In the news – health and nutrition research

In this week’s article we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles to be in the news, five items comprising:

  • Obese women more likely to have babies with serious birth defects, says study
  • Curcumin touted for metabolic benefits in people with fatty liver disease
  • Teenagers’ sleep quality and mental health at risk over late-night mobile phone use
  • The role of vitamin A in Diabetes
  • Astaxanthin supplements may improve heart rates during exercise


Obese women more likely to have babies with serious birth defects, says study

Women who are obese when they conceive are more likely to have a baby with serious birth defects, a major study has found.

The research revealed a sliding scale of risk for health problems including congenital heart defects, anomalies of the digestive system and malformations of genital organs or limbs.

The study is the first to show that babies of women who are overweight, but not clinically obese, are also slightly more likely to have health problems in the first year of life.

The study, which used data from more than 1.2 million live births in Sweden between 2001 and 2014, provides some of the most compelling evidence so far of link between obesity in pregnancy and birth defects. While the additional risk was small for women who were just above the healthy weight range, the progressive increase in risk made the researchers more confident that the link was causal.

Martin Neovius, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute and the study’s senior author, said: “In terms of risk, it is better to be normal weight than overweight and much better to be normal weight than obese.”

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers urged women who are planning pregnancy to aim to get their weight within the healthy range before conception.

“Efforts should be made to encourage women of reproductive age to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to obtain a normal body weight before conception,” the authors wrote.

Read the full article via this link.

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Curcumin touted for metabolic benefits in people with fatty liver disease

Supplementation with curcumin could improve BMI, metabolic status and liver biomarkers in people with NAFLD, a new trial suggests.

Findings from the randomised, controlled, clinical study suggest that supplementation for eight weeks can improve multiple measures of health including, BMI, liver fat levels and transaminase levels in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Writing in the journal Drug Research, scientists led by Yunes Panahi at the Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences in Iran, reported the findings of the RCT looking at the effects of curcumin (in the form of Indena’s bioavailable Meriva ingredient) on health measures in people with NAFLD.

The team found supplementation with 1,000 mg per day of curcumin (split into two doses) was safe and well tolerated during the course of the trial, and resulted in improved metabolic and health outcomes including lower serum levels of total cholesterol and significantly improved ultrasonographic results.

Furthermore, supplementation with curcumin was associated with a statistically significant reduction in body mass index (BMI) – by 0.99 points in the curcumin compared with just 0.15 points for the placebo group.

Read the full article via this link.

Related Cytoplan blogs

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Teenagers’ sleep quality and mental health at risk over late-night mobile phone use

Teenagers’ late-night mobile phone use is harming their sleep and potentially their mental health, say researchers who advised that “physical boundaries” be set over use of such devices in the bedroom.

A longitudinal study of 1,101 Australian high school students aged between 13 and 16 found poor-quality sleep associated with late-night texting or calling was linked to a decline in mental health, such as depressed moods and declines in self-esteem and coping ability.

Lead researcher, Lynette Vernon of Murdoch University in Perth, said her findings were evidence of the need for curfews for teenagers to be established around use of devices in their bedrooms. Adolescents who used their phones as alarms should replace them with clocks in order to maintain “physical boundaries”, she said.

Researchers examined teenagers’ mobile phone use and their subsequent changes in well-being over four years of high school from 2010 to 2013, and found increasingly unencumbered access led to increases in psycho-social maladjustment.

Vernon said mobile phones had become entrenched in young people’s lives, and many did not have their use restricted. She pointed to international research that found about 80% of the young had access to a mobile phone.

Read the full article via this link.

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The role of vitamin A in Diabetes

There has been no known link between diabetes and vitamin A – until now. A new study suggests that the vitamin improves the insulin producing β-cell´s function.

The researchers initially discovered that insulin-producing beta-cells contain a large quantity of a cell surface receptor for vitamin A.

“There are no unnecessary surface receptors in human cells. They all serve a purpose but which, in many cases, is still unknown and because of that they are called “orphan” receptors. When we discovered that insulin cells have a cell surface expressed receptor for vitamin A, we thought it was important to find out why and what the purpose is of a cell surface receptor interacting with vitamin A mediating a rapid response to vitamin A,” explains Albert Salehi, senior researcher at the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden.

The researchers believe that the purpose, in this particular case, is that vitamin A plays an important role for the development of beta-cells in the early stages of life, but also for a proper function during the remaining life especially during patho-physiological conditions, i.e some inflammatory conditions.

Read the full article via this link.

Related Cytoplan blogs

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Astaxanthin supplements may improve heart reates during exercise

Daily supplements containing astaxanthin may lower the heart rate of recreational athletes during exercise, says a new study.

Data presented at the American College of Sports Nutrition indicated that a daily 12mg dose of astaxanthin reduced heart rate by 10% during long distance running (or submaximal intensity).

On the other hand, no impact was seen at higher intensities. The double-blind, parallel-design study included 28 recreational runners with an average age of 42 randomly assigned to consume astaxanthin supplements or placebo for eight weeks.

“We found a very novel effect of natural astaxanthin to improve overall cardiovascular function,” said lead researcher Shawn Talbott, PhD, from Utah-based EQQIL. “The subjects in this study were able to perform the same amount of ‘work’ – but at lower cardiovascular ‘strain’ after supplementing with astaxanthin.”

Yanmei Li, the CEO of BGG (the parent company of AlgaeHealth), said: “The implications of this study for athletes as well as potential benefits for anyone concerned with cardiovascular health are immense. We plan to publish this result in conjunction with some other exciting clinical results in a strong peer-reviewed journal later this year.”

Read the full article via this link.

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If you have any questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters please do contact me (Clare) by phone or email at any time.

clare@cytoplan.co.uk, 01684 310099

The Cytoplan editorial team: Clare Daley and Joseph Forsyth.


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