Van's Health Foods

In Historic Downtown Livermore since 1972

Curcumin as effective as aerobic exercise

Curcumin, the anti-inflammatory antioxidant compound in the culinary spice turmeric, improved circulation in postmenopausal women as effectively as aerobic exercise. In this study, 32 postmenopausal women with similar health characteristics at the start of the study took a daily curcumin supplement or a placebo, while a third group took moderate exercise training only.

After eight weeks, while there were no changes for placebo, both the curcumin and exercise groups had better relaxation, widening, and functioning of blood vessels and arteries compared to the start of the study. Doctors said that both aerobic exercise and curcumin may improve age-related decline in the circulatory system and taking a curcumin supplement may help prevent cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Curcumin may also be an alternative for people who cannot exercise.

Omega fatty acids reduce chances of heart disease

In this study, doctors followed 3,277 healthy men and women free from heart disease at the start of the study. After 23 years of follow-up, while there were no benefits for men, women who consumed moderate amounts of alpha-linolenic acid or linoleic acid–both omega fatty acids–were less likely to have heart disease caused by restricted blood flow compared to the women who got less of these two nutrients.

Doctors also measured total omega-3s and found, compared to women who consumed the least, women who consumed the most of these polyunsaturated fatty acids–plentiful in fish–were much more likely to remain heart-disease free.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 12, 795-99

From the February 2013 newsletter

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

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

Green tea lowered blood pressure

In this study, 56 people with obesity-related high blood pressure took 379 mg of green tea extract per day, or a placebo. Before the study and after three months of taking green tea extract, doctors measured blood pressure, sugar, and fats (lipids), protein in the urine, signs of inflammation, and antioxidant levels.

While the placebo group improved slightly, those in the green tea group saw systolic and diastolic blood pressure decline 4.9 and 4.6 mmHg, respectively. And while there were no improvements for placebo, the green tea group had healthier insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL–the “bad” and “good” cholesterols, respectively. Doctors said the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action of green tea compounds may explain its health benefits.

Coleus forskohlii improved blood pressure

Doctors said that coleus forskohlii, a tropical perennial plant, may have blood pressure lowering effects. In this study, 41 people with high blood pressure but no major illnesses, aged 50 to 80, took coleus forskohlii three times per day with meals, either in root form, 1,000 mg per meal; or in root tuber form, 1,400 mg per meal.

Doctors also asked participants to reduce salt in the diet and to exercise mildly, both of which can lower blood pressure. After two months, 75 percent of those in each group showed mild improvements in blood pressure.

Coleus forskohlii has been used in Ayurvedic medicine, which is native to India, to treat heart disease, convulsions, and spasmodic pain, with the earliest references in Indian medical literature dating from about 50 B.C.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 6, 421-7

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 19 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements

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

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