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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Interview with Sam Caster

There is a lot of research and interest in antioxidants as being crucial to our health, particularly as we are now more prone to environmental stressors and the free-radical damage which goes with them. In recent years tests to determine the antioxidant capacities of various plants has let to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) test as being the standard means of determining this. Is this a valid test in your opinion?

Not really. The ORAC test gets misused in the marketplace. In the ORAC test you use a fluid base to measure the rate of oxidation of the control. You assault it with some toxin and you measure the rate of oxidation of your control. That is your baseline. Then you set up the same experiment again with each test substance. To the degree that it slows that oxidations rate, it will give your antioxidants value. The problem with this is that it is not directly relevant to what happens in the human body. It is out of context. You are taking a water-soluble antioxidant, like vitamin C or a blueberry, and you are getting a very high ORAC value. First of all, ORAC measures fluids. What you are looking at is how water-soluble antioxidants absorb free radicals. But an ORAC test in a lab does not pick up fat-soluble antioxidants. What we have seen in the industry is the proliferation of the use of the ORAC as the raw material measurement. If a blueberry or juice has a high ORAC value, it doesn’t really mean anything until you have eaten it and tested the serum level of the antioxidant absorption. That is the bottom line. It is what happens in your body which is important, not what happens in a lab. This is where a test call the S-ORAC (Serum ORAC) test is more realistic. After the human body has ingested whatever the nutrient base is, the serum level can actually be measured. This is the true antioxidant indicator. For instance, if the US FDA makes a recommendation to eat fruits and vegetables it is for two reasons – for mineral content and for antioxidant protection. If they want to test the efficacy of adding five additional fruits and vegetables to the diet they use the S-ORAC (Serum ORAC) test. Using this test they found that adding five additional fruits or vegetables to the diet increases the serum antioxidants by 13%, which is statistically very significant.

Mannatech was founded in November 1993 by current CEO and Chairman Sam Caster. During its first two years, the company focused on products that contained aloe vera extract. Mannatech announced its flagship product, Ambrotose, 1996 based on the discovery that the body’s immune system needs eight plant-based sugars – also known as glyconutrients – to function properly.

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