In the News – Health and Nutrition Research

In this week’s article we provide a review of recent health related stories that made the news with five items comprising:

  • “An exciting finding: Are the brain health benefits of B vitamins dependent on Omega  3 levels?”
  • “Vitamin D shows promise for treating Crohn’s Disease”
  • “Penn Research points to Omega 3 as a nutritional intervention for Childhood  Behavioural Problems”
  • “World entering era of global food insecurity with malnutrition and obesity side by side within countries, says leading food expert”
  • “High fat diet changes gut microbe populations and brain’s ability to recognize fullness”


An exciting finding: Are the brain health benefits of B vitamins dependent on Omega 3 Levels?

“B vitamins may protect against age-related brain wasting, but only in people with high omega 3 levels, says a new study from the University of Oxford that extends our understanding of how nutrients work together.

Data from the VITACOG trial indicated that high-dose B vitamin supplementation slowed brain wasting (atrophy) in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by 40% but only when omega 3 levels were already high.

On the other hand, in people with low blood levels of omega 3, supplements of folic acid plus vitamins B6 and B12 had no beneficial effect, according to results published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”.

In an accompanying editorial, Imrich Blasko from Innsbruck Medical University in Austria wrote that, even with the study’s small number of participants and the need for findings to be repeated, the study has ‘important implications’.

It also found a link between B vitamins, omega 3 and homocysteine, an amino acid linked to suspected or confirmed dementia. Tissue and plasma concentrations of homocysteine are known to be determined by vitamin B status, as they are cofactors for enzymes involved in homocysteine metabolism.”

The role of both B vitamins and omega 3 are well documented as being essential for cognitive health. However, as this new research indicates, the role that B vitamins play could rely on the presence of omega 3.

Full article: An exciting finding: Are the brain health benefits of B vitamins dependent on Omega 3 Levels?

Relevant Cytoplan blogs

Vitamins for the Brain


Vitamin D shows promise for treating Crohn’s Disease

“New research published in this month’s edition of United European Gastroenterology journal suggests that supplementation with vitamin D may impact on the intestinal barrier dysfunction associated with Crohn’s disease, and could have a role in the treatment of the condition. The study is by Professor Maria O’Sullivan and Tara Raftery. Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

There is emerging data that vitamin D supplementation may prolong remission in CD; however, the clinical efficacy and underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this new research, the authors aimed to determine changes in gut barrier function (as determined by intestinal permeability and antimicrobial peptide concentrations) as well as disease markers in CD, in response to vitamin D supplementation.

In a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study, the authors assigned 27 CD patients in remission to 2000 IU/day vitamin D supplementation or placebo for 3 months. They found, that patients treated with the supplementation were more likely to maintain their intestinal permeability, whereas this deteriorated in the placebo group. Increased intestinal permeability is considered a measure of gut leakiness, which is shown to predict and precede clinical relapse in CD. In addition, patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had signs of reduced inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein and antimicrobial peptides), and these patients also reported better quality of life.”

Full article: Vitamin D shows promise for treating Crohn’s Disease


Penn Research Points to Omega 3 as a Nutritional Intervention for Childhood Behavioural Problems

“Raine’s new study featured a randomized controlled trial where children would receive regular omega 3 supplements in the form of a juice drink. One hundred children, aged 8 to 16, would each receive a drink containing a gram of omega 3 once a day for six months, matched with 100 children who received the same drink without the supplement. The children and parents in both groups took a series of personality assessments and questionnaires at the start.

After six months, the researchers administered a simple blood test to see if the children in the experimental group had higher levels of omega 3 than those in the controls. They also had both parents and children take the personality assessments. Six months after that, the researchers had parents and children take the assessment again to see if there were any lasting effects from the supplements.

The assessments had parents rate their children on “externalising” aggressive and antisocial behaviour, such as getting into fights or lying, as well as  “internalising” behaviour, such as depression, anxiety and withdrawal. Children were also asked to rate themselves on these traits.

While the children’s self-reports remained flat for both groups, the average rate of antisocial and aggressive behaviour as described by the parents dropped in both groups by the six-month point. Critically, however, those rates returned to the baseline for the control group but remained lowered in the experimental group, at the 12-month point.

“Compared to the baseline at zero months,” Raine said, “both groups show improvement in both the externalising and internalising behaviour problems after six months. That’s the placebo effect.

“But what was particularly interesting was what was happening at 12 months. The control group returned to the baseline while the omega 3 group continued to go down. In the end, we saw a 42 percent reduction in scores on externalising behaviour and 62 percent reduction in internalising behaviour.“”

Full article: Penn Research Points to Omega 3 as a Nutritional Intervention for Childhood Behavioural Problems

Relevant Cytoplan Blogs

Children, Sleep Quality, Behaviour and Omega 3


World entering era of global food insecurity with malnutrition and obesity side by side within countries, says leading food expert

““The world is entering an era of global food insecurity which is already leading to the “double burden” of both obesity and malnutrition occurring side by side within countries and even within the same families, a leading food expert has warned.

It will become increasingly common to see obese parents in some developing countries raising underweight and stunted children because high-calorie food is cheaper and more readily available than the nutritious food needed for healthy growth, said Alan Dangour of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“We are certainly looking at a period of increased instability in the supply of food, and also the diversity and types of food that are available are going to change,” said Dr Dangour, who is to lead a major study into global food insecurity and its impact on health.

“A result of this is called the ‘double burden’ of malnutrition,” he added. “Under-nutrition causes starvation and stunting in children, whereas obesity and over-weight in adults is another form of malnutrition, caused by eating the wrong type of food.””

Full article: World entering era of global food insecurity with malnutrition and obesity side by side within countries, says leading food expert

Relevant Cytoplan Blogs

Food-Based Supplements – Bridging your ‘Nutrition Gap’

Cytoplan & ‘The Nutrition Gap’


High fat diet changes gut microbe populations and brain’s ability to recognize fullness

“Have you ever wondered why eating one good-tasting French fry may lead you to eat the whole batch and leave you wanting more? According to a new study with rats, that high-fat indulgence literally changes the populations of bacteria residing inside the gut and also alters the signaling to the brain. The result? The brain no longer senses signals for fullness, which can cause overeating – a leading cause of obesity.

“In the regular physiological state, many different strains of bacteria live in a balanced environment in the intestinal tract,” said Dr. Czaja. “They don’t overpopulate. There are little shifts, but in general this population is quite stable. When we start feeding the rats a different diet, there is an immediate effect. Suddenly, different nutrients are changing the microenvironment in the gut and some bacteria begin to overpopulate. Some sensitive bacteria begin to die and some populations may even vanish. So, introducing a significant change in the gut micro-environment triggers a cascade of events that leads to this population switch.”

These changes can cause inflammation that damages the nerve cells that carry signals from the gut to the brain, resulting in gut-brain miscommunication. It is not yet known whether this change is permanent or reversible, but Dr. Czaja and his colleagues plan to address this question in the future.

When it comes to diet and how it impacts health, Dr. Czaja says we should “think systemically.” “All of the components and receptors in our body are interconnected and should work in harmony. There is not a single receptor responsible for huge physiological outcomes.”

Throughout most of history until just a few decades ago, our bodies were accustomed to whole foods derived from natural sources, rather than artificial and highly processed foods. The research provides new insight into how balance in the intestinal microbiota and gut-brain communication – which was well adjusted over millennia – might be disturbed by the introduction of modified foods high in fat and sugar. Disrupting that balance leads to the confused brain and inappropriate satiety feedback that can result in obesity.”

(This research used marine omega 3)

Editors comments: We would like to mention that although this research states – correctly –  that a diet high in  saturated fats and refined sugars may have a negative impact on the bacteria in the gut. Conversely, omega 3 unsaturated fats in fact have a beneficial effect on gut microbiota.

The following webpage provides various studies surrounding this area including how omega 3 fatty acids prevent dysbiosis and promote beneficial microbes.

Evolutionary Medicine: Which fats are good for you and your microbiota?

Full article: High fat diet changes gut microbe populations and brain’s ability to recognize fullness


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
amanda@cytoplan.co.uk, 01684 310099


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