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genetics

  • GENETICS, EPIGENETICS & HUMAN BIOLOGY

    Genetics, Epigenetics, and Human Biology

    Dr. Hank Liers, PhD geneticsWe are entering a time in which new scientific tools are available that provide clear insights regarding the causes of poor health, as well as therapies that can be used to overcome health issues. Specifically, these tools include 1) our understanding and ability to characterize the human genome, and 2) advances in the science of epigenetics showing how environmental factors significantly influence the expression of genetics and human biology.

    For many years, my company (Health Products Distributors, Inc. – "HPDI") has been involved in Rejuvenation/Healing Programs which take multiple health modalities into consideration (for information on HPDI's Rejuvenation/Healing Programs, see Additional Resources below). Our programs have generally involved the following elements:

    1. Health-Building Nutrition
      Rejuvenation begins with nutrition in the broadest sense. That is, nutrition derived from healthy foods, superfoods, supplements, dietary nucleic acids, water and fluids, as well as via the skin. Establishing health-building nutrition is foundational to rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit.
    2. Detoxification & Preventing Toxicity
      Individuals cannot fully experience rejuvenation without having effective means for removing existing toxins form the body, or for stopping further accumulation of toxins absorbed from foods, air, water, and skin. Such toxins include everything from chemicals in foods and water to the many toxins found in homes, workplaces, personal products, and just about everywhere.
    3. Building Powerful Immunity
      Building immunity is important for health because the immune system is the means by which the body defends itself. Yet, if the best defense is a strong offense, then having a strong immunity protects us in ways beyond just defense. Building immunity is accomplished not only by nutrition, but also by utilizing herbs, immune boosting supplements, and immune-enhancing protocols.
    4. Supporting Protocols
      Certain practices and protocols powerfully support rejuvenation. These protocols include exercise, massage, saunas/hydrotherapy,  yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and others.
    5. Attitude and Commitment to Becoming Healthy
      Attitude and Commitment are foundational to your rejuvenation/healing program because having total focused intention regarding your health is essential for success. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, establishing that intention perspective is a great place to start.

    ADDING GENETICS TEST TO HPDI REJUVENATION PROGRAM

    In the last few years, we have seen how healing and wellness programs can be significantly enhanced by adding genetics testing into the mix. In fact, we have joined forces with BodySync, a company with the most advanced single genetics test available. This test characterizes 45 different genes and gene variations. The Bodysync genetics test results are combined with basic lifestyle information provided by the patient to create a complete program customized for dealing with gene variations having either harmful or helpful effects.

    The insights gleaned by taking the BodySync genetics test provides new insights into reasons a person may experience health challenges that no other method can provide. The test results and action plan also provide information regarding genetic strengths, especially related to athletic performance and weight management.

    The NutriSync test from BodySync genetics

    HPDI now adds the BodySync genetics test to the list of key elements in our rejuvenation/healing programs. In fact, we are now introducing the BodySync genetic test along with consultations to our HPDI Reseller Associates—so that health practitioners (HPs) can experience the benefits of the test for themselves— and see how genetics consulting can be added to their practice. In addition, BodySync has selected HPDI as their preferred supplier of nutritional supplements supporting the recommendations provided in their Action Plans for individuals taking the test. It is exciting to be part of this breakthrough in the practice of genetic science.

    BROAD OVERVIEW OF GENETICS, EPIGENETICS, AND HUMAN BIOLOGY

    In order to give a more complete understanding of our program for attaining excellent health, we have developed a broad scientific overview of how all the key elements are related and eventually expressed as YOU.

    The diagram below provides a broad overview of genetics, epigenetics, and human biology with the goal of showing how the elements are interrelated. More discussion on the key elements is provided below the diagram.

    Genetics, Epigenetics, and Human Biology genetics

     

    GENOME

    The human genome is the sum of the body's DNA and is considered to be static for each individual—remaining the same over a lifetime. The human genome contains all the instructions needed to make the full range of human cell types including muscle cells and neurons. This includes all of the body's DNA, both the genes (the coding regions) and the noncoding DNA, as well as the genetic material of the mitochondria and chloroplasts.

    With the breakthrough in gene testing now available, it is possible to isolate relevant genes from a field of  approximately 20,000 different genes. These 20,000 different genes make up less than 2% of the total amount of DNA.

    It has been found that the underlying gene patterns can exhibit "genetic variations". Ultimately, genetic variations are caused by variations in the order of bases in the nucleotides in genes. New technology, such as that used in the BodySync genetics test, allows scientists to directly sequence DNA which has identified even more genetic variation than was previously detected by previous methods such as protein electrophoresis.

    Examination of DNA has shown genetic variation in both coding regions and in the non-coding intron (nonprotein-coding sections) region of genes. Mutation is the ultimate source of genetic variation, but mechanisms such as sexual reproduction and genetic drift contribute to it as well.

    Genetic variation will result in phenotypic variation if variation in the order of nucleotides in the DNA sequence results in a difference in the order of amino acids in proteins coded by that DNA sequence, and if the resultant differences in amino acid sequence influence the shape, and thus the function of the enzyme.

    Genetic variations/base substitutions can change a codon to one that encodes a different amino acid and cause a small change in the protein produced. For example, sickle cell anemia is caused by a substitution in the beta-hemoglobin gene, which alters a single amino acid in the protein produced.

    Genetic variations can change a codon to one that encodes the same amino acid and causes no change in the protein produced. These are called silent mutations.

    Also, base substitutions can change an amino-acid-coding codon to a single "stop" codon and cause an incomplete protein. This can have serious effects since the incomplete protein probably won't function.

    In some genetic variations there may be a piece of the DNA deleted or inserted in a gene that may also lead to Present/Insertion or Deletion variation (INDEL). Since protein-coding DNA is divided into codons three bases long, insertions and deletions can alter a gene so that its message is no longer correctly parsed.

    When it comes to genetic traits, scientists look at genes and the locus where that gene or trait encodes on the chromosome. Since humans possess two copies of each chromosome, they also have two copies of each gene and locus on those chromosomes. Each of these trait-encoding genes (or loci) is called an allele. If the alleles match, the person is homozygous for that trait. If the alleles are different, the person is heterozygous for that trait.

    If a mutation occurs in just one copy of the gene then that individual is considered heterozygous. On the other hand if both copies of a gene are mutated then that individual is homozygous genotype. Many of these mutations can have undesirable health affects for an individual.

    BodySync's technology has helped to usher in the age of personalized nutrigenomics. The company has built its intellectual property and technology to support its vision of providing services in partnership with health care professionals (HP). BodySync's NutriSync (NS) genetics test consists of only the most well-researched genetic variations with direct applicability to actionable personalized health and wellness recommendations (most of which fall into the epigenetic category).

    The NutriSync genetics test has been based on evaluations of thousands of peer reviewed articles, published research papers, and human intervention studies, as well as extracting data of tens of thousands of DNA and self-reported lifestyle samples in its database.

    EPIGENOME

    The human epigenome serves as a bio-record of chemical changes that have occurred in a person's DNA and their histone proteins. Unlike the underlying genome which is largely static within an individual, the epigenome can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions. For example methyl groups from the diet can tag DNA and activate or repress certain genes as shown in the diagram below.

    The epigenome is involved in regulating gene expression, development, tissue differentiation, and suppression of transposable elements. These changes in underlying DNA and histone proteins can be passed down to an organism's offspring via transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. Changes to the epigenome can result in changes to the structure of chromatin and changes to the function of the genome.

    EPIGENETICS

    Epigenetics, on the other hand, is the study of changes in gene expression (active versus inactive genes) that do not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence — a change in phenotype (the manifestation that is YOU) without a change in genotype — which in turn affects how cells read the genes. To be sure, epigenetic change is a regular and natural occurrence in our bodies, but can also be influenced by several factors including age, the environment/lifestyle, drug usage, and disease state.

    Epigenetic modifications can manifest as commonly as the manner in which cells terminally differentiate to end up as skin cells, liver cells, brain cells, etc. Also, epigenetic change can have more damaging effects that can result in diseases like cancer. At least three epigenetic mechanisms (two of which are shown in the diagram below) including DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNA (ncRNA)-associated gene silencing are currently considered to initiate and sustain epigenetic change.

    genetics epigenetics mechanisms

    ENVIRONMENT

    In this context the term "ENVIRONMENT" refers to all of the "external" influences we experience. In the diagram we list what are generally considered to be positive and negative factors contributing to our overall health.

    Some of these factors such as free-radicals and drug use affect our genome directly. Environmental agents such as UV light, ionizing radiation, and genotoxic chemicals (e.g. the drug thalidomide) can cause DNA damage. DNA damage is very frequent, occurring on average about 10,000 times a day per cell of the human body.

    These damages are largely repaired, but at the site of a DNA repair, epigenetic changes can remain. In particular, a double strand break in DNA can initiate unprogrammed epigenetic gene silencing both by causing DNA methylation, as well as by promoting silencing types of histone modification.

    The field of epigenetics is rapidly growing and with it the understanding that both the environment and individual lifestyle directly interact with the genome to influence changes in the way various genes are expressed. These changes may be reflected at various stages throughout a person’s life and even in later generations. For example, human epidemiological studies have provided evidence that prenatal and early postnatal environmental factors influence the adult risk of developing various chronic diseases and behavioral disorders.

    Also, research has also shown that a mother’s exposure to pollution could impact her child's asthma susceptibility and her intake of Vitamin D could change DNA methylation that influences placenta functioning. It doesn’t stop at the mother, however, as further studies support that the father has a hand in his child’s health and epigenetic marks, as well.

    Although our epigenetic marks are more stable during adulthood, they are still thought to be dynamic and modifiable by lifestyle choices and environmental influence. It is becoming more apparent that epigenetic effects occur not just in the womb, but over the full course of a human life span, and that epigenetic changes could be reversed. There are numerous examples of epigenetics that show how different lifestyle choices and environmental exposures can alter marks on top of DNA and play a role in determining health outcomes.

    The environment is being investigated as a powerful influence on epigenetic tags and disease susceptibility. Pollution has become a significant focus in this research area as scientists are finding that air pollution could alter methyl tags on DNA and increase one’s risk for neurodegenerative disease. Also, adequate amounts of B vitamins may protect against harmful epigenetic effects of pollution and may be able to combat the harmful effects that particulates have on the body.

    Diet has also been shown to modify epigenetic tags in significant ways. The field of nutriepigenomics explores how food and nutritional supplements and epigenetics work together to influence health and well being. For example, a study found that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet could open up chromatin and improve mental ability via HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitors.

    Other studies have found that certain compounds within the foods we consume could protect again cancer by adjusting methyl marks on oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. Ultimately, an epigenetic diet may guide people toward the optimal food regimen as scientific studies reveal the underlying mechanisms and impact that different foods have on the epigenome and health.

    RNA/PROTEIN

    Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the four major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life.

    Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA it is more often found in nature as a single-strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double-strand. Cellular organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to convey genetic information that directs synthesis of specific proteins.

    These protein molecules are the "workhorses" of the cell carrying out all the functions necessary for life. For example, enzymes, including those that metabolize nutrients and synthesize new cellular constituents, as well as DNA polymerases and other enzymes that make copies of DNA during cell division, are all proteins.

    PHENOTYPE

    Your phenotype is a description of your actual physical characteristics. This includes straightforward visible characteristics like your height and eye color, but also your overall health, your disease history, and even your behavior and general disposition. Do you gain weight easily? Are you anxious or calm? Do you like cats? These are all ways in which you present yourself to the world, and as such are considered phenotypes.

    However, not all phenotypes are a direct result of your genotype; chances are that your personal disposition to cats is the result of your life’s experience with pets (epigenetic) rather than a mutation in a hypothetical cat fancier gene.

    Most phenotypes are influenced by both your genotype and by the unique circumstances in which you have lived your life, including everything that has ever happened to you (epigenetic). We often refer to these two inputs as “nature,” the unique genome you carry, and “nurture,” the environment in which you have lived your life.

    HEALTH AND DISEASE

    Your phenotype expresses who YOU are in a multitude of ways and in particular shows your strengths and weaknesses regarding health, mental abilities, and athletic performance to name a few. By incorporating genetics and epigenetic tests and controlling your environment in positive ways your strengths can be expressed more easily and your weaknesses minimized!!

    CONCLUSION

    I have provided an overview of how genetics testing provides new scientific insights into many health issues that have previously not been well understood. An overview of genetics, epigenetic, and human biology has been provided that shows the overall relationships of these topics. Hopefully, the rationale is clear for adding genetic testing into programs that provide protocols for more successful healing regimens.

     

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    HOMOCYSTEINE GENETICS – COENZYME B VITAMINS

    REJUVENATION PROGRAM SERIES

    Rejuvenation Program Part Ten: The Yoga Program

    Rejuvenation Program Part Nine: Acupuncture. Supporting Protocols Part Four – Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Eight: Massage. Supporting Protocols Part Three – The Massage Program.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Seven. Supporting Protocols Part Two – The Magnesium Chloride Program

    Rejuvenation Program Part Six. Supporting Protocols Part One (garlic, hydrotherapy, and sauna therapy programs).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Five. Beyond foundational supplements. Seven enhancement supplements that supercharge your health. CoenzymeQ10 and/or Ubiquinol, Myo-Mag, Hepa Plus, Nascent Iodine, Echinacea, Immune-Assist™.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Four. The role of foundational supplements (multivitamin, Vitamin C / antioxidant formula, Rejuvenate!™ superfoods) for health.

    Rejuvenation Program Part Three. Health building nutrition and the role of dietary nucleic acids (RNA, DNA, nucleosides, and nucleotides).

    Rejuvenation Program Part Two. Foundational elements in the HPDI Rejuvenation Program: 1) Attitude/Commitment, 2) Detoxification, 3) Preventing Toxicity, 4) Health Building Nutrition, 5) Building Powerful Immunity, and 6) Supporting Protocols.

    Rejuvenation Program Part One. Introducing the HPDI Master Rejuvenation Program and its foundational elements. The importance of Attitude/Commitment.

     

  • RESTORE GUT HEALTH FORMULA + VIDEO

    Fred Liers PhD restore liquid mineral supplement gut healthHeard of RESTORE liquid mineral supplement? If not, you're about to discover something important for gut health.

    RESTORE™ is formulated to help restore gut health. It works by strengthening the integrity of tight junctions in your intestinal wall.

    Maintaining tight junctions is important because they protect your body from substances entering the blood stream. Restore also supports the communications systems of the bacteria in your microbiome.

    Tight junctions are natural barriers protecting the lining of your gut barrier, organs such as kidneys and heart, and the blood-brain barrier thereby keeping out unwanted substances. Even as we take in nutrients from the GI tract, the function of tight junctions is maintaining the integrity of the gut wall and other barriers that protect the body.

    These days, our gut membrane has a tough job keeping out unwanted substances. Because tight junctions are weakened by many things, including highly processed foods, especially those containing gluten and gliadin, the herbicide glyphosate (the primary ingredient in RoundUp weedkiller), and other exposures like electromagnetic fields (EMF) from digital devices and Wi-Fi networks.

    As a result of weakened tight junctions, undesirable substances from food proteins, harmful chemicals and other toxins can slip though into our bloodstream. This can lead to a powerful immune response that can weaken immunity and cause significant inflammation. Foreign substances in the bloodstream can also result in extreme food allergies and food sensitivities to various toxins entering the body.

    We live in an age in which our microbiome health is under assault.  Studies show our ancient ancestors had 20,000–30,000 different strains of beneficial bacteria in their GI tracts. Many people today have just 5,000 or less. Why is that?

    There are many reasons for low microbiome diversity. These reasons include antiobiotic use (both from pharmaceuticals and foods), glyphosate (which essentially acts like an antibiotic), processed foods (especially those containing gluten and gliadin), and systemic degradation of the gut environment rendering it less hospitable for maintaining health populations of gut flora.

    These impacts are significant because diversity in your microbiome not only supports gut health, but also appropriate  brain health, immune system health, and overall vitality. Restore acts as a "microbiome fertilizer" helping establish and maintain healthy microbiota.

    In fact, Restore contains important "redox" molecules produced millions of years ago by existing soil bacteria. These molecules are an important part of communications systems within the body between gut bacteria and with the body's mitochondria. These communication systems play an important role in establishing proper homeostasis throughout the body.

    REASONS TO USE RESTORE™

    There are important reasons to try Restore—whether or not you experience significant gut health issues. These reasons include:

    • Maintaining strong tight junctions for mega membrane health, and helping the body restore tight junction integrity

    • Creating an environment in which beneficial bacteria can thrive

    • Boosting microbiome diversity

    • Healing the gut

    • Mitigating the adverse effects substances like antibiotics, gluten/gliadin, glyphosate, and GMOs on microbiome health

    • Supporting immune system function

    • Protecting integrity of blood-brain barrier

    Other benefits include support for respiratory wellness, enhancing mental clarity, and promoting proper homeostasis throughout the body.

    For all these reasons and more, you should consider taking Restore. You can start by taking one teaspoon or less daily, and gradually increasing your dose to one tablespoon or more.Restore for gut health liquid supplement

    I have taken Restore daily for more than two years, and benefit greatly from it. The most noticeable effects are a complete cessation of spring allergies (after two decades of worsening symptoms), greater clarity of thinking, and improved overall well being. I have seen other people get good results with a variety of conditions from dysbiosis to gluten/gliadin sensitivity.

    MORE ABOUT RESTORE™

    You can learn more about Restore on our website. Also, the Restore website offers in-depth information and videos. Here is how the Restore website and Dr. Zach Bush describe the formula:

    Restore is a dietary supplement supplying first line defense against daily exposure to environmental and food-borne factors. It helps create an optimal environment or ecology in the gut membrane for beneficial or "good" bacteria to flourish. Beneficial gut flora protect your immune system and maintain health. Restore is a scientifically proven soil-derived mineral supplement designed to support protection of the intestinal walls.

    Restore protects the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract against agricultural herbicides, antibiotics, GMOs, gluten, and food-borne toxins. It helps create an environment in which 20,000–30,000 different strains of beneficial gut bacteria can thrive. This is a far different mode of action from probiotics, most of which contain just 3–30 strains of beneficial bacteria.

    Restore helps create a strong immune system along with proper gut function. Microbiome balance and tight junction integrity are known to constitute a significant part of the immune system. They directly affect DNA transcription of cells to promote optimal health and prevent a leaky gut syndrome, thereby improving gut intelligence.

    Seventy percent (70%) of our immune system is found in our gut. We need tens of thousands different strains of good gut bacteria to support a healthy immune system. Clinical experience, in addition to cell culture studies, support the theory that Restore’s proprietary formula creates the optimal environment in the gut to create a tight junction barrier and maintain our health and wellness.

    Restore is a daily liquid supplement designed to support the protection of the entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract against agricultural herbicides, antibiotics, GMOs, gluten and food-borne toxins by helping to create an environment where between 20,000-30,000 different strains of good gut bacteria thrive. Most probiotics on the market contain fewer than 24 different strains of good gut bacteria.

    TRY RESTORE™

    Restore is ideal for individuals suffering from gut health issues. Yet, it is also excellent for supporting and maintaining gut health generally. That is the reason we at HPDI consider Restore important enough to designate as a foundational supplement, one of the top six supplements you need for good health.

    Given the safety and effectiveness of Restore, there is broad applicability for its use. This is especially true because gut and microbiome health are under constant assault. These assaults range from multiple environmental and lifestyle factors—including poor diets high in processed foods, antibiotics in pharmaceuticals and animal foods—to massive glyphosate (herbicide) contamination of foods, soils, air, and water.

    Let Restore be your first line of defense against assaults on your gut health, tight junctions, microbiome diversity, and immune function. As it says on the bottle, "Complete well-being begins in the gut."

    RESTORE RESOURCES

    Gut Health – Effects of Glyphosate and Antibiotics
    by Hank Liers, PhD and Fred Liers, PhD

    Restore - 32 oz

    Restore - 8 oz

    HPDI Gut Health Formulas

    HPDI Foundational Supplements

    Restore blog (Restore4Life)

  • THE TRUTH ABOUT ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

    The Truth About Essential Fatty Acids

    Dr. Hank Liers, PhD essential fatty acidsMany in the field of nutrition have lost sight of the fact that there are two essential fatty acids needed by the body. Many people recommend omega-3 fatty acids assuming the the body gets sufficient omega-6 from the diet. The truth about essential fatty acids is more complicated. This article will show the more complete and correct picture.

    BACKGROUND

    Fatty acids are part of the lipids class, widely found in nature, food, and organisms. These fatty acids are a critical constituent of the cell membranes in all of the trillions of cells in the body. They have important biological functions including structural, communication, and metabolic roles, and they represent an important source of energy. Their metabolism produces a huge quantity of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The beta-oxidation of the fatty acids is a well-known process, mostly used by the heart and the muscular tissue to obtain energy.

    Figure 1 below shows a schematic diagram of what a fatty acid looks like. One end of the structure in all cases has a carboxylic acid group (COOH) and the other end in all cases has a methyl group (CH3). Saturated fats have single bonds (-) between all carbon atoms (C), but unsaturated fats have a number of double bonds (=) between some of the carbon atoms.


    essential fatty acids Figure 1 - Basic diagram of fatty acids structure

    The human body can synthesize many of these fatty acids, except the essential fatty acids (PUFAs) linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These two are generally found in various vegetable oils, but their important metabolites are found mainly in special vegetable oils such as borage oil and in fish oils. Linoleic acid is the most abundant fatty acid in nature, and it is the precursor of other omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are synthesized from alpha-linolenic acid.

    Once ingested, short-chain PUFAs are converted to long-chain fatty acids. These are critical for mammalian cells in order to perform various biological functions, such as sustaining the structural integrity of cellular membranes and serving as signaling molecules. They are highly enriched in brain tissues, where they participate in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system during both embryonic and adult stages.

    Polyunsaturated fatty acids have been extensively researched. They include the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (an omega-6) and alpha linolenic acid (an omega-3). Omega-3s are not abundant in our food chain. There is none in corn oil and very little in soy oil, the two most widely used food oils. Therefore, nearly all the early research with polyunsaturated oils utilized omega-6 fatty acids, predominantly as linoleic acid.

    Fish oils were neglected out of ignorance or because the investigators chose to pass over these cholesterol-containing oils. Concern eventually developed over the close association between increasing incidence of mammary tumors and high intake of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. After some years, researchers finally turned their investigations to the interrelationship between dietary omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

    FATTY ACID METABOLIC PATHWAYS

    The following diagram shows in detail the pathways for the production and use of fatty acids in the body. In the figure the metabolic pathways (running left to right) for four fatty acids types are shown (top - Omega-3, second - Omega-6, third - Omega-9, bottom - Omega-7). Notice that only the omega-3 and omega-6 oils are considered to be essential fatty acids because they cannot be made in the body. This means they must come from food.

    essential fatty acids Figure 2 - fatty acid metabolism pathways in the body

    The diagram shows a series of enzyme induced reactions that either add a double bond or two additional carbon/hydrogen pairs to the fatty acid. The enzymes that make this happen are called desaturase and elongase. The desaturase enzymes are given a number for the carbon number (that the enzyme is working on) from the methyl end of the fat. These same enzymes work on all of the fatty acid types. For example, Delta 6 desaturase causes an additional double bond to be inserted into both alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6) (as well as oleic acid and palmitoleic acids).

    In this way, the body is able to produce a wide variety of fatty acids that have their own unique effects on biochemistry. Some of these are more important than others. In particular, the omega-3 essential fatty acid eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), the omega-6 essential fatty acid dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and the omega-6 essential fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) are precursors for a class of chemicals called eicosanoids/prostaglandins that have far reaching affects on key body functions.

    EICOSANOIDS/PROSTAGLANDINS

    Eicosanoids are prostaglandins that affect many aspects of health both positively and, in some cases, negatively. All known eicosanoids and prostaglandins are formed from the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6, or n-6), alpha linolenic acid (omega-3, or n-3), their "enhanced" derivatives, and from the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils.

    Prostaglandins are short-lived highly active, hormone-like chemicals that are found in every cell of the body. They are regulators of cell activity and essential for maintaining health. Each cell type or organ produces its own form of prostaglandin to carry out its functions. There are three types of prostaglandins: PG1, PG2, and PG3.

    Series 1 Prostaglandins (PG1), derived from gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the active component of borage oil, has many beneficial effects: It makes platelets less sticky, lowers blood pressure by relaxing smooth muscles in the walls of arteries, increases loss of sodium and water, decreases inflammation and enhances immunity.

    Series 2 Prostaglandins (PG2), also derived from GLA, is used in "fight or flight" (stress) situations, - the fight against danger, or the flight from it. In modern lifestyles which are high in stress but low in physical activity, continuous production of Series Two Prostaglandins results in sticky platelets, high blood pressure, increased water and sodium retention, increased inflammation and decreased immune system capabilities.

    Series 3 Prostaglandins (PG3), derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the active component of fish oil, has beneficial effects. They block the detrimental effect of the Series 2 Prostaglandins, preventing them from being made in the body. As a result the platelets are less sticky, blood pressure is lower because the muscles in the walls of our arteries remain relaxed, loss of sodium and water by the kidneys takes place more effectively, inflammation response is decreased, and immune function is efficient.

    It is now known that the ratios of these dietary fatty acids are very important. Consumption of linoleic acid leads to production of the enhanced fatty acid, arachidonic acid (20:4n-6). Prostaglandins based on arachidonic acid exacerbate stress and inflammatory states, and suppress immunoprotective functions (i.e. resistance to disease). Too much linolenic acid and other omega-3s may cause excessive bleeding during injury, surgery, or childbirth. Large amounts of any of these unsaturated fatty acids in the diet without a compensatory increase in antioxidant nutrients (especially Vitamin E), can speed oxidative damage to tissues, resulting in accelerated aging while increasing the risk of degenerative diseases.

    Yet, a balanced ratio of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet offers very positive health benefits. When omega-3 fatty acids predominate, the body will produce less arachidonic acid (20:4n-6). Immunity improves and inflammation subsides.

    Essential Fats

    Unfortunately, our Western diet has been almost devoid of omega-3 fatty acids. Creating the optimum intake of omega 3-to-omega 6 unsaturated fatty acids has become, therefore, an issue of prime importance for anyone concerned with health. We need to evaluate carefully the amounts of linoleic acid (n-6) we consume relative to our intake of alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) and fish oils (EPA:20:5n-3 and DHA:22:6n-3).

    ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS - PATHWAYS

    The diagram in Figure 3 shows details of the omega-6 and omega-3 pathways. Pathway specifics indicate key eicosanoids (series 1 prostaglandins, series 2 prostaglandins, and series 3 prostaglandins), oil sources, and important nutrient cofactors that are needed for the reactions to take place.

    essential fatty acids Figure 3 - Essential Fatty Acids – pathways in the body

    The information is this diagram gives the clues we need in order to provide optimal types and amounts of omega-6 and omega-3. For example, I have chosen for my essential fatty acid product cold pressed borage oil as the best natural source of gamma linoleic acid (GLA). It contains 20% by weight — the highest amount found in natural oils.

    RESEARCH ON ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

    Work by Chapkin et. al. (see references 1–4 below) has identified the potent synergistic relationship between GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid, and the well-known omega-3 fatty acids. Chapkin has shown that, rather than simply the quantity of dietary omega-3s, it is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids that is important in achieving full cardiovascular health and inflammatory control.

    Furthermore, Chapkin has identified the ideal ratio. His published work deals with the importance of mixed diets supplying both linoleic and linolenic acids. To underscore the importance of these two fatty acids, refined oil supplements rich in enhanced forms were used. "Enhanced forms" are fatty acids derived from the original. They are one or more steps closer to the actual eicosanoid. In the human body, alpha linolenic acid (18:3n-3) is eventually converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3) and linoleic acid (18:2n-6) is converted to gamma-linolenic (GLA, 18:3n-6) as its first enhanced form. Both enhanced fatty acids are precursors to eicosanoids.

    In Chapkin's research, superior health benefits were delivered by the mixed diet that supplied the eicosanoid precursors in a specific ratio. The balanced ratio of enhanced Omega-6 (GLA)-to-Omega-3 (EPA) fatty acids was 1:4.

    IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SCIENCE

    Based upon the science discussed above, I developed a product with the correct Omega-6 (GLA)-to-Omega-3 (EPA) ratio and with proper amounts. It is available to you as Hank & Brians Essential Fats Plus E from Health Products Distributors, Inc. (HPDI).

    Essential Fats Plus E

    ESSENTIAL FATS PLUS E IS A HIGHLY ADVANCED ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS SUPPLEMENT
    OFFERING SPECIAL BENEFITS:

    1. UNIQUE COMBINATION — Essential Fats (EPA, DHA, GLA) plus Vitamin E. This unique formula offers more than one type of Vitamin E (not just d-alpha-tocopherol) and balanced essential fats.
    2. BALANCED ESSENTIAL FATS— Many EFA supplements contain only omega-3s, but for optimal function the body requires a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats. In addition, our special formula provides a 4-to-1 ratio of EPA to GLA in order to achieve a balance you need for optimal health.
    3. FULL-SPECTRUM VITAMIN E — Tocotrienols and tocopherols in this formula are natural vitamin E substances derived from oryza rice bran oil and protect polyunsatured EFAs against free-radical damage both in the capsule and in your body. Many Vitamin E supplements contain only d-alpha tocopherol, which is only a single component of the full-spectrum Vitamin E in this formula.
    4. ULTRAPURE — Molecularly distilled oils of extremely high-purity containing no PCBs, heavy metals, or oxidized contaminants. Free of excipients, additives, and common food allergens!

    COMPOSITION: Six softgel capsules provides the following percentages of the Daily Value.

    NUTRIENT AMOUNT % Daily Value†
    EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid 20:5 omega 3)
    (from 2,000 mg of purified fish oils)
    360 mg *
    DHA (docosahexaenoic Acid 22:6 omega 3)
    (from 2,000 mg of purified fish oils)
    240 mg *
    GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid 18:3 omega 6)
    (from 450 mg of cold pressed borage seed oil)
    90 mg *
    Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) (from 180 mg of Oryza rice bran oil) 24 IU 81%
    Mixed Tocotrienols (d-gamma, d-alpha, and d-delta)
    (from 180 mg of Oryza rice bran oil)
    28.8 mg *

    * No established Daily Value
    † Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet

    IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS OF ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

    Below we provide some of the functions and benefits obtained when by diet or supplementation the correct ratios and amounts of essential fatty acids are consumed.

    • Regulate steroid production and hormone synthesis
    • Regulate pressure in the eyes, joints, and blood vessels
    • Regulate response to pain, inflammation, and swelling
    • Mediate Immune Response
    • Regulate bodily secretions and their viscosity
    • Dilate or constrict blood vessels
    • Regulate smooth muscle and autonomic reflexes
    • Are primary constituents of cellular membranes
    • Regulate the rate at which cells divide
    • Necessary for the transport of oxygen from the red blood cells to tissues
    • Necessary for proper kidney function and fluid balance
    • Prevent red blood cells from clumping together
    • Regulate nerve transmission

    GENETIC TESTING AND ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

    Please note that genetic testing for a wide range of genes and the enzymes they produce has indicated that essential fatty acids can be an important factor in helping the body overcome a variety negative gene variations. These negative gene variations include genes that relate to: 1) Inflammatory Response, 2) Exercise Performance, 3) Exercise Recovery, 4) Cardiovascular Fitness, 5) Body Composition, and 6) VO2 Max, Aerobic Capacity.

    We will discuss this more deeply in a future blog article.

    CONCLUSION

    The body is best protected from a range of health issues when we supply a mixed diet of both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Studies show that we do not need to consume large amounts of fatty acids if the ratio is correct. These findings indicate that, for a typical human body, amounts of 90 mg GLA (18:3n-6) to 360 mg EPA (20:5n-3) taken daily will provide for the optimum production of the three major prostaglandins. These amounts are found in Hank & Brians Essential Fats Plus E.

    REFERENCES

    The following includes abstracts of Chapkin's published research on essential fatty acids.

    REFERENCE 1

    Chapkin RS Somers SD Erickson KL

    Dietary manipulation of macrophage phospholipid classes: selective increase of dihomogammalinolenic acid.

    In: Lipids (1988 Aug) 23(8):766-70

    Because alterations in the dietary content of fatty acids are an important method for modulating macrophage eicosanoid production, we have quantitated the levels of n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in peritoneal macrophage individual phospholipids from mice fed diets (3 wk) with either safflower oil (SAF), predominantly containing 18:2n-6, borage, (BOR) containing 18:2n-6 and 18:3n-6, fish (MFO) containing 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3, and borage/fish mixture (MIX) containing 18:2n-6, 18:3n-6, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3. Dietary n-3 fatty acids were readily incorporated into macrophage phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylinositol (PI). The increase in n-3 fatty acid levels was accompanied by a decrease in the absolute levels of 18:2n-6, 20:4n-6 and 22:4n-6 in PC, PE and PS. Interestingly, PI 20:4n-6 levels were not significantly lowered (P greater than 0.05) in MIX and MFO macrophages relative to SAF and BOR. These data demonstrate the unique ability of this phospholipid to selectively maintain its 20:4n-6 levels. In BOR and MIX animals, 20:3n-6 levels were significantly increased (P less than 0.05) in all phospholipids relative to SAF and MFO. The combination of borage and fish oils (MIX diet) produced the highest 20:3n-6/20:4n-6 ratio in all phospholipids. These data show that the macrophage eicosanoid precursor levels of 20:3n-6, 20:4n-6 and n-3 acids can be selectively manipulated through the use of specific dietary regimens. This is noteworthy because an increase in phospholipid levels of 20:3n-6 and 20:5n-3, while concomitantly reducing 20:4n-6, may have therapeutic potential in treating inflammatory disorders.

    Institutional address: Department of Human Anatomy School of Medicine University of California Davis 95616.

     

    REFERENCE 2

    Chapkin RS Carmichael SL

    Effects of dietary n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on macrophage phospholipid classes and subclasses.

    In: Lipids (1990 Dec) 25(12):827-34

    This study examined the effects of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid alimentation on murine peritoneal macrophage phospholipids. Mice were fed complete diets supplemented with either corn oil predominantly containing 18:2n-6, borage oil containing 18:2n-6 and 18:3n-6, fish/corn oil mixture containing 18:2n-6, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3, or fish/borage oil mixture containing 18:2n-6, 18:3n-6, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3. After two weeks, the fatty acid levels of glycerophosphoserines (GPS), glycerophosphoinositols (GPI), sphingomyelin (SPH), and of the glycerophosphocholine (GPC) and glycerophosphoethanolamine (GPE) phospholipid subclasses were determined. We found that mouse peritoneal macrophage GPC contain primarily 1-O-alkyl-2-acyl (range for the dietary groups, 24.6-30.5 mol %) and 1,2-diacyl (63.2-67.2 mol %), and that GPE contains 1-O- alk-1'-enyl-2-acyl (40.9-47.4 mol %) and 1,2-diacyl (44.2-51.2 mol %) subclasses. In general, fish oil feeding increased macrophage 20:5n-3, 22:5n-3 and 22:6n-3 levels while simultaneously reducing 20:4n-6 in GPS, GPI, GPE and GPC subclasses except for 1-O-alk-1'-enyl-2-acyl GPC. Administration of 18:3n-6 rich diets (borage and fish/borage mixture) resulted in the accumulation of 20:3n-6 (2-carbon elongation product of 18:3n-6) in most phospholipids. In general, the novel combination of dietary 18:3n-6 and n-3 PUFA produced the highest 20:3n-6/20:4n-6 phospholipid fatty acid ratios. This study demonstrates that marked differences in the responses of macrophage phospholipid classes and subclasses exist following dietary manipulation.

     

    REFERENCE 3

    Fan YY Chapkin RS

    Mouse peritoneal macrophage prostaglandin E1 synthesis is altered by dietary gamma-linolenic acid.

    In: J Nutr (1992 Aug) 122(8):1600-6

    The ability of dietary gamma-linolenic acid [18:3(n-6)] to modulate prostaglandin biosynthesis in mouse resident peritoneal macrophages was determined. Mice were fed diets containing corn oil, borage oil or evening primrose oil or a mixture of borage and fish oils. After 2 wk, resident peritoneal macrophages were isolated and stimulated with unopsonized zymosan to induce prostaglandin synthesis. Borage oil, primrose oil and fish-borage oil mixture dietary groups (containing 25.6, 11.9 and 19.5 g gamma-linolenic acid/100 g fatty acids, respectively) had significantly (P less than 0.05) enhanced prostaglandin E1 synthesis (39.7, 29.4 and 73.0 nmol prostaglandin E1/mg protein, respectively) compared with corn oil-fed (containing less than 0.1 g gamma-linolenic acid/100 g fatty acids) animals, which synthesized less than 0.1 nmol prostaglandin E1/mg protein. Borage oil- and fish-borage oil mixture-fed mice had the highest biosynthetic ratio of prostaglandin E1/prostaglandin E2 (E1/E2 approximately 0.2). Macrophages from borage oil-fed mice synthesized the lowest amount of prostacyclin (198.7 nmol 6-keto-prostaglandin F1 alpha/mg protein) compared with corn oil-, primrose oil- and fish- borage oil mixture-fed mice (379.7, 764.8 and 384.2 nmol 6-keto- prostaglandin F1 alpha/mg protein, respectively). In addition, borage oil-, primrose oil- and fish-borage oil mixture-fed mice had significantly (P less than 0.05) higher levels of dihomo-gamma- linolenic acid [20:3(n-6)] in membrane phospholipids (5.5, 3.5 and 5.7 mol/100 mol, respectively) relative to corn oil-fed mice (2.0 mol/100 mol).

     

    REFERENCE 4

    Fan YY Chapkin RS Ramos KS

    Dietary lipid source alters murine macrophage/vascular smooth muscle cell interactions in vitro.

    In: J Nutr (1996 Sep) 126(9):2083-8

    This study was conducted to compare the impact of dietary lipids on the ability of macrophages to modulate vascular smooth muscle cell (SMC) DNA synthesis in vitro. C57BL/6 female mice were fed six different diets (6 mice/diet) containing 10% fat from corn oil (CO), borage oil (BO), primrose oil (PO), fish-corn oil mix (FC, 9:1, w/w), fish-borage oil mix (FB, 1:3, w/w), or fish-primrose oil mix (FP, 1:3, w/w) for 2 wk. Peritoneal macrophages were isolated from these mice, stimulated with zymosan or vehicle, and subsequently co-cultured with naive mouse aortic SMC in the presence of 3H-thymidine to measure SMC DNA synthesis. In this co-culture system, macrophages were seeded on 25-mm culture inserts (upper chamber) and SMC were seeded on 35-mm culture dishes (lower chamber). The two cell types were separated by a semipermeable membrane with a 30-kD cut-off. When quiescent SMC were co-cultured with macrophages, only the PO and FP diet groups had significantly (P < 0.05) lower SMC DNA synthesis compared with the control CO group whose diet contained no gamma- linolenic acid (GLA) or (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). In contrast, when cycling SMC were co-cultured with diet-modulated macrophages, all dietary groups except for those fed FC had significantly lower (P < 0.05) SMC DNA synthesis relative to the CO group. Although the level of GLA in PO and BO diets was different (11.5 and 22.3 g/100 g fatty acids, respectively), these treatments exerted comparable inhibitory effects on SMC DNA synthesis. The FP treatment consistently exhibited the lowest SMC DNA synthetic profile among the six dietary groups irrespective of SMC growth conditions. These data suggest that BO and PO alone or in combination with fish oil influence macrophage/smooth muscle cell interactions in a manner consistent with favorable modulation of the atherogenic process.

    These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    BOOKS

    1. Enig, Mary G. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol. Bethesda Press, 2000.
  • HOMOCYSTEINE GENETICS – COENZYME B VITAMINS

    Dr. Hank Liers, PhD homocysteine coenzyme B vitaminsWe previously published an article titled FOLATE INGREDIENTS – FOLINIC ACID & 5-MTHF in which we discuss how coenzyme folate vitamins are far superior to the synthetic folic acid form. In today's article, I take a more in-depth look at how homocysteine is formed from methionine, how genetics affects the metabolic pathways, and how B vitamins are used in metabolic pathways.

    One way to look at the metabolic pathways of methionine (an essential amino acid) is that it provides a way for the body to convert this sulfur containing amino acid either to cysteine and its key by-products glutathione, taurine, and sulfates or allows remethylation back to methionine to occur using either the Folate Cycle or the Trimethyl glycine (betaine) pathways.

    Figure 1 shows these metabolic pathways including the vitamins required at each step including vitamin B6 (as P-5-P), methylcobalamin, and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). In addition, it shows the key enzymes produced by the body at each step. These enzymes include CBS (cystathione beta synthase), BHMT (betaine homocysteine methyltransferase), MS (methionine synthase), and MTHFR (methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase).

    homocysteine metabolism diagram Figure 1. Metabolic Pathways in Methionine and Homocysteine Metabolism

    HEALTH ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH HOMOCYSTEINE LEVELS

    It is highly important that the various metabolic pathways function correctly to keep homocysteine at healthy levels (6–8 µmol/L). Unfortunately, high levels of homocysteine in the body (10–20 µmol/L) are a factor in a wide range of health issues, including:

    • Greater risk for heart problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and abnormal cholesterol levels. This is due to increased inflammation, sometimes due to blood clotting spontaneously, and because of blockages of the major arteries.
    • Mental abnormalities such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental problems are more common among people with high homocysteine
    • Migraines and headaches in a significant percentage of the population
    • In those who suffer from high homocysteine due to having nutritional deficiencies anemia, aches and pains, hearing loss, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), slowed development, and birth defects might also be possible
    • Greater risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, brain atrophy, and other cognitive problems
    • In children, skeletal and developmental abnormalities including having a curved spine or protruding chest and rib cage. Some patients appear very tall and thin, and some might also have very long, thin “spider-like” toes and fingers.
    • Behavioral problems, including ADHD, autism and other learning disabilities

    ROLE OF GENETICS IN HOMOCYSTEINE METABOLISM

    Ten or more years ago, questions of how genetics enters into homocysteine metabolism were unlikely to be asked. However, in recent years DNA testing has advanced and is now available to everyone (for example, see my article about Bodysync's genetic test, GET STARTED – NUTRIGENOMIC TESTING.

    You may have heard a great deal about MTHFR (methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase). This gene is involved in folate metabolism and has a central role in methylation processes like repair of and building new DNA in dividing cells.

    In the remethylation pathway for conversion of homocysteine to methionine, MTHFR plays a key role in converting folate into 5-MTHF which is needed along with B12 as methylcobalamin in order for the conversion to take place. Genetic variations in MTHFR have been studied in depth. Of the many variations studies the most significant ones appear to be variations of C677C such as C677T (referred to as heterozygous) or T677T (referred to as homozygous). The heterozygous variant appears in about 30–50% of the population and causes somewhat less efficiency in the conversion of folic acid to 5-MTHF. However, the homozygous variation occurs in about 10% of the population and can have serious effects due to converting little homocysteine back to methionine.

    Another variation in MTHFR is called A1298A. These variations are A1298C and C1298C and will have similar effects to the C677C variations. It was interesting to me when I recently analyzed my Bodysync genetic test results showing I carry the variation A1298C (heterozygous), which indicates I may not be effectively converting homocysteine back to methionine.

    Additionally, my Bodysync genetic test results also indicate that I have heterozygous variations in the CBS enzyme shown in Figure 1, as well as heterozygous variations in MTR and MTRR enzymes, which are involved with B12 levels in the  remethylation pathway. These results indicate that I need to take higher levels of methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF.

    IMPORTANCE OF COENZYME FORMS AND PROPER AMOUNTS OF B VITAMINS

    Many of the B vitamins on the market today unfortunately are in synthetic form. The body can only use the natural coenzyme forms effectively. For example, the body needs vitamin B6 in the form of P-5-P (pyridoxal-5-phosphate), folate in the form of L-5-MTHF, and B12 in the form of methylcobalamin for proper metabolism of methionine. In some cases the body can use the synthetic forms of pyridoxine HCl, folic acid, and cyanocobalamin but pays a cost (e.g., in time and energy) by having to convert synthetic forms to coenzyme forms.

    Add to the prevalence of synthetic B vitamins, the fact that genetic deficiencies are more common than previously assumed, and it becomes clear that the coenzyme forms of B vitamins in the proper amounts are extremely important.

    Fortunately, I have always believed it best to include as many coenzyme forms as possible in the nutritional supplements I formulate (over the past 27 years). For example, all HPDI multivitamins include coenzymes of B1, B2, B6, B12, and folate (as 5-MTHF and folinic acid). This is uncommon in most multivitamin formulas on the market. For this reason our supplements are ideally suited to the prevention or resolution of most genetic problems regarding homocysteine.

    In addition, I have always chosen to include higher amounts than most multivitamins on the market. We also make available 5-MTHF one milligram (1 mg) capsules and methylcobalamin five milligram (5 mg) sublingual tablets. When genetic variations are in play as discussed above, then providing relatively higher amounts of coenzyme B vitamins that support important requirements in the body seems necessary.

    Interestingly, several other nutrients are involved in the pathways involving methionine and homocysteine. These include zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin B2. Our multivitamin formulas and magnesium formulas, especially Myo-Mag with its coenzyme B1, B2, and B6, are recommended to support these nutrient needs. Finally, it has been found that N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) can significantly lower homocysteine (by up to 50%), most likely because its gives the body an excellent source of cysteine without have to use methionine.

    SUMMARY

    In this article, I have shown the value of the use of genetic testing and high-quality coenzyme B vitamins in resolving health issues associated with high values of homocysteine in the body.

     

    SOURCES & RESOURCES

     GET STARTED – NUTRIGENOMIC TESTING.

    FOLATE INGREDIENTS – FOLINIC ACID & 5-MTHF

    The Homocysteine Revolution by Kilmer S. McCully, MD

    "Role of hyperhomocysteinemia in endothelial dysfunction and atherothrombotic disease"
    (Cell Death and Differentiation 11, S56–S64)

    PRODUCTS

    5-MTHF
    (coenzyme folate)

    Methylcobalamin
    (vitamin B12)

    B-Complex-50

    HPDI Multivitamins

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