Van's Health Foods

In Historic Downtown Livermore since 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

During puberty, girls usually develop more than a third of their adult peak bone mass, setting the stage for healthier bones later in life and lowering chances of osteoporosis. In this study of twenty pairs of identical twin girls, approaching or in puberty and aged 9 to 13, one sister took 800 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day while her twin took a placebo. After six months, doctors measured bone strength and found, compared to placebo, girls in the calcium-vitamin D group had up to 66 percent stronger shin and arm bones depending on the specific area of the bone. Researchers said that bone size, density and strength increased in the spongy-bone areas inside of bones and in the compact-bone areas along the outer shafts of the arm and shin.

Reference: Osteoporosis International; 2011, Vol. 22, No.2, 489-98

From the July 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 11 - 2011
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Vitamin D, blood sugar and insulin

Doctors in this study measured blood sugar and insulin levels in 85 obese and non-obese Philadelphia children, ages 4 to 18, and found nearly half were low or deficient in vitamin D. Older African-American children with higher body-mass index scores had the lowest levels of vitamin D. As vitamin D levels rose, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance decreased, reducing chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin D3 more effective than D2 for treating deficiency

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, has two major forms; D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Since vertebrates synthesize vitamin D3 from sunshine, researchers wanted to test for any biological differences between vitamin D2 and D3 once inside the body. In the study, 33 health adults took 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 or D3 per week. After 12 weeks, blood serum levels of the active form of vitamin D (calcitriol) were 70 percent higher in the vitamin D3 group than in the vitamin D2 group. The vitamin D3 group also had two to three times the amount of stored vitamin D. Study authors said that most North American pharmaceutical preparations use vitamin D2, and recommend switching to vitamin D3 for its greater potency and lower cost.

Reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; 2011, Vol. 96, No. 3, E447-52

From the July 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 7 - 2011
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Flu, Virus and Immunity

Nutrients reduce seasonal infection and boost immunity

In a children’s flu study, researchers said, Danish scientists recently discovered vitamin D triggers immunity system killer T-cells, white blood cells which attack viruses, but remain inactive when vitamin D is low.

In this study, 334 kids took 1,200 IU of vitamin D per day, or a placebo, from December through March. Over this time, 19 percent in the placebo group got influenza A compared to 11 percent for the Vitamin D.

In those whose vitamin D levels were higher, 83 percent had no infection.

In those with asthma, 12 in the placebo group had an asthma attack compared to two in the vitamin D group. The researchers believe vitamin D could have been even more effective in preventing flu because it takes about three months to build up a base level in the blood, and the study began after flu season had started.

Check out the CDC (Center for Disease Control) updated map on where the Influenza (flu) is. CDC Map

In a related study, researchers measured vitamin D levels during the fall and winter in 195 men and women aged 20 to 88. Over four months, 84 participants got viral infections. In those whose vitamin D levels were lower than 38 nanograms per milliliter of blood, 55 percent had no respiratory tract infection. In those whose vitamin D levels were higher, 83 percent had no infection.

In two lab studies, researchers exposed white-blood killer T-cells to influenza A and other viruses before and after healthy donors had taken the probiotic Bacillus coagulans or 15 mg of zinc per day for the previous month. In both studies, killer T-cell activity significantly increased after taking probiotics or zinc.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2010, Vol. 91, No. 5, 1255-60

This article was also published in our newletter “Natural Insights for Well Being”, September 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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