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A recent Australian study suggests that an antioxidant rich diet during pregnancy is associated with reduced risk of allergic diseases at one year of age.

As a supply of all nutrients, maternal diet has significant potential to modify the success or failure of immune tolerance and consequently the development of allergic disease in the offspring.  Maternal dietary changes in pregnancy are one of the key environmental factors implicated in the allergy epidemic.  Declining antioxidant intake is one of the many dietary changes associated with the steep increase in allergic disease. It has been hypothesized that antioxidant rich diets may provide protective effect against the development of asthma.

An Australian study assessed the effects of maternal intakes of selected antioxidants (β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper and zinc) in pregnancy on early infant allergic outcomes, including eczema, Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated food allergy, allergic sensitisation and wheeze in a population at high risk of developing allergic disease based on family history.  300 mother-infant pairs were recruited for the study.  The main clinical outcome measures were prevalence of eczema, IgE-mediated food allergy, allergic sensitization, and respiratory symptoms at 12 months of age.

The study showed that higher maternal dietary vitamin C intake was associated with a reduced risk of diagnosed infant allergic disease at one year of age; higher maternal dietary vitamin C intake was also associated with a reduced risk of wheeze.  Higher dietary copper intake was associated with reduced risk of eczema, wheeze and any allergic disease.

This study reinforced observations from previous studies on the protective effects of foods rich in vitamin C and copper.  Further studies are needed to assess the complex composite effects of specific antioxidants, as well as dietary patterns during pregnancy.

Source: Christine E. West et al. Nutrients 2012, 4:1747-1758

A meta-analysis of twenty-nine randomized controlled clinical trials shows a significant decrease in blood pressure with supplemental vitamin C

High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease in the US that affects approximately 1/3 of all adult Americans according to the American Heart Association.  In observational studies, increased vitamin C intake, vitamin C supplementation, and higher blood concentrations of vitamin C are associated with lower blood pressure (BP).  Reductions as little as 0.8 to 2 mmHg in systolic blood pressure have shown clinically significant results in reducing the risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.  However, evidence for blood pressure–lowering effects of vitamin C in clinical trials is inconsistent.  A meta-analysis of 29 clinical trials was conducted to exam the effects of vitamin C supplementation on BP.

Twenty-nine clinical trials met eligibility criteria for the analysis.  The median oral dose of vitamin C was 500 mg/day, the median duration of the trials was 8 weeks, and trial size ranged from 10 to 120 participants.  Statistical analysis of the data showed a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both normotensive and hypertensive individuals. The changes in normotensive individuals averaged -3.84 mm Hg and -1.48 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure respectively. The change observed in hypertensive individuals was even greater, with corresponding reductions in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure of -4.85 mm Hg and -1.67 mm Hg.

In conclusion, this study showed that vitamin C supplementation reduced SBP and DBP in short-term trials.  However the authors note that before vitamin C can be recommended as a form of treatment for the prevention of hypertension or as adjuvant antihypertensive therapy, further studies must be performed that include larger sample sizes, with longer duration, and with attention to quality of BP assessment.
Source: Juraschek SP, et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 May; 95(5):1079-88. 8

In a recent study, researchers discovered a significant correlation between healthy plasma levels of coEnzyme Q10 and vitamin B-6 and a reduced risk of coronary artery disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 30% of all deaths. It is estimated that by 2030, over 23 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases annually.

In a new study published in Nutrition Research, scientists investigated the possible relationship between plasma levels of CoEnzyme Q10 and vitamin B6 and the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). Study participants included 134 adults, 45 with at least 50% stenosis (blockage) of one major coronary artery. The control group (n=89) had normal blood biochemistry and were free of CAD. Researchers measured the plasma concentrations of CoQ10, vitamin B6 and lipid profiles of each participant.

Individuals with CAD were found to have significantly lower plasma CoQ10 and Vitamin B6 compared to the control group. Even after adjusting for other CAD risk factors, subjects with higher CoQ10 plasma concentration had a significantly lower risk of CAD. Higher plasma vitamin B6 concentration also related to a significantly lower risk of CAD, but the relationship was less significant after adjusting for other CAD risk factors.

This observational study suggests that there may be a significant correlation between the plasma levels of CoQ10 and Vitamin B6 and the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Statin drugs, which are commonly prescribed to CAD patients and those at risk, are known to lower plasma CoQ10 levels. The researchers state that further research should be conducted to examine the benefits of supplementing CoQ10 in combination with Vitamin B6 to CAD patients, especially if their CoQ10 levels are below normal levels.

Source: Bor-Jen Lee et al. Nutrition Research 32(10):751-756, October 2012.

The latest meta-analysis of clinical studies suggested that CoQ10 supplementation improves outcomes in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).

CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is an antioxidant that plays two important biological roles.  It is an integral component of the mitochondrial respiratory chain used for ATP production; it is also a lipid-soluble antioxidant that slows lipid peroxidation in the circulation.  CoQ10 has been used to help improve functional status during CHF. Several clinical trials have examined the effects of CoQ10 on CHF, but some of the research has been inconclusive.

In a recently published paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of CoQ10 supplementation on ejection fraction (EF) and functional improvements of patients with CHF.

A systematic review of the research literature was performed using databases that included Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and examination of references from other selected studies. Included studies were randomized controlled trials of CoQ10 supplementation that reported EF or specific functional improvements as a primary outcome.

When all studies were pooled, supplementation with CoQ10 resulted in a net change of 3.67% in the EF and a trend in functional improvements. Cross-over studies of 12 weeks or more, daily dosages of at least 100 mg CoQ10, and patients with less severe CHF showed the most significant improvements in EF and health outcomes.

This meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials suggests that CoQ10 supplementation may improve the EF of patients with CHF.  However additional well-designed larger studies with a more diverse population are needed to exam if CoQ10 can be used as adjunct treatment with the standard therapy for CHF and its dose-response effect on stages of CHF.

Source: Fotino AD, Thompson-Paul AM, Bazzano LA. Am J Clin Nutr 2013 Feb;97(2):268-75.

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