Good Supplement News 2014

December 23, 2014 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

As 2014 comes to an end, I’d like to share some good news about supplements which hasn’t garnered much attention in the mainstream media. As a side note, a few of these items were recently featured on my Twitter thread as well. So, if you’d like to stay current on everything I post, which may or may not appear on this site, follow me on Twitter or review my Twitter profile on a regular basis. I find that it’s a great way to communicate a lot of breaking information on a daily basis.

Good News Item #1: Pycnogenol and the Common Cold

An Italian study, published this month, reports that men and women taking 50 mgs of Pycnogenol, twice-daily reduced the number of days they were affected by cold symptoms. Compared to a “control group” that didn’t take Pycnogenol, the group using this pine bark supplement required fewer medications to control symptoms resulting in a smaller number of complications. The authors of the trial concluded that, “Pycnogenol supplementation appears to make regression faster for all symptoms in comparison with controls”.

Good News Item #2: Fiber and Omega-3 Fats

Why group these two supplements together? Several new publications reveal that fiber and/or omega-3 supplements improve various risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. DHA and EPA, the two primary fatty acids in fish oil, help in distinctly different ways. DHA supplementation, at a dosage of 3 grams daily, was recently shown to decrease the oxidation of fats (aka lipid peroxidation) – a process associated with heart disease and stroke occurrence. Another trial found that cardiac patients with higher EPA levels maintained healthier cognitive functioning than those with lower serum concentrations. On the fiber front, adolescents and children diagnosed with hypercholesterolaemia, reduced their LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol by 10.7% and 7.7% respectively simply by consuming 7 grams of psyllium fiber daily. Lastly, studies from 2013 and 2014, demonstrate that 30 grams/day of milled flax seeds, a food/supplement that contains both fiber and omega-3 fats, significantly lowers blood pressure in those with hypertension.

Good News Item #3: Resveratrol for Vision Support

Resveratrol is commonly referred to as the “red wine antioxidant”. However, the amount of resveratrol present in a typical glass or two of red wine isn’t nearly enough to bring about a therapeutic effect. Having said that, some studies indicate that higher-dose resveratrol supplements, generally extracted from Japanese knotwood (Fallopia japonica), do confer health benefits. A series of case studies appearing in the October 2014 issue of the journal Nutrients support this assertion. Specifically, a resveratrol based supplement known as Longevinex improved ocular structure and visual function in a small group of volunteers diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The supplement used in the trial provided 100 mg of trans-resveratrol, an amount which could not practically or safely be acquired from dietary sources.

Good News Item #4: Vitamin D Reduces “Winter-Skin” Discomfort

Those living with dermatitis understand all too well that winter can be an especially trying time. Cold and dry environmental conditions frequently aggravate the dryness and itchiness associated with conditions ranging from eczema to psoriasis. But, hope can be found in the October 2014 edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study in question describes significant benefits in children with dermatitis who supplemented with 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily during winter. It should be noted that Vitamin D levels tend to drop in winter months due to an overall decline in exposure to sunshine. Another publication, in the journal Pediatric Dermatology, reveals that higher Vitamin D concentrations may lower the incidence and severity of skin irritation by reducing the number of Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogenic bacterium, that colonizes the skin of adults and children with atopic dermatitis.

Good News Item #5: L-Carnitine Makes Fasting Easier and More Effective

The biggest obstacles to alternate day or intermittent fasting are fatigue and hunger. A study in the November 2014 issue of Nutrition Journal informs of a tool which not only reduces fasting related hunger, but may also improve the health benefits of fasting altogether. The research involves the addition of intravenous L-carnitine (4 grams daily) to a week long, modified food fast. The placebo-controlled, randomized trial determined that participants given L-carnitine lost more body fat, weight and lowered insulin and y-glutamyltransferase levels – a marker of liver dysfunction. Additionally, L-carnitine alleviated hunger and physical fatigue in comparison to the group that received a placebo IV. An issue which remains to be clarified is whether oral L-carnitine would be as effective as intravenous administration.

Some of the research in this year-end round up can be applied immediately. Why not add Pycnogenol and Vitamin D3 to your daily routine in order to reduce cold symptoms and skin issues? The same is true of dietary or supplemental fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Even if you don’t suffer from cardiovascular disease, prevention ought to be on everyone’s radar. On the other hand, resveratrol should probably be relegated to an “as needed” supplement. If you happen to have concerns about ocular health, I would certainly consider it. And, for all those who include fasting in their wellness regimen, L-carnitine may be a viable way to make the process more effective and pleasant. Who wouldn’t want that?

I hope and plan to bring you much more positive information in the coming year. Thank you all for your participation, readership and support. It’s much appreciated. Be well!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Improvement of Common Cold with Pycnogenol: A Winter Registry (link)

Study 2 – DHA Concentration of Red Blood Cells is Inversely Associated with (link)

Study 3 – Serum Concentration of Eicosapentaenoic Acid is Associated with(link)

Study 4 – Effects of Psyllium on LDL-Cholesterol Concentrations in Brazilian (link)

Study 5 – Flaxseed Consumption Reduces Blood Pressure in Patients with (link)

Study 6 – Potent Antihypertensive Action of Dietary Flaxseed in Hypertensive (link)

Study 7 – Resveratrol Based Oral Nutritional Supplement Produces Long-Term (link)

Study 8 – Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation for Winter-Related (link)

Study 9 – Correlation Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D & Virulence Genes (link)

Study 10 – L-Carnitine Ameliorated Fasting-Induced Fatigue, Hunger (link)

L-Carnitine May Improve Intermittent Fasting Results

Source: Nutr J. 2014 Nov 26;13:110. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements

2 Comments & Updates to “Good Supplement News 2014”

  1. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:

    Am J Clin Nutr April 2015

    Brain atrophy in cognitively impaired elderly: the importance of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and B vitamin status in a randomized controlled trial

    Background: Increased brain atrophy rates are common in older people with cognitive impairment, particularly in those who eventually convert to Alzheimer disease. Plasma concentrations of omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acids and homocysteine are associated with the development of brain atrophy and dementia.

    Objective: We investigated whether plasma ω-3 fatty acid concentrations (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) modify the treatment effect of homocysteine-lowering B vitamins on brain atrophy rates in a placebo-controlled trial (VITACOG).

    Design: This retrospective analysis included 168 elderly people (≥70 y) with mild cognitive impairment, randomly assigned either to placebo (n = 83) or to daily high-dose B vitamin supplementation (folic acid, 0.8 mg; vitamin B-6, 20 mg; vitamin B-12, 0.5 mg) (n = 85). The subjects underwent cranial magnetic resonance imaging scans at baseline and 2 y later. The effect of the intervention was analyzed according to tertiles of baseline ω-3 fatty acid concentrations.

    Results: There was a significant interaction (P = 0.024) between B vitamin treatment and plasma combined ω-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) on brain atrophy rates. In subjects with high baseline ω-3 fatty acids (>590 μmol/L), B vitamin treatment slowed the mean atrophy rate by 40.0% compared with placebo (P = 0.023). B vitamin treatment had no significant effect on the rate of atrophy among subjects with low baseline ω-3 fatty acids (<390 μmol/L). High baseline ω-3 fatty acids were associated with a slower rate of brain atrophy in the B vitamin group but not in the placebo group.

    Conclusions: The beneficial effect of B vitamin treatment on brain atrophy was observed only in subjects with high plasma ω-3 fatty acids. It is also suggested that the beneficial effect of ω-3 fatty acids on brain atrophy may be confined to subjects with good B vitamin status. The results highlight the importance of identifying subgroups likely to benefit in clinical trials.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update 05/27/15:

    Nutrients. 2015 May 19;7(5):3796-812.

    Improved blood biomarkers but no cognitive effects from 16 weeks of multivitamin supplementation in healthy older adults.

    Supplementation with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients may be beneficial for cognition, especially in older adults. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of multivitamin supplementation in older adults on cognitive function and associated blood biomarkers. In a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthy women (n = 68) and men (n = 48) aged 55-65 years were supplemented daily for 16 weeks with women’s and men’s formula multivitamin supplements. Assessments at baseline and post-supplementation included computerised cognitive tasks and blood biomarkers relevant to cognitive aging. No cognitive improvements were observed after supplementation with either formula; however, several significant improvements were observed in blood biomarkers including increased levels of vitamins B6 and B12 in women and men; reduced C-reactive protein in women; reduced homocysteine and marginally reduced oxidative stress in men; as well as improvements to the lipid profile in men. In healthy older people, multivitamin supplementation improved a number of blood biomarkers that are relevant to cognition, but these biomarker changes were not accompanied by improved cognitive function.

    Be well!


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