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Organics: Fast Facts

OrganicJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

As consumer demand for organic foods and products continues to grow, some may wonder about the value of organically grown vs. conventionally grown foods. There are explanations as to why products labeled organic are more expensive, as well as good reasons to purchase organics when possible. For farmers, producers and processors, Organic Certification is a lofty goal. It is a stringent, expensive and time-consuming process that requires ongoing dedication and long-term commitment. While the process of gaining certification is fairly straightforward, not all applicants will qualify.

The organic certification process:

  • Compliance with National Organic Program (NOP) standards begins several years in advance, as crops must be grown on land that has been free from prohibited pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers for three years prior to certification.
  • During the application process, an organic certification agent will schedule a site inspection once compliance with NOP regulations and standards are met.
  • An intensive onsite inspection of production, handling and storage takes place to ensure there are no operating concerns and verify that no prohibited substances have come in contact with the product.
  • If there are no concerns and all fees have been paid, the products or company can be labeled and marketed as USDA Organic. Certification is valid indefinitely if all aspects of the organic operation are found in compliance with organic regulations during extensive yearly inspections and annual renewal fees are paid.

What the certified organic label means:

  • Per the Organic Foods Production Act, animal foods sold or labeled as organic are obtained from animals that consume hormone-free, Non-GMO organic feed. Animals are not given growth hormones or administered antibiotics as a disease preventive, a strategy utilized in conventionally raised meats. Medications are limited to vaccinations and antibiotics are used only to treat an illness. Disease is prevented through natural methods, such as clean housing, rotational grazing, healthy diet and required outdoor access.
  • Fruits and vegetables labeled organic are grown with natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost. Seeds and transplants are chemical-free. Weeds are controlled naturally by crop rotation, hand weeding, mulching or tilling. Pests are controlled by natural methods, such as birds, insects or traps, and with limited exception, naturally derived non-chemical pesticides.
  • Organically grown or raised food is not irradiated, as are most foods in the American diet, including meats, poultry, wheat, wheat flour, vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs.

Irradiation extends shelf life but does not sterilize foods. Per the Organic Consumers Association, irradiation creates free radicals, damages enzymes and depletes vitamins including A, C, E, K and B complex. Free radicals in combination with existing pesticides in conventionally grown foods creates toxins unique to irradiated foods, the health effects of which have not been studied or proven safe for long-term health — especially for babies and children.

  • Only food that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients may be labeled “100 percent organic”. Food made with “organic ingredients” must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients but cannot use the USDA Organic seal on the package. Only foods labeled 100 percent organic are guaranteed GMO-free.
  • To know if the fruits and vegetables you purchase are organic, look at the Price Look Up (PLU) sticker. Organic produce codes contain five-digits beginning the with number 9. Non-organic produce will have 4-digits. A five-digit PLU beginning with the number 8 indicates the item is genetically modified.

About GMO labeling:

  • The science isn’t clear and questions remain regarding any negative health effects of GMO foods. The 2018 USDA disclosure and labeling guidelines, or National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), falls short of transparency, keeping consumers, food producers and retailers in the dark about genetically engineered foods.
  • The new law exempts highly processed GMO-ingredients from labeling, allows the use of complex consumer-unfriendly QR (Quick Response) codes and sets GMO threshold for unintended presence of GMO ingredients at 5 percent, five times higher than the European Union’s 0.9 percent standard. Until January 2022, no information is required on packaging except a QR code, a URL (web address) or a phone number — for consumers who wish to know what’s in their food and have unlimited amounts of time to scan every item of packaged food they purchase or call the company to try to get answers.
  • As well, many genetically modified (GMO) foods are excepted from disclosure rules, including highly refined oils and soft drinks. Per the Grocery Manufacturers Association, excluding refined ingredients from disclosure rules could result in 78 percent fewer products being disclosed under the law.
  • The vast majority of corn, soy, canola and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered and often used as ingredients in processed foods. Meat, eggs and dairy from animals fed a GMO diet will not require disclosure.
  • Per a nationally representative survey by Consumer Reports, 92 percent of Americans believe GMO foods should be clearly labeled. While many GMO foods will not meet that standard, consumers can rely on voluntary non-GMO claims such as Non-GMO Project Verified, as well the USDA Certified Organic label.

Reasons to buy organic:

  • The debate over the nutrient quality of organically grown vs. conventionally grown foods continues. However, The Soil Association, which developed the world’s first organic standards in the 1960’s, notes that an organic diet increases the consumption of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. A 2007 study by Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found organic produce has 40 percent higher levels of some nutrients, including vitamin C, zinc and iron. A 2003 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that organically grown berries and corn have 58 percent more polyphenols—antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease—and up to 52 percent higher levels of vitamin C than those conventionally grown. Results of a 2016 European study show that levels of certain nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, were up to 50 percent higher in organic meat and milk than in conventionally raised versions.
  • There is no doubt, however, that choosing organic produce lowers your exposure to pesticides. Non-organic foods often contain harmful hormones and pesticides, that when consumed may result in neurological problems, allergies, asthma, infertility, certain cancers and many other conditions and symptoms, including low birth rate, disrupted hormone function and behavioral problems.
  • The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes the results of government pesticide testing and offers an annually-updated list to help guide consumers’ choices when seeking low-pesticide conventionally-grown produce, as well as avoidance of high-pesticide residue foods that are best to buy organic when possible. As well, EWG provides useful healthy eating guides to help consumers navigate food choices for healthier living.

References:
What’s Wrong With Food Irradiation. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/what%27s%20wrong%20with%20food%20irradiation.pdf
Organic Foods: What You Need to Know. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm/
DARKer Act: USDA’s new GMO labeling rule is an “insult to consumers.” https://non-gmoreport.com/articles/darker-act-usdas-new-gmo-labeling-law-is-an-insult-to-consumer-transparency/
Organic 101: Ensuring Organic Integrity through Inspections. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2014/02/26/organic-101-ensuring-organic-integrity-through-inspections
Learn How to Tell When “Organic” on a Label Is True. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/when-is-organic-really-organic-2538312
Soil Association Our Standards: https://www.soilassociation.org/our-standards/

Source Naturals® – Featured Brand

Source NaturalsSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

From 1982 to the present day, Source Naturals® maintains that targeted nutrition supports healthy equilibrium, wellbeing and vitality, bringing the body into a state of balance or homeostasis. Their philosophy remains that many health concerns arise out of metabolic structural or functional imbalances related to poor nutrition, stress, and environmental pollutants. As such, Source Naturals® chooses science-based nutrients and optimal potencies that work at the cellular level to support the Bio-Alignment™ of the body’s interdependent systems. With health and wellness their utmost priority, Source Naturals® formulates safe, superior quality, highly effective nutritional products that support a better quality of life when balanced with a healthy lifestyle.

Source Naturals® maintains complete control over all aspects of manufacturing, from commitment to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to raw material procurement, product formulation, quality testing and labeling. Multiple scientifically valid analytical tests are performed on every raw ingredient to ensure identity, purity and potency, as well as to confirm the absence of heavy metals and microbial contamination. Additionally, all finished formulations are tested before packaging to further assure label accuracy. Source Naturals® supports Vitamin Angels, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing worldwide child mortality among at-risk populations through the use of essential and foundational micronutrients.

To see more products from Source Naturals®, please visit professionalsupplementcenter.com

Wellness Formula®...Wellness Formula® Caps: This herbal defense complex is formulated to work at the cellular level to support multiple interdependent body systems that impact immune health. A multi-award winning supplement, Wellness Formula® contains a powerful blend of botanicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals designed to provide targeted support for a healthy stress response and boost overall wellbeing. Contains soy.

Zeaxanthin with...Zeaxanthin with Lutein: Found naturally in the macula of the eyes, zeaxanthin and lutein are powerful carotenoid antioxidants that protect against retinal free radical damage resulting from normal UV exposure on the aging eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin are sourced from marigold flower extract. Free of yeast, dairy, egg, gluten, soy, wheat, preservatives and artificial color, flavor and fragrance.

Ubiquinol CoQH 100mgUbiquinol CoQH 100 mg: This active form of the powerful antioxidant CoQ10 offers broad ranging benefits to the body’s defense, cardiovascular and energy systems. Easily utilized, ubiquinol benefits cell health by protecting against the harmful effects of free radicals. Contains soy.

Niacinamide B-3Niacinamide B-3: This timed release formula provides a gradual release of vitamin B3, the active form of niacin, in support of mitochondrial energy production, protein and fatty acid metabolism and fatty acid synthesis, as well as the formation of red blood cells and steroid hormones. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, corn, soy, sugar, starch, preservatives and artificial color, flavor and fragrance.

Do You CoQ10?

Do you CoQ10Jacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Vital for life and healthy functioning, enzymes are biological molecules, largely proteins, that significantly increase the rate of chemical reactions that take place within cells. Although cells may contain thousands of enzymes, enzymes are highly selective catalysts. Each enzyme has a very specific interaction that determines which of the many possible reactions take place within the cell. Were it not for these enzymatic catalysts, most biochemical reactions would be so slow that they would not occur under the mild temperature and pressure compatible with life. To put this in perspective, enzymes accelerate reaction rates by well over a million-fold. In the absence of enzymes, catalysis that can occur in fractions of seconds would otherwise take years.

In general, coenzymes are necessary to support the various biochemical functions of enzymes. Naturally synthesized by the body, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an important and effective fat-soluble cellular antioxidant that protects cell membranes, mitochondrial DNA and low density lipoproteins (LDL) from oxidative damage. CoQ10 is also known by its reduced form, ubiquinol; aptly named because it is found in virtually all bodily cells and is therefore ubiquitous within the body. It is a crucial participant in the chain of metabolic reactions that generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy for cellular processes. It stands to reason then that the highest concentrations of CoQ10 are found in high energy organs, including the heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys and adrenals.

Why supplement with CoQ10?

  • Tissue concentrations of CoQ10 have been found to gradually decline after age 30. The conversion of CoQ10 to ubiquinol becomes less efficient during mid-life.
  • The body must reduce CoQ10 to ubiquinol in order to be used for cellular energy production, necessary for optimal organ and bodily functions.
  • Decreased plasma concentrations have been observed in individuals with diabetes, cancer and congestive heart failure.
  • Those who are taking lipid lowering medications, or statins, are at a particular risk for deficiency because statins inhibit activity of an enzyme critical to CoQ10 biosynthesis, and thereby decrease circulating CoQ10.
  • For people on statin therapy, a low level of CoQ10 can contribute to statin-related side effects, such as fatigue, joint aches and muscle cramps.
  • As CoQ10 is found in high concentration in heart muscle cells, deficiency is associated with cardiovascular problems, including angina, arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure.
  • Problems with blood sugar regulation, periodontal health and stomach ulcers have also been associated with CoQ10 deficiency.
  • CoQ10 or ubiquinol supplementation may be especially helpful for any adult taking statin medications, those with a family history of heart disease and individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Although more studies are needed, CoQ10 supplementation shows promise as an inhibitor of lipoprotein oxidation in blood vessel walls and the formation of atherosclerosis.
  • For otherwise healthy individuals, CoQ10 taken as a preventive measure may help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Studies show that supplementation may significantly increase good HDL cholesterol even among those taking statins. As well, supplementation may lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers shown to be risk factors for cardiovascular and chronic diseases.
  • The heart requires a significant amount of cellular energy for both contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle. Lacking CoQ10 to produce ATP, heart function would be compromised.
  • CoQ10 has an excellent safety profile with no reports of significant adverse side effects. Individuals taking anticoagulant medications should consult a healthcare practitioner before taking CoQ10, as it may decrease the medication’s effectiveness.

Small amounts of CoQ10 may be obtained by foods found in a healthy diet, such as chicken, meat, fish, whole grains, olive oil and cruciferous vegetables. As CoQ10 is fat-soluble,  supplements should be taken with a meal containing fat for best absorption. Individuals over 40 years of age should consider the advantages of supplementing with the ubiquinol form of CoQ10, as it requires no further conversion by the body to be utilized. Adequate CoQ10 levels support the cellular energy the body needs to maintain overall health and wellbeing. Energy production associated with ubiquinol benefits whole body health by providing the cellular energy necessary for the heart and other organs to function at optimal levels.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other high quality Ubiquinol formulas:

Ubiquinol-QH 100 mgUbiquinol-QH 100 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic formula supplies ubiquinol, the active, readily-absorbable antioxidant form of CoQ10 in support of cellular energy production, antioxidant protection and cardiovascular health. Gluten free, Non-GMO formulation.

Ubiquinol-QHUbiquinol-QH by Douglas Laboratories®: Each softgel supplies 100 mg of CoQ10 as ubiquinol in support of cardiovascular health and function. Free of yeast, wheat gluten, soy protein, milk/dairy, corn, sodium, sugar, starch and artificial coloring, preservatives and flavoring.

UBQH Ubiquinol 100...UBQH™ Ubiquinol 100 mg by Integrative Therapeutics®: UBQH™ supplies the reduced active-from of CoQ10 in support of cellular energy production and overall wellness. Free of gluten, wheat, dairy, corn, sugar, yeast, salt and artificial flavoring and coloring.

 

Ubiquinol 100 mgUbiquinol 100 mg by Protocol for Life Balance®:  This highly bioavailable, naturally fermented Kaneka Ubiquinol™ is formulated to support normal cardiovascular and neuronal functions. Free of gluten, wheat, soy, milk, egg, fish and shellfish.

 

References:
The Central Role of Enzymes as Biological Catalysts. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK9921/
Ubiquinol. http://blog.professionalsupplementcenter.com/ubiquinol/
Coenzyme Q10. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/coenzyme-Q10
CoQ10 and Ubiquinol Health Benefits. http://blog.professionalsupplementcenter.com/coq10-and-ubiquinol-health-benefits/
Ubiquinol CoQ10 Research Overview. https://ubiquinol.org/clinical-studies
Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5807419/