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October 2012

By Life Extension

Iron Supplementation Reduces Fatigue in Premenopausal Women

Iron Supplementation Reduces Fatigue in Premenopausal Women

The results of a trial described in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reveal a benefit for iron supplements in iron-deficient (but nonanemic) premenopausal women who experienced fatigue.*

Dr. Bernard Favrat and his associates enrolled 198 women aged 18 to 53 for the current trial. Participants were limited to those who had deficient serum ferritin levels of less than 50 micrograms per liter and hemoglobin levels above 12 grams per deciliter. Subjects were divided to receive 80 milligrams iron or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. Fatigue was evaluated at the beginning and end of the study, and blood samples were analyzed for hemoglobin and ferritin at baseline and at 6 and 12 weeks.

Hemoglobin, ferritin, and other factors increased after 6 weeks among women who received iron and continued to be improved at 12 weeks, in contrast with the placebo group, for whom some values declined by the end of the study.

Editor's Note: Reduced iron levels are common among women of childbearing age; however, consuming too much iron increases free radical damage, which has been linked to a number of diseases.

—D. Dye

* Can Med Assoc J. 2012 Jul 9.

Life Extension® Supports Nutritional Research in Chronic Kidney Disease

In a study supported by Life Extension®, recognized by the National Kidney Foundation, and published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition, researchers in Texas evaluated the effects of fish oil ingestion in thirty-one patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).*

The scientists conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in non-dialysis chronic kidney disease patients to evaluate a nutritional supplement vs. placebo upon a variety of proinflammatory parameters. The cytokines evaluated in the study included interleukin 1b (IL-1b) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). The active treatment group received fish oil containing 1,400 mg of EPA and 1,000 mg of DHA daily, along with olive fruit extract (600 mg daily), and sesame lignans (20 mg daily).

The researchers discovered that fish oil, olive fruit extract, and sesame lignans had a significant, beneficial effect upon the inflammatory cytokine IL-1b with lower IL-1b levels in those taking fish oil-olive fruit- sesame lignans compared to the inactive placebo group.

Editor's Note: An important consideration in chronic kidney disease, a leading cause of disability in the United States, is excess production of proinflammatory factors called cytokines. These inflammatory factors are implicated in a variety of health conditions, including cardiovascular and joint health, as well as kidney health.

—D. Dye

* J Ren Nutr. 2012 Jan 26.

Researchers Recommend Increase in Vitamin C Dietary Allowance

Researchers Recommend Increase in Vitamin C Dietary Allowance

Scientists at Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute are proposing an increase in the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C from the current level of 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams for women, to a modest intake of 200 milligrams. Writing in a recent issue of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Professor Balz Frei and his colleagues observe that the current RDA is based on the amount necessary to prevent scurvy and that present methods of evaluating nutrients such as vitamin C have often failed to find further disease-preventive benefits due to faulty methodology.*

Dr. Frei and his coauthors argue that these trials do not always demonstrate the protective properties of compounds already present in the human body, whose benefits may be evident only after many years of optimal intake.

Editor's Note: The authors remark that increased long-term intake of vitamin C will provide greater tissue saturation at a cost of only a penny per day if consumed as a supplement, resulting in a significant payoff of lowered risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as a reduction in the conditions that contribute to these diseases, including inflammation.

—D. Dye

* Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Sep;52(9):815-29.

Metformin May Make Brain Cells Grow

Metformin May Make Brain Cells Grow

A recent study in Cell Stem Cell reports on an interesting and potentially beneficial side effect of the diabetes drug metformin: it may encourage the growth of new neurons in the brain.* In mice, this new growth lead to improved intelligence.

Freda Miller, the study's lead author from the University of Toronto-affiliated Hospital for Sick Children is encouraged because the drug is already widely used and considered safe. Mice who took the metformin displayed a plethora of new neurons and it was observed that they had an easier time with some standard mazes during spatial learning tests.

While many people taking metformin have reported some form of cognitive improvement, up until now that was attributed to better control of the diabetes. The possibility is now open that the daily doses of metformin were responsible for these improvements. This discovery could hold the key to successfully treating Alzheimer's symptoms.

—M. Richmond

* Available at: http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/retrieve/pii/S1934590912001749. Accessed July 27, 2012.

Bees Can Reverse Brain Aging, May Hold Clues for Alzheimer's

In a recent study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology, a team of scientists from Arizona State University (ASU) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, led by Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences, presented findings that show that tricking older, foraging bees into doing social tasks inside the nest causes changes in the molecular structure of their brains.*

"We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae - the bee babies - they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them," said Amdam. "However, after a period of nursing, bees fly out gathering food and begin aging very quickly. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function - basically measured as the ability to learn new things. We wanted to find out if there was plasticity in this aging pattern so we asked the question, 'What would happen if we asked the foraging bees to take care of larval babies again?"

Researchers discovered that after 10 days, about 50% of the older bees caring for the nest and larvae had significantly improved their ability to learn new things

"Maybe social interventions - changing how you deal with your surroundings - is something we can do today to help our brains stay younger," said Amdam. "Since the proteins being researched in people are the same proteins bees have, these proteins may be able to spontaneously respond to specific social experiences."

—M. Richmond

* Available at: https://asunews.asu.edu/20120702_bee_brainaging. Accessed July 25, 2012.

Generic Plavix Competitors Set to Distribute

Generic Plavix Competitors Set to Distribute

In a win for insurance companies and those paying out of pocket for anti-clotting drugs, the patent for the blockbuster drug, Plavix®, recently expired. Shortly following the expiration, the FDA moved quickly to approve upwards of ten generic versions of the drug.*

Plavix®, made by Bristol-Myers Squib, is one of the most profitable drugs of all time and has been used for secondary prevention of heart attacks and stroke in patients who have suffered these events.

With the generic version soon becoming readily available, it is expected that insurance companies will automatically switch patients over to the less expensive version. According to Bristol-Meyer's Squib's 2011 annual report, they state that they "expect a rapid, precipitous, and material decline in Plavix® net sales" once generic drugs hit the market.

—M. Richmond

* Available at: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120725-715936.html. Accessed July 25, 2012.