High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer.” It produces few direct symptoms but is correlated with higher incidences of heart disease and stroke. About 26% of adults worldwide have high blood pressure. While high blood pressure is considered anything higher than 140/90 mmHg, nearly 40% of adults worldwide have prehypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure (upper number) of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure (lower number) of 80-89 mmHg. Prevalence is higher in men and in certain racial and ethnic groups. Without preventative steps, prehypertension is likely to develop into hypertension as a person ages and/or gains weight, and recent studies have independently linked even prehypertension to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Taurine is an amino acid-like molecule found in eggs, meat, and seafood. The average omnivore consumes less than 200 milligrams per day. Taurine is also added to a number of energy drinks at levels of up to two grams per serving. There is strong evidence that a dose of at least three grams a day produces no adverse effects, and it’s possible that the maximal safe dose may be much higher. Interestingly, while humans are able to synthesize taurine from other protein sources, it’s an essential nutrient for cats and half of all commercial taurine is manufactured for use in pet food.
Taurine has effects on cardiovascular and muscle function, possibly through either regulation of calcium channels or through nitric oxide-related pathways, as well as various brain functions by interacting with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. Additionally, taurine has been positively correlated with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) exposure, and previous research in animal models of hypertension showed that treatment with H2S reduced blood pressure.
Other Articles in Issue #17 (March 2016)
Kneed relief? Try collagen
Glucosamine has gotten the bulk of public attention concerning joint health, and most of the studies, but small amounts of undenatured collagen may be as or more effective for arthritis symptoms.
Chromium has long been viewed as a potential anti-diabetic supplement. But the form of chromium in supplements may not always be the final form your cells get. This study looked at a potential connection to cancer, through testing extremely high dose chromium exposure.
Fish oil and football: an unlikely pair
Head trauma from football, and its delayed (and catastrophic) health effects, are a major issue in sports today. What if something as simple as fish oil supplementation could help with this
- Interview: Marie Spano, MS, RD
Protein: sleep fuel?
Protein is typically thought of as a muscle-building supplement, but its uses go beyond that. This study looked at the potential for protein supplementation to improve sleep during a weight-loss diet.
Creatine, depression, and brain energetics
The human brain is a powerhouse, consuming tons of fuel to keep all those intricate neural connections going. Brain energetics may play a role in major depression, which makes creatine a potential adjunct to antidepressants and therapy.
Is organic meat healthier?
Part of the allure of organic food is the potential for improved nutrition. But studies in the past have tended to focus on organic plant foods. This broadranging meta-analysis of 67 studies puts organic meat to the test
- Interview: Matt Smith MD
Vitamin D for MDD
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a condition without many effective treatments, or at least treatments lacking side effects. Vitamin D has been linked to improved mood, and this trial tested it specifically for MDD