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.



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.


Vitamin B3 May Benefit Those with Parkinson’s Disease

Brain Boosting B Vitamins and Parkinson's DiseaseAccording to researchers individuals with a specific type of Parkinson’s disease (PD) may benefit from increasing their intact of Vitamin B3 (Niacin).

Fruit flies that had a mutated form of the gene (PINK1) that usually protects cells from mitochondrial malfunction due to stress were studied by researchers.  These flies received food supplemented with niacin.  These flies were found to have a reduced number of faulty mitochondria when compared with flies that were fed a regular non supplemented diet.  Additionally the niacin prevented the flies from losing existing neurons.

Cells are prevented from clearing out their mitochondria when there are mutations in the PINK1 gene.  When these mutated genes are accumulated neurons cannot get enough energy and die.  These damaged mitochondria also release toxic molecules that can damage genes encoded with DNA.  Researchers concluded “This study strengthens the therapeutic potential for Vitamin B3/niacin-based dietary interventions in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease”.  Prior studies have suggested a relationship between high dietary levels of niacin and a reduction in the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease exists.

Further research is planned.


Certain B Vitamins Could Protect Against Air Pollution Risk

Air Pollution B VitaminsResearchers say a daily intake of B Vitamins may help reduce the consequences of air pollution on the epigenome, which consists of a group of chemical changes to the DNA of an organism and can alter gene expression and are hereditary.  The modification of DNA can occur as a natural process of tissue differentiation and development or can be changed as a response to environmental exposures.

A small group of individuals participated in this trial and randomly received a B vitamin supplement, containing 1 mg of Vitamin B12, 50 mg of Vitamin B6 and 2.5 mg of Folic Acid, or a placebo.  Blood levels were taken at the onset of the study.  Participants were than exposed to a totally encompassing amount of pollution containing a particulate matter less than PM2.5, an air pollutant that when levels in the air are high is a concern for people’s health.  PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air reducing visibility and causing the air to be hazy.  The group supplementing with the B Vitamin supplement did not see the “epigenetic changes which included an alteration to methylation of genes involved in mitochondrial oxidative energy metabolism” which was seen in the group given the placebo.

Researchers believe further studies focusing on heavily polluted environments are critical to confirm the outcomes seen in the study.


Vitamin B’s Women’s Benefits: Supplementation Boosts Convention Yeast Infection Treatment RCT Finds

B VitaminsAccording to a new study supplementing with Vitamin B along with doing the conventional treatment can help treat complicated cases of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC).  VVC is a fungal infection caused by the Candida species, the second major cause of vaginitis in women, with the first major cause being bacterial vaginitis.  75% of women are infected with VVC at least once in their life prior to menopause.  5% of these women experience VVC on a recurrent basis.

Over 150 women with VVC participated in this study and were randomly assigned into groups as follows: Group A (received a suppository and oral antifungal) Group B (received a suppository and a vaginal cream) and Group C (received a suppository, vaginal cream and a Vitamin B Complex supplement).  Patients in Group C (92.73%) saw a significantly higher rate of treatment success, percentage of patients with recovery, marked effective and improvement, in comparison to Groups A (73.47%) and B (79.63%).  The recovery rate alone was also higher in Group C (72.73%) compared with Group A (61.22%) and Group B (62.96%).

Researchers concluded the Supplementing with Vitamin B Complex might be an effective additional therapy for treating complicated VVC.


L-Arginine-B Vitamin Combination Effective for Blood Pressure Improvements

High Blood PressureA new study has found a combination of the amino acid L-Arginine, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 may improve vascular function in addition to supporting a reduction in blood pressure.

81 people participated in this placebo-controlled clinical trial.  Study participants ranged in age from 40 to 65 years of age and were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or a combination of L-arginine and B vitamins (3 mg of B6, .4 mg of Folic acid, 2 mcg of B12 or 2400 mg of L-Arginine).  The study lasted for 6 months, 3 months with the assigned supplement combination or the placebo and 3 months with no supplementation.

Results showed a .37 increase in the reactive hyperemia index (RHI), a measure of endothelial function which shows improvements in vascular function, in the group taking the actual supplements with no significant changes seen in the group taking the placebo.  Additionally systolic blood pressure decreased significantly (6 mmHg) over the study period in the group supplementing with the actual supplement combination with no changes seen in the placebo group.

Most recently even modest changes in blood pressure (5 mmHg) were considered as being clinically significant and were associated with a 9% reduction in coronary heart disease risk and a 14% reduction in stroke risk.


Early Life Nutrition Builds Brain Resilience To Extreme Stress

stressAccording to a new rat study, brain and memory impairment caused by stress during early development can be minimized by supplementation with B vitamins and methionine.

Researchers restricted the amount of materials available to female mice used to build nests to induce stress.  This reduced the amount of time the female mice spent with their offspring.  The control group mice were given ample amounts of nesting materials and were able to spend more time with their offspring.

During the stressful events, half of the mice in the experimental group were given B6, B12, Folic Acid, and Methionine (an Amino Acid).  Offspring born to mothers who were in the stress group and who received the supplements had higher levels of methionine in their brain in addition to having a lower hormonal stress response.  These offspring did better on more than one memory task when they became adults when compared with the offspring whose mother’s were exposed to stress but had not received the nutritional supplement.

Researchers concluded that supplementation with these nutrients, especially during early years, benefit cognitive and mental development.