Supplement Update
by Anthony Almada, MS

Heavy Metal
Since its dynamic debut more than 10 years ago, Chromium Picolinate (CrP) has emerged as the king of chromium supplements. While its original use as a body-shape enhancer hasn't really heald up — it entered the market as a fat burner and muscle builder — new research indicated possible benefits for diabetes and insulin action in the body. Studies have gone both ways, however, some showing improvement and others indicating no effect.

The inital research dose of 200 mcg of chromium/day has now been upgraded to 400-1,000 mcg/day, calling attention to issues of toxicity. Several test tube studies suggest CrP can create free radicals and wreak havoc on DNA. One attempt to address this found 400 mcg of chromium from CrP/day, given to 10 obese women for eight weeks, did not increase one marker of DNA damage in the blood - nor did it improve blood markers of carbohydrate or cholesterol metabolism.

In the next year or two, research may shine more light on this metabolic metal.

CalciumThe Best Bones of All
Getting an optimum amount of CALCIUM is paramount to building strong bones and good health. But which calcium supplement can best meet these needs? Calcium citrate malate (CCM), the subject of numerous studies, offers an answer. While this unique and patented form of calcium is more soluble than some other forms of calcium, it also appears to present itself to intestinal cells in a chemical form favoring absorption and transport into the blood. And CCM has been shown to slow bone loss better than calcium carbonate in postmenopausal women.

But does it perform better than the elite forms of calcium such as calcium citrate, calcium glycinate and hydroxyapatite? This remains unknown. Furthermore, no studies to date have assessed CCM's ability to reduce the risk fractures associated with calcium depletion in comparison to other calcium sources. Currently, real CCM is only available in FruitCal's juices and juice beverages and as Calcimate, a retail chain's trademarked product.

Blue Shields
The blues don't always have to get you down. In fact, blueberries may do just the opposite in the fight against aging and allergens. All forms of blueberries — juice, food and fruit extracts — may heighten health, thanks to some very active antioxidants, which are evidenced by the deep purple-blue pigment of the blueberry. One recent study revealed that feeding blueberry extracts to mature mice partially reversed some signs of "brain aging," perhaps due to the antioxidant bioactivity of blueberries; similar results were found for spinach and strawberry extracts.

In the test tube, blueberry extracts are among the most potent natural antioxidants. However, a recent human study did not show any increase in antioxidant activity after drinking blueberry juice — indicating a clear need for more research. These blue orbs are also high in the flavonoid quercetin, a common component of antioxidant and anti-allergy formulas.

"Supplements" is written by nutrition & exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS. He has collaborated on over 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS) and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition (