Nutrients Improve Circulation and Cognition in Heart Disease & Type 2 Diabetes
Aged Garlic, Microcirculation, & Wound Healing
When arteries narrow due to buildup of plaques, chances increase for adverse heart events. People with this condition, and those with diabetes, have poor circulation in the smallest blood vessels in the skin, which impairs wound healing. Increasing blood flow by improving vessel health lowers chances for adverse events and improves wound healing. In this study, 122 men and women with higher chances for adverse heart events took a placebo or 2,400mg of aged garlic extract per day.
To measure changes in blood flow to the smallest vessels, doctors restricted blood flow at the arm with a blood pressure cuff for three minutes, then released the cuff to gauge the increase in blood flow. After 12 months, blood flow to the smallest vessels in the skin increased by 30 percent more for those taking aged garlic extract compared to placebo.
Omega-3, Memory, & Hand-Eye Coordination
Plaques can build up on the walls of arteries that serve the heart, increasing chances for adverse heart events, but also increasing chances for cognitive decline. In this study, 250 cognitively healthy people with arterial plaque buildup, took a placebo or 3,360mg of marine EPA and DHA per day.
After 30 month, while the placebo group did not improve, those taking omega-3s had improved hand-eye coordination and better verbal fluency. Both those with and without type 2 diabetes improved, but non-diabetics began improving at 12 months.
Doctors use the Omega-3 Index, which measures levels of circulating omega-3 fatty acids, to gauge chances for adverse heart events. The cognitive benefits in the study emerged as circulating levels of omega-3s reached four percent. Doctors said the study findings show that marine omega-3s can improve cognition even in those with normal cognitive function, before cognitive decline begins.
Ginkgo for Tinnitus
People with tinnitus hear noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is the source. One cause my be low blood flow to the brain. Because ginkgo biloba can increase blood flow, doctors gave 33 participants 240mg of ginkgo biloba extract per day, a hearing aid, or both. Participants had tinnitus symptoms in one or both ears for at least three months. After 90 days, all three groups reported significant improvements in loudness and severity. Hearing aids were more effective in those with more recent tinnitus, while ginkgo was effective in recent and long-term cases.
Muscle & Bone
Probiotics and Vitamin D Preserve Muscle and Bone
Probiotics, Postmenopausal Bone Density
In 2009, doctors in this study theorized that the gut microbiome could influence bone mass through the immune system, launching a new field of study, osteomicrobiology. In this new, multi-center trial, 243 healthy women with healthy weight, average age 59, and in early menopause, took a placebo or a multi-strain lactobacillus probiotic. At the start, none of the women had severe boss loss, or osteoporosis, and fewer than half had low bone density, known as osteopenia.
After one year, the placebo group had lost 0.72 percent bone mass measured at the lumbar spine while those taking probiotics had no bone loss. Lactobacillus’ protective effect was specific to the lumbar spine, something study doctors would like to explore further.
Vitamin D Preserves Muscle Function
One of the most important factors in living independently longer is maintaining skeletal muscle. Resistance exercise preserves muscle function, and new evidence suggests good vitamin D levels also protect muscle.
In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 4,157 independently living adults, average age 70. Those who were deficient in vitamin D were nearly twice as likely as those with sufficient vitamin D levels to have muscle weakness, and three times as likely to have impaired muscle performance. Doctors defined vitamin D deficiency as levels below 30 nanomoles per liter of blood (nmol/L), or 12 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and sufficiency as at least 50 nmol/L or 20 ng/mL. Because vitamin D deficiency can be corrected, doctors recommend focusing public health policy on supplementing older populations with vitamin D.
Child Behavior & Health
Lutein Improved Behavior, Probiotics Cut Colds In Kids
Mothers’ Lutein Improved Behavior in Offspring
Recent research reveals most of the carotenoids in young brain tissue is lutein, and while lutein promotes cognitive function in adults, little is known about prenatal lutein, when the brain develops most rapidly. In this study, doctors measured lutein in the diets of 1,126 mothers during the first and second trimesters, then followed up when their children reached eight years of age.
Using a food frequency questionnaire, doctors determined mothers got an average of 1.8mg of lutein per day during the first and second trimesters. Compared to those who got less lutein, mothers who got more lutein while pregnant reported fewer behavioral problems in their children at age eight. The improvements in behavior increased as the amount of lutein in the diet increased, and accelerated as mothers continued lutein into the second trimester.
Probiotics Reduced Kids’ Colds
In this study, 106 healthy children, aged one to six years, attending daycare during cold season, took a placebo or a multi-strain lactobacillus probiotic of one-billion colony forming units, per day.
During the 30 day study period, children who caught a common cold and took probiotics had less nasal congestion and runny nose than kids in the placebo group. Overall, on a standard cold-symptom questionnaire, symptoms were less severe for kids in the probiotics group, with a symptom-severity score 46 percent lower than for placebo. Also, kids taking probiotics needed to take less cold medication, missed fewer days at daycare, and cried less.
L-Theanine and DHA Promote Restful Sleep
L-Theanine for Adults Mind and Rest
“Our findings suggest that L-theanine has the potential to promote mental health in the general population with stress-related ailments and cognitive impairments,” said doctors conducting this study of nine men and 21 women, average age 48. Participants had no major psychiatric illness, but were interested in reducing stress and improving sleep quality.
Over a four-week period, men and women took a placebo or 200mg of L-theanine per day. Participants self-rated their symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep quality. Those taking L-theanine got to sleep sooner, woke up less during the night, and took less sleep medication, compared to placebo. Symptoms of depression and anxiety also improved more for L-theanine than placebo, as did verbal letter fluency; the ability to list words beginning with a specific letter. Doctors said L-theanine stimulates alpha brain waves for a relaxed but alert mental state.
DHA for Adolescent Sleep
Adolescents often have trouble falling and staying asleep. In this study, doctors measured omega-3 levels in 405 girls and boys, average age 14, and monitored sleep through a wrist-mounted sensor for seven days.
As levels of DHA increased, length of time sleeping also increased, with kids with the highest DHA levels sleeping 32 minutes longer than kids with the lowest omega-3 levels. Higher DHA also helped kids get to sleep earlier on weekdays and weekends; 45 minutes earlier for those with the highest DHA levels. Discussing the findings, doctors said adding DHA supplements along with maintaining regular bedtime routines could benefits sleep during adolescence.
Bladder & Kidney
Vitamin E and Alpha-Lipoic Acid Improve Bladder and Kidney Health
Vitamin E and Bladder Cancer
Vitamin E has anti-cancer benefits, mainly due to its portent antioxidant properties. Here, doctors reviewed 11 bladder cancer trials covering a total of 575,601 people who took vitamin E or a placebo over various study periods.
Overall, those consuming the highest levels of vitamin E during studies of all lengths were 11 percent less likely to develop bladder cancer compared to men and women who got the lowest amounts of vitamin E.
Discussing the results, doctors said the findings suggest adding vitamin E can lower chances for bladder cancer, and recommend other preventive steps including stopping smoking and eating more fruits and vegetables which are naturally high in antioxidants.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid in Hemodialysis
The kidneys filter waste and extra fluid in the body, helping maintain the proper balance of minerals and salts. Kidneys also produce hormones that regulate blood pressure and make red blood cells. When kidney function deteriorates by 15 percent, doctors administer hemodialysis, which temporarily replaces the kidneys’ filtering function.
In this study, 43 men and 20 women on dialysis, ages 22 to 79, took a placebo or 600mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) per day. After eight weeks, levels of important antioxidants: superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and catalase, had increased significantly in the ALA group, reducing oxidative stress. Doctors said by reducing oxidative stress, ALA lowered chances for heart and circulatory disease, which is the main cause of death in those on dialysis.
Astaxanthin Improves Mood and Boosts Energy
Less Depression and Mental Fatigue
Astaxanthin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, has been widely studied in the lab and in human trials, with benefits including nerve and eye health, heart and circulatory function, exercise endurance, and immune support. Here, doctors were interested in its effects on mood.
In this study, 28 healthy people ranging in age from 26 to 63, took at placebo or 12mg of natural astaxanthin per day. After eight weeks, while the placebo group had not changed, those taking astaxanthin saw significant improvements in scores on a standard mood-state profile, including 57 percent fewer feelings of depression, 36 percent improvement in mental fatigue factors, and an overall 11 percent increase in mood state. Those taking astaxanthin also tended to see improvements in tension, anger, and mental confusion.
Discussing the findings, doctors said that while participants did not have a clinical diagnosis of depression, even healthy people may have feelings of depression, which improved in the study.