Health & Nutrition in the News

We provide a review of recent health related research stories that have been prominent in the news with five items comprising:

  • Fatty acids in fish may shield brain from mercury damage
  • Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging
  • Vitamin D and Omega-3 together may help mental illness
  • The ‘Magnesium Hypothesis of Cardiovascular Disease’
  • UK and US dietary advice on fats “should never have been introduced”

Fatty acids in fish may shield brain from mercury damage

The University of Rochester Medical Centre have reported that “New findings from research in the Seychelles provide further evidence that the benefits of fish consumption on prenatal development may offset the risks associated with mercury exposure. In fact, the new study, which appears today on in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that the nutrients found in fish have properties that protect the brain from the potential toxic effects of the chemical.

Three decades of research in the Seychelles have consistently shown that high levels of fish consumption by pregnant mothers – an average of 12 meals per week – do not produce developmental problems in their children.”

As CAM mentioned in the March edition of their magazine, “Mercury is found in the environment as a result of both natural and human (e.g coal plant) activity. Much of it ends up being deposited in the world’s oceans and, as a result, fish harbour the chemical in very small amounts”.

The mercury content in fish has previously been the reason for certain guidelines on fish consumption being slightly lower than necessary, advising that pregnant women limit their consumption of certain fish due to its known mercury exposure believing it could have a negative effect on a child’s development.

However the research in the Seychelles actually proves that fish has properties which offset the risks attached to mercury, “Researchers have previously equated this phenomenon to a kind of biological horse race, with the developmental benefits of nutrients in fish outpacing the possible harmful effects of mercury also found in fish.”

Full story: Fatty Acids in Fish May Shield Brain from Mercury Damage

 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Abstract): Prenatal Exposure to Mercury: Seychelles Study

Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging

“Inadequate dietary intakes of vitamins and minerals are widespread, most likely due to excessive consumption of energy-rich, micronutrient-poor, refined food. Inadequate intakes may result in chronic metabolic disruption, including mitochondrial decay.

Natural selection favors short-term survival at the expense of long-term health. I hypothesize that short-term survival was achieved by allocating scarce micronutrients by triage, in part through an adjustment of the binding affinity of proteins for required micronutrients. If this hypothesis is correct, micronutrient deficiencies that trigger the triage response would accelerate cancer, aging, and neural decay but would leave critical metabolic functions, such as ATP production, intact. Evidence that micronutrient malnutrition increases late onset diseases, such as cancer, is discussed. A multivitamin-mineral supplement is one low-cost way to ensure intake of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of micronutrients throughout life.”

This is the theory of ‘triage’ proposed by Prof. Bruce Ames that coincides with the ‘nutrition gap’ that we at Cytoplan are so heavily influenced by. Put simply, Ames’ theory proposes that when a key micronutrient deficiency is present the body automatically favours short-term health as opposed to long-term health and Ames believes this to be a key reason for such large numbers of people getting degenerative diseases, such as Cancer, as we get older.

“There is increasing evidence that nutritional inadequacies during development can have consequences later in life. For example, fetal malnutrition during the Dutch famine in 1944–1945 was associated with coronary artery disease in adulthood, although both micronutrient and macronutrient malnutrition may have contributed to this late-onset disease.”

US National Library of Medicine: Low micronutrient intake may accelerate the degenerative diseases of aging

Cytoplan Blog: Cytoplan & ‘The Nutrition Gap’

 Vitamin D and omega-3 together may help mental illness

“Vitamin D and omega-3 could work together to improve cognitive function and social behaviour with particular relevance for battling ADHD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, says researchers.

While previous studies have established that omega-3 and vitamin D are beneficial in improving cognitive function and behaviour, the exact mechanisms relating to this were unknown” (as reported by Nutraingredients)

Prof. Bruce Ames, who was the co-author of the study suggests that many sufferers of forms of mental illnesses are deficient in micronutrients especially vitamin D and omega 3, “This may explain why supplementation with these essential micronutrients has been shown to be effective for treating symptoms associated with ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia impulsive behaviour, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder”

Supplementing Vitamin D (especially during the winter months) and Omega 3 has become increasingly popular, especially due to the severe lack of the latter in our daily diets. And it has become clear from Ames’ research that higher levels of the two nutrients may be the key reaching for optimal Serotonin levels.

This synergy of omega-3 and vitamin D can be explained in part by their effects on the serotonin system: vitamin D regulates serotonin synthesis, EPA influences serotonin release, and DHA improves membrane embedded serotonin receptor accessibility”, says the study.

According to the researchers, low serotonin levels in normal individuals are associated with antisocial behaviour, increased uncontrolled aggressive behaviour and self-injury”

Faseb Journal: Vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids control serotonin synthesis and action

Nutraingredients: Vitamin D and Omega 3 together may help mental illness

Cytoplan Blog: Omega 3 Supplements – Fish, Krill or Algae?

The Magnesium Hypothesis of Cardiovascular Disease

“A groundbreaking review of cardiovascular disease research studies dating back to as early as 1937 finds that low magnesium levels—not cholesterol or saturated fat intake—are the greatest predictor of all aspects of heart disease.

Noted research scientist and author Andrea Rosanoff, PhD, who conducted the comprehensive review, which has been ongoing for over 10 years, and which builds upon the work begun by Mildred Seelig, MD, who studied the relationship of magnesium to cardiovascular disease for over 40 years, says, “These numerous studies have found low magnesium to be associated with all known cardiovascular risk factors, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure, arterial plaque build-up (atherogenesis), hardening of the arteries and the calcification of soft tissues. This means we have been chasing our tails all of these years going after cholesterol and the high saturated-fat diet, when the true culprit was and still is low magnesium.””

 In the original study The Magnesium Hypothesis of Cardiovascular Disease, Dr Andrea Rosanoff, PhD mentions that “Calcium supplement recommendations have become common in medicine, however, without the necessary balancing with magnesium. As a result, recent studies are showing what the Magnesium Hypothesis of CVD long ago predicted: a rise in Ca intake from foods and/or supplements, without a concomitant balancing rise in Mg intake, can bring on heart disease”.

This accentuates the importance of a good balance between Calcium and Magnesium in your body. It is a known fact that Calcium is an essential mineral linked to the maintenance of bone health, however what is often overlooked is the importance of Magnesium in ratio to Calcium. A poor balance between the two essential minerals can have detrimental effects on your cardiovascular health as you get older.

Full Research: The Magnesium Hypothesis of Cardiovascular Disease

UK and US dietary advice on fats “should never have been introduced”

Last month the Daily Telegraph headed an article titled “Guidelines to avoid fat should never have been introduced” stating that “Guidelines warning people to avoid eating fatty foods such as butter and cheese were not scientifically backed up when they were introduced 30 years ago, but dietary experts say that many perceived backtracks on what is healthy or unhealthy do more harm than good as it is down to the individual.

Coffee, sugar, salt, wine and chocolate are just some of the things that are said to be bad for you one minute and then good for you the next.

The reports authors, led by University of the West of Scotland researcher Zoë Harcombe, claim that an analysis of the original evidence used to justify saturated fat warnings has exposed serious flaws in how the original data was gathered.

“It seems incomprehensible that dietary advice was introduced for 220 million Americans and 56 million UK citizens given the contrary results from a small number of unhealthy men,” argue the reports authors. “Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced.””

The report, which led to dietary advice on fat consumption being issued to millions of US and UK citizens in 1977 and 1993, claimed that reducing overall fat consumption from foods such as red meats, butter and cakes to around 30% of overall energy intake and saturated fats to around 10% to cut the risk of potential heart disease.

It is important to note that the main problem with the original report is that it essentially makes a “scapegoat” out of saturated fats, proposing it as the main and only dietary villain with regards to heart disease. For years this distracted the public eye from other nutrients, for example carbohydrates, that can be just as harmful and that are so common in modern western diets. It is certainly true that a high level of saturated fats in your diet can be detrimental to your health but it is not the only nutrient that can have a negative effect on your well-being.

At Cytoplan, we avidly support the Paleo diet which encourages avoiding saturated fats, please follow the link to our blog for more information.

Daily Telegraph: Guidelines to avoid fat should never have been introduced

Cytoplan Blog: The Authentic Paleo Lifestyle

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.

Amanda Williams, Cytoplan Ltd, 01684 310099

Last updated on 12th March 2015 by


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