Life Extension Magazine®
Doctor taking benchmark blood pressure before probiotics

In The News: September 2018

Probiotics improve blood pressure and lipids; omega-3 may lower heart rate; global calcium deficiency; vitamin D improves mood.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on March 2021.

Probiotics Prompt Better Lipids and Blood Pressure

The results of a meta-analysis of 10 randomized, controlled trials found reductions in lipids, blood pressure, and blood glucose among diabetic men and women who received probiotics in comparison with those who did not receive them.*

What you need to know

A meta-anaylsis finds probiotic supplementation favorable to lowering lipids and blood pressure;  Omega-3 supplementation found to decrease heart rate; Research shows more people need calcium; Vitamin D may improve mood and desire in women.

For their analysis, the researchers selected 10 trials that included 297 participants who received probiotics and 294 participants who served as controls.

Compared to the controls, probiotic treatment was associated with a significant decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose, as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol.

Editor's Note: "It has been demonstrated that probiotics can ameliorate the state of insulin resistance and regulate lipid metabolism in in-vitro studies or animal models," write the study authors in their introduction. They add that studies have shown that probiotics can change the intestinal micro-ecosystem and play a positive role in type II diabetes treatment.


* Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Dec;96(51):e9166.

New Evidence Links Omega-3 and Lower Heart Rate

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An elevated resting heart rate increases cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of a meta-analysis which affirmed an association between supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in heart rate.*

For their analysis, Khemayanto Hidayat of China's Soochow University and his associates selected 51 randomized controlled trials that included a total of approximately 3,000 men and women. Thirty-two of the intervention groups consisted of participants with at least one chronic condition, including coronary artery disease, kidney failure, hypertension, and heart arrhythmia.

In comparison with those who received a placebo, participants who received omega-3 experienced a significant reduction in heart rate of 2.23 beats per minute. When the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA were administered separately, a 2.47 beat-per-minute decrease was observed in association with DHA.

Editor's Note: According to the study authors, elevated resting heart rate has emerged as a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality. "The HR [heart rate] of the majority of participants included in this meta-analysis was within normal range—the state where reducing heart rate is conventionally not a medical indication," they note. "At the population level however, such HR reduction may have significant public health implications, as a reduction of 3.2 bpm [beats-per-minute] HR would roughly correspond to 7.5% lower risk of SCD [sudden cardiac death]."


*Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec 28.

Calcium Supplementation May Be Widely Needed

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A global map of dietary calcium intake in adults released by the International Osteoporosis Foundation on April 20, 2018, shows that people in many parts of the world fail to consume diets that provide adequate amounts of the mineral, putting these populations at risk of osteoporosis. The map is based on findings from a study published in Osteoporosis International.*

Although 800-1,000 mg of calcium per day is the usual recommendation for healthy adults, global intake varies significantly. The amount of calcium consumed by adult residents of Nepal averages just 175 mg per day, in contrast with 1,233 mg per day in Iceland. Most African, Asian and South American countries have a daily intake that ranges from 400 to 700 mg.

"Increasing calcium intake throughout the lifespan is an important strategy to improve bone health," noted senior author Bess Dawson-Hughes.

Editor's Note: "For people who may not be able to get enough calcium through their diets, calcium supplementation may be needed to reach the intake requirement of 800 to 1,000 mg/day," Dr. Dawson-Hughes suggested. "This is particularly important for older adults who do not consume enough calcium-rich foods. In this population group, calcium supplementation combined with vitamin D may lower the risk of broken bones."


*Osteoporos Int. 2017 Dec;28(12):3315-3324.

Vitamin D Linked With Improvement in Mood, Desire in Women

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A study found improvement in female mood as well as sexual desire, orgasm and satisfaction after supplementation with vitamin D.*

Participants with vitamin D deficiency were given 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, and women with insufficient levels (by definition, not as bad as deficient levels) were given 2,000 IU or no vitamin D. Questionnaires that evaluated sexual function and depressive symptoms were completed before and after the treatment period.

At the beginning of the study, sexual function questionnaire scores were lower (indicating greater impairment) and depression scores were higher (indicating worse depression) in women with deficient vitamin D levels compared to women with insufficiency.

Supplementation with vitamin D was associated with improved sexual desire in both deficient and insufficient women. Among participants with vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D improved total sexual function scores and scores for sexual satisfaction and orgasm, while decreasing total depression scores.

Editor's Note: The authors remark that "It is possible that genital blood flow, as well as hormonal and neural regulations of sexual function are disturbed in women with hypovitaminosis D and correlate with its severity."


*Endokrynol Pol. 2018 Feb 14.