluminum in their chlorella products as a marketing distinction, but admit that the levels being compared are far lower than in most common foods that are considered very healthy, i.e. cruciferous vegetables; despite the overwhelming safety data showing no real risk from consuming these foods that are normally considered to be good for us.
Here is a toxicology evaluation of dietary aluminum safety:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Does zinc supplementation reduce absorption of calcium or magnesium?

In general, no.  While it’s true that zinc can reduce absorption of calcium it would have to be a high level to do so; studies showing such a relationship have primarily been on zinc sulfate supplements containing about 140 mg of elemental zinc.  This is far above the RDA/DV level of 15 mg. typically found in dietary supplements, or even the 30-50 mg. found in some immune or prostate formulas.  One typical study used 142 mg/day of zinc to achieve this; far higher than the amount in supplement formulas.  The study noted that the decrease in calcium absorption occurred when low calcium and high zinc intake was noted, but not with adequate calcium intake, and specifically tested lower doses of zinc along with low calcium intake and did not find a reduced absorption of calcium at commonly supplemented levels:

So the issue is limited to a very high zinc intake combined with a very low calcium intake, not the levels found in common supplements.  One will find zinc and calcium together in multiple vitamins or some mineral formulas, but at typically available levels they are not shown to cause the reduced absorption of calcium found in those studies cited above. 
The issue has also been studied for magnesium versus zinc intake.  Likewise, very high zinc intake interfered with low calcium intake (500 mg.) but less likely at higher levels of calcium intake.  Again, the levels of zinc in question (around 140 mg.) are not typically found in over-the-counter zinc supplements or multivitamins. 
 It is more convenient for people to supplement with combination formulations instead of taking several single ingredient supplements, typically increasing compliance with label instructions and dosing.  Knowing that it's okay to take minerals in combinations that are commonly found in the marketplace is reassuring when some pundits claim that it is inappropriate based on the unusual circumstances of low mineral intake combined with abnormally high zinc intake.  For physicians prescribing the high strength zinc products, this is something to consider, but not something for consumers of dietary supplement formulas to be concerned about.