Whole Body Health Sale

Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine December 2008
In The News

Vitamin D Deficiency Raises Risk of Hip Fracture

A low serum level of vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women, according to a large nationwide case-control study.*

The eligible study population was recruited from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study of the National Institutes of Health and included 39,793 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years. Of these, 400 experienced hip fractures during seven years of follow-up, and 400 women were selected as matched controls. Vitamin D status was measured as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Women with hip fracture had significantly lower average levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D than the controls. When vitamin D serum levels were divided into four groups, the researchers found that the lowest levels of vitamin D were associated with the highest risk of hip fracture. Physical condition, body mass index, number of falls, kidney function, and levels of sex steroid hormones did not affect this association.

This study highlights the importance of maintaining optimal serum levels of vitamin D for good bone health.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Cauley JA, Lacroix AZ, Wu L, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations and risk for hip fractures. Ann Intern Med. 2008 Aug 19;149(4):242-50.

Vitamin B12 May Help Prevent Brain Shrinkage

Vitamin B12 May Help Prevent Brain Shrinkage

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers report an association between decreased levels of vitamin B12 and a decline in brain volume.* Decreased brain volume (atrophy) has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study included 107 participants who did not have cognitive impairment upon enrollment. MRI scans of the brain, blood testing, and cognitive assessments were conducted annually over a five-year period. 

Comparison of MRI images obtained at the beginning of the study with those scanned after five years found a greater amount of brain volume loss among participants with low vitamin B12. Subjects whose B12 levels were among the lowest one-third of participants had a six times greater adjusted risk of increased brain volume loss than those whose levels were in the top two-thirds.

“Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this,” lead author Anna Vogiatzoglou, MSc, advised.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Vogiatzoglou A, Refsum H, Johnston C, et al. Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly. Neurology. 2008 Sept 9;71(11):826-32.

Broccoli May Reverse Blood Vessel Damage in Diabetes

Consuming broccoli may reverse the damage caused by diabetes to blood vessels, according to a new study.1 Currently, 8% of Americans suffer from diabetes and two out of three diabetics will die from heart attack or stroke, conditions that have been linked to blood vessel damage.2

Scientists subjected human endothelial cells, which line vessel walls, to the broccoli compound sulforaphane after the cells had been exposed to high glucose levels. Hyperglycemia significantly increases levels of reactive oxygen species and other inflammatory compounds that harm human cells.1

The researchers found sulforaphane activated the compound nrf2, which protected the cells from damage by increasing levels of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes. They also recorded a 73% reduction of reactive oxygen species molecules in cells exposed to sulforaphane.1

These findings build upon the established health benefits of consuming cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), and give scientists a potential mechanism by which vascular damage in diabetics may be controlled. Clinical studies on the benefits of broccoli for diabetics are planned.

—Michael J. Hall, ND

Reference

1. Xue M, Qian Q, Antonysunil A, Rabbani N, Babaei-Jadidi R, Thornalley PJ. Activation of NF-E2-related factor-2 reverses biochemical dysfunction of endothelial cells induced by hyperglycemia linked to vascular disease. Diabetes. 2008 August 4.
2. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/heart-disease-stroke.jsp. Accessed August 28, 2008.

Complementary Medicine Used by 61% of Cancer Survivors

Complementary Medicine Used by 61% of Cancer Survivors

More than half of US cancer survivors report using complementary medicine therapies, according to a study from the American Cancer Society.*

The study used data on 4,139 cancer survivors gathered from across the United States. Patients were interviewed at 10 to 24 months after the diagnosis of any one of 10 common types of cancer and were asked about their use of up to 19 types of complementary medicine.

The top five alternative-medicine practices among survivors were prayer (61%), relaxation (44%), faith/spiritual healing (42%), nutritional supplements/vitamins (40%), and meditation (15%). Overall, women were more likely than men to use every type of complementary medicine studied. Patients most likely to use complementary medicine were also younger and white, had higher levels of education and income, and had a more advanced cancer stage at diagnosis. Among the cancer types, breast and ovarian cancer survivors were the most likely to use complementary medicine.

These findings indicate that many patients find complementary therapies an important aspect of comprehensive cancer care.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Gansler T, Kaw C, Crammer C, Smith T. A population-based study of prevalence of complementary methods use by cancer survivors: a report from the American Cancer Society’s studies of cancer survivors. Cancer. 2008 Sept 1;113(5):1048-57.

Goji Berry Juice Enhances Energy, Well-Being

Drinking goji berry juice for 14 days improves well-being, mental performance, and gastrointestinal function compared with placebo in a recent study.* Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) has been used in Asia since ancient times for its benefits against aging and for vision, kidney, and liver function.

Thirty-five healthy adults were randomly assigned to take a standardized preparation of 120 mL/day goji berry juice (17 subjects), equivalent to 150 grams of fresh fruit, or matching placebo drink (18 subjects). Before and after supplementation, subjects rated various symptoms of fatigue, memory, mental acuity, sleep, and physical health.

After two weeks, the supplemented group expressed significantly better energy level, sleep quality, mental focus, mental acuity, calmness, happiness, and overall health, as well as better gastrointestinal function, compared with baseline. They indicated lower levels of fatigue and stress. In the placebo group, the only significant improvements were reduced heartburn and greater happiness.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (goji) juice, GoChi™. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 May;14(4):403-12.

Low EPA Levels Increase Mortality Risk in Older Population

Low EPA Levels Increase Mortality Risk in Older Population

A recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a study that found an increased risk of dying among older hospital patients with low plasma concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is present in oily fish.*

The study included 254 frail patients with an average age of 82.1 years who were admitted to a hospital in Norway. EPA levels were used as a marker for marine fatty acid status. The patients were followed for three years.

Participants whose plasma EPA levels were in the top 75% of participants averaged nearly half the risk of dying from all causes compared with those whose levels were in the lowest 25%.

“The results suggest that a moderate dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the elderly reduces their overall mortality if they become acutely ill,” the authors concluded.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Lindberg M, Saltvedt I, Sletvold O, Bjerve KS. Long-chain n-3 fatty acids and mortality in elderly patients. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):722-9.

This Flu Season, Try Quercetin

The American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology reports a study conducted by researchers at the University of South Carolina that has found quercetin helps protect against influenza in mice.*

One group of mice was given quercetin for seven days while the remainder received no quercetin. Half of the mice in each group were exercised to fatigue on the last three days of the treatment period. The animals were inoculated with influenza following the final exercise session and monitored for 21 days.

Of the mice that underwent intense exercise, 91% developed signs of the flu, compared with 63% of non-exercising animals. Among those that received quercetin, the same rate of influenza occurred as in mice that did not exercise.

“This is the first controlled experimental study to show a benefit of short-term quercetin feedings on susceptibility to respiratory infection following exercise stress,” lead author J.M. Davis announced.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Davis JM, Murphy EA, McClellan JL, Carmichael MD, Gangemi JD. Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Aug;295(2):R505-9.

Complementary Medicine an Effective Adjunct For Perinatal Depression

Complementary Medicine an Effective Adjunct For Perinatal Depression

Omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid are effective and safe additions to the treatment of perinatal depression, according to a recent review.* Perinatal depression is defined as a depressive disorder during pregnancy or after delivery.

Because medication use during pregnancy poses safety concerns, this study reviewed the efficacy and safety of various complementary and alternative medicine therapies for perinatal depression. Of those options with adequate study, omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid are beneficial for both maternal health and fetal and infant development, and both have shown antidepressant effects. Intake of omega-3s is deficient among US women, especially since warnings were issued about mercury content in fish, but high-quality purified fish oil capsules reduce this risk. Folic acid is well known for preventing birth defects and is recommended for all pregnant women.

S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) and St. John’s wort were also cited for their antidepressant effects, although St. John’s wort may interact with certain medications and further study is needed before it can be recommended during pregnancy.

­—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Freeman MP. Complementary and alternative medicine for perinatal depression. J Affect Disord. 2008 Aug 7.