DECEMBER 2017 – Vol. 11, Issue 12

 In This Issue…

  • Correcting B1 deficiency could prevent certain brain disorders if caught early
  • Vitamin E may help repair chronic muscle deterioration
  • This vitamin may help hair loss in some cases
  • Scientists learn more about how this supplement helps MS patients
  •  Vitamin C benefits immunity in diverse ways


CLINICAL UPDATE – Correcting vitamin B1 deficiency could prevent certain brain disorders if caught early
            In this review, researchers focus on the full range of neurological problems that can occur with frank thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.  They explain how disturbances in eye coordination and balance issues often appear long before MRI scans show definitive neurological damage.  Further, they suggest that treatment with high-dose thiamine, if given early enough, can prevent encephalopathy before permanent damage occurs, even though it is often overlooked.
           Although the scope of brain disorders is huge, any dysfunction in neural brain tissue is commonly referred to as encephalopathy. It is well known that thiamine deficiency can cause encephalopathies (neurological disorders) but that there are unique clinical signs that occur before frank encephalopathies present.  The paper states two goals: (1) it summarizes the clinical signs of impaired eye movements that occur prior to encephalopathy and (2) incorporate diagnostic tests into practice that would reveal such cases.     
           Vitamin B1 is a necessary cofactor in glucose metabolism and its deficiency often manifests neurologically.  One example noted in this report is the disturbance of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) that is seen in patients with what would often be considered” subclinical” thiamine deficiency. The VOR is a reflex that moves eyes to compensate for head movement so that a person can stay focused on the same spot when their body or head moves.  If you move your head to the left, your eyes automatically move to the right as a compensatory reflex so you can maintain spatial awareness when looking at something. For example, if you ride in a car on a very bumpy road, you can still focus on the horizon and the world does not appear equally shaky due to this reflex. Similarly, this is the reflex that is compromised in alcohol intoxication and causes the sensation of the room spinning. When medical professionals see that this reflex is impaired, but that brains scans are normal, they may suspect vitamin B1 and can consequently correct this deficiency, possibly preventing further neurological damage.
          (Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, May 2017)
LINK to ABSTRACT The Spectrum of Vestibular and Ocular Motor Abnormalities in Thiamine Deficiency. 


CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin E may help repair chronic muscle deterioration
In this animal study, a specific type of mouse that exhibit severe muscular dystrophy (incapacitating muscle loss and weakness) was given oral vitamin E daily and compared to the same strain of mice that were given placebo.  After 14 days, the mice’s diaphragms (large skeletal muscle in torso) were removed and examined. The researchers found that vitamin E improved skeletal muscle integrity by promoting repair of cellular membranes in muscle via its antioxidant action.
          The cause of muscular dystrophies are often not due exclusively to oxidative stress, since muscular dystrophy patients often lack proteins that connect and repair the structural integrity of muscle tissue.  However, the researchers suggest that because the vitamin E improved skeletal muscle repair in this mouse study, antioxidant therapy may be a relevant approach to muscular diseases. 
          (Nutrition, November 2017)
LINK to ABSTRACT Vitamin E treatment decreases muscle injury in mdx mice.


CLINICAL UPDATE – This vitamin may help hair loss in some cases
Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is an important cofactor for the maintenance of healthy skin, hair and nails.  In fact, a common indication of biotin deficiency includes brittle nails, alopecia and dermatitis due to impaired fatty acid synthesis from reduced biotin-dependent carboxylases enzymes (particularly acetyl-CoA carboxylase). 
          In this study, when mice were purposely deprived of biotin, their skin and hair physiology was not initially affected.  However, when these same mice were given the powerful antibiotic vancomycin, the animals began losing their hair.  The scientists discovered that the hair loss was a direct result of an altered gut flora caused by the antibiotic, which allowed an overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that decreased the biotin availability in the mice.  When the mice were given biotin along with the antibiotic, the biotin supplementation reversed some of the alopecia (hair loss). The researchers concluded that the antibiotic-induced flora change that resulted in hair loss could be prevented, and even reversed, by supplementation with the B vitamin (biotin) that the antibiotic seemed to deplete.
          (Cell Reports, August 2017)
LINK to ABSTRACT Intestinal dysbiosis and biotin deprivation induce alopecia through overgrowth of lactobacillus murinus in mice.


CLINICAL UPDATE – Scientists learn more about how this supplement helps MS patients
One of the most potent antioxidants, lipoic acid, has long been shown to benefit some people who have degenerative neurological diseases.  Particularly, in the case of multiple sclerosis (MS), lipoic acid has been shown to decrease disease severity in animal studies.  Since MS is a progressive disease and generally worsens over time, interest in lipoic acid supplementation has grown in recent years. 
          In this study, two sets of MS patients were evaluated when given lipoic acid: Group 1 had RRMS (relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis) which is a form that occurs spontaneously over time with periods of complete or partial remission, but over several years will often become more severe.  Group 2 had SPMS (secondary progressive multiple sclerosis) which is a form of MS where disability is present, symptoms are more severe and often occurs in patients several years after RRMS is first seen.  Both groups, along with a healthy control group, were given 1200 mg of lipoic acid orally, then their blood levels of certain neurotransmitters were measured two and four hours later. 
          The researchers discovered that the lipoic acid affected the patients differently, depending on the severity of their disease.  They also learned that the neurotransmitter affected by lipoic acid supplementation was cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) which is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in cell function and communication.  In fact, cAMP – which was increased by lipoic acid in more severe MS patients – helps many other neurotransmitters and hormones work optimally.  This mechanism of action is different than the traditional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory role for which lipoic acid is so well known.
          (Molecular Neurobiology, November 2017)
LINK to ABSTRACT Lipoic acid stimulates cAMP production in healthy control and secondary progressive MS subjects.


CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin C benefits immunity in diverse ways
Long known for its immune boosting benefit, the role of vitamin C in prevention of infections may be even more extensive than previously known. The authors of this review on vitamin C conclude that the levels needed to prevent infections are much lower than levels needed to actually treat an existing infection, often by as much as an order of magnitude. Specifically, they suggest tissue levels of vitamin C can occur with only 100-200mg daily while treatment of established infections requires doses than are an order of magnitude higher – milligrams for prevention and grams for treatment.  In the following review paper, authors outline the specific ways in which vitamin C benefits immunity: 
          (1)   Antioxidant – since vitamin C can donate electrons easily, it has potent antioxidant properties that allow it to quench free radicals and quell oxidative stress
          (2)   Cofactor – vitamin C acts as a necessary cofactor in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine
          (3)   Genetics – recent studies show that vitamin C helps regulate genetic expression
          (4)   Structural support – vitamin C supports collagen formation and strong epithelial tissue integrity which serves as a structural barrier against pathogens.
          (5)   Fighting bugs – vitamin C enhances chemotaxis, which is the process by which an infection-fighting white blood cell moves toward a pathogen so it can literally consume it (phagocytosis)
          (6)   Tissue repair – vitamin C helps clear “used up” white blood cells so they do not damage surrounding tissue
          (7)   Lymphocyte function – white blood cells can change (differentiate) depending on the body’s needs for optimal immunity and vitamin C helps lymphocytes appropriately adapt to the needs of the person depending on what threat is present (i.e. bacteria, virus).
           (Nutrients, November 2017)
LINK to ABSTRACT Vitamin C and immune function.
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