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Home > Shop the Online Mall! Brands Shop 100s of Companies (A-Z) > Brands in Alphabetically Listed Sections > V > Vitanet > Chitosan 500 mg 240 Caps Call 800.807.8080 Value Nutrition

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Chitosan 500 mg 240 Caps Call 800.807.8080 Value Nutrition

Order Information
Item # VNCSHELL [7290]
Sale Price$18.95

Chitosan 500 mg 240 Caps Value Nutrition

Fat Blocker

As a dietary supplement 1 capsule 30 minutes before eating.

Caution: If you are allergic to shellfish do not use

Consult your doctor before using this product.

What does it do? Like dietary fiber, chitosan is not digestible but may have beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Chitosan may reduce the absorption of bile acids or cholesterol, either of which may cause a lowering of blood cholesterol.1 This effect has been repeatedly demonstrated in animals, and a preliminary human study showed that 3–6 grams per day of chitosan taken for two weeks resulted in a 6% drop in cholesterol and a 10% increase in HDL (the "good") cholesterol.2Another preliminary study showed a 43% lowering of total cholesterol in people being treated for kidney failure with dialysis who took 4 grams per day of chitosan for twelve weeks. This group also appeared to have improved kidney function and less severe anemia after chitosan treatment.3

Chitosan in large amounts given with vitamin C has been shown to reduce dietary fat absorption in animals fed a high-fat diet.4 5 6 Unfortunately, mineral and fat-soluble vitamin absorption is also reduced by feeding animals large amounts of chitosan.7 No studies have been done on the effects of chitosan on dietary fat absorption in humans.

Animal and preliminary human research suggests that chitosan may prevent the blood pressure-elevating effects of a high-salt meal, possibly by reducing the absorption of chloride. A small study showed that men taking 5 grams of chitosan with a meal high in salt resulted in no elevation in blood pressure, while the same meal without chitosan significantly elevated systolic blood pressure.8

Chitosan may also have an effect on bacteria in the intestines. A small human study found that taking 3–6 grams per day of chitosan for two weeks reduced indicators of putrefaction in the intestines,9 a change that might help prevent diseases, such as colon cancer.10

Where is it found? Chitosan is a supplement commonly extracted from the shells of crustaceans, such as shrimp and crab.

Chitosan has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Who is likely to be deficient? Chitosan is not an essential nutrient, so deficiencies do not occur.

How much is usually taken? Most human research has used 3–6 grams per day with meals.

Are there any side effects or interactions? While no long-term studies of the effects of chitosan on human health have been done, animal studies suggest that harmful effects on mineral and fat-soluble vitamin absorption, on maintenance of normal intestinal flora, and on normal growth in children and during pregnancy are possible.11 People with intestinal malabsorption syndromes should not use chitosan.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with chitosan.


1. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res 1998;18:1091–101 [review].

2. Maezaki Y, Tsuji K, Nakagawa Y, et al. Hypocholesterolemic effect of chitosan in adult males. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1993;57:1439–44.

3. Jing SB, Li L, Ji D, et al. Effect of chitosan on renal function in patients with chronic renal failure. J Pharm Pharmacol 1997;49:721–23.

4. Deuchi K, Kanauchi O, Imasato Y, et al. Effect of the viscosity or deacetylation degree of chitosan on fecal fat excreted from rats fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1995;59:781–85.

5. Deuchi K, Kanauchi O, Imasato Y, et al. Decreasing effect of chitosan on the apparent fat digestibility by rats fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1994;58:1613–16.

6. Kanauchi O, Deuchi K, Imasato Y, et al. Increasing effect of a chitosan and ascorbic acid mixture on fecal dietary fat excretion. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1994;58:1617–20.

7. Deuchi K, Kanauchi O, Shizukuishi M, et al. Continuous and massive intake of chitosan affects mineral and fat-soluble vitamin status in rats fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotech Biochem 1995;59:1211–16.

8. Kato H, Taguchi T, Okuda H, et al. Antihypertensive effect of chitosan in rats and humans. J Trad Medicinen 1994;11:198–205.

9. Terada A, Hara H, Sato D, et al. Effect of dietary chitosan on faecal microbiota and faecal metabolites of humans. Microb Ecol Health Dis 1995;8:15–21.

10. Bone E, Tamm A, Hill M. The production of urinary phenols by gut bacteria and their possible role in the causation of large bowel cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 1976;29:1448–54.

11. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res 1998;18:1091–101 [review].

High Cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia)

Part 1: Introduction

Although it is by no means the only major risk factor, elevated serum cholesterol is clearly associated with a high risk of heart disease. Most medical doctors suggest cholesterol levels should stay under 200 mg/dl (5.2 mmol/liter). Cholesterol levels lower than 200 are not without risk, however, as many people with levels below 200 have heart attacks. As levels fall below 200, heart disease risk continues to decline. Many nutritionally oriented doctors consider cholesterol levels of no more than 180 to be optimal.

Medical laboratories now subdivide total cholesterol measurement into several components including LDL cholesterol (which is directly linked to heart disease) and HDL cholesterol (the so-called "good" cholesterol). The relative amount of HDL to LDL is more important than total cholesterol. For example, it is possible for someone with very high HDL to be at relatively low risk for heart disease even with total cholesterol above 200. Evaluation of changes in cholesterol requires consultation with a healthcare professional and includes measurements of blood levels of total cholesterol as well as HDL and LDL cholesterol.

The discussion to follow is limited to information about the lowering of serum cholesterol levels using natural approaches. Because high cholesterol is linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease, people concerned about heart disease should also read the section on Atherosclerosis.

Continue reading Part 2: Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Part 2: Dietary and Lifestyle Changes

Dietary changes that may be helpful: Eating animal foods containing saturated fat is linked to high serum cholesterol1 and heart disease.2Significant amounts of animal-based saturated fat are found in beef, pork, veal, poultry (particularly in poultry skins and dark meat), cheese, butter, ice cream, and all other forms of dairy products not labeled "fat free." Avoiding consumption of these foods reduces cholesterol and has been reported to even reverse existing heart disease.3 Unlike other dairy foods, skimmed milk, nonfat yogurt, and nonfat cheese are essentially fat-free. So-called "low fat" dairy products, however, are not particularly low in fat. A full 25% of calories from 2% milk come from fat. (The "2%" refers to the fraction of volume filled by fat, not the more important percent of calories coming from fat.)

In addition to large amounts of saturated fat from animal-based foods, Americans eat small amounts of saturated fat from coconut and palm oils. Palm oil has been reported to elevate cholesterol.4 5 Research regarding coconut oil is mixed, with some trials finding no link to heart disease6 while other research reports that coconut oil elevates serum cholesterol.7 8

Despite the links between saturated fat intake and serum cholesterol levels, not every person responds to appropriate dietary changes with a drop in cholesterol. A subgroup of people with elevated cholesterol who have what researchers call "large LDL particles" have been reported to have no response to even dramatic reductions in dietary fat.9 This phenomenon is not understood. People who significantly reduce intake of animal fats for several months and see no reduction in cholesterol levels should discuss other approaches to lowering cholesterol with a cardiologist and a nutritionally oriented doctor.

Yogurt and other fermented milk products have been reported to lower cholesterol in some10 but not all research.11 Until more is known, it makes sense for people with elevated cholesterol who consume these foods to select nonfat varieties.

Eating fish has been reported to increase HDL cholesterol12 and is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease in most13 but not all studies.14 Fish contains very little saturated fat, and fish oil contains EPA and DHA, omega-3 oils that appear to protect against heart disease.15

Vegetarians have lower cholesterol16 and less heart disease17 than meat eaters, in part because they avoid animal fat. Vegans (people who eat no meat, dairy, or eggs) have the lowest cholesterol levels,18 and going on such a diet has reversed heart disease.19

Dietary cholesterol: Most dietary cholesterol comes from egg yolks. Eating eggs increased serum cholesterol in most studies.20 However, eating eggs does not increase serum cholesterol as much as eating foods high in saturated fat, and eating eggs may not increase serum cholesterol at all if the overall diet is low in fat.21

Egg consumption does not appear to be totally safe, however, even for people consuming a low fat diet. When cholesterol from eggs is cooked or exposed to air, it oxidizes. Oxidized cholesterol is linked to increased risk of heart disease.22 Eating eggs also makes LDL cholesterol more susceptible to damage, a change linked to heart disease.23 Moreover, egg eaters are more likely to die from heart disease even when serum cholesterol levels are not elevated.24 Therefore, the idea that egg consumption is unrelated to heart disease, a position taken by some doctors of natural medicine, is not supported by most scientific evidence.

Fiber: Soluble fiber from beans,25 oats,26 psyllium seed,27 and fruit pectin28 has lowered cholesterol levels in most trials.29 Doctors of natural medicine often recommend that people with elevated cholesterol eat more of these high soluble fiber foods. However, even grain fiber (which contains insoluble fiber and does not lower cholesterol) has been linked to protection against heart disease, though the reason for the protection remains unclear.30 It makes sense for people wishing to lower cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease to consume more of all types of fiber.

Flaxseed, like other good sources of soluble fiber, has been reported to lower cholesterol.31 A recent study found that partially defatted flaxseed containing 20 grams of fiber per day significantly lowered LDL cholesterol, suggesting that the cholesterol-lowering component in flaxseed is likely to be the fiber in this product and not the oil removed from it.32However, researchers and nutritionally oriented doctors are also interested in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)–the special omega-3 oil found primarily in whole flaxseed and flaxseed oil. ALA is a precursor to EPA, a fish oil believed to protect against heart disease. To a limited extent, ALA can convert to EPA in the body.33 However, ALA is not the same as EPA or DHA, and has been reported to not have the same effects on the cardiovascular system.34 For example, EPA and DHA lower serum triglyceride levels (a risk factor for heart disease) but ALA does not.35 Moreover, preliminary research on the effects of ALA from flaxseed has produced results that appear somewhat contradictory. For example, ALA has improved parameters of arterial health that should protect people from heart disease, yet other data have implicated ALA as causing oxidation of LDL cholesterol.36Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is believed to be a precursor to atherosclerosis and heart disease. As a result of these preliminary disparate findings, it makes sense for people concerned about heart disease and attempting to lower their cholesterol to consider using partially defatted flaxseed as opposed to whole flaxseed or flaxseed oil until more is known.

Soy: Tofu, tempeh, miso, and some protein powders in health food stores are derived from soybeans. A meta-analysis of many studies has proven that soy protein reduces both total and LDL cholesterol.37 Isoflavones from soy beans may also have this effect.38 Trials showing statistically significant reductions in cholesterol have generally used more than 30 grams per day of soy protein.

Sugar: Eating sugar has been reported to reduce protective HDL cholesterol39 and increases other risk factors linked to heart disease.40 However, higher sugar intake has been associated with only slightly higher risks of heart disease in most reports.41Although the exact relationship between sugar and heart disease remains somewhat unclear, many nutritionally oriented doctors recommend that people with high cholesterol reduce their sugar intake.

Coffee: Drinking boiled or French press coffee increases cholesterol levels.42 Modern paper coffee filters trap the offending chemicals and keep them from entering the cup. Therefore, drinking paper filtered coffee generally does not increase cholesterol levels.43 44 However, paper-filtered coffee does appear to significantly increase homocysteine—another risk factor for heart disease.45 The effects of decaffeinated coffee on cholesterol levels remain in debate.46

Alcohol: Moderate drinking (one to two drinks per day) increases protective HDL cholesterol.47 This effect happens equally with different kinds of alcohol containing beverages.48 49 Alcohol also acts as a blood thinner,50 an effect that might lower heart disease. However, alcohol consumption can cause liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure, alcoholism, and, at high intake, an increased risk of heart disease. As a result, many doctors of natural medicine never recommend alcohol, even for people with high cholesterol. Nevertheless, those who have one to two drinks per day have been reported to live longer51 and are clearly less likely to have heart disease.52Therefore, some people at very high risk of heart disease who are not alcoholics, have healthy livers and normal blood pressure, and are not at an especially high risk for cancer, may benefit from light drinking. In deciding whether light drinking might do more good than harm, people with high cholesterol should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor.

Olive oil: Olive oil lowers LDL cholesterol,53 especially when the olive oil replaces saturated fat in the diet.54 People from countries that use significant amounts of olive oil appear to be at low risk for heart disease.55 Authors of extremely low-fat diet approaches to heart disease recommending avoidance of olive oil are therefore not basing that decision of sound science. Although olive oil is clearly safe for people with elevated cholesterol, as with any fat or oil it very caloric, so its use should be limited in people who are overweight.

Trans Fatty Acids: Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are found in many processed foods containing hydrogenated oils. The highest levels of TFAs occur in margarine. Margarine consumption is linked to increased risk of heart disease.56 Eating TFAs increases the ratio of LDL-to-HDL.57 Margarine and other processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils should be avoided.

Garlic: Garlic is available as a food, in powder as a spice, and as a supplement. Eating garlic helps lower cholesterol in some research,58 though more recently, several double blind studies have not found garlic to be effective.59 60 61 Some of the negative reports have been criticized for flaws in their design.62 Nonetheless, the relationship between garlic and cholesterol lowering is no longer clear.63 However, garlic is known to act as a blood thinner64and may reduce other risk factors for heart disease.65 For these reasons, doctors of natural medicine typically recommend eating garlic as food, taking 900 mg of garlic powder from capsules, or using a tincture of 2–4 ml taken three times daily.

Number and size of meals: The practice of eating many small meals rather than three large ones is sometimes called "grazing." When people eat more small meals, serum cholesterol levels fall compared with the effect of eating the same food in three big meals.66 67People with elevated cholesterol levels should probably avoid very large meals and eat more frequent but smaller meals.

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful: Exercise increases protective HDL cholesterol,68 an effect that occurs even from walking.69 Exercisers have a relatively low risk of heart disease.70 People over forty years of age or who have heart disease should talk with their doctor before starting an exercise program; overdoing it can actually trigger heart attacks.71

Obesity increases the risk of heart disease,72 in part because weight gain lowers HDL cholesterol.73 Weight loss increases HDL and reduces triglycerides, another risk factor for heart disease.74

Smoking is linked to a lowered level of HDL cholesterol 75 and is also known to cause heart disease.76 Quitting smoking reduces the risk of having a heart attack.77

The combination of feelings of hostility, stress, and time urgency is called type A behavior. Men78 79(but not women80) with these traits are at high risk for heart disease in most, but not all, studies.81 Stress82 or type A behavior83 may elevate cholesterol in men. Reducing stress and feelings of hostility has reduced the risk of heart disease.84

Vitamin C

Also known as: Ascorbic acid

What does it do? Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as a powerful antioxidant. Acting as an antioxidant, one of vitamin C’s important functions is to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage. (Only when LDL is damaged, does cholesterol appear to lead to heart disease, and vitamin C may be the most important antioxidant protector of LDL.)1

Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, the "glue" that strengthens many parts of the body, such as muscles and blood vessels. Vitamin C also plays important roles in wound healing and as a natural antihistamine. This vitamin also aids in the formation of liver bile and helps to fight viruses and to detoxify alcohol and other substances.

Although vitamin C appears to have only a small effect in preventing the common cold, it reduces the duration and severity of a cold. Large amounts of vitamin C (e.g., 1–8 grams daily) taken at the onset of a cold episode shorten the duration of illness by an average of 23%.2

Recently, researchers have shown that vitamin C improves nitric oxide activity.3 Nitric oxide is needed for the dilation of blood vessels, potentially important in lowering blood pressure and preventing spasm of arteries in the heart that might otherwise lead to heart attacks. Vitamin C has reversed dysfunction of cells lining blood vessels.4 The normalization of the functioning of these cells may be linked to prevention of heart disease.

Evidence indicates that vitamin C levels in the eye decrease with age5 and that supplementing with vitamin C prevents this decrease,6 leading to a lower risk of developing cataracts.7 8 Healthy people have been reported to be more likely to take vitamin C and vitamin E supplements than those with cataracts in some,9 but not all, studies.10

Vitamin C has been reported to reduce activity of the enzyme aldose reductase in people.11 Aldose reductase is the enzyme responsible for accumulation of sorbitol in eyes, nerves, and kidneys of people with diabetes. This accumulation is believed to be responsible for deterioration of these parts of the body associated with diabetes. Therefore, interference with the activity of aldose reductase theoretically helps protect people with diabetes.

There is some speculative evidence that vitamin C might help prevent gallstones;12 however, supportive evidence remains preliminary.

Where is it found? Broccoli, red peppers, currants, Brussels sprouts, parsley, rose hips, acerola berries, citrus fruit, and strawberries are good sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin C has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Primary Athletic performance (for deficiency only)


Bruising (for deficiency only)

Capillary fragility

Common cold/sore throat

Gingivitis (periodontal disease) (for deficiency only)


High cholesterol (protection of LDL cholesterol)


Infertility (male) (for sperm agglutination)

Injuries (minor) (oral and topical, for sunburn protection)


Wound healing

Secondary Athletic performance (for exercise recovery) Autism



Immune function


Iron deficiency anemia (as an adjunct to supplemental iron)

Minor injuries

Other Alcohol withdrawal support Asthma



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Ear infections (recurrent)





Hay fever


High blood pressure

HIV support


Macular degeneration


Menorrhagia (heavy menstruation)

Morning sickness



Tardive dyskinesia

Urinary tract infection


Who is likely to be deficient? Although scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency) is uncommon in Western societies, many nutritionally oriented doctors believe that most people consume less than optimal amounts. Fatigue, easy bruising, and bleeding gums are early signs of vitamin C deficiency that occur long before frank scurvy develops. Smokers have low levels of vitamin C and require a higher daily intake to maintain normal vitamin C levels.

How much is usually taken? Doctors of natural medicine often recommend 500–1,000 mg per day. Most research uses levels that do not exceed 1,000 mg per day. However, even greater levels (up to 10,000 mg per day) are not uncommon. In terms of heart disease prevention, as little as 100–200 mg of vitamin C might be adequate.13

In contrast, current vitamin C researchers believe that 200 mg per day gets close to raising blood levels in healthy people about as high as they will go, and that supplementing more results in an excretion level almost identical to intake, meaning that more vitamin C does not stay in the body.14 This suggests that levels above 200 mg per day may prove to be superfluous for healthy people. The same kinds of studies that have ascertained that 200 mg is approximately correct for healthy people have not yet been done with sick individuals.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Some individuals develop diarrhea after as little as a few thousand milligrams of vitamin C per day, while others are not bothered by ten times this amount. However, high levels of vitamin C can deplete the body of copper15 16—an essential nutrient. People should be sure to maintain adequate copper intake at higher intakes of vitamin C. Copper is found in many multivitamin/mineral supplements. Vitamin C probably increases the absorption of iron, although this effect is mild. Vitamin C helps recycle the antioxidant vitamin E.

People with the following conditions should consult their doctor before supplementing with vitamin C:

• Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency • Iron overload (hemosiderosis or hemochromatosis) • History of kidney stones • Kidney failure

It has been suggested that people who form kidney stones should avoid vitamin C supplements, because vitamin C can convert into oxalate and increase urinary oxalate.17 18 Initially, these concerns were questioned because the vitamin C converted to oxalate after urine had left the body.19 20 However, using newer methodology that rules out this problem, recent evidence shows that as little as 1 gram of vitamin C per day can increase the urinary oxalate levels in some people, even those without a history of kidney stones.21 22 In one case, 8 grams per day of vitamin C led to dramatic increases in urinary oxalate excretion and kidney stone crystal formation causing bloody urine.23 Until more is known, people with kidney stones or a history of stone formation should not take large amounts (1 gram per day) of supplemental vitamin C. Significantly lower amounts (100–200 mg per day) appear to be safe.

Certain medications interact in a positive and/or negative way withvitamin C. Refer to the drug interactions summary for vitamin C for a list of those medications.


1. Balz F. Antioxidant vitamins and heart disease. Presented at the 60th Annual Biology Colloquium, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, February 25, 1999.

2. Hemilä H. Does vitamin C alleviate the symptoms of the common cold? A review of current evidence. Scand J Infect Dis 1994;26:1–6.

3. Taddei S, Virdis A, Ghaidoni L, et al. Vitamin C improves endotheoium-dependent vasodilation by restoring nitric oxide activity in essential hypertension. Circulation 1998;97:2222–29.

4. Chambers JC, McGregor A, Jean-Marie J, et al. Demonstration of rapid onset vascular endothelial dysfunction after hyperhomocysteinemia. An effect reversible with vitamin C therapy. Circulation 1999;99:1156–60.

5. Taylor A. Cataract: relationship between nutrition and oxidation. J Am Coll Nutr 1993;12:138–46 [review].

6. Taylor A, Jacques PF, Nadler D, et al. Relationship in humans between ascorbic acid consumption and levels of total and reduced ascorbic acid in lens, aqueous humor, and plasma. Curr Eye Res 1991;10:751–59.

7. Jacques PF, Chylack LT Jr. Epidemiologic evidence of a role for the antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids in cataract prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:352S–55S.

8. Jacques PF, Chylack LT, McGandy RB, Hartz SC. Antioxidant status in persons with and without senile cataract. Arch Ophthalmol 1988;106:337–40.

9. Robertson JM, Donner AP, Trevithick JR. Vitamin E intake and risk of cataracts in humans. Ann NY Acad Sci 1989;570:372–82.

10. Seddon JM, Christen WG, Manson JE, et al. The use of vitamin supplements and the risk of cataract among US male physicians. Am J Public Health 1994;84:788–92.

11. Vincent TE, Mendiratta S, May JM. Inhibition of aldose reductase in human erythrocytes by vitamin C. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 1999;43:1–8.

12. Simon JA. Ascorbic acid and cholesterol gallstones. Med Hypotheses 1993;40:81–84.

13. Balz F. Antioxidant Vitamins and Heart Disease. Presented at the 60th Annual Biology Colloquium, Oregon State University, February 25, 1999.

14. Levine M, Conry-Cantilena C, Wang Y, et al. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers: evidence for a recommended dietary allowance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1996;93:3704–709.

15. Sandstead HH. Copper bioavailability and requirements. Am J Clin Nutr 1982;35:809–14 [review].

16. Finley EB, Cerklewski FL. Influence of ascorbic acid supplementation on copper status in young adult men. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;37:553–56.

17. Piesse JW. Nutritional factors in calcium containing kidney stones with particular emphasis on vitamin C. Int Clin Nutr Rev 1985;5(3):110–129 [review].

18. Ringsdorf WM, Cheraskin WM. Medical complications from ascorbic acid: a review and interpretation (part one). J Holistic Med 1984;6(1):49–63.

19. Hoffer A. Ascorbic acid and kidney stones. Can Med Assoc J 1985;32:320 [letter].

20. Wandzilak TR, D’Andre SD, Davis PA, Williams HE. Effect of high dose vitamin C on urinary oxalate levels. J Urol 1994;151:834–37.

21. Levine M. Vitamin C and optimal health. Presented at the February 25, 1999 60th Annual Biology Colloquium, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

22. Levine M, Conry-Cantilena C, Wang Y, et al. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers: evidence for a recommended dietary allowance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1996;93:3704–709.

23. Auer BL, Auer D, Rodgers AL. Relative hyperoxaluria, crystalluria and haematuria after megadose ingestion of vitamin C. Eur J Clin Invest 1998;28:695–700.


Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, a condition with many causes. Approximately 90% of people with high blood pressure have "essential" or "idiopathic" hypertension, for which the cause is poorly understood. The terms "hypertension" and "high blood pressure" as used here refer only to this most common form and not to high blood pressure either associated with pregnancy or clearly linked to a known cause, such as Cushing’s syndrome, pheochromocytoma, or kidney disease. Hypertension must always be evaluated by a healthcare professional. Extremely high blood pressure (malignant hypertension) or rapidly worsening blood pressure (accelerated hypertension) almost always require treatment with conventional medicine. People with mild to moderate high blood pressure should work with a nutritionally oriented doctor before attempting to use the information contained here, as blood pressure requires monitoring and in some cases the use of blood pressure-lowering drugs.

As with conventional drugs, the use of natural substances sometimes controls blood pressure if taken consistently but does not lead to a cure for high blood pressure. Thus, someone whose blood pressure is successfully reduced by weight loss, avoidance of salt, and increased intake of fruit and vegetables would need to maintain these changes permanently in order to maintain control of blood pressure.

Dietary changes that may be helpful: Primitive societies exposed to very little salt suffer from little or no hypertension.1 Salt intake has also been definitively linked to hypertension in western societies.2 Eliminating salt from the diet lowers blood pressure in most people.3 An overview of the best studies found that the more salt is restricted, the greater the blood pressure-lowering effect.4Individual studies sometimes come to differing conclusions about the relationship between salt intake and blood pressure, in part because blood pressure-lowering effects of salt restriction vary from person to person, and small to moderate reductions in salt intake often have minimal effects on blood pressure. Nonetheless, dramatic reductions in salt intake are generally effective for many people with hypertension.

With the prevalence of salted processed and restaurant food, simply avoiding the salt shaker no longer leads to large decreases in salt intake for most people. Totally eliminating salt is more effective, but is also quite difficult to achieve. Moreover, whereas an overview of the research has reported "There is no evidence that sodium reduction as achieved in these trials presents any safety hazards,"5 reports of short-term paradoxical increases in blood pressure in response to salt restriction have occasionally appeared.6 Therefore, people wishing to use salt restriction to lower their blood pressure should consult with a nutritionally oriented doctor.

Vegetarian diets have been reported to significantly lower blood pressure.7 This occurs partly because fruits and vegetables contain potassium—a known blood pressure-lowering m

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