Elevacity Coffee

Elevate coffee appears to be sold like Amway and and Avon.  Becoming a distributer requires listening to web based “testimonials” that claim all sorts of outcomes such as (1) weight lost, (2) mood elevation, and (3) lowering of “A1C” in diabetes.  Naturally such a claim fired up my quest to understand it.   I was told that I did not need to understand the product to sell it.  I was also told that no one with tree nut allergies had ever gotten sick from drinking the Elevate Happy Coffee.

Rich Dark Roast Coffee

The roasting process destroys much of the chlorogenic acids found in green coffee beans, further down on the list of ingredient.  These dark roast Maillard products such as melatanoidin,  may disguise some of the taste of  walnut (septum?) extract.  Choi and coworkers studied the degree of coffee roasting on how mice responded to the oxidative stress inducing bacterial toxin lipopoly saccharide (LPS).  LPS causes our immune system to lauch an attack with reactive oxygen species against invading bacteria.  We must launch our own defense to avoid collateral damage.  Roasting seems to affect the antioxidant and anti inflammatory affects of coffee.

Choi S, Jung S, Ko KS (2018) Effects of Coffee Extracts with Different Roasting Degrees on Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Systems in Mice Nutrients. 10(3): 363. PubMed


organic cocoa

The cocoa may be there for the flavor or the combination of theobromine and caffeine.

Expresso Coffee

Expresso is simply a different way of extracting flavors of roasted coffee.  It may be to be there to cover up the taste of the walnut extract …  or just because it tastes good!

Sunflower Lecithin

Lecithin is a food science term for what biochemists call (glycerol) phospholipids.  Wikipedia reminds us that lecithin is derived from a Greek word for egg yolks.


Lecithins are used for creating emulsions of powders that are insoluble in water. Soy vs Sunflower lecithin is reviewed on another site.   A biochemist would tell you that our cell membranes are composed of these phospholipids.  We might tell you that the head groups on the outer membrane might be more choline and the head groups on the inner membrane more thanolamine.  We need them both for brain health, heart health, kidney health, right pinky toe health….The number of cis double bonds determines the free radical scavenging ability and the fluidity of the cell membrane.  The choline head group may be used for other stuff like the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Green Tea

Let us assume that green tea is in for the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), and not the taste.  This molecule, with all of its conjugated double bonds, is an obvious scavenger of free radicals.  Another interesting thing PubCem tells us is that ECGC has been crystallized with numerous proteins, sugestive of specific biological activity.   Cardiac Troponin C is a calcium binding molecule that regulates heart contraction.  The EGCG hydroxyl groups are good at chelating magnesium needed for a key enzyme( PA endonuclease) in H1N1 virus replication.  The human peptidyl prolyl cis/trans isomerase (Pin1) plays a critical role in oncogenic signaling and binds EGCG.

EGCG clinical trials are numerous. There might be some thing to this small molecule.


L-Theanine is a derivative of the amino acid/neruotransmiter glutamate.  It is found in mushrooms as well as tea.  While the US FDA has categorized L-theanine as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), the  European Food Safety Authority has placed restrictions on health related claims.


PubMed entries on L-theanine & the NMDA receptor are promising but not really enough to warrant health benefit claims.

PEA (Beta Phenylethylamine HCL)

β-PEA , the carboxylaton product of the amino acid phenyl alanine, is found in foods like chocolate
and dopaminergic  regions of the brain  such as the caudate-putamen (Borah 2013, introduction).  This review hypothesized that  β-PEA contributes to Parkinson’s Disease by inhibiting mitochondrial complex 1 in dopaminergic neurons.  Inhibition of complex 1 is proposed to lead to hydroxyl radical generation, which leads to aggregation of α-synucleins (Lewy bodies).

“The proposed mechanism tries to explain the molecular events that might lead to dopaminergic neuronal loss in PD by consumption of β-PEA-containing food items. The neurotoxic potential of β-PEA in the development of PD has been discussed and limited consumption of these foods is recommended. ”

β-PEA, according to PubChem, acts on trace amine associated receptors (TAAR1).  The Wikipedia page discusses the intracellular location of TAAR1 and the requirement of trace amines to enter neurons via dopamine transporters, something also necessary for the Borah and coworkers mode of toxicity.

The Irsfeld (2013) review covers potential mechanisms of β-PEA increasing dopamine and serotonin levels from release to inhibition of reuptake.  Like anything we can ingest, dose seems to define the poison.

Borah A, Paul R, Mazumder MK, Bhattacharjee N. (2013)Contribution of β-phenethylamine, a component of chocolate and wine, to dopaminergic neurodegeneration: implications for the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. Neurosci Bull. 29(5):655-60. PubMed

Irsfeld M, Spadafore M, Prüß BM (2013) . β-phenylethylamine, a small molecule with a large impact. Webmedcentral. 4(9):4409. PubMed


Green Coffee Extract

Green coffee extract contains chlorogenic acids (CGA), a family of esters between phenolic acids   such as trans-cinnamic acids and cyclic polyols such as quinic acid (green box).  While the coffee bean is naturally high in CGA, the roasting process destroys a large percentage of these natural antioxidants (Craig 2016). The main subgroups of CGA found in green coffee beans are caffeoylquinic acids (CQA), dicaffeoylquinic acids (diCQA) and feruloyilquinic acids (FQA), each group having at least three isomers.  White arrows point to the ester bonds.

Craig and coworkers (2016) cite references that chlorogenic acids lowers blood pressure glucose absorption.  Just looking at the diversity of structures, it is hard to conceive that they all bind to a specific receptor.  Lowering of blood pressure may have more to do with scavenging of reactive oxygen species.

Craig AP, Fields C, Liang N, Kitts D, Erickson A.(2016) Performance review of a fast HPLC-UV method for the quantification of chlorogenic acids in green coffee bean extracts. Talanta. 154:481-5

Kigelia Africana Extract

Njogu and coworkers (2018) of Nairobi Kenya examined aqueous and ethyl acetate extracts of Kigelia africana leaves for their ability to lower blood glucose in  alloxan treated mice.   Alloxan is a glucose analog that destroys insulin secreting pancratic  ß cells. These mice were in a sense a model of type1, rather than type 2, diabetes.  Both the organic and aqueous extracts lowered blood sugars.    Elemental analysis revealed 2.2 ± 6.0 ppm vanadate and 153 ± 2  ppm strontium.  K africana is is found in wet savanna and near river bodies.  This raises the possibility that these plants are concentrating heavy metals in the river.  One would hope that Kigelia africana fruit or leaf extracts are tested for heavy metals before used in dietary supplements sold in the U.S.

The action of vanadium, in the same periodic family as phosphate, in rodent models of type 1 diabetes is still being debated ( Treviño 2018)

Njogu SM, Arika WM, Machocho AK, Ngeranwa JJN, Njagi ENM.(2018) In Vivo Hypoglycemic Effect of Kigelia africana (Lam): Studies With Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Mice. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018 Jan-Dec;23:2515690X18768727

Treviño S, Díaz A, Sánchez-Lara E, Sanchez-Gaytan BL, Perez-Aguilar JM, González-Vergara E.(2018) Vanadium in Biological Action: Chemical, Pharmacological Aspects, and Metabolic Implications in Diabetes Mellitus. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2018 Oct 22. doi: 10.1007/s12011-018-1540-6. [Epub ahead of print]

α-GPC (Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline)

The influence of  α-GPC supplementation on cognitive and athletic performance was studied in 48 college aged males at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Marcus 2017).  α-GPC is the precursor of the neurotransmitter acetyl choline (ACh).  ACh elicits muscle contraction as well neuron to neuron signaling.  Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH) and dopamine receptors are G protein coupled receptors on the same neuron.  TRH stimulates release of thyrod stimulating hormone (TSH) while dopamine inhibits it.    

 Athletic Performance Results

  • Isometric mid-thigh pull test (IMTP)  Caffeine improved peak force, p<0.05.
  • counter movement jump (CMJ)  250 mg α-GPC improves power (Nm/sec) but not average force (N), maximum force (N), or maximum velocity (msec),
  • Upper body isometric test (UBIST) No change
  • Walter Reed palm-held psychomotor vigilance test (PVT)  No change

Serum free Choline and TSH

Serum free choline increased by α-GPC treatment (F = 14.98 p = 0.001) but not for a treatment by time (1 h, 2 h) interaction (p = 0.928).  The caffeine and placebo treatment had the lowest free choline levels respectively, with the 250 mg A-GPC and 500 mg A-GPC demonstrating significantly higher levels (132% and 59% respectively).

“Analysis of TSH revealed a significant main effect by group. ”  TSH measurements were all within reference values.

  • placebo 3.17 ± 1.6 μIU/ml
  • caffeine 3.08 ± 0.83 μIU/ml
  • 250 mg  A-GPC 2.97 ± 1.03 μIU/ml
  • 500 mg A-GPC 2.29 ± 0.51μIU/ml,

The amount of α-GPC in Elevate coffee was not stated on the label.  Unless there are interactions with other coffee ingredients, there is no reason to think that its presence is harmful, or beneficial.  The discussion o Marcus and coworkers seemed to hint that other studies demonstrating more dramatic cognitive results used a less healthy population and larger doses.

Marcus L, Soileau J, Judge LW, Bellar D.(2017) Evaluation of the effects of two doses of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on physical and psychomotor performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Oct 5;14:39. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0196-5. eCollection 2017.  PubMed.

Caffeine Anhydrous,

Wikipedia has a good page on caffeine.  Adenosine binding to adenosine receptors  shuts things down by

  • Causing the dissociation of heterotrimeric G proteins into subunits that go on to do other things.
  • Some alpha subunits stimulate the production of cyclin AMP.
  • cAMP activates protein kinase A (PKA).
  • PKA phosphorylates calcium channels shutting them down.
  • No calcium means no muscle contraction or neurotransmitter release.

Caffeine may bind to all four adenosine receptors without causing the allosteric changes in shape needed to activate these G protein coupled receptors

Juglans Regia Extract

Juglans regia is the Latin name for the walnut.  While putting a walnut compound in a food and not labeling as such might seem criminal for those allergic to tree nuts, it might not be that bad.  The part of the walnut plant that was “extracted” and how it was extracted was not disclosed. Rusu and coworkers (2018) extracted walnut septums with ethanol and acetone.  Russo describes the extraction processes and the anti-oxidant and other properties of each extract.  The customer has no idea what sorts of compounds are in the walnut extract and which part of the plant was extracted.

Polyphenols: Epicatechin, Catechin, Iso-quercitrin, Quercitrin, Hyperoside

Phenolic Acids: Syringic, Gallic, Protocatechuic, Vanillic

Phytosteroids , Campesterol, Beta-sitosterol

Rusu ME, Gheldiu AM, Mocan A, Moldovan C, Popa DS, Tomuta I, Vlase L.(2018) Process Optimization for Improved Phenolic Compounds Recovery from Walnut (Juglans regia L.) Septum: Phytochemical Profile and Biological Activities. Molecules. 23(11).  free paper

Chromium Polynicotinate

Chromium picolinate is an activator of AMP kinase (Hoffman 2014).  This publication discussed other potential targets of chromium in the non toxic +3 oxidation state.  Chromium (IV) is  a toxin.  5′-AMP is produced by ADP + ADP → AMP + ATP.  An cumulation of AMP is a signal that the cell needs to bring in more glucose to produce ATP.

AMPKα, the catalytic subunit, phosphorylates enzymes that regulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis as well as glycogen synthase (GS).  Translocation of the glucose transporter GLUT4 to the plasma membrane s also regulated by AMPK, AMP/ATP-binding subunit of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPKγ), an energy sensor protein kinase that plays a key role in regulating cellular energy metabolism. In response to reduction of intracellular ATP levels, AMPK activates energy-producing pathways and inhibits energy-consuming processes: inhibits protein, carbohydrate and lipid biosynthesis.   The AMPKß subunit is merely a bridge between the regulatory and catalytic subunits.  This site has numerous phosphorylation sites.

Hoffman NJ, Penque BA, Habegger KM, Sealls W, Tackett L, Elmendorf JS. (2014) Chromium enhances insulin responsiveness via AMPK. J Nutr Biochem. 25(5):565-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.01.007. PubMed


In summary

Tree nut allergy sufferers notwithstanding,  the components of Elevate Happy Coffee are generally recognized as safe.  Others like the walnut extract need to be labeled as such because they have the potential to be deadly for a few individuals.  This coffee seems to be the “kitchen sink” of extracts and small molecules with some health related claims.  The consumer has no way of knowing if the concentrations are withing the therapeutic window.  The consumer also does not know if the components have interacted with one another during the formulation process.

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