Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


1 Comment

Vitamin D Lowers Risk of Dying From Cancer, Fish Oil Reduces Heart Attack Risk: Study

A large U.S. study designed to gauge the health benefits of vitamin D and fish oil supplements concludes that the omega-3 oil can dramatically reduce the odds of a heart attack while vitamin D’s benefits seem to come from lowering the risk of death from cancer.

Neither vitamin D nor fish oil lowered the odds of stroke or of getting cancer in the first place in the trial, whose participants did not know whether they were taking the real supplements or a dummy pill.

The heart attack rate in fish oil recipients was 28 percent lower than among those who got the dummy pill, or placebo, and it was 77 percent lower among African American participants – although the lead author of the study told Reuters Health that this dramatic drop in risk among black participants needs to be confirmed.

For people taking vitamin D who developed cancer, the death rate from cancer was 25 percent lower, possibly because the vitamin “may affect the biology of the tumor so it’s less likely to spread and become metastatic,” said lead author Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“If you’re talking about prevention of cancer, that may take treatment for well over a decade.”

It took a few years of vitamin D use for the reduction in cancer deaths to become clear.

The results were reported Saturday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago and online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Both supplements have a reputation for being beneficial based on animal tests and observational studies involving large diverse populations or ethnic groups. But large studies that directly test the benefits of vitamin D and fish oil in supplement form have given inconsistent results.

The new study, known as VITAL, is the first large test of both in the general population. Most previous research has focused on volunteers with an elevated risk of heart attack, stroke and/or cancer.

vitamine d

The researchers gave 2,000 international units of vitamin D per day, 1 gram of marine omega-3 fatty acids, or placebo supplements to 25,871 volunteers aged 50 or older. None had a history of cancer, heart attack or stroke. At least half stayed in the study for more than five years.

Based on the new findings, “people already taking vitamin D or fish oil will feel there’s no reason to stop,” Manson said.

People who are considering starting the supplements may want to wait “because we are going to be publishing findings for other endpoints – diabetes, cognitive function, depression, autoimmune diseases – over the next six months,” she said. “These findings may help people decide if the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for them.”

And people should not be taking higher doses than what was used in the study, Manson noted. With megadoses, “the risk may outweigh the benefit. With high doses of vitamin D there can be a risk of high blood calcium levels developing. Some have suggested a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, falls and even fractures.”

By other measures, neither supplement seemed useful.

Among fish oil recipients, the rates of death from any cause, death from cancer and death from heart disease in general were not significantly different than for people not taking fish oil supplements.

In addition, the collective odds of having a heart attack, stroke or death from any cardiovascular cause were essentially the same whether people were taking fish oil or placebo.

It was only when researchers teased out individual elements of heart disease – such as the rate of heart attack, the rate of fatal heart attack and the need for angioplasty – that a benefit stood out.

Even a little fish oil seemed to help. Volunteers who consumed less fish than average – less than one-and-a-half servings per week – and received the real omega-3 supplements saw a 40 percent reduction in the risk of a heart attack.

In the vitamin D study, which was “the largest high-dose randomized trial of vitamin D in the world,” according to Manson, supplement and non-supplement recipients had similar rates of heart attack, stroke, death from heart attack and cancers of the breast, prostate, or the colon and rectum.

It was only the odds of dying from cancer that were reduced.

By Gene Emery Reuters    November 13, 2018
Advertisements


1 Comment

Best Supplement To Improve IQ By 10%

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — an omega-3 fatty acid — can improve IQ by 10%, new research finds.

People in the study, who were aged over 65, were given 2g/day of DHA for a year.

A control group was given a placebo of corn oil.

The high quality study involved 240 Chinese individuals.

Their IQ and other measures of cognitive function were tested after 6 and 12 months.

The study’s authors explain the results:

“…oral DHA supplementation (2 g/d) for 12 months beneficially affected global cognitive function, specifically participants’ performance on the Information and Digit Span tasks.”

Brain scans also revealed changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for memory.

The study’s authors write:

“The hippocampus is a critical brain region for memory formation and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.
[…]
Our results suggest that 12-month DHA supplementation significantly increased hippocampus volume.
Notably, we observed a 6.13% volume increase in the left hippocampus, a 1.89% increase in the right hippocampus, and a 0.29% increase in total hippocampus.”

omega3
Best supplement for older adults
with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Best supplement combination?

The use of omega-3 to prevent dementia has provided some mixed results.

B vitamins also seem to be important in warding off cognitive decline.

A recent study found that B vitamins combined with omega-3 can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems.

The study’s first author, Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj explained the results:

‘We found that for people with low levels of Omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect.
But for those with high baseline Omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.’

Other studies, though, have been less positive about the benefits of omega-3 for cognitive decline.

It is likely that the combination of nutrients — including both B vitamins and omega-3 will turn out to be the crucial factor.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Zhang et al., 2016).
OCTOBER 14, 2016
 
source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

Omega-3s May Protect Against Schizophrenia

Omega-3 supplements may help keep young people with a high risk of schizophrenia from getting the condition, according to a small study.

Back in 2010, Australian researchers reported that taking the supplements for 12 weeks prevented a first episode of a psychotic disorder for up to a year in high-risk study participants ages 13-25. Now, in a follow-up study, the team checked on how 71 of the 81 volunteers were doing.

They found that:

  • 9.8% of the group given omega-3 supplements (4 of 41) developed psychosis, an episode where you lose touch with reality. It’s a symptom of different illnesses, including schizophrenia.
  • 40% of the group given a fake placebo supplement (16 out of 40) developed psychosis.
  • The group not given omega-3s also developed psychosis more quickly and had a higher overall risk of getting other psychiatric disorders.

The study is published in Nature Communications.

 

fish oil

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are widely seen as “good fats.” They can help improve cholesterol balance and lower the risks of heart and joint disease, among other health perks.

Previous research has pointed to a lack of omega-3s and omega-6s being linked with mental health conditions. Some trials have shown that fatty acid supplements can reduce psychotic symptoms.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the U.K. says omega-3s have already been linked with improving learning, and may help with mental stability. Doctors sometimes try them as supplements for people with mood problems and schizophrenia, and they may help prevent relapses with bipolar disorder. Talk with your doctor before you start taking any supplement, though.

The college says there is not enough evidence to recommend omega-3s as an alternative to antidepressants or mood-stabilizing medications.

By Tim Locke    WebMD Health News     Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH    Aug. 11, 2015
 
sources : Amminger, G.P. Nature Communications, 2015.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists: “Eating well and mental health.”
Amminger, G.P. Archives of General Psychiatry, February 2010.
 


Leave a comment

Why You Might Want to Start Taking Fish Oil

Alexandra Sifferlin     @acsifferlin      April 26, 2016     

Combining depression drugs with nutrient supplements could make them more effective

Finding ways to make antidepressants more effective could help the millions of people who take them for depression. Now early research suggests pairing the medication with certain supplements, including omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D, could be one way to do so.

In the new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers looked at what happened when some supplements were paired with antidepressants. They combed 40 clinical trials that tested antidepressants taken in conjunction with omega-3s, vitamin D and zinc—nutritional supplements sometimes used to help treat depression, often called nutraceuticals.

The researchers found that people who took omega 3s with antidepressants reported fewer depressive symptoms compared to people taking antidepressants alone. While omega-3s had the most powerful effect, other nutraceuticals also improved the effects of antidepressants, including S-adenosylmethionine, a synthetic form of a compound formed naturally in the body that helps maintain cells and brain chemicals; methylfolate, a form of folate; and vitamin D. Mixed results were seen for zinc, folic acid, vitamin C and the amino acid tryptophan.

Research suggests that the supplements tested in the studies target some of the similar brain processes and pathways as antidepressants. Though recent research has been somewhat mixed, omega-3 supplements have been found to potentially benefit parts of the brain thought to be linked to depression and mood.

omega3

“Omega-3 fatty acids appear to exert a range of biological activity which may be beneficial for improving mood,” says study author Jerome Sarris, head of the ARCADIA Mental Health Research Group at the University of Melbourne, in an email. “The question remains whether when combined with medication, a unique beneficial interactive effect is occurring, or whether it is due to two distinct yet complementary mood elevating effects.”

Even though millions of Americans take antidepressants, there’s a lot experts don’t know about the drugs, including how exactly they work and why some people respond to them better than others. Antidepressants also appear to have a powerful placebo effect; recent data suggests that anywhere from 30-45% of response to an antidepressant is due to the power of placebo. Figuring out how to make the drugs more effective could help a lot of people.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the results, which show some positive benefit,” says Dr. Richard Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College who was not involved with the study. “There are many methodology concerns about individual studies, like small sample sizes. But the results of this study clearly justify more rigorous large randomized clinical trials of nutraceuticals in the treatment of depression.” Nutraceuticals are largely unregulated, he says, “so quality and purity is a concern.”

The researchers did not turn up major safety issues and found that overall the supplements were well-tolerated; the most commonly reported side effects were constipation, stomach upset and diarrhea. Still, people should consult with their physician about what supplements and medications to take, they conclude. Based on the findings, which need to be replicated in larger studies, taking supplements alongside antidepressants may be a low-cost way to improve treatment.

source: time.com


3 Comments

The Natural Dietary Add-On Found To Treat Anxiety and Even Major Depression

Anxiety reduced 20% on average by a common supplement.

Omega-3 supplements reduce anxiety and even lower inflammation in healthy people.

A high quality study has shown that the supplement reduces anxiety by an average of 20%.

On top of this a new review of 13 separate studies containing 1,233 people has shown that omega-3 supplements can reduce symptoms of major depression (Mocking et al., 2016).

Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, the anxiety study’s first author, said:

“We hypothesized that giving some students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of proinflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo.
We thought the omega-3 would reduce the stress-induced increase in cytokines that normally arose from nervousness over the tests.”

The study recruited 68 healthy young medical students who were divided into groups, with half taking the supplement and others receiving a placebo.

Professor Martha Belury, one of the study’s authors, explained:

“The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you’d get from a daily serving of salmon, for example.”

The researchers had planned to test the effects of omega-3 on stressed people.

But, because of changes to the curriculum, the medical students were relatively relaxed during the study.

omega 3

Professor Janice Kiecolt-Glaser explained:

“These students were not anxious.
They weren’t really stressed.
They were actually sleeping well throughout this period, so we didn’t get the stress effect we had expected.”

Despite this, those taking the supplements saw 20% reductions in anxiety, on average.

Professor Ron Glaser, another of the study’s authors, explained the measures and results:

“We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa).
We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3.
…anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases.”

Professor Belury concluded:

“It may be too early to recommend a broad use of omega-3 supplements throughout the public, especially considering the cost and the limited supplies of fish needed to supply the oil.
People should just consider increasing their omega-3 through their diet.”

The study was published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2011).

source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

The 3 Most Important Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous benefits for health.
But, they’re not all equal.

By Freydi Hjalmarsdottir / Authority Nutrition November 19, 2015

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that have numerous benefits for health.

However, not all omega-3 fatty acids are equal.

There are actually 11 different types. The three most important ones are ALA, EPA and DHA.

ALA is mostly found in plants, while EPA and DHA are mostly found in animal foods like fatty fish.

This article takes a detailed look at these three main types of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A Recap

Like all fatty acids, omega-3s are chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, meaning they have two or more double bonds (poly = many) in their chemical structure.

Just like the omega-6s, omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made by the body and we must get them from the diet. This is why they are termed essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not simply stored and used for energy. They have important roles in all sorts of bodily processes, including inflammation, heart health and brain function.

Being deficient in omega-3s is associated with lower intelligence, depression, heart disease, arthritis, cancer and many other health problems.

Bottom Line: Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats that we must get from the diet. They have numerous benefits for health.

1. ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)

ALA is short for alpha-linolenic acid. This is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in the diet.

It is 18 carbons long, with three double bonds.

ALA is mostly found in plant foods, and needs to be converted into the EPA or DHA before it can be utilized by the human body.

However, this conversion process is inefficient in humans. Only a small percentage of ALA is converted into EPA, and even less into DHA.

When ALA is not converted to EPA or DHA, it remains inactive and is simply stored or used as energy, like other fats.

Some observational studies have found an association between a diet rich in ALA and a reduced risk of heart disease deaths, while others have found an increased risk of prostate cancer.

This increase in prostate cancer risk was not associated with the other main omega-3 types, EPA and DHA, which actually had a protective effect.

ALA is found in many plant foods, including kale, spinach, purslane, soybeans,walnuts and many seeds such as chia, flax and hemp seeds. ALA is also found in some animal fats.

Some seed oils, such as flaxseed oil and rapeseed (canola) oil are also high in ALA.

Bottom Line: ALA is short for alpha-linolenic acid. It is mostly found in plant foods, and needs to be converted into EPA or DHA in order to become active in the human body.

2. EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)

EPA is short for eicosapentaenoic acid. It is 20 carbons long, with 5 double bonds.

Its main function is to form signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which play numerous physiological roles.

Eicosanoids made from omega-3s reduce inflammation, while those made from omega-6s tend to increase inflammation.

For this reason, a diet high in EPA may reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic, low-level inflammation is known to drive several common diseases.

Several studies have shown that fish oil, which is high in EPA and DHA, may reduce symptoms of depression. There is also some evidence that EPA is superior to DHA in this regard.

One study also found that EPA reduced the number of hot flashes experienced by menopausal women.

Both EPA and DHA are mostly found in seafood, including fatty fish and algae. For this reason, they are often called marine omega-3s.

EPA concentrations are highest in herring, salmon, eel, shrimp and sturgeon. Grass-fed animal products, such as dairy and meats, also contain some EPA.

Bottom Line: EPA is short for eicosapentaenoic acid. It is an omega-3 fatty acid that can reduce symptoms of depression and help fight inflammation in the body.

salmon

3. DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)

DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid. It is 22 carbons long, with 6 double bonds.

DHA is an important structural component of skin and the retina in the eye.

Fortifying baby formula with DHA leads to improved vision in infants.

DHA is absolutely vital for brain development and function in childhood, as well as brain function in adults.

Early-life DHA deficiency is associated with problems later on, such as learning disabilities, ADHD, aggressive hostility and several other disorders.

A decrease in DHA during aging is also associated with impaired brain function and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

DHA is also reported to have positive effects on diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

The role of DHA in heart disease is also well established. It can reduce blood triglycerides, and may lead to fewer harmful LDL particles.

DHA also causes the breakup of so called lipid rafts in membranes, making it more difficult for cancer cells to survive and for inflammation to occur.

As mentioned before, DHA is found in high amounts in seafood, including fatty fish and algae. Grass-fed animal products also contain some DHA.

Bottom Line: DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid. It is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that is very important for brain development. It may also help protect against heart disease, cancer and other health problems.

Conversion Process: From ALA to EPA to DHA

ALA, the most common omega-3 fat, needs to be converted into EPA or DHA to become “active”.

Unfortunately, this conversion process is inefficient in humans. On average, only 1–10% is converted into EPA and 0.5–5% is converted into DHA.

Furthermore, the conversions are dependent on adequate levels of other nutrients, such as vitamins B6 and B7, copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Many of these are lacking in the modern diet, especially among vegetarians.

The low conversion rate is also because omega-6 fatty acids compete for the same enzymes needed for the conversion process. Therefore, the high amount of omega-6 in the modern diet can reduce the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA.

Bottom Line: ALA is not biologically active in the body. It needs to be converted into EPA and/or DHA in order to become active, but this conversion process is inefficient in humans.

8 Other Omega-3 Fatty Acids

ALA, EPA and DHA are the most abundant omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

However, at least 8 other omega-3 fatty acids have been discovered:

  1. Hexadecatrienoic acid (HTA).
  2. Stearidonic acid (SDA).
  3. Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE).
  4. Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA).
  5. Heneicosapentaenoic acid (HPA).
  6. Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA).
  7. Tetracosapentaenoic acid.
  8. Tetracosahexaenoic acid.

These fatty acids are found in some foods, but are not considered essential. However, some of of them do have biological effects.

Bottom Line: At least 8 other omega-3 fatty acids have been discovered. They are found in some foods, and can have biological effects.

Which Omega-3 Fatty Acid is Best?
The most important omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA.

EPA and DHA are mainly found in seafood, including fatty fish and algae, meat and dairy from grass-fed animals, and omega-3 enriched or pastured eggs.

If you don’t eat a lot of these foods, then omega-3 supplements can be useful.

Freydis Hjalmarsdottir is a writer for Authority Nutrition. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Iceland, a BSc in Human Nutrition from London Metropolitan University in London and a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from CNM, London.


Leave a comment

Omega 3s for Weight Loss: Timing is Everything

Michelle Schoffro Cook      January 17, 2014

You’ve probably heard that Omega 3 fatty acids are good for you. You may even know they help with weight loss. But, timing when you ingest them plays a huge role in how much fat you’ll burn or whether you’ll burn fat at all.

walnuts


When researching my book 60 Seconds to Slim, I discovered that when people take Omega 3 fatty acids, or ingest them from food sources, plays a significant role in whether they’ll lose weight. By taking Omega 3s or eating Omega-3 rich foods within one hour of working out, the body will burn 14% more fat than through exercise alone.

It’s easy to obtain Omega-3 fatty acids from diet if you consume the following foods on a daily basis:

  • A handful of raw, unsalted walnuts
  • A tablespoon of freshly-ground flaxseeds two times daily or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil drizzled on food
  • Fatty fish like wild salmon, flounder, catfish, sardines, mackerel, herring, kipper, or whitebait. Tuna also contains high amounts of Omega 3s but is frequently contaminated with high levels of mercury.

If you’re supplementing with Omega 3s, 2000 milligrams of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is a typical daily dose.

Omega 3 fatty acids have many other health benefits too, including:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Brain disease prevention
  • Preventing diabetes
  • Pain-reduction
  • Joint healing and arthritis-prevention