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Another study has found that the most common vitamin and mineral supplements (multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C), don't offer hoped for health benefits, and may actually carry some risks. This latest study was a review of other studies, and examined whether specific vitamins or minerals would  lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attacks and strokes) and death from any cause (referred to as all cause mortality"). [Posts discussing other research finding problems with supplements.]

In general, the review of studies of popular supplements (multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C) show no consistent benefit (no significant effect) for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or stroke, nor any lowering of death (all cause mortality). On the other hand, folic acid and B-vitamins with folic acid, B6, and B12 reduced stroke (folic acid showed a 20% reduction in stroke), but niacin and antioxidants were associated with an increased risk of death from any cause (10% increase). But overall the effects in the studies were small. Vitamin D did not show any benefits in reducing death, but the researchers pointed out that many vitamin D studies are now under way, and the results of vitamin D studies so far are mixed (e.g. 16 showing positive effects from vitamin D, 17 showing a more favorable effect in the control group, and 10 neither).

On the other hand, the researchers stressed that eating a well balanced diet has lots of health benefits and is recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Three dietary patterns are frequently discussed as beneficial: 1) a healthy American diet (sometimes called a "prudent diet") low in saturated fat, trans fat, and red meat, but high in fruit and vegetables, 2) a Mediterranean diet, and 3) a vegetarian diet. All 3 of these diets are rich in fruits and vegetables (which means increased fiber), are relatively rich in vitamins and minerals, and meet Dietary Reference Intake guidelines.  ...continue reading "Study Finds No Benefit From Most Supplements"

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Image result for eyes A recent study had great results in preventing glaucoma or stopping the progress of glaucoma by supplementing the diet of mice with vitamin B3 (nicotinamide). But now the research needs to see if this also holds true for humans. Glaucoma is a common neurodegenerative disease that results in vision loss. Two main risk factors are increasing age and high intraocular pressure (pressure in the eye). The researchers said that their next step is testing B3 in human glaucoma patients. So stay tuned...

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is an essential vitamin for health, but both deficiencies and too high doses have negative health effects. It is recommended that adults get between 14 mg to 18 mg of niacin per day. Since it is not stored in the body (the excess will be excreted in urine), then you need to get a continuous supply from your diet. As seen in so many other studies of vitamins and minerals, there is no evidence of adverse effects from the consumption of naturally occurring niacin in foods, but one can get too much from supplements (along with negative health effects). What foods are good sources of B3 (niacin)? Foods highest in B3 (niacin) are tuna, chicken, turkey, but other good sources are anchovies, salmon, sardines, red meat, peanuts, nuts, seeds, eggs, mushrooms, dairy foods. lentils, beans, potatoes, and grain products. From Medical Xpress:

Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice

In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. John reports in the journal Science. The vitamin administration was surprisingly effective, eliminating the vast majority of age-related molecular changes and providing a remarkably robust protection against glaucoma. It offers promise for developing inexpensive and safe treatments for glaucoma patients.

Glaucoma is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases, affecting an estimated 80 million people worldwide. In most glaucoma patients, harmfully high pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure leads to the progressive dysfunction and loss of retinal ganglion cells. Retinal ganglion cells are the neuronal cells that connect the eye to the brain via the optic nerve. Increasing age is a key risk factor for glaucoma, contributing to both harmful elevation of intraocular pressure and increased neuronal vulnerability to pressure-induced damage.

Conducting a variety of genomic, metabolic, neurobiological and other tests in mice susceptible to inherited glaucoma, compared to control mice, the researchers discovered that NAD, a molecule vital to energy metabolism in neurons and other cells, declines with age. The decrease in NAD levels reduces the reliability of neurons' energy metabolism, especially under stress such as increased intraocular pressure. 

In essence, the treatments of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide, an amide form of vitamin B3, also called niacinamide) boosted the metabolic reliability of aging retinal ganglion cells, keeping them healthier for longer. "Because these cells are still healthy, and still metabolically robust," says JAX Postdoctoral Associate Pete Williams, first author of the study, "even when high intraocular pressure turns on, they better resist damaging processes." The researchers also found that a single gene-therapy application of Nmnat1 (the gene for an enzyme that makes NAD from nicotinamide) prevented glaucoma from developing in this mouse model[Original study.}