Further Evidence for Sterols Healthcare Benefits

Sterols and Cardiovascular HealthA new report points to plant sterols as an economical means of lowering cholesterol, reducing cardiovascular events in the elderly as well as improving their quality of life.  Daily consumption of plant sterols was found to reduce the number of cardiovascular events (CVE) per 10,000 people by 69 in men and 40 in women over a 20 year period.  These numbers include 10 men per 10,000 people and 7 women per 10,000 people who are prevented from having a CVE.

The results above assume at least 50% of the participants complied with daily supplementation of 3 grams/day of plant sterols.  This intake of plant sterols is sufficient to support a 12% reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) according to a previous meta-analysis of 129 studies.

Currently Statin drugs in conjunction with a diet low in fat and sugar and high in oily fish, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, is the typical treatment protocol for individuals with high cholesterol.  The European Commission has actually approved health claims for cholesterol lowering with sterol-enriched foods.

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Study Finds Probiotics May Improve Cognition in Alzheimer’s Patients

Probiotics and Cognition in Alzheimer'sAccording to a new study, probiotics may improve cognitive function in humans.  This is the first time research has shown supplementation of probiotics, friendly bacteria, may aid individuals with Alzheimer’s.

52 women and men between the ages of 60 and 95 with Alzheimer’s Disease participated in this randomized, double blind, controlled clinical trial.  The study lasted twelve weeks.  Half the patients were given milk enhanced with four strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. fermentum and Bifidobacterium Bifidum) the other half of the participants received only milk.  Blood samples for biochemical analysis were taken at the beginning and at the end of the study period.  Additionally cognitive function tests with MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination, a standard measure of cognitive impairment) questions were also given; this includes tasks like repeating a phrase, copying a picture, counting backwards from 100 by sevens and giving the current date.

Significant increases (from 8.7 to 10.6 out of a maximum of 30) on the average score on the MMSE questionnaire were seen over the 12 week study period in the group receiving the probiotics.  The control group did not see the same results (from 8.5 to 8.0 out of a maximum of 30).  The participants remained severely cognitively impaired even after the study ended, however the researchers believe the results seen in this study are important because they are the first to show probiotics can improve human cognition.  Prior studies showed probiotics could improve memory as well as impaired spatial learning in diabetic rats.

Probiotics are known for their benefits of provinding protection against irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, eczema, allergies, tooth decay and infectious diarrheas.  Scientists have believed for a long time that probiotics might improve cognition due to the continuous communication between the brain through the nervous system, immune system and hormones and between the intestinal microflora and the gastrointestinal tract (“microbiota-gut-brain axis”).

Further research is needed to determine if the benefits of probiotics grow stronger over a longer period of time.

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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.

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Could Vitamin D Help Women Undergoing Fertility Treatment?

Vitamin D and FertilityA new meta-analysis and review appearing in Human Reproduction found higher Vitamin D levels were associated with better birth rates in women receiving fertility treatment.

11 studies with over 2,700 women undergoing fertility treatment, frozen embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and/or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) were reviewed.  Participants Vitamin D status was measured by means of blood tests.  75 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) was considered to be a sufficient Vitamin D status while 50 nmol/L was considered to be deficient. Vitamin D status between those 2 defined limits was considered as insufficient.

Results showed a high amount of Vitamin D deficiency among the study participants with only 26% of women participating in these studies having sufficient serum Vitamin D levels. Additionally 35% of participants had deficient levels of Vitamin D and 45% had insufficient Vitamin D levels.  Researchers also found that women with adequate Vitamin D levels had a 33% higher likelihood of having a live birth when compared with participants whose Vitamin D status was either insufficient or deficient.  Additionally other conception related outcomes were improved in participants with sufficient Vitamin D levels. Women achieving a positive pregnancy test two weeks after an embryo transfer were 34% higher in women with sufficient Vitamin D status when compared with participants with either insufficient or deficient Vitamin D levels.  In studies measuring the presence of a fetal heart beat at 5 weeks after an embryo transfer (“Clinical Pregnancy”), a 46% improvement in outcome was seen in participants considered to have sufficient Vitamin D levels.

Researchers stressed that although no causal connection could be attributed to Vitamin D and pregnancy outcomes, treating Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency could be essential to women undergoing fertility treatment.  Additionally researchers believe a randomized controlled trial is needed to investigate the benefits of Vitamin D deficiency and fertility treatment outcomes.

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Linoleic Acid (CLA) and Resistance Training a Good Combination for Muscle Strength and Quality

CLA and Muscle StrengthA new study involving mice found supplemental CLA (conjugated linoleic acid and/or Omega-3 in addition to resistance training may enhance both muscle quality and strength even for individuals following a high-fat diet.

Nine month old male mice were randomly divided into five groups:

The first group followed a normal diet

Group two followed a high fat diet

Group three followed a high fat diet while adding resistance training

Group four followed a high fat diet and added CLA/Omega-3

Group five consumed a high fat diet and added CLA/Omega-3 while adding resistance training

The study lasted 20 weeks.  Researchers found that the high-fat diet group had a much lower grip strength than the control group, however, the mice in the remaining groups (groups three, four and five) had a much greater grip strength than those in the high fat group.  The group with a high fat diet plus resistance training (group three) had a better muscle quality than either the high fat diet group (group two) or the high fat diet group plus CLA/Omega-3 (group four).  The muscle protein atrogin 1 was significantly down-regulated” in group five (high fat diet plus CLA/Omega-3 plus resistance training when compared to group four (high fat diet plus CLA/Omega-3.  There are clear correlations between the beginnings of muscle atrophy and increases in the muscle proteins atrogin-1 and MuRF-1.  Researchers also found the muscle protein MuRF was also reduced in the group on the high fat diet plus resistance program (group three) and the group on the high fat diet plus CLA/Omega-3 plus resistance training (group five).

The overall conclusions of the study found group five (high fat diet plus CLA/Omega-3 plus resistance training) had weakened gene expressions involved in protein degradation.  Resistance training led to improvements in both grip strength and muscle quality regardless of whether CLA/Omega-3 supplementation was involved.  Improvements in muscle strength and quality due to suppression of protein degradation may occur with CLA/Omega 3 supplementation and resistance training.  Further research is needed to substantiate these findings in middle aged women and men.

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Colds, Flus and Allergies: What you should know

Colds, Flus and AllergiesIt’s that time of year again, Back to School and Back to Colds, Flus and Allergies.  It is the time of year some of us dread.  How do you know if you are experiencing a cold, the flu or just seasonal allergies?  Understanding the major differences in each of these conditions will help us understand what to do to begin to feel like our “well” selves once again.  Although prevention is the key to lowering our risks for infection, looking at our lifestyle, our nutrition and vitamin needs will give us a better chance to fight what is ailing us and WIN.

The Cold:

Colds are viruses.  There are over 100 different types of viruses that cause the common cold.  Symptoms may vary but usually include a runny or stuffed up nose, sore throat, and a cough.  Colds pass through the air from contact (like touch), from a sneeze or a cough.  The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believes that on average a cold will last from seven to 10 days.  Colds can happen at any time of the year.

 The Flu:

The flu usually begins with a high fever (higher than 102 degrees) and can also include vomiting, body aches and chills, dizziness, flushing, headaches, nasal discharge and a loss of energy.  The fever can last for a day or two or it may last up to a week.  The flu is also a virus and usually affects the whole body.  The flu virus however can settle in any area of the body which could produce the same symptoms experienced with a cold, like a sore throat or it may cause bronchitis, an ear infection or turn into pneumonia if it settles in the respiratory tract.  The flu can last anywhere between four to seven day.

An Allergy:

Allergies usually occur when the body’s defense system has an adverse reaction to a certain substance which acts like a trigger.  These triggers cause the body to release chemicals called histamines which are intended to help the body fight off an intruder.  The histamine actually causes common allergy symptoms. Allergy trigger may be seasonal or year round.  Common allergens are grasses and weeds, dust, mold, pollen, soy, wheat, dairy, milk and nuts.  Symptoms of allergies include watery, itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, coughing, sore/scratchy throat and sneezing.  Rashes are also a symptom of allergies.

Supplements that may help:

Although there is no way to completely protect ourselves from experiencing any of the above conditions, lifestyle changes and supplementation may aid in strengthening our body’s defense system.  Finding a balance between a supplement program, regular exercise and a healthy diet may aid our body in dealing with infection.

Vitamin A:

This fat soluble vitamin helps maintain healthy tissues, especially the mucous membranes, which line all entrances to the body including the respiratory tract linings, and the skin.  This antioxidant also promotes a healthy thymus function which supports the body’s defense system.

Vitamin C:

Vitamin C, is essential for the needs of the body’s immune system.  That body itself cannot manufacture this water soluble supplement so it is necessary for the body to obtain this nutrient from supplementation or from the diet.  Stress, inflammation and large amounts of sugar easily deplete this important antioxidant.  Although Vitamin C, which is highly concentrated in the immune cells, may not prevent a cold or flu it seems that Vitamin C is beneficial in reducing the duration of the symptoms associated with these viruses.

Astragalus:

Astragalus is a deep stimulating immune boosting herb found in Mongolia and China.  This herb has been known to boost white blood cell count, supporting immunity and stimulating antibody growth.  It also may help strengthen the body’s resistance to viruses and bacteria.

Vitamin D:

An important nutrient for overall health, this vitamin may be needed, especially during the winter months, when sunlight exposure is limited.  Vitamin D affects almost 2,000 different human genes and almost every type of human cell has been found to respond to Vitamin D.  Vitamin D supports the body’s ability to fight infections since it produces over 200 various peptides that affect the body’s ability to fight colds.  Vitamin D also produces small proteins, cytokines, which deal with immune response.

Probiotics:

Approximately 80% of our body’s defense system is located in the gut, which means when supplementing with a high quality probiotic the body’s immune system can be strengthened all year long.  With increased levels of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract the immune system can be developed to protect the body against the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria.

Zinc:

Essential for supporting the cells of the immune system, Zinc, which acts like an antioxidant in the body, helps to support immunity and the ability of the T-cells to function correctly.  Zinc is responsible for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body which involves growth and development, antioxidant protection and immune response.

Goldenseal:

Seasonal allergies may be supported with this beneficial herb which supports the immune system and allergic symptoms.  Goldenseal may also help soothe irritated and swollen tissues.  Berberine, a key phyto-nutrient in Goldenseal is also known for killing bacteria.

Other herbs like Stinging Nettle and Butterbur may help the body by inhibiting histamine production.  Butterbur, a member of the ragweed family should be avoided by those allergic to chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds and ragweed.

Don’t forget the importance of getting a good night’s rest to help support the body’s defense system.  When the body does not get adequate rest certain white blood cells called T-cells decrease.  T-cells are important to help increase the body’s immune system.  Melatonin, a hormone, acts like an antioxidant in the body and also works to activate T-helper cells and natural killer cells.

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Omega Fatty Acid Blend Shows Promise in Tackling ADHD

Omega 3-Omega 6 and ADHDA new review article outlines the beneficial role a combination of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids may play, in addition to other therapies, for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

16 Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were reviewed for general assessment.  13 of the studies showed a benefit in participants supplementing with Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids.  The levels of benefit appeared to be dependent on the dose as well as the ratio of the fatty acids, the quality of the RCT itself and ADHD subtype being studied.  One study which looked at children in the 6-12 year old age category, participants were able to reduce their dosages of the pharmaceutical drug methylphenidate (MPH) used to reduce and manage their symptoms of ADHD when receiving an Omega 3/6 Fatty Acid in a 9:3:1 ratio after one year (EPA:558 mg, DHA:174 MG, and GLA:60mg).

Further research is planned, but researchers believe given the fact the Omega 3/6 supplements have almost non-existent side effects in comparison to the drugs chosen to treat ADHD, it makes sense to increase the intake of these essential fatty acids before beginning a pharmaceutical treatment.

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