Perhaps it was the thought of trying a new supplement that promised to keep my body's digestive system at its peak while boosting the health of my immune system. Maybe it was that my daily yogurt was no longer doing the trick. Or maybe the final sentence in the e-mail from the account executive swayed me: "This formulation is especially helpful for hangovers, as it can aid the liver in the metabolization of alcohol thus minimizing its deleterious effects both short term (hangover) and long term (liver damage)."

Whatever the reason, I volunteered to review a dietary supplement made by Vidazorb and soon received a package containing three supplements: Vidazorb Plus, Vidazorb Plus OPC, and Vidazorb Super C. They each contain some or all of the following: OPCs, L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and vitamin C.

What Are OPCs?

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) are naturally occurring antioxidants that are available in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Marketed for many different uses and in many ways, OPC supplements are usually made from either grape seed or the bark of the maritime pine. These two OPC sources lead to products that are not necessarily identical in function. As of yet, there is no solid evidence that they are effective for any medical condition One issue is that, as New York University's Medical Center puts it, "The research record is complicated by the fact that certain identically named proprietary products have consisted at different times of various proportions of ... related substances."

That said, OPCs have been extensively tested for safety and are considered to be essentially nontoxic.

L. acidophilus

One of the most common probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus belongs to a group of bacteria that normally live in the human small intestine as well as in the vagina. These "good germs" are microorganisms that help you maintain a healthy intestinal tract and aid digestion. In the intestines, L. acidophilus secrete lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, acidolin, acidolphilin, lactocidin, and bacteriocin, which are all substances that make the intestines inhospitable to invading microorganisms; sometimes, they kill invading organisms directly.

Common food sources of L. acidophilus include yogurt and fermented soy products, such as tempeh and miso. L. acidophilus has long been used as a therapeutic agent for gastrointestinal disorders. However, this and other medicinal uses of L. acidophilus are not supported by strong clinical evidence.


Bifidobacterium produce lactic acid as an end product of fermentation. Lactic acid bacteria ferment foods, which lowers the pH level and prevents harmful bacterial growth. The original observation of the positive role played by certain bacteria was made by Russian scientist and Nobel laureate Eli Metchnikoff. He suggested the possibility of modifying gut flora by replacing harmful microbes with useful ones.

''Bifidobacteria'' were first isolated from a breast-fed infant by Henry Tissier who worked at the Pasteur Institute. The isolated bacterium named Bacillus bifidus communis was later renamed to the genus 'Bifidobacterium.' Tissier found that bifidobacteria are dominant in the gut flora of breast-fed babies and he observed clinical benefits from treating diarrhea in infants with bifidobacteria. He found that bifidobacterial displaced the proteolytic bacteria causing the disease.

Vitamin C, The Old Standby

Dietary sources of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits such as oranges. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, and which aids in the absorption of iron. Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy, which is rare and can potentially cause sudden death.

Many uses for vitamin C have been proposed — in particular, research on asthma, cancer, and diabetes exists, though it remains inconclusive. The use of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of the common cold and respiratory infections remains controversial, with research ongoing. For cold prevention, more than 30 clinical trials including over 10,000 participants have examined the effects of taking daily vitamin C. Overall, no significant reduction in the risk of developing colds has been observed though studies of people living in extreme circumstances, including soldiers in subarctic exercises, skiers, and marathon runners, have found a significant reduction in the risk of developing a cold, by approximately 50 percent. In people who developed colds while taking vitamin C, no difference in the severity of symptoms has been seen but a significant reduction in the duration of colds has been reported (roughly 10 percent in adults and 15 percent in children).

My Reaction

Unfortunately, I could not conduct a long-term trial for any of these supplements and because of that, I cannot comment extensively on their efficacy. On the first day, I took only one Plus OPC pill (which contains L. acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and OPCs) for the day. It is recommended a person take three a day, preferably an hour before meals. I found the one pill to be slightly upsetting, though in a good way; things were definitely moving along in my digestive tract. I decided, though, that I would not take more than one pill a day or at least not immediately.

On succeeding days, I took one Super C pill each day as it contains all of the above ingredients and seemed to have the most to offer. I found the orange pineapple taste of the Super C supplement to be palatable enough, neither delicious nor offensive. I preferred the pomegranate flavor of the Plus OPC supplement. One odd effect I did not notice until the third day — or more correctly, something I did not immediately connect to the supplement — was the impact on my dream life. Not only did I wake each morning remembering any number of dreams, but they all seemed so vivid.

According to the company's website, each supplement is a calorie-, gluten- and lactose-free probiotic 'manufactured to the highest quality standards with the full spectrum of bellies in mind.' None of the products require refrigeration, which is uncommon and certainly very convenient for a probiotic. Depending on your digestion and your dreams, one or all of these supplements may well be worth an investigation.

Source: Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Stohs SJ, et al. Free radicals and grape seed proanthocyanidin extract: importance in human health and disease prevention. Toxicology. 2000.