Carnitine Deficiency Linked to Mild Form of Autism

Autism and Carnitine DeficiencyA new research paper proposed a link may exist between a mild form of autism and a deficiency of L-Carnitine. Revolutionary implications in the prevention of autism would be triggered if this hypothesis were confirmed with additional clinical studies.  Genetic factors observed in autistic patients as well as results from animal studies lead researchers to infer low brain levels of L-Carnitine may result in a mild form of autism predominately affecting males.

Prior research has found 1 in 350 males cannot produce L-Carnitine because they have an inactive form of the trimethyllysine hydroxylase, epsilon gene (TMLHE).  Approximately 3% of these males with the inactive TMLHE gene develop autism.  Additionally TMLHE gene variation only accounts for 1% of autism case.  Hence, researchers have concluded that a brain L-Carnitine deficiency may account for a larger percentage of autism cases.

Symptoms of autism often begin at between 6 and 18 months of age.  Researchers believe the delayed onset of autism symptoms occur because L-Carnitine is delivered across the placenta and most infants are born with adequate L-Carnitine stores.  Also, infants formulas, cow’s milk and of course breast milk all contain abundant amounts of L-Carnitine providing adequate protection for the infant from an L-Carnitine deficiency during the early months of life.  The first foods introduced to an infant occur between ages 4 and 8 months and contain little or no L-Carnitine since meats are introduced later in the infant’s development.  The reduction in L-Carnitine is believed to lead to brain L-Carnitine deficiency and to autism.

Researchers are calling for more studies to confirm these findings.

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Adequate Magnesium Intakes May Boost Bone Health

Magnesium and BonesA new study points to increasing magnesium intakes which may reduce the risk of fractures in older women, but the benefits for older men are not as clear.

Data from over 3,700 individuals with an average age of 60, who participated in the Osteoarthritis Initiative, was used for this study.  During the 8 years of data analyzed 560 people developed new fractures.  Participants with the highest average intake of Magnesium (398 mg/day for men and 373 mg/day for women) had a significant reduction in the risk of developing fractures (53% for men and 62% for women).  When height was taken into account the risk of fracture reduction fell to 25% for men and 53% for women.

Since only 27% of the study participants reached the RDA for Magnesium (420 mg for men and 320 mg for women over 30), it is believed that this may account for the change in the  risk factors for both men and women when height is taken into account.

Further randomize controlled trails are needed to fully understand the role Magnesium plays in delaying and reducing fractures.

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Omega-3 and Arthritis: Study Finds Link Between Fish Consumption and Joint Disorder

Arthritis Omega-3New data finds regular consumption of fish rich in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids may reduce symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Over 170 patients were assessed for Rheumatoid Arthritis scores using the DAS28-CRP scale.  Their intake of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire

Researchers found a dose-response relationship between RA scores and Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid intake, increasing Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids reduced the activity of the disease.

More studies are needed.

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Study Finds Magnesium May Ease Depression Symptoms

Anxiety restlesness and depressionIn this open-label randomized cross-over study, participants were adults experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of depression (scores of 5-19 on the Public Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)).  The enrollment in the study covered a period of over one full year.  This was done to minimize the number of cases of seasonal depression participating in this trial.  The study period lasted six weeks.  Participants supplemented with 248 mg of elemental magnesium per day.

PHQ-9 scores were reduced by a significant 6 points and Generally Anxiety Disorders-7 scores dropped 4.5 points. Reductions in PHQ-9 scores of 5 or more are considered clinically relevant changes in persons who are receiving treatment for depression.  The improvements seen, occurred no matter what gender, age or baseline depression score of the participant.  Additionally subjects taking pharmaceutical antidepressants during the study period saw even larger reductions in PHQ-9 scores.  Most participants taking the magnesium supplement saw some improvements in their scores within two weeks from the start of supplementation.

Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body.  The researchers hoped to see larger clinical trials that extend over a longer time period to verify the results of this study.

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Omega-3 Deficient Teenagers May Become Anxious Adults

Omega 3 AnxietyA new study using mice has found low Omega-3 in adolescent mice may lead to behavioral problems in adulthood.

Using a mouse model which mimicked a dietary deficiency of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids during childhood and adolescence, researchers found significant increases in anxiety and anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable).  The increases in these conditions can lead to decreases in specific cognitive functions during adulthood.  Researchers found switching the diet of the mice to one lacking Omega-3’s during adolescence led to lower Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) levels in various areas of the brain during the adulthood of the mice.  These lower Omega-3 levels in these affected areas of the brain impacts a signaling mechanism known as mGlu5-endocannabinoid.  This signaling mechanism results in the changes seen in cognitive and emotional functions.

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid deficiency is widely believed to be a major risk factor associated with conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.  Current research has shown the importance of high Omega-3 status during important development periods like perinatal and adolescent life stages.

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Choline,-An Underused, Essential Nutrient

CholineCholine is an essential vitamin-like nutrient that is useful for helping the body to maintain optimal health.  Only recently has this vital nutrient gained attention for its role in supporting healthy liver function, prenatal development, brain and heart health and athletic performance and recovery.  As a matter of fact Choline is the most recent nutrient to receive an RDI (reference daily intake) from the FDA.  Choline was classified as an essential nutrient in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine.  This important nutrient is not as readily available through our foods as originally thought and approximately 90% of all Americans are not meeting IOM’s (Institue of Medicine) recommended daily intakes of 425 mg for adult women and 550 mg for adult men.

Choline helps cleanse the liver of fats that can accumulate in this organ.  This in turn helps maintain normal liver function.  This is important since today almost 40% of the population now has NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease).  Growing obesity levels is a key factor in the rise of this disease.  Without adequate levels of Choline fat transport out of the liver slows down and fat accumulates in the liver causing damage.  In healthy adults deprived of Choline for 42 days between 77% and 80% developed signs of liver dysfunction according to one study.  This damage did reverse itself once the participants were given a high-choline diet.

Choline, an essential building block of cells, is needed in larger quantities during pregnancy.  Pregnant women use twice the recommended levels of Choline, however only about 10% of pregnant women meet these higher levels.  Growing evidence link Choline, like folic acid, to the prevention of neural tube defects in newborns.  One study found a 2.4-fold higher risk of neural tube defects in participants with low blood levels of Choline during mid-pregnancy.  Additionally, Choline seems to lower cortisol levels and may reduce the baby’s response to stress.  It looks like Choline makes Omega-3 DHA more available to the prenatal brain supporting healthier cognitive development.  Pre-Eclampsia risks (onset of high blood pressure during pregnancy) have been reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy with Choline supplementation.

Choline has shown benefits for lowering homocysteine levels.  Homocysteine is an inflammatory marker associated with greater risks for heart disease, stroke, cancer, bone fractures and cognitive decline.  Choline converts homocysteine into the amino acid methionine thereby preventing the building up of homocysteine in the body.

Choline supports faster communication between muscle fibers and the brain which helps support additional muscle recovery after repetitive motion exercise which boosts overall workout performance.  Choline also helps in the optimization and synthesis of nitric oxide.  Nitric Oxide increases the flow of nutrients and oxygen into the muscles increases pump during exercise.  Active people are a greater risk of Choline depletion ultimately causing a reduction in performance and the breakdown of muscle cells to support adequate Choline supplies to the brain.

Food sources of Choline are not typically a part of most American diets.  Egg yolks and Beef liver are examples of Choline-rich foods.  Salmon, broccoli, peanuts, brussel sprouts and chicken also contain Choline but in smaller amounts and do not provide the amount of Choline needed in a day making supplementation a must.

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Folic Acid and Dementia: Supplementation Benefits Elderly People with Mild Cognitive Decline

Folic Acid and Cognitive ImpairmentElderly people with mild cognitive impairment saw significant improvements in both cognitive performance and reduced inflammation when supplementing with 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily for a period of 12 months.

Over 150 seniors with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to two groups.  One group received daily Folic Acid supplementation (400 mcg) and the other group was a conventional-treatment group.

Significant improvements in cognitive function were seen in the group supplementing with Folic Acid.  Additionally a significant reduction in levels of inflammatory cytokines was seen.  Peripheral inflammatory cytokines appear to be biomarkers for identifying individuals who may be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Researchers believe looking at the role of inflammatory markers at the onset of dementia, before full clinical dementia syndrome has developed, is essential.  Researchers concluded that folic acid has significant memory enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

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