Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Immune support after high exercise stress

As we previously discussed, being physically fit can reduce the incidence and severity of colds. However it is also well known that endurance athletes become susceptible to infections/ sickness due to the reduction in the activity of their immune system from the stress of this sort of exercise program. That is when you perform long, hard efforts repeatedly, your immune system is depressed. So if you are an endurance athlete, a marathoner, duathalon/ triathalon, participant, or a long distance cyclist then you might want to consider supplementation with colostrum, Vitamin C and/or glutamine.

Colostrum: Recent research has shown that supplementation with bovine source colostrum after intense endurance exercise will improve the immune system. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition by Dr.’s Glen Davidson and Bethany Diment show that if you supplement with bovine source colostrum for a period of 4 weeks your immune system is fortified and responds better under these stressful situations.

Vitamin C: In other studies by Dr. Davidson, he and his team have shown that supplementation with Vitamin C (1500 mg) prior to endurance exercise will help reduce oxidative stress on immune cells. This may assist in maintaining the immune system activity. Further there is strong broad based evidence that the consumption of a carbohydrate beverage before, during and after a strenuous workout or event will support your immune system.

Glutamine: The Canadian Natural Products Directorate has a monograph on glutamine which supports its use as for immune system support.

So if you are into strenuous exercise and want to help your immune system be at its best, you may want to consider a multi-facet supplementation plan that includes colostrum as well as glutamine and Vitamin C. As well, remember to keep your carbohydrate levels up during your exercise session to further help your immune system.

Visit for all of your colostrum, vitamin and glutamine needs.

  • Glen Davison and Bethany C. Diment (2010). Bovine colostrum supplementation attenuates the decrease of salivary lysozyme and enhances the recovery of neutrophil function after prolonged exercise. British Journal of Nutrition, 103, pp 1425-1432.
  • Glen Davison and Michael Gleeson (2005). Infl uence of Acute Vitamin C and/or Carbohydrate Ingestion on Hormonal, Cytokine, and Immune Responses to Prolonged Exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2005, 15, 465-479.
  • Glen Davison and Michael Gleeson (2006). The effect of 2 weeks vitamin C supplementation on immunoendocrine responses to 2.5 h cycling exercise in man. Eur J Appl Physiol (2006) 97: 454–461.
  • Glen Davison and Michael Gleeson (2007). The effects of acute vitamin C supplementation on cortisol, interleukin-6, and neutrophil responses to prolonged cycling exercise. European Journal of Sport Science, March 2007; 7(1): 15-25.
  • Glen Davison Michael Gleeson and Shaun Phillips (2007). Antioxidant Supplementation and Immunoendocrine Responses to Prolonged Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 39 (4) pp 645-652.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exercise regularly and beat cold season

Research contained in the current edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that regular exercise will reduce the occurrence and severity of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.  The study followed 1000 subjects over a 12 week period of Fall and Winter.  Those who exercise 5 or more days a week for 20 minutes or more (ie those who described their activity level as equivalent to a brisk walk vs sedentary individuals who exercise 1 time or less per week), had a 40% reduction in days sick as well as the severity of illness was reduced by 30% in the fit group.  The authors postulate that the effectiveness of exercise is only short lived and therefore it is necessary to get regular daily exercise to reap the benefit.

So if you are thinking of getting into that exercise program, here is one more reason to help spur you on. Or, if you are on the fitness bandwagon already, this is more good news regarding the benefits to your health and well being to help get you through your next workout (and cold season).


Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults, David C Nieman, Dru A Henson, Melanie D Austin, Wei Sha ; Br J Sports Med: 1 November 2010.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking to gain weight? Make your own Gainers using your favourite protein

Because the best weight gainer for you is one that meets your specific daily caloric goals, it can be confusing to decide which one to purchase. For example, one person may require a gainer with higher protein levels while another may be reaching protein levels but having trouble reaching their daily calorie goals. Combine this with the added decisions on brands and flavours and the various options and goals can be overwhelming.

That’s why we believe that one of the best approaches for a hardgainer is to make your own gainer. It’s easy and can be easily adjusted to meet your requirements or flavour preferences. We’ve included some suggested recipes below at various caloric levels. We’d love to hear your suggestions as well!


Note: Combine all recipes in a blender and drink immediately. 

1000 calorie recipe
2 cups 2% Milk
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 banana
1 serving DynaWhey Chocolate-Banana

Calories = 1030
Carbs = 92g
Fat = 47.5g (10g sat)
Protein = 59g


900 calorie recipe
2 cups skim Milk
3/4 cup oatmeal
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
1.5 serving DynaWhey Chocolate Peanut Butter

Calories = 880
Carbs = 91g
Fat = 23g
Protein = 77g


800 calorie recipe
2 cups skim Milk
1 cup uncooked oats (use a coffee grinder to make it smaller if you want)
1 tbsp honey
2 servings DynaWhey Chocolate Banana

Calories = 805
Carbs = 97g
Fat = 8g
Protein = 86g


700 calorie recipe
2 cups skim Milk
1 cup oatmeal
1 tbsp flax oil
2 servings DynaWhey Strawberry-Kiwi or Orange-Vanilla

Calories = 720
Carbs = 74g
Fat = 13g
Protein = 76g

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New study: Milk protein works better than commercial carbohydrate sports drinks for rehydration

If you are like me when you exercise, you sweat, a lot! Rehydration is important if you are in typical training mode, but this is critical in multi-event situations (ie triathalons, duathalons or races where there are more than one event on the same day). In these situations, the second performance can be significantly impacted by the water loss during the previous event.

The key is not the quantity of rehydration fluid you take in between events but if the water is retained. A recent paper published by James Lewis and coworkers in the British Journal of Nutrition indicates what is important is to have the correct balance of ingredients. They found that if the number of calories is the same between beverages that the beverage that contained milk proteins provided better retention of fluid and thus rehydration was more effective than carbohydrate-based alternatives ("gram for gram milk protein is more effective at augmenting fluid retention than carbohydrates”).

So what is the magic formula?

According to this study they used a formula for a 750 ml (24 oz) water bottle of
18.75g protein
30g carbohydrate (in this study 25.1g glucose(dextrose) and 3.75g maltodextrin)
0.3g sodium chloride (table salt)
0.2g potassium chloride (light salt)
0.6g fat(from the milk protein)

How can you get this formula easily?

¾ scoop of your favourite DynaWhey protein
1 ½ tablespoons of honey (a great source of carbs and some micro nutrients)
A pinch of table salt and salt light (to help replace electrolytes lost in your sweat)

If you use juices, be aware that most juices contain a significant amount of sugar, typically 10 to 12 %. This may swamp out the effect of the protein. Therefore we recommend using a measured amount of sugar or honey to ensure you get the right ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

How much should you drink after exercise?

The paper indicates that 1.5 times your body weight loss. It can reasonably be assumed the weight loss during exercise is fluid loss due to sweat.

There are other papers that indicate that post exercise protein is also important for a number of other reasons such as protein rebuilding, and energy metabolism. Whey protein is a great source of full spectrum amino acids, such as the branched chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine. Work by a research group at Loughborough including Dr. Susan Sherrifs indicate that drinking beverages that include milk work equal to or better than a commercial carbohydrate sports drinks for athletic performance.

So get out there and have fun sweating, but rehydrate with the right solution. Visit for all of your protein needs.


James, L.J. et al., 2010. Effect of milk protein addition to a carbohydrate-electrolyte rehydration solution ingested after exercise in the heat. British Journal of Nutrition. 10.1017/S0007114510003545.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What You Need to Know About Basic Breast Health

By RoseMarie Pierce, BSc (Pharm)

A plant-based diet, exercise, antioxidant supplements and staying lean are all necessary for healthy breasts.

Breast cancer is, by far, the most common cancer among North American women. There seems to be a link between this high incidence of breast cancer and the affluent lifestyle of Western countries. Diet is a big factor in this equation.

The development of fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer may be connected to an increased estrogen to progesterone ratio. During each menstrual cycle there is a recurring hormonal stimulation of the breast. In some women a significant inflammatory process occurs. The increasing amount of estrogen instructs the breast cells to work fast, multiplying the chances of mutation.

Tufts Diet Nutrition Letter, 1996, reports, "relatively heavy 50-some-thing women who have gained more than five kilograms since they were in their 40s have about triple the risk of breast cancer." Fat is thought to influence the metabolism and secretion of hormones, notably estrogen.

Cancer-causing pesticides, industrial chemicals from the environment and chemicals on (and in) food tend to accumulate in fatty tissue. These chemicals (called xenoestrogens) have estrogen-like properties and mimic the action of estrogen in the breast.

The incidence of breast cancer among vegetarian North American women is 20 to 40 per cent lower than among women in general. Vegetarian women have a lower concentration of estrogen in their blood and have more estrogen excreted in the feces than non-vegetarian women. Vegetarian women typically consume less fat and more fibre than non-vegetarians do. Fibre is a nutritional adhesive that carries estrogen along through the intestines and facilitates the fecal excretion of estrogen.

What You Can Do

Maintaining or recovering breast health can involve many lifestyle modifications and even a dietary program.  Four hours of exercise a week can reduce estrogen levels in the blood and cut breast cancer by 36 to 72 percent says J. Glaspy, MD of the UCLA Oncology Center. Both benign breast symptoms (breast pain, lumps or cysts) and breast cancer would benefit from the following supplements.
  • Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement containing high levels of natural vitamin E or add vitamin E (400 to 800 international units) to your daily health program.
  • Studies have shown that many women benefit by taking the antioxidants vitamin E and A and selenium. Antioxidant nutrients are very important. They combat dangerous free radicals and help to maintain a strong immune system. Take 25,000 IU of a carotene complex and add extra lycopene (a carotenoid found in tomatoes that protects against cancer of the reproductive system). Another valuable antioxidant is alpha-lipoic acid, which acts synergistically with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamin C. Lipoic acid exhibits favorable test results in studies of breast cancer treatment.
  • Our bodies do not make essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). We must get these oils from our diet in the form of fish oils, nut and seed oils, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil or in a capsule supplement. When these essential fatty acids are low in our diet or not ingested in the right proportions, it causes the production of troublesome prostaglandins (a hormone-like complex fatty acid) which can promote tumor growth. Essential fatty acids reduce breast inflammation and swelling during PMS. Two to four teaspoonsful daily of the oil blends or three to six capsules of essential oils can provide the right proportions of the essential fatty acids for breast protection against cancer.
  • In recent studies, co-enzyme Q10 has been shown to cause regression of breast tumors and prevent metastasis (spread of cancer) in some women. The dosage used in the studies was between 90 and 340 milligrams daily.
  • Soy isoflavones help to metabolize estrogen and have anticancer properties. Isoflavones exhibit weak estrogenic activity and bind to estrogen receptor sites (in breast and other tissues), reducing the effects of the much more potent estrogens and xenoestrogens. The best sources are organic dried beans, soy products, red clover, sage, garlic, fennel and licorice root. Isoflavones can also be taken in a supplement of 50 to 200 mg daily. Red clover is also a blood cleanser. There are many commercially available herbal remedies containing red clover and other blood cleansers that strengthen the immune system. Herbs, such as vitex (chasteberry) or red raspberry leaves, have hormonal balancing properties that can restore the estrogen-progesterone ratio.

Source: alive #210, April 2000 (

Monday, September 27, 2010

Timing is everything when it comes to supplementation

By Phil Wagner, M.D.

Despite a variety of training and nutritional philosophies, most experts agree on one need; the provision of protein and carbohydrates around or after a workout. Among several benefits, this supplementation can allow the body to increase strength, muscle size, restore energy sources like sugar, and promote greater fat loss. Most of the brands available are in liquid form, allowing a quicker consumption when you may not feel the most need for solid food. However, what is more important than the brand you use is the actual timing of this supplementation.

The majority of research and recommendations have centered on taking a protein/carbohydrate supplement after a workout to replenish and recover. However, you can adjust your supplement timing several ways to maximize this opportunity, specifically taking advantage of the pre-workout window. A 2001 study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch compared subjects consuming protein/carbohydrate supplements in random order, either immediately before or after exercise. The results indicated that muscle protein synthesis was significantly greater in the PRE supplement group, primarily because of an increased delivery of amino acids, the building blocks for the protein found in muscles.

So by providing a supplement with protein (made up of amino acids), you can increase the levels of these building blocks in the blood, countering the normal muscle breakdown that occurs during exercise. The carbohydrate in the supplement will stimulate insulin release, which is another stimulant for muscle protein synthesis, further increasing muscle growth and recovery.

In a controlled environment like this study, it is best to consume a protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately before and after, but you can tailor this protocol to your situation, as it is rarely controlled. For example, you can consume the majority of the supplement before your workout if you have had limited time in the day for meals due to sport practices, classes or other activities. This quick liquid form doesn't require as much metabolic energy to digest and won't sit in your stomach to cause discomfort during your workout. However, some of our athletes train early in the morning and have just eaten a big breakfast before their workout. Therefore, the focus can be shifted to more of a postworkout supplement.

The best ratio is to consume 15 grams of whey protein isolate or hydrosylate for every 50 pounds of body weight, making sure to include carbohydrates anywhere from the same amount to 4x depending on the form of exercise and your weight gain/loss goals. Our balanced athletes usually consume twice as much carbohydrate as protein in their recovery shakes.

So go ahead; start tailoring your recovery shake timing before you start looking for the next new supplement.

Dr. Wagner is the director of SPARTA Performance Science in Menlo Park. For more info, visit


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Study shows you can pair protein with psyllium fibre and reduce hunger

A recently published paper by Dr. Leila J. Karhunen, and colleagues at the Food and Health Research Centre, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland found that a diet which is high in both soy protein and soluble fiber from psyllium helped reduce glucose and insulin spikes after consumption.

Though this research was performed using soy protein, we speculate that similar or better results would be had with whey protein as well, since it is a nutritionally valuable protein source. This reduction in the spikes after the consumption of the meal would be useful in maintaining a relative energy balance after eating rather than the typical intense energy spike followed by the sudden drop. The data from this study showed a much less dramatic rise and fall in insulin post consumption vs a high glycaemic food such as white wheat bread or the low fiber diets, regardless of the protein levels consumed.

Get your psyllium fibre and whey protein today at


Karhunen et al., 2010. A Psyllium Fiber-Enriched Meal Strongly Attenuates Postprandial Gastrointestinal Peptide Release in Healthy Young Adults. J. Nutr. 140: 737-744.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cut Through the Hype: Creatine Monohydrate

You know the drill: You open a muscle or fitness magazine and it’s the same old thing: Pages and pages of expensive advertising all flogging the latest supplement with claims about “hyper-compound diffusion” or some “psychoneuro” complex. Every single one of these ads claims to be the latest scientific breakthrough. Almost of the time though, it is the work of marketers, not scientists.

At iWinDirect, we aim to cut through the hype. Why pay for expensive products that are designed to maximize profit rather than maximize your results? And besides, who do you think pays for all of those fancy ads? That’s right: The consumer.

So we’ll start cutting through the hype, first with a look at Creatine Monohydrate. Few would deny that creatine is one of the most effective performance-enhancing supplements that you can buy, so why muddle everything with a bunch of add-ons that are either scientifically questionable or ineffective at the low levels many companies decide to toss in there?

What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine is a nutrient found naturally in the human body, where it is crucial to muscular contraction. It is formed in the liver by a metabolic pathway that requires the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. It can also be obtained from foods such as red meat, fish, and chicken. In the human body, almost all creatine is found in muscle cells.

When taken as an oral supplement, creatine increases the amount of energy available to working muscles, meaning that muscles can work harder and longer. If you’re a recreational or competitive athlete, or if you use your muscles at work, then you can benefit from creatine supplementation.

To understand how creatine functions as a performance-enhancing supplement, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the energetics of muscle contraction. Each individual muscle fibre contains two types of filaments: thick filaments and thin filaments. The contraction of muscle is due to the shortening of individual muscle fibres as these filaments slide together. Energy is required to slide the filaments together and cause muscle contraction, and this energy must come in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the muscle cell. Its unique chemical structure allows it to store a great deal of energy, and to transfer this energy to other molecules, which provides the energy that drives many metabolic processes of the body. Muscle contraction occurs as ATP provides the energy needed to pull together the filaments of the contracting muscle. The energy stored in ATP is transferred to myosin, resulting in energized myosin and ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), as outlined below.

ATP + muscle ==> ADP + energized muscle

The energizing of muscle must occur many times, using up a number of ATP molecules, in order to fully contract a muscle. The pool of available ATP in the muscle cell is very rapidly depleted, however, and new ATP must be produced for muscular contraction to continue (the ATP pool contains only enough energy for about 1-2 seconds). A deficit of ATP in contracting muscle results in fatigue and decreased strength, power, and endurance. The fastest way in which ATP is regenerated in the muscle cell is through the high-energy molecule creatine phosphate (CrP). This molecule, which comprises about two thirds of the creatine found in muscle cells, rapidly regenerates ATP from ADP, as outlined below. The ATP produced is then available to fuel further muscle contraction.

Creatine phosphate + ADP ==> Creatine + ATP

Published reports estimate that the pool of creatine phosphate will be depleted within approximately 10 seconds during high intensity muscular contraction. Increasing the amount of available creatine phosphate increases the rate at which ATP is made available to contracting muscle cells.

Oral supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate has been proven in scientific trials and studies to increase the amount of creatine and phosphocreatine in muscle cells. This increase in PCr allows the muscles to work harder and longer, making Creatine Monohydrate an effective ergogenic supplement.

If you have any doubt about the science behind the use of creatine monohydrate, note that the extremely strict Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate has even reviewed the research and concluded that the following claims can be made on this amazing compound:
• Increases fat-free/body/muscle/lean mass/size when used in conjunction with a resistance training regimen
• Improves strength/power/performance in repetitive bouts of brief, highly-intense physical activity (e.g. sprints, jumping, resistance training)

Let’s see the latest “scientifically engineered” or “concentrated” creatine try that.

Visit for your creatine requirements. Available in powder and capsule form.

  1. Balsom, et al., 1994. Creatine in Humans with Special Reference to Creatine Supplementation. Sports Med 18:268-280.
  2. Balsom, et al., 1995. Skeletal muscle metabolism during short duration high-intensity exercise: influence of creatine supplementation. Acta Physiol Scand 154:303-310.
  3. Bemben MG, Bemben DA, Loftiss DD, Knehans AW. 2001. Creatine supplementation during resistance training in college football athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 33(10):1667-1673.
  4. Brannon, et al., 1997. Effects of creatine loading and training on running performance and biochemical properties of rat skeletal muscle. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:489-495.
  5. Brose A, Parise G, Tarnopolsky MA. 2003. Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Science and Medical Science 58(1):11-19.
  6. Casey, et al., 1996. Creatine ingestion favorably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 271:E31-E37.
  7. Clark, 1998. Creatine: a review of its nutritional applications in sport. Nutrition 14:322-324.
  8. Dash AK, Sawhney A. 2002. A simple LC method with UV detection for the analysis of creatine and creatinine and its application to several creatine formulations. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 29(5):939-945.
  9. Earnest, et al., 1995. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiol Scand 153:207-209.
  10. Earnest, et al., 1997. Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Ingestion on Intermediate Duration Anaerobic Treadmill Running to Exhaustion. J Strength and Cond Res 11:234-238.
  11. Ekblom, 1996. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance. Am J Sports Med 24:S38-S39.
  12. Engelhardt, et al., 1998. Creatine supplementation in endurance sports. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30:1123-1129.
  13. Feldman, 1999. Creatine: A dietary supplement and ergogenic aid. Nutr Rev 57:45-50.
  14. Green, et al., 1996. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. Am J Physiol 271:E821-E826.
  15. Greenhaff, et al., 1993. The influence of oral creatine supplementation on muscle phosphocreatine synthesis following intense contraction in man. J Physiol 467:75P.
  16. Greenhaff, et al., 1994. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle phosphocreatine resynthesis. Am J Physiol 266:E725-E730.
  17. Hespel P, Eijnde BO, van Leemputte M. 2002. Opposite actions of caffeine and creatine on muscle relaxation time in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 92(2):513-518.
  18. Kelly and Jenkins, 1998. Effect of Oral Creatine Supplementation on Near-Maximal Strength and Repeated Sets of High-Intensity Bench Press Exercise. J Strength and Cond Res 12:109-115.
  19. Mathews and van Holde, 1991. Biochemistry. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. New York.
  20. Maughan, 1995. Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance. Int J Sports Nutr 5:94-101.
  21. Noonan, et al., 1998. Effects of Varying Dosages of Oral Creatine Relative to Fat Free Body Mass on Strength and Body Composition. J Strength and Cond Res 12:104-108.
  22. Okudan N, Gökbel H. 2005. The effects of creatine supplementation on performance during the repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 45(4):507-512.
  23. Steenge, et al., 1998. Stimulatory effect of insulin on creatine accumulation in human skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol 275:E974-E979.
  24. Vandenberghe, et al., 1997. Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. J Appl Physiol 83:2055-2063.
  25. Van Leemputte, et al., 1999. Shortening of muscle relaxation time after creatine loading. J Appl Physiol 86:840-844.
  26. Volek, et al., 1997. Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise. J Am Diet Assoc 97:765-770.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What is an NPN and what does it mean?

In Canada, natural health products (NHPs) are regulated by a government agency called the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD). For a company to legally sell or distribute a product that is classified as an NHP in Canada, it must apply to the NHPD for a product license, also called an NPN.

First, what is the Canadian definition of an NHP?

From the regulations:
"natural health product" means a substance set out in Schedule 1 or a combination of substances in which all the medicinal ingredients are substances set out in Schedule 1, a homeopathic medicine or a traditional medicine, that is manufactured, sold or represented for use in
(a) the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder or abnormal physical state or its symptoms in humans;
(b) restoring or correcting organic functions in humans; or
(c) modifying organic functions in humans, such as modifying those functions in a manner that maintains or promotes health.

Schedule 1 is a listing which sets out what products/ ingredients qualify as NHPs.

So there is a very well defined set of regulations and definitions which allow the general public and manufacturers to understand what qualifies as an NHP. Also whether a product is a food or an NHP is defined on the basis of how it is to be used. NHPs are typically sold in a format that allows them to be consumed in measured or controlled amounts (doses). If a product is sold in a particular food format (for example, a beverage) that lends itself to dosing (for example if it is sold in single dosage units or it is sold with a measure that indicates it to be consumed in controlled amounts) this is one indication that the product is an NHP. Also the product must make some form of claim as how it would affect the person’s well being as stated above.

Once a company determines the product is an NHP and what it is that they want to claim the product can do, they are now ready to start the license process. There are 3 options (assuming this discussion is limited to typical NHPs and excludes homeopathic medicines):
1. Follow a monograph as set out by NHPD. Monographs are technical documents that define what the ingredient(s) are, what they can be claimed to do, the permitted dosages, and any cautions etc that should be on the label. These are formulated based upon an expert advisory committee and always contain a bibliography of the research used to come to their conclusions. Monographed products will be licensed rapidly by NHPD and must comply 100% with the monograph.
2. Another is termed precleared information. In this situation one may be combining ingredients which are all monographed but they are in a new or novel combination. Assuming the dosages etc meet the requirements set out in the evaluation guidance, then these as well should be licensed in a short time period of less than 60 days.
3. Finally are products where all medicinal ingredients are not found in the compendium of monographs and the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) are supported by research submitted by the company. In this case, the product will be evaluated by experts within NHPD and this may take a significant amount of time to be licensed depending upon how well the company has formulated its argument and the information provided to support the argument. The time to receive a license may be up to a year or possibly more.

So as you can see in Canada NHPs are well governed by regulation and if all products are assessed in this manner then you the public should be able to have confidence that the products that you take should produce outcomes as expected and advertised.

As of August 27, 2010 the NHPD has entered the final stage of the development of the licensing program. This final stage will be expected to clear all back logged products and to start the actual enforcement of licensing. There is a 6 month transition period, meaning that after February 2011 the NHPD will be in a position to start to put pressure on manufacturers and distributors to remove products from the market that do not have a license number.

Also as an interim measure, the NHPD will allow companies to market products that have been submitted for a license but are still in the assessment phase. To get this permission a product application must have been in the assessment process for 180 days, it must also only be marketed to an adult population. If it meets these basic properties it will be given what is called an exemption number. All exempt products will be listed on the NHPD website. So if you are uncertain if a product that does not contain an NPN is legal for sale you can check this listing. If it is not on this list, it is not a product that is permitted for sale in Canada. We would expect this list to start in February 2011.

This evaluation and licensing regime is one that many other countries in the world are looking at closely and is the first of its kind. Based upon this process, it does mean that product innovation may be somewhat hindered but at the same time you the consumer can feel assured that any product that has an NPN license has met the basic quality requirements, has been produced in a licensed GMP facility, is backed by credible research findings, should be effective and is safe to use.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How much chondroitin is really in your joint supplement?

In many joint supplements, there is a combination of three ingredients: MSM, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. MSM and Glucosamine are very easy to test and the test results are generally not in dispute. However this is not the same for chondroitin sulfate.

Why? Chondroitin sulfate (chondroitin) is a naturally occurring polymer found in most animals. A polymer is a chain of repeating molecules. These can be one molecule repeated over and over again, such as starch, which is the sugar glucose attached in a long branched chain. In chondroitin, there are 2 molecules that are attached to each other that then repeat over and over again in a long straight (unbranched) chain. The repeating unit in chondroitin is one where one molecule is always glucose plus a molecule that is glucose with 2 other groups attached. The placement of these other groups leads to the differences in the main unit. In general there are 3 different types of these 2 unit molecules and this is where things get a bit more complicated. Certain animals put these 3 unit into the chondroitin chains in a unique way. This can be detected in some test methods to indicate if the product is from a certain animal, ie shark, bovine, porcine, avian. The length of the chain can be as many as 100 of these units on average. It is because of this variety that testing for chondroitin is so difficult.

There are in general 2 ways to test for chondroitin. One of these methods cannot tell the difference between the animal type (species) of chondroitin while the other can. Because the animals make the chondroitin chain with slightly different lengths, it is another complicating factor in the analysis.

All this is to say that no method of testing the quantity of chondroitin is absolutely correct. It is done in comparison to a standard chondroitin, but again the quantity of chondroitin in this standard must be agreed upon since it depends upon which of these test methods is used in how the testing methods might see this chondroitin.

The current USP (United States Pharmacopeia) uses a method which detects the reaction of a certain chemical with one of the molecules attached to the glucose back bone. This method is often used to confirm the level of chondroitin in a product, but there are certain situations where this method does not work well and provides low results if the quality of the chondroitin is not high enough.

The other method uses a fairly complicated and uses a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC). First the chondroitin is treated with enzymes that can break down the chondroitin to its simple 2 molecule components. This takes some very careful work to ensure that the enzymes work to completion. Then the unknown material is compared again to an agreed standard of chondroitin to determine the quantity. In this case it is complicated in that your standard must be from the same species as the test product. If the test product is a combination of more than one species, then this test does not work well or gives inaccurate results.

The bottom line is that no matter which method is used, the outcome is based upon a general agreement as to what it is measuring. So as a user of chondroitin, it is difficult to know if first the product you are using was even tested for chondroitin. If it was tested, it is difficult to know how well the test was performed or which testing procedure was followed.

As a manufacturer, we are committed to producing high quality products. For this reason, we have standardized one test method (the generally accepted USP method) and we test all finished products containing chondroitin to ensure that we are delivering what our labels indicate that we deliver. We use only the highest quality chondroitin. Another reason to trust iWinDirect.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Buyer Beware: The importance of an NHPD Site License

The US Food and Drug Administration has alerted the public in regards to spiking of nutritional supplements with pharmaceuticals and the like.

or the Health Canada site for warnings:

So it is buyer beware. You need to take caution with what you are taking in terms of nutritional supplements and natural products. There are many products in both Canada and the United States which have been recalled for just these reasons.

So how do you protect yourself?

First and foremost is to purchase from a reputable supplier. The next is to look for the natural product license number on the label. This tells you that the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) in Canada has assessed the product and the company has been granted a license to sell this product based upon the NHPD reviewing and agreeing to the safety and the effectiveness of the product for the claims being made on the product. A company is required to be able to provide the NHPD with proof that they are testing the product according to the requirements set out in their license. Therefore, you should feel confident that products with an NPN are doing what they say and contain no harmful contaminants. Manufactures of NPN products must also have a site license which is issued to them by the NHPD after a though review of documentation to provide evidence that the company follows strict Good Manufacturing Practices as set out by the NHPD.

As part of its commitment to the safety of its products tests, Direct NutriSciences tests every single lot of product produced to ensure that it passes the requirements for microbiological safety at a bare minimum. The cause of many food and other product safety recalls is the presence of harmful bacteria or microbiological contaminants.

At Direct NutriSciences, we recently renewed our site license and again met – or exceeded - all requirements. Though food products (such as protein powders) do not require an NPN, many of our supplements have met the requirements and received an NPN. We are committed to have more in future. If there is interest, I will write a future post to give more details on what is the process around getting a product license.