Maternal Use of Folic Acid and Vitamins Linked to Reduced Autism Risk in Children

Folic Acid and Autism RiskAccording to a study done in Israel, mothers who supplement with a Multivitamin and Folic Acid, both before and during their pregnancy, reduce their child’s risk factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Researchers studied Israeli children born between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2007.  Participants were followed up from birth to January 26, 2015 to determine the risk of ASD.  A random sample of 33% of all live-born children were chosen, this group contained cases of all children diagnosed with ASD and a control group.  The mother’s supplement use was classified for Folic acid, Multivitamin Supplements containing Vitamins A,B,C and D and and a combination of the two groups.  Additionally the intervals for supplementation (before and during pregnancy) were noted.

A statistically significant reduction in the likelihood of ASD was seen in women who supplemented with Folic Acid and/or a Multivitamin Supplement before pregnancy when compared with women who did not supplement either before or during pregnancy.  This is consistent with other studies which showed maternal Folic Acid supplementation 4 weeks prior to conception and 8 weeks into the pregnancy had a reduction in the risk of offspring with ASD.

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) is well known for its benefits in the reduction of neural tube defects, like spina bifida in newborns, in addition to its support for reductions in developmental problems like placental abnormalities and heart defects.  Also a mother’s Folic Acid level during pregnancy has been associated with cognitive functioning in their offspring.



Prenatal Folic Acid Supplementation Helps Lower Postpartum Depression Risk

Folic Acid and Postpartum DepressionSupplementing Folic Acid for at six months before giving birth could lower the risk of postpartum depression.

Almost 1,600 women who had given birth six to 12 weeks earlier were recruited to participate in this study.  Data on prenatal folic acid supplementation, obstetric history, and lifestyle and socio-demographic characteristics was collected.  803 (50.4%) women participating in the study took Folic Acid supplements during their pregnancy but for a period of 3 months or less, 146 (9.2%) supplemented with Folic Acid for 4 to 6 months and 643 (40.4%) women supplemented with Folic Acid for over 6 months.  Researchers noted 29.4% of the participants experienced postpartum depression.  The tendency to experience postpartum depression was lower in the group of women who had supplemented Folic Acid for over 6 months of their pregnancy.

Previous studies done worldwide have found determinants of postpartum depression (PPD) include biological factors, hormones, inflammatory factors, nutrients, cultural and environmental factors, family history and social support, and socio-economic status.  Researchers believe this study shows that prenatal Folic Acid supplementation for over 6 months decreased the risk of PPD regardless of the contributing factors seen in past studies.

Further studies which take into account serum and dietary Folic Acid levels would eliminate any bias found in this study which relied on participants recall and was collected after the participants had given birth.


Immune System Primer

Immune System PrimerThe immune system is a culmination of molecules, proteins, cells and organs all intended to protect the body against things like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites also called pathogens.  When the immune system is working the way it is supposed to work, it goes unnoticed: pathogens are eliminated or neutralized and the body continues to function normally.  Aggressive pathogens, unfamiliar pathogens or a compromised immune system may interfere with the process of neutralizing or eliminating pathogens.

The immune system is made up of 2 parts:

Innate (Non Specific) immune system-We are born with this system.  The innate immune system is fast acting.  It is the body’s first line of defense.

Adaptive (Specific) immune system-The adaptive immune system is slow moving and needs time to learn and adapt to or recognize infections.  Once this happens the adaptive immune system’s response can be efficient, accurate and rapid.

The minerals involved in supporting a healthier immune function are Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Manganese and Copper.  Zinc supports immunity by assuming the role of a secondary messenger.  Additionally, Zinc plays a role in immune cell function.  There is a competition for Zinc between the host and the pathogen.  Selenium has been shown to support immune function in aging populations.  Selenium helps boost protection against certain pathogens.

Vitamin D benefits both the innate and adaptive immune systems.   A deficiency of Vitamin D increases a person’s susceptibility to infections.  Other Vitamins like, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B6, B12, and Folate all play a role in supporting a healthier immune function.

The amino acid Glutathione is considered a master antioxidant and helps fight free radicals.  Glutathione also helps regenerate Vitamins C and E to work more effectively and stimulates the natural ability of certain immune cells.

MSM known for its anti inflammatory benefits has been shown to improve immune response especially after exhaustive exercise.

Probiotics, friendly bacteria, are also very important for boosting your body’s immune support system.  The microbiomes in the gut are at the core of immune health.



Chlorella Supplementation May Raise Oxygen Uptake and Fight Micronutrient Deficiency

Chlorella and oxygenationA new study finds Chlorella, a unicellular green alga, may increase maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) as well as nutrient levels in individuals whom are micronutrient-deficient.

34 male college students participated in this recent study.  Participants were split into two groups, one group received a Chlorella supplement and the other group received a placebo.  Participants daily food consumption was assessed before the trail began and it was observed that their intake of vitamins and minerals fell below the recommended nutrient requirements for the following nutrients: Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, Vitamin C, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Manganese.  Participants were found to have Sodium, Protein, and Fat Intakes above the nutrient demand.  It was also found that participant’s energy intake was below the nutrient demand.  The study lasted 4 weeks.

Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) rose significantly in the group supplementing with Chlorella.  Additionally a 20% increase in the sufficiency rate of Niacin, Vitamin K, Vitamin D, Vitamin B2, and Iron was seen in the Chlorella supplementation group.  Before the trial researchers found that maximal oxygen uptake was negatively correlated with the participant’s serum Vitamin B2 levels.  Prior research found lifestyle modifications like regular exercise and dietary changes caused higher Vitamin B2 needs.  Researchers concluded that increased aerobic capacity (a higher maximal oxygen uptake) caused a person to metabolize more Vitamin B2, a significantly negative relationship between VO2 max and Serum Vitamin B2 levels.

Chlorella is considered to be a potential food source since it is high in vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, dietary fiber, and protein.



Study Links Multi Vitamins to Lower Autism Spectrum Risk

Multi Vitamin and AutismA new study finds supplementing with a Multi Vitamin during pregnancy may lower the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children.    However, researchers caution that because the study was not able to establish a cause and effect relationship, further study is needed before changes are made to healthcare practices and policies.

Researchers analyzed data from over 270,000 mother and child pairs living in Sweden.  The data was adjusted for some confounding factors in both children and mothers. Three analytical methods were used for this analysis.  Women reported their use of Multi Vitamin supplements, folic acid and iron at their first prenatal visit. Cases of ASD were determined from the use of national registers. An inverse association between using a Multi Vitamin and ASD was observed.

There were however several limitations in the study data including the timing and dosages of the supplements and the difficulty in assessing type.  The results do press for further study.


Vitamins May Have Larger Role in Halting Brain Decline

Vitamin B is for BrainA new review claims folate and related B Vitamins play a role in slowing down brain function decline as well as playing a role in age-related depression.  These findings look at certain B Vitamins as being equally as successful in supporting the reduction in the risk of mental and cognitive disorders which occur with aging, as nutrients like Omega-3 Essential Fatty acids as well as polyphenols like Resveratrol.  Researchers believe these B Vitamins have the ability to improve the quality of life for the elderly.

Researchers concluded that folate and Vitamin B12 play essential roles in the long term management of dementia and age-related depression.  Inconsistencies of vitamin experiments coming from uncertain study design and methodology were identified by the research team.  B Vitamins and their role in supporting a healthier cognitive function in the aging process received more interest than B Vitamins and their role in age-related depression.

Over 46 million people worldwide experience some form of dementia and it is believed that this number will increase by over 65% by the year 2026.  Although the role of nutrients in supporting brain health is often underestimated nutrients are never fully discounted as being an effective means to aid in improving cognition in ageing.

Researchers are recommending that future studies use some form of imaging technology to confirm effective nutritional interventions.


Mother’s Vitamin B Levels Affect Eczema Risk

eczemaA new study has found that mother’s who have higher levels of B Vitamins during pregnancy usually produce children less likely to develop eczema.

Almost 500 pregnant women participated in this study.  The amount of serum nicotinamide, derived from Vitamin B3, in the participants was looked at for this study.  A 30% lower chance of developing atopic eczema at 12 months was associated with higher serum levels of nicotinamide.

Nicotinamide, which is derived from Vitamin B3 has displayed anti inflammatory properties in prior studies and has shown benefit for individuals with inflammatory skin conditions.  A lack of B vitamins, B3 in particular has been associated with the development of allergy related conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and asthma.

Eczema has been thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors but the actual cause for this skin condition is largely unknown.

More research is needed.