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Omega-3s for Atrial Fibrillation

First, a video that a very special friend of mine shared with me. I thought it was pretty damn funny, although I'd have to say this dude has too much time on his hands.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is considered the most common irregular heart beat (termed arrhythmia), and treatment options are limited, with the main intervention being that patients are put on warfarin to prevent blood clotting associated with an irregular heart rhythm (click HERE to read a post on the evils of warfarin, and HERE for another post on its long anticipated replacement).

Interestingly, omega-3s have been suggested to reduce the risk of blood coagulation (although this is debated), so getting enough of these fatty acids may not only help reduce the risk of AF, but also the risk of coagulation associated with AF.

So, here's a study that seems to confirm what was previously found regarding omega-3 fatty acids and AF. Recently published data from this study indicated that the highest average levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a 29% reduction in the risk of AF when compared against the lowest average levels.

The effects seemed more pronounced with DHA, than EPA, and the data suggested it was the percent of omega-3s in relation to total fatty acids, that carried the biggest effect (rather than the actual amounts of DHA and EPA).

Source: Association of Plasma Phospholipid Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids With Incident Atrial Fibrillation in Older Adults

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Lutein & Zeaxanthin Helps Prevent Cataracts

Another new study adds weight behind lutein and zeaxanthin's ability to reduce the risk of cataracts. This new study found that the highest average levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were associated with a 42 and 41% reduction in the risk of cataract, respectively, compared with the lowest average levels, according to results published

The researchers base their conclusions on data from 1,689 elderly people aged between 61 and 80 participating in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.

While both lutein and zeaxanthin protect liposomal membranes from light-induced oxidative stress, the ratio of zeaxanthin:lutein is much higher in the lens than in the plasma, suggesting that the lens of the eye mainly accumulates zeaxanthin, while lutein accumulates more in the macula.

However, the researchers note that these results show both compounds appear to provide similar levels of protection from cataracts, which challenges the hypothesis that zeaxanthin is more important for lens health.

Source: Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin and the risk of age-related nuclear cataract among the elderly Finnish population

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Alpha-Lipoic Acid for Type 2 Diabetics

Here's a really short and sweet summary of a new alpha-lipoic acid study.

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 38 outpatients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid (300, 600, 900, and 1200 mg/d) for a period of 6 months was found to be associated with reductions in fasting blood glucose and HbA1c in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, other markers suggest ALA may suppressed lipid oxidation.

The authors conclude, "Results from this study reflected the benefits of ALA in glucose status with slight efficiency on oxidative stress-related deterioration in DM patients."

Source: Glycemic and oxidative status of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus following oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid: a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study

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Vitamin D May Help Teens' Depression

In this new study, vitamin D supplementation was found to improve symptoms of depression in adolescents with vitamin D deficiency. The individuals included in this study were depressed adolescents and vitamin D deficient. Well-being and symptoms related to depression and vitamin D status were evaluated with WHO-5 well-being scale, The Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ-S), and a vitamin D deficiency scale.

Results of vitamin D supplementation included increased well-being, improvements in depressed feelings, irritability, tiredness, mood swings, sleep difficulties, weakness, concentration and pain.

Findings suggest supplementation of vitamin D may be useful in ameliorating of symptoms of depression in adolescents.

Source: Depressed adolescents in a case-series were low in vitamin D and depression was ameliorated by vitamin D supplementation

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Cranberry Juice Benefits Health of Arteries

Cranberry juice (CJ) contains a remarkably high concentration of polyphenols, considered to be beneficial for cardiovascular and bone health. A new double-blind, randomized study was designed to test whether daily consumption of two cups (2 × 230 ml) of a "double strength" CJ over 4 months has beneficial effects on vascular function and on endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) carrying the osteoblastic marker osteocalcin in particular.

A total of 69 participants with peripheral endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular risk factors completed this double-blind, randomized, controlled trial.At the start, baseline characteristics were similar in both groups.

The study demonstrated that while long-term supplementation of polyphenol-rich CJ did not improve peripheral endothelial function, there was a decrease in the fraction of osteocalcin+ EPCs, suggesting a potential beneficial effect of polyphenol-rich CJ. Obviously, more research needs to be done, but preliminary results seem interesting.


Vitamin D3 May Lower Body Fat

A new randomized clinical trial has given some more weight (pun intented) to vitamin D3 supplementation. A daily dose of 1000 IU (25 mcg) was associated with a significant reduction in body fat mass, compared with placebo.

The researchers studied 77 overweight and obese women with an average age of 38 and randomly assigned them to receive either the daily vitamin D3 supplements or placebo for 12 weeks.

The researchers said that although vitamin D3 supplementation significantly increased 25(OH)D concentrations (a blood measure of vitamin D status), some participants in the vitamin D group did not reach sufficient 25(OH)D concentrations they wrote. They suggested that this may indicate 1000 IU is sub-par, and it may need higher doses or a longer period of time to see better blood levels.

In addition to fat mass reductions, data also showed that HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels increased in the vitamin D group, but decreased in the placebo group. Interestingly, LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels displayed the same trend in the groups--increasing in the vitamin D3 group.

However, this increase in LDL was shown to be the type of LDL that is less susceptible to forming arterial plaque (yes, there are many sub-types, so not all LDL is the same).

Source: Vitamin D3 and the risk of CVD in overweight and obese women: a randomised controlled trial

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Omega-3s Keep the Brain Young

Results from a new study suggests that diets low in omega-3 fatty acids could cause the brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities.

Over 1,500 dementia free volunteers (average age of 67) participated in this study. Each underwent MRI brain scans along with tests to measure mental function, body mass, and the omega-3 fatty acid level in their red blood cells.

The researchers found that people with DHA levels in the lowest 25% of the participants (the bottom quartile) had lower brain volume compared to people who had higher DHA levels. They said that the difference in brain volume was enough to make the brains of people in the bottom quartile appear two years older than those of people in the top three-quarters.

They added that participants in the bottom quartile also scored lower on tests of visual memory and executive function, such as problem solving and multi-tasking and abstract thinking.

Brain scans also showed signs of less blood supply in the brains of people with the lowest omega-3 levels. The lead researcher suggested that this may mean DHA plays a role in promoting general health of blood vessels in the brain in a similar way to how the omega-3’s are suggested to be aid heart health. This makes sense since, in general, what's good for the heart, seems to be good for the brain.

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that low DHA levels in red blood cells “are associated with smaller brain volumes and a ‘vascular’ pattern of cognitive impairment even in persons free of clinical dementia.”

The new study adds further weight to previous research that suggests beneficial health effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the brain.

Source: Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging

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CoQ10 Improves Fibromyalgia Symptoms

This new study was just a small one, but good study to discuss, nonetheless. It involved 10 patients with fibromyalgia, and on initial testing, levels of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in salivary cells and mononuclear blood cells were reduced.

The group then received supplementation with 300 mg/day CoQ10 and this was found to be associated with improvements in clinical symptoms and a restoration of normal CoQ10 levels.

The authors conclude, "Patients with FM showed an important dysfunction in CoQ10 levels and might benefit from oral supplementation."

This is very similar (in fact, even the same dosage was used) to a study I covered last year. Click HERE to read that post. 

Source: Coenzyme Q10 in salivary cells correlate with blood cells in Fibromyalgia: Improvement in clinical and biochemical parameter after oral treatment

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Even Mild Dehydration Affects Mood

The view from inside a wave
A recent study reports that the mild dehydration, which occurs even before we perceive thirst, could be enough to alter mood and energy levels.

US researchers revealed that the negative effects of  mild dehydration (defined as 1.5% loss in normal water volume) at were the same whether people were sitting at rest or active and exercising.

The study tested two groups of young men and women, who were “healthy, active individuals, who were neither high-performance athletes nor sedentary – typically exercising for 30 to 60 minutes per day.”

While mildly dehydrated (either from gentle walking activity or simply from being sedentary), the subjects were put through a succession of cognitive tests that measured vigilance, concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, and reasoning. The results were compared against a separate series of tests when the individuals were not dehydrated.

For young women, mild dehydration caused headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. The researchers said that female subjects also perceived tasks as more difficult when slightly dehydrated--though they said there was no substantive reduction in their cognitive abilities.

For the men, mild dehydration caused some difficulty with mental tasks, particularly in the areas of vigilance and working memory. The researchers reported that young men also experienced fatigue, tension, and anxiety when mildly dehydrated, though they added that adverse changes in mood and symptoms were "substantially greater in females than in males, both at rest and during exercise."

The results assert the importance of staying properly hydrated at all times, and not just during exercise, extreme heat, or exertion. "Our thirst sensation doesn't really appear until we are 1 or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform," said the lead author. "Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to 8 percent of their body weight as water when they compete," he affirmed.
"Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men," explained a co-author of the research. “Mild dehydration may also interfere with other daily activities, even when there is no physical demand component present," he suggested.

Source: Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women

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Citrus Fruits May Lower Risk of Stroke

A new study recently published examined how consuming flavonoids affect the risk of stroke.

Data from more than 69,000 women who took part in the 14-years of follow-up from the Nurse's Health Study was used in the analysis. The researchers examined the relationship of the six main subclasses of flavonoids commonly consumed in the diet--flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonoid polymers, flavonols and flavones--with risk of ischemic, hemorrhagic and total stroke

Although the results did not find any beneficial association between total flavonoid consumption and stroke risk, they did find that consumption of high amounts of certain flavonoids lowered ischemic stroke risk.

Specifically, women who ate high amounts of flavanones in citrus had a reduced risk of blood clot-related (ischemic) stroke than women who consumed the least amounts.

“Over 14 years of follow-up, high flavanone intake was associated with a 19% lower risk of ischemic stroke, a finding that fits with existing data on the protective effect of citrus fruit consumption,” said the researchers.

Source: Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women

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L-Carnitine Benefits Huntington's Disease

Here's yet another study displaying the promising benefits of L-carnitine supplementation.

In this retrospective database review from 23 patients with Huntington's disease (HD), 26% of patients were found to have hypocarnitenemia (low levels of L-carnitine) and catabolism (muscle breakdown). Patients with low serum carnitine who received supplementation with L-carnitine over the course of 7.3 months were found to have improvements in motor, cognitive, and behavioural measures.

The authors state, "Our findings suggest that HD patients with hypocarnitinemia may benefit from low-dose L-carnitine supplementation. Further studies of carnitine metabolism and supplementation in HD patients are warranted."

It's interesting to note that in many conditions where L-carnitine has shown promise, CoQ10 has also shown promise. The two are great complementary ingredients and the reason why many natural treatment protocols where one is used, the other is also prescribed. This is no different for Huntington's disease.

Source: Serum carnitine levels and levocarnitine supplementation in institutionalized Huntington's disease patients

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On a side note, and as a follow-up to the Top 10 Visiting Countries to this blog during the inaugural year, the top search terms to get to my blog were (there's a lot of repeat here--unfortunately the program keeping these stats doesn't group similar searches):
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