Who is Dr. Arash Bereliani? He is a cardiologist in Los Angeles. He got his bachelor’s at UCLA and his M.D. at Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago.
Currently, he runs a practice out of Beverly Hills and has hospital affiliations at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA. At the latter, he also serves as an assistant professor.
Supplement aside, do we have anything bad to say about him as a doctor? Nope, not at all!
Given his Yelp rating and the reviews on there which we read, it looks like he has a very high satisfaction rate with patients. Plus, he’s affiliated with our two preferred major hospitals in town.
If one of us here at Superfoodly actually needed a cardiologist, he would likely be on our shortlist.
Dr. Bereliani and Princeton Nutrients
Based out or north LA (Woodland Hills), this is not a company we are familiar with. In fact, we had not heard of them until coming across the VitaPulse antioxidant and vitamin blend for sale online. They also sell:
- UltraKrill – an omega 3 fatty acid blend
- NovaLite – probiotic supplement marketed for weight loss/management
- JointSupport – a product containing turmeric, white willow, eggshell membrane, and boswellia serrata extract
Among these products, it appears their VitaPulse supplement for heart health is the biggest seller. Or at least, it seems to gets the most buzz (and that’s why we chose to review it).
So what is Dr. Bereliani’s connection to Princeton Nutrients? That’s not entirely clear.
Their website says he joined the company in 2015. It’s unclear if that means he has ownership, receives revenue/profit sharing, or is simply paid flat fee(s) for advising.
We did a search on the California Secretary of State website to find out more about this company (1):
It appears to be a relatively new company, though it is possible they were operating out of another state prior to that date (this database we checked is only a record for CA).
CorporationWiki listed two “key people” for the company and Dr. Bereliani’s name was not one of them – which if accurate and still current – would suggest that he does not own Precision Nutrients (2).
Whether he does or doesn’t have ownership though is actually irrelevant. We only address this because some had asked if he owns Princeton. The company’s BBB rating was an A- when we checked.
What is VitaPulse?
This product of theirs is one we have came across online a number of times in recent months. You may have seen the video advertisement. Is it a scam? Not at all, it’s for real. This dietary supplement is a combination of 3 very interesting ingredients.
What’s in VitaPulse? Each capsule contains:
- 250 mg of N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- 100 mg of CoQ10
- 10 mg of PQQ
The capsules appear gluten free and vegan since the other ingredients are hypromellose (vegetable capsule), rice flour, silicon dioxide, and magnesium stearate.
You probably have heard of at least one, if not all three of the active ingredients. With Qunol running commercials for CoQ10 on TV, who hasn’t heard of that by now.
Though very few people are aware of just how fascinating the science is for those latter two ingredients.
What does CoQ10 do?
Unlike most dietary supplements which are for foreign ingredients not naturally found in our body, CoQ10 is something we make internally.
Production peaks as we enter adulthood and as you see in the chart, the picture after that isn’t pretty!
It is found inside the mitochondria of almost every cell in your body. What it does there is function as an energy transfer molecule, playing a crucial role in a cell’s ATP energy production process. That is how our cells generate almost all of their energy (3).
As you may guess, where it’s found in the highest concentration are the organs which use the most energy.
The NIH website describes it like this (4):
“Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant that is necessary for cells to function properly.”
That’s right, it’s necessary… not optional.
To be clear, they’re not referencing supplemental forms, but rather the naturally occurring CoQ10 in our body. Since our bodies do make it naturally, we do not need it from dietary sources and hence, why it’s not classified as a vitamin.
There remains debate as to how effective taking supplemental forms are. If consumed with food, it has decent absorption. That we know, because blood serum levels can be measured after taking it.
What we don’t know, because there’s no good way to really measure this in the human body, is whether or not the CoQ10 gets inside our cells’ mitochondria, after it enters our bloodstream.
Regardless, it is one of the most researched phytonutrients of the last couple decades and there are literally dozens of clinical studies suggesting that taking a CoQ10 supplement benefits our health, especially our heart.
For those on cholesterol-lowering medications – statins – it’s especially noteworthy.
Why? Statins deplete your natural CoQ10 levels even further – by up to 40% according to some research (5). So if CoQ10 supplements do work, they might be even more beneficial if you take a statin.
What is PQQ?
Closely related to CoQ10, this is a more recent discovery and in turn, there’s a lot less research about it.
The other reason you don’t hear much about it is because manufacturing PQQ is still quite expensive. As a result, not many supplements include it. VitaPulse is one of only a handful.
We also make PQQ naturally and like CoQ10, how much PQQ we make goes down as we get older.
It too is found in the mitochondria of our cells. You will find the highest concentrations of PQQ in the vital organs which require the most energy, such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, and of course the heart.
That’s why it too is being researched for possible cardiovascular benefits.
The amount of PQQ research to date can’t hold a candle to the extensive amount of CoQ10 studies done over decades. However, the research so far, albeit very preliminary, suggests it too is good for you.
In 2015 the first clinical, double-blind, placebo-controlled human study of PQQ on cholesterol and uric acid levels was published (6).
- 29 healthy Japanese adults participated
- Ages ranged from 40 to 57 years old
- Those on the PQQ received a 20 mg dosage per day
The results? After 12 weeks, the group taking the PQQ experienced a drop in LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad kind) as it went from 136.1 to 127.0 mg/dL. That represents a 6.5% drop for LDL within just 3 months.
But only 11 out of the 29 had high LDL cholesterol to begin with (defined as being above 140). For those people, the improvement was said to be even more than the average decrease cited above.
And while it was not intended to be a focus of the study, it was found that uric acid levels decreased in the PQQ group, too. Having high uric acid levels seems to correlates with several diseases including gout, diabetes, and kidney stones.
So this unexpected side effect appears to be a benefit, especially since the researchers said the uric acid levels remained within the normal range (they did not drop too low).
What is N-acetyl-cysteine?
That’s how it’s written on the VitaPulse nutrition facts label, but you will often see it hyphenated or spelled differently; N acetyl L cysteine, N-acetylcysteine, N-Acetyl Cysteine, or just NAC. Regardless of how it’s spelled, all of these are referencing the same thing.
NAC is a version of cysteine, which is an amino acid.
It’s most noteworthy benefit is that research suggests it helps to support levels of the antioxidant glutathione.
What is glutathione? An extremely potent antioxidant produced internally by our bodies.
So you may be thinking… well why not just pop some glutathione supplements?
Good question. Great idea. Unfortunately that doesn’t work.
There are plenty of foods high in glutathione like leafy greens, broccoli, garlic, and even some fruits such as peaches and strawberries.
How much of glutathione get absorbed though is unknown, since being a protein (amino acid) its get broken down in our body before it reaches the area where it theoretically would get absorbed – lower in the the intestines.
The good news is that we may be absorbing some from food, since these fibrous vegetables often don’t get fully broken down and hence, are left partially intact throughout much of the digestion process.
On the other hand, glutathione supplements contained in a gelcap would dissolve in your stomach, and hence, be broken down with your other proteins you eat.
That is why N-acetyl-cysteine is so interesting… researchers say it appears to support our body’s natural production of the powerful antioxidant glutathione. It acts a precursor (7) (8) (9). Which based on today’s research, seems to be one of the only viable ways to boost glutathione levels via supplementation, since supplementing with glutathione directly is not likely to work .
The pros and cons of VitaPulse
There aren’t many supplemental ingredients we like because frankly, most are a scam with little to no research to back them.
However VitaPulse is different… it actually contains not just one, but 3 different supplemental ingredients which we are big fans of. However that doesn’t mean VitaPulse is the best choice for you.
Starting with the positive first is that on a stand-alone basis at least, none of these ingredients are commonly associated with adverse side effects when their dosage directions are followed.
As far as whether there are possible VitaPulse side effects when all 3 are combined, we didn’t see that addressed one way or another on Princeton Nutrients website. If it wasn’t safe, they probably wouldn’t selling it!
The biggest advantage of this supplement is that they combine all 3 of the aforementioned ingredients into a single capsule.
For many people – especially elderly adults – swallowing capsules and horse pills can be difficult, possibly even dangerous as they could pose a choking risk.
Most people though have no problem swallowing vitamins, but just don’t want to hassle with a big handful of different capsules. That is one of the unique VitaPulse benefits.
However what is not unique are these 3 ingredients. Not only can you buy the ingredients separately, but you might save a lot of money by doing so.
Does VitaPulse actually work more effectively versus the separate ingredients taken at the same time? We wouldn’t expect there to be a different.
As of the date of this review, the costs to buy VitaPulse direct from Princeton Nutrients was as follows:
- 1 bottle = $55.95 ($49.00 + $6.95 shipping)
- 3 bottles = $127.00 (free shipping)
- 6 bottles = $235.00 (free shipping)
If there are other discount or coupon codes available, we didn’t see any.
Rather than compare against their 1 bottle price, we will do it based on their most favorable pricing – the 6 quantity order which equates to $39.17 per bottle.
With 30 pills in a bottle, that’s about $1.31 per dosage.
How does that compare to buying these things separately? Let’s take a look…
|Ingredient||Brand/Product||Strength||Quantity||Price*||Price Per Capsule*|
|NAC||Doctor Recommended NAC||600 mg||180 veggie capsules||$14.89||$0.08|
|CoQ10||Viva Labs CoQ10||100 mg||150 softgels||$11.99||$0.08|
|PQQ||PQQActive||10 mg||60 vegetarian capsules||$23.89||$0.40|
|Total price for taking all 3||$0.56|
|*Regular (non-sale) pricing as of 11/15/16 according to a leading online retailer. Pricing after this date may differ from what’s reflected above.|
That’s paying 57% less by simply purchasing the ingredients individually.
So unless VitaPulse had a coupon code for half off (or greater) the cost doesn’t seem very competitive. And remember, the above math is based off their best value, which is the 6 bottle order for an upfront cost of $235.
Plus, the NAC example we used above has over double the amount (600 mg vs. 250 mg). The reason why is because we actually had a harder time finding that small of a dosage for sale, as most of the companies were selling 600 mg to 1,000 mg.
Conflicts of interest for bloggers?
As stated, we only have praise for the doctor associated with this product.
While we don’t have enough information to comment one way or another on the manufacturer, we have nothing negative to say about the ingredients they’re using. In fact, it suggests Precision Nutrients actually knows what they’re doing. The same can’t be said about a lot of other niche nutritional companies we’ve examined.
The only thing we question is… why are so many health bloggers overwhelmingly enthusiastic about VitaPulse versus the individual ingredients (especially since there is a similar product which already contains 2 out of those 3 things).
No, the hype has nothing to do with Dr. Oz or similar celebrity endorsements. This product has NOT been mentioned on his talk show.
We suspect at least some of the attention it’s getting might have something to do with the VitaPulse affiliate program.
Affiliate marketing is where a website receives a commission for each sale they refer. If you click on a product link and buy it, the website earns a percentage commission or flat fee for the sale.
Websites reviewing everything from credit cards to video games use this form of advertising.
We too use affiliate marketing through Amazon. A lot of things we talk about are foods which are not something you buy online, so we actually make very little money with Superfoodly (and our server costs are outrageous). When it’s something like supplements, we will often link to the product on Amazon.
What we won’t do though is link to things which we don’t think are in the best interest of our readers.
That brings us to VitaPulse. A simple search for their affiliate program brought us to this page on OfferVault, which is an affiliate network that websites to use.
It looks like the payout is a whopping $52 per lead (referred sale) for VitaPulse supplements.
Wow, that’s a lot of money! It’s almost in the league of payouts you see from banks for card signups.
To put that in comparison, typically we only earn a single digit percentage commission if you click an Amazon link on our website for a vitamin or dietary supplement and then go buy it.
You don’t need a calculator to know that means we make very little if you buy a $20 or $30 bottle of vitamins through our link.
However for the type of manufacturer-direct marketing which Princeton Nutrients participates in, what they pay appears to be comparable to other supplements (you see two others in the screenshot above as examples). Despite how insanely lucrative it appears to promote VitaPulse, we don’t feel comfortable doing it.
Why? Because we like to treat our readers like ourselves… recommending what we would buy ourselves.
For us personally, we think it makes more sense to buy these ingredients separately.
Where to buy VitaPulse?
To be clear though, we’re not dissing this product.
Despite its price tag, we think it’s a good combination of ingredients. If you’re okay with the high cost, by all means you should by it! If you want it, where can you get it?
You won’t find VitaPulse at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, or other stores like that. To the best of our knowledge, the only place where to buy VitaPulse is online, directly through Precision Nutrients. So if you want it, head over there and place an order.
If you’re in the UK, buying it is even more difficult.
It’s not sold in UK stores either. You can order it, but you will have to pay shipping and handling. When we called Princeton Nutrients customer service phone number to find out the cost, they said it was $9.95 (which is actually reasonable, but still another expense to factor in).
As far as availability in Canada and Mexico, we didn’t ask how much shipping was there but presumably, it’s equal or less than the charge for UK.
Our one complaint is their CoQ10
Price aside, there’s only one thing we dislike about VitaPulse and that is the type of CoQ10 they use.
There are two types of CoQ10… ubiquinone and ubiquinol.
The latter is the reduced form. Our bodies actually have to convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol in order to use it.
As you can guess, it’s the ubiquinol which is generally considered the better CoQ10, since it’s already in the converted form. Studies have shown it to have much higher absorption.
Ubiquinol may increase blood CoQ10 levels up to 8x better than ubiquinone, at least that’s according to some human studies (10) (11). That was with regular usage but even after a single dosage, reportedly it may be 60% higher versus taking ubiquinone of the same amount (12).
This more bioavailable form is patented by Kaneka, a multi-billion dollar Japanese company. They manufacture it but rather than sell direct to consumers, they sell it to supplement companies who use it in their products.
Since it costs more, it’s typically only seen in the high end CoQ10 supplements.
An advantage of buying the ingredients yourself is that you can buy the ubiquinol form instead of ubiquinone.
What we do ourselves
For starters it’s worth noting that a bottle of VitaPulse is only 30 capsules, with instructions to take one daily.
Many of the studies involving CoQ10 used higher dosages – up to 300 mg per day or more. The amount in a capsule of VitaPulse is only 100 mg.
As far as PQQ, taking 10 mg per day – which is how much is in their product – is a fair amount, however the study mentioned above used double that amount; 20 mg per day.
As far as NAC, as previously mentioned most of them we see for sale are 600 mg or higher. The amount in VitaPulse is only 250 mg.
Based it on the typical daily dosages for these supplements, it looks like VitaPulse would be almost perfect, if you took it 2-3x daily.
The problem with doing that though is how expensive it would be! It would require 2 to 3 bottles per month, since each only contains 30 capsules. But if you’re okay with the expense, then by all means buy their product.
Given the half-life of CoQ10 and the others, it’s preferable to space out your supplementation throughout a 24 hour period, rather than taking your daily dosage all at once. For example, taking it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
That’s how we take CoQ10 and PQQ – with each meal of the day.
Jarrow Formulas makes a supplement which combines 100 mg of CoQ10 (using the preferred ubiquinol form) and 10 mg of PQQ in a single capsule. We buy this product, QH-absorb + PQQ on Amazon.
We also like Jarrow Formulas N-A-C Sustain, which is a 600 mg time-released formulation of NAC. Though it’s worth noting there are plenty of other great NAC supplements on the market, too.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.