Dietary Potassium May Alleviate Hardening of the Arteries

Potassium and Hardening of the ArteriesA new mouse study recently published shows Potassium may protect against vascular calcification (hardening of the arteries).  Additionally increased aortic stiffness was also seen in the mouse model when compared with normal Potassium fed mice.  Arterial stiffness in humans is usually a predictor of heart disease and cardiovascular mortality.

Mice prone to atherosclerosis were fed a diet with low (.3% by weight), normal (.7% by weight) or high (2.1% by weight) levels of Potassium.  The study lasted 30 weeks.  Researchers found that mice fed a diet low in Potassium had a significant increase in vascular calcification and mice feed a diet high in Potassium had noticeably reduced levels of vascular calcification.  Increased aortic stiffness as using pulse wave velocity measured by echocardiography in live animals was seen in the mice fed a diet low in Potassium.  The three different levels of dietary Potassium were seen in the serum blood levels of Potassium taken from the three different groups.

Researchers found even a small change in mean serum potassium levels when compared to the group in the normal level of dietary Potassium supplementation caused changes in both vascular calcification and arterial stiffness.  Researchers also believe that this study established a potential causative role of Potassium intake in the regulation of atherosclerotic vascular calcification and stiffness.  This opens the door for a new strategy for controlling vascular disease.



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.


Recent RCT Discovers Vitamin D Deficiency May Double the Risk of Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women

Vitamin D and Pre-EclampsiaA new study finds that gestational hypertension/preeclampsia could be reduced with Vitamin D supplementation therapy.

Over 140 women with a history of preeclampsia participated in this study.  Women with hypertension before their pregnancy, a history of pulmonary, renal or cardiac disease and Vitamin D levels above 25 ng/ml (optimal Vitamin D levels are considered to be between 40 – 60 ng/ml) were excluded from the trial.    Vitamin D levels were taken at baseline.  70 of the participants (the intervention group) received a 50,000 IU Vitamin D supplement every two weeks.  The remaining participants (the control group) received a placebo.  The study lasted until the 36th week of pregnancy.  The control group experienced a 1.94 times increase in the risk of developing preeclampsia when compared to the intervention group.

Preeclampsia is a form of high blood pressure (hypertension) related to pregnancy and is characterized by excess protein in the urine and high blood pressure.  This condition is fairly easy to treat but can be very harmful to both the child and the mother and accounts for approximately 25% of all maternal deaths.  Preeclampsia also increases the risk the baby will be born prematurely or small for their gestational age with increases the risk of infant mortality.


Magnesium Status and Dementia: Is There a Link ?

Magnesium and DementiaA new study published in Neurology, shows people with either low or high blood levels of Magnesium may have a higher risk of developing dementia.

Approximately 9,500 individuals participated in this prospective study.  Participants with an average age of 65 who did not have dementia were followed for an average of 8 years.  Serum Magnesium levels were measured at the start of the study.  Results were adjusted for variables like alcohol intake, body mass index, smoking status and kidney function, which may affect dementia risks and Magnesium levels.  Participants were divided into quintiles based on their serum Magnesium levels.

During this follow up period, over 800 individuals developed dementia.  Over 650 of these individuals were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The incidence of dementia was found to be 30% higher in both the lowest blood Magnesium groups and the highest blood Magnesium groups.  Since this was an observational study only, no causality could be determined from the study outcomes.

There was however a few limitations on the way the study was set up.  First, Magnesium levels were only taken at the onset of the study, so changes in these blood levels may have occurred during the follow up period.  Second, blood levels of Magnesium may not be a reliable measure of total body Magnesium, meaning a person can have a normal serum Magnesium level and still have a Magnesium deficiency.  These limitations confirm that further research is needed.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists Magnesium as being involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, such as helping to maintain normal nerve and muscle functions, keeping our bones strong as well as supporting a healthier immune response.  This important mineral is also necessary for supporting healthy blood pressure and blood sugar management.  70% – 80% of the population in the United States is not achieving the recommended intakes of daily Magnesium.


Vitamin D Deficiency Link with Multiple Sclerosis: More Evidence

Vitamin D and MSA new study found further evidence of the association between a higher risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and a Vitamin D deficiency.  A 43% higher risk of developing MS was seen in women with Vitamin D deficiencies compared to those women with adequate levels of Vitamin D.  Additionally a 27% increase in the risk of developing MS was seen in women with a Vitamin D insufficiency.  A deficiency of Vitamin D was defined as having serum Vitamin D levels of less than 30 nanomoles/litre (nmol/l).  A Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as having a serum Vitamin D level of between 30 to 49 nmol/l.

The findings of this prospective case-control study are in conformity with past observational research.  However without evidence from randomized controlled trials, public health experts are not willing to adopt a policy of recommending Vitamin D supplementation for MS risk reductions.  It may be difficult to design a randomized controlled trial because the timing of the Vitamin D supplementation is unclear.  Additionally the idea of giving a placebo to an individual with a Vitamin D deficiency raises ethical questions.

Researchers believe maintaining Vitamin D status over the long-term is the key to seeing the benefits of Vitamin D.  Striving to maintain a healthy Vitamin D level over the course of one’s life is going to provide the maximum health benefits. Given the low cost of Vitamin D supplementation, researchers stress there is not much to lose from suggesting Vitamin D supplementation be adopted.


Study Supports Efficacy of Hyaluronic Acid for Wrinkle Reduction

Hyaluronic Acid and Wrinkle ReductionA new study shows supplementing with Hyaluronic Acid for twelve weeks may reduce wrinkles and improves the luster of the skin.

60 adults participated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.  Participants ranged in age from 22 to 59 years of age and included both men and women.  Individuals were randomly chosen to be in 1 of 3 groups.  The first group received a placebo; the next group received a Hyaluronic Acid (HA) formulation with a molecular weight of 2k.  The last group received an HA supplement with a molecular weight of 300k.  The groups receiving the HA received a dosage of 120 mg daily.

Using three-dimensional analysis of the participants skin, researchers found that the groups supplementing with the HA had a better level of the whole sulcus (groves in the skin) to volume ratio, wrinkle volume ration and wrinkle area ration.  The Hyaluronic Acid group supplementing with the product with the 300k molecular weight also saw significant reductions in wrinkles when compared with the group supplementing with the placebo.

50% of the body’s Hyaluronic Acid is found in the skin.  Breakdowns of collagen and Hyaluronic Acid are believed to be the cause of wrinkles.  Because Hyaluronic Acid effects the skin cells it is noted that daily supplementation with HA can moisturize the skin since the metabolites of HA increase the skin moisture content.


Lutein: For the Brain? Adults and Children May Benefit

Lutein and Brain for Adults and KidsLutein, a carotenoid, is usually associated with its benefits for ocular support.  This carotenoid is commonly found in both vegetables and fruits.  Research supports the role Lutein plays in the retina and its ability to decrease the risk of age related eye diseases.  Currently, Lutein is beginning to be recognized as support for the brain.

Lutein is taken up into brain tissue on a selective basis and is the main carotenoid in adult and infant brains.  Increased levels of Lutein correlate with improve cognitive function in older individuals.  Interestingly enough Lutein concentrations in the macula of the retina correspond with the levels of Lutein found in the brain tissue, and provides a non invasive means to measure Lutein in the brain.  This reinforces research showing increased macular pigment density in adults being significantly associated with improvements in cognitive performance.

Lutein also plays a role on cognition in early life.  Lutein is the preferred carotenoid taken up in cord blood and in breast milk.  Young brains show the ratio of Lutein to total carotenoids to be twice those found in adults which accounts for over half the concentration of total carotenoids.

The increased proportion of Lutein found in young brains suggests Lutein is needed during neural development.  Recent studies in children 8 – 10 years of age, shows macular pigment density was significantly related to academic performance and better memory.

Lutein’s role as an antioxidant and a natural anti-inflammatory may be why Lutein is so important.  In a randomized double blind placebo controlled study in healthy newborns supplementing Lutein significantly increased serum antioxidant activity providing a benefit when in brain tissue.