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Schizophrenia associated with vitamin D deficiency
July 23 2014. A review and meta-analyses reported online on July 22, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism affirmed an association between deficient levels of vitamin D and a greater risk of schizophrenia, a devastating and disabling brain disorder.
"This is the first comprehensive meta-analysis to study the relationship between the two conditions," announced coauthor Ahmad Esmaillzadeh, PhD, of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran. "When we examined the findings of several observational studies on vitamin D and schizophrenia, we found people with schizophrenia have lower vitamin D levels than healthy people. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common among people with schizophrenia."
Dr Esmaillzadeh and his colleagues selected 19 studies involving schizophrenic patients that reported average vitamin D levels, vitamin D deficiency prevalence or odds ratios. Meta-analysis of thirteen studies that reported average vitamin D found levels that ranged from 0.13 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to 19.35 ng/mL lower in schizophrenics versus non-schizophrenic control subjects. In the eight studies that examined vitamin D deficiency, defined variously as levels lower than 30 ng/mL, 20 ng/mL or 10 ng/mL, the overall deficiency prevalence among schizophrenics was 65.3%. And for the meta-analysis of eight studies that determined odds ratios, it was found that deficient individuals had more than twice the risk of schizophrenia in comparison with subjects whose vitamin D levels were sufficient.
"There is a growing trend in the nutrition science field to consider vitamin D and its relationship to conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and depression," Dr Esmaillzadeh stated. "Our findings support the theory that vitamin D may have a significant impact on psychiatric health. More research is needed to determine how the growing problem of vitamin D deficiency may be affecting our overall health."
Omega-3 could help protect alcoholic brain
July 21 2014. An article published on July 16, 2014 in the journal PLOS ONE indicates that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil could help protect the brain from some of the long term adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
Michael A. Collins, PhD, Edward J. Neafsey, PhD, of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, along with researchers at the University of Kentucky and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism evaluated the effects of ethanol consumption in rats. After demonstrating extensive neurodegeneration in specific brain regions among animals in which ethanol intoxication was induced, the team studied the effects of ethanol in cultured rat brain cells. While alcohol-treated cells underwent significant inflammation and death, the addition of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) prevented the effect by up to 90%.
Interestingly, a meta-analysis conducted by Drs Collins and Neafsey published in 2011 in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, concluded that moderate drinking was associated with a protective effect against age-related cognitive impairment and dementia in humans. A possible reason for the apparently contradictory finding is an increase in brain cell fitness as a result of low level alcohol-induced stress, in contrast with damage and dementia induced by high alcohol intake.
"Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in chronic alcohol abusers," commented Dr Collins. "At the very least, it is unlikely that it would hurt them."
However, he cautioned that "We don't want people to think it is okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol."
Potassium supplementation associated with improved survival among diuretic users over eight year period
July 18 2014. The journal PLOS ONE published an article online July 16, 2014 in which researchers from the University of Pennsylvania report an association between supplementing with potassium and a lower risk of dying over a period of eight years among patients receiving loop diuretics. Loop diuretics are used to treat heart failure and associated edema, but the drugs can also flush out too much potassium, a critical mineral for maintaining regular heart rhythm.
Sean Hennessy, PharmD, PhD, and colleagues evaluated data from 654,060 Medicaid recipients who were newly prescribed bumetanide, ethacrynic acid, furosemide, or torsemide from 1999 to 2007. Twenty-seven percent of the subjects also received prophylactic potassium as a bicarbonate, chloride, citrate, or gluconate.
The team uncovered a 7% lower risk of dying from any cause over follow-up among those who supplemented with potassium. When the diuretic furosemide was separately analyzed, combining potassium with the higher dose (40 milligrams per day or more) of the drug resulted in a 16% lower mortality risk.
"Our findings provide evidence that adding potassium supplementation may increase survival rates among patients taking loop diuretics," commented lead author, Charles E. Leonard, PharmD, MSCE, who is a senior research investigator in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as senior manager of the Ambulatory Drug Use & Effects Program. "Nonetheless, because this is the first such study of this question, we hope that others confirm these results in independent studies."
"Using potassium supplementation for patients receiving loop diuretic therapy may be a relatively inexpensive way to save lives," noted Dr Hennessy. "In today's climate of seeking cost-effective measures to keep patients healthy, this is a therapy that certainly merits additional consideration."
Higher vitamin D levels may promote colorectal cancer survival
July 16 2014. An article published online on July 7, 2014 in the Journal of Oncology reports the outcome of a study which indicates that having a higher plasma level of vitamin D is associated with a better chance of surviving colorectal cancer.
Malcolm G. Dunlop, MD, of the University of Edinburgh and his associates evaluated data from 1,598 men and women who underwent surgery for stage I to III colorectal cancer. Postoperative blood samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxyvitamin D and vitamin D receptor genotype.
The team found that subjects whose vitamin D levels were among the top one-third of subjects had a 32% lower risk of dying of colorectal cancer and a 30% lower risk of dying from any cause over the five year study period compared with those whose levels were among the lowest third. For patients with stage II disease, the risk of dying of colorectal cancer was 56% lower among those in the top third of plasma vitamin D levels.
“We observed interactions between 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and vitamin D receptor genotype, suggesting a causal relationship between vitamin D and survival,” the authors report. “The influence of vitamin D supplementation on colorectal cancer outcome will require further investigation.”
“Our findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study,” noted Dr Dunlop, who is a professor at the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh. “We need carefully designed randomized clinical trials before we can confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements offers any survival benefit for bowel cancer patients."
In arthritis prevention, what you eat may be more important than how much
July 14 2014. Despite the importance of limiting the number of calories consumed to maintain a healthy weight in the prevention of osteoarthritis, a study involving mice suggests that the type of fat consumed rather than the amount of weight gained may be a more important factor.
Writing in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Farshid Guilak, PhD, and colleagues report the findings of research involving mice with knee injuries. The animals were given obesity-inducing high fat diets rich in varying amounts saturated fat, omega 6 fatty acids, or omega 6 plus omega 3 fatty acids. “A healthy diet would include roughly equal ratios of these fats, but we’re way off the scale in the Western diet,” noted Dr Guilak, who is a professor of orthopedic surgery at Duke University.
Osteoarthritis severity, synovitis, bone changes, and wound healing were evaluated, and activity levels and serum cytokines were assessed at different time points. Dr Guilak’s team observed a significant negative association between osteoarthritis and the diet’s fatty acid content but not with the animals’ body weights. Diets that contained 8% of their calories in the form of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in less arthritis in comparison with other animals. Mice given omega-3 also exhibited better wound repair capabilities. In contrast, animals that received diets with a high saturated fat or omega 6 fatty acid content had more severe arthritis and scar tissue formation.
“Our results suggest that dietary factors play a more significant role than mechanical factors in the link between obesity and osteoarthritis,” Dr Guilak concluded. “While omega 3 fatty acids aren’t reversing the injury, they appear to slow the progression of arthritis in this group of mice. In fact, omega 3 fatty acids eliminated the detrimental effects of obesity in obese mice.”
“A great next step would be to do a clinical study to look at effect of omega 3 fatty acids post-injury,” he added.
Cinnamon could stop Parkinson’s in its tracks
July 11 2014. An article appearing recently in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology indicates that cinnamon could one day be used by Parkinson’s disease patients to prevent the disease from progressing.
Saurabh Khasnavis and Kalipada Pahan, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center studied the effects of the spice in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. They found that when cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate in the blood and brain, the loss of beneficial proteins known as Parkin and DJ-1 is halted, while neurons that produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is reduced in Parkinson’s, are protected. Motor function, which can be significantly impaired by the disease, was improved in animals that received cinnamon.
"Cinnamon is metabolized in the liver to sodium benzoate, which is an FDA-approved drug used in the treatment for hepatic metabolic defects associated with hyperammonemia," explained lead researcher Dr Pahan, who is the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush University. "Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It is known that some important proteins like Parkin and DJ-1 decrease in the brain of Parkinson’s disease patients."
"Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries,” he noted. “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson's patients."
"Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground cinnamon in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” Dr Pahan added. “If these results are replicated in Parkinson’s disease patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease."
Calcium/collagen combo = better bone benefits
July 9 2014. The Experimental Biology 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting was the site of a presentation in April of this year of research conducted at Florida State University (FSU) which suggests a superior effect for a combination of calcium, collagen and vitamin D in preventing a decline in bone mineral density among older women.
Acting on positive results obtained in a three month study, FSU Professor Bahram H. Arjmandi, PhD, RD, and colleagues evaluated the long term effects of a calcium-collagen chelate dietary supplement known as KoACT® in 39 postmenopausal women with osteopenia. Participants were randomized to groups that received an amount of KoACT® that contained 500 milligrams elemental calcium and 200 IU vitamin D3 per day, or a control supplement that provided equal amounts of vitamin D and calcium for one year. Total body, lumbar spine and hip bone mineral density were measured, and serum markers of bone turnover were assessed at the beginning at the trial, and at six and twelve months.
At the study’s conclusion, women assigned to KoACT® had significantly less bone mineral density loss than the control subjects. Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (associated with osteoporosis), and sclerostin, a protein that has anti-anabolic effects on bone formation, were lower, and the ratio of bone specific alkaline phosphatase (a marker of bone formation) to tartrate-resistant alkaline phosphatase was higher after six months in the KoACT® group, while the control group experienced no change.
"Conventional thinking often entails the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements,” noted Dr Jennifer Gu of AIDP, the company that developed KoACT®. “It is medically important for postmenopausal women to know that achieving optimal bone health requires using a product, like KoACT®, that 'mimics Mother Nature,' in stopping bone loss by helping to build bone strength and slows bone resorption, the destruction, disappearance, or dissolution of bones.”