Polyphenols are compounds found in plant foods, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will contain a wide variety of these plant chemicals. There is such a wide variety, in fact, that scientists are just discovering the health attributes of these amazing substances, and research continues to reveal new and exciting benefits, including those that specifically boost bone health.
Today we’re going to take a close look at one such polyphenol: rutin, which plays a direct role in bone remodeling, prevents and improves cognitive decline, and has several other amazing health benefits.
Polyphenols, Bioflavonoids, Antioxidants…Sorting Out The Terminology
To avoid confusion that can easily happen when discussing plant chemicals, it’s a good idea to take a moment and define them correctly.
- Polyphenol is a broad term that refers to micronutrients found in plant foods. They are distinguished by their molecular structure, which is characterized by many multiple conglomerations of phenol structure units – hence the prefix poly, which means “many.”
- Phenols themselves are a class of chemical compounds made up of an oxygen-hydrogen bond (a hydroxyl group) bonded to an aromatic compound of hydrogen and carbon (a hydrocarbon).
- Bioflavonoids and flavonoids are the same thing. They are polyphenols, and belong to a class of antioxidants (which we will take a look at in a moment) that are named for the Latin word for yellow, “flavus.” There are over 5,000 subgroups of flavonoids that are organized in five basic groups: anthoxanthins, flavanones, flavanonols, and flavans. These are further divided into more categories and groups, such as catechins.
- Flavonols are a kind of flavonoid (and thus a polyphenol as well). Their phenol structure groups are found in many different positions, making this a very diverse group of flavonoids.
- Isoflavones are a type of polyphenol with estrogen-like activity, so you will sometimes see them referred to as phytoestrogens. They are found primarily in legumes.
- Antioxidant is another broad term that refers to any molecule that inhibits the oxidation of another molecule and neutralize the electron-snatching free radicals that damage cells. When a molecule donates an electron, it becomes unstable, because it’s missing that crucial electron. This is the chain reaction of oxidation. But antioxidants have an extra electron, so they can donate it to stop the chain reaction, yet remain stable, without becoming a free radical. Certain antioxidants become unstable, but it’s only transient, thanks to a network of cooperating antioxidants.
The world of plant chemicals is extremely complex, so to avoid getting too convoluted, I won’t delve into all the various groups and subgroups of antioxidants. Suffice to say, these are the basic terms used to describe plant micronutrients, so when you see them in various research articles, studies, and the like, the information will be much clearer.
It will also clarify today’s post, which is about the bioflavonoid rutin.
Rutin: Your Protection Against Fragile Bones, Cognitive Impairment, And Much More
Rutin is a combination of the glycosides quercetin and rutinose. (Glycosides are compounds made up of a carbohydrate and a non-carbohydrate component.) It’s a biologically active flavonoid, and its bioavailability is influenced by the presence or absence of glucosides (glucosides are glycosides in which the sugar component is glucose).
Rutin And Your Bones
According to a comprehensive review on the role of polyphenol antioxidants and bone health, an interesting experiment showed that rutin specifically increases bone density. Rutin was shown to prevent decreases in “both total and distal petaphyseal femoral mineral density by slowing down resorption and increasing osteoblastic activity”1 that was caused by the removal of the ovaries.
This is particularly great news for post-menopausal women. After menopause, osteoblasitc activity – that is, activity in the cells that build bone – tends to decrease, and resorption typically increases. Rutin appears to balance this out, essentially normalizing bone remodeling.
Rutin also has a profound effect in other areas.
Rutin For Blood Clot Prevention
Innovative researchers at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center discovered that rutin made a highly effective treatment for stopping thrombosis (clotting of blood). It does so by inhibiting a substance called protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), which plays a role in blood clot formation.2 And it does so more effectively than drugs.
According to the study, “currently available antithrombotic agents” inhibit one of two pathways by which clots are formed. Rutin, in contrast, inhibits both pathways.2
The researchers screened for PDI inhibitors, and:
“…identified quercetin-3-rutinoside [rutin] as a selective inhibitor of PDI activity. Quercetin-3-rutinoside is a flavonol abundant in a variety of commonly ingested foods. We found that quercetin-3-rutinoside inhibited thrombus formation at concentrations that are well tolerated in mice and humans.”2
We’re going to take a look at some of those “commonly ingested foods” in a moment, but first I’d like to note rutin’s amazing ability to regulate pressure in the eyes.
Intralocular Pressure Relieved By Rutin
The key to managing glaucoma is keeping the pressure inside the eyeball – the intralocular pressure – stable. For some people, though, the prescribed drugs simply don’t work, and the intralocular pressure remains high.
What researchers found is that orally-administered rutin (and another plant compound called forskolin) contributed “a better control and a further small reduction of IOP in patients who were poorly responsive to multitherapy treatment.”3
It’s interesting to note that rutin was effective in those participants who had already tried conventional methods and found them ineffective. It stands to reason that rutin would be effective in individuals who choose to forego conventional methods and simply increase rutin intake.
Your Brain On Rutin
There’s still more to this remarkable plant chemical. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, rutin plays a “neuroprotective role” and “protects the brain against various oxidative stressors.”4
The scientists compared the cognitive performance of two groups of rats, one which had received rutin (25mg by mouth once a day for three weeks) and one which did not receive rutin. The scientists had the rats perform specific tasks to measure their cognition, and upon evaluation the researchers noted that rutin prevented “morphological changes in hippocampus” via various enzymatic processes.4
The researchers conclude that:
“The study thereby suggests the effectiveness of rutin in preventing cognitive deficits and might be beneficial for the treatment of sporadic dementia of Alzheimer type (SDAT),”4
How To Get More Rutin – Foods Highest In This Potent Polyphenol
The general consensus is that approximately 30mg of rutin per day is optimal; but because this nutrient has only recently become the subject of scientific studies, the exact amount found in some foods is unknown.
- Buckwheat is an alkalizing grain you’ll find on the Osteoporosis Reversal Program’s list of Alkalizing Grains and Wheat Products. Whole grain buckwheat flour contains more rutin than any other food, with 675mg per cup. Raw buckwheat groats, for example, offer 230mg per kilogram, and buckwheat noodles (soba) have approximately 100mg per 100-gram serving.
- Amaranth Greens can be found in many Asian markets. These greens, tinged with purple and red, are rich in rutin – as much as 24.5 grams per kilogram of leaves. Amaranth grain contains very little rutin, interestingly.
- Apples* have rutin specifically in the peel, so make sure you choose organic apples if you decide to include “an apple a day” for their rutin content.
- Asparagus* is in season now, in the spring, and is full of rutin. Interestingly enough, the stems have more rutin than the tips, so don’t trim too much off the bottom before you cook your asparagus.
- Figs are a delicious, alkalizing fruit you can enjoy dried or fresh (both contain rutin). They have about the same amount of rutin as apples, although the exact amount of rutin in either of these fruits is not listed in the data.
- Rooibos Tea is a good source of rutin, with nearly 2mg per cup. Roobios also contains various other Foundation Supplements.
- Elderflower Tea is another beverage with rutin. Dried elderflowers contain around 11 grams of rutin per kilogram.
- Citrus Fruits* contain relatively high amounts of rutin, particularly in the white membrane found in the flesh. Rutin is also found in citrus rinds.
Another Powerful Naturally-Occurring Substance To Boost Cognitive Abilities
Back in 1991, 149 patients were given either a nutrient called phosphatidylserine (PS) for treatment of age-associated memory impairment or a placebo. After three months, the group that received the phosphatidylserine improved in “both computerized and standard neuropsychological performance tests, and also on clinical global ratings of improvement.”5
The researchers in this study pointed out that these results showed phosphatidylserine to be a “promising candidate for treating memory loss in later life.”5
A more recent study on phosphatidylserine, conducted in 2014, involved giving elderly participants a daily supplement of phosphatidylserine (enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids) for 15 weeks. The participants all complained of memory problems prior to the study, but after 15 weeks, “a significant improvement in sustained attention and memory recognition was observed” in those who took the phosphatidylserine (PS).6
This led researchers to conclude that:
“Consumption of 100 mg/day of PS-DHA might be associated with improving or maintaining cognitive status in elderly subjects with memory complaints.”6
Additionally, this fatty acid decreases cortisol levels after exercise, with a 2004 study concluding the following:
“The findings suggest that PS is an effective supplement for combating exercise-induced stress and preventing the physiological deterioration that can accompany too much exercise. PS supplementation promotes a desired hormonal status for athletes by blunting increases in cortisol levels.”7
As Savers know, decreasing cortisol levels is an important component in alkalizing the body, setting the stage for bones to rebuild and strengthen.
Sources Of Phosphatidylserine
Unlike rutin, phosphatidylserine is not abundant in plant foods. It is a type of fatty acid that occurs primarily in animal tissue, such as bovine brain. So for a pure, vegetable-based source of phosphatidylserine, I recommend NatureCity’s TruePS™.
Stabilized for a longer shelf life, TruePS™ offers phosphatidylserine in the form of an exclusive blend, SharpPS®. Stabilized Sharp PS® retains its potency for a full two years from the time of manufacture.
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And of course, if you’re not happy with TruePS™, you are welcome to return the unused portion for a full refund.
It’s comforting to know there are natural substances available to help prevent dreaded cognitive decline, and that offer so many other benefits as well. And that includes benefits for your bones.
Till next time,
1 Rao, L.G., Kang, N., and Rao, A.V. “Polyphenol Antioxidants and Bone Health: A Review.” InTech. (2012). PDF. http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/32957.pdf
2 Jasuja, Reema, et al. “Protein disulfide isomerase inhibitors institute a new class of antithrombotic agents.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 122.6. (2012): 2104-2113. Web. May 14, 2016. Doi: 10.1172/JCI61228. http://www.jci.org/articles/view/61228
3 Vetrugno, M., et al. “Oral administration of forskolin and rutin contributes to intraocular pressure control in primary open angle glaucoma patients under maximum tolerated medical therapy.” J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 28. 5. (2012): 536-41. Web. May 14, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731245
4 Javed, H., et al. “Rutin prevents cognitive impairments by ameliorating oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in rat model of sporadic dementia of Alzheimer type.” Neuroscience. 210. (2012): 340-352. Web. May 15, 2016. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306452212001893
5 Crook, T.H., PhD, et al. “Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment.” Neurology. 5. 41. (1991): 644-649.Web. May 15, 2016. http://www.neurology.org/content/41/5/644.short
6 Vakhapova, V., et al. “Phosphatidylserine containing omega-3 Fatty acids may improve memory abilities in nondemented elderly individuals with memory complaints: results from an open-label extension study.” Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 38. 1-2. (2014): 39-45. Doi: 10.1159/000357793. Web. May 15, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24577097
7 Starks, Michael A. “The effects of phosphatidylserine on endocrine response to moderate intensity exercise.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 5. 11. (2008). Doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-11. Web. May 15, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503954/