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Life Extension Magazine

Life Extension Magazine April 2012
In The News

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Improve Memory in Two Year Trial

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Improve Memory in Two Year Trial

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of an analysis of a trial which found that supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 improved immediate and delayed memory in older men and women.*

The study analyzed data from a trial of 900 participants with elevated psychological distress who received 400 micrograms of folic acid plus 100 micrograms vitamin B12, or a placebo for two years. Cognitive function was assessed at the beginning of the study and at 12 and 24 months.

While orientation, attention, verbal memory and processing speed remained unchanged, greater improvements from baseline in immediate and delayed recall scores were observed among those who received vitamin B12 and folic acid compared with the placebo group. “The prospect of using dietary supplements of folic acid and vitamin B12 to prevent cognitive decline appears promising,” the authors conclude.

Editor’s Note: The original trial was designed to analyze the effect of the supplements and other factors on depressive symptoms. Late-life depression is a risk factor for cognitive impairment.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jan;95(1):194-203.

Higher Plasma Nutrient Levels Associated with Increased Brain Volume

In an article published online in the journal Neurology, Gene Bowman, ND, MPH, and his colleagues report a beneficial effect on brain volume for healthy dietary patterns as reflected by plasma nutrient levels in older men and women.*

One hundred four participants who had few risk factors for cognitive impairment were tested for 30 nutrient biomarkers. All subjects were evaluated for memory and cognitive function, and 42 participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to assess brain volume, which frequently declines with aging.

While a pattern of high plasma levels of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, and E, and folate, or high plasma marine omega-3 fatty acids were each associated with greater brain volume and better cognitive function, having an increased plasma level of trans fat was associated with reductions in both brain volume and test scores.

Editor’s Note: The researchers attribute 17% of the variation in cognitive test scores and 37% of the variation in brain size to nutrient status.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Neurol. 2011 Dec 28.

Fish Oil May Hold Key to Leukemia Cure

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have stated that a compound produced from fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells could lead to a cure for the disease.* The compound, delta-12protaglandin J3, or D12-PGJ3, targeted and killed the stem cells of chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, in mice, said Sandeep Prabhu, associate professor of immunology and molecular toxicology in the Department of Veterinary and Medical Sciences. The compound is produced from EPA, and omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and fish oil.

The experiments involved researchers injecting mice with leukemia with about 600 nanograms of D12-PGJ3 each day for a week. Tests showed that the mice were completely cured of the disease and the disease did not relapse.

“Research in the past on fatty acids has shown the health benefits of fatty acids on cardiovascular system and brain development, particularly in infants, but we have shown that some metabolites of omega-3 have the ability to selectively kill the leukemia-causing stem cells in mice,” Prabhu said. “The important thing is that the mice were completely cured of leukemia with no relapse.”

—J. Finkel

Reference

* Available at: www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/239662.php. Accessed January 20, 2012.

Higher Vitamin D Levels Correlated with Less Depression

Higher Vitamin D Levels Correlated with Less Depression

Mayo Clinic Proceedings published the results of a study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center which uncovered a protective effect for high serum vitamin D levels against depression. The study, which included 12,594 men and women, is the largest of its kind to date.*

E. Sherwood Brown and his associates analyzed data from participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which enrolled patients from the Cooper Clinic from 2006 to 2010. Dr. Brown’s team found a significant association between higher vitamin D levels and a decreased risk of depressive symptoms, especially among those with a history of depression. For those without a history of depression, having a higher vitamin D level was associated with a 5% lower risk of the condition compared to having a low level, while among those with a history of depression, the risk for those with a high level was 10% lower.

Editor’s Note: Vitamin D’s impact on neurotransmitters, markers of inflammation and other factors could be behind its ability to reduce depression according to Dr. Brown.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Nov;86(11):1050-5.

Are You Among the One Percent?

The American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation reports dismal findings for Americans in regard to their cardioprotective behaviors. In fact, less than 1% of a large sampling of adults had an ideal prevalence of all of the seven factors examined in the current study.*

Christina M. Shay, PhD, and her associates evaluated data from 14,515 men and women enrolled in the 2003 to 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. The researchers rated as “poor,” “intermediate” or “ideal” the following components outlined in the American Heart Association’s 2020 Strategic Impact Goals: smoking status, body mass index, physical activity level, Healthy Diet Score components, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose. Smoking status was the component most consistently rated as ideal among the participants and having a Healthy Diet Score was the most poorly rated component. Fewer than 1% of the subjects were rated as ideal for all seven factors.

Editor’s Note: “The fact that all components of cardiovascular health are modifiable through treatment and lifestyle should generate optimism for the new strategic directions for the AHA in its research, clinical, public health, and advocacy programs for cardiovascular health promotion and disease prevention,” the authors conclude.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Circulation. 2012 Jan 3;125(1):45-56.

Omega-3 Improves Peripheral Nerve Injury Recovery

Omega-3 Improves Peripheral Nerve Injury Recovery

In the Journal of Neuro-science, researchers at Queen Mary University of London report that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may help protect peripheral nerves from injury and stimulate recovery.

Adina Michael-Titus and her associates utilized normal mice or mice bred to express a gene that results in an increase in endogenous omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids accompanied by a decrease in omega-6 fatty acids. Individual peripheral nerve cells derived from both types of mice were mechanically injured or deprived of oxygen and assessed for viability.

Nerve cells derived from mice that had higher omega-3 levels had significantly more protection from either type of injury compared to cells derived from normal mice. When animals from each group underwent injury to their sciatic nerves, those in the modified group experienced greater functional recovery after one week and less muscle atrophy in comparison with the normal mice.

Editor’s Note: Damage to the peripheral nerves can cause symptoms ranging from pain to paralysis, and recovery is often limited.

—D. Dye

Reference

* J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 11;32(2):563-71.

Vitamin D Rejuvenates Aging Eyes in Laboratory Study

Vitamin D Rejuvenates Aging Eyes in Laboratory Study

An article published in the journal Neurobiology of Ageing reports an eye-rejuvenating benefit for a short course of vitamin D supplementation in aged mice.*

Professor Glen Jeffery and his associates at University College London supplemented old mice with vitamin D3 for six weeks, while an untreated group served as controls. In addition to improved vision, the team found a reduction in number and changes in the configuration of retinal macrophages—immune cells that can sometimes cause excessive inflammatory damage—in animals that received the vitamin, as well as a decrease in retinal amyloid beta accumulation, which is a marker of aging. In humans, inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation are associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Further experimentation revealed a decrease in amyloid beta build-up in the animals’ blood vessels, including the aorta, which is the major vessel that carries blood from the heart.

Editor’s Note: “Finding that amyloid deposits were reduced in the blood vessels of mice that had been given vitamin D supplements suggests that vitamin D could be useful in helping to prevent a range of age-related health problems, from deteriorating vision to heart disease,” Dr. Jeffery’s noted.

—D. Dye

Reference

* Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jan 2.

Magnesium Tied to Lower Stroke Risk

Magnesium Tied to Lower Stroke Risk

A recent article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition online states that dietary magnesium intake is associated with a decreased risk of stroke, specifically ischemic stroke.* A dose-response meta-analysis was conducted by researchers, who summarized the evidence in terms of magnesium intake and its association with stroke risk.

Those conducting the study searched PubMed and EMBASE from January 1966 through September 2011 and ultimately included 7 prospective studies, with 6,477 cases of stroke and 241,378 participants eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis.

The researchers concluded that an intake increment of 100 milligrams per day of magnesium was associated with an 8% reduction in risk of total stroke. They also found that magnesium intake was associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke, but not intracerebral hemorrhage or subarachnoid hemorrhage. This study shows how relatively small doses of magnesium (100 milligram increased daily intakes) can protect against stroke. Most Life Extension members take over 400 milligrams each day of various forms of magnesium.

—J. Finkel

Reference

* Available at: www.ajcn.org/content/early/2011/12/26/ajcn.111.022376. Accessed January 20, 2012.