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A Healthy Start

Scientists recognize that specific polyunsaturated fatty acids (PFAs) are required for the development of a baby's brain, nerves, heart, and eyes. Furthermore, research has revealed that pregnant North American women do not get enough PFAs in their diet, even when they are not necessarily trying to limit fat intake. Adopting a low fat diet without considering the kind of fatty acids eaten will likely not supply enough of the proper PFAs required for optimal fetal brain development.

During pregnancy and the first 12 to 18 weeks after birth are the most critical times for a woman to consume the essential fatty acids (EFAs) her body will ultimately con-vert into the PFAs her baby cannot yet make on its own. EFAs are grouped into two families known as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Fatty-acid nutrition is crucial to developing full cognitive and visual potential and deterring common conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, retinitis, poor night vision and dyslexia. Seventy percent of the total number of brain cells are developed before a child is born. During the period of the most rapid fetal and infant growth, which begins at conception and continues until roughly 18 weeks of age, the integral PFAs are the omega-3 DHA and the omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA). These two fatty acids are integrated into fetal and central nervous system membranes, including brain, nerves, and retina.

Visual acuity also depends on DHA, which attaches to the outer layers of rod photoreceptors in the retina. Even a marginal DHA deficiency can have long-term effects on visual development.

Dennis Hoffman, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Retina Foundation of the Southwest in Dallas, TX, have proposed DHA be added to infant formulas to improve visual acuity as well as cognitive function.

Overall, North American women are less able to provide adequate DHA levels during pregnancy and lactation, even compared to women from other countries. Consequently North American-born babies stand a good chance of having sub optimal DHA levels.

David L. Hachey, M.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Waco, TX, reports that women with low DHA levels may suffer more obstetric complications. A study revealed that supplementing pregnant women with fish oil, which supplies DHA, reduced this and other obstetric complications. In addition, full-term babies born to the supplemented mothers were generally healthier and more likely to survive than their counterparts born to non-supplemented mothers.

Adding DHA to infant formulas, although instituted in 50 other countries and approved by the expert panel of the World Health Organization, has not yet been adopted in the U.S.

Reference: Am J Clin Nutr 1993, 703S-10S.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Bone Health

Recent research has indicated that the omega-3 polyun--saturated fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid can help increase bone formation and reduce bone resorption. The human skeleton is a highly active metabolic tissue, continually changing throughout life.

The process of bone modeling is associated with body growth in children, teenagers, and young adults, when 100% of their bone surface is active.

Bone remodeling is the process of bone growth associated with maintaining a fixed adult bone mass. In remodeling, only about 20% of the bone surface is active. Older bone tissue is destroyed and replaced by new bone tissue in a cyclical process. In the case of osteoporosis, the basic problem is that resorption gets ahead of formation, resulting in a new bone loss.

A human study has specifically examined the effects of essential fatty acids supplementation on osteoporosis. Forty elderly women with age-related osteoporosis were divided into four groups. They received one of four treatments daily for 16 weeks: 4 grams evening primrose oil; 4 grams fish oil; 4 grams of a fish and evening primrose oil mixture; or 4 grams olive oil placebo. The women took no other medications, supplements, or special foods.

In this study fish oil increased serum calcium, osteocalcin, and collagen. Evening primrose oil alone had no significant effects, but the positive results from the fish oil group were also seen in the fish oil plus evening primrose oil group. According to the research team, evening primrose oil may have potentiated the effects of fish oil.

Clinical depression in both women and men has been correlated with reduced bone density. Clinical depression is known to be associated with strongly reduced levels of omega-3 fatty acid, and clinically depressed people have been found to respond to fish oil supplementation.

A most recent study indicates that doses of 2 grams per day of fish oil, evening primrose, or black currant or borage oil are safe, and may enhance bone formation, especially when used on a long-term, preventive basis.

References: Broadhurst, C.L., Sinther, M. "Evening primrose oil: pharmacological and clinical applications." Mazza, J.G., Ooma, G.D., editors. Functional foods: herbs, botanicals and teas, 2000, 213-64.

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Ginger Root For Motion Sickness In Children

Motion sickness severity varies with the type of stimulus and on the threshold of the sufferer. Motion sickness symptoms appear when there is a mismatch between information from the vestibular apparatus (part of the inner ear) and other information about the body's position. This mismatch causes signals to be sent from the vestibular apparatus to the nausea and vomiting centers in the brain.

Motion sickness is typically treated with drugs that act cen-trally and inhibit cholinergic receptors to reduce the feedback loop between the vestibular apparatus and the nausea and vomiting centers in the brain. However, these drugs have side effects that limit their use, especially in children.

Studies have shown that ginger (Zingiber officinale) is safer than centrally-acting drugs, especially since it does not cause drowsiness.

Boys and girls aged 4 to 8 years who were prone to motion sickness were divided into two groups. One group received standardized preparation of ginger root 30 minutes before the start of the two-day trip, and every 4 hours thereafter as necessary.

The other group received 12.5 to 25 mgs dimenhydrinate 30 minutes before the start of the two-day trip, and every 4 hours thereafter as necessary. The severity of motion sickness was determined by a pediatrician, and included subjective and objective symptoms.

The physician rated the ginger as having good effectiveness in 100% of the children, and rated dimenhydrinate as having good effectiveness in only 30.8% of the children.

The symptoms disappeared in the children taking ginger, but only improved in the children taking dimenhydrinate. The dimenhydrinate group reported substantial effects (vertigo, increased salivation, stomach ache, nausea, dry mouth, pallor, and cold sweats), while the ginger root group reported none.

Reference: American Botanical Council, HerbClip.

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Vitamin E In Soy Most Potent

Scientists at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, is associated with a lower risk for developing prostate cancer.

The researchers, led by Kathy J. Helzlsouer, found that gamma-tocopherol, found mostly in soy-based foods, appeared to promote prostate health by enhancing the effects of alpha-tocopherol and selenium. In fact, researchers suggest that gamma-tocopherol may have greater antioxidant benefits than its cousin, alpha-tocopherol.

In a case-controlled study of 10,456 males, 110 developed prostate cancer. By studying serum levels of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol and selenium levels, it was found that men with the highest levels of gamma-tocopherol had a five-fold decrease for the risk of prostate cancer.

"There's a protein in your liver that prefers alpha over all other forms of vitamin E," said Brent Flitkinger, a nutrition researcher scientist at Archer Daniels Midland Co. "That's not to say that there might be something in your body that gamma might be beneficial for. Information is just starting to come out about gamma, making it an exciting area."

Flitkinger stated that some as-says have shown that the gamma form holds higher antioxidant levels than the alpha form.

Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2000: 92, 24:2018-23.

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NADH For Energy And Jet Lag

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects an estimated 800,000 North Americans. Beyond experiencing extreme and persistent fatigue, CFS sufferers often have a complex array of complaints: from headaches and an inability to concentrate to muscular pains and sleep disturbances. Because many CFS symptoms resemble those of other disorders, diagnosis is difficult. The good news for CFS sufferers is that new research shows a nutritional supplement, NADH, may offer real relief.

NADH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) has been found to be a safe and effective natural therapy that can reduce and relieve some of the debilitating symptoms of CFS, especially the lack of energy.

Research on NADH's efficacy in treating CFS showed that elevated serotonin levels for 75% of the patients fell to normal limits following NADH therapy.

Studies using a special diagnostic blood test have shown that after taking NADH orally, CFS patients experienced increased energy, more muscle strength, and reduced muscle pain. Memory problems, depression, and cognitive impairments associated with CFS were improved after taking NADH.

Because NADH is so effective at increasing energy in CFS sufferers, it may also be a possible energy-producing therapy for other energy-depleting conditions. A most interesting recent study looked at whether NADH could counteract the effects of jet lag.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, aviation and space medicine researchers investigated the effects of a NADH supplement on the mental and physical impact of jet lag after long-distance travel. Study participants traveled on "red eye" flights spanning four time zones. The morning following the flights, subjects were randomly given 20 mg of NADH or a placebo. The NADH group achieved significantly better performance on critical thinking tests and skilled motor activities compared to the placebo group.

Reference: Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 1999; 82:185-91.

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Studies Show Schoolchildren Undernourished

Agrowing percentage of British schoolchildren are undernourished to a degree that is likely to adversely influence their physical and mental development, according to the 800-page report of the National Diet and Nutritional Survey of British Children of school age.

Intakes of protein and calories had fallen, putting teenagers, especially girls, at risk of mild protein malnutrition. Of equal importance is the finding that many minerals and the B vitamins are now under-consumed despite the wide availability of whole foods and information on healthy eating.

Biochemical evidence of mild iron deficiency was found in 36% of 15 to 18-year-old girls. Mild iron deficiency has been found to have a small but discernible effect on concentration, reading ability, and energy levels.

Calcium intakes are also poor and are below the RDA for 12% of girls and 6% of boys, with teenagers being at greater risk.

Magnesium fares the worst of any mineral with slightly over 50% of all girls age 11 to 18 years having intakes likely to be below the RDA.

The blood tests of vitamin B status reveal approximately 8% of the entire group having low levels of folate, 10% being low in vitamin B6, and an amazing 75% or more being deficient in vitamin B2.

Although this extensive study was conducted on British school children, because of similar diets, we may expect parallel concerns over the nutritional needs of North American children being met as well.

Reference: Dr. Alan Stewart, Research Bites, HFB, December 2000.

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Esterfied vitamin C is vitamin C that has been water processed in a way that mimics the human metabolic cycle by promoting oxidative changes. The result is a non-acidic form of vitamin C that appears to be four times more bioavailable than regular vitamin C.

A study performed by Dr. Howard Hunt, Professor Emeritus at University of California San Diego, showed that Ester-C increased the levels of ascorbic acid in white blood cells to 300 to 400 percent of the baseline ascorbic acid level.

Ester-C is a form of vitamin C that has natural metabolites. These natural metabolites are involved in the transport of vitamin C through the cell membrane.

Reference: Wright, J.V., Suen, R.M., Kirk, F.R. "Comparative studies of "Ester-C" versus L-ascorbic acid." International Clinical Nutrition Review, 2000; 10:267-70.

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Written by: EcoMall

Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.


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