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Evidence from observational studies indicates that seaweed consumption may reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, and obesity. Accumulating evidence from in vitro and animal studies suggest seaweed have antihyperlipidemic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which may in part be attributed to the high content of soluble dietary fibre in seaweeds. The viscosity of seaweed fibres is suggested to mediate antihyperlipdiemic effects via the alteration of lipid/bile acid absorption kinetics to decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). Thus, there is a need to evaluate the efficacy of seaweed derived dietary fibre in the management of dyslipidemia. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of a fibre rich extract from Palmaria palmata on the lipid profile as well as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy adults. A total of 60 healthy participants (30 male and 30 female) aged 20 to 58 years, were assigned to consume the Palmaria palmata fibre extract (5g/day), Synergy-1 and the placebo (maltodextrin) for a duration of 4 weeks with a minimum 4 week washout between each treatment in a double blind, randomised crossover study conducted over 5 months. Fasting concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) were analysed and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and LDL: HDL ratio was calculated. C-reactive protein (CRP) and Ferric Reducing Ability of Plasma (FRAP) were analysed as markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, respectively. Supplementation for 4 weeks with Palmaria palmata resulted in favourable changes to lipid profiles with a reduced LDL:HDL ratio; however intention-to-treat univariate ANCOVA identified no significant difference between the treatment groups over time on any of the lipid profile markers. A non-significant increase in CRP and triglyceride concentration along with lower FRAP was also observed with Palmaria palmata supplementation. Evidence from this study suggests that Palmaria palmata may have effects on lipid metabolism and appears to mobilise triglycerides. More research is needed in individuals with dyslipidaemia to fully elucidate these effects.
Micronutrient deficiencies are of growing public health concern. An understanding of how micronutrient deficiencies affect health and measures that can be taken to improve micronutrient status are essential to improve population health. The main purpose of the 2018 Irish Section Meeting ‘Targeted approaches to tackling current nutritional issues’ was to provide an overview of current issues in relation to micronutrient status at various stages of the lifecycle. Novel biomarkers of nutrient status, global strategies to improve micronutrient status and implications for policy were also considered. The papers presented demonstrated recent advancements in this field and highlighted areas that warrant priority at the public health level, on both a national and global scale. Novel methods and biomarkers are being developed that will enhance the assessment of micronutrient status in specific population groups. It is evident that mild-to-moderate deficiency, or low status (in the absence of deficiency), of some micronutrients have important ramifications for public health that should be considered alongside the implications of severe deficiency. It is imperative that policy makers, public health workers and scientists work together to ensure that sustainable programmes are implemented to address micronutrient deficiencies at the population level.
Vitamin D is typically supplied in capsule form, both in trials and in clinical practice. However, little is known regarding the efficacy of vitamin D administered via oral sprays – a method that primarily bypasses the gastrointestinal absorption route. This study aimed to compare the efficacy of vitamin D3 liquid capsules and oral spray solution in increasing wintertime total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations. In this randomised, open-label, cross-over trial, healthy adults (n 22) received 3000 IU (75 µg) vitamin D3 daily for 4 weeks in either capsule or oral spray form. Following a 10-week washout phase, participants received the opposite treatment for a final 4 weeks. Anthropometrics and fasted blood samples were obtained before and after supplementation, with samples analysed for total 25(OH)D, creatinine, intact parathyroid hormone and adjusted Ca concentrations. At baseline, vitamin D sufficiency (total 25(OH)D>50 nmol/l), insufficiency (31–49 nmol/l) and clinical deficiency (<30 nmol/l) were evident in 59, 23 and 18 % of the participants, respectively. Overall, baseline total mean 25(OH)D concentration averaged 59·76 (sd 29·88) nmol/l, representing clinical sufficiency. ANCOVA revealed no significant difference in the mean and standard deviation change from baseline in total 25(OH)D concentrations between oral spray and capsule supplementation methods (26·15 (sd 17·85) v. 30·38 (sd 17·91) nmol/l, respectively; F=1·044, adjusted r2 0·493, P=0·313). Oral spray vitamin D3 is an equally effective alternative to capsule supplementation in healthy adults.
Recent literature suggests that Ca supplements have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. The effects of a Ca-rich supplement administered alone or in combination with short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS) on serum lipids in postmenopausal women were examined using secondary data from a 24-month double-blind randomised controlled study. A total of 300 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to daily supplements of 800 mg of Ca (2·4 g Aquamin) (Ca), 800 mg of Ca with 3 g of scFOS (CaFOS) or control (maltodextrin) (MD). A full lipid profile, body composition, blood pressure and a range of cytokines were measured at baseline and after 24 months. Intention-to-treat ANCOVA assessed treatment effects between the groups. A significant time-by-treatment effect was observed for LDL and total cholesterol for the Ca and CaFOS groups, with both groups having lower LDL and total cholesterol concentrations compared with MD after 24 months. The control group had mean (5·2 mmol/l) total cholesterol concentrations above the normal range (≤5 mmol/l) at 24 months, whereas values remained within the normal range in the treatment groups. There was no significant treatment effect on HDL-cholesterol, TAG, body composition, blood pressure or cytokine concentrations at 24 months, with the exception of IL-4, where there was a significant increase in the CaFOS group compared with the placebo. This study demonstrates a lipid-lowering effect of both the Ca-rich supplement alone and the supplement with scFOS. At the 4-year follow-up, there was no significant difference between the groups for reported diagnosed cardiovascular conditions.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multi-system inflammatory disease where genetic susceptibility coupled with largely undefined environmental factors is reported to underlie the aetiology of the disease. One such factor is low vitamin D status. The primary source of vitamin D is endogenous synthesis following exposure of the skin to UVB light. Photosensitivity, sunlight avoidance and the use of sun protection factor in combination with medications prescribed to treat the symptoms of the disease, puts SLE patients at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency. Decreased conversion of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to the metabolically active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, is possible, due to renal impairment common in SLE putting additional stress on vitamin D metabolism. The majority of studies have identified low 25-hydroxyvitamin D in SLE patients, albeit using varying cut-offs (<25 to <80 nmol/l). Of these studies, fifteen have investigated a link between status and disease activity with conflicting results. Variation with disease activity index measures used alongside methodological limitations within the study design may partially explain these findings. This review discusses the importance of optimal vitamin D status in SLE, critically evaluates research carried out to date that has investigated vitamin D in SLE, and highlights the need for a well-designed observational study that controls for diet, medication use, dietary supplements, UV exposure and seasonality, that uses sensitive methods for measuring vitamin D status and disease activity in SLE to conclusively establish the role of vitamin D in SLE.
There is increasing epidemiological evidence linking sub-optimal vitamin D status with overweight and obesity. Although increasing BMI and adiposity have also been negatively associated with the change in vitamin D status following supplementation, results have been equivocal. The aim of this randomised, placebo-controlled study was to investigate the associations between anthropometric measures of adiposity and the wintertime serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D) response to 15 μg cholecalciferol per d in healthy young and older Irish adults. A total of 110 young adults (20–40 years) and 102 older adults ( ≥ 64 years) completed the 22-week intervention with >85 % compliance. The change in 25(OH)D from baseline was calculated. Anthropometric measures of adiposity taken at baseline included height, weight and waist circumference (WC), along with skinfold thickness measurements to estimate fat mass (FM). FM was subsequently expressed as FM (kg), FM (%), FM index (FMI (FM kg/height m2)) and as a percentage ratio to fat-free mass (FFM). In older adults, vitamin D status was inversely associated with BMI (kg/m2), WC (cm), FM (kg and %), FMI (kg/m2) and FM:FFM (%) at baseline (r − 0·33, − 0·36, − 0·33, − 0·30, − 0·33 and − 0·27, respectively, all P values < 0·01). BMI in older adults was also negatively associated with the change in 25(OH)D following supplementation (β − 1·27, CI − 2·37, − 0·16, P = 0·026); however, no such associations were apparent in younger adults. Results suggest that adiposity may need to be taken into account when determining an adequate wintertime dietary vitamin D intake for healthy older adults residing at higher latitudes.
The health benefits associated with soya food consumption have been widely studied, with soya isoflavones and soya protein implicated in the protection of CVD, osteoporosis and cancers such as those of the breast and prostate. Equol (7-hydroxy-3-(4’-hydroxyphenyl)-chroman), a metabolite of the soya isoflavone daidzein, is produced via the formation of the intermediate dihydrodaidzein, by human intestinal bacteria, with only approximately 30–40% of the adult population having the ability to perform this transformation following a soya challenge. Inter-individual variation in conversion of daidzein to equol has been attributed, in part, to differences in the diet and in gut microflora composition, although the specific bacteria responsible for the colonic biotransformation of daidzein to equol are yet to be identified. Equol is a unique compound in that it can exert oestrogenic effects, but is also a potent antagonist of dihydrotestosterone in vivo. Furthermore, in vitro studies suggest that equol is more biologically active than its parent compound, daidzein, with a higher affinity for the oestrogen receptor and a more potent antioxidant activity. Although some observational and intervention studies suggest that the ability to produce equol is associated with reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer, CVD, improved bone health and reduced incidence of hot flushes, others have reported null or adverse effects. Studies to date have been limited and well-designed studies that are sufficiently powered to investigate the relationship between equol production and disease risk are warranted before the clinical relevance of the equol phenotype can be fully elucidated.
The incidence of hormone-dependent cancers, such as those of the breast and prostate, is much lower in Eastern countries such as China and Japan in comparison with the Western world. Diet is believed to have a major effect on disease risk and one group of compounds, the phyto-oestrogens, which are consumed in large amounts in Asian populations, have been implicated in cancer protection. This view follows the finding that plasma and urinary levels of phyto-oestrogens are much higher in areas where cancer incidence is low in comparison with areas of high cancer incidence. The phyto-oestrogens are comprised of two main groups; the isoflavones and lignans. Of the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein have been the most widely studied. These compounds have been shown to possess anticancer properties; however their precise mechanism of action remains to be elucidated. In comparison, few studies have investigated the effects of lignans in breast and prostate cancer. In vitro studies have shown that genistein exerts biphasic effects on cancer cell growth, stimulating growth at low concentrations (<10μM) and inhibiting growth at high concentrations (>10μM), which suggests that low phyto-oestrogen levels may stimulate cancer growth in vivo. Plasma phyto-oestrogen concentrations of >10μM cannot be achieved by dietary intake and therefore the timing of exposure to phyto-oestrogens may be of the utmost importance in determining their chemopreventive effects. The present paper reviews the effects of phyto-oestrogens on breast and prostate cancer in vivo and in vitro and discusses possible mechanisms of action via which these compounds may exert their effects.
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