Archives for September 2011

Low Vitamin B12 Levels May Lead To Brain Shrinkage, Cognitive Problems

– Older people with low blood levels of vitamin B12 markers may be more likely to have lower brain volumes and have problems with their thinking skills, according to researchers at Rush University Medical Center.

The results of the study are published in the Sept. 27 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Foods that come from animals, including fish, meat, especially liver, milk, eggs and poultry are usual sources of vitamin B12.

The study involved 121 older residents of the South side of Chicago who are a part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP), which is a large, ongoing prospective Rush a biracial cohort of 10,000 subjects over the age of 65.

The 121 participants had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.

An average of four-and-a-half years later, MRI scans of the participants’ brains were taken to measure total brain volume and look for other signs of brain damage.

Having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume.

“Our findings definitely deserve further examination,” said Christine C. Tangney, PhD, associate professor in the department of clinical nutrition at Rush University Medical Center, and lead author of the study. “It’s too early to say whether increasing vitamin B12 levels in older people through diet or supplements could prevent these problems, but it is an interesting question to explore. Findings from a British trial with B vitamin supplementation are also supportive of these outcomes.”

On the cognitive tests, the scores ranged from -2.18 to 1.42, with an average of 0.23. For each increase of one micromole per liter of homocysteine—one of the markers of B12 deficiency—the cognitive scores decreasedby 0.03 standardized units or points.

Tangney noted that the level of vitamin B12 itself in the blood was not associated with cognitive problems or loss in brain volume. She said that low vitamin B12 can be difficult to detect in older people when looking only at blood levels of the vitamin.

“Our findings lend support for the contention that poor vitamin B12 status is a potential risk factor for brain atrophy and may contribute to cognitive impairment,” said Tangney.

 

Reference

 

Leptin as a New Approach for Treatment for Autism and Epilepsy

Leptin is a hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism.

“Leptin plays a role in modulating structure and synaptic communication in brain. Some studies on animal models reported that chronic leptin deficiency in mice raise susceptibility to seizure and leptin administeringin rodent seizure models suppresses seizures via direct effects on glutamate neurotransmission. So, leptin receptor activation is suggested as a novel targets for treatment of epilepsy in animal. However, another recently published study on animal model indicateddose-related proconvulsant activity of leptin. Leptin resistance and increased blood level of leptin is reported in epilepsy in human.

Given that, leptin level in autism is higher than controls. Also, long-term plasma leptin levels in Rett syndrome is reported. It is worth conducting studies investigating possible difference between the group of ASD with epilepsy and the group of ASD without epilepsy regarding leptin level and its receptor resistance. Probably, leptin may be a link between autism and epilepsy that provides an avenue for novel or better management of autistic children with epilepsy. For example, Ketogenic diets which are effective for epilepsy management increase leptin level in Young rodents.”

 

Reference

Ghanizaeh A. Leptin as a new approach for treatment for autism and epilepsy, a hypothesis with clinical implications. Brain Dev 2011; 33 (1): 92; author reply 92-3. Epub 2010 Sep 6.

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Environmental Factors Contributing to the Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder – a Large Database Retrospective Study

This report by Dr. Stephen Barrie, ND is the results of a large clinical database study examing the envrionmental factors contributing to the developement of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Published in 2010.

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Biological Treatments for Autism & PDD

Causes and Biomedial Therapies for Autism and PDD. 

This is an authoritative, comprehensive, and easy-to-read resource guide to a wide range of therapies that have been useful in the treatment of autism including antifungal and antibacterial therapies, gluten and casein restriction, homeopathy, vitamin therapy, gamma globulin treatment, transfer factor therapies, treatment of food allergies, and alternatives to antibiotic therapy. The information in this book may be useful not only in the field of autism but also in virtually any disorder in which some of the symptoms of autism are sometimes or frequently present.

The author of this book, Dr. William Shaw, received a Ph.D. in biochemistry and human physiology, and is board certified in Immunology and Toxicology. He is known worldwide for his research and for speaking at conferences in the field of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Dr. Shaw is the founder and director of The Great Plains Laboratory, Inc. in Lenexa, Kansas, a laboratory specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of metabolic disorders of adults and children. Dr. Shaw has been actively involved with both the Defeat Autism Now! and Autism Speaks groups. He is a board member of the National Academy for Child Development. In 1998 he published this book for the first time, and it has since been translated into nine languages. His book has helped thousands of parents and physicians to successfully contribute to improve the lives of countless children and adults on the autistic spectrum.

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Study Shows Soy Protein Reduced Progression Of Clogged Arteries In Women Within 5 Years Of Menopause

This large scale, first-of-a-kind study will be published in the November issue of Stroke

A new study published in the November 2011 issue of Stroke reveals some promising data on the positive effects of soy protein reducing the progression of clogged arteries in women who were within five years of menopause. This study was the largest and longest randomized controlled human study conducted to-date that directly investigated the efficacy of isolated soy protein consumption on the progression of atherosclerosis (lipid deposition in the artery walls).

“These results are consistent with what we have learned through research conducted over the past decade,” said Howard N. Hodis, MD, USC Keck School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “The literature demonstrates that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ of a potential beneficial effect on coronary heart disease for products that bind to the estrogen receptor including hormone-replacement therapy, soybean isoflavones or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) when initiated in women within 5-6 years of menopause.”

The progression rate of carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) trended to be 16 percent lower on average in the isoflavone-containing soy protein group compared with the placebo group. However, in women who had experienced menopause within the past five years, isolated soy protein consumption was associated with a significant 68 percent reduction in CIMT progression compared to those consuming the placebo.

Excellent compliance was observed for this study as determined by package and bar count (86.5 percent for placebo and 91.0 percent for isolated soy protein). Compliance was confirmed by plasma and urine isoflavone measurements.

“The high compliance suggests that the clinical study products provided by Solae were very palatable and were not associated with any significant adverse effects as confirmed by the data,” said Elaine Krul, PhD, nutrition discovery lead, Solae.

Subjects in this study were ‘healthy’ with no previous signs of cardiovascular disease which may explain the lack of significant reduction in plasma lipids that is seen in persons with higher plasma lipid levels.

“This study also showed a significant increase in HDL (“the good”) cholesterol in participants consuming isolated soy protein,” said Krul. “The results of this study reinforce that soy protein can provide health benefits for the healthy aging market segment.”

 

Reference

Hodis HN, Mack WJ, Kono N, Azen SP, Shoupe D, Hwang-Levine J et al; for the Women’s Isoflavone Soy Health Research Group. Isoflavone Soy Protein Supplementation and Atherosclerosis Progression in Healthy Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stroke 2011 Sep 8. [Epub ahead of print]

 

Is There Poison In Your Mouth?

This TV report about dental amalgam was originally broadcasted in 1990 in the American television news magazine 60 Minutes. Due to the controversy it caused it was never aired again.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked With Airway Changes In Children With Severe Asthma

Children with severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) may have poorer lung function and worse symptoms compared to children with moderate asthma, due to lower levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to researchers in London. Lower levels of vitamin D may cause structural changes in the airway muscles of children with STRA, making breathing more difficult. The study provides important new evidence for possible treatments for the condition.

The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“This study clearly demonstrates that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poorer lung function, increased use of medication, worse symptoms and an increase in the mass of airway smooth muscle in children with STRA,” said Atul Gupta, MRCPCH, M.D., a researcher from Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College and King’s College London. “It is therefore plausible that the link between airway smooth muscle mass and lung function in severe asthma may be partly explained by low levels of vitamin D.”

While most children with asthma can be successfully treated with low doses of corticosteroids, about 5 to 10 percent of asthmatic children do not respond to standard treatment. These children have severe therapy-resistant asthma, or STRA, experience more asthma episodes and asthma-related illnesses, and require more healthcare services, than their treatment-receptive peers.

Although previous studies of children with asthma have linked increases in airway smooth muscle mass with poorer lung function and in vitro studies have established a connection between levels of vitamin D and the proliferation of airway smooth muscle, this is the first study to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D and the pathophysiology of children with STRA.

“Little is known about vitamin D status and its effect on asthma pathophysiology in these patients,” Dr. Gupta noted. “For our study, we hypothesized that children with STRA would have lower levels of vitamin D than moderate asthmatics, and that lower levels of vitamin D would be associated with worse lung function and changes in the airway muscle tissue.”

The researchers enrolled 86 children in the study, including 36 children with STRA, 26 with moderate asthma and 24 non-asthmatic controls, and measured the relationships between vitamin D levels and lung function, medication usage and symptom exacerbations.The researchers also examined tissue samples from the airways of the STRA group to evaluate structural changes in the airway’s smooth muscle.

At the conclusion of the study the researchers found children with STRA had significantly lower levels of vitamin D, as well as greater numbers of exacerbations, increased use of asthma medications and poorer lung function compared to children with moderate asthma and non-asthmatic children. Airway muscle tissue mass was also increased in the STRA group.

“The results of this study suggest that lower levels of vitamin D in children with STRA contribute to an increase in airway smooth muscle mass, which could make breathing more difficult and cause a worsening of asthma symptoms,” Dr. Gupta said.

The findings suggest new treatment strategies for children suffering from difficult-to-treat asthma, he added.

“Our results suggest that detecting vitamin D deficiency in children with STRA, and then treating that deficiency, may help prevent or reduce the structural changes that occur in the airway smooth muscle, which in turn may help reduce asthma-related symptoms and improve overall lung function,” Dr. Gupta said.

Before any widespread treatment recommendations can be made, however, larger studies will

“The determination of the exact mechanism between low vitamin D and airway changes that occur in STRA will require intervention studies,” Dr. Gupta said. “Hopefully, the results of this and future studies will help determine a new course of therapy that will be effective in treating these children.”

 

Reference

Gupta A, Sjoukes A, Richards D, Banya W, Hawrylowicz C, Bush A, Saglani S. Relationship Between Serum Vitamin D, Disease Severity and Airway Remodeling in Children with Asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Sep 15. [Epub ahead of print]

 

Zinc Regulates Communication Between Brain Cells

– Zinc has been found to play a critical role in regulating communication between cells in the brain, possibly governing the formation of memories and controlling the occurrence of epileptic seizures.

A collaborative project between Duke University Medical Center researchers and chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been able to watch zinc in action as it regulates communication between neurons in the hippocampus, where learning and memory processes occur – and where disrupted communication may contribute to epilepsy.

“We discovered that zinc is essential to control the efficiency of communication between two critical populations of nerve cells in the hippocampus,” said James McNamara, M.D., senior author and chair of the Department of Neurobiology at Duke. “This addresses a longstanding controversy in the field.”

The study appeared in Neuron Journal online on Sept. 21.

McNamara noted that zinc supplements are commonly sold over the counter to treat several different brain disorders, including depression. It isn’t clear whether these supplements modify zinc content in the brain, or modify the efficiency of communication between these nerve cells. He emphasized that people taking zinc supplements should be cautious, pending needed information on the desired zinc concentrations and how oral supplements affect them.

More than 50 years ago scientists discovered that high concentrations of zinc are contained in a specialized compartment of nerve cells, called vesicles, that package the transmitters which enable nerve cells to communicate. The highest concentrations of brain zinc were found among the neurons of the hippocampus, the center of learning and memory.

Zinc’s presence in these vesicles suggested that zinc played some role in communication between nerve cells, but whether it actually did so remained controversial.

To address this controversy, McNamara and his colleagues at Duke teamed up with Dr. Steve Lippard and colleagues in the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Lippard team synthesized a novel chemical that bound zinc far more rapidly and selectively than previously available compounds. Use of this chemical let the Duke team rapidly bind the zinc released by nerve cells, taking it out of circulation and preventing enhanced communication.

The Duke team went on to confirm that eliminating zinc from the vesicles of mutant mice also prevented enhanced communication. They also found that increases in the transmitter glutamate seemed to increase zinc-mediated enhancement of communication.

Interestingly, the nerve cells in which the high concentrations of zinc reside are critical for a particular type of memory formation. Excessive enhancement of communication by the zinc-containing nerve cells occurs in epileptic animals and may worsen the severity of the epilepsy.

“Carefully controlling zinc’s regulation of communication between these nerve cells is critical to both formation of memories and perhaps to occurrence of epileptic seizures,” McNamara said.

McNamara also noted that the scientific collaboration between the Duke and MIT scientists was critical to the success of this work. The availability of the novel chemical provided a critical tool that allowed the neuroscientists to unravel the puzzle.

 

Reference

Pan E, Zhang X, Huang Z, Krezel A, Zhao M, Tinberg CE, Lippard SJ, McNamara JO. Vesicular Zinc Promotes Presynaptic and Inhibits Postsynaptic Long-Term Potentiation of Mossy Fiber-CA3 Synapse. Neuron 2011; 71 (6): 1116-1 126.

 

Forks Over Knives

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug and major medical operations have become routine.  Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the three leading causes of death in the USA, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions.  Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.

Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

Forks Over Knives (2010) examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the socalled “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional scientist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the world renowned Cleveland Clinic.

Inspired by remarkable discoveries in their young careers, these men conducted several groundbreaking studies, one of which took place in China and is considered among the most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken.  Their separate research led them to the same startling conclusion: degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented—and in many cases reversed—by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet. Despite the profound implications of their findings, their work has remained relatively unknown to the public.

In addition, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes.  Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole foods plantbased diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments—while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed.

The film features leading experts on health and tackles the issue of diet and disease in a way that will have people talking for years. Read More

 

Watch the full documentary

Increased Vitamin D in Blood Adds Years To Life

Low blood levels of vitamin D represent a significant health concern. New research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that small increases in vitamin D can add precious years to life. The vast majorities of adults (and many children) are grossly deficient in circulating blood levels of vitamin D.  

Eur J Clin Nutr

 

W B Grant

An estimate of the global reduction in mortality rates through doubling vitamin D levels
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 65: 1016-1026


ABSTRACT

Background/Objectives:
The goal of this work is to estimate the reduction in mortality rates for six geopolitical regions of the world under the assumption that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels increase from 54 to 110 nmol/l.

Subjects/Methods:
This study is based on interpretation of the journal literature relating to the effects of solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) and vitamin D in reducing the risk of disease and estimates of the serum 25(OH)D level–disease risk relations for cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and respiratory infections. The vitamin D-sensitive diseases that account for more than half of global mortality rates are CVD, cancer, respiratory infections, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus. Additional vitamin D-sensitive diseases and conditions that account for 2 to 3% of global mortality rates are Alzheimer’s disease, falls, meningitis, Parkinson’s disease, maternal sepsis, maternal hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and multiple sclerosis. Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels from 54 to 110 nmol/l would reduce the vitamin D-sensitive disease mortality rate by an estimated 20%.

Results:
The reduction in all-cause mortality rates range from 7.6% for African females to 17.3% for European females. Reductions for males average 0.6% lower than for females. The estimated increase in life expectancy is 2 years for all six regions.

Conclusions:
Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global mortality rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few adverse effects from oral intake and/or frequent moderate UVB irradiance with sufficient body surface area exposed.