Van's Health Foods

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According to earlier studies, depression may have a link to cells damaged by oxidative stress. In this analysis, doctors compared antioxidant levels to signs of depression in 1,798 adults aged 20 to 85 and found, compared to those with lowest levels, people with the highest circulating levels of antioxidant carotenoids were 59 percent less likely to have depressive symptoms. There was also a direct link: as carotenoid levels increased, signs of depression decreased.

Carotenoids–the naturally occurring bright red, yellow, and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables like carrots–are powerful antioxidants. Doctors found three carotenoids in particular were most closely linked to better mood; beta-carotene in both men and women, and lutein and zeaxanthin in women only. Lutein and zeaxanthin also protect eyesight, as many earlier studies have confirmed. Discussing their findings, doctors said antioxidants may help reduce oxidative damage in the brain and hope new studies reveal more mood benefits of antioxidants.

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; August, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the February 2013 newsletter

Van's Health on February - 28 - 2013

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 lower lipid levels in obesity

Green tea extract

Earlier studies found green tea can reduce weight by helping the body manage lipids, doctors said. In this study, 46 otherwise-healthy obese men and women, aged 30 to 60, took a daily dose of 379 mg of green tea extract plus 208 mg of ECGC–the most common antioxidant found in green tea– or a placebo. Participants did not change their diets or physical activities during the study, which were similar for both groups.

After three months, compared to placebo, the green tea group saw significant decreases in total and LDL cholesterol, an increase in HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides, body mass index, and smaller waist size. Total antioxidant activity also increased, and magnesium and zinc levels improved, with increasing magnesium levels helping lower or stabilize blood sugar. Iron levels declined. Explaining their findings, doctors said green tea may help keep cholesterol and glucose from being absorbed through the walls of the small intestine.

Berberine

Obesity drugs often have serious side effects, and doctors are searching for natural products, such as the herb berberine, for safer answers. In this pilot safety study, obese people took 500 mg of berberine three times per day. After 12 weeks, berberine proved safe in preserving overall blood characteristics, and in maintaining heart, kidney, and liver function.

Beyond safety, berberine appeared to have additional benefits. Participants had lost an average of five pounds, a result doctors had expected. More surprising were a 12 percent decline in total cholesterol and a 23 percent decline in triglycerides. To reconfirm the lipids lowering effects of berberine, doctors conducted a lab animal study, which yielded similar results.

Reference: Biological Trace Element Research; May, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 23 - 2013

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

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

Green tea may have many health benefits, and in this study, doctors tested an antioxidant flavonoid in green tea, EGCG, for a link to brain activity and mood. Participants took 300 mg of EGCG, or a placebo. Before and two hours afterwards, researchers took a resting-state electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure brain activity.

While the placebo group did not change, the EGCG group had a greater sense of calm, reduced feelings of stress, and a significant increase in alpha, beta and theta brain waves, which correspond, respectively, to relaxation, reasoning, and creative powers.

Reference: Appetite; 2012, Vol. 58, No. 2, 767-70

From the June 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on June - 10 - 2012
categories: Herbs, Supplements

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
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