CNN’s Sanjay Gupta spotlights another case where high doses of omega-3s had a substantial benefit on a 16-year old boy who was hit by a car and suffered a severe brain injury. The parents, John and JJ Virgin (JJ is a well known health and wellness author), were contacted by the Brain Health Education and Research Institute suggesting high doses of fish oil. The rest of the story is amazing.
Updated nutritional guidelines recommend consuming 20 to 30 percent of your daily calories from fats. But the type of fat you eat can have a big impact on your health.
Fats are essential for proper cell function and different systems of the body. Some fats are manufactured by the body, but those that are not must be consumed in the diet. Not all fats are the same, and knowing which are good for you and which could damage your health can guide your food choices.
The updated recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advise people to increase their consumption of a particular type of fat — polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) called omega-3 PUFAs — and to limit the amount of trans fat and saturated fats they eat.
People who suffer traumatic brain injuries face an elevated risk of death from suicide or accidents for years to come, according to a new study based on four decades of data on hundreds of thousand of patients in Sweden.
Those who survived the immediate aftermath of moderate and severe traumatic brain injuries were three times more likely than people without such injuries to die prematurely, defined by the researchers as before age 56.
Experts said the study was likely to spur calls for long-term monitoring of some brain injury patients. By virtue of its size and scope, the analysis, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, puts an authoritative stamp on a growing body of evidence that impacts to the brain can be deadly in ways that are not easily apparent.
“I don’t think you can get much more valuable or detailed data,” said Dr. Michael Yochelson, a brain trauma expert at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington who was not involved in the study.
By Alan R. Gaby, MD
On Dec. 17, there was widespread coverage in the news media of an editorial that appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Annals), under the title, “Enough is enough: stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”(1) The authors of the editorial concluded, “We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.” However, the editorial appears to be biased and to lack scholarship, as it is based on selective reporting and a superficial analysis of the vast and complex body research on the health effects of nutritional supplements.
The editorial focused mainly on three studies published in that issue of the Annals. The first study found that supplementing with large doses of vitamins and minerals after a heart attack reduced the recurrence rate of cardiovascular events (such as heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery) by 11 percent, compared with a placebo. (2) However, because this reduction was not statistically significant, the editorial concluded (incorrectly) that the treatment was ineffective. The failure to demonstrate that an effect is statistically significant is not the same as demonstrating the absence of an effect…
The second study in the Annals found that daily use of a low-potency multivitamin (Centrum Silver) for an average of 8.5 years had no effect on cognitive function in elderly men participating in the large Physicians’ Health Study II. (3) However, two other recent double-blind trials (which were not mentioned in the editorial) found positive effects of vitamins… recent research has shown that many elderly people need unusually large amounts of this vitamin (500 mcg per day or more in some cases) to achieve optimal vitamin B12 nutritional status. (6) The other difference is that several aluminum-containing artificial coloring agents are present in Centrum Silver (FD&C Blue 2 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Red 40 Aluminum Lake, and FD&C Yellow 6 Aluminum Lake), and these chemicals have the potential to adversely affect cognitive function… Moreover, there is evidence that long-term aluminum exposure can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.(8) The ineffectiveness of a low-potency supplement that contains extraneous and potentially harmful additives does not negate the beneficial effects of higher-potency supplements reported in other trials.
The third Annals study discussed in the editorial was a review of research examining whether vitamin and mineral supplements can prevent heart disease or cancer. (9) The editorial stated there is “no clear evidence” that taking a multivitamin can prevent cancer. However, the research review that was cited in the editorial actually found a statistically significant 7 percent reduction in cancer incidence in men, and no effect in women…
Future research should attempt to understand the differences between studies that found positive results and those that did not, in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of nutritional supplements. Simply dismissing a vast body of research because the results are conflicting is not useful. The case regarding vitamins and minerals is far from closed, and the public is not well served by shallow interpretations of complex issues.
Most large, clinical trials of vitamin supplements, including some that have concluded they are of no value or even harmful, have a flawed methodology that renders them largely useless in determining the real value of these micronutrients, a new analysis suggests.
Many projects have tried to study nutrients that are naturally available in the human diet the same way they would a powerful prescription drug. This leads to conclusions that have little scientific meaning, even less accuracy and often defy a wealth of other evidence, said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, in a new review published in the journal Nutrients…
“More than 90 percent of U.S. adults don’t get the required amounts of vitamins D and E for basic health,” Frei said. “More than 40 percent don’t get enough vitamin C, and half aren’t getting enough vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. Smokers, the elderly, people who are obese, ill or injured often have elevated needs for vitamins and minerals.
“It’s fine to tell people to eat better, but it’s foolish to suggest that a multivitamin which costs a nickel a day is a bad idea.” …
Even though such studies often significantly understate the value of vitamin supplements, the largest and longest clinical trial of multivitamin/mineral supplements found a total reduction of cancer and cataract incidence in male physicians over the age of 50. It suggested that if every adult in the U.S. took such supplements it could prevent up to 130,000 cases of cancer each year, Frei said.
“The cancer reduction would be in addition to providing good basic health by supporting normal function of the body, metabolism and growth,” he said. “If there’s any drug out there that can do all this, it would be considered unethical to withhold it from the general public. But that’s basically the same as recommending against multivitamin/mineral supplements.”
New research from Karolinska Institutet shows that omega-3 fatty acids in dietary supplements can cross the blood brain barrier in people with Alzheimer’s disease, affecting known markers for both the disease itself and inflammation. The findings are presented in the Journal of Internal Medicine, and strengthen the evidence that omega-3 may benefit certain forms of this seriously debilitating disease.
Washington, D.C., December 16, 2013—In response to an editorial, “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:
Statement by Steve Mister, President & CEO, CRN:
“The editorial demonstrates a close-minded, one-sided approach that attempts to dismiss even the proven benefits of vitamins and minerals. It’s a shame for consumers that the authors refuse to recognize the real-life need for vitamin and mineral supplementation, living in a fairy-tale world that makes the inaccurate assumption that we’re all eating healthy diets and getting everything we need from food alone.
We would not suggest that vitamin supplements are a panacea for preventing chronic disease, but we hope the authors would agree that there is an appropriate place for supplements. Given that government research repeatedly demonstrates that the typical consumer diet is falling short on critical nutrients, vitamin supplements are an appropriate option to meet those needs.
With regard to safety issues, the USPSTF draft recommendation, the basis for which comes from a study in the same issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, did not identify safety concerns for vitamins at nutritional doses. Specifically, several scientific authorities have dismissed the concerns raised by the editorial for vitamin E, including this USPSTF report, which states “The USPSTF found adequate evidence that supplementation with vitamin E has little or no significant harm.” The concerns around beta carotene are isolated to high doses in smokers, and are not a concern for the majority of consumers taking a multivitamin; we would however recommend that smokers pay strict attention to their beta-carotene intake under the advice of their doctor. The evidence does not indicate any real health risk for multivitamin use.
Further, the authors attempt to ignore the very real benefits for reducing the risk of cancer and cataracts found in the Physicians’ Health Study II. These findings are even more impressive by the fact that the benefits were found in a well-nourished population, and we haven’t yet begun to explore the potential benefits for most Americans who are not eating a healthy diet and have nutrient inadequacies.
So we agree enough is enough. Stop the reductionist approach to nutritional research. Stop insinuating there is evidence of harm. Stop ignoring the scientific evidence that demonstrates there is value to getting your essential nutrients. There is plenty of scientific evidence that recognizes that vitamin and mineral supplements have a role in good health for all Americans.”
Washington, D.C., December 16, 2013—In response to a study, “Long-Term Multivitamin Supplementation and Cognitive Function in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II,” published today in The Annals of Internal Medicine, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:
Statement by Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN:
“We all need to manage our expectations about why we’re taking multivitamins. Research shows that the two main reasons people take multivitamins are for overall health and wellness and to fill in nutrient gaps. Science still demonstrates the multivitamin works for those purposes, and that alone provides reason for people to take a multivitamin.
Although this study did not find benefit in cognitive function, two other recently released arms of the Physicians’ Health Study II did find benefit in the specific study population in reducing the risk of cancer and cataracts. Further, these findings come from a well-nourished population, raising the question of whether they would be more pronounced among most Americans who are not eating a healthy diet and who do have nutrient inadequacies.
While people should not expect that multivitamins in isolation can prevent disease, the fact that an affordable and convenient addition of a multivitamin to your daily health regimen may provide benefits on top of filling nutrient gaps makes it a smart choice in combination with other healthy habits.”
If the end goal of both the medical and nutritional fraternity fields is healthier, happier populations, it is difficult not to pour scorn on the latest work from te American College of Physicians (ACP) for slapping another clumsy brick into a dodgy, medically-biased wall of food supplement bashing.
Population well being = “Normal foods” + drugs when the food don’t work. Supplements don’t figure into this equation. It’s bonkers.
It should be remembered that the responsible supplements industry does not say supplements should replace food – it is more a pragmatic realization that foods simply do not cut the nutritional mustard for a great number of people and food supplements can help. It’s kinda simple really…
ACP’s analysis misses this point and should therefore be discounted as the irrelevant piece of work it is. If only it hadn’t done and garnered so much skewed attention…
Shane Starling, Senior Editor, NutraIngredients
A head injury can lead immune-system brain cells to go on “high alert” and overreact to later immune challenges by becoming excessively inflammatory – a condition linked with depressive complications, a new animal study suggests.
The findings could help explain some of the midlife mental-health issues suffered by individuals who experience multiple concussions as young adults, researchers say. And these depressive symptoms are likely inflammation-related, which means they may not respond to common antidepressants.
An added complication is that aging already increases brain inflammation. So on top of normal aging concerns, people who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience added inflammation caused by magnified immune responses to so-called “secondary challenges,” such as a second head injury, infections or other stressors.