Thanks for visiting! My goal here is to discuss the latest scientific research to separate the good from all that "guff" in nutritional sciences and all aspects of human health. Because the more you Know, well...the more you Know!

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Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Low Semen Quality and Fertility Problems

In a new vitamin D study, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and its teaching hospital suggest the superstar vitamin could play a key role in improving male reproductive health.

There can be numerous causes for low quality semen, but it can often have fetal origins -- similar to some male genital malformations and testicular cancer. However, this study indicates that nutritional and environmental factors in adult life may also play a role in semen quality, which shouldn't really surprise anyone.

Men with high vitamin D levels of up to 75 nmol/L had a significantly higher sperm motility compared with vitamin D deficient men with less than 25 nmol/L.

For Danish men, it's reported that the semen quality is quite low, and this contributes to the high incidence of fertility problems among Danish couples.

Denmark and Norway have the highest incidence of testicular cancer and impaired semen quality in the world. In Denmark, 10% of all children are born after assisted reproduction.

So men, take care of yourselves. We're fortunate that in today's society, being healthy is actually trendy.

Source: Vitamin D is positively associated with sperm motility and increases intracellular calcium in human spermatozoa

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CoQ10 for Migraine Prevention in Children & Teens

It's been a slow week and I've finally found a study worth talking about. But first, here's a video that cracked me up last night. Seems to be quite a popular video, so maybe you've seen it already. If not, enjoy...

So now for the study... coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has previously demonstrated efficacy for migraine prevention in adults, but there is a lack of research in kids and teens. 

CoQ10 has been observed to be deficient in a significant number of children and adolescents with migraines, and has the potential to modify both the inflammatory changes that occur during recurrent migraine and the alteration of mitochondrial function. So, this study looked at administering CoQ10 to kids and teens to help prevent the frequency of migraine headaches, as well a reducing its severity and duration.

The results showed that CoQ10 supplementation was able to reduce all three parameters measured (frequency, severity, and duration). The downside of the study? These results were also found in the placebo group.

While this was a well-designed study, it could have used a greater sample size to really flush out whether or not there is a significant benefits over the placebo effect.

However, perhaps the greatest limitation of the study was its length -- especially since it was a cross-over study. The studies in adults suggest you need to take CoQ10 for at least three months before you notice a benefit, so the length of study likely wasn't long enough (especially since you'll need a significant wash-out period before the cross-over). If children take just as long as adults to respond to CoQ10 prophylactic treatment, the study was definitely far from being long enough to reveal a benefit that is greater than placebo effect.

However, when the results are taken together with the studies in adults, the totality of evidence still suggests CoQ10 would benefit recurrent migraine sufferers. At the very least, it can't hurt, and at best, it'll offer many other health benefits outside of migraine prevention.

Source: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover, add-on study of CoEnzyme Q10 in the prevention of pediatric and adolescent migraine

Update: The following was added on May 30, 2011

After posting this, I remember a recent study I had read earlier in the month... it was regarding abdominal migraines in children. This new study suggested that up to 15% of recurrent abdominal pain in children meets the criteria for abdominal migraine (AM).

What's more is that AM seems to be a risk factor for migraine headaches later on (either later in childhood or as adults).

Anecdotal evidence indicates that other strategies used to treat migraine headache — for example, getting regular exercise, eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and avoiding triggers, such as chocolate and caffeine — are also useful in AM. The lead researcher also says that about one-third of migraines are triggered by a food (sometimes just telling a kid to eat breakfast or to exercise every day helps).

This may indicate that CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced form of CoQ10, which in my opinion is much better) may be useful in cases of AM.

Source: Abdominal Migraine: An Under-Diagnosed Cause of Recurrent Abdominal Pain in Children

Other posts discussing new CoQ10 studies:

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Probiotics for Stomach Flu-Associated Fever

Well, you may have noticed the service I use for this blog (Blogger) was down from Wednesday night until Friday afternoon. For most of you, when you clicked on the link in the email that was sent out for my last post (if you subscribe by email), you got an error page. This is what happened... data corruption as outlined HERE.

Anyway, I'm just glad it up and it's back to business as usual.

This new study on a probiotic strain found it could relieve the fever associated with norovirus (A.K.A. Norwalk virus), which causes viral gastroenteritis (which some refer to as the stomach flu).

The researchers performed an open case-controlled study to evaluate the effect of a probiotic-fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS-fermented milk) on norovirus gastroenteritis in 77 elderly people who were enrolled in the study.

While there didn't seem to be any significant difference in the incidence of norovirus gastroenteritis between the treatment group and control groups; it did, however, reduce the average duration of fever after the onset of gastroenteritis.

For those administered the LcS-fermented milk, analysis showed both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to be significantly dominant, whereas Enterobacteriaceae decreased in faecal samples (with a significant increase in faecal acetic acid concentration).

The authours conclude, "continuous intake of LcS-fermented milk could positively contribute to the alleviation of fever caused by norovirus gastroenteritis by correcting the imbalance of the intestinal microflora peculiar to the elderly, although such consumption could not protect them from the disease."

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Source: Effect of probiotic-fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota on fever in an outbreak of norovirus gastroenteritis and the faecal microflora in a health service facility for the aged

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Coffee May Inhibit Some Breast Cancers

This stereogram has two dots to help see the image. Shift your gaze
until you see the two dots become three, then look at the image.
I think that swirly thing is suppose to be steam.
I recently covered a study on coffee repairing DNA damage and aiding in body composition, and another one on chronic fatigue.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. The latest coffee trade statistics estimated that world coffee production amounted to 7.4 billion kg in 2009/2010.

Now a new study adds some clarity coffee's breast cancer link. Breast cancer is a complex disease and may be sub-divided into hormone-responsive (estrogen receptor (ER) positive) and non-hormone-responsive subtypes (ER-negative).

The researchers say, "coffee is interesting in the light of breast cancer aetiology because of its complex make-up of chemicals, several of which have been shown in experimental studies to have cancer risk altering potential through meaningful biological mechanisms. The scientific community, however, stands divided over toxicity of the beverage. It has been demonstrated in experimental and clinical studies that coffee, being a complex mixture of caffeine and polyphenols, can play a dual role as both a carcinogen...and a chemo-preventive agent with anti-oxidative...properties."

The bulk of previous studies suggest that high coffee consumption is associated with a modest reduction of breast cancer risk, although a meta-meta-analysis of over 500 papers relating the consumption of coffee to various cancers reported a null association with breast cancer risk. So these researches attempted to add to our knowledge base on this subject.

This study was done in Sweden, where coffee consumption is among the highest in the world, with a median of three cups per person per day.

Again, making a long story short...the authors conclude, "we found no evidence that coffee consumption increases the overall risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. However, a high daily intake [5 cups daily] of coffee was found to be associated with a significant decrease in ER-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women."

Considering that 1% of breast cancers are found in men, looks like I may need to up my daily coffee consumption. 5 cups?! That's gonna be tough...


Are Kids Getting Enough Healthy Fatty Acids Like Omega-3s?

First, a cool didgeridoo video...

Alright, now... we know fatty acid composition of the diet may influence cardiovascular risk from early childhood onwards. The objective of the present study was to perform a systematic review (a thorough review of other studies that investigated the topic) of dietary fat and fatty acid intakes in children and adolescents from different countries around the world and compare these with the population nutrient intake goals for prevention of chronic diseases as defined by the WHO (2003 guidelines).

Fatty acid intake data from thirty countries, mainly from developed countries, were included. In twenty-eight of the thirty countries, average intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA, which are typically the unhealthy fatty acids) were higher than the recommended maximum, whereas in twenty-one out of thirty countries, average intake of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, which include the healthy omega-3 fatty acids) were below recommendations.

Despite the limitations in the study and data collection, the available data clearly indicate that in the majority of countries providing data on fatty acid intake, less than half of the children and adolescents meet the SFA and PUFA intake goals that are recommended for the prevention of chronic diseases. That's a lot of kids setting themselves up for future health problems.

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Source: Fatty acid intakes of children and adolescents are not in line with the dietary intake recommendations for future cardiovascular health: a systematic review of dietary intake data from thirty countries


EpiCor Acts Within Hours to Improve Immune Health

I previously discussed an immune-health ingredient called EpiCor. Well, I apparently missed this clinical study published early this year on its ability to modulate the immune system within hours of an oral dose.

Well, the study gets pretty technical, especially with all the talk about immune system compounds (like IgA, NK cells, T cells, etc.)...which I wouldn't expect the general population to know much about. So here is a summary in a sentence.

After a 500 mg dose of EpiCor (which is the recommended daily amount), a significant increase in serum antioxidant protection was seen as early as two hours after consumption, and changes in the immune system (indicating healthy and improved immune surveillance) was seen within the first hour.

This is great as it may indicate EpiCor can be used as a treatment for colds/flus, not just prevention (which is the area I have the most experience with).

Without knowing this, I've basically doubled my dose (to 1000 mg/day) any time I felt "off." This combined with my daily 500 mg dose (along with vitamin D3) has kept me flu-free for 3 years running now. This is despite my son and partner having the flu multiples times during the same time period (no I'm not gay -- although my "partner" and I met at Gay Pride in Toronto, go figure -- I just call her my partner to make it clear we're not married, something neither of us are into, although legally she's my common-law "wife"). Happy wife, happy life!  :)

My readers and subscribers in the Southern hemisphere (like Australia and New Zealand) should start EpriCor and vitamin D3 now (if you haven't already)...your flu season is upon you.

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Source: Antioxidant Bioavailability and Rapid Immune-Modulating Effects After Consumption of a Single Acute Dose of a High-Metabolite Yeast Immunogen: Results of a Placebo-Controlled Double-Blinded Crossover Pilot Study


Preventing Severe Nausea & Vomiting During Pregnancy

The thing with being a woman at a function/event where alcohol is being consumed is that, if you don't drink, all of a sudden, everyone thinks you're pregnant.

So if you are looking to get pregnant, here is a study of interest...

"Hyperemesis gravidarum" (HG, the extreme form of "morning sickness") is the technical term for the severe nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Since no one knows why this happens, the aim of the present study was to investigate food and nutrient intake before pregnancy, and the risk of developing HG.

For this study, only women who were hospitalised for HG were included as cases (mild cases of nausea and vomiting that didn't require hospitalization didn't count).

What was found was that the intake of seafood, allium vegetables (e.g. garlic and onions), and water were significantly lower among women who developed HG than among women in the non-HG group. These findings suggest that a moderate intake of water and adherence to a healthy diet that includes allium vegetables and fish are associated with a lower risk of developing HG.

Essentially, you can't go wrong by eating a healthy diet.

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Turmeric for Parkinson's Disease Prevention

Who doesn't love Indian food? Very few people, that's for sure. Well, here's a study that will encourage you to eat the delicious cuisine and make more than just your mouth and taste-buds feel good about it.

Multiple pathways including oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage are implicated in neurodegeneration during Parkinson's disease (PD). The current PD drugs provide only symptomatic relief and have limitations in terms of adverse effects and inability to prevent neurodegeneration. Therefore, there is a demand for novel compound(s)/products that could target multiple pathways and protect the dying neurons.

Turmeric is a spice used in traditional Indian cuisine as well as traditional medicine with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and potential neuroprotective properties. To explore the neuroprotective property of turmeric in PD, this study used mice subjected to dietary supplementation with turmeric for 3 months.

Skipping the techincal details...the authors conclude that "chronic dietary consumption of turmeric protects the brain against neurotoxic insults, with potential application in neurodegeneration. Further characterisation of the active constituents of turmeric that potentially promote neuroprotection could improve the utility of dietary turmeric in brain function and disease."

Coincidentally, I regularly eat Indian food with a group of friends on most Fridays... and it's Friday!

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Source: Chronic dietary supplementation with turmeric protects against 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine-mediated neurotoxicity in vivo: implications for Parkinson's disease


Do You Need a New Toothbrush After the Flu?

This post doesn't talk about any newly published research, but I wanted to discuss a topic that's been itching to get noticed. Of course I don't give it much energy, but it's on my mind again since I received a flyer in the mail yesterday (even though we've created a Red-Dot Campaign "no junk mail" sticker for the mailbox...why this is repeatedly ignored is a separate issue, and someone is going to get an ear-full).

For years I've been hearing the toothbrush industry talk about how you should get a new toothbrush after a cold or flu...but this has never made sense to me, and in fact, has always kind of bothered me. So after receiving that flyer I thought, "enough of this bullsh*t!"

We all know that once you get a viral infection, you essentially develop life-long immunity to that specific viral strain.

However, before I write these companies and blast their lack of knowledge on the topic...or even lack of common sense... I thought, "wait-a-minute, it'd be ignorant of me to assume that I know what's up from down, a little arrogant too"... so I asked a dentist friend if there is anything that's taught in the dental industry that's different from other medical professions. Was I missing something here?

Now, I don't have a problem with companies marketing products if it's based on truths, or even stretching the truth to a "reasonable" degree... but utter BS is something we shouldn't stand for from these corporations,  because some within the general population will start to believe it -- and when we start believing lies, we're doomed.

So here are a couple links that my friend responded with, and he's in total agreement and has long thought the same thing...it's unethical marketing BS. The American Dental Association knows it too.


I quote my dentist friend... "It's funny how people want to live in a sterile bacteria/virus-free bubble and don't realize that if we didn't have these microorganisms in our lives, we wouldn't be here to complain about it!"

So true, and in fact, probiotics for oral care is a growing market. We need bacteria in our mouth (just need it to be the beneficial species and strains, not the pathogenic types)...so ask yourself if those advertisements for toothpastes and mouthwashes that kill bacteria make any sense (that's like prescribing continuous rounds of antibiotics...and you know what the overuse of antibiotics has given us..."super bugs").

Personally, I like to open probiotic capsules and pour them into my mouth (instead of swallowing the capsule whole). In the market, we already see probiotic chewing gums and lozenges (with good supporting science)... and I totally expect to see probiotic toothpastes and floss in the near future.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Mortality in Prostate Cancer, and Type I Diabetes

Well, if you're a Canadian reading this, I hope you got out to vote yesterday for the federal election. Doesn't matter what party, as long as you voted. You can't continue to complain about our government if you're not going to do your small piece to bring about some change.

So on to the topic(s) at hand...I've got three new studies on vitamin D deficiency. First, this new study didn't actually found anything "new," but I'll cover it here since it is a weird coincidence that this study was published about the same time as the vitamin K study in my previous post.

Since vitamin D deficiency is common in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), authors of this study set out to find if vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased disease activity and lower health-related quality of life (HRQOL).

I'll cut to the chase here -- since, like I said, nothing new here. The researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is common in IBD and is independently associated with lower HRQOL and greater disease activity in Crohn's Disease.

Source: Vitamin D Deficiency in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

For prostate cancer, a new study showed that those with the lowest amount of vitamin D had a 22% greater risk of death from the cancer (compared to prostate cancer patients with the highest vitamin D levels), and suggested increasing plasma concentrations of vitamin D may lead to better disease outlook for men with prostate cancer.

Source: Prediagnostic Plasma Vitamin D Metabolites and Mortality among Patients with Prostate Cancer

Lastly, in a prospective, observational, follow-up study involving 227 patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus who were followed from the onset of diabetes, severe vitamin D deficiency was found to be a significant independent predictor of all-cause mortality (death). The next step the researchers suggest is to determine whether supplementation with vitamin D can improve the prognosis of these diabetics.

Source: Vitamin D Levels, Microvascular Complications, and Mortality in Type 1 Diabetes

The conclusion? If it's not obvious... make sure you're getting enough vitamin D. (FYI, the D3 form is ideal for humans, not D2.)

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