Lipoic Acid and Cardiovascular Health!

In researching information about endothelial cell health and function I stumbled across information regarding lipoic acid and cardiovascular health.  Sometimes referred to as alpha lipoic acid this vital “co-factor” for enzymatic reactions is critically important for optimizing energy conversion in your mitochondria.

What are Mitochondria?

These are the energy factories of your cells and play a huge role in the aging process. At least in theory.  First proposed in 1972 by Denman Harman, the mitochondrial theory on aging centers on accumulated damage to the DNA of mitochondria.  This leads to increased free radical stress coupled with a decrease in cellular energy production.

So how does this relate to lipoic acid and cardiovascular health?

Researchers have been working to delay mitochondrial aging through a variety of nutrients.  One of those nutrients is lipoic acid and the following benefits have been noted:

  • Lipoic acid helps to optimize mitochondria function and reverses cell aging.
  • Lipoic acid may help to prevent cardiovascular disease, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetic complications.
  • Lipoic acid protects against nerve and brain cell damage.

It was the “may help to prevent cardiovascular disease” that caught my attention.  Further investigation led me to a couple of important insights about lipoic acid and cardiovascular health.

The Connection Between Lipoic Acid and Cardiovascular Health!

One of the recent discoveries shows how lipoic acid enhances the effects of insulin.  This benefits glucose metabolism by lowering blood sugar levels. This has two potential effects on cardiovascular health.  First, it reduces the potential for oxidative stress or damage to the endothelium. Second, it reduces the potential for the pathological cross-linking of glucose and protein to form Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).  These AGEs have been shown to accelerate many of the aging processes, especially those associated with cardiovascular disease.

Research is also showing how lipoic acid suppresses the production of inflammatory cell-signaling molecules. This helps to protect the endothelium, which lines all of your cardiovascular system, from plaque formations. It’s these plaque formations that lead to the disease process know as atherosclerosis.  Atherosclerosis results in the narrowing of the vascular opening, which leads to an increased risk for strokes and heart attacks.

The following risk factors lead to atherosclerosis:  high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or Bad Cholesterol), smoking, high blood sugar levels, and high blood pressure.  All of these factors cause direct damage to the endothelium leading to inflammation and the potential for plaque formations.

We’ve already seen how lipoic acid can help reduce high blood sugar levels to prevent oxidative damage to the endothelium. Research also shows how lipoic acid lowers total cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. Both of these actions help to reduce the size and number of potential atherosclerotic plaque formations.

Additionally, lipoic acid enhances the effectiveness of endothelial nitric oxide synthase or eNOS.  That’s a long word for the enzyme that the endothelium uses to create nitric oxide – the master signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system.  Nitric oxide keeps blood platelet cells from sticking together to prevent strokes and heart attacks.  Nitric oxide also relaxes the smooth muscle of the vascular wall to keep your blood pressure in a normal range.  Thus, nitric oxide is the body’s natural pathway for the prevention of high blood pressure.

When you add it all up, lipoic acid’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and lipid-lowering capabilities make it an ideal nutritional supplement to help protect the endothelium while enhancing the endothelium’s ability to properly produce nitric oxide. All of this results in helping to improve blood flow while reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.  This is why there is a deep connection between lipoic acid and cardiovascular health.

How to Supplement to Obtain the Benefits of Lipoic Acid and Cardiovascular Health!

The consumption of lipoic acid can occur naturally if we choose the right types of food.  If you’re looking for animal sources rich in lipoic acid then you need to choose those organs that are high in metabolic activity such as the heart, liver, and kidney.  I don’t know about you but I’ve never eaten any of these sources and I don’t ever want to.  If you’re not into organ consumption, then steak would be another good option but the leaner the cut the better.

Another alternative is to choose plant based sources like spinach, broccoli, tomato, garden peas, brussels sprouts, and rice bran. These are better food sources since they also help you with other antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in the aging process.

If you choose to use supplementation to obtain additional lipoic acid then make sure you use the “Right” form of lipoic acid.  Lipoic acid comes in what are termed “mirror image” forms labeled “R” and “S.” Only the “R” form is produced and used by the body. However, inexpensive chemical manufacturing will produce equal amounts of “R” and “S” lipoic acid, which is then packaged as either “R/S Lipoic Acid” or “Alpha Lipoic Acid.”

Product manufacturers now have newer precision techniques that allow for the pure “R” lipoic acid to be produced.  This has a much higher potency and in many cases it provides twice the active ingredient as you would find in alpha lipoic acid. If you decide to supplement then make sure that you choose a manufacturer that provides you with only the active “R” molecule. This will allow you to use a lower dose and get better results.

A growing trend among cardiac surgeons is the recommendation of lipoic acid and CoQ10 prior to surgery.  The thought process is that these two substances help to protect delicate blood vessels during the surgery.  The preliminary result has been improved physical and mental quality of life that can last up to a month or more after surgery. Hopefully, these same cardiac surgeons will begin to understand the importance of nourishing the endothelium with the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline for improved nitric oxide production and endothelial cell health. This is critically important since the endothelium is involved in wound healing.

If you want to reduce your risk for multiple cardiovascular risk factors then you need to seriously consider lipoic acid.  Not only can it be a benefit to cardiovascular health but emerging research shows it to be beneficial to diabetic health, brain health, and a potential anti-cancer help.  And, if you want more information on the connection between lipoic acid and cardiovascular health, then I please click here for an article written by the Healthy Fellow.

Together we can work to save a million lives by sharing this information about lipoic acid and cardiovascular health!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology.  He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicago area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam.  The information about lipoic acid and cardiovascular health has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis Link!

atherosclerosisAtherosclerosis involves the calcification of your vascular tissue. Osteoporosis involves the decalcification of bone tissue. Could there be a link between the two?

Here is a medical fact that few physicians know and even fewer in the general population have ever heard about. As you age your endothelial cells, which line all of your cardiovascular system, can turn into bone cells. They are known as osteoblasts and they normally regulate bone formation.

This discovery was originally made in 1993. Since this discovery research has shown a link between atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. Those with atherosclerosis typically also have weaker, more brittle bone with an increased risk for fracture. Those with osteoporosis typically exhibit hardening of the arteries or atherosclerotic calcification leading to atherosclerosis.

To date the precise biological mechanisms behind the transformation of endothelial cells into osteoblasts, or bone-forming cells, is not fully understood. What is understood is the key role Vitamins D and K play in ensuring that calcium is properly used in bone formation while at the same time preventing the pathological calcification of your arteries.

These two nutrients operate synergistically to combat osteoporosis and atherosclerosis.

Vitamin D and Its Role in Atherosclerosis!

Most people know about the role Vitamin D plays in healthy bone structure and function. What most people do not know is how important Vitamin D is to cardiovascular health. Here is a short list:

  • Vitamin D inhibits vascular calcification, which can lead to atherosclerosis.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies are associated with hypertension, diabetes, increased thickness of the carotid artery, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Below normal levels of vitamin D is also implicated in congestive heart failure.

We’ll examine the function of Vitamin D and cardiovascular health in a future article.

Vitamin K and Its Role in Atherosclerosis!

Most people have never heard of Vitamin K yet it plays a critical role in stimulating new bone formation. Without the proper amount of Vitamin K in your system, your body cannot properly bind calcium and phosphorus to form the matrix necessary to produce and maintain solid, well-mineralized bone.

While the presence of Vitamin K is critical for bone formation, it is also necessary to protect against the calcification of the vascular system.

We’ll examine this function of Vitamin K and cardiovascular health in a future article.

Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis!

Two age-related diseases are atherosclerosis and osteoporosis. While there are many contributing factors to the progression of each of these two diseases, medical science has now been able to establish a direct link between them. That direct link points to deficiencies of both Vitamin D and Vitamin K. Research has clearly shown that these two vitamins work synergistically to facilitate bone mineralization leading to strong and healthy bones. At the same time they work synergistically to prevent calcium deposits from accumulating in your vascular system leading to atherosclerosis.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about atherosclerosis and osteoporosis has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis – Treatment Programs!

ArteriosclerosisAccording to the American Heart Association, arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis account for nearly 75% of all deaths from heart disease! To have a significant impact on reducing the number one killer of people worldwide, it would make sense to focus on treatment programs that address these cardiovascular diseases.

As I gathered data for this article many of the websites made the following comment – “The exact cause of arteriosclerosis is not known.”

This author would like to disagree with that statement.


The exact cause of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis is known!

It is damage to the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system, which reduces their ability to properly produce nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system. Nitric oxide is key to cardiovascular health. According to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Medicine,

NO – as it is known by chemists – is produced by the body specifically to help keep arteries and veins free of the plaque that causes stroke and to maintain normal blood pressure by relaxing the arteries, thereby regulating the rate of blood flow and preventing coronaries. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural cardiovascular wonder drug.”

If you look closely at Dr. Ignarro’s statement you will notice the following significant phrase: “. . . specifically to help keep arteries and veins free of the plaque that causes stroke. . .” Plaque formation is at the heart of atherosclerosis. Calcification of these plaque formations lead to arteriosclerosis.

The “natural cardiovascular wonder drug” Dr. Ignarro was referring to is nitric oxide, which is produced by the endothelial cells from two important amino acids: L-arginine and L-citrulline. Nitric oxide can specifically prevent both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Many researchers would also suggest that the proper production of nitric oxide, by your endothelial cells, can reverse both of these cardiovascular diseases.

The following is a review of many of the treatment programs for arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. These treatment programs can be broken down into two major categories: self-care at home and medical treatment. The overall goals of these treatment programs are to reduce symptoms and prevent the progression of the disease so that potential blockages can be prevented. But, the question remains:

Is there a better treatment program and can it actually reverse arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis?”

We’ll examine this after we look at the standard treatment programs usually recommended to patients diagnosed with arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.

Self-Care at Home Treatment Programs!

Self-care treatment programs typically mean lifestyle changes. Let’s look at each of these lifestyle changes in relationship to their effects on the endothelial cells and the production of nitric oxide:

  1. Eat food that is low in saturated fats and low in cholesterol. This is a big topic but in its simplest terms LDL cholesterol (Bad Cholesterol) can damage your endothelial cells leading to plaque formations.

  2. Restrict salt intake especially if you have high blood pressure. Again this is a big topic because it only focuses on one mineral: sodium. Also important to this equation is potassium, magnesium, and calcium for proper cardiovascular metabolism.

  3. Increase the consumption of high fiber foods especially vegetables and fruits. High fiber foods help to absorb bile salts that your body uses in digestion. Your liver manufactures bile from cholesterol. Thus, high fiber foods are a natural way to reduce LDL cholesterol, which reduces the potential damage they can cause to your endothelial cells. Also, vegetables and fruits have little sodium but are high in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which helps maintain proper cardiovascular metabolism.

  4. Quit smoking. This habit has major effects on your cardiovascular system, especially your endothelial cells. Nicotine damages endothelial cells. Cigarette smoking decreases “Good” cholesterol that helps to protect your endothelial cells and increases the “Bad” cholesterol that damages your endothelial cells. The carbon monoxide produced from cigarette smoking also damages endothelial cells and can facilitate plaque formation. Plus, smoking constricts arteries leading to an increased risk of blockages.

  5. Lose weight if overweight or obese. Fat cells absorb and store Vitamin D. Vitamin D inhibits vascular calcification. Vascular calcification is at the heart of arteriosclerosis. Thus, losing weight releases needed Vitamin D back into your system and improves your body’s ability to utilize Vitamin D to reduce multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

  6. Mild to moderate exercise under the supervision of a health care provider. Exercise increases blood flow. Increased blood flow stimulates the endothelial cells to produce nitric oxide.

  7. Maintain normal blood glucose (sugar) levels. When blood glucose is above the normal range it causes oxidative stress to the endothelial cells resulting in damage and a reduction in nitric oxide production.

Medical Treatment Programs

Medical treatment programs usually center on prescription drugs, surgical procedures, or a combination of both to either reduce the risk or repair existing damage to the vascular system. While this list is not exhaustive it does include many of the more prominent treatment programs. Let’s look at each in relationship to the endothelial cells and nitric oxide production.

  1. Taking drugs to normalize blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage the endothelial cells. Yet, learning how to naturally nourish your endothelial cells to improve their ability to produce nitric oxide can also normalize blood pressure but without the side effects of medications.

  2. Taking drugs to normalize blood sugar levels. This is especially important for those with diabetes. But, equally important is having in place a nutritional program that will help to repair the damage high blood sugar can cause the endothelial cells.

  3. Taking drugs to lower lipid levels. Statin drugs are the most commonly used lipid-lowering drugs because they effectively interfere with the production of cholesterol by your liver. Unfortunately, they also interfere with the creation of Co-Q10 which is extremely important for heart health and overall energy production. The main purpose of statin drugs is to keep LDL Cholesterol or Bad Cholesterol from damaging the endothelial cells. The proper production of nitric oxide can also repair this damage and keep the “Bad” cholesterol from creating damage in the first place.

  4. Aspirin inhibits sticky platelets cells from forming a blood clot. Nitric oxide also keeps blood platelet cells from sticking together but without the potential risk for bleeding.

  5. Balloon angioplasty. To open blocked or narrowed vascular vessels a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the body. When the narrowed vascular area is reached the balloon is inflated to press the plaque deposit against the vascular wall. This procedure is designed to increase the diameter of the affected area to improve blood flow. The concern is that the balloon procedure will damage the endothelial cells creating a stimulus for additional scarring and plaque formation. This procedure treats a symptom but doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

  6. Stenting. Following angioplasty a metal tube called a stent will be placed in the vascular area to help keep it open. The stent acts as a scaffold to support the vascular wall. To prevent additional complications from the endothelium and blood clotting on the metal surface, patient are asked to take specific drugs. Again, this procedure treats a symptom but doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

  7. Bypass surgery. This surgical procedure uses arteries or veins from other areas of the person’s body to bypass the blocked vascular area to improve blood flow. Again, this procedure treats the life-threatening event but doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

All of these treatment programs are important. Most of the self-care at home treatment programs help to protect and nourish the endothelial cells. Most of the medical treatment programs limit additional damage to the endothelial cells or are used to correct a problematic area of the vascular system. No one is questioning the proper use in helping to reduce risk and/or save a person’s life from the arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.

But, the question still remains is:

Is there a better treatment program and can it actually reverse arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis?”

The answer is “YES!”

It all centers on nourishing and repairing the endothelial cells to improve their ability to properly product nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system or what Dr. Ignarro refers to as “the body’s natural cardiovascular wonder drug.” We’ll explore this in future articles.

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan@agingnomore.com

630-936-8079

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis contained in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.

Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis – General Overview!

AtherosclerosisThere is a lot of confusion between arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis but one thing is certain, combined they account for nearly 75% of all deaths from heart disease! This unpleasant statistic comes from the American Heart Association 2004 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update. In the United States alone, approximately 1.5 million heart attacks occur annually.

The vast majority of these heart attacks are

caused by complications associated with

arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.


Most people are familiar with heart attacks or strokes. You likely have a family member or friend who either suffers from the consequences of one or has died due to one. Because of this a great deal of emphasis is placed on preventing heart attacks and strokes. While this is important, the real emphasis should be put upon preventing arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis because they are the underlying cause of heart attacks and strokes.

To best address this problem we need to clearly define arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis commonly refers to those diseases in which the arterial wall thickens and loses its elasticity. Atherosclerosis is one of those diseases. More specifically atherosclerosis refers to the formation of plaque-like deposits consisting of cholesterol and other substances on the arterial walls. These deposits become hardened by fibrous tissue and calcification. This can lead to arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. For simplicity the following definitions will be used:

  • Arteriosclerosis is any disease process that leads to the abnormal thickening and hardening of the arterial walls.

  • Atherosclerosis is the disease process that causes plaque formations to develop on the interior surface of the arterial walls.

Both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis cause problems and complication to blood flow. Arteriosclerosis reduces the elasticity of the vascular wall leading to high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis reduces the interior space of the artery leading to reduced blood flow. Reduced blood flow reduces the ability of your cardiovascular system to deliver needed oxygen and nutrients as well as remove waste products from cellular respiration. This then affects the organs’ ability to function optimally.

The most common arteries affected are those in the brain, heart, kidneys, abdominal aorta, carotid artery, and legs. This can then lead to a whole host of symptoms like leg pain, muscular weakness, numbness, cramps, dizziness, chest pain, poor wound healing, and erectile dysfunction.

As atherosclerosis progresses in its narrowing of the arterial space it not only reduces blood flow but it also increases the potential for blood clots to form as well as plaque-like deposits breaking off. This can then cause complete blockages resulting in the common life-threatening diseases we call heart attacks and strokes.

Both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are progressive diseases. This means that they didn’t develop over a short period of time like an infection but they develop over a long period of time. For many in the United States, this disease process can start in early childhood and progressively become more severe as the person ages.

Risk Factors That Can Lead to Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis!

There are certain risk factors that contribute to the development of both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. These risk factors are commonly categorized as “those that can be changed” and “those that cannot”. Here are the risk factors that can be changed:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol commonly referred to as “Bad Cholesterol”

  • Cigarette smoking

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Lack of exercise

  • Western diet, which is excessive in saturated fat from meat, dairy products, eggs, and fast food combined with an inadequate intake in fruits, vegetables, and fish.

These are the risk factors that cannot be changed:

  • Advancing age

  • Being male unless you are a women who has reached menopause.

  • Have a family history of heart disease and stroke especially if it’s based on genetics.

  • African American since this population group has a historically high degree of high blood pressure and diabetes leading to premature stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and death.

As I gathered data for this article many of the websites made the following comment – “The exact cause of arteriosclerosis is not known.”

This author would like to disagree with that statement.

The exact cause of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis is known!

It is damage to the endothelial cells that line all of your cardiovascular system which reduces their ability to properly produce nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of the cardiovascular system.

We will examine this statement and the standard treatment programs used for these cardiovascular diseases in our next article entitled “Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis – Treatment Programs!”

Together we can work to save a million lives!

Dan Hammer

Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry, and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years.

The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and never as a substitute for professional medical advice or medical exam. The information about Atherosclerosis and Arteriosclerosis contained in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a qualified medical doctor.