Lower Arginine Levels Seen in Depressed Patients

Depression and L-ArginineNew information alludes to a link between lower levels of the amino acid L-Arginine and major depressive disorder (MDD).  L-Arginine is used by the body to produce nitric oxide.  Nitric oxide helps with increasing blood flow into the muscles.  Reduced nitric oxide production may increase inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS) and oxidative stress which are believed to be involved in MDD.  A key biomarker, global Arginine bioavailability ratio (GABR) is used to measure decreased L-Arginine bioavailability.

Over 350 individuals participated in this study, 99 were adults diagnosed with MDD and the rest were non-depressed controls.  Blood levels of three amino acids (L-Arginine, L-Citrulline and L-Ornithine ) were measured at the onset of the study.  Additionally researchers analyzed asymmetric and symmetric dimethylarginine concentrations.  Both of these have both been known to inhibit nitric oxide synthase, which is an enzyme that initiates nitric oxide production from L-Arginine.

The levels of the 3 amino acids were compared between the non-depressed control and the depressed participants.  Baseline levels of serum L-Arginine and GABR were reduced in patients with MDD when compared with the non-depressed control group. There was an additional follow up after eight months at which times these amino acids were again measured.  Researchers looked at differences between participants with continuing depression and compared those with participants who were in “remission”.   Results showed participants with depression had reduced L-Arginine bioavailability. However the participants who were in “remission” had only marginally higher levels of bio-available L-Arginine than those who continued to have depression.

Further studies are needed to determine if supplementation with the amino acid L-Arginine may help improve depression and to determine what exactly causes reduced L-Arginine bioavailability in individuals with depression.






CoQ10 Deficiency Linked to Pre-Diabetes

Q10-Pre-DiabetesAccording to a new study in eLife low levels of CoEnzyme Q10 (COQ10) in muscle and fat cells are associated with insulin resistance.

Researchers found a reduction in mitochondrial CoQ10 levels in samples from insulin-resistance humans, mouse modes and in cellular in vitro experiments.  The study also found that the reduction in mitochondrial CoQ10 brings about insulin resistance by increasing mitochondrial oxidants.  Previous studies have shown that these oxidants can cause insulin resistance.

Researchers also showed CoQ10 supplementation also restored insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial CoQ10 levels, a significant finding for developing programs for treating pre-diabetes and insulin resistance.

CoQ10 is an enzyme found in the cells mitochondria and aids in transferring oxygen between cells.  It is recognized as necessary for converting nutrients into usable energy.

Further studies are planned.





Vitamin D Plus Olive Oil Could Aid Muscle Repair

Vitamin D and Muscle RepairA new study using rats has found Vitamin D supplementation improved the muscle fiber thickness in rats who were sedentary and were being fed either a high fat extra-virgin olive oil (HFEVO) diet or a regular diet.

28 rats participated in this 10 week trial.  The rats were feed either a regular diet, a high fat extra-virgin olive oil diet (HFEVO) or a high-fat butter diet (HFB) and either received 4000 IU/kg of Vitamin D or no Vitamin D supplement.  Skeletal muscle fiber thickness was assessed at the end of the study period.  Additionally biomarkers of inflammation and muscle synthesis were also assessed.

Improvements in muscle fiber thickness were greater in the group on the HFEVO diet compared to the group being fed a regular diet.  However, rats given Vitamin D supplementation saw significantly more increases in the thickness of their muscle fibers than rats not given any Vitamin D.  Additionally researchers found rats fed a high-fat butter (HFB) diet who did not receive a Vitamin D supplement actually had a reduction in muscle fiber thickness and significantly higher amounts of interleukin-1 beta (IL-1B), an inflammatory molecule.  These rats also showed a dramatic reduction in their insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which has been a factor in reductions in muscle protein.  Vitamin D however, seemed to prevent this muscle damage in the rats fed a HFB diet.

The loss of skeletal muscle mass, Sarcopenia, is commonly found in individuals as they age.  Prior studies show Sarcopenia could be associated with obesity and a deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to Sarcopenia.

Further studies should be done based on the results of these findings.




Two Decades of Data and 100,000 Participants Support Role of Lutein-Zeaxanthin in Lowering AMD Risk

Lutein and Age Related Macular DegenerationNew research has found that increased levels of lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with a reduction in the risk of developing advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Over 102,000 people participated in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study which provided over 20 years of data.  Both studies indicated individuals with the highest average plasma levels of lutein/zeaxanthin had 40% reduced risk of developing advanced AMD when compared with individuals whom had the lowest average levels.

AMD effects between 25 and 30 million people worldwide.  In 1994 the first link between in taking foods high in carotenoids (dark green leafy vegetables like spinach) and significant reductions in AMD were established.

The macula is a yellow spot found on the retina.  The macula is yellow because of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are derived from foods.  These carotenoids are known to filter harmful light that can cause damage to the rods and the cones which are cells found in the eye.  Maintaining high levels of the macular carotenoids is seen by many health experts as a novel approach to reducing AMD and maintaining healthy vision.





Could Vitamin E Protect Against Gallstones?

Vitamin E and GallstonesA new study recently published in Nutrients points to a lower risk of Gallstone Disease being linked to higher blood levels of Vitamin E.  Additionally researchers found participants with Gallstone Disease had a lower alpha tocopherol/cholesterol ratio than healthy participants.  Gamma tocopherol levels/cholesterol ratios were also higher in healthier participants but the results were not statistically significant.

Over 550 individuals with a median age of 62 participated in this cross-sectional study.  Women represented 38.5% of the study participants.  Individuals with visibly detectable Gallstones identified by ultrasound were considered to have Gallstone Disease.  Blood samples were used to determine LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and Vitamin E (alpha and gamma tocopherol) levels.  Associations between Gallstone Disease and Vitamin E blood levels as well as Gallstone Disease and Vitamin E/cholesterol ratio were made by researchers.

Researchers concluded that Vitamin E might help protect against oxidative stress and free radical damage which are believed to play a role in the development of Gallbladder disease.  However researchers did caution that lower Vitamin E levels could be caused by increased oxidative stress in the participants with Gallstone Disease.  It has already been determined that individuals with Gallstones have a reduction in Vitamin E absorption and interruptions in bile secretions seen in Gallbladder Disease are associated with deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins.

Additional studies are needed.




Supplements May Improve Teenage Behavior in School

Multi Vitamins Improve Teen BehaviorNew research suggests giving teenagers nutritional supplements may improve their in school behavior.

Almost 200 youth between the ages of 13 and 16 were given a multivitamin/mineral tablet and an Omega 3 supplement daily for over 12 weeks.  Changes in blood levels of Omega-3 and the vitamins and minerals, which were low at baseline, were tracked.

Supplementation significantly improved Omega-3 and 6 levels in addition to Vitamin C, Vitamin D and folate levels. Behavioral changes were measured using disciplinary records from the youth’s school as well as teacher ratings using the Conners’ disruptive behavior scale.

The active supplementation group showed improvements while the placebo group worsened.  However both groups showed an increase in school disciplinary infringements during the academic term. When the students were split between high and low baseline infringements groups, the low subset increased offenses but the high baseline infringement group improved after supplementation suggestion supplementation may have a protective effect against worsening behavior.

Further study has been called for to verify results.





Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose OilEvening Primrose Oil, EPO, is derived from a plant found in North America. This plant grows yellow flowers that bloom in the evening time, which is how the name of this essential fatty acid came to be.  EPO is found in the seeds of the plant and is approximately 25% essential fatty acids.  This means these oils are essential to our health however our bodies cannot make them.  Raw material manufacturers cold press the seeds of the flower to make the oil and then they encapsulate the raw material into a dietary supplement.   Evening Primrose Oil is an Omega-6 essential fatty acid and is a source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and LA (linoleic acid).

Evening Primrose Acid may help the following:

  • Promote Healthy Joints
  • Support the symptoms of PMS
  • Balance gastrointestinal health
  • Support a healthy cardiovascular system
  • Nourish the skin
  • Protect the integrity of the cell membrane
  • Balance hormones
  • Provide healthy nerve support
  • Improve brain function
  • Support the health of the central nervous system
  • Aid in the absorption of vitamins K, E and D

Here are 6 areas where research has shown EPO may provide healthy results:

1) Hormone Balance

Essential fatty acids are considered to be the building blocks of hormones.  Hormones are required for most every metabolic process in the body.  The essential fatty acids found in EPO reduce inflammatory prostaglandins, support hormone balance and support endocrine disorders like PCOS which can affect menstrual cycle regularity, fertility and ovulation.

Prostaglandin, hormone like chemicals found in the body, production is modulated by Evening Primrose Oil.  Prostaglandins also play a role in water retention, normal blood clotting and even in labor initiation in the birthing process.  Although there are many kinds of prostaglandins they all play a role in the functioning of a healthy body.  EPO helps to maintain and promote healthy prostaglandin levels.

2) Fertility

Evening Primrose Oil has been shown to increase metabolic function and cervical mucus.  These are two key factors needed for healthy menstruation and ovulation.

3) PMS and Women’s Health

Evening Primrose Oil has been shown to support several symptoms associated with PMS like bloating, water retention, mood swings, acne, breast pain and irritability.  Usually these symptoms are related to imbalances in hormone levels and research shows EPO can moderate these symptoms when taken consistently.  EPO can also help support symptoms associated with menopause making it an essential nutrient for women’s health.

4) Healthy Skin

Evening of Primrose Oil which contains GLA is essential for skin health.  GLA has shown benefits in supporting skin issues related to inflammation as well as hormone imbalances.  The skin which is the body’s largest organ, needs the Omega-6 essential acids found in EPO to improve skin elasticity and to optimize cell membrane structure.  Research has found some benefits for individuals suffering from psoriasis, eczema and generalized skin redness and EPO supplementation.

5) Reducing Inflammation

Evening Primrose Oil is often used to promote balance throughout the inflammatory pathways in the body especially in the joints.  It is been use to support the diseases involving chronic inflammation like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and atopic dermatitis.  Research shows EPO can aid in dealing with symptoms associated with RA.

6) Health Hair

Hair loss common in both men and women is often associated with hormonal changes.  DHT, a male hormone, can cause hair follicles to shrink.  This reduces the hair’s lifespan and actually can actually slow down hair growth.  If DHT is high, which can happen to women with thyroid issues, PCOS and other chronic health issues, hair growth slows.  EPO can aid in stopping this hair loss.