Heart Health from a Lab Perspective
With cardiovascular disease being touted as one of the world’s largest killers it’s no surprise the nutraceuticals industry has responded with an array of products. If you type “cardiovascular” or “heart health” in the search field of any industry news website, a daunting list of articles appears.
Most of those articles are about a recent study on a new branded novel ingredient making the standard canned heart health claim: may support healthy cholesterol levels in healthy individuals. (Remember, to make pharmaceutical-like claims, expensive game-changing studies must be conducted.)
Many of these products latch onto clinical research of the parent phytochemical (active ingredient sans sexy branded name) and use such as their claim. Does this sound familiar? “Clinical research on X showed Y. Since our product is a sexier named version of X, you may experience Z.”
The cynicism you may be picking up on here isn’t to say these don’t work as research shows they may in some cases…
From the lab perspective, heart health is just another category dominated by products peppered with branded novel ingredients. When faced with analysis we, as do most labs, initially come up empty-handed—unless we have a clear dialogue with the original manufacturer/creator of the ingredient. If a label claim states “X percent chemical Y,” then it behooves the brand holder to be sure analysis can prove it. The FDA is watching. This is where method development, verification, and validation come into play. It’s one thing to quantify a phytochemical in its pure state or in a single ingredient; the moment that material is combined with another, that value may no longer be scientifically valid.
Heart health has continuously been rated as a top concern for Americans, and supplement manufacturers will flock there especially since diet is a clear contributor. However, it’s just one factor in a larger more complicated equation. Cultural implications, as well as major lifestyle overhauls, must be considered in an effort to stay clear of the cardiologist.
To be considered is that we should all know how to be healthy. It’s no secret that diet and exercise can keep you out of harm’s way for the most part. Minimizing stress is also helpful to reduce cardiovascular disease. The supplements available to us are terrific and should be supplemental to a healthy regime of diet and exercise–not to treat or prevent any diseases.