Feb
01
2006

Macular Degeneration Risk Less With Vitamins

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the more frequent reasons for loss of vision in the ageing population. The disease is also the most prevalent reason for blindness in developed countries.
A group of researchers from the Netherlands made it their mandate to investigate, in which proportion antioxidants were useful in the prevention of AMD. Supplementation with vitamins C, D and E was used and also beta-carotene and zinc. The observations were made using questionnaires from the Rotterdam Study (1990-1993).

The group on which the research concentrated consisted of inhabitants 55 years of age or older living in a middle class suburb of Rotterdam. Of 5836 at the baseline with a risk of AMD 4765 had reliable data of their dietary habits. At the end of the study 4170 participated in the follow up.
Dietary intake of vitamin E and zinc was inversely associated with the development of AMD: the group with an intake of vitamin E and zinc had less macular degeneration than those whose diet was deficient. A higher than median intake of all the four nutrients, vitamin E, zinc, vitamin C and beta-carotene showed even more benefit. The risk to develop macular degeneration was reduced by an impressive 31 %.

Macular Degeneration Risk Less With Vitamins

Macular Degeneration Risk Less With Vitamins

These results are of importance to the ageing population and the elderly. A high dietary intake of the four nutrients is important in the risk reduction of age related eye diseases like AMD.

Reference: JAMA. 2005; 294:3101-3107; Vol. 294, No. 24, December 28, 2005

Last edited December 6, 2012

Nov
01
2005

Pre-Conception Nutrition For Healthy Children

The importance for good maternal nutrition during pregnancy has been emphasized for a long time. Of course in this case it was up to the mom-to-be to avoid toxins, such as smoking and alcohol and to take prenatal supplements along with sensible nutrition. Enticing the women away from the excesses of the standard Western diet would yield handsome health benefits for the country. Dr. David Barker, a medical advisor to the British government pointed out, that this approach would reduce heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases in the mothers as well as in their offspring. This concept does not address all the aspects, which are important for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
For the past 20 years a group of around 20 British family physicians, obstetricians and researchers under the name of Foresight has been putting a program into practice, which identifies and addresses the health deficiencies in prospective parents. Almost all couples that followed the pre-conception program had previously experienced problems relating to conception, pregnancy and birth. In one follow-up study of 367 couples that followed the Foresight program from 1990 to 1992, 327(89%) of the women became pregnant and had healthy, well-developed babies. None of the babies suffered malformations and none was transferred to special care. Of the 367 couples, 217(59 %) had suffered from infertility (from 1 to 10 years) and 139 (38%) had histories from 1 to 5 previous miscarriages. Eleven (3%) had previously given birth to a stillborn child, 40 had small-for-date babies and 15 had already had a low birth weight baby (less than 2,500 g). Seven couples had a previous baby with malformations and three had lost a baby to sudden infant death.
In a larger follow-up study of 1,076 couples, almost all of whom had previous fertility or miscarriage problems, 846 conceived success rate of 78%, as reported by Belinda Barnes, who runs Foresight. There were four problem pregnancies, including one Down syndrome baby, two terminations and one child with an adhesion of the intestine, which was correctable. This is a complication rate of only 0.47 %.

Pre-Conception Nutrition For Healthy Children

Pre-Conception Nutrition For Healthy Children

As the complication rate in the general population amounts to 6.43%, the pre-conception program has only 1/7th of the complications, a strong indicator that a pre-conception program does make a difference.

More info about healthy nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 27, 2005, page 33

Last edited October 29, 2014

Nov
01
2005

Exotic Mushrooms Best Source For Antioxidants

Antioxidants provide powerful cellular protection, and several sources are available through food. One of them under the name ergothioneine was known to be available through food sources like wheat germ or chicken liver. The latter is not necessarily a popular choice for a lot of people! However, antioxidants are necessary to protect us from diseases like arthritis, Alzheimers disease and cancer.
Researchers at Penn State have better news in the meantime. Joy Dubost, who led the research team, stated in a recent press release, that exotic mushrooms like shiitake, oyster mushrooms, king oyster or maitake mushrooms contain up to 13 mg of the desirable antioxidant ergothioneine in a typical serving, about 40 times as much as wheat germ.
Consumers who are reluctant to try these varieties and are more used to Portobello mushrooms, crimini mushrooms (brown mushrooms) or even the ubiquitous white mushrooms, still get a good dose of up to 5 mg ergothioneine per serving.

Exotic Mushrooms Best Source For Antioxidants

Exotic Mushrooms Best Source For Antioxidants

Antioxidant levels do not decrease when the mushrooms are cooked.

More information about antioxidants, which  are explained in detail here: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 27, 2005, page 21

Last edited October 29, 2014

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Jun
01
2005

Mixing Medications With Herbs Spells Trouble

It is generally accepted that prescription medications may have side effects, and there is also the belief that herbal medicines are more desirable, as they cannot possibly have dangerous side effects.
An anonymous survey of rheumatology patients in the United Kingdom shed some light into the use of over-the-counter herbal remedies: nearly half of the patients (40%) had used herbal remedies in the past six month in the hope of enhancing their health. Trouble started for one in ten patients who took an herbal remedy that could negatively interfere with their traditional medicines. Dr. Wendy Holden of the Nuffield Orthopedic Center in Oxford, the author of this study, reported that the risk is especially high for rheumatology patients who take anti-inflammatory drugs in combination with herbs. The traditional medicines do have a risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, however the additions of herbs like ginkgo biloba, ginger, devil’s claw and even garlic can increase the anticoagulant effect and bleeding may be the consequence. Some patients who reported the use of Echinacea were increasing the risk of a liver disease. Of those patients who took a potentially harmful treatment combination 92% were unaware of the risk. Less than half had mentioned to their physicians that they used herbal medications in combination with their prescription medications.

Mixing Medications With Herbs Spells Trouble

Mixing Medications With Herbs Spells Trouble

Herbal medicines are powerful and their effects and side effects have to be taken into consideration. It is important for the patient to mention every medication, even the seemingly harmless over-the-counter herbal remedies, to the treating physician, as the mix may be not a winning combination, but one that is hazardous.

Reference: The Medical Post, May 10, 2005, page 8

Last edited December 12, 2012

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Dec
01
2004

Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

Glucosamine has been touted as an effective supplement for osteoarthritis, and the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada under the rheumatologist Dr. Jolanda Cibere at the University of British Columbia led a study to get solid data.

Patients from the ages of 44 to 88 years from all over Canada who had used the supplement for an average of two years and stated that they had at least moderate improvent from knee joint pain were entered into a maintenance study. They received either a placebo (“fake” pills without glucosamine) or glucosamine for six months. During this time they were monitored for arthritic flare-ups including pain and reduced physical activity.

The results were the following: 42% of the patients who were taking the placebo reported flare-ups of the arthritis problems, and 45% of the glucosamine users had flare-ups. The difference was not statistically different. The severity of arthritis had been the same in both the control group and the group that took glucosamine.
This leads to the conclusion that continued use of glucosamine is of no benefit to a patient who hopes to improve knee osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine And Fake Pills (Placebo) Equally Ineffective Against Arthritis As Shown By Study

Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

Forget Glucosamine For Arthritis

There is the question about the possibility of initial benefits, but it seems to be anecdotal rather than solid evidence, and there may be a placebo effect. Unfortunately the data did not support the notion that glucosamine supplements would give pain relief. It is really up to each individual to decide, whether to give glucosamine a try. Looking at the lack of results in long-term use it seems not warranted spending amounts of $15 to $50 per month for such an ineffective supplement.

More info about osteoarthritis treatment: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/osteoarthritis/treatment-osteoarthritis/

Comment: There are other studies that disagree with this study pointing out that glucosamine combined with chondroitin does help for osteoarthritis pain.

Reference: The Medical Post, November 16, 2004, page 5

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Prevention has been gaining more momentum for public health as well as for the health conscious individual. Instead of looking at salvation from a slew of diseases like arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and the complications from diabetes in the form of super pills, prevention looks a lot more promising.
Flax seed has been around for several thousand years, but it has been making a name for itself as part of healthy eating.

Its most important components are its fiber content, the alpha-linoleic acid, and the lignans. Eating flax seed helps to mop up cholesterol in the bowel, and studies have shown a drop in the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Duke University is publishing results that show flax seed to be helpful in blocking prostate cancer. A publication going back to August 2001 in the Archives of Ophthalmology point out the fact, that the omega-3 fatty acids, which are contained in flax seed, reduce the risk of macular degeneration. The same omega-3 fatty acids also have a favorable influence in the glucose response after a meal, a fact that is important for the prevention of diabetes.

It has to be mentioned at this point, that flax seed oil does not have all the benefits, as the fiber has been removed, and some of the benefits get lost as a result of the temperature used with processing. Also, just eating a spoon full of flax seeds will not be the answer, as flax seed is not fully used during digestion (the seeds are simply excreted in a bowel movement). To unlock the benefits it is best, to grind the seed.

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

Flax Seed A Source Of Omega 3

A coffee mill does the job well enough, and freshly ground seeds are better than the pre-ground variety that has been sitting around in the bin of a store for some time. Two teaspoons of ground flax seed mixed with some yogurt and fruit makes for a good starter in the morning or an easy evening snack. A slice of flax seed bread does not give you the benefits; remember that heat during cooking or baking destroys the key components.
The nice part about flax seed is the fact, that it is inexpensive, plentiful, has no adverse side effects*, and it is the ounce of prevention which is readily available to you.

More info on Omega-3: http://nethealthbook.com/news/inflammation-extinguished-omega-3/

Reference: The Medical Post, October 12, 2004, page 13

* Comments (added Aug.28, 2005): Despite the Duke University study cited above there are disturbing news from a 14 year follow-up prospective study that has been confirmed by other studies showing that there are side-effects. This study showed that in males there is a 2-fold risk of developing invasive prostate cancer when flax seed was the supplement used. As flax seed contains alpha-linolenic acid (=ALA) and fish oil contains eicosapentaenoic acid (=EPA), there are striking differences of action that have not yet been defined in more detail. The same study showed that over 14 years EPA (when mixed with DHA) lowered the risk of getting invasive prostate cancer by 26%. Until it is known more how flax seed works, it likely is wiser to to take a molecularly distilled EPA/DHA supplement daily as this also reduces the cardiovascular risk, but at the same time prevents cancer.

Last edited October 27, 2014

Nov
01
2004

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

Even in the recent past, vitamins were looked at as an essential weapon to prevent illness, however, a large study by the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group at the Centre for Clinical Intervention Research at Copenhagen University has come up with disappointing evidence.

A large evidence-based analysis was performed involving a population of 170,525 persons who were enrolled in randomized trials. They received a regimen of antioxidant supplementation that included beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E daily or on alternate days for 1 to 12 years, along with selenium every year for 2 to 4 years.
All trials reported the separate or combined incidence of cancer of the esophagus, colon, pancreas, stomach or the liver.
Results showed that beta-carotene alone, the most widely tested antioxidant for cancer prevention, did not have substantial cancer-fighting properties in gastrointestinal cancers. The devastating blow is the fact that beta-carotene in combination with vitamin A and vitamin C significantly increased mortality! Recent studies examining vitamin C show, that it can be an antioxidant, but it also can be a pro-oxidant (the less desirable quality). Trials involving selenium very clearly showed that it might have beneficial effects on the incidence of gastrointestinal cancers.
Following these news it would be a grave mistake to assume, that fruit and vegetables with their built-in antioxidants, micronutrients, dietary fiber and beneficial plant-chemicals have fallen off grace.

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

Not All Vitamins Prevent Cancer

The truth is, that fruit and vegetables typically contain safe levels of vitamins. Most studies have reported that adequate intake of fruit and vegetables are indeed associated with a low incidence of cancer.
The study, however, clearly points out the pitfalls of vitamin supplementation.
-“The more the better” does not apply when it comes to taking vitamins.
-Antioxidants according to this study are not as beneficial for cancer prevention as was thought of in the past.
– Only vitamin C and selenium held up to the scrutiny of the evidence-based researchers with regard to having preventative effects regarding the above named gastrointestinal cancers.

Reference: The Lancet, Vol. 364, Number 9441, pg.1219-28,  October 2, 2004

Last edited December 7, 2012

Mar
01
2004

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

A study in a recent edition of the Archives of Neurology reports about 4740 patients from Cache County, Utah, who were 65 years or older and were followed over 5 years. At the start it was found that those who had taken vitamin C and E on a regular basis as separate supplements had a 78% lesser risk of developing Alzheimers (correct medical term: “Alzheimer’s disease”).

5 years later out of 3227 survivors who were at risk 104 more people had developed Alzheimers, but 64% of those who combined vitamin C and E as a supplement did not develop Alzheimers. Dr. Peter Zandi from the Department of Mental Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University/ Baltimore, Md was the lead author of this study. He stated that this was only an observational study, but that the data was convincing enough to warrant a full-scale controlled trial to examine the value of anti-oxidant agents (such as vitamin C and E) as a preventative against Alzheimers. There were a number of built-in controls such as vitamin C alone, vitamin E alone and multiple vitamins (including vitamin C and E in smaller dosages) that were all ineffective in preventing Alzheimers. The daily dosages that were necessary for the protective effect were vitamin C 500mg to 1000 mg or more per day as well as 400 IU to 1000 IU of vitamin E per day. The U.S. recommended daily allowance was insufficient for the protective effect. These dosages typically are in the order of 22 IU of vit. E and 75 to 90 mg of vit. C. Vitamin B complex alone was also ineffective in protecting against Alzheimers.

Vitamins C And E - A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Vitamins C And E – A Weapon Against Alzheimers

Comments: There are many unanswered questions about Alzheimers, but this paper gives valuable hints in terms of the protective effect of two vitamins (vitamin C and E taken as separate supplements daily). There are other factors such as genetic ones and perhaps a dysregulation of the cholesterol brain metabolism that lead to the production of a glue-like substance, called “beta-amyloid” ,that causes memory loss in Alzheimers patients. Testosterone has recently also been noticed to be important in the prevention of Alzheimers disease. In addition to these vitamin supplements a low glycemic, low fat diet would likely be very beneficial together with a regular exercise program and calorie restriction to prevent Alzheimers disease in many patients (prevention of the metabolic disease).

More info on Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/

Arch Neurol – 01-JAN-2004; 61(1): 82-8

Last edited October 26, 2014

Nov
01
2003

Osteoporosis In Males Is Common

A new study from the University of Toronto/Ontario has shown that contrary to the conventional teaching ostoporosis is not only a problem in females, but also a problem in males. The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) showed according to the epidemiologist Natalia Diaz-Granados that in Canada 16% of all women above the age of 50 and 5% of men above the age of 50 developed osteoporosis.

In the past men were thought to be more or less immune to osteoporosis, but this is not so. The results of this study were presented recently at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research in Minneapolis. 1,768 of the 2,884 men who were recruited into CaMos were eligible for the study, because they had not taken oral corticosteroids for three months, and bone scans were taken to measure bone density of their upper femurs (upper thigh bones). 89 men (or 5% of the group of 1768) showed osteoporosis. The mean age of this group was 65 years ranging from 50 to 96.

The researchers studied the high risk factors in men with osteoporosis and found that they were remarkably similar to the risk factors in women with osteoporosis. I have summarized the findings here in tabular form.
The study also showed that for men hip fractures seem to be more lethal than for women as within a year after a hip fracture from osteoporosis more men die. If a physician sees a patient and notices 2 or more of the risk factors identified in the table above, a bone scan to screen for osteoporosis should be done.

Osteoporosis In Males Is Common

Osteoporosis In Males Is Common

There are many more unanswered questions with regard to life styles and nutritional information. It is not known from this study whether the men were physically less active and whether there was a higher alcohol abuse and /or nutritional dysbalance with associated vitamin deficiencies. The authors stated that future research will focus on these factors and on whether biphosphonates (alendronate or Fosamax) are as useful in men with osteoporosis as they are in women.

Risk factors for osteoporosis in men
Risk factor: Explanation:
weight less than normal this may point to poor nutrition, lack of calcium, vit. D etc.
older men bone loss occurs slowly with age, both in men and women
history of smoking smoking reduces blood supply to the nutritional vessels in the bone. This leads to less bone forming cells (osteoblasts)
family history of osteoporosis one or more genes code for osteoporosis. More research needed in this field to develop new medications
history of fracture beyond the age of 50 osteoporosis leads to brittle bones with more fractures. A fracture in this age group should make the physician suspicious of osteoporosis or a metabolic bone problem

Based on an article in The Medical Post, page 78, Oct. 14, 2003.

Link to a chapter of osteoporosis in my Net Health Book.

Last edited December 9, 2012

Aug
01
2003

Parkinsons Disease From Too Much Meat And Too Little Vitamin B2

Parkinsons disease (correct medical spelling is ” Parkinson’s disease”) is a degenerative disease of the brain stem that presents with symptoms of shaking, tremor and gait problems.

It is a neurological disease of the elderly and often is a cause of disability leading to institutionilisation. New research at the University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) in Brazil has found that a diet rich in vitamin B2 and low in meat has helped to improve patients with Parkinsons disease.

It appears that it may not only be useful in alleviating symptoms of existing disease, but even more importantly to prevent this neurological disorder from developinlg. Dr. Cicero Galli Coimbra stated that in Buenos Aires (where the study was done) the consumption of meat is one of the highest in the world as is the rate of Parkinsons disease. Under his guidance a research team found that about 15% of the population do not absorb vitamin B2 adequately. In combination with excessive red meat intake a significant proportion of the population does not absorb enough of this vitamin resulting in Parkinsons disease.

In this study a group of patients with advanced Parkinsons disease were put on a special diet that included milk (which is a good source of vitamin B2). Other sources of vitman B2 as shown here were cereal, nuts, milk, eggs, green leafy vegetables and lean meat. Within one month 18% of their motor function had returned to normal. After the third month of this diet 60% of the motor function had returned.

Parkinsons Disease From Too Much Meat And Too Little Vitamin B2

Parkinsons Disease From Too Much Meat And Too Little Vitamin B2

Many had improved so much that they were able to drive a car safely again. Riboflavin (=vitamin B2) is an important ingredient in a number of metabolic processes in brain cells that result in the production of dopamine, a brain hormone that is required for regulating muscle coordination in various parts of the brain. This translates into a stable gait, normal muscle strength, good balance and normal cognitive functioning.

These findings were reported in the July 15, 2003 issue of The Medical Post, page 31.

Link to Dr. Schilling’s Net Health Book regarding Parkinsons disease.

Last edited December 9, 2012

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