Friday, August 3, 2007

Aloe vera and Vitamins

A new UC Davis study suggests Aloe vera to be a powerful complement to other supplements, enhancing their absorbance and effects. The study suggests that Aloe vera promotes a significant increase in the antioxidant potential of vitamin C and B12, with ORAC ratings particularly high after 4 hours and remaining high even after 24 hours.

Dr. Sridevi Devaraj, Associate Professor at UC Davis, Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research commented, "It's clear that consuming Aloe vera along with vitamin supplements would be beneficial expecially among the population for whom B12 deficiency is an issue, such as the elderly."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Social Aspects of Obesity

A study published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine and funded by the National Institute on Aging suggested that if our friends and family become obese, it will influence whether we become obese as well.

The study found that our chances of becomeing obese go up 57 percent if our friends are obese, 40% if our siblings become obese and 37% if our spouse is, or becomes obese. However, the study suggests that persons of the same sex had relatively greater influence on each other than those of the opposite sex.

Network phenomena appear to be relevant to the biologic and behavioral trait of obesity, and obesity appears to spread through social ties.

In my mind and in the mind of the study author, these findings have implications for clinical and public health interventions.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Evidence-based Medicine Questions

Can nutrition research effectively be assessed in an evidence-based medicine paradigm?

Are randomized clinical trials actually the "gold-standard" for nutrition research?

Although healthcare professionals and regulatory agencies have eagerly embraced evidence-based medicine to evaluate health claims, they never seem to get around to checking out whether this model actually fits the nutrition context.

Randomized clinical trials are usually very limited in their relevance to the general population and they impose many constraints that are not always suited to testing nutrients and dietary supplements.

The full spectrum of research available, including observational studies, provides better and more complete evidence of the benefits of dietary supplements.

Feedback on this issue will be interesting!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Selenium Supplementation & Type2 Diabetes

Saturday Quack says, "Scrub the Selenium."

Forbes HealthDay News says, "Selenium Supplements Boost Type2 Diabetes Risk."

A selenium /type2 diabetes study published in the August Annals of Internal Medicine started being sensationalized by the press the minute the embargo was lifted. Once again, the headlines misrepresent the study.

Self-reported (key word here) diagnosis of type2 diabetes was a secondary endpoint in a clinical trial designed to look at the benefit of selenium supplementation in prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer in the Eastern US states where selenium levels are lower than the national average. The study participants were white, elderly males with skin cancer; type2 diabetes was a secondary outcome of interest (after thought of the research team and self reported by the study participants), which many researchers believe reduces the strength and relevance of the findings.

In fact, the first author of the study, Saverio Stranges, MD, PhD, said, "The study findings were interesting, but should be considered cautiously because in the general population, very few people, if any, take selenium supplements only, every day, for nearly eight years, so we can't be sure that these findings apply to the public at large."

Great News for Dark Chocolate Lovers

A report in the July 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that eating polyphenol-rich dark chocolate as part of a usual diet reduced blood pressure and improved the formation of vasodilative nitric oxide in otherwise healthy people with above-optimal blood pressure.

Twenty-four women and 20 men with untreated upper-range prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension without concomitant risk factors took part in the 18-week study. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 6.3 grams of dark chocolate containing 30 milligrams of polyphenols on a daily basis or matching polyphenol-free white chocolate. The primary outcome measure was the change in blood pressure. Secondary outcome measures included changes in plasma markers of vasodilative nitric oxide and oxidative stress, and the bioavailability of cocoa polyphenols.

Dark chocolate intake significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while hypertension prevalence declined from 86 percent to 68 percent.

White chocolate intake caused no changes in blood pressure.