A review of recent health related research stories that made the news with five items comprising: ‘Low Omega-3 could explain why some children struggle with reading’; ‘Bacteria responsible for gum disease facilitates development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis’; ‘Nutritional supplement intervention may have significant benefits in hospital’; ‘Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 (Vitamin K2) supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women’ and ‘Exercise when you’re pregnant ‘and you’ll have a brighter baby’.
‘Low Omega-3 could explain why some children struggle with reading’ : “An Oxford University study has shown that a representative sample of UK schoolchildren aged seven to nine years had low levels of key Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Furthermore, the study found that children’s blood levels of the long-chain Omega-3 DHA (the form found in most abundance in the brain) ‘significantly predicted’ how well they were able to concentrate and learn.”
The study came from Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are predominantly found in fish and seafood and their importance to support good health, at all stages of life, is increasingly being researched. Omega 3 contributes to normal brain function and is included in baby formulas. Fish consumption has declined dramatically in the UK and it was interesting that the researchers commented:
“Parents also reported on their child’s diet, revealing to the researchers that almost nine out of ten children in the sample ate fish less than twice a week, and nearly one in ten never ate fish at all. The government’s guidelines for a healthy diet recommend at least two portions of fish a week.”
‘Nutritional supplement intervention may have significant benefits in hospital’. “Oral nutritional supplements provided to patients during hospitalisation is associated with significant reductions in length of stay and hospitalisation costs, according to economic research backed by Abbott Nutrition”. (Nutraingredients.com – link to full story below).
It is quite surprising that this significant piece of research from the USA received little (or no) mainstream media attention in the UK. Perhaps some were put off by the research being backed by a nutrition company. However it was led by the University of Chicago and the research was based on a very large number of hospital patient admissions.
It should be no surprise to many that ensuring good nutritional content in hospital should help reduce the time a patient spends there – and thus costs? Many patients may have significantly low nutritional levels on entering hospital due to ongoing illness or injury. Ensuring a boost to nutrition via diet and/or supplements one would think could only help?
Nutraingredients.com continue their report: “The health economics and outcomes study analysed data from more than one million adult hospital cases revealed 21 percent reduction in length of hospital stay and cost with nutritional intervention. Led byTomas Philipson from the University of Chicago, USA, and backed by funding from Abbott Nutrition, the research found that hospitalised patients that were provided with nutritional supplements benefited from a 2.3 day reduction in length of stay (21% reduction) and a saving of around €3,581 in patient costs ($4,734) – which corresponds to a 21.6% reduction in costs. Additionally, the team revealed that supplementation cut the probability of a 30-day readmission in patients who had at least one known subsequent readmission by 6.7%”
Nutraingredients.com : Nutritional supplement intervention may have significant benefits in hospital
American Journal of Managed Care: Impact of Oral Nutritional Supplementation on Hospital Outcomes
’Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 (Vitamin K2) supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women’ “We have investigated whether low-dose vitamin K2 supplements (menaquinone-7, MK-7) could beneficially affect bone health. Next to an improved vitamin K status, MK-7 supplementation significantly decreased the age-related decline in bone mineral density and bone strength. Low-dose MK-7 supplements may therefore help postmenopausal women prevent bone loss.” (link below).
The Dutch research was actually published earlier this year but seemed to gain little mainstream media coverage either here or overseas. The research demonstrated that supplements of natural vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) prevent bone loss and improve bone strength in post-menopausal women. The study has been recently re-reported and hopefully this will mean the topic gains greater awareness – primarily for women.
Post-menopausal women are particularly at risk of bone density loss / osteoporosis, and unfortunately this often leads to bone fractures. This is primarily as a result of hormonal changes occurring. We have a good article on Vitamin K elsewhere on our blog and the link is below.
Now University: Improving Bone Health in Postmenopausal Women
Cytolpan Blog: Vitamin K2 – For Cardiovascular Health, Fighting Cancers and Osteoporosis?
Springer: Abstract; Three-year low-dose menaquinone-7 supplementation helps decrease bone loss in healthy postmenopausal women
‘Bacteria responsible for gum disease facilitates development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis’. “In an article published September 12, 2013, in PLoS Pathogens, Jan Potempa, PhD, DSc, and his research team uncover how the bacterium responsible for periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis worsens rheumatoid arthritis by leading to earlier onset, faster progression and greater severity of the disease, including increased bone and cartilage destruction.” (Louisville University School of Dentistry – link to full story below).
Some of you may be surprised by the topic of this research item? There has been for some time substantive research relating to the association between poor oral health and other health issues – particularly cardiovascular health. So brushing your teeth and flossing is not just about maintaining good teeth and gum health. As the relevant section of the NHS website reports (link below):
“Gum disease increases your risk of all kinds of other health complications, including stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, explains: “The link between oral health and overall body health is well documented and backed by robust scientific evidence.”
‘Exercise when you’re pregnant ‘and you’ll have a brighter baby’: “Three 20-minute sessions a week help boost brain development in the womb. Researchers found that being exposed to physical activity while in the womb boosts brain development. Just three 20-minute sessions a week makes a difference. The Canadian researchers looked at new babies but believe the benefits could last for life.” (Daily Mail – link below).
This story received a fair degree of media attention; sufficiently so for the section of the NHS Choices website ‘Behind the Headlines’ to react and review the research. The link to their relevant webpage is provided below.
Naturally the good health of the expectant mother is essential, both for her and the baby. The NHS were extremely cautious in their review of the research, and understandably so; they commented: “Very limited detail is given on the trial, and without full study information provided, it is not possible to comment on the quality of this research and whether its results are reliable.” They further add:
“Because of this, the media reporting of the study is premature, and potentially misleading. That said, exercising during pregnancy is recommended. It may not make your baby more intelligent but there is evidence that it can help reduce the risks of complications in later pregnancy and during labour”.
Let us hope a lot more research is done into this topic, or in ‘follow up’. We also add a link to the NHS webpage below giving information on “benefits of exercises in pregnancy and the safest ways to exercise”.
Daily Mail: Exercise when you’re pregnant ‘and you’ll have a brighter baby’
NHS Choices, Behind the Headlines: Claims pregnancy exercise boosts baby brain power
NHS Website: Benefits of exercises in pregnancy and the safest ways to exercise
If you have any questions regarding this article, any of the health topics raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Amanda) by phone or email at any time.