Supplements Shark Cartilage

Some supplements don’t fit into the vitamin, mineral or herbal categories, but are important enough to merit discussion. Like most other supplements, the effectiveness of these supplements varies widely. Be aware that the quality of these supplements differs from company to company. Some products contain little of the supplement they claim to be providing. Take the time to find products and suppliers you trust.

Below you’ll find descriptions of some of the more popular supplements, along with descriptions of what they claim to do, what they’ve been proven to do, and any warnings of which you should be aware.

Chondroitin

Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance found in human and animal cartilage. It has proven abilities to treat osteoarthritis, and has also been used to treat psoriasis and cancers, although tests for its effectiveness in treating both have proven inconclusive.

Chondroitin appears to be non-toxic, with no contraindications, although people using an anticoagulant should consult their physician before starting chondroitin supplements. The biggest danger appears to be products claiming to contain the substance, but which actually contain little or no chondroitin.

Co-Enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme Q10 has been used for years to treat congestive heart failure; in Canada, Russia, Japan and Europe it is available only as a prescription. Co-enzyme Q10 (also called CoQ10 or ubiquinone) is available in the United States as a non-prescription nutritional supplement.

A powerful antioxidant found in the body’s mitochondria, CoQ10 can also be found in diets rich in cold-water fish. Smaller amounts are available through meat and vegetable oils. Besides its proven heart benefits, the enzyme’s ability to strengthen the immune system and reduce periodontal disease has also been studied.

People with heart problems, diabetes, kidney or liver problems should consult their healthcare provider before taking CoQ10 supplements. CoQ10 has occasionally caused nausea, stomach problems and diarrhea.

Flavonoids

Present in fruits and vegetables, most forms of tea, and chocolate, flavonoids contain powerful antioxidants that can reduce bad cholesterol.

A wide variety of flavonoids exist. Most flavonoids have been linked to treating specific health conditions (ranging from allergies to cancer), although for the most part, little scientific evidence exists to back up those claims.

No side effects have been linked to flavonoids with the exception of catechin. Catechin can occasionally cause fever, anemia, and hives, but the symptoms disappear once use is discontinued.

Certain flavonoids have been known to interact with other drugs, so consult with your doctor before starting a supplement involving flavonoids.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is naturally produced by the human body and used to maintain cartilage in the joints. It isn’t really possible to ingest extra glucosamine through food; most glucosamine tablets are made from shellfish shells. It has proven to be effective as a treatment for osteoarthritis, and aids in the recovery of certain sports injuries.

There are three different types of glucosamine: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl-glucosamine. There is some debate as to which type is most effective.

Side effects may include stomach problems, heartburn or diarrhea, and labels usually recommended that glucosamine be taken with food. People with histories of heart disease or high blood pressure should consult with their healthcare provider before starting glucosamine supplements. People on heart medications or using insulin should not take glucosamine. If you have a shellfish allergy do not take glucosamine supplements made from shellfish shells; talk to your physician or nutritional advisor about obtaining shellfish-free glucosamine.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that cannot be produced by the body. They are most readily available through a diet of cold water fish, eaten three days a week. Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to be beneficial for the heart and to reduce cholesterol levels. There is speculation that depression may be caused by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

Because of omega-3 fatty acids’ ability to thin the blood, people taking anticoagulants should consult their physician before taking supplements. Excessive amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to stomach problems and strokes.

Shark Cartilage

Shark cartilage came to public attention during the 1990s, when claims of its cancer-fighting abilities were publicized. These claims centered on the fact that sharks don’t get cancer, a fact that has since been discovered to be false. Research into shark cartilage and cancer do continue, however, as certain compounds in the cartilage may help reduce cancer.

Although claims on shark cartilage’s ability are still being questioned, its ability to treat osteoporosis has been validated, partly due to its high levels of chondroitin.

Excessive use of shark cartilage can lead to hypercalcemia (excess amounts of calcium in the blood). Some people are allergic to the cartilage, and people taking anticoagulant medications are advised to avoid taking cartilage supplements.

Soy Protein

Hundreds of publications have documented the health benefits of soy in the diet and cultures that have heavily incorporated soy into their diets have enjoyed tremendous health benefits. It is no mere coincidence that Asians, whose diets contain 10-25 times the amount of soy products found in western diets, have a lower incidence of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and breast and uterine cancer.

Soy proteins have well-documented benefits as natural hormone replacements. Decreased hot flashes, fatigue, and mood swings, higher bone density, reduced hip fractures and reduced breast and endometrial cancers have all been described in menopausal women. Soy can be used if you are already on hormone replacement therapy and may offer added benefits. Soy has no feminizing effect on males who can also enjoy the many health benefits of soy.