Archives for June 2011

Krill Oil Demonstrates Beneficial Regulation of Genes Involved in Glucose, Lipid & Cholesterol Metabolism in the Liver

Aker BioMarine announces a publication of a new preclinical study on krill oil. The study results showed a significantly higher impact on gene regulation in the liver when the omega-3 fatty acids were given in the form of phospholipids (krill oil), compared to the triglyceride form (fish oil). More specifically, krill oil downregulated the activity of pathways involved in hepatic glucose production as well as lipid and cholesterol synthesis. The data also suggested that krill oil-supplementation increases the activity of the mitochondrial respiratory chain.

Read More

Blueberries Help Lab Rats Build Strong Bones

Compounds in blueberries might turn out to have a powerful effect on formation of strong, healthy bones, if results from studies with laboratory rats turn out to hold true for humans. Jin-Ran Chen and his colleagues are exploring this idea in research funded by the US Department of Agriculture at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center in Little Rock.

Read More

Vitamin A Deficiency Does Not Affect Onset of Asthma

Vitamin A deficiency does not increase the risk of asthma, according to new research published online in the European Respiratory Journal.

In developing countries, vitamin A deficiency is particularly common and previous research has shown that it harms the development of the lungs.

This study aimed to assess whether vitamin A deficiency influences the development of asthma later in life.

The research, which was carried out by scientists at Johns Hopkins University in the USA and Nepalese scientists, analysed over 5,000 people living in a rural area of Nepal, where many people suffer from chronic malnutrition. They assessed whether taking vitamin A supplements at an early age altered the risk of developing of asthma.

The participants were children who had participated in two different studies. In the first, half the children were given vitamin A supplements during their pre-school years and half received a placebo. In the second study, one-third of the mothers of the children each received vitamin A supplements before, during and after pregnancy, and one-third received no supplements.

Ten to fifteen years after the studies were completed, the researchers used questionnaires and a spirometry test, which measures the amount of air in your lungs and how quickly you can breathe out, to assess lung function and whether or not the children had asthma.

The results showed that there was no difference between the children receiving supplements and those that did not receive them, in both groups of participants. The results from the spirometry tests also showed that vitamin A deficiency did not impact upon the risk of wheezing, cough, phlegm and obstructive airways.

Dr William Checkley, lead author from the John Hopkins University, said: “Contrary to what has previously been thought, our findings show that vitamin A deficiency does not lead to an increased risk of asthma. If vitamin A status was linked to asthma, the supplement taken by the study participants, would have led to some reduction in the risk of developing the condition, which we did not see.

“Whilst vitamin A deficiency does affect lung development adversely, we have found no evidence that it is linked with the development of asthma.”

 

Dietary Leucine May Fight Prediabetes, Metabolic Syndrome

Joslin study shows improvements in animals with amino acid in diet

BOSTON — June 22, 2011 — A study led by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center suggests that adding the amino acid leucine to their diets may help those with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

In an animal study, published in the journal PloS One, mice who had been on a high-fat diet and who also received twice the usual intake of leucine, an amino acid found in protein, showed reductions in their prediabetic conditions with lower blood sugars and less fat in their livers, two of the collection of medical problems associated with insulin resistance that make up what is known as metabolic syndrome.

“The impact on the animals on the high-fat diet, even though it didn’t change how fat they got, was that their bodies were able to handle glucose better,” said C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., Head of the Joslin Section on Integrative Physiology and Metabolism and the Mary K. Iacocca Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kahn led the team of researchers from Joslin and Metabolon Inc. of Durham, N.C.

“Their glucose tolerance tests improved,” he said. “Their bodies responded to insulin better than they would have before they got the leucine. It improved their ability to metabolize sugar and fats. It markedly improved their pre-diabetic condition. Their metabolic syndrome also improved.”

Mice who were fed a normal diet and given leucine showed no significant effects from taking the dietary supplement.

Kahn said the study sought to see what effect just a small change in their environment — in this case in just one small component of the diet — might have on animals with prediabetes or metabolic syndrome.

“We found that adding just this one amino acid to the diet changed the metabolism in a lot of different pathways,” he said. “It had effects that improved insulin sensitivity, improved their ability to metabolize sugar and fats and their overall metabolism improved.”

Kahn said the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, shows that even small changes in how we interact with our environment can make a big difference. Such changes can be positive or negative. In this case, they were positive.

He said it is too soon to recommend that those with prediabetes or metabolic syndrome add leucine to their diets, but said the next step should be a study in humans.

Leucine is one of 22 amino acids that serve as building blocks of proteins. It was chosen to be tested because in vitro studies had previously shown that it has effects on insulin signaling, Kahn said. Leucine is found in all protein food sources. It is often taken in supplements by those involved in body building in order to increase muscle mass.

 

Potential Impact Of Cinnamon On Multiple Sclerosis Studied

“Since medieval times, physicians have used cinnamon to treat a variety of disorders including arthritis, coughing and sore throats,” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD., A neurological scientist at Rush University Medical Center.” Our initial findings in mice indicate that cinnamon may also help those suffering from MS.”

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. The disease is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, which is a fatty tissue that surrounds and protects the nerve cells. When myelin or the nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, the nerve impulses are slowed down and the electrical impulses to and from the brain are disrupted. This disruption causes the symptoms of MS, which include numbness in the limbs, paralysis and loss of vision.

The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Episodes can last for days, weeks or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms. Because nerves in any part of the brain or spinal cord may be damaged, patients with MS can have symptoms in many parts of the body including muscles, bowel and bladder, eyes, speech, and swallowing.

Researchers are not sure what triggers the disease. The most common theories point to a virus or genetic defect, or a combination of both. Geographic studies indicate there may be an environmental factor involved.

Glial cell activation in the brain has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and MS. Activated glial cells accumulate and secrete different neurotoxin factors that cause various autoimmune responses that lead to brain injury.

“These autoimmune reactions in the brain ultimately kill oligodendrocytes, which are a certain type of brain cell that protects the nerve cells and myelin sheath,” said Pahan. “However, cinnamon has an anti-inflammatory property to counteract and inhibit the glial activation that causes brain cell death.”

In earlier published studies, Pahan has been able to show that sodium benzoate, which is a metabolite of cinnamon, can inhibit the expression of various pro-inflammatory molecules in brain cells and block the disease process of MS in mice.

Different doses of sodium benzoate were mixed into drinking water since it is highly soluble and non-toxic, and administered to the mice. Sodium benzoate suppressed the MS clinical score by more than 70 percent and inhibited incidence of MS by 100 percent in the animal model. Results of the initial studies were published in past issues of the Journal of Immunology.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 400,000 people in the U.S. are affected by MS, which is diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, but can be found at any age. Although the disease is not fatal, it causes muscle weakness, tremors, loss of vision, cognitive changes, depression and other problems. About half of patients with MS become wheelchair bound within 15 years of disease onset and during the last stages of the disease, patients are bedridden. People with a family history of MS and those who live in a geographical area where MS is more common have a slightly higher risk of the disease.

Current medications to treat the symptoms of MS are Interferon-B, Copaxone and Tysabri.

“These medications are expensive, have many side effects, and are only 30-40 percent effective in patients,” said Pahan. “If our study is successful, there may be a day when just a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon per day with milk, tea or honey, may help MS patients manage the disease process and significantly cut down the drug cost drastically to $10 per month per patient.”

Cinnamon is safe and has several advantages over currently approved MS drugs. It is not only less expensive, but is non-toxic and can be administered orally rather than through a painful injection.

“The most devastating nature of this disease is that it affects young people just starting their careers and families,” said Pahan. “There is no other disease in the world that has such an impact on the quality of lives of young, vibrant adults. This is what motivates me to study this disease.”

Vitamin D Supplements Found To Be Safe For Healthy Pregnant Women

Use of vitamin D supplements during pregnancy has long been a matter of concern but now researchers writing in theJournal of Bone and Mineral Research report that even a high supplementation amount in healthy pregnant women was safe and effective in raising circulating vitamin D to a level thought by some to be optimal. The study also found no adverse effects of vitamin D supplementation, even at the highest amount, in women or their newborns.

The research team, led by Dr. Bruce Hollis from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, used a randomized controlled trial with healthy expectant mothers to discover how varying dosages of daily supplements could safely sustain a circulating vitamin D level of at least 32 nanograms per milliliter.

“Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy remains controversial largely due to severe misconceptions about the potential harm it may cause to the fetus,” said Dr Hollis. “Surprisingly the scientific debate has made little progress since Dr. Gilbert Forbes made a recommendation of 200 IU (international units) per day in 1963, which was based on a hunch.”

While the threat of vitamin D during pregnancy has remained little known, it has been established that the vitamin plays a role in homeostasis, the body’s internal regulation, during pregnancy and that a deficiency can effect immune, pancreatic and cardiovascular systems.

Dr Hollis’ team monitored the pregnancies of 350 women, from a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, who were all between 12 and 16 weeks into gestation. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group received 400 IU of vitamin D per day, the second group received 2,000 IU per day and the third received 4,000 IU daily.

The team found that women who received the highest level of supplementation (4,000 IU per day) were more likely to achieve and sustain the desired level of circulating levels of vitamin D throughout their pregnancy. Moreover, the researchers found that pregnant women who received lower levels of vitamin D supplementation did not attain the threshold circulating level of the vitamin.

“In our study subjects, a daily dosage of up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D was required to sustain normal metabolism in pregnant women,” concluded Dr Hollis. “Furthermore, following decades of speculation into its safety our research has demonstrated vitamin D supplementation to be both safe and effective.”

 

Full citation:
Hollis. B, Johnson. D, Hulsey. T, Ebeling. M, Wagner. L, “Vitamin D Supplementation during Pregnancy: Double Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Safety and Effectiveness”, Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Wiley-Blackwell, June 2011: DOI

 

Using Olive Oil In Your Diet May Prevent A Stroke

A new study suggests that consuming olive oil may help prevent a stroke in older people. The research is published in the June 15, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older,” said study author Cécilia Samieri, PhD, with the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France. “Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it.”

For the study, researchers looked at the medical records of 7,625 people ages 65 and older from three cities in France: Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. Participants had no history of stroke. Olive oil consumption was categorized as “no use,” “moderate use” such as using olive oil in cooking or as dressing or with bread, and “intensive use,” which included using olive oil for both cooking and as dressing or with bread. Samieri said the study participants mainly used extra virgin olive oil, as that is 98 percent of what is available in France.

After a little over five years, there were 148 strokes.

After considering diet, physical activity, body mass index and other risk factors for stroke, the study found that those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet (1.5 percent in six years compared to 2.6 percent).

Olive oil has been associated with potentially protective effects against many cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. In an accompanying editorial, Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, of Columbia University and a member of the American Academy of Neurology noted that it is not clear which particular elements of olive oil could be protective, while the effects of olive oil could even be indirect by making other healthy foods tastier. He also cautioned that only future clinical trials can increase confidence in the findings and potentially lead to stroke prevention recommendations.