Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Vitamin D Levels and Metabolic Syndrome

Do we still need reasons to supplement with vitamin D? A recent study
published in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that subjects
with the highest blood vitamin D levels had an astounding 73% reduced
risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a
collection of signs and symptoms that together indicate an increased
risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The syndrome includes
elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, abdominal obesity, high blood
pressure and low HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Another study, just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,
found that men with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D had *2.5 times
the risk* of a heart attack as men with the highest levels of vitamin D.

Oh, vitamin D, is there no disease you can't protect against?

"Relation of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Parathyroid Hormone Levels with
Metabolic Syndrome among US Adults," Reis J, Miller E, et al, Eur J
Endocrinol, 2008 Apr 21

"25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Men" Arch
Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1174-1180.

Physical Activity and Dementia in the Elderly

Want to cut the risk of dementia in elderly individuals by 50%? Get them
to move their bodies. In a study published in the Journal of
Gerontology, it was found that in elderly individuals with poor
physical functioning, increasing their physical activity and
functioning conferred a 50% reduced risk of dementia during the 6.1
years of follow-up. Given the millions of elderly with poor physical
functioning who are institutionalized all over the country, the savings
to the medical system through this intervention would be astounding.

"Physical activity, physical function, and incident dementia in elderly
men: the honolulu-Asia aging study," Taaffe DR, White LR, et al, J
Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2008; 63(5): 529-35.

Fish Intake and Colorectal Cancer

In a very large, long-term study of colorectal cancer, it was found
that intake of fish oil and dietary fish dramatically decreases the risk
of colorectal cancer. In this study, which monitored over 21,000
subjects for 22 years, it was found that those who consumed fish 5
times/week had a 40% reduction in colorectal cancer. In classic "let's
understate the benefits of natural therapies" fashion, the authors
concluded, "Our results ... suggest that intakes of fish and long-chain
omega-3 fatty acids from fish may decrease the risk for colorectal
cancer." If a drug had this kind of protective effect, we'd all be
forced to take it as a matter of national security.

"A 22-year Prospective Study of Fish, n-3 Fatty Acid Intake, and
Colorectal Cancer Risk in Men," Hall MN, Ma J, et al, Cancer Epidemiol
Biomarkers Prev, 2008; 17(5): 1136-43.

Black Tea and Ovarian Cancer Risk

In a hospital-based study involving 414 women with cancer, it was found
that women who drank 2 of more cups of black tea had a 30% reduced risk
of ovarian cancer. Consuming 2 or more cups of decaffeinated coffee has
had nearly a 30% reduction in risk (29%, actually). No protective effect
could be found for women who drank caffeinated coffee.

"Consumption of black tea or coffee and risk of ovarian cancer," Baker
JA, Boakye K, et al, Int J Gynecol Cancer, 2007; 17(1): 50-4.

Plant Sterols, Fish Oil and Cardiovascular Disease

A combination of two supplements can significantly improve total
cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL. Published in the Journal of
Nutrition, this study looked at 60 individuals with elevated lipids.
Those individuals who were given a combination of plant sterols and
omega-3 oils experienced a significant improvement in their lipid
profiles. Specifically, their total cholesterol dropped by over 13%,
their triglycerides fell by 25%, their LDL ("bad") cholesterol fell by
over 12% and their HDL ("good") cholesterol rose by over 8%.

These are precisely the changes that physicians want to see for
lowering an individual's risk of cardiovascular disease.

"The lipid-lowering effects of phytosterols and (n-3) polyunsaturated
fatty acids are synergistic and complementary in hyperlipidemic men and
women," Micallef MA, Garg ML, et al, J Nutr, 2008; 138(6): 1086-90.

Depression in the Elderly

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry followed 521
people over the age of 65 for 2-3 years. At the beginning of the study
none of the subjects were depressed. However, at the end of the study it
was discovered that those people who had lower levels of vitamin B12 and
folate in their blood - and higher levels of a substance called
homocysteine - had a significantly higher risk of depression than other
people in the study.

"Predictive value of folate, vitamin B12 and homocysteine levels in
late-life depression," Kim JM, Stewart R, et al, Br J Psychiatry, 2008;
192(4): 268-74.