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Archive for the ‘Vitamins’ Category

Omega-3s improve energy in cancer survivors

Many people treated for cancer have lingering fatigue after therapy ends, which may be aggravated by chronic inflammation, doctors said. Omega-3s have reduced inflammation in healthy people, leading doctors to examine its effect in breast cancer survivors.

In this study, doctors measured the diets of 644 survivors with stage I to stage IIIA breast cancer, and followed up 39 months after diagnosis. Overall, 42 percent complained of being chronically fatigued three years after diagnosis. Women with the highest levels of C-reative protein (CRP), a sign of inflammation, were nearly twice as likely to be fatigued as women with low CRP levels.

When doctors looked at the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s in the diet, women who got the most omega-3s compared to omega-6s were half as likely to be chronically fatigued as women who got the least omega-3s.

Vitamin B6 may help prevent postmenopausal breast cancer

Vitamin B6 helps maintain the health of red blood cells, the nervous system, and parts of the immune system. In this study, doctors measured circulating levels of vitamin B6 in 706 postmenopausal women before they were diagnosed with breast cancer and compared them to vitamin B6 levels in 706 healthy postmenopausal women. Compared to women with the lowest levels, women with the highest circulating levels of vitamin B6 were 30 percent less likely to develop invasive breast cancer. Doctors said these results suggest a role for vitamin B6 in preventing postmenopausal breast cancer.

Reference: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the March 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on April - 29 - 2013

Vitamin D reduces cognitive decline

Doctors in this study measured vitamin D levels and cognitive performance in 6,257 older woman still living independently in their communities. Women with the lowest levels of vitamin D–10 to 25 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL)–were much more likely to be cognitively impaired than women with 30 to 74 ng/mL of vitamin D.

Four years later, doctors found that women with less than 20 ng/mL of vitamin D were much more likely to have experienced cognitive decline compare to the start of the study, while women with higher vitamin D levels were much more likely to have maintained cognitive function.

Low vitamin D levels linked to Alzheimer’s disease

In this study, doctors measured vitamin D in the diets of 498 women who were not taking vitamin D supplements and who did not have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or other dementias at the start of the study. After seven years of follow-up, researchers divided the women into three groups; those who had developed AD, those who had developed other dementias, and those who had not developed dementia.

Doctors found a direct link: as levels of vitamin D increased, chances of developing AD decreased. Women who got the most vitamin D–the top 20 percent–were 77 percent less likely to develop AD compare to all other women who got lower amounts of vitamin D.

Reference: The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences; 2012, Vol. 67, No. 10, 1092-8

From the March 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on April - 22 - 2013
categories: Vitamins

Zinc reduced lower respiratory infections

Zinc is an essential mineral for healthy development and immunity. In this study, 192 children who were low in zinc and other nutrients took 10 mg of zinc gluconate per day or a placebo for 60 days. Doctors followed the children for four months, keeping track of respiratory infections.

Compared to children in the placebo group, kids who took zinc were less than half as likely to have acute or severe lower respiratory infections. The children who took zinc also had more healthy days without infection, and recovered from infection far faster than kids who had taken the placebo.

Vitamin D reduced respiratory infection

Recent evidence has shown that vitamin D is important not only for developing bones, but also for strengthening immune systems. Because the body produces vitamin D from the sun, it is particularly important to maintain good levels in winter months. This study took place in a northern climate, where vitamin D deficiency is common in winter.

At the start of the study, all the 250 children who participated were very low in vitamin D. The children drank locally produced milk with or without 300 IU of added vitamin D per day. Over the course of the winter, parents of children in the vitamin D group reported about half the number of respiratory infections as parent of the kids in the placebo group.

In discussing their findings, doctors said the large benefit they saw was due to the very low levels of vitamin D at the start of the study, and suggest further study to determine the best level of vitamin D.

Reference: Clinical Nutrition; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the February 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on March - 20 - 2013
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamin B3 beats drug-resistant staph infection

Overuse of antibiotics has created drug-resistant “superbugs” such as multi-drug resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In the lab, doctors exposed staph bacteria in human and animal blood to megadoses of vitamin B3, which increased by 1,000 times the ability of the immune cells to kill the harmful bacteria.

Vitamin C may prevent bone loss

Doctors know that low levels of vitamin C can cause brittle bones. In the first study of its kind, postmenopausal mice that began the study with low bone density had improved density by the end of the study after taking large doses of vitamin C. Doctors hope further human studies will prove that vitamin C is a safe and inexpensive way to keep bones strong.

Krill powder improved lipid metabolism and inflammation

Low-grade, chronic inflammation impairs the ability of the liver to metabolize fats–or lipids–and is linked to obesity. When mice on a high-fat diet ate krill powder, liver fat metabolism improved, circulating fats and fats in the liver decreased, and signs of inflammation in the liver were also significantly reduced. Doctors hope to alleviate obesity-related disorders in humans through the lipid-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects of krill.

Reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation; September, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the February 2013 newsletter

Omega-3s help preserve telomere length

Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of every strand of DNA in the body, acting like the tip of a shoelace that keeps it from unraveling. As new cells form using DNA instructions, telomeres shorten, eventually exposing the DNA strand to damage. Earlier studies have linked telomere length to biological age; the longer the telomere the younger the biological age.

In this study, 106 sedentary, overweight but healthy middle-aged and older adults took 2,500 mg or 1,250 mg of omega-3s per day, or a placebo of typical American dietary fats high in omega-6. After four months, researchers found that as the level of omega-3s rose compared to omega-6s, telomere length also increased. Both omega-3 groups also saw 15 percent lower levels of oxidative stress.

Explaining their findings, doctors said that omega-6s are abundant, coming from common vegetable oils using in many processed foods, but omega-3s are rarer, coming mostly from fish. The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be no higher than four-to-one to provide the greatest health benefit, doctors said.

 

More vitamin D, longer life

More disease studies have focused on people of European descent, doctors said. In this study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 2,638 Caucasians and African-Americans aged 71 to 80. African-Americans had lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians. After 8.5 years of follow-up, those with very low levels of vitaminD–less than 20 nano grams per milliliter of blood–were 50 percent more likely to have died from any cause, compared to those with higher levels.

Doctors said the good news is it’s easy to raise vitamin D levels through diet and supplements.

 

Reference: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; September, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the January 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on February - 22 - 2013

The first study on long-term multivitamin use

Doctors said more than one in three Americans takes a multivitamin, mostly to prevent nutrient deficiencies, but that this study suggests multivitamins may also help prevent cancer in middle-aged and older men.

The study involved 14,641 male doctors, aged at least 50, who took a daily multivitamin or a placebo. After 11 years of follow-up, researchers discovered a possible link with long-term multivitamin use: chances of cancer declined by 8 percent in men with a history of cancer.

While small, the results were significant and promising. Doctors don’t know which vitamins or minerals may help reduce cancer chances, and explained that most of the men were non-smokers, a factor that may influence results. Researchers plan a follow-up study with women, and with others whose lifestyles and health behaviors are different than the group of doctors who participated in this study.

Reference: Journal of The American Medical Association; October 2012, Electronic Prebublication

From the January 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 10 - 2013
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Antioxidants and pancreatic cancer

In this large study, doctors measured the diets, food-cooking methods, and vitamin C levels of 23,658 men and women, aged 40 to 74. Over the course of 10 years of follow-up, 49 participants developed pancreatic cancer, 55 percent men. Researchers then calculated the nutrients in their diets and compared to 3,970 participants who had not developed pancreatic cancer.

Compared to those who consumed the least selenium, those who consumed the most selenium were half as likely to have developed pancreatic cancer. Those who consumed the most selenium and vitamins C and E were 67 percent less likely to develop the cancer compared to those who got the least of these antioxidants.

Discussing their findings, doctors said, “It seems the antioxidants are knocking out the pro-oxidants that are perhaps causing the damage that leads to cancer, and therefore playing a protective role.”

Magnesium and colorectal cancer

There are few studies on magnesium and colorectal cancer, doctors said, but these two new analyses suggest magnesium may help prevent this disease. In the first study, researchers compared 768 people with colorectal cancer to 709 similar people without. In a group of those who were at least age 55, with a body mass index score of 25 or higher, each 100 mg increase in magnesium per day decreased chances for colorectal cancer by 12 percent.

In the second study, doctors reviewed findings from other magnesium-colorectal cancer trials and found that for every 100 mg increase in daily magnesium, there was a 13 percent decrease in chances of pre-cancerous colorectal adenomas and 12 percent less chance of colorectal cancer.

Reference: Gut – International Journal of  Gastroenterology and Hepatology; July, 2012. Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 29 - 2013
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Nutrients helped reduce recurring URTI’s

Doctors said that getting vitamins and minerals in the right amounts can boost immunity and protect against upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). In this study, 192 people with recurrent URTI’s took a daily supplement containing vitamin C, vitamin D3, folic acid, and selenium, or a placebo. Researchers followed the two groups to measure the number, intensity, and course of URTI’s.

After 16 weeks, nearly half of those in the placebo group had missed work compared to 14 percent for the supplement group. Doctors also measured circulating levels of the four nutrients and found that vitamin C, folic acid and selenium increased in the supplement group, while vitamin D declined for both groups, but declined less in the supplement group. Those in the supplement group who began the study with insufficient vitamins C or D also had improved respiratory health.

 

Vitamin D lowers chances of viral infection

Because vitamin D levels decline in the fall and winter when there is less and weaker sunlight, people may catch cold more easily, doctors said. In the first phase of this two-part study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in three healthy groups: young people aged 20 to 30, middle-aged people 31-59, and older adults aged 60 to 86, and found circulating vitamin D levels decreased with age.

In the second phase of the study, using the same group of volunteers, doctors found that the special immune receptors designed to intercept and kill viruses were more likely to function normally as levels of vitamin D increased.

Reference: Journal of Leukocyte Biology; 2012, Vol. 91, No. 5, 829-38

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 5 - 2013
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamin D reduced fractures in older adults

Doctors in this analysis reviewed 11 separate bone-fracture studies covering more than 31,000 adults aged at least 65, who took varying doses of vitamin D or a placebo. The range for vitamin D was up to 2,000 IU per day. Compared to placebo, across all 11 studies, men and women who got the most vitamin D were 30 percent less likely to have a bone fracture of any kind, including hip, wrist and forearm.

Doctors said that the benefit began at 800 IU of vitamin D per day, and continued through the upper level of 2,000 IU per day. The U.S. recently increased its recommended dietary allowance to 600 IU of vitamin D per day for most people, and to 800 IU per day for those 70 and older.

 

Antioxidants reduce inflammation after fracture

After a hip fracture, chronic inflammation can slow recovery, doctors said. Vitamin E and carotenoids are two antioxidants with profound anti-inflammatory effects according to the doctors, who wanted to test for a link between antioxidant levels and chronic inflammation after a fracture.

Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin E, carotenoids, and signs of chronic inflammation in 148 people, immediately after a hip fracture, and at two, six, and 12 months later.

Those with the highest concentrations of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E and total circulating carotenoids had the lowest levels of inflammation.  Doctors said that good levels of antioxidants may speed the average recovery time after a fracture, improve quality of life and help people regain mobility and maintain their independence.

Reference: New England Journal of Medicine; 2012, Vol. 367, No. 1, 40-9

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 27 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Exercise is key for losing weight, and overweight individuals tend to report more fatigue during physical activity than healthy-weight people. In this study, 20 obese adults ate a calorie-controlled diet with or without 500 mg vitamin C per day. Before and after the study, everyone exercised for one hour at half the rate of his or her estimated maximum oxygen consumption capacity. After four weeks, both groups had lost almost nine pounds, but compared to the non-vitamin C group, the vitamin C group reported feeling much less exertion and fatigue and had significantly lower heart rates during exercise.

Reference: Nutrition Journal; June, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on November - 23 - 2012
categories: Vitamins, Weight Loss

Cinnamon helps control blood sugar

Doctors said that there are few human studies on the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar, but that earlier animal studies suggest cinnamon may lower blood sugar by slowing absorption through the intestine, or stimulating cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Researchers reviewed six cinnamon studies involving 435 men and women who took from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon per day for 40 to 120 days. On average over the various study periods, long-term blood sugar levels dropped 0.1 percent, and fasting blood sugar levels dropped 0.84 micromoles per liter of blood. Doctors think that cinnamon may help diabetics control blood sugar and urge more study.

Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes

Even if diabetics successfully control blood sugar, complications will still occur due to oxidative damage to cells from free radicals, doctors said. In this study, 30 men and women, aged 30 to 65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least one year, took 1,000 mg of the antioxidant vitamin C per day, or a placebo. All were controlling blood sugar with oral medication, were non-smokers, had no vascular or inflammatory disease, and were not being treated for high cholesterol, or taking hormone replacement therapy, beta blockers, diuretics, or aspirin. After six weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, those who had taken vitamin C had significantly lower levels of oxidative stress both after fasting and after a meal. Discussing their findings, doctors said vitamin C may be a safe, inexpensive way to reduce complications from type 2 diabetes.

Reference: Clinical Nutrition; May 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the September 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on November - 16 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamins C and E reduce pre-eclampsia

When pregnant, women can have elevated blood pressure, a condition called pre-eclampsia, which may require inducing labor or surgical delivery. Doctors said antioxidants may lower chances of pre-eclampsia, and in this study, 110 pregnant woman with low levels of antioxidants took 1,000 mg of vitamin C plus 400 IU of vitamin E per day, or a placebo, from eight to 12 weeks pregnant through two weeks after giving birth. Nine of the woman developed pre-eclampsia, with eight of the cases in the placebo group, and one in the antioxidant group. Doctors concluded that women who are low in antioxidants may reduce the chances of pre-eclampsia by taking antioxidants during pregnancy.

Mom’s folate levels may reduce emotional problems in children

Doctors know that low folate levels in early pregnancy increase chances of neural tube defects, and wanted to test for a link to behavioral and emotional problems in children. In 3,209 Dutch women, researchers measured folic acid in the diet and folate levels in early pregnancy, and then followed up on children’s emotional and behavioral problems at age three.

Compared to kids whose moms had good folate levels, those whose moms were deficient in folate before pregnancy were 57 percent more likely to develop emotional problems by age three. Compared to children whose moms started taking folic acid supplements when pregnant, those whose mothers started taking folic acid later during pregnancy, or who did not take folic acid at all were 45 percent more likely to have emotional problems. The Netherlands does not require manufacturers to fortify foods with folic acid.

Reference: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research; May, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the September 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on October - 12 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Lycopene lowered inflammation and improved blood flow

Blood vessels have an inner lining called the endothelium which may become inflamed, stiffened, and more likely to form clots. In this study, 126 healthy men, average age 34 with healthy weight, took 6 mg of lycopene or 15 mg of lycopene per day, or a placebo. After eight weeks, compared to the start of the study, while there were no significant changes in the low-dose or placebo groups, men who took 15 mg of lycopene had much higher antioxidant levels, less DNA damage, better blood pressure flow and lower systolic blood pressure, lower levels of C-reactive protein–an inflammatory factor–and an increase in the size of LDL-cholesterol particles, making them less likely to stick to artery walls and form plaque.

In discussing their findings, doctors said supplementing to raise lycopene levels in the blood can reduce oxidative stress and improve the health and function of the endothelium blood vessel linings.

Vitamin D improves reproductive health

Doctors said when animals are deficient in vitamin D, sperm counts and sperm motility are low. In this study, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 40 men and found that those with 75 nanomoles of vitamin D per liter of blood (nmol/L) had much higher sperm motility compare to men with 25 nmol/L or less. Motility is the ability of sperm to move properly toward the egg. As levels of vitamin D increased, more of the sperm were motile, and had normal structure, shape, and size.

Reference: Human Reproduction; 2011, Vol. 26, No. 6, 1307-17

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on September - 26 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Magnesium reduces blood pressure

Up until now, evidence linking magnesium to better blood pressure has been inconclusive. Researchers in this review looked at all the magnesium studies to date and found 22 trials involving 1,173 people, who took 120 mg to 973 mg of magnesium per day for three to 24 weeks. Combining the data, doctors found that overall, magnesium reduced systolic blood pressure by 3 to 4 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure by 2 to 3 mmHg, with the best results for doses over 370 mg of magnesium per day.

The blood pressure measurements, systolic and diastolic, relate respectively to when the heart contracts to pump blood out, and when it relaxes to refill. In discussing their findings, doctors said supplementing with magnesium appears to achieve a “small but clinically significant reduction in blood pressure”, and suggests larger controlled trials to confirm these results.

Vitamin C reduces high blood pressure

The evidence for the blood pressure benefit of vitamin C is also inconsistent. In this new analysis, doctors reviewed 29 placebo-controlled vitamin C supplement trials with 10 to 120 participants, average daily doses of 500 mg of vitamin C, and an average study period of eight weeks. Combining the data, researchers found that overall systolic blood pressure declined by 3.84 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure declined by 1.48mmHg. The effects were greater in those with high blood pressure, with systolic and diastolic blood pressure declining respectively by an average of 4.85 mmHg and 1.67 mmHg.

In talking about their findings, researchers said doctors might eventually be able to recommend vitamin C to prevent or help treat high blood pressure, and suggested larger studies to confirm the blood pressure benefits of vitamin C.

Reference: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2012, Vol. 66, No. 4, 411-8

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on September - 18 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamins and omega-3s linked to better brains

Nutrients combine to make unique “signature patterns” or profiles in the blood, and researchers in this study tested which profiles were linked to better cognitive health. Doctors measured nutrients in 104 adults without dementia, aged 77 to 97, and found that, compared to those with lower levels, those with the highest blood levels of folate, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E, and omega-3 fatty acids, scored highest on mental tests and had healthier MRI brain scans.

The brain can shrink with age, rising chances for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those in the study with the highest levels of trans-fats–partially hydrogenated oils common in highly processed and deep fried foods–scored lowest on mental tests and had signs of brain shrinkage. Doctors said we already knew trans-fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol levels and are bad for the heart, but this is the first study to link trans-fats and brain health. “It is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” researchers concluded.

Leucine helps maintain muscle mass

The body needs proteins to maintain muscle mass, and its ability to make and use proteins declines with age. In this study, eight people, everage age 68, took 4 grams of the branched-chain amino acid leucine with each of three meals per day. Researchers compared muscle biopsies and blood samples before the study and after 14 days and found significantly higher rates of protein formation and increased signs of cellular muscle-building activity. Doctors said the low dose of leucine may make it easier to maintain muscle mass with age.

Reference: Neurology; 2012, Vol. 78, No. 4, 241-9

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on September - 7 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vegetarian diets are often low in vitamin B12 and high in salt

Doctors believe vegetarians are less likely than carnivores to have heart disease, but vegetarian diets may be low in vitamin B12 and high in salt, both of which increase chances of hardening of the arteries. In this study, 50 healthy vegetarian men and women, average age 46, took 500 mcg of vitamin B12 per day and then a placebo, or the reverse, in the two 12-week phases. Participants had been on a vegetarian diet for at least six years, and 70 percent started the study with low levels of vitamin B12.

After the vitamin B12 phase, but not the placebo phase, blood levels of vitamin B12 rose significantly and homocysteine levels–a sign of inflammation linked to heart disease–were significantly lower. The ability of blood vessels to expand also increased by about 10 percent, and thickness of the carotid artery walls decreased by 0.02 mm, making them more flexible. The carotid arteries of the neck are similar to coronary arteries of the heart, suggesting vitamin B12 benefits the heart as well.

 

Reference: Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging; 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on August - 21 - 2012
categories: Vitamins

Vitamin D supplements improved symptoms

In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 54 Swedish adolescents with depression and found 89 percent were deficient. Forty-eight began taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day for a month, then 2,000 IU per day for two more months. Vitamin D levels rose from 41 nanomoles per liter of blood (nmol/L) at the start of the study to 91 nmol/L at the end. As vitamin D levels increased, feelings of well-being also rose. In eight of nine areas; feeling depressed, irritable, tired, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, weakness, ability to concentrate, and pain, well-being improved.

Better vitamin D levels, less depression

Depression is common in adolescence and this is one of the first studies to test the link between vitamin D and depression in children. In the study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 2,752 10-year-olds and followed up for four years. Children who began the study with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to show a decline in depressive symptoms during the follow-up period and were 10 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms at the end of four years.

Talking about their findings, doctors said that because depression can affect so many children and adolescents, and because it is so easy to increase vitamin D levels, new research should include larger studies to see if its is possible to prevent depressive symptoms in young people. Doctors also said that is was not vitamin D2, but vitamin D3 that provides the benefit in reducing symptoms of depression.

Doctors believe the optimal range for vitamin D levels is 20 to 60 nanograms per milliliter of blood, or 50 to 150 nonomoles per liter.

Reference: Acta Pediatrica; February, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on August - 16 - 2012
categories: Vitamins

Omega-3’s help slow vision loss

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited disease of the retina of the eye that first reduces peripheral, and then central vision, and makes it difficult to see at night. While there is no cure, doctors often prescribe vitamin A, which the retina needs to survive. In this study, researchers measured omega-3’s in the diets of 357 adults with RP who had been taking 15,000 IU of vitamin A palmitate per day for an average of five years, under the care of a physician.

Comprared to those who consumed low levels of omega-3’s, those who got an average of at least 200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day saw acuity for distance vision decline 40 percent more slowly annually, and central field-of-vision decline 50 percent more slowly. Doctors explained that omega-3’s help proteins in the eye transport vitamin A to the retina.

 

Zeaxanthin and lutein improve vision in AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the loss of sight in the central field of vision, the most common form of blindness. In this study, 60 people, average age 75, with mild to moderate AMD, took 8 mg of zeaxanthin per day, alone or with 9 mg of lutein, or lutein alone. After one year, those taking zeaxanthin could read 1.5 more lines on the standard eye chart and had lost all blind spots. Those who took lutein could better detect subtle contrasts and recover from glare faster. Doctors concluded that zeaxanthin improves high-contrast vision, and lutein improves low-contrast vision and glare recovery in AMD.

Reference: Archives of Ophthamology; February, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the June 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on July - 5 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Calcium, vitamins D and K in celiac disease.

Children with celiac disease may have weak bones because they don’t absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D. In this study, 43 children aged 3 to 17, with celiac disease, agreed to follow a gluten free diet. At the start, 43 percent were low in vitamin D and 25 percent were low in vitamin K, with a direct link to lower bone mineral density (BMD) scores.

After one year, BMD scores had not changed. One-third of the children were still not getting enough vitamin K on the gluten free diet, and all the children were getting too little calcium and vitamin D. Study authors said children with celiac disease should supplement at least the recommended daily allowance of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K.

 

Overweight kids deficient in vitamin D

Doctors in this study compared vitamin D levels in 411 obese kids, aged 6 to 16, to 87 normal-weight kids of the same age. Children told researchers about their daily diets including soda, juice, fruit and vegetables, as well as how often they skipped breakfast. Half of the obese children were deficient in vitamin D, compared to 22 percent of normal-weight kids, and 92 percent were low in vitamin D, compared to 68 percent for normal-weight kids. The more kids skipped breakfast, drank soda, and fruit juice, the lower the levels of vitamin D.

Obese kids were also more likely to show signs of insulin resistance, and doctors said that while this study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, they suspect low vitamin D levels may play a role in developing type 2 diabetes.

Reference: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; 2012, Vol. 97, No. 1, 279-85

From the April 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on May - 24 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Kids whose moms took folic acid were more likely to develop normal speech

Doctors said folic acid may have other childhood benefits besides reducing neural tube birth defects. Researchers analyzed language development in 38,954 Norwegian boys and girls whose mothers did or did not take 400 mcg of folic acid per day, from four weeks before becoming pregnant to eight weeks afterward. Norway does not require manufacturers to fortify foods with folic acid.

Doctors measured severe language delay, which they defined as speaking only one word, or making only unintelligible sounds. In children whose moms did not take folic acid, 9 out of 1,000 had severe language delay. For children whose moms did take folic acid, the rate of severe language delay was less than half, or 4 in 1,000.

 

Multivitamin improved aerobic capacity and physical endurance

Researchers in this study gave 300 school kids, aged 7 to 10.5 years, 40 grams of chocolate malt beverage powder, with or without multivitamin fortification, or no treatment at all. The two malt powders had the same number of calories.

After four months, while the two other groups did not improve in any measure, the multivitamin group had large increases in aerobic capacity and whole-body endurance. To test endurance, kids ran continuously between two points, 66 feet apart, at increasing speed. The multivitamin group also improved in blood levels of iron, vitamin C, and the active forms of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, and B12.

Reference: Journal of the American Medical Association; 2011, Vol. 306, No. 14, 1566-73

From the April 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on May - 15 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Omega-3s plus exercise

The lower estrogen levels in postmenopause cause bone loss, and inflammation, if present, increases chances of fracture. Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids help strengthen bone by suppressing the activity of osteoclasts, cells that remove healthy minerals from bone. In this study, 79 healthy postmenopausal women split into four groups. One group did not exercise or take supplements. A second walked and jogged only, up to 65 percent of maximum heart rate. A third group took 180 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid plus 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) per day, while a fourth group took the omega-3s and exercised.

After 24 weeks, while there were no changes in the other groups, the exercise/omega-3 group had 40 to 80 percent lower signs of inflammation, 15 percent greater bone mineral density (BMD) in the lower back, and 19 percent more in the thigh bone and hip.

 

Copper, magnesium, zinc

In this BMD study, 224 postmenopausal women, aged 51 to 80, took a multivitamin providing adequate vitamin D, plus 600 mg of calcium alone, or 600 mg of calcium with 12 mg zinc and 2 mg copper. The women kept a food diary to measure total nutrients from food and supplements.

After two years, women who got less than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for copper, magnesium, or zinc had poorer bone health than women who got at least the minimum RDA. The RDA for copper is 0.9 mg, for magnesium 237 mg, and zinc 8 mg per day. For zinc, women who got between the minimum RDA of 8 mg per day and up to 20 mg per day; 2.5 times the RDA, had healthier bones than the women who got more or less zinc.

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; December, 2011, Vol. 106, No. 12, 1872-9

From the March 2012 newsletter

Saffron reduced anxiety

In this study, 35 women with normal sense of smell breathed saffron odor for 20 minutes. Half were pre-ovulation, the other half post-ovulation. Regardless of menstrual phase, saffron significantly decreased levels of cortisol, the hormone the adrenal glands release in response to stress.

 

Vitamin D reduced depression

Researchers in the study measured vitamin D in the diets of 81,189 women, aged 50 to 79, and followed up for three years. Overall, compared to those who got less than 100 IU of vitamin D per day, women who got a total of at least 800 IU of vitamin D per day from all sources were 21 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms. In a subgroup of women who did not have depressive symptoms at the start of the study, those who got at least 400 IU of vitamin D from food were 20 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms after three years.

 

Low levels of zinc in depression

Researchers thought that consistently low levels of zinc in the diet contribute to depressive symptoms. In this study of 3,708 men and women, while there was no link in men, women with low levels of zinc in the diet were more likely to have depressive symptoms than were women with normal zinc levels. Doctors also found an even greater tendency toward depressive symptoms in those taking anti-depressants whose zinc levels were low.

 

Reference: Phytomedicine; 2011, Vol. 18, No. 9, 726-30

From the March 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on April - 4 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements, Vitamins

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Van's Health on March - 20 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamin D reduces chances of cardiovascular disease in men

Researchers analyzed data on 118,864 men and women who began this study without cardiovascular disease and followed up for 19 years. While there was no link between vitamin D and cardiovascular disease in women, men who met the Dietary Reference Intake of 600 IU of vitamin D per day were 16 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to men who got no more than 100 IU of vitamin D per day. Doctors think vitamin D may influence chemicals that regulate blood pressure, blood vessel flexibility, and may lower inflammation.

Pycnogenol, CoQ10 improve function in heart failure

In heart failure, heart muscles gradually weaken or stiffen, failing to pump enough blood to tissues and organs. In this study, 53 participants with stable heart failure, average age 61, took a daily combination of Pycnogenol plus coenzyme Q10, or a placebo. Three in four participants were also taking three or more prescription heart failure drugs. After 12 weeks, 14 percent of participants in the placebo group improved compared to 28 percent for Pycnogenol/CoQ10. All improvements were greater in the Pycnogenol/CoQ10 group, including lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, lower heart rate, and lower rate of breathing. In the heart pumping capacity, the Pycnogenol/CoQ10 improved 22 percent compared to 4 percent for placebo. While there was little change for placebo, walking distance increased 3.3 times, and leg and foot swelling decreased significantly in the Pycnogenol/CoQ10 group.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2011, Vol. 94, No. 2, 534-42

From the November 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on March - 10 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Tocotrienols raised good cholesterol levels and signs of antioxidant activity

 

Doctors said that most prior research has focused on tocopherols, the most common form of vitamin E, and that tocotrienols, the other major form, may have greater antioxidant capacity. Both forms of vitamin E are fat soluble, and are found in plant-based foods such as wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils for tocopherols, and palm oil, cereal grains, and rice bran for tocotrienols.

In this study, 62 healthy people–half aged 35 to 49, the other half over 50–took a 160 mg supplement containing 74 percent tocotrienols and 26 percent tocopherols, per day, or a placebo. After six months, compared to placebo, levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, were much higher in the tocotrienol group. Also, in those over 50, signs of oxidative damage were lower. Blood levels of vitamin E were significantly higher in the younger group at three months and, after six months, in the over-50 group. Researchers also saw antioxidant enzyme activity increase in those who took tocotrienols.

Reference: Nutrition and Metabolism; 2011, Vol. 8, No. 1, 42

From the November 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 22 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

What is COPD?

The lungs contain air tubes that branch into thousands of smaller, thinner tubes that end in bunches of tiny round air sacs. Small blood vessels run through the walls of the air sacs, transferring oxygen from the lungs to the blood, and exchanging carbon dioxide for the lungs to exhale. In COPD, the air tubes and sacs lose elasticity, become damaged, inflamed or destroyed and vulnerable to upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD.

Echinacea plus micronutrients

In this study, 108 men and women with COPD and URTI, average age 66, took the antibiotic ciprofloxacin for seven days and then added a daily dose of echinacea, zinc, selenium, and ascorbic acid; or a placebo. After 14 days, compared to placebo, those who took echinacea plus micronutrients had far less severe and much shorter COPD flare-ups. Some participants reported sleep disturbances, which doctors said may be due to COPD.

Vitamin D improves lungs

Doctors said that people with COPD typically are deficient in vitamin D because they don’t get outdoors much and exercise little, and that there is a link between low vitamin D and weak muscles. In this lung rehabilitation study, 50 people, average age 67, with a history of COPD flare-ups took 100,000 IU of vitamin D per month, or a placebo. After three months, while the placebo group did not change, the vitamin D group saw levels of vitamin D increase from 22 to 53 ng/mL. The vitamin D group utilized more oxygen while the placebo group utilized less, and walking distance increased 118 feet in six minutes for vitamin D compared to increasing 36 feet for placebo.

Reference: Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics; 2011, Vol. 36, No. 5, 568-76

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 12 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

What is the optimal level?

Doctors from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said that the medical community increasingly agrees the optimal level for vitamin D is at least 30 to 32 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL). Using that measure, three in four U.S. adults are likely low, and to reach the correct level, should take a least 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, the most beneficial form.

Pro football players

Researchers in this study measured vitamin D levels in 89 black and white National Football League players during training camp and found 81 percent were abnormally low, Twenty-seven were deficient, with levels less than 20 ng/mL; and 45 were low, with 20 to 31.9 ng/mL. Only 17 players had at least 32 ng/mL of vitamin D, which doctors now agree is the minumum optimal level. Players with muscle injuries who had missed at least one practice or game in the prior season had much lower levels of vitamin D than non-injured players; the only significant difference between them, doctors said. African Americans tend to make far less vitamin D from sunlight than whites, and 93 percent of the black players had low levels compared to 31 percent for white players. While low levels of vitamin D may not have caused the injuries, the study “highlights a potential problem”, study authors concluded.

Was Mozart deficient?

Mozart suffered many infectious diseases and controversy surrounds his death. Researchers now think Mozart may have been deficient in vitamin D because he composed much of his music at night and slept during the day. The northern latitude of Vienna, Austria prevents making vitamin D from sunlight six months per year, and Mozart died in December, 1791 in the middle of the vitamin D winter, when his levels would have been very low.

Reference: American Orthopaedic Society For Sports Medicine; July, 2011, Abstract 46

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 1 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Antioxidants improve memory

In this long-term study, 4,447 healthy French men and women, aged 45 to 60, took a daily combination of antioxidants, or a placebo, for nine years. The antioxidant supplement contained 120 mg vitamin C, 6 mg beta-carotene equal to 10,000 IU pro-vitamin A, 45 IU vitamin E, 100 mcg selenium, and 20 mg zinc. Five years later, researchers measured cognitive performance in six memory and decision-making tasks.

Overall compared to placebo, the antioxidant group had better cognitive function, including 39 percent better long-term memory. In a subgroup of non-smokers, those who took antioxidants had 33 percent better word recall than placebo, and among those who began the study with low levels of vitamin C, word-recall improved seven-fold.

Omega-3 preserves cognitive function

Researchers said this is the first study to report lower chances of cognitive decline in those who took omega-3 supplements. At the start of the study, doctors measured the diets and cognitive performance in 1,475 adults without dementia, aged at least 55. Doctors tested again 1.5 years later and found those who took omega-3 fish oil supplements were 63 percent less likely to show signs of cognitive decline.

Summarizing their findings, study authors said the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may lower chances of cardiovascular disease, improve cerebral blood flow, decrease inflammation, and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, all of which may help reduce the rate of cognitive decline.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2011, Vol. 94, No. 3, 892-9

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 13 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

 Vitamin C lowers asthma symptoms

There are two main causes of asthma: muscles around lung airways can tighten, and airways can become inflamed. Together, these changes constrict airflow in and out of the lungs, causing wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Doctors said prior research on asthma and vitamin C was not conclusive, and in this study gave 60 children with asthma, aged 7 to 10, 200 mg of vitamin C per day, or a placebo. At the start and end of the study, researchers measured how much air each child could forcibly exhale, which asthma impairs.

Compared to the start of the study, while there was no change for placebo, older children with severe asthma who had been exposed to mold or dampness in their bedroom for more than one year before the study could expel 21 percent more air, and younger children with mild asthma who were not exposed to bedroom mold or dampness could expel 37 percent more air.

Reference: Clinical and Translational Allergy; 2011, Vol. 1, No. 9, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 4 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins
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Vitamins B1 and B2 reduce PMS

Researchers in this study collected diet information for five years from 3,025 women who began the study without PMS. After a total of 10 years of follow-up, 1,057 women developed PMS. Compared to women who consumed the least, women who got the most vitamin B1 (thiamine) were 25 percent less likely to develop PMS, and for vitamin B2 (riboflavin), were 35 percent less likely.

 

Calcium and vitamin D may reduce chances of serious skin cancer

There are two classes of skin cancer; non-melanomas such as basal and squamous cell, and more-serious melanomas. Earlier research linked higher levels of vitamin D with lower chances of non-melanomas, and doctors in this study wanted to test vitamin D against melanoma. Researchers gave 36,282 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79, 1,000 mg of elemental calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D per day, or a placebo. After seven years of follow-up, while there were no differences between groups overall, in a subgroup of women who had had a previous non-melanoma skin cancer, those in the calcium-vitamin D group had 57 percent fewer melanomas than the placebo group.

Discussing the results, study authors said, “In preventive medicine, we want to target people most at risk for the disease. If you previously had a non-melanoma skin cancer, calcium plus vitamin D might reduce your risk for more deadly melanoma.”

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2011, Vol. 93, No. 5, 1080-6

From the October 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 30 - 2011
categories: Supplements, Vitamins
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