Should You add Pycnogenol to your Daily Supplement Regimen?

I usually order vitamins and supplements from iHerb.com, because of both the convenience and cost factor (if you order from iHerb, use the referral code JON420 to save $5 on your order).   iHerb usually includes flyers or sample packs of various supplements and vitamins in the box.   About a year ago, the “ride along” flyer was for a supplement I had never heard about called Pycnogenol.

I did a little research and I discovered that pycnogenol comes from the bark of a pine tree grown in France.  It is marketed as an anti-oxidant and as a supplement to help blood circulation and aid the vascular system.

I normally check out any potential new supplement at ConsumerLab.com, which is a paid membership site that offers unbiased evaluations of various vitamins and supplements.  If you just run a search on Google or  Yahoo, you won’t find much other than ads for the product itself.  ConsumerLab had nothing on Pycnogenol other than to identify it as an “oligomeric proanthocyanidin” (OPCs)- meaning extract of the French pine.

ConsumerLab’s conclusions are that there is no scientific evidence of specific benefits from OPCs, but also no harm associated with these extracts.  However, when I looked at the customer reviews, there were some very positive and very specific praise of pycnogenol – enough so that I decided to try it out.

Source Natural pycnogenolI ordered a bottle of the 100mg pills manufactured by Source Naturals, which I have always found to be a quality manufacturer.

My experience with pycnogenol has been positive.  The most apparent benefit for me has been increased pliability and softness of my skin.  This winter, for the first time in many years, I did not experience dry, cracked skin on my hands and elbows.

Obviously I cannot speak to any circulatory issues, but based on the noticeable improvement to my skin, I have added pycnogenol to my daily supplement regimen.  I am also sticking to the Source Naturals brand – I tried a different manufacturer’s formulation but noticed a drop off in the effect.  I came back to the 100mg dosage of pycnogenol from Source naturals, which is what I now take.

I am obviously speaking about my own experience – your experience, doctor’s opinion and reaction may be different.

Why Fish Oil is Good for You

At my last annual physical, my doctor recommended that I add fish oil to my daily intake of supplements to help keep my cholesterol down.   Specifically, he recommended a fish oil supplement that contains high levels of both DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid).  In my case, I am taking fish oil from Vital Oils – two gel tabs each containing 750mg of DHA and 250 mg of EPA.  Obviously you should discuss your needs with your own physician.

It turns out that many fish oil supplements on the market contain much lower levels of one or both of these components.  Further, my doctor noted that consuming fish several times a week as I do does not offer the same benefit.

This past week the Los Angeles Times published an article that explains why omega-3 fish oil supplementation works well to keep you healthy.  In a joint American and Japanese study, researchers found that omega-3 fish oil helps reduce inflammation caused by certain white blood cells.  An excess of this inflammation can make the immune system resistant to insulin thereby triggering diabetes.

So, it appears that in addition to moderating cholesterol in the blood, omega-3 fish oil can also protect you against diabetes and other conditions that result from chronic inflammation in the body.