Van's Health Foods

In Historic Downtown Livermore since 1972

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 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

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

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

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

Ginger lowered gut inflammation

Ginger has two antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols and shogaols, which earlier lab studies had found protected against colon cancer. In this study, 33 participants with normal chances of developing colon cancer, and no family cancer history, took 2,000 mg of ginger root extract per day, or a placebo, for 28 days. Doctors said that the dose was equal to 7/10-ounce of raw ginger, a safe and reasonable dietary amount.

Before and after the study, researchers analyzed colon tissue for signs of inflammation. While there was no change for placebo, the ginger group had 28 percent lower levels of an enzyme the body releases in response to inflammation, including the type of inflammation that occurs in the early stages of colorectal cancer. Doctors are calling for more study to determine how much this inflammatory enzyme needs to decrease to prevent colon cancer.

 

Reference: Cancer Prevention Research; 2011, Vol. 4, No. 11, 1929-37

 

From the March 2012 newsletter

 

Van's Health on March - 24 - 2012
categories: Supplements

Intense, exhausting exercise produces oxygen free-radicals and inflammation that damages muscles. In this study, 20 athletes ran an ultra-endurance 31-mile mountain climb, with one group taking a placebo, and the other taking 30 mg of coenzyme Q10 two days before, 90 mg of CoQ10 the day before, and 30 mg one hour before the climb. Comparing measurements after the run to before, the placebo group had signs of inflammatory oxidative stress 100 percent higher: the CoQ10 group 37.5 percent higher. Doctors said taking CoQ10 before strenuous exercise decreases the oxidative stress and inflammation that damages muscles.

Reference: European Journal of Nutrition; October, 2011, Electronic Prepublication

From the March 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on March - 19 - 2012
categories: Supplements

Omega-3 Benefits

In the first study of omega-3 and anxiety, 68 healthy young medical students took 2,085 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid plus 348 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) per day, or a placebo of fatty acids typical in the American diet. Participants gave blood samples during low-stress periods and on days before exams. After 12 weeks, compared to placebo, the omega-3 group had 14 percent fewer signs of stress-related inflammation and 20 percent fewer anxiety symptoms, with no change in depressive symptoms. Doctors concluded omega-3 supplements may reduce anxiety in those without anxiety disorder.

Reference: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity; 2011, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 9 - 2012
categories: Supplements
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