Body by Vi Questions on Pregnancy and Supplementing: Nutrition Facts
Audrey Sommerfeld, Visalus VP of Marketing responds to a question that came from a Nurse Practitioner who asked, “…do you know if the products are safe for use during pregnancy/lactation? Due to possible risks and liabilities…probably not recommended, right. Also, the MD referenced, but with the soy product, is this safe for use in those with a history of CA…more specifically BrCA (or familial history)? …or probably same “fine print” cautions, etc?”
Audrey: I will answer a few questions, and then add on a copy of an email that Dr. Seidman had sent to a health care practitioner that asked good questions about supplementing. Hopefully this helps. The shake is fine for pregnant and lactating women to get added nutrition. We don’t recommend that they try to lose weight though as the baby needs the calories. This is why we don’t recommend Vi-Trim or Vi-Slim as babies don’t need hunger control or metabolism support. Neuro is low caffeine, but it depends on if the woman wants that or not. Vi-Pak – omega, multi are fine. the other two should talk to their doctor (see below). Cookie is fine too.
Soy: Our soy has been specially processed to remove the isoflavones that can impact estrogen, so it is not a problem for those who worry about fibroids, on chemo, etc. Here is some information on soy: Of the concerns over soy, there are a few common ones. First, is referring to raw soybeans, that can contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain minerals absorption. However, that is based on massive consumption quantities, and of the raw soybean and only occurs in those animals that lack the digestive enzyme phytase. It is only an issue for people who consume those foods to get minerals in their diet, and in massive quantities. The issue is in developing countries, and may have a genetic basis as well because they are lacking the digestive enzyme (which can be supplemented and therefore alleviate the concern). It is not an issue for our products because of how we process the ingredients. The second common concern with soy are due to some of the components of soy, particularly the isoflavones genistein and dadzein which can affect and inhibit thyroid peroxidase which is necessary for the production of T3 and T4. Thus there is some evidence that it could lead to thryoid enlargement (Goiter). Our soy has been processed to remove the isoflavones, so this is not an issue. A third common concern about soy is the effect it may have on estrogen levels in the body. This is again due to the isoflavones, which we have had removed. So this is a non-worry. We should note that many menopausal women do supplement with isoflavones, as it has been shown to help them experience fewer side effects of menopause. Lastly, our Soy is not genetically modified (it is non-GMO). Many people worry about genetically modified soy, and if any of the ingredients got altered in the breeding process. We use the most natural form we can get, that has not been genetically modified.
Why use soy? It is a complete protein, easily digested, has no fat, low carb and more importantly, adequate consumption of soy can help the body lower cholesterol as well as c-reactive protein. Supplements: The U.S. Government did 2 studies (23,000 people) over a 2 year period of time to see how well Americans are at getting nutrition and eating healthy. Sadly, only 10% of Americans eat a healthy diet. They found 93% are deficient in vitamin E, 44% deficient in Vitamin A, and 1/3 in Vitamin C..just to name a few. The reason is it is hard to get enough nutrients from our food, especially given the American Diet today. The average American consumes 156 pounds of sugar each year, but only 28 pounds of lettuce, and much of our diet is high fat, sodium and processed. The reason our Vitamins are unique is that they are chelated to make them more absorbable (this is expensive, so most companies do not do this). Then we have added nutrients that others dont’ include like green tea extract, alpha lipoic acid, and glutathione and glutathione precursors…powerful anti-aging ingredients.
Our fish oil is distilled at the molecular level to remove toxins, and we add evening primrose, pumpkinseed, flaxseed to make a very robust 12:1 ratio of Omega 3:6. Meaning…you get high quality nutrients. This is one reason Dr. Seidman was awarded a patent, and has clinicals showing that the Vi-Pak help reverse age-related hearing loss by 7-12 decibels. I like to say if it can do that for my hearing..wow..think of what else it can help with. We have many of Dr. Seidman’s studies the Visalus website. For the Vi-Pak, the omegas and multi are great for pregnant or lactating women. Some doctors do not want women taking the antioxidant if pregnant so it varies by doctor. The anti-aging tablet we also recommend they talk to their doctor about first as every pregnancy is different.
Dr. Seidman on Supplementing: The pros and cons of supplementing with vitamins, minerals and similar substances are no less confusing. In spite of thousands of studies examining the effects of various supplements, experts still disagree. As a practicing physician and scientist, I believe I have a responsibility to present what I feel is a strong case for supplementation. It is clear that proper nutrition is essential for optimum health. We need to eat from the basic food groups, and consume significant amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a sensible diet. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet, with its emphasis on processed and prepared foods and large amounts of fat, salt and refined ingredients, does not come close to meeting these standards. The majority of Americans are clearly not going to obtain adequate nutrition from this diet. To complicate matters, more than 60 percent of Americans are now considered overweight or obese, and roughly the same proportion of the population is sedentary. Stress, another major health factor, takes a toll on nutritional status, as does aging. Additionally, while working for the CDC (reviewing grants), there was compelling data to support that 1/3 of the WORLD population has a micronutrient deficiency. While genetics certainly play a role in health, we do not have the option of changing our genes, at present. Meanwhile, many of the health issues we face are social and lifestyle choices. The end result can be seen in these statistics: Cancer – the second most common cause of death in the United States – claims more than 550,000 lives each year. Yet two-thirds of these cancer deaths are considered preventable through lifestyle changes – quitting smoking and all tobacco use, consuming 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, reducing intake of meat, fatty foods and dairy products, exercising moderately and supplementing appropriately. Here again, we have controversy over how to define “supplementing appropriately.” I think it’s important to remember that the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) – now known as the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) – were established in 1941 to meet the needs of most healthy people. While these recommendations are updated every ten years, they are neither minimal requirements nor optimal levels. In fact, they are simply educated guesses. Meanwhile, there is compelling science to suggest that many of the nutrients found in routine supplements could be taken at much higher doses with an excellent safety profile and significant health benefits. Is it possible to get sufficient quantities of nutrients from a healthy diet? To answer that question, let’s use vitamin E as an example. Oregon State University’s Moret Traber dispels this notion when she states: “To obtain enough vitamin E from food to attain a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, you’d need to consume 9 tablespoons of olive oil, 75 slices of whole wheat bread, 40 almonds or 200 peanuts each and every day.” Since it appears to be difficult – at best — to get a beneficial amount of vitamin E from food, what should the supplement dosage be?
There have been numerous studies to show that an increased intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, reduces heart disease and the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Vitamin E has also been shown to increase immune function and reduce exercise-related free radical damage. When it comes to precise dosage, however, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The DRI recommends 30 IU, a figure considered too low by many health experts. Indeed, some clinical trials suggest 800 to 1,200 IU may be required to affect cardiovascular health, particularly in patients who already have the disease. Then how do we explain conflicting findings? For example, a meta-analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins, which reviewed 19 previously published articles involving 135,967 patients, suggests that consuming more than 400 IU of vitamin E per day may increase the risk of dying by 6 percent (Miller et al Jan 4, 2005 Ann of IM vol 142 No1). While the media pounced on the ‘bad news’ aspect of the story, the truth is the research had shortcomings. First, it consisted largely of older individuals who were already suffering chronic illness of one sort or another, including heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, kidney disease requiring dialysis, as well as a group of smokers. It’s difficult to imagine that vitamin E alone could improve the health of these individuals. Second, the supplements used were synthetic, and there are studies to show that the natural forms are possibly more effective. Third, from a statistician’s viewpoint, mixing such a wide assortment of studies together can produce meaningless results. Finally, they eliminated 12 trials that had fewer than 10 deaths! This introduces a very serious selection bias against the benefit of vitamin E. Essentially they randomly eliminated 12 studies where the death rate was very low, you may call this science, but this is how science gets a bad name. Basically, manipulating the data to support their bias. As an aside, for our rotection and safety, Visalus Sciences uses only mixed tocopherols, so it is an all-natural group of tocopherols, not just the d-alpha tocopherol, but the gammas, deltas, tocotrienols etc. There has been some science to suggest that it is much better to use mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, which is precisely what we do at Visalus Sciences. Note, too, that the Johns Hopkins researchers themselves pointed out that most of the patients in these trials had chronic illness and were over the age of 60. As a result, the authors observed that the study’s findings may not necessarily apply to younger, healthy individuals. In fact, in some ways, this study’s conclusion is similar to earlier research that encouraged people to abandon butter in favor of margarine. Needless to say, that opinion was reversed when it was determined that the trans fats in margarine were far more toxic to us than butter. Of course, not all studies are inconclusive. For example, the excellent work by Rimm et al, in 1998, looked at more than 80,000 women who supplemented with folate and vitamin B6. Researchers found a significant reduction in the risk of heart disease. They also found that combining these supplements with one drink per day reduced the risk even more. Further, they determined that low intake of folate and B6 led to high levels of homocysteine, which increased heart disease. This specific study was responsible for changing the RDAs of folic acid from 50 micrograms per day to the current 400 micrograms per day. We are now finding that despite appropriate diets 1/3 of the planet has a micronutrient deficiency, the most common now are Vitamin D, the B vitamins and others.
Studies like (the Rimm Study) these, cost millions of dollars and take many years to complete, are to be encouraged. But in the meantime, there is compelling evidence in smaller clinical trials that is relevant, reasonable and should cause us to change the way we think about diet and nutritional supplementation. For example, my colleagues and I have conducted studies with a number of antioxidants, including phosphatidylcholine (PPC), resveratrol, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), among others. Our findings: these supplements provided protection against free-radical damage throughout the body. In other words, supplements minimized – and sometimes even reversed – cellular assaults linked to deterioration of health and the aging process. A final thought: Over the last 12 years, the average annualized mortality rates secondary to vitamins have been attributed to be one death per year, and herbs at three deaths per year. On the other hand, 400,000 deaths per year are attributed to smoking, and another 300,000 to poor diet. It should also be noted that pharmaceutical errors cause approximately 100,000 deaths per year.
The bottom line is that there is an extremely remote likelihood that one would be hurt by taking nutritional supplements, and there is certainly compelling scientific data to support their use. Please always consult your own physician before using Visalus nutritional products for your own safety.