Life Extension Magazine®

In The News: February 2009

Low CoQ10 levels predict mortality in heart failure; promising weight-loss extract targets appetite, blood glucose control; pectin may reduce spread of cancer; olive oil, green tea combo fights atherosclerosis; vitamin K may improve insulin resistance; isoflavone benefits vascular health; vitamin D deficiencies discovered in Parkinson’s patients; grapes help combat heart disease; study calls for new omega-3 guidelines; carnitine slows bone loss; vitamin E cuts risk of lung cancer; green tea capsule decreases cardiovascular risk factors; fish oil an effective prophylactic in children; lipoic acid prevents nerve damage in chemotherapy.

Low Plasma CoQ10 Predicts Mortality in Heart Failure Patients

Low Plasma CoQ10 Predicts Mortality in Heart Failure Patients

A recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology features a study showing that coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) levels are an independent predictor of survival in chronic heart failure patients.1

The study included 236 heart failure patients with a median age of 77 years upon admission to Christchurch Hospital in New Zealand. Plasma samples were analyzed for CoQ10 and other factors. Participants were followed for a period of up to 5.75 years, during which 76 deaths occurred.

Over the follow-up period, 39% of the participants who had CoQ10 levels lower than 0.63 micrograms per milliliter died, compared with only 22% of those whose levels were higher. This study also indicated that those with lower CoQ10 were 67% more likely to die.

“Our findings in a clearly defined, prospectively studied group that CoQ10 depletion is associated with worse outcomes in chronic heart failure give further support to the rationale of the intervention studies that have already been initiated,” the authors concluded.

Life Extension has conducted numerous CoQ10 blood level studies in humans. Our findings reveal that a CoQ10 blood reading of 0.63 micrograms per milliliter used in this study to help predict mortality risk is common in aging people who don’t supplement. In response to supplementation with the ubiquinol form of CoQ10, blood levels typically increase to 2.00 to 3.00 micrograms per milliliter, a range that appears to confer protection against a host of degenerative disorders.

As reported exactly one year ago in Life Extension magazine, a significant clinical benefit in heart failure patients requires a plasma CoQ10 level of around 4.00 micrograms per milliliter.2-4 In severe heart failure patients, the only way these higher levels can be obtained appears to be with ubiquinol—not conventional ubiquinone CoQ10 supplements.

—William Faloon

Reference

1. Molyneux SL, Florkowski CM, George PM, et al. Coenzyme Q10. An independent predictor of mortality in chronic heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Oct 28;52:1435-41.
2. Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Overview of the use of CoQ10 in cardiovascular disease. Biofactors. 1999;9(2-4):273-84.
3. Langsjoen PH, Littarru GP, Silver MA. Role of concomitant coenzyme Q10 with statins for patients with hyperlipidemia. Curr Topics Nutr Res.2005;3(3):149–58.
4. Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Coenzyme Q10 in cardiovascular disease with emphasis on heart failure and myocardial ischaemia. Asia Pacific Heart J. 1998;7(3):160-8.

Vitamin K May Reduce Insulin Resistance in Older Men

Vitamin K May Reduce Insulin Resistance in Older Men

Vitamin K supplementation may significantly reduce insulin resistance in older men, according to new research from scientists at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston. Reported in Diabetes Care, the study was an offshoot of a three-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, controlled trial of vitamin K1 supplementation for bone loss.*

Three hundred and fifty-five men and women, aged 60-80 years, were randomly assigned to take 500 micrograms vitamin K1 per day, or placebo. Among female subjects, insulin resistance was not significantly affected by supplementation. But men who took the vitamin were significantly less prone to insulin resistance progression than men who received the inactive placebo. Insulin resistance was primarily measured by homeostasis model assessment, and secondarily through comparison of changes in plasma fasting insulin and glucose levels.

The scientists concluded that vitamin K supplementation “…may reduce progression of insulin resistance in older men.”

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Yoshida M, Jacques PF, Meigs JB, et al. Effect of vitamin K supplementation on insulin resistance in older men and women. Diabetes Care. 2008 Nov;31(11):2092-6.

Pectin’s Anticancer Mechanism Revealed

For the first time, researchers have identified the anticancer mechanism in pectin, a naturally occurring dietary fiber found in vegetables and fruits, particularly apples and citrus fruits. The research, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology,* substantiates a long-held hypothesis based on molecular evidence that modified pectin plays an important role in limiting the progression of some cancers.

The scientists used a combination of sophisticated tools including an atomic force microscope to view individual pectin molecules. The images revealed that a fragment released from pectin binds to galectin-3, a mammalian protein involved in cancer progression, thus inhibiting further tumor growth and metastasis.

Lead researcher Dr. Victor Morris says the next step is “to identify how pectin can be better used by the body… so it can exert its effect on cancer cells.”

—Joanne Nicholas

Reference

* Gunning AP, Bongaerts RJ, Morris VJ. Recognition of galactan components of pectin by galectin-3. FASEB J. 2008 Oct 2.

Olive Oil/Green Tea Combo Fights Atherosclerosis

The combination of green tea polyphenols with extra-virgin olive oil offers heart-healthy benefits that exceed those of extra-virgin olive oil alone, according to a new report.1 Previous research has shown that extra-virgin olive oil consumption increases beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and reduces lipid peroxidation, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.2,3

For two months, atherosclerosis-prone mice received extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil with green tea polyphenols, or placebo. Mice that received the olive oil/green tea combination experienced an 18% decrease in susceptibility to lipid peroxidation, compared with placebo-treated mice.1

Both extra-virgin olive oil and the extra-virgin olive oil/green tea polyphenol combination increased HDL levels and increased the rate at which HDL removed potentially harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream (a process known as macrophage cholesterol efflux). While olive oil increased cholesterol removal by 42%, olive oil/green tea boosted cholesterol efflux by 139%, compared with placebo.

Atherosclerotic lesion size diminished by 11% and 20% in the olive oil and olive oil/green tea groups, respectively.1

—Dale Kiefer

Reference

1. Rosenblat M, Volkova N, Coleman R, Almagor Y, Aviram M. Antiatherogenicity of extra virgin olive oil and its enrichment with green tea polyphenols in the atherosclerotic apolipoprotein-E-deficient mice: enhanced macrophage cholesterol efflux. J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Aug;19(8):514-23.
2. Covas MI, Nyyssonen K, Poulsen HE, et al. The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Sep 5;145(5):333-41.
3. Weinbrenner T, Fito M, de la Torre R, et al. Olive oils high in phenolic compounds modulate oxidative/antioxidative status in men. J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2314-21.

Isoflavone Supplement Improves Arterial Function After Stroke

Isoflavone Supplement Improves Arterial Function After Stroke

Isoflavone supplementation improves indices of endothelial (blood vessel) function in patients with cardiovascular disease, as reported in a Chinese study.*

The study recruited 102 patients with a previous stroke who were being treated medically. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either isoflavone supplement (soy bean extract) 80 mg/day or placebo for 12 weeks.

The main outcome, brachial artery dilatation in response to blood flow, was significantly improved in the supplemented group compared with the control group, and response was even better for patients with more severe disease. Isoflavone supplementation also reduced levels of C-reactive protein, an index of vascular inflammation.

The authors believe this is the first rigorous study to document reversal of endothelial dysfunction with isoflavone in patients who already have heart disease. They conclude, “these findings may have important implications for the use of isoflavone for secondary prevention in patients with cardiovascular disease, on top of conventional cardiovascular interventions.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Chan YH, Lau KK, Yiu KH, et al. Reduction of C-reactive protein with isoflavone supplement reverses endothelial dysfunction in patients with ischaemic stroke. Eur Heart J. 2008 Sep 23.

Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Vitamin D Insufficiency

In a recent issue of the journal Archives of Neurology, researchers from Emory University School of Medicine report that men and women with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease have a greater incidence of vitamin D insufficiency compared with healthy people.*

Marian L. Evatt, MD, MS, and associates measured 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels in plasma samples from 100 Parkinson’s disease patients, 97 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and 99 healthy older participants in Emory’s Clinical Research in Neurology database. While 36% of the plasma samples from healthy subjects contained insufficient levels of vitamin D (defined as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin <30 ng/mL), 41% of the Alzheimer’s disease patients and 55% of those with Parkinson’s disease had insufficient levels of the vitamin.

“We found that vitamin D insufficiency may have a unique association with Parkinson’s, which is intriguing and warrants further investigation,” Dr. Evatt stated.

—Dayna Dye

Reference

* Evatt ML, Delong MR, Khazai N, Rosen A, Triche S, Tangpricha V. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in patients with Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease. Arch Neurol. 2008 Oct;65(10):1348-52.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid Protects Nerve Cells From Chemotherapy Damage

Alpha-Lipoic Acid Protects Nerve Cells From Chemotherapy Damage

Alpha-lipoic acid protects against nerve cell damage due to chemotherapy drugs in a rat model, with possible implications for prevention of peripheral neuropathy (nerve cell degeneration and chronic pain) in patients undergoing chemotherapy.*

Experiments were performed in vitro to simulate chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Rat neurons in culture were treated separately with cisplatin and paclitaxel, two common chemotherapy drugs known to cause neurotoxicity. Administered dosages were similar to those used during actual chemotherapy. In some cultures, the chemotherapy drugs were added three hours after pretreatment with alpha-lipoic acid.

Cisplatin and paclitaxel given alone caused marked neuronal damage, cell death, and a decrease in functioning mitochondria (i.e., reduced cellular energy production), but application of alpha-lipoic acid prevented these damaging effects.

According to the authors, “these findings suggest that alpha-lipoic acid might reduce the risk of developing peripheral nerve toxicity in patients undergoing chemotherapy and encourage further confirmatory clinical trials.”

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Melli G, Taiana M, Camozzi F, et al. Alpha-lipoic acid prevents mitochondrial damage and neurotoxicity in experimental chemotherapy neuropathy. Exp Neurol. 2008 Sep 9.

Study Advocates Minimum Daily Intake of Fish Oil

Current clinical data suggest that a threshold level of omega-3 fatty acids protects against heart disease and should be endorsed by authorities.*

The latest research reviewed six studies of the relation between intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA]) and the risk of death due to coronary heart disease in US patients. Analysis revealed that rising fish oil intake was associated with a significant reduction in mortality risk. At an intake of 566 mg/day of EPA plus DHA, the mortality risk reduction was 37%.

The American Heart Association already recommends two servings of oily fish per week, which provides approximately 400 to 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day. The authors conclude that US authorities should establish an official recommendation for intake of 400 to 500 mg EPA plus DHA per day, which will help maintain cardiovascular health and prevent coronary heart disease death.

Life Extension points out that while the American Heart Association’s suggestion that 400-500 mg of EPA/DHA a day is helpful, a number of published studies indicate that daily doses comprising about 1,400 mg of EPA and 1,000 mg of DHA may be optimal. Those with stubbornly high triglyceride levels or persistent inflammatory problems should consume even higher doses of EPA/DHA through their diet and with supplements.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Harris WS, Kris-Etherton PM, Harris KA. Intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid associated with reduced risk for death from coronary heart disease in healthy adults. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2008 Dec;10(6):503-9.

Fish Oil Helps Prevent Illness in Children

Fish Oil Helps Prevent Illness in Children

Consumption of a fish oil supplement significantly decreases the likelihood of illness among healthy children in Thailand.* The effect is presumably due to long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The study enrolled 180 Thai schoolchildren aged 9 to 12 years. Children were randomly assigned to take fish oil (200 mg EPA and 1,000 mg DHA per day) or a placebo supplement (soybean oil) mixed into chocolate milk five days per week for six months.

By study end, fewer children became ill in the fish oil group than in the placebo group (54% versus 67%), with fewer episodes of illness per child and shorter duration of illness. Illnesses that did occur in both groups were mainly upper respiratory tract infections; there was also a lower incidence of fever in the fish oil group.

These findings suggest a beneficial effect of EPA and DHA on immune function.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Thienprasert A, Samuhaseneetoo S, Popplestone K, West AL, Miles EA, Calder PC. Fish oil N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids selectively affect plasma cytokines and decrease illness in Thai schoolchildren: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention trial. J Pediatr. 2008 Oct 17.

New Research Confirms Cardiovascular Benefits of Grapes

A review published in Nutrition Research and an article published in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences report positive findings for grapes in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.1,2

In the review, the authors evaluated the evidence for a cardioprotective effect of grape polyphenols. “Supplementation with grape seed, grape skin or red wine products may be a useful adjunct to consider for a dietary approach in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, although additional research is required to support such a strategy,” they concluded.1

In the Journal of Gerontology, researchers at Michigan State University report that rats bred to develop salt-sensitive hypertension experienced a reduction in blood pressure and improved heart function after consuming powdered table grapes. “The inevitable downhill sequence to hypertension and heart failure was changed by the addition of grape powder to a high-salt diet,” noted Steven Bolling, MD, in whose laboratory the research took place.2

—Dayna Dye

Reference

1. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081028103105.htm. Accessed November 4, 2008.
2. Available at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/uomh-gma102608.php. Accessed November 4, 2008.

Green Tea Supplement Decreases Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Green Tea Supplement Decreases Cardiovascular Risk Factors

A supplement capsule of green tea constituents improves several measures of cardiovascular health among US adults, according to a report published in the journal Nutrition.*

In this study, 111 healthy men and women were randomly assigned to take a standardized green tea supplement capsule (containing decaffeinated extracts of Camellia sinensis) or matching placebo twice a day.

By three weeks, blood pressure had decreased in the supplement group, and these results largely persisted three months later. Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) declined in the supplement group among men and among patients with elevated LDL at baseline. Serum amyloid-alpha, a marker of inflammation, and serum malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress, both declined after supplementation. No significant beneficial changes were found in the placebo group.

A green tea supplement therefore may mitigate cardiovascular risk factors in patients with elevations of blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Nantz MP, Rowe CA, Bukowski JF, Percival SS. Standardized capsule of Camellia sinensis lowers cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrition. 2008 Oct 8.

L-Carnitine Slows Signs of Aging in Rats

Supplementation with L-carnitine improves muscle function, reduces abdominal fat, and slows bone loss in two rat models of aging.1,2 L-carnitine is an amino acid that aids in fat metabolism and generation of energy.

In the first study, aged rats were given a diet supplemented with L-carnitine or a control diet for 12 weeks.1 Aged rats had 34% lower levels of L-carnitine in their muscle cells than younger rats, but supplementation restored levels of L-carnitine. Supplementation also improved the muscle’s oxidative capacity by 55% and decreased abdominal fat mass despite no change in the amount of food intake.

In another study, a rat model was used to simulate postmenopausal bone loss.2 Aging female rats subjected to ovary removal were treated with L-carnitine or a control diet for eight weeks. L-carnitine significantly increased bone mineral density and decreased bone turnover.

The results suggest a future role for L-carnitine to prevent age-related muscle atrophy, body weight gain, and bone deterioration in humans.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

1. Bernard A, Rigault C, Mazue F, Borgne FL, Demarquoy J. L-carnitine supplementation and physical exercise restore age-associated decline in some mitochondrial functions in the rat. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008 Oct;63(10):1027-33.
2. Hooshmand S, Balakrishnan A, Clark RM, Owen KQ, Koo SI, Arjmandi BH. Dietary L-carnitine supplementation improves bone mineral density by suppressing bone turnover in aged ovariectomized rats. Phytomedicine. 2008 Aug;15(8):595-601.

Vitamin E Decreases Lung Cancer Risk

Vitamin E Decreases Lung Cancer Risk

Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) reduces the risk of lung cancer according to a recent case-control study.* Vitamin E is known for its antioxidant effects.

Investigators reviewed the dietary habits and vitamin E intake of 1,088 patients with lung cancer and 1,414 healthy controls of similar age and smoking status. Subjects taking vitamin E as alpha tocopherol were divided into four groups from the lowest intake (≤4.1 mg/day) to the highest (>7.7 mg/day). Compared with the lowest intake, progressively higher intake of alpha tocopherol was associated with decreases in lung cancer risk of 34%, 36%, and 53%, respectively, after controlling for other risk factors. Other tocopherols (beta, gamma, and delta tocopherol) did not provide meaningful risk reduction on their own.

Mean intake of alpha tocopherol in this study was 5.5 mg/day among patients and 6.3 mg/day among controls, which the authors note is markedly lower than the recommended daily allowance of 15 mg/day.

While this study result is intriguing, Life Extension points out that the subjects in these study groups did not consume the higher potencies of alpha and gamma tocopherols taken by many health-conscious people today. It is therefore difficult to extrapolate these findings to serious vitamin E takers.

—Laura J. Ninger, ELS

Reference

* Mahabir S, Schendel K, Dong YQ, Barrera SL, Spitz MR, Forman MR. Dietary alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols in lung cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1173-80.

Powerful Weight-Loss Extract Introduced at Functional Foods Conference

Powerful Weight-Loss Extract Introduced at Functional Foods Conference

Nutritional scientists from around the globe met to share new research findings at the fifth annual Functional Foods for Chronic Disease conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in October. The participants covered a wide variety of topics, including functional food components that assist with obesity-enhanced colon cancer, the use of amaranth oil for diabetic patients with obesity, and how broccoli protects the heart.

The highlight of the conference was the startling presentation by Dr. Julius Oben, who has participated in more than 50 studies in the field of weight loss. The Head of the Laboratory of Nutrition and Nutritional Biochemistry at the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, he revealed the latest clinical evidence on a recently developed extract from the seed of the Irvingia gabonensis fruit, also known as bush mango and ogbono, which grows in Cameroon and neighboring regions of Nigeria. Dr. Oben was performing epidemiological studies in African tribal populations when he noted that people in a certain region had low incidences of obesity, diabetes, and related diseases. Exploring further, he found that they use irvingia paste to thicken soups an average of ten times per week. This led to the development of a concentrated extract that stimulates fat loss while promoting healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Leptin is a hormone that inhibits food intake in people of normal body weight by reducing the hunger signals from the brain. However, obese individuals often produce so much leptin that their cells become resistant to it. A patented irvingia extract was shown to improve leptin sensitivity, so the test subjects felt less hunger and ate less. The extract was also shown to increase the levels of adiponectin, a hormone secreted by fat cells that promotes insulin sensitivity. When more blood sugar makes its way inside the working cells, less is delivered to the fat cells for storage. Adiponectin has anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits as well.

Dr. Oben discussed the results of a 10-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 102 volunteers who were instructed to maintain their same diet and exercise patterns. They took 150 mg of a second-generation irvingia extract twice daily. In 10 weeks, the group using irvingia lost 28 pounds of body weight, while the placebo group lost only 1.5 pounds. The participants using irvingia also saw a 31% reduction in fasting blood glucose, a 26% drop in total cholesterol, and a 27% decline in low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Equally important were the findings that irvingia lowered C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) by a stunning 52%, while adiponectin levels increased 160% and leptin concentrations dropped nearly in half (48%).

Other presentations added to our knowledge of functional foods. Subhendu Mukherjee from the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine showed how the enzyme thioredoxin reductase plays a crucial role in broccoli’s cardio-protective benefits, while Dr. Jairam Vanamala from Colorado State University astonished the audience with his finding that one pound of charred meat fat contains as many carcinogens as 600 cigarettes. Amaranth oil was found to promote dramatic reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, although the current cost of the oil exceeds that of many medicines.

The Functional Foods Center holds this conference every fall to promote cooperation among scientists and to spearhead research in this fast-growing area of scientific study.

—Dave Tuttle

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