Vitamin D3 Helps Women Build Muscle After Menopause

Significant increases in muscle strength and reductions in body muscle mass losses in women, even 12 years after menopause, were seen in a recent study.

A double blind, placebo controlled study lasting over 9 months found a deficiency in Vitamin D was very common in postmenopausal women throughout the world.  These Vitamin D deficiencies created muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falls that could cause harm. Researchers estimated muscle mass using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and by using handgrip strength tests and chair rising tests.

Women who received the Vitamin D supplements showed a 25.3% increase in muscle strength.  Women who received the placebo lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass and also were 2 times more likely to fall.

Researchers concluded Vitamin D supplementation alone provided “significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle”.



Omega-3 Intake Could Present Long-Awaited Relief for Cancer Patients with Mucositis

omega-3-fatty acidsA new study found oral supplementation with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids may help treat and prevent wounds caused by Mucositis (mouth ulcers and inflammation) in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  Mucositis is a potential side effect of chemotherapy.  An overwhelming number of cancer patients (80%) with neck and head malignancies in addition to cancer patients on a high dose of chemotherapy experience Mucositis.  Mucositis is also associated with severe pain, a higher risk of developing systemic and local infections, bleeding and dysfunction from the oral cavity, mouth and pharynx.  Oral ulcers may even cause bacteria to enter the blood stream and cause septicemia which especially damaging since patients on chemotherapy usually have compromised immune systems.

60 patients who were developing grade 1 oral Mucositis participated in this Random Controlled study.  The participants were divided into 2 groups; an Omega 3 group (12 males and 18 females) and a placebo group (11 males and 19 females).  The participants were assessed for Mucositis using the WHO Oral Mucositis Weekly Questionnaire and the Western Consortium for Cancer Nursing Research criteria at the beginning of the trial, in the first, second and third weeks of chemotherapy and when the Mucositis was cured.  Using the Oral Mucositis Weekly Questionnaire, researchers noted the differences in the severity of the Mucositis between the 2 groups in the first, second and third week s of the study.  The Omega-3 supplementation group had less severe pain during the three weeks of treatment, there actually was no sign Mucositis in the participants supplementing with the Omega 3 after 2 weeks.  In the Omega-3 group average recovery was 4 to nine days vs over 10 days in the placebo group, and 12 patients in the placebo group took over 16 days to recover.

Researchers concluded Omega-3 Essential Fatty acids were an effective and safe means for treating and preventing oral Mucositis.


Omega-3’s Bone Health Benefits Underlined in Hip Fracture Meta-Analysis

Omega-3 and Bone HealthA new meta-analysis and systemic review was undertaken to determine the association between eating fish and fish oil supplementation and hip fractures.

10 studies (3 case control and 7 prospective studies) were included in the systemic review and 9 studies with almost 293,000 participants were included in the meta-analysis.  Participants were 20 years and older.

Adding the effect sizes from 4 prospective studies and 2 case control studies researchers found a significant inverse association between the risk of hip fractures and fish oil consumption.  The prospective studies had a sample size of at least 10,000 participants.  The researchers found a significant inverse relationship between hip fractures and fish oil consumption even when body mass index was a covariant.

Researchers concluded that fish consumption as well as dietary intake of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids may have a protective effect on bone health and also the decline in hip fracture risks.

Further studies are warranted.


Iron Deficiency May Increase Risk of Maternal Depression in Pregnancy

Iron Deficiency and DepressionAccording to researchers pregnant women who were Iron deficient were more likely to have increased levels of peri-natal depression.

Women between the ages of 18 and 25, who were either in the middle or towards the end of their pregnancy, participated in this retrospective study.  In a retrospective study, researchers look at past data of the participants.  Participants completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) questionnaire and had their blood drawn to assess their serum ferritin level, which is a biological marker of Iron storage.  31% of the participants were Iron deficient and on average these women (who were Iron deficient) scored significantly higher on the EPDS questionnaire compared with the participants who were iron sufficient.  By studying the ferritin level of women later on in their pregnancies researchers suggest a link exists between iron deficiency and antenatal (during or related to pregnancy) depression.

Several limitations were noted during the study.  Being a retrospective study did lead to the possibility that a reverse causality could exist, meaning antenatal depression could be what lead to an iron deficiency.  Additionally using a survey to determine depression levels was not the same as having a diagnosis of depression from a professional.  Lastly when designing the study researchers did not take into account the nutritional status of the participants during their pregnancy which along with the diagnosis of Iron deficiency could be a sign of general poor health and nutrition.

Further studies with a larger sample group are needed.


Probiotics in Pregnancy Could Protect Against Childhood Obesity

Probiotics and Childhood ObesityAccording to researchers taking probiotics during pregnancy and breast feeding may modify genes related to obesity in both the mother and their infants.

15 pregnant women participated in this double-blinded randomized controlled (RCT) pilot study.  7 of the women were randomly chosen to supplement with a Probiotic which contained 10 Billion of each Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifiobacterium lactis strains of friendly bacteria.  The remaining 8 participants were given a placebo.  The dosing began on the participants first study visit which occurred while they were pregnant and lasted until the end of an exclusive breast feeding period with a maximum study period of 6 months.  Blood samples were taken from the mother’s prior to the commencement of supplementation with the Probiotic and between 6-12 months after the birth of their children.  Researchers reviewed the DNA methylation status of 623 obesity related and 433 weight gain related gene promoters, using the Ingenuity Pathway tool, in each blood sample taken.

Researchers found the levels of DNA methylation in some genes known to carry an increased risk for obesity, including the FTO gene the single most influential gene, were decreased in the group taking the Probiotic supplement.  The FTO gene has been associated with type II diabetes, obesity risk and body mass index.  Suggesting that Probiotic supplementation during pregnancy may have more applications beyond obesity, researchers found Probiotics had effects on the DNA methylation levels of genes involved with immunological and metabolic processes.  Further studies are needed.


Could Melatonin Promote Healthy Ageing?

Melatonin and Anti-AgingA new review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests supplementation with Melatonin may lessen the decreases in the strength of the circadian system seen with ageing.  Melatonin is associated with helping people fall asleep more rapidly as well as helping to realign sleep cycles to a normal dark/light pattern in people who are blind or who suffer from sleep-wake disorders.  Prolonged-release melatonin (PRM) has been shown to reduce nighttime blood pressure in individuals whose blood pressure does not normally drop at night.  For most people, there is a normal reduction in their blood pressure at night.  The risk of cardiovascular problems is significantly higher for individuals who do not experience this reduction.

Melatonin has also been showing promise in the area of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Associations between insomnia and AD and other neurodegenerative diseases have been identified.  Poor sleep quality has been associated with the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in pre-clinical Alzheimer’s.  At this stage of AD neuropathological changes have been accompanied by reduced melatonin levels.  Researchers have also identified a possible correlation between sleep disruptions and a reduction in the ability of the brain to clear beta-amyloid plaque in the area of the brain involved in the speed of the reaction time to a verbal memory task (precuneus).

One study found participants with mild to moderate AD supplementing with a 2 mg/day dose of PRM over a 6 month period either maintained or showed improvements in their cognitive function.

Researchers believe the evidence to date shows sufficient benefits to warrant further studies.


Long Term Melatonin Supplementation Could Benefit Those With High Cholesterol

Melatonin and High CholesterolA new systematic review was undertaken to determine how supplementation with Melatonin affected blood lipids.  Researchers reviewed eight Random Controlled Trials.  Participants in these studies ranged in age from 16 years old to 74 years old and with the exception of one of the studies included both men and women (one of the studies included only male participants).

A significant relationship between supplementation with Melatonin and reductions in total cholesterol levels as well as a reduction in triglycerides was seen in this meta-analysis.  The mechanism for lipid reduction associated with Melatonin was attributed to Melatonin’s ability to suppress visceral fat which ultimately prevented cholesterol synthesis and absorption while improving LDL receptor activity and inhibiting metabotropic receptors which aid in the transport of fatty acids.  A noticeable reduction was also seen in VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the participants who supplemented with Melatonin.  Researchers believe this effect occurs when intestinal cholesterol absorption has been suppressed.  Reductions in triglycerides were also seen in participants who supplemented with 8mg doses of Melatonin for a period of 8 weeks.

Researchers concluded that Melatonin supplementation had a significant effect on lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides and a minor effect on improving HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as well as providing protection from LDL oxidation which may contribute to Melatonin’s supporting role in preventing atherosclerosis.  LDL oxidation is a major activation step in atherosclerosis development.  Additionally, researchers found considerable evidence that point to Melatonin’s ability to act as a strong antioxidant.

Further studies are needed to determine all the benefits Melatonin may provide for supporting a healthier lipid profile.