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Fish oil and exercise help reduce body fat

In addition to its other health-promoting properties, fish oil can have an impact on weight loss as well. In a study involving 75 overweight volunteers with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high triglycerides, results indicate that both fish oil supplementation and regular exercise may reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular disease risk factors. For 12 weeks, subjects were randomly assigned to one of four intervention groups. The first group only took 6 grams of fish oil per day (providing 320 mg of DHA/EPA per each 1,000 mg [1 gram] pill). The second group took 6 grams of fish oil per day and walked 45 minutes three days per week at 75% of their maximal heart rate. The third group took a placebo only and the fourth group took a placebo and walked 45 minutes three days per week at 75% of their maximal heart rate. At the end of the study, results showed the fish oil only group lowered triglycerides 14%, increased HDL “good” cholesterol 10%, reduced body fat and improved endothelium-dependent arterial vasodilation. Exercise improved small arterial compliance and reduced body fat. Thus, fish oil and exercise together both reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health. Increasing your intake of fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) could be a useful addition to exercise programs aimed at improving body composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk.
Reference: American Journal Clinical Nutrition: 2007; Vol. 85, No. 5, 1267-74

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Vitamins C, K and linoleic acid keep skin healthy

Those with higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin K and linoleic acid had healthier, younger looking skin than did those with lower levels, two new studies reveal.
In a study of aging skin, researchers reviewed the diets of 4,025 women, aged 40 to 74, who had taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Dermatologists examined the women to determine how wrinkled, dry or thin their skin appeared as a result of aging. Comparing the nutrients in the diet to the condition of the skin, scientists found that women who had consumed higher levels of vitamin C were less likely to have wrinkled or dry skin compared to those who had consumed lower levels of vitamin C. Women who had consumed higher levels of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) were less likely to have dry or thin skin than were women who had consumed lower levels of linoleic acid.
Doctors noted that these results did not depend on age, race, education, sunlight exposure, income, menopause status, weight (body mass), exercise or calories in the diet. However, women who had consumed higher levels of fats and carbohydrates were more likely to have wrinkled or thin skin compared to those who consumed lower levels of fats and carbohydrates.
In a study of elastin—the protein that gives skin its ability to stretch and return to normal—researchers compared healthy people to those who had calcium deposits in the elastin, a condition known as pseudoxanthoma elasticum or PXE, where the skin does not stretch. Scientists measured levels of a naturally occurring protein, called Matrix Gla or MGP, which curbs calcium deposits, but requires vitamin K to become active. Although both healthy and PXE participants had similar total MGP levels—both active and inactive forms—skin cells from healthy participants produced 42.5% more active MGP than did skin cells from PXE participants. Doctors believe that those with PXE do not absorb vitamin K properly, and cautioned that the Western diet does not provide enough vitamin K even for healthy people.
Reference: Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Oct;86(4):1225-31

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Helped by glucosamine and chondroitin

Results of the Framingham Arthritis study were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Among the findings was confirmation that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate could reduce symptoms of moderate to severe arthritis by 20%, on par with drugs such as Celebrex™. Unlike Celebrex or other drugs, however, glucosamine and chondroitin are inexpensive and have few side effects.
Reference: N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 23;354(8):795-808

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Combination formulas are best for joint health

Invasive studies directly examining cartilage degeneration in experimental models of osteoarthritis have shown efficacy with glucosamine and chondroitin alone, but they are even more effective when used in combination. This is why the most popular joint formulas include combinations of glucosamine (1,500 mg) and chondroitin (1,200 mg) daily taken together. Adding MSM to the combination can make for an even more effective formula.
Since chondroitin is one of the more expensive ingredients in these combinations, about 5-10 times more expensive than glucosamine, an effective economical joint formula version is glucosamine and MSM together. A 12-week double-blind clinical trial on 118 patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis showed excellent results. Three times a day, one group took 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate, one group took 500 mg of MSM and one group took both. In the glucosamine-only group, pain scores fell from 1.74 to 0.65; in the MSM only group, pain scores fell from 1.53 to 0.74; and in the combination group, pain scores fell from 1.7 to 0.36, equaling about twice the level of improvement in pain and inflammation compared to either glucosamine or MSM alone.
Reference: Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6):353-363

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Chondroitin, Glucosamine, MSM help reduce joint pain

Chondroitin, glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) reduced pain and other symptoms of degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis or OA) in several new studies.
In an analysis of -placebo-controlled studies published or performed between 1980 and 2002, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that those who took oral chondroitin or glucosamine had significantly less knee pain, more range-of-motion, increased walking distance and improved activities of daily life without side effects. Those who took oral glucosamine had less narrowing of the space between the joints, suggesting that glucosamine protects the cartilage which cushions joints. Two reviewers analyzed the data independently of one another, using a conservative approach to determine benefit and did not know the sources or authors of the studies.
In a study of oral glucosamine and MSM in the Journal of Clinical Drug Investigation , researchers recruited 118 men and women with mild to moderate OA. For 12 weeks participants took 500 mg of glucosamine three times per day, 500 mg of MSM three times per day, combined these two treatments or took a placebo. Scientists measured participants at the start of the study and every two weeks and found that glucosamine and MSM, separately and combined, significantly reduced inflammation and pain compared to placebo. Those who took glucosamine and MSM together reported the greatest decrease in pain, had the most rapid relief from inflammation, and the quickest improvement in movement.
In a study of 50 men and women aged 40 to 76 with OA of the knee, participants took a placebo or 3 grams of MSM twice per day. After 12 weeks, the MSM group reported significant decreases in pain and improvements in performing daily functions compared to placebo.
In a 16 week study of 61 adults with OA of the knee in Musculoskeletal Disorders , participants took 1,200 mg of SAMe per day, 200 mg of the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex ® ) per day or a placebo and reported that after two months, SAMe reduced pain as effectively as Celebrex.
Reference: Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006;14(2):286-94

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GABA helps you relax and keeps immunity strong

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a type of amino acid the brain makes naturally—helped people relax, reduced anxiety and increased immune strength in two new studies.
In a brain-wave study, researchers recruited 13 participants who took water, GABA or the amino acid L-theanine. After waiting 60 minutes, using electroencephalography (EEG), doctors attached electrodes to the scalp to detect electrical wave activity in the brain. Compared to water only or L-theanine, GABA increased alpha brain waves, which occur when people are not aroused, are resting or meditating, and decreased beta brain waves, which occur when people are aroused, actively engaged or hyperactive.
In an immune system study, researchers recruited eight people who were afraid of heights and who took GABA or a placebo before walking across a narrow bridge suspended 150 feet above a canyon to induce stress. Halfway across the bridge, researchers measured blood pressure and an immune antibody (saliva Immunoglobulin A or sIgA), which protects the body from microbes and infection. Under stress, the body typically produces less sIgA, but participants who had taken GABA had normal sIgA levels midway across the bridge and higher levels after crossing the bridge, while the placebo group had significantly lower sIgA levels.
Doctors believe that GABA discourages seizures and encourages relaxation and sleep by reducing nerve cell activity. Prescription drugs for insomnia and epilepsy increase GABA activity, but have many side effects including addiction. Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, recently reported that GABA levels are typically lower in clinical or major depression. The typical dosage range for GABA is 100 mg to a maximum of 1,200 mg per day in divided doses.
Reference: BioFactors: 2006; Vol. 26, No. 3, 201-8

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St. John’s Wort and ginkgo biloba improve mood

St. John’s wort improved symptoms of depression and ginkgo biloba reduced anxiety, in four new studies.
Doctors from the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston believe there is a growing body of evidence that St. John’s wort helps treat depression. In the first phase of a two-part study, researchers reporting in the journal Bio Med Central Medicine found that of 332 men and women with mild to moderate depression, those who took 600 mg or 1,200 mg of St. John’s wortper day had significantly fewer symptoms compared to placebo after six weeks. While both St. John’s wort groups improved, significantly more of those who had taken 1,200 mg of St. John’s wort reported no further symptoms of depression (remission).
Because major depression can linger, doctors invited those whose depression symptoms had improved at least 50% in the first phase of the study to take 600 mg or 1,200 mg of St. John’s wort per day, or a placebo, for four more months. Those in the St. John’s wort groups continued to improve while symptoms increased for placebo group.
In another St. John’s wort study reported in Pharmacopsychiatry , participants recovering from an episode of moderate to severe depression took a daily dose of 900 mg or 1,800 mg of St. John’s wort, or 20 mgor 40 mg of Paxil, for 16 weeks. St. John’s wort was as effective as Paxil in preventing a relapse with no serious side effects.
In a ginkgo biloba study reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research , 107 younger adults with acute and chronic anxiety disorders took 240 mg or 480 mg of ginkgo biloba extract per day or a placebo for four weeks. Compared to placebo, both ginkgo biloba groups had significantly less anxiety and those who had taken the higher dose of ginkgo biloba had more relief than those who had taken the lower dose. Doctors noted that ginkgo biloba stabilizes mood in older adults and wanted to test ginkgo biloba in younger adults.
Reference: Psychiatric Clinics of North America: 2007; Vol. 30, No. 1, 51-68

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The Best Anti-Aging Nutrients

As you age, it becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight. Energy levels drop, muscles become flabby, wrinkles worsen, libido wanes, and you can’t remember names like you used to. Fortunately, there are several products that can combat aging so you can feel your best.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is a universal antioxidant that provides protection inside the cell and at the cell membrane level. It combats free radicals, protects our genetic material, slows aging, helps protect the heart, and imparts benefits to diabetics.
DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands, but in ever-decreasing amounts. By age 40, most people have DHEA levels well below the optimal range. Studies show low DHEA levels correlate with many disease and quality-of-life indexes. The body can convert DHEA to other beneficial hormones like testosterone and estrogen on an as-needed basis. A typical dose is 25 mg. Lindberg DHEA is only about $2.10 a month.
Melatonin is sometimes referred to as a “master hormone” because its broad effects include the regulation of other hormones and the immune system. Melatonin also functions as a powerful antioxidant for the brain. But most people associate melatonin with sleep, since it is a powerful regulator of the sleep cycle and biological rhythm. However, it has anti-aging benefits, too. A typical dose is 3 mg taken 45 minutes before bed. Like DHEA, it too is inexpensive at only about $2.00 a month.
Unstable molecules called free radicals bombard your body and can age you faster than you’d like. Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals and the damage they cause. Besides alpha lipoic acid, there are many other valuable antioxidants you should take such as vitamin A, C and E, CoQ10 and grapeseed extract

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Vitamin D

Those with higher levels of vitamin D had better physical performance and muscle strength than those with lower levels, according to results from a new study.
Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, recruited 976 people aged 65 or older from two towns in the Chianti area of Italy. Scientists measured physical performance including walking speed, ability to stand up from a seated position, ability to maintain balance in several increasingly difficult postures and hand grip strength. Those who had low levels of vitamin D scored 5% to 10% lower in physical performance tests and hand grip strength than those with higher levels. Research does not show that low vitamin D levels cause poor physical performance, but doctors noted that muscles need vitamin D to function properly.
Separately, medical experts from Harvard Medical School have recently concluded that the optimal level for vitamin D begins at 75 nanomoles per liter of blood (nmol/L). In the Chianti study, nearly 75% of women and 51% of men had insufficient levels of vitamin D, meaning 50 nmol/L or less. Approximately 29% of women and 14% of men were deficient in vitamin D, which doctors classified as 25 nmol/L or less. Harvard researchers stated that the average adult would require 560 IU of vitamin D per day to raise the level by 10 nmol/L.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently recommends 200 IU of vitamin D per day for those under 50, 400 IU per day for those 50 to 70, and 600 IU per day for those over 70. There is a growing consensus in the medical community that vitamin D is safe at higher levels, that many people are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D and that the government should raise its recommendations.
Reference: J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007;62:440-6

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People with adequate levels of the essential trace mineral selenium live longer, healthier lives and have better mental function compared to those with lower levels, according to three new findings from the Study of Aging Anatomy (Etude du Vieillissement Artériel or EVA). French researchers recruited 1,389 men and women aged 59 to 71 from 1991 to 1993 and followed up for nine years, during which time 109 participants died.
In the first finding, published in Clinical Chemistry , researchers measured selenium levels and found that those who survived the nine-year follow-up period had started the study with higher blood-fluid (plasma) levels of selenium than those who died. The researchers took into account diet, health and lifestyle and found that those with the lowest selenium levels were most likely to have died and that cancer was more likely to be the cause of death than other causes.
In the second finding, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry , compared to all other participants, those who were oldest, those who were obese and those who had heart or blood-vessel disease during the nine-year follow-up period had lost the most selenium by the end of the study. Doctors found that other risk factors such as gender, education, smoking, drinking alcohol, high cholesterol and other blood fats, diabetes, and high blood pressure did not appear to decrease selenium levels and suggested that nutrition and metabolism may affect selenium levels.
In the third finding, among those whose selenium levels decreased over the nine-year period, those with the largest decrease had more mental decline than those with the smallest decrease. Among those whose selenium levels increased during the study, those with the smallest increase had more mental decline than those with the largest increase.
The EVA scientists concluded that selenium levels decline with age, low selenium levels make it difficult to maintain optimum health and selenium may protect against cardiovascular diseases and mental decline.
Reference: Epidemiol. 2007;18(1):52-8

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