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Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects?

Small study suggests vitamin B might help, but reducing pollution levels remains the priority

There’s a lot of evidence to show that breathing in dirty air can harm your heart. But a small new study suggests that daily vitamin B supplements might counteract that effect.

While two hours of exposure to concentrated air pollution had a negative effect on heart rate and levels of illness-fighting white blood cells, “these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation,” according to study co-author Dr. Andrea Baccarelli. He’s chair of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City.

One lung health expert was cautiously optimistic about the findings.

“It is interesting that pretreating with B vitamins may prevent some of the deleterious effects of exposure to this pollution,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, senior vice president of medical affairs at Northwell Heath’s Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y.
“It must be kept in mind, however, that since this study only included 10 healthy patients, it might not be applicable to an entire population,” he added. Plus, preventing air pollution in the first place “takes precedent over developing methods to prevent its deleterious effects,” he said.

The new research involved 10 healthy nonsmokers, aged 18 to 60, who took a placebo for four weeks before being exposed to fine-particulate air pollution for two hours.

The “fine particulates” – microscopic specks – were 2.5 micrometers in diameter, the researchers said.

Inhalable particles that are “2.5 micrometers or smaller are potentially the most dangerous form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep in the lungs and adjacent bloodstream,” Mensch explained. Once inhaled, “they can travel to various organs throughout the body,” he added, causing inflammation and ill effects on cardiovascular health.

“Populations exposed to high particulate-associated air pollution have increased heart attacks, lung cancer, DNA mutations, and premature births and deaths,” Mensch said.

Overall, fine-particle pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly through harm to the cardiovascular system. This type of air pollution is believed to be the most common trigger for heart attack, the study authors noted.

But could a simple daily vitamin supplement help curb this smog-linked damage?

To find out, Baccarelli’s group gave the 10 participants vitamin B supplements for four weeks before again exposing them to the fine-particle air pollution for another two hours.

This time, the vitamin B supplements were linked to a near-reversal of the negative effects of the pollution on the volunteers’ cardiovascular and immune systems, the researchers said. This included healthy changes in each person’s heart rate and their white blood cell levels.

Baccarelli stressed that preventing pollution should always be the first measure in safeguarding people’s health, however.

“Pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects,” he said in a university news release. “Studies like ours cannot diminish — nor be used to underemphasize — the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to — at a minimum — meet the air-quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries.”

Another lung expert agreed that the vitamin supplements could help blunt the health effects of dirty air.

The new study is “evidence that vitamin B provides benefits against the development of atherosclerosis in healthy adults who are exposed to air pollution,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

While it remains unclear just how the supplement works in this regard, “this finding recommends vitamin B, which is of course safe and has no side effects, as a buffer against coronary artery disease,” Horovitz said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

 
By Robert Preidt       HealthDay Reporter       FRIDAY, April 14, 2017
Sources: Alan Mensch, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs,  Northwell Health’s Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, N.Y.;  Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Columbia University, news release, April 12, 2017        WebMD News from HealthDay  
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Link Between Vitamin D Treatment and Autism Prevention

Giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevents autism traits in their offspring, researchers have discovered. The discovery provides further evidence of the crucial role vitamin D plays in brain development.

In human studies, researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with low Vitamin D levels and the increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits.

Giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy prevents autism traits in their offspring, University of Queensland researchers have discovered.

The discovery provides further evidence of the crucial role vitamin D plays in brain development, said lead researcher Professor Darryl Eyles, from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute.

“Our study used the most widely accepted developmental model of autism in which affected mice behave abnormally and show deficits in social interaction, basic learning and stereotyped behaviours,” Professor Eyles said.

“We found that pregnant females treated with active vitamin D in the equivalent of the first trimester of pregnancy produced offspring that did not develop these deficits.”

In human studies, QBI researchers recently found a link between pregnant women with low Vitamin D levels and the increased likelihood of having a child with autistic traits.

Autism – or autism spectrum disorder – describes lifelong developmental disabilities including difficulty or inability to communicate with others and interact socially.

Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D – which skin cells manufacture in response to UV rays – but it is also found in some foods.

Dr Wei Luan, a postdoctoral researcher involved in the study, said vitamin D was crucial for maintaining healthy bones, but the active hormonal form of vitamin D cannot be given to pregnant women because it may affect the skeleton of the developing fetus.

“Recent funding will now allow us to determine how much cholecalciferol – the supplement form that is safe for pregnant women – is needed to achieve the same levels of active hormonal vitamin D in the bloodstream,” said Dr Luan.

This new information will allow us to further investigate the ideal dose and timing of vitamin D supplementation for pregnant women.

It was previously thought vitamin D had a protective anti-inflammatory effect during brain development, but the study didn’t find this to be the case.

New funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council will allow researchers to continue to study how vitamin D protects against autism.

 
Source: Materials provided by University of Queensland. 
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Journal Reference:
Stephanie Vuillermot, Wei Luan, Urs Meyer, Darryl Eyles. 
Vitamin D treatment during pregnancy prevents autism-related phenotypes 
in a mouse model of maternal immune activation. 
Molecular Autism, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0125-0
MLA    APA     Chicago
University of Queensland.       ScienceDaily.    17 March 2017


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Vitamin D Can Protect Against Colds, Flu, Study Suggests

Taking extra vitamin D can protect against colds, flu and other respiratory infections, said a study Thursday which reopened a debate on the usefulness of over-the-counter supplements.

A review of 25 clinical trials in 14 countries, some with conflicting results, yielded “the first definitive evidence” of a link between vitamin D and flu prevention, researchers claimed in The BMJ medical journal.

The effects were strongest for people with very low levels of the nutrient which is found in some foods and can be synthesised by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

Many people, especially in grey, cloudy climes, do not have enough vitamin D.

Scientific studies over the years have delivered contradictory conclusions on the topic.

Some have shown that low levels of the vitamin increase the risk of bone fractures, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and death.

Others said there is no evidence of a link to disease risk.

For the new study, researchers from the Queen Mary University of London conducted the biggest-ever survey of trials involving nearly 11,000 people.

Sunshine
Vitamin D is found in some foods and can be synthesized
by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light.

And they found clues as to why supplements seem to work in some trials but not in others.

“The bottom line is that the protective effects of vitamin D supplementation are strongest in those who have the lowest vitamin D levels, and when supplementation is given daily or weekly rather than in more widely-spaced doses,” lead researcher Adrian Martineau said in a statement.

‘Undeniable’

Vitamin D is thought to protect against respiratory infections, including bronchitis and pneumonia, by boosting levels of antibiotic-like peptides in the lungs, said the team.

This fits with an observation that colds and flu are more common in winter and spring, when vitamin D levels are lowest.

It may also explain why vitamin D seems to protect against asthma attacks, they said.

In an editorial published with the study, experts Mark Bolland and Alison Avenell said it should be viewed as a hypothesis in need of scientific confirmation.

Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, shared their caution.

“This study does not provide sufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D for reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections,” he said via the Science Media Centre in London.

Other observers were more optimistic.

The case for universal vitamin D supplements, or food fortification, “is now undeniable,” concluded Benjamin Jacobs of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

AFP     Thursday, February 16, 2017


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B Vitamins Cut Lung Cancer Risk in Half

Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in the world today. A 2010 study revealed how improving your intake of B vitamins could reduce your risk of developing this disease by 50 percent or more.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, gathered information about the diet and lifestyle of over 385,000 people in several European countries between 1992 and 2000.

Blood samples were taken at the start of the study and analyzed for levels of B vitamins and related biochemicals, such as methionine, an essential amino acid your body doesn’t produce on its own. Methionine must be consumed in your diet.

These nutrients were studied because they are known to help the synthesis and repair of DNA in the body’s tissues, potentially preventing defects in DNA that can cause cancer.

It was found that the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by at least 50 percent in people who had high levels of vitamin B6 and methionine. When the B vitamin folate was also present, it cut lung cancer risk by 66 percent.

The study participants had been broken into groups of people who had never smoked, formerly smoked and currently smoked. Interestingly, the risk of developing lung cancer was reduced by the same amounts in all groups.

Researchers were quick to point out that even though B vitamins reduce the risk of developing lung cancer for smokers, this does not detract from the importance of reducing the use of tobacco throughout the world. Smoking is still the number one cause of lung cancer and should be prevented.

It was also noted that long term consumption of adequate B vitamins appears to provide the most benefit and protection against cancer. There is no evidence that short-term doses of B vitamins would be protective.

B vitamin deficiencies tend to be high in many western populations. It’s important to make sure you’re consuming enough B vitamins on an ongoing basis.

almonds

How to Get More B Vitamins

Supplements are an easy way to boost your B vitamin intake. B-complex vitamin supplements contain all eight of the known B vitamins. You can also get supplements with one or more of the individual B vitamins, such as B6.

Food may be the best way to get your B vitamins because foods rich in B vitamins are also often packed with other vital nutrients. B vitamins tend to be found in most whole, unprocessed foods.

Excellent sources of B vitamins in general include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Starchy vegetables, such as squash, potatoes and parsnips
  • Animal products, including meat, dairy, and eggs
  • Fruits, such as avocado, dates and berries
  • Legumes, including tempeh and tofu
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Molasses

Foods high in specifically vitamin B6 include fish, organ meats, starchy vegetables and fruit (other than citrus). Chick peas are also a great source of B6, with a one cup serving providing 55 percent of your daily recommended intake.

The amino acid methionine is available as a supplement. In food, it is primarily found in animal products like fish and red meats, as well as dairy and eggs.

Good vegan sources of methionine include spirulina, sesame seeds, soy products, peanuts and lentils. Smaller amounts are also found in many fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, sweet corn, cauliflower and asparagus.

By: Zoe Blarowski     September 13, 2016
 
ABOUT ZOE BLAROWSKI
Zoe Blarowski is a freelance writer with a bachelor’s in horticulture and a diploma in health information.
A vegetarian for over two decades, she specializes in writing about health, spirit and great food.
She loves to explore the mountains near her home town of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
source: www.care2.com


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This Vitamin Deficiency is a Global Health Problem

By: Jordyn Cormier   May 4, 2016

We all hear about vitamin D’s importance on a regular basis, but do you really know how to make sure you’re getting enough of it? It’s not as simple as just going outside on a sunny day.

For the prevention of the majority of diseases, it’s recommended that blood serum levels of vitamin D 25(OH)D fall between 40 and 60. However, many of us who spend the bulk of our days indoors are incredibly vitamin D deficient. In fact, it is estimated that 40 to 75 percent of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D is an unsung hero in the body. It is indispensable in a variety of functions, such as enhancing calcium absorption for bone health, supporting several immune system functions, preventing depression and helping to prevent some forms of cancer and autoimmune disorders. Inadequate levels in the body contribute to overall poor health and can be at the root cause of certain diseases.

Vitamin D can be found in some foods, such as beef liver, egg yolks and cold water fish. However, food-based sources of D are generally a less dense source. They are also an inactive form of the vitamin which must undergo various processes to become activated in the body. On the other hand, vitamin D produced by the sun is highly bioavailable.

Vitamin D is actually a hormone rather than a vitamin. It is for this reason that spending a little time outside with exposed skin is incredibly important, as the sun is one of the most efficient ways to stock up on vitamin D.

sun

Here’s the catch: you can’t make vitamin D anytime you go outside. The sun has to be at the proper angle in the sky, so those of us living further from the equator have limited opportunities to allow our bodies to synthesize vitamin D.

“I have established that in order to produce adequate levels of vitamin D the solar azimuth angle/the angle of incidence of solar radiation should be 45 O < α < 90 O . UVB rays will only penetrate the atmosphere when the sun is above an angle of  around 45 degrees from the horizon. A useful observation when you are outdoors is to evaluate the length of your own shadow. If it is longer then you are, you are not producing any vitamin D.” (Dr. Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska, source)

To calculate for yourself, use this azimuth chart. Simply enter data into the table indicating your location and the date, and compute. You’ll get a long and impressive looking list of numbers. Simply glance down the altitude column and find where the number falls between 45 and 90 degrees. Then, take note of the times in the column on the left. These are the only times when your body can produce vitamin D during the day on that particular date (if it is sunny). Otherwise, the rays gets filtered out through the atmosphere and you’ll simply be subjecting yourself to harmful UV rays without the benefit of D synthesis.

Additionally, using sunscreen can block the rays that initiate vitamin D synthesis, so spending 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen is important. Of course, if you’re going to be outside longer than that, slather up.

Vitamin D is essential for a myriad of functions. While it’s great to get outside whenever you can, supplementing with a quality D3 supplement is important for those of us who don’t live along the sunny equator.


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Learn How To Fight The Flu With Nature’s Secret Weapon, Vitamin D

By Adam Pegg    November 27, 2013

Tis’ the season of the pesky flu that can potentially ruin a whole week of your good health. There are a few well known ways to protect yourself from this nuisance, like washing your hands, getting vaccinated, and getting sleep. Now let’s take it a step further. I wrote this article so that you can learn how to fight the flu with nature’s secret weapon, vitamin D.

Vitamin D is most commonly known for it’s ability to help the body absorb calcium and build strong bones. That’s why most of the milk supply in the United States is fortified with it.

A lesser known fact is that vitamin D helps to activate the immune system. Without enough vitamin D intake, the T-cells, which play an important role in dismantling foreign invaders, are left dormant.

vitamin D

So Where Do I Get This Stuff?

Well, it’s really as simple as walking outside for 10 minutes with a descent amount of skin showing. Your body can create its own vitamin D, but it must be activated by contact with the sun for that to happen.

Being exposed to the midday summer sun for about 10 minutes has been recorded to produce up to 10,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D in the body. That might be a slight incentive to workout outside a couple days a week, and wait a few minutes to lather up with sunscreen……but I just realized, there’s one convenient problem (as with just about everything in life).

Flu season is in the fall/winter. Unless you’re living in the wonderful sunny state of Florida, finding quality vitamin D producing sunlight will probably be hard to come by. In a lot of places up north it would probably be pretty uncomfortable to walk around with a T-shirt and shorts on!

The solution is to get vitamin D through your diet. An Australian study over two years discovered that people who took 2,000 IU of a vitamin D supplement decreased their chances of getting sick.
You can get vitamin D supplements at many grocery stores and pharmacies. It also comes in natural foods like fatty fishes, so make sure you eat up!


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Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 23, 2015

Are you getting enough vitamin B12? Many people don’t, and that deficiency can cause some serious problems.

Vitamin B12 does a lot of things for your body. It helps make your DNA and your red blood cells, for examples.

Since your body doesn’t make vitamin B12, you’ll need to get it from animal-based foods or from supplements, and it needs to be consumed on a regular basis.  Exactly how much you need and where you should get it from depends on things like your age, the diet you follow, your medical conditions, and in some cases what medications you take.

Causes of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can happen if you have certain conditions, such as:

  • Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
  • Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
  • Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
  • Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
  • Heavy drinking
  • Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
  • Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs. Stomach acids help break down animal proteins that have vitamin B12.

You can also get vitamin B12 deficiency if you’re a vegan (meaning you don’t eat any animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) or a vegetarian who doesn’t eat enough eggs or dairy products to meet your vitamin B12 needs.

Babies born to mothers who are vegetarians may also not get enough vitamin B12. Vegans can take supplements containing vitamin B12 or by eating vitamin B12-fortified grains.

The risk of B12 deficiency also increases with age.

Vitamin-B12-Rich-Foods

 

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may progress and cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhea, a loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes

If you think you have symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, you can ask your doctor for a blood test.

Infants who are born to vegan mothers and exclusively breastfed  are at risk for anemia, developmental delays, weakness, and failure to thrive.

Treatment for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

If you have pernicious anemia or a problem with its absorption, you’ll need to replace vitamin B12 by injection initially and then continued injections, high doses of an oral replacement, or nasal therapy for life.

If the issue is that you don’t eat animal products, you can change your diet to include vitamin B12-fortified grains, a supplement or B12 injections, or a high-dose oral vitamin B12 if you are deficient.

The elderly should take a daily B12 supplement or a multivitamin that contains B12.

For most people, treatment resolves the problem. But any nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.

Preventing Deficiency Problems

Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating enough meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, and eggs.

If you don’t eat animal products, or you have a medical condition that limits how well your body absorbs nutrients, experts recommend taking a B12-containing multivitamin and eating breakfast cereal fortified with vitamin B12.

If you’re using vitamin B12 supplements, let your doctor know, so he or she can make sure they won’t affect any medicines you’re taking.

Article Sources
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension: “Facts About Vitamin B12.”
University of Arizona’s Arizona Telemedicine Program: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Pernicious Anemia.”
Harvard Health Publications: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vegetarians, elderly may not get enough vitamin B12, says the Harvard Health Letter.”
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Pernicious Anemia.”
Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute: “Vitamin B12.”
Kaiser Permanente: “Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia.”
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: ” Vitamin B12.”
MedlinePlus: “Anemia — B12 deficiency.”

Source: WebMD