Omega-3 and Cognitive Health

Omega 3 and Cognitive HealthThere is a lot of research out there that looks at the connection between brain health and Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, from cognitive function and memory to PTSD and mood elevation.

Here is a recap about the current science on Omega-3:

There are many randomized clinical studies that show very clear benefits for Omega-3 and its ability to reduce the rate of age-related cognitive decline and increase cognitive performance.  A key area of research now centers on the role Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids plays in the developments of a healthy fetus during pregnancy.  A new study reported increasing the intake of DHA, a component of Omega-3, could produce improvements in motor function later in life in offspring.  Another study showed improvements in motor, cognition, and visual development in offspring whose mother’s supplemented with Omega-3. The results of a meta-analysis that reviewed 15 randomized controlled gold trials showed an improvement in motor skills in children when Omega-3 supplementation occurred during pregnancy and infancy.

Other studies have reported Omega-3 supplementation supports improvements in behavior and mood, including benefits of EPA and reductions in depression symptoms.  One study found a 50% reduction in depression ratings in participants supplementing with 1,000 mg of EPA which matched the effects seen in patients taking the antidepressant drug Fluoxetine.  A recent study found EPA was helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms in suffers of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  Increased levels of EPA and DHA, EPA only and the ratio of EPA to Omega-6 AA (arachidonic acid) were all associated with low PTSD severity symptoms in individuals who supplemented with Omega-3 after a 3 month period.  Another recent study found people suffering from PTSD benefited from Omega-3 supplementation for relieving psychophysiological symptoms like a pounding heart.

The findings in these new studies are of particular interest to both former and current members of the armed forces.  Additionally interest in Omega-3 for mood improvement, reductions in suicide rates amount current and ex-military personnel, increasing recovery from traumatic brain injury as well as improvements in reaction time for fighter pilots is being reviewed by the military.

Further studies of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and its benefits are imminent.

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Vitamin E is Vital to Building Muscles and Repairing Cells

Vitamin E and Muscle Building and Cell RepairAlthough weight trainers have always said vitamin E was needed for building muscles, until now the reason for this had not been known.  New research has shown vitamin E is necessary for repairing a cell’s plasma membrane.  What this means is that a cell is not able to properly repair itself after having been damaged without vitamin E.

Muscle cells often get membrane tears when being used a new study points out.  Building muscle is a natural tearing and repairing process said researchers.  If cell membranes are not repaired muscle cell death occurs.  If this continues over a long time period you see muscle wasting. This often occurs with the elderly who do not intake enough Vitamin E.  Researchers see implications for this finding for traumatic brain injury, muscular dystrophy and diabetes associated muscle weakness.

Rats were fed a diet of normal rodent food with the vitamin E removed.  Some rats were given the food alone while other rats were given the food plus a vitamin E supplement.  A training period to determine the rat’s inbred ability to run downhill on a treadmill was given.  This exercise called eccentric contraction challenges muscles and often produces muscle soreness.

The study found the vitamin E deficient rats were challenged in their ability to run compared with the control group.  Additionally these vitamin E deficient rats made more rest stops despite being given a mild electric shock when they stood still.  Researchers also injected a dye which was unable to break through a plasma membrane if it was intact.  The vitamin E deficient rats showed that their muscle cells were easily penetrated by the dye.  The other rats did not exhibit this same result.

Further study is needed.

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Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Age Related Macular DegenerationAs a person ages it is inevitable that their vision will diminish.  Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), for millions of people over the age of 55, is a more serious condition.  AMD is an irreversible eye disease and ultimately leads to vision impairment and even blindness.

AMD is the number one cause of blindness and visual impairment among elderly white Americans (54% of cases) especially women.  About 2 million Americans have advanced AMD while over 8 million people have intermediate AMD with the risk that the disease will progress to the more advanced stage.  The likelihood of getting this disease increases after the age of 55.

AMD is a progressive disease in which the light and color sensing cells in the macular region of the retina in the back of the eye deteriorate.  As the disease progresses, central vision is lost.  Central vision is responsible for detailed tasks like reading, driving and facial recognition.

There are 2 types of age related macular degeneration:

Dry-This is the most common form of the disease and accounts for 85-90% of all AMD cases.  Dry AMD is defined by a buildup of drusen (yellowish deposits) beneath the retina.  Symptoms of advanced AMD may include spots or holes in the center field of vision or blurred vision.  These blurred spots become bigger and darker as the disease progresses.  Usually dry AMD effect one eye first and then can spread to the next eye.

Wet-This form is a more severe form of AMD with a rapidly worsening loss of vision.  With the wet form of AMD there is a growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula.  These blood vessels are very fragile.  Damage to the macular happens when these blood vessels leak fluid and blood causing vision distortion and blindness.

There has been much research that suggests that diet and supplements can be influential in eye diseases related to aging like AMD.

ARED-One of the most widely publicized studies relating supplements and AMD was conducted the NEI (National Eye Institute) part of the NIH (National Institute of Health.  Over 4700 people, between 55 and 80 years of age, participated in the study.  Participants received the following antioxidant “cocktail” or a placebo:

Vitamin C (500 MG)

Vitamin E (400 IU)

Beta Carotene (15 MG)

Zinc (80 MG)

Copper (2 MG)

A 25% reduction in risk of developing AMD was seen in individuals who were identified as having a higher risk for the disease.  For those people who already had AMD a reduction in vision loss risk of 19% was seen.

AREDS2-This 5 year companion study began in 2006.  It was undertaken with the idea that by changing the antioxidant “cocktail” the results obtained by AREDS might be improved.  Beta Carotene was removed.  Zinc was removed or reduced and Omega 3 (1000 MG), Lutein (10MG)  and Zeaxanthin (2 MG) were added.  For participants with low dietary lutein/zeaxanthin supplementation a lowered risk of advanced AMD and a reduced need for cataract surgery was seen.   Other prominent studies reinforced the results seen in AREDS2.

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Low Vitamin D May Be Linked To Fertility And Miscarriage Risk-Especially After Prior Pregnancy Loss

Vitamin D and Miscarriages-FertilityResearchers have found that women who have sufficient levels of Vitamin D may be more likely to become pregnant and have a live birth when compared to women whose Vitamin D levels are considered to be insufficient.

Data collected as part of the Effects of Aspirin in Gestation and Reproduction (EAGer) study was analyzed.  This study looked at women who had a history of pregnancy loss to find if an 81 mg dose of aspirin (low-dose) taken daily could prevent a miscarriage. Over 1200 women participated in this study.  Blood levels of Vitamin D were tested both before pregnancy and at the eighth week of pregnancy.  Vitamin D levels below 30 nanograms per milliliter were considered to be insufficient for research.

Women whose preconception Vitamin D concentrations were considered to be sufficient were 10% more likely to achieve pregnancy and 15% more likely to have a live birth when compared with the women’s whose preconception Vitamin D concentrations were considered to be insufficient.  In the women who become pregnant researchers determined that for each 10 nanogram per milliliter increase in Vitamin D concentrations prior to conception there was a 12% reduction in the risk of pregnancy loss.

Because the result of these findings were determined in a secondary analysis, proving any cause and effect between insufficient Vitamin D levels and Miscarriage risks solely based on these results are impossible, however further studies are now necessary according to the researchers.

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Vitamin E Significantly Improves Liver Function for Fatty Liver Patients

Vitamin E and Fatty Liver DiseaseA meta-analysis of five clinical trials shows a significant improvement in liver function in individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) when supplementing with Vitamin E.

Vitamin E was found to improve “serum biochemical parameters and hepatic histology”.  Improvements in inflammation, ballooning and hepatic fibrosis were also seen.

NAFLD is becoming a global public health issue with the increase in worldwide obesity and metabolic syndrome. NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatisis), a form of NAFLD has been linked with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common type of liver cancer) and liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

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CO-Q10 Supplementation Improves Fatty Liver, Reduces Markers of Inflammation in NAFLD

CoQ10 and NAFLDA new randomized double blind trial of both men and women with NAFLD (Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) found positive results for supplemental coenzyme Q10.  NAFLD describes a disease of the liver that is characterized by fat accumulation in the liver, enlargement of the liver and increased serum liver enzyme levels.  Increase inflammation also accompanies this disease.

41 individuals with mild to moderate NAFLD participated in this study.  20 people received a daily 100 mg dose of CoQ10 for 12 weeks.  The remainder of the participants received a placebo.  Both before and after the study period markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor), liver enzymes and NAFLD grade (percentage of liver cells with fat droplets) were measured.

Participants in the CoQ10 group showed reductions in inflammation markers in comparison with the placebo group as well as in comparison to their own CoQ10 group levels at the onset of the study.  In addition liver enzymes were lower at the end of the study compared to baseline in the CoQ10 group.  Improvements in the NAFLD grades were also seen in the CoQ10 group.

CoQ10 supplementation was seen as a good therapy for systemic inflammation reduction in addition to others therapies used to treat this disease.  Further studies are needed.

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Multi-Species Probiotics Affect Reaction to Sad Mood

Probiotics and SAD MoodA new study shows Probiotics significantly reduced cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which is a marker of vulnerability to depression and considered an important target for interventions.

20 healthy individuals with no current mood disorders participated in this 4 week triple-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, pre-and post-intervention assessment designed study.  Participants in the study received either a placebo or a Multi Species Probiotic supplement.  The Probiotic supplement contained these species of friendly bacteria: Bifiodobacterium  bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobaciullus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactococcus lactis.   Cognitive reactivity to sad mood was determined using the revised Leiden index of depression sensitivity scale in both the pre- and post-intervention assessment.

Participants receiving the Probiotic supplement showed a significant reduction in their overall cognitive reactivity to sad mood.  This was largely seen in a reduction of aggressive thoughts and a reduction in ruminations (deeply considered thoughts about things).

It is believed that the brain and the intestines are closely connected by the gut-brain axis.  This study shows communications occur due to interactions with intestinal microbiota signaling molecules which play a role in brain regulation and behavior.  This may explain the positive mood effects often seen by individuals supplementing with Probiotic supplements.

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