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Which is the best type of tea? The skinny on polyphenols and antioxidant activity…...

What are polyphenols?

“Polyphenols are plant derived chemicals with superb antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and skin rejuvenating capabilities. Tea polyphenols, especially catechins, are potent antimicrobial and antioxidant agents, with positive effects on human health.”

White tea is one of the less studied teas but the flavor is more accepted than that of green tea in Europe. In a recent study, the concentrations of various catechins in 13 different kinds of infusion were determined by capillary electrophoresis (measuring the total polyphenol content and the inhibitory effect of infusions of each type of tea on the growth of some microorganisms). Five different infusions (black, white, green and red teas and rooibos infusion) were added to a model food system and the oxidative stability of each was observed.

The highest radical-scavenging activity observed was for the green and white teas.

Reference: Food Chemistry
Volume 108, Issue 1, 1 May 2008, Pages 55-63.

Vitamin Supplements for Baby Boomers

The oldest ‘Baby boomers’ are now turning 65! Among other major life changes, such as retirement and Medicare enrollment, those aged 60+ years have nutrition needs different from those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s.

Nutrients of Concern

Those aged 65+ are at increased risk for nutrient deficiencies, particularly water (yes, water is an essential nutritient), vitamin 12 and folate; vitamin D, calcium and zinc. As you age, your organ function begins to decline, resulting in an increased risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure. A healthy, nutrient-dense diet is essential. As your body’s own natural antioxidant system becomes less effective, you need to increase your intake of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin E and C).

General Dietary Supplement Criteria – Choosing a Vitamin

Among those MVIs marketed toward the ’50+ crowd’ look for options that offer 100% of the RDA or AI (recommendation) for vitamins C, E, B12, B6 and folic acid, as well as for the minerals selenium and magnesium. Many MVIs fall short on magnesium. Look for one that contains at least 100 mg (25 to 33% of your daily requirment). There is evidence that vitamin K may be important  for older Americans, so look for a MVI that offers about 25 mcg (except if you take Coumadin or another blood thinning medication). Vitamin K interferes with blood-thinning medications. The nutrients mentioned above are especially important for bone health, heart health and energy metabolism.

Potassium and Other Minerals

Choosing foods rich in potassium, such as many fruits and vegetables, is important because potassium (along with calcium and magnesium) may reduce blood pressure and potassium is a major mineral, needed in large quantities. While widely found in the food supply, it is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the U.S. Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed and used by your body when obtained from whole foods. However, if you wish to take a multi-vitamin/mineral (MVI) supplement, choose wisely.

Vitamin D and Calcium

In most cases, you shouldn’t rely on your MVI dietary supplement to meet your needs for calcium and vitamin D. There isn’t enough room in the pill itself for the calcium required for most Americans. Choose a calcium + vitamin D supplement and take it separate from a multi-vitamin. The recommended dosage is at least 1,000 mg calcium and 400 I.U. vitamin D but most research has indicated that the vitamin D recommendation may be too low, especially if you do not get adequate sun (UVB) exposure; about 15 minutes per day of direct sunlight.

Vitamin A and Iron

Vitamin A intakes in the elderly are generally below the current standard of 800 – 1,000μg per day. Despite these low intakes, liver stores of vitamin A are well preserved with advancing age so supplementation would be more detrimental in elderly persons than in younger persons because of a diminished ability to clear this vitamin from the body, leading to potential toxicity (hypervitaminosis A). Nowadays, the majority of the vitamin A in most MVIs is in the form of beta-carotene (about 75% of the vitamin A), a vitamin A precursor found in abundance in your orange and dark green veggies and some fruits. In addition, MVIs designed for this age typically contain little or no iron as this mineral can be stored in the liver. Iron overload is known clincally as hemochromatosis.