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

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

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 body needs a certain level of omega-3’s to function well, doctors said. In this study, researchers measured omega-3 levels in 78 active-duty U.S. servicemen, aged 20 to 54, from all major ethnicities, and with a variety of educational levels. The men had lower omega-3 levels than non-military Americans of the same ages. As levels of omega-3’s increased, the men had better mental flexibility and decision-making capacity, especially in those with lack of sleep, who were more resistant to fatigue than those with lower omega-3 levels. Doctors suggest raising EPA and DHA levels in service food rations.

Reference: Nutritional Neuroscience; June, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the December 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 11 - 2013
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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

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

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

Omega-3 and blood clotting

When arteries to the heart become narrow or blocked due to plaque build-up, doctors may try to surgically widen the artery in a procedure called balloon angioplasty. After surgery, blood clots are more likely to form, raising chances for heart attacks. To avoid this, doctors give blood-thinning medications, and in this study, wanted to test the anti-clotting capacity of omega-3.

Fifty-four men and women, average age 63, with stable coronary artery disease and a recent successful balloon antioplasty, took the standard anti-clot medications aspirin and clopidogrel, with or without 460 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid plus 380 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (EPA/DHA) per day. Compared to those who did not take omega-3, the omega-3 group had fewer abnormal blood-clotting factors, better blood-clotting traits, and a more balanced and controlled clotting process. Doctors also observed less oxidative stress in the omega-3 group.

L-carnitine, blood clotting, and heart disease

People with chronic kidney failure who are on dialysis have increased chances of blood clots and heart disease. In this study, 36 participants on hemodialysis took 1,000 mg of L-carnitine per day, or a placebo. After 12 weeks, compared to the start of the study, while the placebo group had not improved, the L-carnitine group had lower levels of two key factors in heart disease: 41 percent lower levels of C-reactive protein–a sign of systemic inflammation–and less-elevated, more normal levels of fibrinogen, an inflammation-related blood-clotting agent.

Reference: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology; 2011, Vol. 31, No. 7, 1696-702.

From the December 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 17 - 2012
categories: 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

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

Nutrients to Help Prevent Osteoporosis

Nutrients help postmenopausal women, astronauts, and the bedridden

In this bone study, 35 postmenopausal women, aged 55 to 65 years, took dairy products fortified with 1,200 mg of calcium plus 300 IU of vitamin D per day for the first 12 months, then calcium plus 900 IU of vitamin D per day for the next 18 months, along with dietary counseling. A similar group of 31 women got neither supplements nor dietary counseling. After 30 months, compared to the non-supplement group, the calcium-vitamin D group had better bone mineral density in the arm, total spine, and total body.

The weightlessness of space flight and weightlessness effects of bed rest both can trigger a type of inflammatory immune response that speeds bone loss and may lead to osteoporosis. The immune inflammatory factor, called NFkB, can weaken muscle and bone. Researchers in this review analyzed four types of studies; short-flight space shuttle crews, cell culture, bed rest, and long-term space station crews.

In astronauts returning from short space shuttle flights, researchers drew blood at landing and found NFkB activity was elevated and remained elevated for two weeks, evidence that the body adapts to zero gravity through inflammatory processes.

In the cell culture studies, omega-3 fatty acids slowed NFkB activity.

Bed rest mimics some of the effects of weightlessness and in this study doctors found that, among people bedridden for 60 days, those who consumed less omega-3 fatty acids had more bone loss compared to those who consumed more omega-3s.

In the final study, researchers measured bone mineral loss in astronauts who were in space for four to six months. Those who consumed less fish during flight lost more bone mineral than those who ate more fish.

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; 2010, Vol. 104, No.1, 100-7

From the December 2010 newsletter

Van's Health on January - 22 - 2011
categories: Supplements

Living Longer

Doctors believe certain nutrients help balance the immune inflammatory response and may have a link to longevity

Doctors in a lifespan study asked 77,673 men and women, aged 50 to 76, to record which vitamins and supplements they were taking duringGlucosamine 500 supplements a 10-year tracking period.

After five more years of follow up, researchers found that those who had taken glucosamine infrequently or for a short period of time were 8 percent less likely to have died from any cause compared to those who had not taken glucosamine, and those who had taken glucosamine regularly were 17 percent less likely.

For chondroitin, compared to non-users, low users were 12 percent less likely to have died and high users 17 percent less likely.

For omega-3s, those who had taken high levels of fish oils were 17 percent less likely to have died compared to non-users.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2010, Vol. 91, No. 6, Electronic Pre-publication

This article was also published in our newletter “Natural Insights for Well Being”, October 2010. Stop by Van’s Health Foods at 2148 First Street Livermore, CA or call us at 925-447-2976 to be added to our mailing list.

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Thank you,

The Van’s Health Foods Team

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