Nutrition Research Roundup – January 2009
Long before it’s talked about on the evening news, the most promising nutritional research first surfaces in peer-reviewed scientific journals, the ones nobody but doctors, scientists or grad students read. So once a month, AllStarHealth summarizes some of the most promising new findings in our Nutrition Research Roundup.
More evidence that Astaxanthin can benefit key structures in the eyes.
Further evidence emerges that we can add astaxanthin to the relatively short list of legitimate eye nutrients like lutein, fish oil and vitamin A. Astaxanthin is a very powerful antioxidant which has been the subject of much recent study, especially with respect to vision and eye health, a potentially massive commercial market. An unpublished animal study confirms that orally ingested astaxanthin is rapidly taken up by vision-critical structures in the eye such as the iris and ciliary body.
Four key nutrients for expecting Moms.
In terms of prenatal nutrition, folic acid seems to get all the attention. Awareness of another important nutrient – omega 3 fatty acids like those from fish oil – is growing too. But the author of a paper recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition mentions four specific nutrients “required for optimal development”; iodine, folate, DHA, and choline, with the evidence for iodine and folate being “abundantly clear”. The author calls for more studies of more nutrients and how to apply supplements to best protect the health of the mother and developing child. Key quote: “The infant is not protected from the inadequate diet of the mother.”
Prenatal supplement use varies according to demographic groups.
Speaking of prenatal nutrition, another article in the same journal confirms something we’ve for which we in the supplement industry have seen lots of indirect eveidence. Although there’s plenty of evidence support the use of certain supplements to protect prenatal health of mother and baby, actual use of those supplements “depend(s) on demographic, sociologic, and economic factors. Thus, it is possible that the nation’s most at-risk populations may be those who are least likely to (use prenatal supplements).”
This is really a shame in our opinion. Most of these supplements are extremely inexpensive. Iodine, folic acid, fish oil, and iron are all less than 5 dollars for several months worth. Choline, from lecithin is a just over 5 dollars for a pound. Couldn’t these supplements be included in current medical insurance and public health resources? In the aggregate, there could be enormous health care savings by eliminating or reducing nutrition-dependent problems in expectant mothers and developing babies.
Fish or flax oil for hearth health? Fish Oil.
When asked whether to use fish oil or flax oil as a source of critically-important omega 3s, we suggest fish oil for most people since it doesn’t require the conversion into DHA/EPA that flax oil does. That conversion is variable and inefficient. A new animal study compared the anti-inflammatory effects of fish versus flax oil and their protective effects against certain kinds of heart muscle pathology. They found that omega 3’s “derived from fish, but not from vegetable sources, increased plasma adiponectin, suppressed inflammation, and prevented cardiac remodelling and dysfunction under pressure overload conditions.”
Fruit and vegetable intake inversely associated with colon cancer risk.
You already know that you’re supposed to make fruits and vegetables a big part of your diet. What happens when you don’t do that? This human study showed a lower risk of a common type of colon cancer in those who ate the most fruits and vegetables, so doing the math is easy. Let’s add this to the (seemingly) 10, 000 other benefits of a fruit and vegetable rich diet.
By the way, just because it’s winter and fresh produce choices are expensive and limited than at other times of the year, that’s no excuse to leave them out of your diet. Fresh is great, but frozen produce is almost as good nutritionally and far more affordable and convenient. With frozen, you’ll get all of the calories, all of the fiber and most of the vitamins and flavor since fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of ripeness.
Viral cause for obesity?
Researchers on the trail to identifying a viral cause of obesity have already shown that certain viruses can induce obesity in other animals like chickens, mice, sheep, goat, dogs, and rats. But these viruses don’t infect humans. Since their recently published study showed that antibodies (evidence of infection to a particular pathogen) to a virus called adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) were 30% more prevalent in obese subjects than non-obese subjects, researchers are calling for broader studies across larger populations.