Study: Folic Acid Reduces Heart Attack, Stroke
A new study published in the British Medical Journal provides further evidence that lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And, since the B vitamin folic acid has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels, "Increasing intake of folic acid would be a relatively cheap and simple way of reducing heart disease," according to researchers. The researchers analyzed a variety of previously published studies and concluded that homocysteine as a cause of cardiovascular disease "explains the observations from all the different types of study" and that "no single alternative explanation can account for all the observations. Since folic acid reduces homocysteine concentrations . . . it follows that increasing folic acid consumption will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by an amount related to the homocysteine reduction achieved." To read the complete study, visit the British Medical Journal.
Carotenoids Battle Lymphoma
People with high intakes of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and vegetables in general, could significantly reduce the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006, vol.83: 1401-1410). The diet of 466 people with NHL was compared with that of 391 matched controls. People with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin had a 46 percent decreased risk compared to those with the lowest intake of the carotenoids. The researchers also found that those with a higher number of weekly servings of all vegetables was linked to a 42 percent lower risk of NHL than those with the lowest intake, while high intakes of green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables were specifically associated with a 40 percent decreased risk of developing the disease.
Higher Folate Levels Linked to Reduced Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
Individuals who get higher levels of the folic acid through both diet and supplements may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Neurology. Researchers interviewed and assessed the diets of 965 individuals without dementia between 1992 and 1994 and then followed them for an average of 6.1 years to see if they developed Alzheimer's disease. During the follow-up period, 192 of the participants developed Alzheimer's disease.
When the individuals were divided into four groups based on the total level of folate they took in through food and supplements and the analysis was adjusted for patient characteristics, comorbid diseases and B12 and B6 intake, the risk of Alzheimer's disease was lower in the groups with higher intake. Neither dietary folate nor supplements alone were significantly linked to Alzheimer's disease risk; only the two in combination appeared to produce an effect. Researchers suspect that elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, which is linked to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke, may also increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease. (Arch Neurol. 2007;64:86-92)
Nutrient Combo Helps Inflamed Intestine
Omega-3 fatty acids and the flavonoid quercetin may work together to help alleviate inflammation of the large intestine associated with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, claims a new study. Published in the online version of Clinical Nutrition (doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2005.12.009), the study examined the effect of fatty acid supplementation with or without quercetin on female rats with inflamed bowels. Five groups were formed: diets of four groups were supplemented with fish oil, soybean oil, fish oil plus quercetin, or soybean oil plus quercetin. The fifth group maintained a normal diet. After two weeks on these diets, colitis was induced in the rats and 10 days later, the researchers measured inflammatory responses. The fish oil group showed a reduction in response levels of up to 49 percent compared to the soybean oil group. When the fish oil group's diet was also supplemented with quercetin, the levels were reduced even more, by up to 62 percent.
Zinc Protects the Heart
An animal study published online in Free Radical Biology and Medicine (doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2006.03.017) showed that zinc supplements may protect against cardiovascular disease (CVD). For the study, researchers divided 18 white rabbits into three groups: the first ate a normal diet, the second, a high cholesterol diet, and the third, a high cholesterol diet plus zinc supplementation. After eight weeks, blood levels from the groups indicated that the zinc group experienced a significant reduction in HDL ("good") cholesterol, leading the researchers to conclude that the mineral helped protect the heart by inhibiting lesion formations in the rabbits' aorta.
Vitamin C Pretreatment May Ease Muscle Soreness and Stress
A University of North Carolina study investigated if vitamin C supplementation before and after exercise could reduce muscle soreness (MS), oxidative stress, and muscle function. Data suggest that vitamin C pretreatment can reduce muscle soreness, delay creatine kinase increase, and prevent blood glutathione oxidation with little influence on muscle function loss. (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, June 2006, vol. 16)
Pycnogenol for Muscle Cramps?
Results from a recent study at the University of L'Aquila in Italy suggest that Pycnogenol (the patented special extract of French maritime pine, Pinus maritime Lam) use is efficacious in preventing muscular cramps and pain at rest and during exercise in athletes and non-athletes and in patients with diabetes and chronic venous insufficiency without negative side effects.
Potassium Citrate Supplements Linked to Thicker Bones
Osteoporosis is estimated to affect about 75 million people in the US, Europe, and Japan. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the total direct cost of osteoporotic fractures is $17.5 billion in the US. New research from the University of Basel says that taking potassium citrate supplements could boost bone mineral density by similar amounts as observed with pharmaceuticals.
Vitamin D Debate over Sunlight Heats Up
A new review by dermatology experts suggests that supplements and diet, rather than sunlight, should be one's source of vitamin D. Publishing online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatologists (doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2005.11.1057), the dermatologists suggest that the trade-off between obtaining vitamin D from sunlight exposure and the effects of photo-ageing and skin cancer was sensible in our past, when life spans were not long. But in today's society, where life spans have doubled, and potentially 30 percent of Caucasians will develop skin cancer, the trade-off no longer makes sense. This conclusion is partly in response to recent research that proposed 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to midday sun as a good source of vitamin D. The authors also discuss that raising the daily recommended allowance for the vitamin might also be considered.
Fish Oil Helps Asthma Sufferers
Omega-3 fatty acids may protect asthma sufferers from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), a narrowing of the airways that can be triggered by vigorous exercise, reports a recent study in the journal Chest (2006, vol.129, no.1: 39-49). Researchers supplemented the diets of 16 volunteers with asthma and documented EIB for three weeks with either a fish oil capsule containing omega-3 fatty acids (3.2 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 2.0 grams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) or placebo. A two-week washout period followed then another three weeks of the supplemented diet. The fish oil diet improved pulmonary function to below the diagnostic EIB threshold. The improvement was accompanied by a reduction in bronchodilator use of more than 31 percent.
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