Category Archives: Nutrition & Supplements

Nutrients May Help Provide Eye Health In Aging Individuals

Medscape  (4/18, Hitt) reports, “Several nutrients, including zinc, vitamins C and E, lutein, zeaxanthin, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, help promote eye health in aging individuals, according to a statement from a roundtable of experts convened by the Ocular Nutrition Society (ONS).” The expert panel, “led by Jeffrey Anshel, OD, president of the ONS, included eight experts in ophthalmology, optometry, diet and nutrition, and primary care.” Members of the “roundtable concluded that the displacement of ‘nutrient-dense foods by processed foods in the Western, or American, diet is disconcerting, as is the lack of awareness of key nutrients and other modifiable risk factors that impact eye health,’ and they encouraged eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients.”

Aging Eyes Associated With Disturbances In Body’s Circadian Rhythms

The New York Times (2/21, D5, Tarkan, Subscription Publication) examines the hypothesis that “the aging eye filters out blue light, affecting circadian rhythm and health in older adults.” Studies suggest that the “gradual yellowing of the lens and the narrowing of the pupil that occur with age disturb the body’s circadian rhythm, contributing to a range of health problems.” That is because “as the eyes age, less and less sunlight gets through the lens to reach key cells in the retina that regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, its internal clock.” In a recent study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers “estimated that by age 45, the photoreceptors of the average adult receive just 50 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the circadian system. By age 55, it dips to 37 percent, and by age 75, to a mere 17 percent.”

Interesting…..  Just another reason of the many, to wear proper sunglasses that provide 100% UVA/UVB protection, eat your veggies, and enhance your diet with good supplements!

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Scientists Argue Sugar Should Be Regulated Like Alcohol, Tobacco.

In a front-page story, the San Francisco Chronicle  (2/2, A1, Allday) reports, “Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a toxic, addictive substance that should be highly regulated with taxes, laws on where and to whom it can be advertised, and even age-restricted sales, says a team of UCSF scientists” in a commentary published in Nature.

The Los Angeles Times  (2/2, Kaplan) “Booster Shots” blog reports that, according to the authors, “For both alcohol and tobacco, there is robust evidence that gentle ‘supply side’ control strategies which stop far short of all-out prohibition  taxation, distribution controls, age limits  lower both consumption of the product and the accompanying health harms.” They add, “Consequently, we propose adding taxes to processed foods that contain any form of added sugars.”

ABC News  (2/2, Gann) “Medical Unit” blog reports, “Increased control is necessary, they say, because efforts to keep excessive sugar out of the American diet have failed.”

CBS News  (2/2, Jaslow) “HealthPop” blog reports that the authors “said that over the past 50 years, sugar consumption has tripled worldwide. That’s also helped contribute to the obesity epidemic – so much so that there are 30 percent more obese people in this world than there are malnourished people.”

MedPage Today  (2/2, Fiore) reports that the authors “called sugar ‘toxic,’ particularly in excessive amounts, noting that it poses dangers similar to those of alcohol. Fructose, specifically, can harm the liver, they wrote, and overconsumption has been linked with all the diseases involved with metabolic syndrome: hypertension, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, and diabetes.” Also covering the story are BBC News  (2/2, Briggs), the UK’s Daily Mail  (2/2, Macrae), and WebMD  (2/2, Doheny).

Sodium-Potassium Ratio May Be More Important Than Total Sodium Intake

The New York Times  (12/26, D7, Brody, Subscription Publication) reported in “Personal Health” that research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine “found that while a diet high in sodium — salt is the main source — increases your risk” of heart disease, “even more important is the ratio of sodium (harmful) to potassium (protective) in one’s diet.” One of the study’s authors, Dr. Elena V. Kuklina, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “We controlled for all the major cardiovascular risk factors and still found an association between the sodium-potassium ratio and deaths from heart disease.” The Times points out that “according to an Institute of Medicine report on sodium released last year, ‘No one is immune to the adverse health effects of excessive sodium intake.'”

Diet Poor In Vitamin C Associated With Increased Risk For Cataracts.

Reuters (7/15, Norton) reports that, according to a study published online June 27 in the journal Ophthalmology, seniors whose diets are poor in vitamin C appear to have a higher risk for cataracts. After assessing some 5,600 seniors in India over the age of 60, researchers found that the risk for cataracts was lower in people with greater blood levels of vitamin C. The findings held true even after investigators adjusted for confounding factors. Reuters quoted senior study researcher Astrid E. Fletcher, of the UK’s London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, as saying, “Laboratory and animal studies show vitamin C plays a very important part in defending the lens of the eye against oxidative stress.”


Diabetic Retinopathy Potentially Related To Vitamin D Insufficiency

MedPage Today (10/20, Gever) reported that, according to research presented at an ophthalmology meeting, “diabetic retinopathy may be added to the list of conditions potentially related to vitamin D insufficiency.” Specifically, “a study of 123 diabetic individuals with varying degrees of retinopathy, along with two groups of controls, showed that low vitamin D levels were significantly more common in those with the diabetic complication.” In fact, “vitamin D insufficiency was found in 81% of the proliferative retinopathy group.”

In a poster presentation here at the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s annual meeting, Payne also reported that multivitamin use appeared to be helpful in preventing vitamin D insufficiency — at least as currently defined.

“If you were taking a daily multivitamin, your mean vitamin D [25-hydroxyvitamin D] was about 31 [ng/mL] versus about 22 if you weren’t taking a multivitamin,” he told MedPage Today. Because 30 ng/mL was the cutoff Payne and colleagues had used to define insufficiency, “now you’re up to the optimum level.”

But he acknowledged that some researchers have begun to advocate for higher levels of daily vitamin D intake and serum levels of the 25-OH-D metabolite, relative to current norms, as necessary for health.

The synopsis of the study can be found at the above link.

Eating Berries May Combat Age-Related Cognitive Decline

The UK’s Press Association (8/23) reported, “Eating berries may combat age-related mental decline by ‘cleaning up’ the brain” according to research presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston. “Scientists have found the first evidence that polyphenol compounds in the fruits activate the brain’s natural ‘housekeeping’ mechanism.” The polyphenolic compounds found in berries appear to help “special immune system cells in the brain called microglia which engulf, remove and recycle harmful biochemical debris.”

The UK’s Telegraph (8/23, Adams) reported, “Eating fruits with deep orange, red or blue pigments can even reverse the loss of brain power, according to a two month study of laboratory rats fed a berry-rich diet.” The UK’s Daily Mail (8/24) reports that “walnuts may have a similar effect.” WebMD (8/23, Hendrick) also covered the story.

Eyes may absorb catechins from green tea

WebMD (2/18, Warner) reported that, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, catechins, “the compounds responsible for many of the health benefits of green tea, are capable of penetrating the tissues of the eyes and have antioxidant activity there” for “up to 20 hours.” After feeding “laboratory rats green tea extract and then” analyzing the tissues of the animals’ eyes, researchers found that “different parts of the eye absorbed varying amounts of catechins. The area with the highest concentration of catechins was the retina.”

Diet & Nutrition

Adding powerful antioxidants to your diet
can improve your eye health.

There’s no substitute for the quality of life good vision offers.  Adding certain nutrients to your diet every day – either through foods or supplements – can help save your vision.  Researchers have linked eye-friendly nutrients such as lutein/zeaxanthin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc to reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including macular degeneration and cataract formation.

  • Lutein & Zeaxanthin

    Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods, such as eggs. Many studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

  • Vitamin C

    Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Scientific evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, and when taken in combination with other essential nutrients, can slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

  • Vitamin E

    Vitamin E in its most biologically active form is a powerful antioxidant found in nuts, fortified cereals and sweet potatoes. It is thought to protect cells of the eyes from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals which break down healthy tissue.

  • Essential Fatty Acids

    Fats are a necessary part of the human diet. They maintain the integrity of the nervous system, fuel cells and boost the immune system. Two omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function.

  • Zinc

    Zinc is an essential trace mineral or ‘helper molecule.’ It plays a vital role in bringing vitamin A from the liver to the retina in order to produce melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, mostly in the retina and choroid, the vascular tissue layer lying under the retina.

  • Emerging Research

    In the last 20 years, eye health research has linked diet and nutrition with a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

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Doctors report vitamin B – niacin significantly better at shrinking artery plaque than billion-dollar blockbuster ezetimibe

ORLANDO — It isn’t often that a study involving a couple of hundred people shakes up medical science.

That’s what happened Monday, when doctors formally reported that lowly niacin, a B vitamin, did a significantly better job of shrinking artery plaque than a billion-dollar blockbuster called ezetimibe, the active ingredient in the cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin.

“The results are very clear,” says lead investigator Allen Taylor of the Medstar Research Institute. “Niacin was superior.”

The study involved just 208 people, but it was so carefully designed that even the expert called upon to critique the trial, John Kastelein of the University of Amsterdam, said “I fully support” the result.

Taylor and Kastelein presented their findings here Monday at a meeting of the American Heart Association. On Sunday evening, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results online.

If the study had occurred in a vacuum, it might have had less impact. But Taylor’s study was the third in two years to challenge the effectiveness of one of the world’s most popular heart drugs, with $21 billion in sales since it was introduced in 2003, Securities and Exchange Commission documents show.

Latest in string of studies

The drug’s maker, Merck & Co., didn’t wait for the bad news to break. In anticipation of the findings, executives including Peter Kim, president of Merck Research Laboratories, and Richard Pasternak, Merck’s head of global scientific affairs, sought to discredit the study by calling it “flawed” and misleading in press interviews and through a letter sent to The New York Times.

No one challenges ezetimibe’s power to lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, the basis on which the Food and Drug Administration granted approval. Studies with cholesterol-lowering statins demonstrate that driving down LDL levels can reduce heart risk by 25% to 40%. “Zetia and Vytorin offer physicians another tool they can use to get patients’ cholesterol levels down,” Kim says.

The big question is whether ezetimibe prevents heart disease and death. Because the FDA approved the drug based on its impact on cholesterol levels, Merck researchers have yet to provide an answer. The company’s website says the drug’s impact on heart disease and death “has yet to be determined.”

Last year, a study called Enhance showed Vytorin, made of ezetimibe (Zetia) and simvastatin (a statin), did no better job of treating clogged arteries than simvastatin alone. A second study, called Seas, generated fresh controversy when researchers not only reported Vytorin’s lackluster performance but vexing evidence that patients who took it appeared to die more often of cancer. An independent analysis challenged that by using data from other studies to assert there is no such risk.

The new study, called Arbiter 6-Halts, pitted ezetimibe against slow-release Niaspan, made by Abbott Laboratories. The study, sponsored by Abbott, involved 208 people with heart disease or serious heart risks. All had been taking statins and had low levels of bad cholesterol. Half of the patients were given Niaspan, and half were given Zetia.

Ultrasound images of neck arteries showed that Niaspan reduced artery plaque by 2%; Zetia did not. Two people in the Niaspan group had heart attacks or other major cardiac events, vs. nine in the Zetia group. One person in the Niaspan group and five people in the ezetimibe group died, Taylor says.

The result was so pronounced that the study was stopped in 14 months, after only 208 of 363 patients enrolled in the trial underwent ultrasound testing.

Kastelein, a heart specialist who has taken consulting fees from Merck, says the early stoppage didn’t affect the results, though he would

have preferred the study to continue. It offers “big, big support” for the use of niacin, he says.

A definitive answer coming?

But nothing in science is simple. Doctors, including Kastelein, have come to rely on ezetimibe because statin therapy doesn’t always push LDL levels low enough to guard against heart attacks.

Ezetimibe offers a ready alternative, without the uncomfortable flushing and itching that trouble niacin users, especially at the 2-gram doses needed for cholesterol treatment. “In Europe, we hardly use it,” Kastelein says. (Doctors discourage using over-the-counter niacin, because there’s no evidence that it’s safe or that it works.)

At the same time, Merck stands by its drug. Luciano Rossetti, Merck’s head of global science strategy, says the company has enrolled nearly 15,000 of 18,000 patients for a trial designed to show, once and for all, whether ezetimibe works.

The trial will not end, Rossetti says, until more than 5,000 volunteers have heart attacks or major heart problems. So far, he says, doctors have logged about 2,300.

In an editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine, Kastelein says the total is so high, it is “uncertain whether the trial will ever reach completion.”