February 2017 – Vol. 11, Issue 2

In This Issue…

  • Vitamin A deficiency in utero may increase risk of Alzheimers later in life
  • Vitamin C may reduce hospital stay by preventing a common complication after heart surgery
  • Study sheds light on how omega 3 fatty acids minimize cellular aging
  • Vitamins help curb declining immune function as we age
  • Functional indicators of zinc status are more telling than plasma levels

 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin A deficiency in utero may increase risk of Alzheimers later in life
          In this provocative mouse study, researchers showed that marginal vitamin A deficiency in utero may have large implications on cognitive function later in life, particularly in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The authors showed that vitamin A deficiency increases the potential for amyloid beta to form in the brain, which is a hallmark of Azheimer’s disease.  Amyoid beta is a type of protein that forms tangles in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, which eventually lead to plaque formation throughout the nerves of the brain ultimately manifesting as major cognitive dyfunction and severe memory loss.
          Specifically, amyloid precursor protein – which is generally benign when it stays intact – becomes amyloid beta when it is acted upon by a special enzyme that cleaves (cuts) it.  Vitamin A deficiency increases the activity of this enzyme, thus increasing the production of amyloid beta in the brain.  When a therapeutic dose of vitamin A was given to the mice, memory was restored, suggesting that “vitamin A supplementation might be a potential approach for Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment.”
          (Acta Neuropathologica, January 2017)
          LINK to ABSTRACT
Marginal vitamin A deficiency facilitates Alzheimer's pathogenesis.

 

 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin C may reduce hospital stay by preventing a common complication after heart surgery
         One of the most common complications after heart surgery is post-operative atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that feels like rapid or irregular heartbeats that is associated with oxidative stress.  In this review paper, authors reviewed 15 trials in which vitamin C, which has strong antioxidant properties, was given to patients that underwent cardiac surgery.
          Over 2000 heart surgery patients were included in the 15 trials. Of these trials, five were performed in the United States and did not suggest that vitamin C prevents post-operative atrial fibrillation, nor did they indicate any harmful side effects.  However, in the remaining 10 trials from Europe, vitamin C did, in fact, decrease the risk of atrial fibrillation by almost 50%. In addition, in the non-US trials, hospital stay and time in the intensive care unit were also reduced in those given therapeutic vitamin C.  These results substantiate earlier results from a 2016 review paper that offered the same conclusion: giving ascorbic acid [vitamin C] to patients undergoing cardiac surgery was associated with a reduced frequency of post-operative atrial fibrillation and a shorter hospital stay.
          (BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, February 2017)
          (American Journal of Health System Pharmacy, December 2016)
          
LINK to ABSTRACT Vitamin C for preventing atrial fibrillation in high risk patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. LINK to FREE FULL TEXT
          LINK to ABSTRACT
Meta-analysis of ascorbic acid for prevention of postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery.

 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Study sheds light on how omega 3 fatty acids minimize cellular aging
          The role of omega 3 fatty acids in health has been well established and new research helps explain the association. When mice were given fish oil containing high amounts of omega 3 fatty acid (especially DHA), it turned on several cellular “protections” – (1) the activity of protective enzymes in the liver and heart tissue increased significantly, (2) oxidative stress (as measured by F2-isoprostanes) and damage to sensitive brain tissue (cerebral lipid peroxidation) was dramatically decreased, (3) telomere shortening in the liver and testes was reduced and (4) DHA also helped prevent the expression of cancer-causing genes.  Researchers suggest communication that links oxidative stress, telomeres and cancer genes into what they call a redox-telomere-antioncogene axis.
          (Oncotarget, January 2017)
         
LINK to ABSTRACT Polyunsaturated fatty acids ameliorate aging via redox-telomere-antioncogene axis.

 

 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamins help curb declining immune function as we age
          In this study, researchers compared the immune response in the elderly to that of young adults.  Not surprisingly, T-lymphocyte proliferation (a very good measure of overall immune function) decreased with aging.  However, when the T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) from the elderly were subjected to exogenous vitamins – C, E and B3 – the T-lymphocyte response improved and cellular oxidative stress was reduced, suggesting that appropriate vitamin supplementation could help in “the prevention of age-related immune alterations.”
          (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, January 2017)
         
LINK to ABSTRACT Effects of exogenous vitamin A, C, E and NADH supplementation on proliferation, cytokines release, and cell redox status of lymphocytes from healthy aged subjects.

 

 

 

 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Functional indicators of zinc status are more telling than plasma levels
          Eighteen healthy adult men participated in a six week controlled consumption study, in which all food or beverage they consumed was provided for them over the course of the study.  For the first two weeks, the men were given food with very low amounts of zinc as well as a chemical (phytate) that reduces zinc absorption.  Then the amount of zinc in the prepared food was increased by over 60%.  Measures of zinc status – both functional and static – were taken at the beginning and end of the trial.
          After the increase in dietary zinc, plasma levels remained the same in the men.  However, functional measures of zinc status increased.  Specifically, total absorbed zinc as well as serum levels of protective proteins involved in cellular repair increased.  Over a thousand proteins were measured, and those that increased in function were proteins that help repair DNA damage and quell inflammation, many of which are zinc-dependent.  Although plasma zinc stayed the same, functional indicators of zinc status were improved after an increase in zinc consumption. 
          (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, February 2017)
         
LINK to ABSTRACT A moderate increase in dietary zinc reduces DNA strand breaks in leukocytes and alters plasma proteins without changing plasma zinc concentrations. LINK to FREE FULL TEXT