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Nutraceuticals research.

Nutraceatical: Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene

Indication: Heart disease

Source: Am J Clin Nutr, 2003;77:1390-1399.

Research: Using a modified food questionnaire for carotenoids in 1984, Harvard researchers studied the eating habits and health of more than 73,000 female nurses. During 12 years of follow-up, nonfatal heart attacks or fatal heart disease occurred in 998 of the subjects. The researchers investigated relationships between specific dietary carotenoids and the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), taking into account the possible effects of weight, smoking and other risk factors.

Results: Women with the highest dietary intakes of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene were least likely to have fatal or nonfatal heart attacks. Those with the highest intake of beta-carotene were 26% less likely to have CAD than those with the lowest intake and those with the highest intake of alphacarotene were 20% less likely to experience CAD. There was no significant association between intakes of lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene or beta-cryptoxanthin and risk of CAD.

Nutraceutical: Ginkgo

Indication: Emotional wellness

Source: Fortschritte der Medizin, April 2003;(supplement):5-10.

Research: Researchers gave 66 healthy men and women, aged 50 to 65, and without any cognitive impairment, either 240 mg of ginkgo extract or placebos daily for four weeks. The subjects completed a battery of tests to evaluate their mood and emotional status before supplementation and after 28 days of supplementation.

Results: Subjects taking the ginkgo supplements displayed significant improvements in the variables of depression, fatigue and activity. The researchers noted that the results suggest a positive effect of ginkgo biloba extract (standardized on 28.8 mg flavonglycosides and 7.2 mg terpcnalactone per tablet) on the subjective emotional well being of healthy elderly persons.

Nutraceutical: Oat fiber (in bread and biscuits)

Indication: Cholesterol

Source: Am J Clin Nutr, 2003;78(2):221-227.

Research: This study investigated the effects of beta-glucan from oat bran in bread and cookies (study 1) and in orange juice (study 2) on serum lipoproteins in mildly hypercholesterolemic subjects. In the first study, 48 subjects (21 men, 27 women) received for three weeks control bread and cookies rich in wheat fiber. For the next four weeks, by random assignment, 23 subjects continued to consume the control products, and 25 received bread and cookies rich in beta-glucan. Mean daily intake of beta-glucan was 5.9 granas. Total dietary fiber intake did not differ significantly between the groups. In study 2, the same sources of control fiber and beta-glucan (5 grams per day) as in study 1 were provided. For two weeks, 25 of the original 48 subjects (10 men, 15 women) were randomly assigned to consume orange juice containing either wheat fiber or beta-glucan from oat bran. After a washout period of one week, dietary regimens were crossed over.

Results: In study 1, the change in LDL cholesterol did not differ significantly between the two groups. However, in study 2, the drink rich in beta-glucan decreased LDL cholesterol by 0.26 +/- 0.07 mmol/L and the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol by 0.26 +/- 0.11 mmol/L compared with the other drink. HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations did not change significantly. Researchers concluded that the food matrix or the food processing, or both, could have adverse effects on the hypocholesterolemic properties of oat beta-glucan.

Nutraceutical: Red clover (Promensil)

Indication: Vaginal dryness

Source: British Menopause Society Annual Meeting, July 2003

Research: The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of Promensil versus placebo on endometrial thickening, uterine blood flow to the uterus and the vaginal maturation index (VMI), a measure of normal functioning of the membrane lining the vagina. A prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial with two eight-week phases was conducted. Twenty-nine women, aged 45 to 65, received either 80 mg of Promensil daily or placebo for the first treatment phase of eight weeks, followed by a two-week washout on placebo and an additional eight weeks on the reverse treatment.

Results: At the conclusion of the two eight-week phases, there was no increase in endometrial thickening for either the Promensil or placebo groups, but the Promensil group did show significant improvement in VMI compared to placebo.

Nutraceutical Vitamin E and C

Indication: Cognitive function

Source: Am J Clin Nutr, 2003;77:975-984.

Research: Researchers tested the cognitive function of almost 15,000 women, aged 70 to 79 participating in the Nurses' Health Study. The tests included memory, immediate and delayed recall of lists of words and tests of verbal fluency. For example, one of the tests asked women to name as many animals as they could in one minute. (The responses ranged from two to 38 animal names.) Test scores were compared with the subjects' use of vitamin E and C supplements.

Results: Women who had been taking both vitamin E and C supplements for at least 10 years had significantly better cognitive performance than women who had never taken those supplements. The benefits were less consistent among women who had taken vitamin E alone, and no benefits were associated with vitamin C alone. The analyses also showed a trend of increased benefit with duration of supplement use and was stronger among women with poor dietary intake of vitamin E.
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Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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