Melatonin for Reflux Disease

Melatonin and Reflux DiseaseThe use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) used to treat digestive disorders like heartburn, have come under fire recently by a number of different health advocates.  A number of clinical studies have shown melatonin at bedtime to be an adequate alternative for curbing GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and even speeding up the healing of ulcers.

In both animal and human studies the speed to heal ulcers was accelerated with the use of melatonin.  In addition melatonin was shown to be effective against esophageal lesions provoked by reflux esophagitis in animal studies.  Also in humans melatonin was shown to prevent the incidence of GERD.

60 patients with non-erosive reflux disease (NERD) or functional heartburn were given a 20 mg dose of omeprazole at breakfast and then randomly assigned to receive 6 mg of melatonin, 25 mg of nortiptyline (an antidepressant) or a placebo at bedtime.  The study lasted 2 months.  Biopsies of the esophagus were taken as a diagnostic tool.  It is important, studies show,  that the PPI’s be continued for at least 40 days after beginning the melatonin regime and taken spottily after that if a reoccurrence of heartburn occurs.

75% of patients receiving the melatonin reported improvements in symptoms vs those receiving the nortiptyline.  45% of the participants receiving the melatonin also showed improvements in GERDHRQOL scores in comparison to those taking the placebo.  Adverse effects were small however 20-30% of the melatonin group reported diarrhea and abdominal distention respectively.

Melatonin seems to be responsible for controlling the lower esophageal sphincter and gastric acid secretion.  Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland.  It is also interesting to note the PPI’s damage the cells that produce melatonin.

More studies on melatonin associated with amino acids and vitamins are being called for not just as an alternative therapy for PPI’s and GERD but also for their ability to cure ulcers.



Alpha Lipoic Acid + EPA May Promote Body Weight Loss in Healthy Overweight Women

ala-epa and weight lossA new study has found supplementing with alpha lipoic acid, both with or without EPA Omega 3 may support weight loss in women who are overweight and obese.  The EPA Omega 3 was found to prevent the reduction of leptin during weight loss.  Leptin is the satiety hormone that signals the body that it is full.

97 women who were obese or overweight participated in this study.  The study was a double blind placebo controlled study.  All the participants followed a reduced calorie diet and were divided into 4 groups: Control (no supplementation), EPA only (supplemented with 1.3 grams daily), alpha lipoic acid only (300 mg daily) and lastly alpha lipoic acid + EPA .  The study lasted 10 weeks and 77 women completed the study.

The control group lost an average of 5.2 kg on the diet only.  The same weight loss of 5.2 kg was seen in the EPA group.  The alpha lipoic acid group only, lost an average of 7 kg and the alpha lipoic acid group + EPA lost on average 6.5 kg.



NIH Study Links Lack of Sleep and Alzheimer’s Risk

Sleeplessness and Alzheimer's DiseaseAccording to a new small study, researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found experiencing even one night of sleeplessness may lead to an immediate increase in beta-amyloid, a protein found in the brain and associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  Beta-amyloid proteins clump to together to form amyloid plaques in people with this Alzheimer’s disease.  While this is the first study to show how sleep may be an important factor in clearing beta-amyloid in the human brain, prior studies in mice have shown acute sleep deprivation to be a known cause of elevated beta-amyloid levels.

20 healthy individuals between the ages of 22 and 72 participated in this study. Researchers used PET (positron emission tomography) scans to understand the suspected link between beta-amyloid accumulation and sleep.  PET scans were performed after a night of restful sleep and after a night where the participants remained awake for approximately 31 hours.

Researchers found an increase in beta-amyloid of approximately 5% in various brain regions (thalamus and hippocampus) after the sleep deprivation.  These areas of the brain are especially vulnerable to damage during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  Researchers did not follow up to see if the increases in beta-amyloid seen in this study subsided after a night of rest.  Additionally researchers found study participants whom experienced larger increases in beta-amyloid reported worse moods after the sleep deprivation.

It is estimated that beta-amyloid increases approximately 43% in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease when compared to healthy older adults.

Further studies are needed with a larger study population and to explore if the link between sleep disorders and Alzheimer’s risks are bidirectional, do increases in beta-amyloid cluster lead to sleep disturbances.

Supplements that may help a person get into a deeper more restful sleep include Melatonin, GABA, Magnesium, Valerian Root Extract, Passion Flower Extract, Hops, Scullcap, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, Collagen Protein and L-Tryptophan.



Nutrient Deficiencies Linked to Mental Ill Health

Nutrient Deficiencies and Mental Health IssuesAccording to a new review, patients with Schizophrenia, a long-term mental disorder, have low levels of Vitamins C, E, D, B12 and Folate.  The studies looked at did not determine a definitive cause and effect relationship between Schizophrenia and nutritional deficiencies.

28 study articles were reviewed for this meta-analysis which involved over 2600 participants, 1221 with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and 1,391 controls.  Significant reduction in Vitamin C, Vitamin D and folate were seen in the participants who had experienced FEP when compared to the control group.  These nutrient deficiencies existed in participants with long-standing psychosis as well as at the onset of first-episode psychosis.  Researchers also found that the difference in Vitamin D levels between the control group and the participants experiencing FEP was the most pronounced of all the nutrients.  In one study researchers found the differences in participant’s folate levels were caused from genetic differences in metabolizing folate and not from dietary influences.  Additionally large deficits of Vitamin C in FEP were noted in 2 studies both with small sample sizes.  It was noted that this Vitamin C deficit may have been due to low vegetable and fruit intake in the group with the Vitamin C deficit.  One RCT (randomized control trial) in participants undergoing their first antipsychotic treatment who supplemented with 500 mg of Vitamin C daily showed reductions in psychiatric symptoms.

The review showed that nutritional deficiencies caused from insufficient absorption or intake of nutrients is seen as potential risk factors for psychiatric conditions.  Vitamin B supplementation may reduce symptoms of schizophrenia significantly and reverse some neurological deficits associated with the disorder.  Additionally the antioxidants, Vitamin C and E are lower in long-term schizophrenia which might contribute to the increased levels of oxidative stress seen in this group of people.

Future research is warranted.



Low Folate and B12 Linked to Severity of Fatty Liver Disease

B12-Folic Acid and Fatty Liver DiseaseResearchers have found a link in the progression of Liver Fibrosis in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and two important B Vitamins.

Over 80 patients with Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatisis (NASH), a progressive form of Non Fatty Liver Disease, participated in this study.  The average age of the study participants was 41 years old.  The study included 32 women and 51 men.  Liver biopsies were analyzed using the SAF (steatosis, activity, and fibrosis) scoring system to determine the degree of NASH in each participant.  Additionally blood levels of B12 and Folate were taken and correlations were made between the stages of the disease progression.

Researchers determined an inverse relationship existed between the grades of fibrosis (formation of scar tissue) in the liver and blood levels of Folate and Vitamin B12.  Lower serum Vitamin B12 levels were also associated with a higher severity of NASH.   Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis is known to start as a simple steatosis (the accumulation of fat cells in the liver) and then progress to NASH as scar tissue (fibrosis) occurs.

Further studies are needed in order to determine the pathological role of low Vitamin B12 and Low Folate in the development of NASH.


Could Low Vitamin D Put Postmenopausal Women At a Higher Risk of Metabolic Syndrome?

According to new data the onset of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) in postmenopausal women may be closely linked to Vitamin D deficiency.  Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) was seen in 58% of postmenopausal women with either deficient or insufficient levels of Vitamin D when compared with a 40% occurrence in women with adequate Vitamin D levels.

Over 450 women participated in this study.  Participants ages were between 45 and 75 years and all participants had stopped menstruating for at the minimum of 1 year prior to the beginning of the study.  Additionally none of the participants had experienced any type of Cardiovascular Disease at the baseline.  35% of the participants were Vitamin D deficient and 33% of the participants had insufficient levels of Vitamin D.  A Vitamin D deficiency is usually defined as blood levels below 50 nanomoles/liter (nmol/L) and an insufficient Vitamin D level is defined as a blood level between 50 – 75 nmol/L.

Blood levels of the participants Vitamin D levels were measured and compared to the analyzed Metabolic Syndrome parameters of the participants.  Researchers found the lower the blood level of Vitamin D the greater the occurrence of Metabolic Syndrome.  Additionally researchers found an inverse relationship between blood triglycerides and HDL levels, 2 individual components of Metabolic Syndrome and Vitamin D levels.

Metabolic Syndrome involves a group of conditions that increase a person’s risk for stroke, heart disease and diabetes.    For the purposes of the study, participants meeting 3 of more of the criteria listed below were considered to have Metabolic Syndrome:

Waist circumference above 88 cm

High Blood Pressure (above 130/85 mmHG)

High Blood Sugar (fasting glucose levels over 100 mg/dl)

Abnormal triglycerides (above 150 mg/dl)

HDL below 50 mg/dl

Further studies are needed.


Study Links Lutein Levels to Higher IQ

Lutein and Higher IQA new study finds higher levels of MPOD (macula pigment optical density), a measure of Lutein levels in the brain and eye, is associated with higher IQ levels.  Data from the study showed a higher MPOD level was an independent predictor of fluid intelligence, the ability to problem solve in unique situations and to think creatively in regard to everyday challenges, and IQ levels.

114 obese and overweight individuals between the ages of 25 and 45 participated in this study.  Individuals who are overweight and obese are known to be at risk for having a lower MPOD status.

Many studies in children, the elderly, middle age individuals and primates show Lutein’s importance in brain health.  The link between Lutein’s ability to support the eye and the brain is not a surprise since the brain and the eyes are connected.  In recent studies from pediatric brain tissue samples, Lutein made up about 60% of the total carotenoids identified in the brain tissue.  Considering Lutein makes up 12% of the carotenoids found in the diet, a preference for Lutein in the brain seems evident.

Prior studies have also shown higher blood levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin are associated with better executive function, memory and cognition.

Further studies are needed.