JIM: We've just received your improved Personal Radical Shield, and I'd like to discuss some of the changes you've made to your formula. First, how do you determine that it's necessary to change a flagship formula such as your Personal Radical Shield?
SANDY: The initial business of figuring out which nutrients are likely to provide health benefits is something that's easier to do than figuring out the real detailed matter of adjusting the doses. It takes a lot of experience because there's not much research done on mixtures of nutrients and the synergistic relationships between them. So, it takes experience to get that information.
JIM: You've been working on the formula for Personal Radical Shield for about 20 years now?
DURK: Since 1968, closer to 30 at this point, which dates us in a way.
JIM: What would you say most separates Personal Radical Shield from run-of-the-mill multi-vitamin formulas?
DURK: Most commercial products are designed for some nebulous marketplace out there. The marketer tells the executive, "We think we can sell something that we can claim does X." Then the executive tells the researcher down in the lab, "Make me something that we can say does X." The guy comes up with it, and they put it on the market. But the researcher doesn't use it, the executive doesn't use it, and the marketer doesn't use it. Doesn't that say something?
SANDY: It makes it a little difficult for them to know how the user is experiencing the product. I just couldn't trust a vitamin company that would sell supplements that the people running the company themselves wouldn't use. If you're willing to sell supplements and don't believe that the health benefits are there and don't even use the supplements that you're selling, I find that highly suspicious.
DURK: Whereas, with our formulas, we designed them and were making them for ourselves long before they were available commercially.
SANDY: So naturally we're incorporating all the cautiousness that is a natural part of our own behavior when we're doing something for ourselves.
DURK: And we're also incorporating all the new goodies when they come along. Now there's a few new goodies that we'd like to put in there, but can't. For example, Coenzyme Q10. I think that taking Co-Q10 is a very good idea. However, the FDA deems Co-Q10 a drug, though it's naturally found in living tissue. It's quite disgusting that the FDA has that policy, and I don't see any constitutional authority for any regulation of medicines or foods.
SANDY: And we're doing our very best to increase freedom of choice in the health area, but in the meantime, if we put the Co-Q10 in the formulation, we'd be asking for big FDA trouble.
JIM: Well, let's start at the top of the list of changes to the new Personal Radical Shield. Would you please comment on the increase in the amount of vitamin A in the new formula?
DURK: We've increased the amount of vitamin A from 5,000 International Units to 8,000 International Units per day. Vitamin A is depleted in a lot of people who are doing things like smoking, exposing themselves to a lot of sunlight without wearing sunscreen, or being exposed to smog. And even though we also have a lot of beta carotene in the formulation, your body can certainly do other things with beta carotene that it can't do with vitamin A. And 8,000 units of vitamin A per day is quite safe, being far below the lowest amount that's been shown to cause trouble, even in debilitated elderly people with liver problems.
JIM: How does this level of vitamin A work in conjunction with the increased levels of beta carotene in the formula?
DURK: As I said, the use of beta carotene to make vitamin A is really about the least important role that it plays. We've doubled the amount of beta carotene from 15 milligrams to 30 milligrams a day. The old level of 15 mg. was the same amount used in the Physicians Health Study, which involved 22,000 health professionals. That study looked at cancer and cardiovascular disease in groups, with one group taking low dose aspirin, and another group taking beta carotene.
SANDY: But of course, they ended up looking at beta carotene, and in the 330 or so physicians with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, they found that beta carotene alone reduced the risk of a major cardiovascular event nearly as much as the aspirin.
DURK: The study on the full body of the effects of beta carotene should be coming out sometime later this year, and we're eagerly awaiting it. Meanwhile we've increased the amount of beta carotene in the Personal Radical Shield from 15 to 30 milligrams per day. Not only is this safe, because you can't overdose on beta carotene, but we found through experience, that even at 30 milligrams, it's relatively rare for a person's skin color to turn yellow.
Beta carotene is a lot more than just an antioxidant, a scavenger of singlet oxygen, and a source of vitamin A. It also has very specific effects concerning the regulation of cell growth. Cells communicate with each other by a variety of methods. One very important method is by what are called gap junctions. It's like having two spaceships come up to each other and dock hatch to hatch so that people can go back and forth. Well, in the case of cells, there's a protein called connexin, six units of which makes a little porthole through the side of the cell, which is then fitted into a similar porthole in the next cell, and chemical messages can be passed back and forth.
JIM: So the cells can then actually communicate with others, in terms of maintaining their position and their health?
DURK: That's right, as well as growth. One of the fundamental problems with cancer is that the cells don't know that they shouldn't be growing any more. Normally, when you kill a cell, or cut it away physically, the cells next to it realize, "Oh, my neighbor's gone, I've got to replace it," and some cell will begin to divide, if it's dividing tissue like the epithelial tissue that makes up your skin and lines your gut. Now, if the cell that's dividing doesn't know that the hole has been filled up, and that it doesn't need to make any more neighbors, because it's surrounded by neighbors, and goes on dividing, you've got a tumor.
Well, one of the important effects of beta carotene is in preventing tumors. Besides being a free radical scavenger and singlet-oxygen quencher, it also involves cell-to-cell communication by up-regulating the messenger RNA that specifies connexin. I suspect that since there are several different types of connexin, and several different types of gap junctions, it's quite possible that other carotenoids may have effects on other junctions that haven't been looked at yet in this particular assay. So I think that increasing the amount of beta carotene is a really good idea.
JIM: Occasionally, customers taking large amounts of extra beta carotene will report a change in their skin tone, but we assure them that the effect is totally harmless and that the health benefits offset any minor cosmetic changes.
DURK: Right. Some people with a lot of beta carotene in their system will get a beautiful, golden, Maui tan. Other people, especially the blue-eyed, strawberry blond type, will find it looks a little bit strange. When we first formulated the Personal Radical Shield, we wanted to avoid turning people yellow, and we eventually found out with years of experience that with 30 milligrams a day of beta carotene very few people are going to turn yellow.
JIM: I noticed that you've also increased the amount of vitamin D in the formula.
DURK: Yes, the vitamin D has been increased quite substantially, and I think that's one of the more interesting changes. We used to provide people with 400 units per day of vitamin D, and now we've bumped it up to 1,000 units per day. First off, I just want to let people know that they don't have to worry about being poisoned by too much vitamin D at 1,000 units, which is like 2 1/2 quarts of regular vitamin D fortified milk. We've increased the dosage because a lot has been learned about vitamin D in the past half-dozen years or so. Both epidemiologic and animal studies suggest that increased levels of vitamin D may be able to lower risks for certain types of cancer, for example, testicular cancer, colon cancer, and cancers of the skin.
SANDY: Vitamin D seems to be important in the differentiation of certain kinds of cells, thereby preventing them from becoming dedifferentiated when they shouldn't be, and becoming cancerous. Also, vitamin D seems to provide protection against cataracts.
DURK: Not only that, but as a person gets older, the ability of their skin to manufacture vitamin D, along with their kidney's ability to process the precursor that's made into the final form of vitamin D, both decline.
SANDY: People aren't drinking as much milk as they used to, and at the same time, people who work during the day inside are spending less time in the sun, and when they're out there they're often using sunscreen. When people were spending a lot of time out in the sun hunting and gathering, possibly nobody had any reason to worry about not having enough vitamin D, but that's certainly not the case now.
JIM: I think the habit of unlimited exposure to sunlight is obviously reversing as we get closer to the end of the century.
DURK: Right. In addition, another thing to keep in mind is that it's not just women who have a problem with loss of bone density. In women, of course, it's so dramatic that they put a disease name on it, osteoporosis. But a similar loss of bone density occurs in males, though not nearly as severe. Unlike in women who simply can take a hormone supplement to greatly slow down that process, men are pretty much just stuck with gradually losing bone density with age, though exercise slows this decline. Increasing the amount of vitamin D for both men and women will help to maintain bone density.
JIM: It provides an extra margin of protection.
DURK: Right-it's especially important in sedentary middle-aged people like ourselves. We're both fifty-one years old, and will be fifty-two around the time this comes out.
SANDY: You have to have adequate supplies of vitamin D in order to make use of calcium. It's amazing that current public health recommendations are not specifying that there should be vitamin D taken along with calcium, and new studies that are being done should look at calcium supplementation in conjunction with vitamin D supplementation.
JIM: On that note, I've noticed that you haven't changed the amount of calcium in the improved version of Personal Radical Shield, which still contains 420 milligrams of calcium per day. Would you suggest that older people consider taking extra amounts of calcium?
DURK: Yes. The calcium contained in the Personal Radical Shield is in the form of calcium ascorbate, and it's certainly desirable to take a gram or a gram and a half of calcium per day.
JIM: So, people taking Personal Radical Shield could take extra calcium supplements without any problem?
DURK: Yes, unless they have kidney problems, or are producing calcium kidney stones, then they need to deal with that with an oral chelating solution. Another one that we've increased fairly substantially is the riboflavin, or vitamin B-2. The reason that we increased the B-2 to 100 milligrams per day is that we've learned more about the importance of vitamin B-2 as part of the antioxidant, free radical control cascade.
SANDY: It's also an anti-inflammatory factor, and therefore is important in the regulation of immune activity.
DURK: Additionally, at the levels that a person could get with the higher levels of vitamin B-2 that we have in our formula, there may be significant inhibition of testosterone 5-alpha reductase, and as such it may provide a degree of protection against benign prostatic hypertrophy in males as they get older. Tests have not been done on this that I know of in vivo. However, in vitro, the sort of levels of vitamin B-2 you can get from these doses do cause a significant reduction in the activity of testosterone 5-alpha reductase.
JIM: So, this increase in the level of vitamin B-2 would be of greater importance to elderly males, as they get past their thirties and forties?
DURK: Yes, that's right. And in evolutionary terms, getting past your thirties and forties was elderly,
SANDY: With the human life span what it is now in the United States, being in your thirties and forties, you haven't even reached your peak income producing years yet.
JIM: What about vitamin B-2's role in support of other antioxidant cycles?
DURK: Vitamin B-2 is part of the redox cycle. Remember that a free radical is a molecule or atom with an unpaired electron, and the reason that free radicals are so reactive is that electrons like to go around in pairs, for reasons having to do with space-time symmetry in quantum mechanics. Now, if a person wants to get rid of excess free radicals, what you do is reduce the activity in their energy levels so that they don't become quite so promiscuously reactive, and you hold on to them until you can match them up with another free radical so then they can cancel each other out.
SANDY: And that's a process that involves a cascade of antioxidants that work together, passing the free radical on from one to the other, reducing the energy level of the free radical at each step, so that it becomes less and less dangerous.
DURK: And riboflavin is very important in reducing the electron-free radical reactions.
JIM: While on the subject of B vitamins, I see you've reduced the levels of vitamin B-1 (Thiamine) in the new formula by about 25 percent.
DURK: Yes, we've seen reports from a handful of elderly people whose livers were not in such hot shape, who exhibited problems with excessive amounts of B-1 at levels about twice what we used to have in our formulation. So, we just thought we'd reduce it a little bit for extra safety's sake. More and more people are taking Personal Radical Shield now who are not under medical supervision, and when we originally designed this for ourselves we were getting tested all the time, but there are a lot of people who aren't, so we're just being a little bit cautious. Sandy and I tend to be very prudent and conservative people. If you want to live a long time, you can't afford to make mistakes.
SANDY: That's right, we are very careful. We always put on our seatbelts when we drive our car, and if you keep caution in mind, you're likely to live a long time.
JIM: Life extension covers more than just nutrients; it also includes just basic common sense.
DURK: Like hold on to that banister, and try not to run downstairs.
JIM: Absolutely. More people die from needless, common household accidents everyday.
SANDY: Sure, and as the risks of age associated diseases are reduced, accidents become a relatively greater risk of death.
DURK: The same comments apply to B-6 as B-1. Again, the levels of B-1 we had in the formula before were still below the lowest levels that have been reported to cause problems in a handful of people. However, we just want to be really careful.
JIM: Do you have any opinion regarding taking extra amounts of B-vitamins above those in the new Personal Radical Shield?
DURK: Unless you have some sort of a specific medical reasons, I don't see why a person would need to do so.
JIM: Yes, a lot of people are going to want to take extra vitamin C certainly, and possibly more vitamin E than we have in the Personal Radical Shield…
DURK: The B-vitamins are pretty adequate. Now, if you are going out to parties and exposing yourselves to cigarette smoke and alcohol, you may want more B-1, C, and cysteine occasionally, but not as a daily supplement. We've also increased the amount of manganese in the new formula from 2.5 to 4 milligrams. Manganese is a very important element that's involved in a lot of redox enzymes, that is, oxidation reduction enzymes. It's also in superoxide dismutase (SOD), that is, the reaction center in superoxide dismutase inside the mitochondria.
SANDY: The mitochondria in cells is where most free radicals are generated in the first place. There's also been recent evidence that certain kinds of cancer seem to involve a deficiency in manganese SOD.
JIM: I recall an interview with you last year after you'd returned from a seminar where you'd encountered new research concerning manganese based SOD in relation to melanoma.
DURK: And HIV. One of the mechanisms by which HIV is so virulent are the tat proteins, among others, which cause a decrease in the production of SOD in the mitochondria. This, in turn, allows free radicals to be created, causing the cell repair machinery to turn on and start replicating the HIV virus's nucleic acid.
DURK: Yes, very nastily clever. Another reason for increasing the levels of manganese is that manganese is absorbed by a lot of fiber in the diet, and more people are eating cereal grains, which contain phytic acid, which irreversibly binds manganese…
SANDY: And a lot of fruits and vegetables contain lots of phytic acid too.
DURK: And, also, of course you have fiber in a lot of fruits and vegetables. People are putting more fiber in their diet, which I think is generally a good idea, but you have to be aware of the adverse effect, one of which is that more of the manganese is lost, it just ends up passing out of your system into the toilet.
SANDY: And a lot of the vitamin B-6 in fruits and vegetables doesn't get absorbed because of the fact that the beta-glucoside binds it.
DURK: We've also increased the amount of molybdenum in the new Personal Radical Shield. We used to have molybdenum gluconate in the formula, but that's become very hard to get commercially, so we switched to hexavalent sodium molybdate, which is not as bioavailable as the gluconate. So, to be safe, we increased the amount of molybdenum to adjust for the lower absorption rate.
JIM: I see that you also increased the amount of selenium in the new formula.
DURK: Correct. Originally, before 1989, we had 200 micrograms of selenium in Personal Radical Shield. Then, in 1989 we saw some papers that showed that there was more selenium in the American food supply than people had realized. Using new analytical methods, they found more selenium in there. So we reduced the amount to 110 micrograms of selenium in a day's worth of Personal Radical Shield. However, in the past few years it's been found, that, yes, that selenium is really there, but, no, it's not readily biologically available. Just because a test can extract a mineral better for your analytical purposes doesn't mean that this type of analysis is the most biologically appropriate.
JIM: It doesn't necessarily model the human body that well.
DURK: Right, so we've bumped the selenium back up to 170 micrograms to account for the reduced bioavailability of the additional selenium that was found around 1989.
JIM: Let's talk briefly about some of the other vitamins in the Personal Radical Shield. You've retained the same amount of vitamin C at 3.3 grams per day.
DURK: I think that's a pretty decent minimum level. We ourselves also take extra vitamin C in the form of DUAL-C. I take about 12 grams a day, and Sandy…?
SANDY: I take about 10 grams…
DURK: About 10 grams per day. These are totals of the vitamin C contained in the Personal Radical Shield, plus the Dual-C, and that works well for us. Different people may need different amounts of vitamin C. For example, people with a partial deficiency of one of the enzymes, such as 6-GPD, should not be taking large amounts of vitamin C.
SANDY: Right. That's a genetic defect, but relatively few people have that problem. The thing is, it's easy to take additional amounts of vitamin C and a few other nutrients, like vitamin E and beta carotene. Many nutrients you can't get as individual items to take extra amounts of, and it would be very inconvenient to have to take capsules of each individual item. So we're trying to put in amounts that make sense to us. If you want larger amounts of specific nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene, you can take more if you want to.
JIM: One of the more interesting changes I noticed was the recommendation that people take three caps of Personal Radical Shield four times per day, instead of the previous recommendation of four capsules three times per day.
SANDY: Well, it can be done either way. It's better to take Personal Radical Shield four times a day because of the problem with maintaining serum levels of water soluble vitamins. You actually maintain a more consistent level by taking them four times a day, spread out over the day. But if people can't manage that and want to take it just three times a day, that's okay too.
DURK: We should briefly mention the niacin flush, because there's 501 milligrams of niacin in 12 capsules of Personal Radical Shield, and if it's taken with a meal, people are less likely to get a niacin flush. If you take it on an empty stomach at bedtime like I do for the fourth dose, that works out great, because the niacin glow just makes me fall asleep feeling nice and warm and comfy, but some people would find it keeps them up itching and scratching.
SANDY: The warmth of the niacin flush actually gives me a feeling of well being. It tells you that you're getting an effect; that something is happening.
JIM: Many people understand the niacin flush and actually look forward the glow. It validates the experience of taking the formula when you can actually feel the results.
DURK: We've got a trademarked slogan for our formulations, "Nutrition You Can Feel" For example, when you take a serving of BLAST you know you've taken a Blast!
SANDY: That's the whole idea. It's definitely a form of positive reinforcement. I think it's a lot easier for people to be motivated to take something when they can notice an immediate, positive effect, than to just think "Well, it's having an effect, but I don't notice a thing." With some supplements, you can take them but not really notice anything, which doesn't necessarily mean that they're no good, but may make it harder to take them regularly.
JIM: I know that the niacin flush has been associated with the flush caused by sexual excitement, and I wonder if this would correlate with taking the PRS at bed time?
DURK: Yes, we've mentioned for several years that the niacin flush is caused by a histamine release in the skin, along with peripheral vasodilation. Histamine release is necessary for orgasm in all the mammals that have been studied, and I think in some non-mammals also.
SANDY: And it's also true that in the sexually active tissues, during the act of sex, and I would presume during orgasm, that there is an increased flow of blood to those tissues.
DURK: Yes, there certainly is. The sex flush resembles a niacin flush. But as to the specific releasing of histamines being necessary for orgasm, this is why a lot of men who have ulcers stop taking Tagamet and other, similar anti-ulcer drugs, the histamine H2-blockers. Although they are effective in preventing acid secretion in the stomach, and hence, can help control the ulcers, and unlike a lot of high blood pressure medicines, they do not interfere with erection, they do interfere with ejaculation and orgasm.
JIM: So sensitivity and satisfaction become an issue?
DURK: Yes, right, and it can be very frustrating to not be able to get satisfaction.
JIM: Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? I like your reference to the histamine response of non-mammals, and I assure you that if we have any on our client list I'm sure we'll be hearing from them soon.
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