Supplement Questions Answered

Q: Will carnitine help me lose weight?
In theory, carnitine, a derivative of the amino acid lysine, could be a good weight loss supplement because it helps move components of fat into the area in cells where they are burned. There is, however, no solid evidence that carnitine creates a weight-loss effect. In studies of both animals and humans, carnitine supplements have had no effect upon weight loss. Furthermore, some supplements contain the inactive form, which could actually displace the body's own active carnitine with possible undesirable effects. To lose weight, it’s more beneficial to reduce your food portions and invest in a good pair of walking shoes rather than carnitine supplements.

Q: Can grape seed extract provide antioxidants that we need?
A: Research suggests grape seed extract contains phytochemicals that can provide powerful antioxidant effects. While most experts consider the extract safe, research has yet to discover if grape seed extract provides any benefit for someone who already eats well. People taking medications should, however, check with their physician before taking it. Some evidence suggests it can produce blood-thinning effects when taken in high doses. For a person eating a healthful, balanced, mainly plant-based diet, an extract supplement may have no effect and could possibly be harmful.

Q: I keep hearing about the importance of magnesium. Is it hard to get enough?
A: Proper levels of magnesium have been connected with a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly osteoporosis. To obtain the known health benefits, meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of magnesium of 310-320 milligrams (mg) for adult women and 400-420 mg for adult men is necessary. Although multivitamin
supplements contain enough magnesium to bring almost everyone's intake to recommended levels, foods are a preferable source. Regularly serve yourself dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, seeds and nuts – all excellent sources of magnesium. If we eat at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day to lower our risk of cancer and control high blood pressure, magnesium, along with vitamins and healthful phytochemicals, will be plentiful in our diet.

Q: Do Coenzyme Q10 supplements help prevent or treat cancer?
A: The body naturally makes Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, as cells produce energy. As a supplement, CoQ10 can stimulate the immune system and may protect the heart from the toxic effects of some chemotherapies. Experts, however, caution against taking CoQ10 during cancer treatment because it is an antioxidant. Radiation therapy and some cancer drugs kill cancer cells in part by causing free radicals to form. Antioxidants of any kind, including CoQ10, could work against these treatments by destroying free radicals. If you really want to reduce your cancer risk, a wealth of evidence indicates that five to ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables plus whole grains, beans and nuts supply an abundance of natural substances that work well together to ward off cancer.