DEAR DR. BLONZ: My boyfriend takes a dietary supplement that contains bovine colostrum to increase his lean muscle mass. Coincidently (or maybe not), he is noticing that his heart has been racing a lot. Do you think there is a connection? -- S.S., Oakland, California
DEAR S.S.: Colostrum is the first fluid from a mother's breast following the birth of her young. It is a liquid that is rich in "immune proteins," tailored to give the newborn's immune system a boost until it can begin manufacturing disease-fighting antibodies on its own. This type of protection, referred to as "passive immunity," is considered to be one of the great health advantages to breast-feeding.
What, then, does a colostrum supplement -- and one that comes from a cow -- have to do with an increase in muscle mass in humans? Little, I am afraid. As harsh as it sounds, this type of colostrum only makes sense if you are less than 6 months old and bovine in origin. If you know of any solid scientific evidence to the contrary, I would enjoy seeing it. There are certainly more traditional and reliable methods to build muscles.
As for the racing heart, it is certainly possible that something in the supplement is causing that symptom. It could be allergenic in nature, or it could be due to a stimulant in the product. Check the ingredient label to make sure there are no surprise ingredients. It would be prudent for him to stop taking the product and see if things settle down.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: I recently had cardiac bypass surgery. I'm now in search of a healthy lifestyle and am naturally concerned about my diet. I have read that the oils in certain cold-water fish are beneficial, so I've been eating sardines because they are easily available. I recently looked at the label of the brand I buy and saw that I have been consuming 24 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat and 140 mg of cholesterol. These figures seem excessive. My question is, should I discontinue eating sardines? Or are some of these fats the so-called "good" fats? -- F.M. San Diego
DEAR F.M.: There is no need to stop eating sardines, especially if you enjoy them. You might, however, consider cutting back. The totals you cite are for an entire tin, which is the equivalent of about one cup of fish. According to my nutrient database, aside from its 24 grams of fat, one cup of sardines also contains over 50 grams of protein, and about 800 milligrams of calcium. These numbers approach the amounts needed for the entire day!
Sardines have a moderate fat content, and they do contain the heart-healthy omega-3 fats. The key to a healthful diet, however, is variety and moderation. You should be eating a variety of fish, not only sardines, and making sure that every meal includes whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Blend these all together with a daily serving of physical activity, and you'll be on your way to that healthful lifestyle you seek.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.