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TalkingNutrition

Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

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More Research Needed on Nutrient Structure-Function and Disease Relationships

By Michael McBurney

Atherosclerosis is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Researchers believe that inflammation plays a key role in atherosclerosis (Hansson, 2005). As a result of an accumulation of white blood cells and macrophages in the intima, artery walls thicken and the accumulated cholesterol and triglycerides harden into plaque. The biological process restricts the elasticity of arteries and their capacity to dilate. A rupturing of the plaque can block blood flow. If the rupture disrupts blood flow to the heart, it may cause a heart attack; if to the brain, a stroke may occur.

New studies emphasize the role of nutrition in maintaining healthy arteries. Ji and colleagues report that B vitamins may reduce stroke risk. The authors analyzed 14 randomized control studies (RCTs) with almost 55,000 subjects who were followed for at least 6 months. Vitamin B supplementation lowered the risk of death from stroke by 7%. A second study reports that anthocyanin mixtures reduced levels of C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) in 150 hypercholesterolemic subjects. In an RCT with 144 subjects with subclinical atherosclerosis, Zou et al report that 12mo of lutein and lycopene supplementation, 20 mg of each daily, significantly increased serum concentrations and decreased carotid intima-thickness (vs placebo). All three studies are based on the hypothesis that nutrition may affect inflammatory processes. 

However, in the US, indications are that the FDA is defining inflammation as a disease state rather than a bodily process. This is controversial (see twitter feed #CRN13). However, arguing semantics does not always change opinions. Research provides evidence and answers. So as Steve Mister, CEO of the Council of Responsible Nutrition said at the CRN Annual Conference in Park City, UT yesterday, “we must recommit ourselves to more research. Rigorous, thoughtful, well-executed research”.  

Mr Mister is right. More investment is needed to elucidate nutrient-structure/function and nutrient-disease relationships.

Main Citations

Ji Y, Tan S, Xu Y, Chandra A, Shi C, Song B, Qin J, Gao Y. Vitamin B supplementation, homocysteine levels, and the risk of cerebrovascular disease: a meta analysis. 2013 Neurol doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318a823cc

Zhu Y, Ling W, Guo H, Song F, Ye Q, Zou T, Li D, Zhang Y, Li G, Xiao Y, Liu F, Li Z, Shi Z, Yang Y. Anti-inflammatory effect of purified dietary anthocyanin in adults with hypercholesterolemia: A randomized controlled trial. 2013 Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2012.06.005

Zou Z-Y, Xu X-R, Lin X-M, Zhang H-B, Xiao X, Ouyang L, Huang Y-M, Wang X, Liu Y-Q. Effects of lutein and lycopene on carotid intima-media thickness in Chinese subjects with subclinical atherosclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. 2013 Br J Nutr doi:10.1017/S0007114513002730

Other Citation

Hansson GK. Inflammation, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease. 2005 NEJM doi:10.1056/NEJMra043430


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1comment
Dear Michael McBurney ,
Insufficient potassium and vitamin B-1 (thiamin) can not damage the heart significantly when both are deficient. This has important safety implications when supplementing each during heart disease, arrhythmias, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, gout, beri-beri, or diabetes caused or influenced by the deficiency of one of them. It is extremely important to know which kind of heart disease is involved. You may see this discussed in detail in http://charles_w.tripod.com/kandthiamin.html . This is probably the primary reason why the medical profession has not been able to prevent heart disease up to date and why potassium supplements cause neutral mortality statistics. Researchers almost across the board think that potassium has little impact on the body or/and is never deficient. This is a mistaken assumption. Most food processing procedures cause losses. Enormous attention is given to a single murder or handful of murders, while at the same time the food industry causing 500 thousand deaths from heart disease alone, gets almost no coverage. This is because a considerable fraction of their profits goes to promulgating these disasters by advertising and bribing politicians. Even the medical profession is responsible by procedures in hospital cafeterias.
Copper is crucial for strength of arteries because of its role as part of lysil oxidase, which cross links elastin tissue. A deficiency is probably the main cause of aneurisms and therefore many strokes, hemorrhoids, and many bleeding problems, as well as high blood cholesterol and is probably involved by a synergistic affect in the cause of diabetes by chili pepper (see http://charles_w.tripod.com/diabetes.html ). You may see how to increase copper from food in http://charles_w.tripod.com/copper3.html and a discussion of copper physiology in http://charles_w.tripod.com/copper.html . Finding ways to repair the heart is useful, but there is no good substitute for not damaging it in the first place.
You also may find a book about potassium nutrition as it relates to heart disease, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, and diabetes, useful for your library. Its availability is through Paypal along with its introduction, table of contents and first two chapters may be accessed in http://charles_w.tripod.com/book.html .
Sincerely, Charles Weber
PS Dr. Rastmanesh, a nutritionist from Iran, would like to secure a position in an English speaking university. He has an impressive CV. If you know of an opening I will send you his CV. It is a travesty to leave that fine researcher over in that criminal country after he has gotten rid of rheumatoid arthritis for us.

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