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Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw

that we’re just not too well equipped to handle. Cardiovascular disease and cancer, for example, existed a long time ago, but they were relatively rare diseases, because something elsewould usually kill you first.

Sandy: Not only that, but one of the things that people are discovering are genes that are called pleiotropic genes, that are beneficial to people when they’re young or increase reproductive capabilities when a person is young, but then later have detrimental effects. The way that evolution is set up, it’s reproductionthat really drives the whole thing, and whether you’re going to live twenty, thirty, or forty years after your reproductive period is over is really of no greatconcern to evolution.

Durk: Yeah, once your children reach an age where they can independently support themselves or reproduce themselves, you’re waste material as far as evolution is concerned.

David: What do you think are some of the very most important substances and nutrients– that most people are not familiar with– which play an essential role in extending or improving human life?

Durk: Well, if you’re talking about things that most people aren’t familiar with, one of the most important ones, I’d say, is taurine, which is a sulfur-containing amino acid. It’s not used in the body to make proteins, but it’s very important for protecting electrically-active tissue like the heart, the eyes, and the brain.

Sandy: Also it’s interesting to note that the most important dietary source of taurine is red meat. And, of course, as we know an awful lot of people have cut down or even discontinued eating red meat, so there’s a very limited amount of taurine available to most people. It is possible for people to make a certainamount of taurine in their bodies, but under stressful conditions where large amounts are needed, it may not be possible to make that much.

David: Are there any other special supplements that you think people on vegetarian diets should be especially aware of?

Durk: Anybody on a vegetarian diet has got to take vitamin B-12 supplements, because vegetables don’t make B-12. If you try living on a strict vegetarian diet with no milk products or fermented products in it, you’ll end up croaking eventually of a B-12 deficiency unless you take a supplement. But beyond thatthere are many common vitamins that people don’t realize the importance of taking more of them, and the consequences of not doing so. For example, when a person metabolizes an amino acid called methionine they can make an atherogenic (atherosclerosis causing) compound called homocysteine, which is alsoan excitatory neurotoxin. Now if you have enough B-6, B-12, and folic acid, you can convert that to a beneficial anti-oxidant called cystathione, or back into methionine. If you don’t have enough B-6, B-12, and folic acid, the homocysteine can pile up. Homocysteine is probably responsible for about twenty percent of all cardiovascular deaths because of it’s ability to promote atherosclerosis.

Sandy: Ten or twenty percent, depending on whose estimates you use.

Durk: Most people are simply not getting enough folic acid, B-6, and possibly B-12 to prevent that. They need to take substantially more than RDA levels, because it turns out that even the levels of homocysteine in the blood that are considered normal, are in fact atherogenic, and a risk factor for cardiovasculardisease. If 

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