Learn More About Bioflavonoids
What are bioflavonoids?
Bioflavonoids are among the most interesting, and maddeningly diverse, compounds found in nature. Found in thousands of different species, from onions to pomegranates, Bioflavonoids (from a Latin word that means "blue") are classified as polyphenols, plant metabolites that often lend plants their characteristic colors.
Their possible effects on human health are as profound as they are numerous, and for that reason can only be dealt with in the most general fashion here.
What are bioflavonoids used for?
The famed discoverer of vitamin C, Hungarian scientist Albert Szent-Györgyi, was the first to take note of the potential benefits of biolflavonoids back in the nineteen-thirties. He observed that administration of bioflavonoids (then known as "vitamin P," a term that has since fallen into disuse) appeared to strengthen capillaries and to reduce the effects of scurvy. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the upheaval of World War and the subsequent Soviet occupation of Hungary, his work in this area was largely neglected for several decades.
But by the nineteen-seventies a number of researchers had observed the same capillary-strengthening effect, and soon millions of people worldwide were using bioflavonoids such as citrus-derived hesperidin and buckwheat-derived rutin to reduce varicose veins as well as hemorrhoids. Bioflavoinds are not a cure for these conditions, but much research as well as anecdotal testimony suggests that they have considerable benefit in terms of reducing the tendency of capillaries to stretch out of shape, like a rubber band that has lost its elasticity.
Another hugely popular use of bioflavonoids is in the area of allergies. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in such foods as strawberries and red onions, appears to inhibit inflammation and reduce the release of histamine, thereby providing symptomatic relief from hayfever and other forms of seasonal discomfort, as well as from asthma. (Indeed, one bioflavonoid, derived from the Egyptian plant Khellia, has been refined, patented, and marketed as an asthma drug called Cromlyn.
Needless to say, one of the most debilitating kinds of inflammation is arthritis. A particularly potent bioflavonoid, anthocyanins, found in concentrated form in grape seed extracts and pine bark-derived Pycnogenol, has been reported to promote greater joint mobility and decreased pain in many people who have this condition.
Nutritional researchers now devote a great deal of study to anthocyanins and quercetin for their potential as anti-cancer agents, since they show some signs of benefit both in the prevention and (although this is quite speculative) even the treatment of certain cancers, including those of the breast and prostate. Other particularly important Bioflavonoids that may have a "chemopreventive" effect include the powerful catchecins found in abundance in green tea, a beverage once popular only in Asia but now also consumed widely in the West.
Green tea’s Bioflavoids may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing lipid peroxidation (that is, free radical damage to fatty tissue), reducing cholesterol, and exerting an anti-hypertensive effect in those with high blood pressure. It should also be noted that some researchers have found evidence that these particular bioflavonoids may have a weight-loss effect due to their up-regulation of metabolic rate in both rats and humans via a process called thermogenesis.
Another Bioflavonoid that may help to control weight is silymarin, found in herb milk thistle. According to work carried out in this area, silymarin administered to diabetics and the obese can be said to reduce both their insulin and glucose levels. High amounts of insulin and blood sugar in the bloodstream are not only unhealthy but can also contribute to weight gain.
Of course, the Bioflavonoid silymarin is best known for its apparent healing effect on the liver, thanks to the way this nutrient boosts levels of a hepato-protective enzyme, glutathione. Many people suffering from the lingering effects of Hepatitis C and excessive alcohol intake report that silymarin can be helpful, although more study in this area would useful.
In the long run, the most important benefit of Bioflavonoids may be their most paradoxical: Evidence suggests that the human body regards these substances as foreign, and when it detects them it mounts a defense against them, boosting production of endogenous (that is, produced by the body) antioxidant compounds that have the job of neutralizing them. In other words, they trick us into making substances that are good for us.
This may be the mechanism behind the apparent anti-aging effects of the Bioflavonoid-rich compound resveratrol. Harvard researchers several years ago administered resveratrol to rats and obtained an increase in their life expectancy of roughly a third. Similar experiments have been conducted on worms and fish, with quite similar results. Of course, no one knows if resveratrol will have the same effect on humans (life span studies in people take decades to complete, obviously), although data do exist that indicate that this Bioflavonoid may have many benefits for the cardiovascular system and the endocrine system.
Resveratrol also may act as an unusually potent aromatase inhibitor, so that it enables the body to detoxify itself of excess estrogen, a problem experienced by many women as well as by aging men. An even more promising bioflavonoid in this area is Chrysin, a nutrient that some say is particularly useful for those with low testosterone levels as well as by athletes wishing to maximize fitness gains in a safe, non-druglike fashion.
How are Bioflavoids taken?
One of the best methods of getting Bioflavonoids is to make an effort to eat lots of fresh produce, including darkly pigmented fruits, berries, and vegetables.
However, since evidence appears so strong for their many benefits, those wishing to include more Bioflavonoids of whatever type in their supplement regimen usually take them in the form of capsules or tablets. Also, makers of vitamin C pills and powders often fortify their products with moderate amounts of citrus Bioflavonoids.
Are Bioflavonoids safe?
Those with pre-existing health conditions or who are on prescription drugs should always discuss the use of Bioflavonoids or any other supplement with their health provider before taking them.
Because some Bioflavonoids may have blood-thinning effects, those who take medicines such as Coumadin will want to be especially careful. Otherwise Bioflavonoids generally appear to be quite safe.
And remember—you can get the best Bioflavonoid supplements at the best prices from A1Supplements.com!