19556 Sep 2011 - Medscape - Salt and Inactivity: A Recipe for Cognitive Decline?Salt and Inactivity: A Recipe for Cognitive Decline
6/09/2011by Megan Brooks
Cutting back on sodium might help older adults maintain their cognitive function, particularly in those who aren't physically active.
In a study of more than 1200 older adults with normal cognitive function at the outset, researchers found that a high intake of sodium combined with low levels of physical activity was associated with a decline in global cognitive function over 3 years.
"Importantly, this association was independent of hypertension and global diet quality," the researchers say. "The independent effect of sodium intake from other nutrient intakes, including energy and lipids, suggests that sodium intake alone may affect cognitive function in sedentary older adults above and beyond the effects of overall diet," they note.
The study is published online August 19 in the Neurobiology of Aging.
In comments to Medscape Medical News, first author Alexandra J. Fiocco, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, said that "clinicians should ensure that their patients' sodium intake falls below the recommended level (maximum 2300 mg/day)."
Further, she said the study results suggest that it is important to focus on multiple lifestyle domains, such as exercise and diet, instead of singling out one factor when creating health-promotion strategies in the clinic.
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut, who was not involved in the study, said that "the interaction between sodium and physical activity cited here is certainly novel."
"The basic notion," he told Medscape Medical News, "is that higher sodium intake is potentially injurious to the (aging) brain, and physical activity is protective. The effects of physical activity seem to win out, so that habitual, moderate exercise may essentially 'immunize' the brain against adverse effects of higher sodium intake. However, the combination of more physical activity and less sodium is clearly better than either alone — and far better than neither," Dr. Katz added.
The well-established negative impact that high sodium intake has on cardiovascular health has led to the development of worldwide population salt-reduction strategies. Given the link between cardiovascular factors, such as hypertension, and brain health, Dr. Fiocco's team wanted to examine the effects of sodium intake on cognitive function.
Given the plethora of research associating exercise and brain health, they decided to look at the interaction between sodium intake and physical activity on cognitive function and change over time.
They studied 1262 older adults participating in the Quebec Longitudinal Study on Nutrition and Successful Aging (NuAge). At recruitment, participants were between 67 and 84 years of age, cognitively normal, and living independently.
A validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire was used to estimate energy and nutrient intake, including daily sodium intake. The Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MS) was administered annually, and the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly was used to assess physical activity.
Of the 1262 subjects, 420 fell into the low sodium intake tertile (median, 1781 mg/day), 421 fell into the middle tertile group (median, 2648 mg/day), and the remaining 421 made up the high sodium tertile group (median, 3919 mg/day).
Level of Physical Activity Key
After controlling for age, sex, education, waist circumference, diabetes, and overall diet, there was an association between sodium intake and cognitive change over time in those with low levels of physical activity.
In the low physical activity group, those with low sodium intake displayed better cognitive performance over time than those with medium and high levels of sodium intake. The mean decline in 3MS for the low, mid, and high sodium tertile groups was 0.57, 2.07 and 1.72, respectively.
The findings remained unchanged after additional adjustment for intakes of energy, calcium, cholesterol, and total lipids, and total Canadian Healthy Eating Index score, the researchers say.
They failed to see an association between sodium intake and cognitive health among the highly physically active adults. "One potential explanation for this finding is that the impact of physical activity outweighs the impact of sodium intake on cognitive function, making it more difficult to find an association," Dr. Fiocco said.
There was also no significant association between sodium intake and cognitive function at baseline in either the high or low physical activity groups.
"A possible explanation for this null effect is selection of the sample," they explain. "At time of recruitment," they point out, "participants had to be in good general health with no subsequent exclusions for health reasons, be free of disabilities in activities of daily living, and show no signs of cognitive impairment. This relatively high health status of the group may have diminished the sensitivity of the associations at baseline."
Dr. Fiocco and colleagues say it is important to note that people who experienced a decline in global cognitive function over the study period "displayed normal age-related decline and did not display clinically significant rates of decline, defined as a 5-point decline per year on the 3MS."
According to previous research, a potential mechanism underlying the association between sodium intake and cognition is blood pressure levels, which are associated with white matter lesions observed in dementia patients, the investigators note.
"However, the present findings do not support this hypothesis," they note, "due to the independent effect of sodium intake on cognitive function from hypertension."
"Although a cohort effect may be speculated, another explanation is that sodium intake impacts brain health via alternative pathways, such as compromising integrity of the blood–brain barrier or via function of the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus," they add.
Animal studies, they point out, have shown that increases in levels of sodium in the brain affect cardiovascular and renal function, which is mediated by the paraventricular nucleus.
Additional studies, the researchers say, are needed to delineate underlying mechanisms at play in the link between sodium intake and cognitive function.
"The provisos about this study," Dr. Katz noted, "are that it is observational, citing an association between sodium and cognitive decline, not actually testing cause and effect, and that it is limited to a particular demographic and of fairly short duration."
"The authors," he told Medscape Medical News, "are suitably humble about study limitations, while providing convincing, potential mechanistic explanations for their findings.
"There is a theoretical basis for these findings to be valid, further substantiated by the mechanisms on which the authors expound."
The study authors and Dr. Katz have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Neurobiol Aging 2011. Published online August 19, 2011. Abstract
In a cohort of healthy older adults in Canada, this study revealed a link between high dietary salt intake and cognitive decline three years later, but only in those whose physical activity was low.
Correlation does not prove causation - and both the researchers and the author of this news review are careful to make that point. There are some plausible mechanisms put forward for the associations found, but further research would be needed to test these.
Meanwhile, if the current findings might reinforce public health messages about the established physical health benefits of exercise and limiting salt intake, that would probably be no bad thing. And it would not be too surprising if what is good for the body might also turn out to be good for the brain.
19505 Sept 2011 - NatureNews - Mental disorders affect more than a third of EuropeansMental disorders affect more than a third of EuropeansTreatment of those afflicted is 'unusually deficient'.05/09/2011Kerri Smith
Mental disorders affect more than 160 million Europeans — 38% of the population — each year, says a report issued today by the European Brain Council and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Yet, fewer than a third of those affected receive treatment.
Led by Hans-Ullrich Wittchen, a psychologist at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, the three-year study covered the 27 countries in the European Union (EU) as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. The researchers found that the most common disorders are anxiety, insomnia and depression, which account for 14%, 7% and 6.9% of the total, respectively.
The researchers originally aimed to study all disorders of the brain, split into two major categories: mental or psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, and neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease. Ultimately, they weren't able to estimate the combined prevalence, because so many of them occur together. So Wittchen says the true figure is likely be "considerably larger" than 38%.
The cost of stigma
The researchers were, however, able to estimate the combined burden of the two types of disorder. Taken together, mental and neurological diseases are Europe's largest disease burden, in terms of life-years lost to death or disability and of productivity and health-care costs. The most debilitating disorders were depression, dementia, alcohol use disorders and stroke, which together account for more than 10 million life-years lost to ill health or death.
In a previous report also led by Wittchen, health-care costs to the EU for mental disorders were estimated at around €277 billion (US$394 billion). In October, Wittchen and his colleagues will publish a report estimating the present cost of these diseases to governments. Wittchen hints that the true figure, with the addition of new conditions, age ranges and countries, could be more than double the 2005 estimates.
But when it comes to treatment, especially for psychiatric conditions, the situation is "unusually deficient", says Wittchen, even in countries with good healthcare systems. "It's very rare that you get treatment in the year after onset."
This is partly because the conditions themselves are complex and difficult to treat. But, Wittchen says, the stigma attached to mental disorders is also to blame. "Most people have the feeling that once you have a mental disorder you have it for the rest of your life," he says, but many of these disorders can be treated.
Neglecting to treat one mental disorder can easily lead to another later on, Wittchen says. Anxiety disorder, for example, often leads to depression in later life. David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London, agrees that rapid treatment is key. "If we can get in early we may be able to change the trajectory of illness," he says.
This kind of synthesis of the burden of mental and neurological conditions hasn't been done before. "It's a highly impressive study, and it's unique in scope," says Nutt, who was not involved in the study.
In 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that brain disorders account for about 13% of the global disease burden, a greater burden than cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The World Mental Health Survey, published in 2008 and covering 28 countries, estimated that one in three adults suffers from a mental disorder. And a new study from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, pulled together data from surveys to reveal that 6.8% of adults had moderate to severe depression.
The new report is an update on a 2005 paper that estimated that 27% of the EU population was affected by mental disorders each year. The higher figure resulted from the addition of 14 previously excluded disorders, many of which affect children and the elderly. But the frequency of mental disorders has probably not gone up substantially, Wittchen says. "There's no evidence for changing rates."
In the 1970s, Professor Michael Crawford predicted – based on scientific evidence that has stood the test of time - that unless urgent action was taken to correct the balance of fats in our diets, an ‘epidemic’ of ‘brain disorders’ was bound to follow the rising rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other degenerative physical diseases that are already overwhelming our health services. No such action was taken, of course, and here we are.
Even now – governments in the UK and elsewhere still refuse to ban toxic, industrially-produced trans fats from our food supply despite hard evidence of their damaging effects on health (physical and mental).
Similarly, abundant scientific evidence has been completely ignored in the formulation of new European legislation on omega-3 fatty acids, with the result that most people will continue to consume insufficient quantities of the forms that have been shown to be critical for normal brain development and mental health.
This report shows how urgently effective action is now needed.
This report was released at the 24th ECNP Congress (3-7 Sept 11) Paris, France. (ECNP - European College of Neurophyschopharmacy), and is available to read at the foot of the news item on their website here.
http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110905/full/news.2011.514.html?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20110906View this item on NatureNews here
1943Bravo et al 2011 - Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerveIngestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerveIngestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerveBravo JA, Forsythe P, Chew MV, Escaravage E, Savignac HM, Dinan TG, Bienenstock J, Cryan JF05/09/2011Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 29
There is increasing, but largely indirect, evidence pointing to an effect of commensal gut microbiota on the central nervous system (CNS). However, it is unknown whether lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus could have a direct effect on neurotransmitter receptors in the CNS in normal, healthy animals. GABA is the main CNS inhibitory neurotransmitter and is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes. Alterations in central GABA receptor expression are implicated in the pathogenesis of anxiety and depression, which are highly comorbid with functional bowel disorders. In this work, we show that chronic treatment with L. rhamnosus (JB-1) induced region-dependent alterations in GABA(B1b) mRNA in the brain with increases in cortical regions (cingulate and prelimbic) and concomitant reductions in expression in the hippocampus, amygdala, and locus coeruleus, in comparison with control-fed mice. In addition, L. rhamnosus (JB-1) reduced GABA(Aα2) mRNA expression in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, but increased GABA(Aα2) in the hippocampus. Importantly, L. rhamnosus (JB-1) reduced stress-induced corticosterone and anxiety- and depression-related behavior. Moreover, the neurochemical and behavioral effects were not found in vagotomized mice, identifying the vagus as a major modulatory constitutive communication pathway between the bacteria exposed to the gut and the brain. Together, these findings highlight the important role of bacteria in the bidirectional communication of the gut-brain axis and suggest that certain organisms may prove to be useful therapeutic adjuncts in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21876150View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
194230 Aug 2011 - Nutraingredients - Probiotics may reduce anxiety and depression, suggests studyProbiotics may reduce anxiety and depressionProbiotic bacteria may have the potential to alter brain neurochemistry, affecting anxiety and depression-related disorders, says new research.31/08/2011by Nathan Gray
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that mice fed with Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 showed significantly fewer stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviours than those fed with just broth.
Moreover, the research team, led by Professor John Cryan at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre in University College Cork, Ireland, reported that ingestion of the bacteria resulted in significantly lower levels of the stress-induced hormone, corticosterone.
“This study identifies potential brain targets and a pathway through which certain gut organisms can alter mouse brain chemistry and behaviour,” said Cryan.
“These findings highlight the important role that gut bacteria play in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain, the gut–brain axis, and opens up the intriguing opportunity of developing unique microbial-based strategies for treatment for stress-related psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression,” he added.
The authors noted the increasing, but largely indirect, evidence pointing to an effect of the gut microbiota on the central nervous system.
“It is unknown whether lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus could have a direct effect on neurotransmitter receptors in the CNS in normal, healthy animals,” said the researchers.
In the new study, Cryan and his team showed that regular feeding with the Lactobacillus strain caused changes in the expression of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA in the mouse brain – the first time that it has been demonstrated that potential probiotics have a direct effect on brain chemistry in normal situations.
Importantly, L. rhamnosus (JB-1) reduced stress-induced corticosterone and anxiety- and depression-related behaviour, added Cryan and his team.
“The neurochemical and behavioural effects were not found in vagotomized mice, identifying the vagus as a major modulatory constitutive communication pathway between the bacteria exposed to the gut and the brain,” said the researchers.
“Together, these findings highlight the important role of bacteria in the bidirectional communication of the gut–brain axis and suggest that certain organisms may prove to be useful therapeutic adjuncts in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression,” they added.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102999108 “Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve” Authors: J.A. Bravo, P. Forsythe, M.V. Chew, E. Escaravage, H.M. Savignac, et al
http://www.nutraingredients.com/Product-Categories/Probiotics-and-prebiotics/Probiotics-may-reduce-anxiety-and-depression-suggests-study/?c=ntB9Yoe71Wbt2G3g86YDwQ%3D%3D&utm_source=Newsletter_Product&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Newsletter%2BProductView this and related articles at Nutraingredients here
194131 Aug 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The First 1000 Days - A Legacy for Life - Part 3: Future Generations 31 Aug 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The Fist 1000 Days - A Legacy for Life - Part 3: Future Generations Presented by Dr Mark Porter (Produced by Erika Wright) 31/08/2011
In this, the third and final part of the series, Dr Mark Porter asks if an adult's health - determined by environment and nutrition in the first 1000 days of life - can be passed on to their children.
1968Corsinovi et al 2011 - Dietary lipids and their oxidised products in Alzheimer's diseaseDietary lipids and their oxidised products in Alzheimer's diseaseDietary lipids and their oxidised products in Alzheimer's diseaseCorsinovi L, Biasi F, Poli G, Leonarduzzi G, Isaia G31/08/2011Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Sep;55 Suppl 2:S161-SS172. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100208. Epub 2011 Aug 31.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the commonest form of dementia in the elderly, characterized by memory dysfunction, loss of lexical access, spatial and temporal disorientation, and impaired judgment. A growing body of scientific literature addresses the implication of dietary habits in the pathogenesis of AD.
This review reports recent findings concerning the modulation of AD development by dietary lipids, in animals and humans, focusing on the pathogenetic role of lipid oxidation products.
Oxidative breakdown products of ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-6 PUFAs), and cholesterol oxidation products (oxysterols), might play a role in favoring β-amyloid deposition, a hallmark of AD's onset and progression. Conversely, ω-3 PUFAs appear to contribute to preventing and treating AD. However, high concentrations of ω-3 PUFAs can also produce oxidized derivatives reacting with important functions of nervous cells. Thus, altered balances between cholesterol and oxysterols, and between ω-3 and ω-6 PUFAs must be considered in AD's pathophysiology.
The use of a diet with an appropriate ω-3/ω-6 PUFA ratio, rich in healthy oils, fish and antioxidants, such as flavonoids, but low in cholesterol-containing foods, can be a beneficial component in the clinical strategies of prevention of AD.
Alzheimer's Disease;Cholesterol;Lipid oxidation products;Nutrition;PUFAhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21954186View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1959Swinburn et al 2011 - The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environmentsThe global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environmentsthe global obesity pandemicSwinburn BA, Sacks G, Hall KD, McPherson K, Finegood DT, Moodie ML, Gortmaker SL27/08/2011Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):804-14.
The simultaneous increases in obesity in almost all countries seem to be driven mainly by changes in the global food system, which is producing more processed, affordable, and effectively marketed food than ever before. This passive overconsumption of energy leading to obesity is a predictable outcome of market economies predicated on consumption-based growth. The global food system drivers interact with local environmental factors to create a wide variation in obesity prevalence between populations. Within populations, the interactions between environmental and individual factors, including genetic makeup, explain variability in body size between individuals. However, even with this individual variation, the epidemic has predictable patterns in subpopulations. In low-income countries, obesity mostly affects middle-aged adults (especially women) from wealthy, urban environments; whereas in high-income countries it affects both sexes and all ages, but is disproportionately greater in disadvantaged groups. Unlike other major causes of preventable death and disability, such as tobacco use, injuries, and infectious diseases, there are no exemplar populations in which the obesity epidemic has been reversed by public health measures. This absence increases the urgency for evidence-creating policy action, with a priority on reduction of the supply-side drivers.
Full free text available to registered members at The Lancet here:
1934 26 Aug 2011 - Medscape - Low DHA Levels Linked to Increased Suicide RiskOmega-3 and suicide risk, depressionNews review by Deborah Brauser26/08/2011
Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the major omega-3 fatty acid concentrated in the brain, may increase suicide risk, new research suggests.
A retrospective case-control study of1600 United States military personnel, including 800 who had committed suicide and 800 healthy counterparts, showed that all participants had low omega-3 levels. However, the suicide risk was 62% greatest in those with the lowest levels of DHA.
"Our findings add to an extensive body of research that points to a fundamental role for DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against mental health problems and suicide risks," co–principal investigator Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, said in a statement.
He told Medscape Medical News that the US military "goes to great steps" to ensure they provide the best nutrition to their soldiers, especially in combat and deployment situations. However, these findings on the potential usefulness of omega-3 fatty acids for the brain should be taken into account when designing military diets in the future.
"Omega-3 is already recommended by the American Psychiatric Association as adjunctive therapy for anybody with a psychiatric disorder, especially for those with major depression," said Dr. Hibbeln.
When asked whether he would recommend omega-3 even to those without a diagnosis, Dr. Hibbeln replied, "it certainly wouldn't hurt."
"It's best not to categorize this as 'a drug,' but instead as a fundamental nutrient."
"The recent escalation of U.S. military suicide deaths to record numbers has been a sentinel for impaired force efficacy and has accelerated the search for reversible risk factors," write the investigators.
They note that suicide rates in military personnel have doubled since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and now "rival the battlefield in toll."
Previous research has shown that omega-3 essential highly unsaturated fatty acids (n-3 HUFAs), especially DHA, are needed for optimal neural function.
"Nutritional deficiencies in n-3 HUFAs may increase vulnerability to combat deployment stress, manifesting as psychiatric symptoms including adjustment disorders, major depression, impulsive violence, and suicide," the investigators write.
In addition, observational studies conducted in civilian populations have suggested that low DHA levels are linked to increased risk for suicide attempt and may contribute to adverse psychiatric symptoms.
For this study, prospectively collected blood samples from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center were evaluated from 800 suicide deaths (95.6% men; mean age, 27.3 years) and 800 randomly selected age- and sex-matched healthy control participants. All were active-duty personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines who served from 2002 to 2008.
"To our knowledge, this is the largest study of biological factors among suicide deaths," the authors write.
The Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center also maintains matched health data, including postdeployment health assessment questionnaires and International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, mental health and substance abuse diagnosis reports.
Higher Suicide Risks
Results showed that "each standard deviation (SD) of lower DHA was associated with a 14% greater risk for suicide (odds ratio (OR), 1.14; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.27; P < .03)," report the investigators.
Men who had serum DHA levels below 1.75% had a significantly greater risk of completing suicide than men with higher levels (adjusted OR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.12 - 2.34; P < .01.)
There was also a 52% higher suicide risk for all participants who reported having witnessed fellow soldiers wounded, killed, or dead (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.11 - 2.09; P < .01).
In addition, there was an increased risk for suicide associated with more inpatient mental health visits (OR, 1.47; P < .001). However, it was not associated with any substance abuse diagnosis.
Although women had a significantly higher mean DHA percentage compared with men (1.48% vs 1.15%), there was no difference in fatty acids found between the women who did and those who did not complete suicide.
"Nearly all US military personnel had low n-3 HUFA status in comparison to North American, Australian, Mediterranean, and Asian populations," write the researchers.
"Although these data suggest that low serum DHA may be a risk factor for suicide, well-designed intervention trials are needed to evaluate causality," they add.
The treatment committee for the American Psychiatry Association, of which Dr. Hibbeln was a member, issued recommendations in 2006 for 1 g/day of n-3 HUFAs for anyone with a psychiatric disorder, and the US Food and Drug Administration has determined that up to 3 g/day is considered safe.
Omega-3 Intake Matters
"I thought this was an impressive study with a very large sample size," Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology and S. Robert David Chair of Medicine at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, told Medscape Medical News.
"It suggests that the diet of our military, in terms of omega-3 intake, is poor, and that it could have implications for mental health. And that's an important and cautionary note for all of us," said Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser, who was not involved in the study.
As recently reported by Medscape Medical News, Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser led a trial showing that omega-3 supplements may lower both anxiety symptoms and proinflammatory cytokines in healthy young adults.
Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser said she was surprised at how low the omega-3 intake was overall in the current study. "Given this is a population that's already under a lot of strains and at risk for depression, it's something that really needs attention."
She noted that Dr. Hibbeln "has become Mr. Omega-3 for a lot of the psychiatric literature," in terms of depression and omega-3 use.
"He's done cross-national studies in a variety of different cohorts that showed repeatedly that depression is associated with lower levels of omega-3. Then, in randomized controlled trials, we see that omega-3 intake has beneficial effects," she reported.
On the basis of the results of this study, said Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser, it's a "no brainer" to investigate whether making dietary improvements in military personnel makes a difference to mental health outcomes.
"For clinicians who treat civilians, I'd say that omega-3 intake matters, and that it's helpful to keep in mind that there might be dietary issues related to depression as well."
The study was supported by a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and by the Division of Intramural Basic and Clinical Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The study authors and Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
J Clin Psychiatry. Published online August 23, 2011. Abstract
This important large-scale study adds to - and supports - a large body of existing evidence that links depression and other mood disorders to relative deficiencies in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood (EPA and DHA). (See Freeman et al 2006 for an early review and treatment recommendations from the American Psychiatric Association)
The finding reported here that low blood DHA levels predict suicide risk confirms the results of an earlier, much smaller pilot study (Sublette et al 2006).
This study also found remarkably low average levels of omega-3 in US military personnel. Hopefully it will provide a much-needed wake-up call for governments everywhere to pay serious attention to the links between diet and mental health.
193216 Aug 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - The First 1000 Days: A Legacy for Life - Part 1: In the wombThe First 1000 Days: A Legacy for LifePresented by Dr Mark Porter (Produced by Erika Wright)16/08/2011
Part 1: In the Womb
Imagine if your health as an adult is partly determined by the nutrition and environment you were exposed to in the first 1000 days of life. Or even further back; that the lifestyle of your grandparents during their children's first 1000 days, has programmed your adult health. A strong body of scientific evidence supports this explosive idea, and is gradually turning medical thinking on its head. To understand the cause of chronic adult disease, including ageing, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and lung problems we need to look much further back than adult lifestyle - but to the first 1000 days.
In this groundbreaking three part series Dr Mark Porter talks to the scientists who now believe that this 'lifecourse' approach, will find the cause of many adult diseases. "Chronic disease is going up in leaps and bounds, this is not a genetic change" says Kent Thornburg, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in Oregon, America "it's because the environment in the womb is getting worse. We know now that the first 1000 days of life is the most sensitive period for determining lifelong health'.
But it's not just down to mothers or grandmothers, there is growing evidence that diet and lifestyle along the paternal line matters too. 'You are what your dad ate,' argues Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith of Cambridge University.
"Growth has a pattern," continues Alan Jackson, Professor of Nutrition at Southampton University "everything has a time and a place and if that gets interrupted then you can catch up, but there are consequences".
So where does that leave us as adults? Good diet and lifestyle is very important, but scientists know that some individuals are more vulnerable to disease than others, and that's not just down to genetics. "All diseases may be expressions of key developments in the womb" explains Professor David Barker, "That does not mean you are doomed, it means you are vulnerable. Understanding that challenges the way medicine is structured".
Mark Porter sets out to investigate his own birth history and meets families to debate these overwhelming ideas. He talks to world leading scientists about how this approach to adult disease can help make us healthier and learns top tips for the first 1000 days.
1951Politi et al 2011 - Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trials of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Psychiatric Disorders: a Review of Current LiteratureRandomized Placebo-Controlled Trials of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Psychiatric Disorders: a Review of Current LiteratureRandomized Placebo-Controlled Trials of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Psychiatric Disorders: a Review of Current LiteraturePoliti P, Rocchetti M, Emanuele E, Rondanelli M, Barale F15/08/2011Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2011 Aug 15
Growing evidence suggests the clinical usefulness of omega (ω)-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in patients with psychiatric disorders.
In the present review, we summarize the findings of randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials focusing on the potential therapeutic utility of omega-3 PUFA in mental illnesses. We searched the Pubmed databese for placebo-controlled clinical trials utilizing the keywords PUFA, omega 3, eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid in combination with the following terms: anxiety disorders, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), personality disorders, and schizophrenia.
The literature review indicated that personality disorders, autism, and anxiety disorders have been less investigated than mood disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD. While no definite conclusions can be drawn on the therapeutic efficacy of ω-3 PUFA in the majority of psychiatric illnesses examined herein, evidence suggests the potential preventive role of this molecules in subjects at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis. Hopefully, future studies in the field should examine the turnover of ω-PUFA in the neural membranes. Moreover, special attention should be paid to potential confounders such as dietary or smoking habits.
Back in 2006, the American Psychiatric Association reviewed the evidence from randomised controlled clinical trials (RCT) of omega-3 for psychiatric disorders, and found that there was already sufficient evidence to make treatment recommendations, especially for clinical depression, but also for other psychiatric disorders. (See Freeman et al 2006.)
Since then, evidence from many more RCTs has confirmed the benefits of long-chain omega-3 for depression (see Martins 2009, Davis et al 2010).
Similarly, results from trials of omega-3 for ADHD also show an overall benefit from dietary supplementation (see Bloch & Quawasmi, 2011)
And as highlighted by the authors of the current review, there is also extremely promising evidence for omega-3 in the prevention of schizophrenia (see Amminger et al 2010)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21838664View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1952Milte et al 2011 - Polyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficultiesPolyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficultiesPolyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficultiesMilte CM, Sinn N, Buckley JD, Coates AM, Young RM, Howe PR09/08/2011J Child Health Care. 2011 Aug 9
Suboptimal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) levels may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related developmental problems.
Associations between n-3 and omega-6 (n-6) PUFA levels in red blood cells (erythrocytes) and learning and behaviour were investigated in 75 children aged 7-12 with ADHD. Children provided blood samples and underwent cognitive assessments. Parents completed questionnaires and Conners' Rating Scales.
Controlling for covariates, higher n-3 PUFA predicted lower anxiety/shyness (β = -.27), higher docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) better word reading (β = .22), and higher n-6 PUFA poorer reading (β = -.34), vocabulary (β = .-.26), spelling (β = -.30) and attention (β = -.30). Thirty-six per cent of the sample with learning difficulties had lower DHA than those without (M = 3.26 ± 0.54 vs M = 3.68 ± 0.76, p = .02).
This study is the first to compare erythrocyte PUFAs (a measure of PUFA status) in children who have ADHD with and without learning difficulties, and supports emerging indications that the former may be more likely responders to n-3 PUFAs.
adhd; omega 3; omega 6http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21828168View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
19302 Aug 2011 - Wall Street Journal - Progress, Not Perfection, on Reducing Kids' Exposure to Ads for Unhealthful Foodsfood advertising, fast food, tv advertising, tv ads, food marketingKids are seeing fewer ads for foods and drinks high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium, a new study shows.08/08/2011by Katherine Hobson
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago crunched Nielsen Media Research ratings data and found that exposure to ads for less healthful foods and drinks fell 38% for kids aged 2 to 5 and 28% for kids 6 to 11 between 2003 and 2009. Overall exposure to food-related ads in general fell, too, as kids saw fewer ads for cereals, sweets, beverages and snacks.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” says Lisa Powell, lead author of the study and a senior research scientist at UIC’s Institute for Health Research and Policy. But she notes that in 2009, 86% of the food and drink ads seen by kids were for foods high in saturated fats, sugar or sodium — still an awfully large proportion, though it’s down from 94% in 2003.
The study, published online in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, notes that given that last stat, the food industry’s self-regulation efforts still need beefing up, including greater participation by fast-food companies in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a project of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. CFBAI’s food and beverage company members pledge to eliminate or restrict their ads directed at kids.
In contrast to the trend seen for other types of foods, younger kids saw 21% more fast food ads between 2003 and 2009 and older kids saw 31% more. In a statement, National Restaurant Association Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living Joy Dubost said the study “did not address the nutritional content of the advertisements and failed to establish whether the ads met the nutritional standards set by the authors.” Many fast-food ads are also for the restaurant itself rather than a specific product, Dubost said.
Changing the way companies market food to kids is a hot topic, and the landscape has shifted since the end of the study.
Last September, CFBAI members said they had harmonized their definition of child-directed programming, and now no participant will advertise on shows where 35% or more of the audience consists of kids aged 2 to 11, according to Elaine Kolish, director of CFBAI. She takes issue with the study’s focus on all ads kids are exposed to rather than just those directed at them.
Meantime, on the question of what constitutes a healthful or unhealthful food, the Obama administration in April proposed voluntary nutritional standards for foods marketed at kids and teens, both in terms of what to avoid (the usual baddies: saturated fat, added sugar and too much sodium) and what to include (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein).
CFBAI members responded with their own uniform food-specific guidelines for food marketing, replacing criteria from individual companies. The new standards include caps on calories, saturated fat, sugar and sodium, depending on the food item — though the New York Times noted that only one-third of the companies’ advertised products would have to be reformulated to meet the standards.
All of these changes might lead to further improvements, says Powell.
http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/08/02/progress-not-perfection-on-reducing-kids-exposure-to-ads-for-unhealthful-foods/?KEYWORDS=Progress+Not+Perfection+on+Reducing+Kids%E2%80%99+Exposure+to+Ads+for+Unhealthful+FoodsRead this article in The Wall Street Journal here
192921 July 2011 - BBC News - Teens 'not getting enough fruit and vegetables'teen diet; 5-a-day; fruit and veg portions; Just one in 13 teenage girls is getting their recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, official government data shows.08/08/2011by Nick Triggle - Health Correspondent
But boys in the 11 to 18 age group did little better, with just one in eight eating the right amount, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey found.
Adults ate more on average, with a third getting their five-a-day.
The poll of more than 2,000 adults and children also raised concerns about other areas of diet.
Consumption of saturated fats for adults aged 19 to 64 was a tenth above recommended levels, while the majority of participants were found to be not getting enough oily fish.
But it was the diet of teenagers that raised the most concern.
The average consumption of fruit and vegetables for girls aged 11 to 18 was 2.7 portions with just 7% getting five-a-day. Nearly half of them are not getting enough iron in their diet either.
For boys, the average was 3.1 portions with just 13% getting five-a-day.
Long way to go
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said she was concerned about the figures for teenagers.
"Eating and being active can help prevent serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease later in life," she added
The survey drew on findings from interviews, diaries and blood and urine samples taken during 2008 and 2010. It marks the start of an ongoing programme of research which will inform government policy..
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14234454Read the full article and related stories on the BBC News website here
1931Powell et al 2011 - Trends in the Nutritional Content of Television Food Advertisements Seen by Children in the United States: Analyses by Age, Food Categories, and CompaniesTrends in the Nutritional Content of Television Food Advertisements Seen by Children in the United States: Analyses by Age, Food Categories, and CompaniesTrends in the Nutritional Content of Television Food Advertisements Seen by Children in the United States: Analyses by Age, Food Categories, and CompaniesPowell LM, Schermbeck RM, Szczypka G, Chaloupka FJ, Braunschweig CL08/08/2011Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Aug 1. [Epub ahead of print]
To examine trends in children's exposure to food-related advertising on television by age, product category, and company.
Nutritional content analysis using television ratings data for 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 for children.
Annual age-specific television ratings data captured children's exposure to broadcast network, cable network, syndicated, and spot television food advertising from all (except Spanish-language) programming.
Children aged 2 to 5 and 6 to 11 years. Main Exposure Television ratings.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Children's exposure to food-related advertising on television with nutritional assessments for food and beverage products for grams of saturated fat, sugar, and fiber and milligrams of sodium.
Children aged 2 to 5 and 6 to 11 years saw, respectively, on average, 10.9 and 12.7 food-related television advertisements daily in 2009, down 17.8% and 6.9% from 2003. Exposure to food and beverage products high in saturated fat, sugar, or sodium fell 37.9% and 27.7% but fast-food advertising exposure increased by 21.1% and 30.8% among 2- to 5- and 6- to 11-year-olds, respectively, between 2003 and 2009. In 2009, 86% of ads seen by children were for products high in saturated fat, sugar, or sodium, down from 94% in 2003.
Exposure to unhealthy food and beverage product advertisements has fallen, whereas exposure to fast-food ads increased from 2003 to 2009. By 2009, there was not a substantial improvement in the nutritional content of food and beverage advertisements that continued to be advertised and viewed on television by US children.
food advertising, fast food, tv advertising, tv ads, food marketinghttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Trends%20in%20the%20Nutritional%20Content%20of%20Television%20Food%20Advertisements%20Seen%20by%20Children%20in%20the%20United%20StatesView this and related abstracts via PubMed here
1928Swanson et al 2011 - Maternal feeding behaviour and young children's dietary quality: A cross-sectional study of socially disadvantaged mothers of two-year old children using the Theory of Planned BehaviourMaternal feeding behaviour and young children's dietary quality: A cross-sectional study of socially disadvantaged mothers of two-year old children using the Theory of Planned BehaviourMaternal feeding behaviour and young children's dietary quality: A cross-sectional study of socially disadvantaged mothers of two-year old children using the Theory of Planned BehaviourSwanson V, Power KG, Crombie IK, Irvine L, Kiezebrink K, Wrieden W, Slane PW08/08/2011Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2011, Jun 238:65.
Having breakfast, eating food 'cooked from scratch' and eating together as a family have health and psychosocial benefits for young children. This study investigates how these parentally determined behaviours relate to children's dietary quality and uses a psychological model, the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), to investigate socio-cognitive predictors of these behaviours in socially disadvantaged mothers of young children in Scotland.
Three hundred mothers of children aged 2 years (from 372 invited to participate, 81% response rate), recruited via General Practitioners, took part in home-based semi-structured interviews in a cross-sectional survey of maternal psychological factors related to their children's dietary quality. Regression analyses examined statistical predictors of maternal intentions and feeding behaviours.
Mothers of children with poorer quality diets were less likely than others to provide breakfast every day, cook from 'scratch' and provide 'proper sit-down meals'. TPB socio-cognitive factors (intentions, perceived behavioural control) significantly predicted these three behaviours, and attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioural control significantly predicted mothers' intentions, with medium to large effect sizes.
Interventions to improve young children's dietary health could benefit from a focus on modifying maternal motivations and attitudes in attempts to improve feeding behaviours.
feeding behaviour, diet, eating together, socially disadvantaged, cross-sectional study, theory of planned behaviour, TPBhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699714View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this paper is available online
2014Ramsden CE et al 2011 - All PUFAs are not created equal: absence of CHD benefit specific to linoleic acid in randomized controlled trials and prospective observational cohortsAll PUFAs are not created equal: absence of CHD benefit specific to linoleic acid in randomized controlled trials and prospective observational cohortsAll PUFAs are not created equal: absence of CHD benefit specific to linoleic acid in randomized controlled trials and prospective observational cohortsRamsden CE, Hibbeln JR, Majchrzak-Hong SF05/08/2011World Rev Nutr Diet. 2011;102:30-43. Epub 2011 Aug 5.
Advice to maintain or increase consumption of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n–6 PUFA) linoleic acid (LA) should be derived from interventional and observational trials evaluating the specific effects of dietary LA, rather than effects of n–3 PUFAs or total PUFAs. Failure to make a clear distinction among PUFA species may result in inadvertently attributing health effects of n–3 PUFAs to linoleic acid. Pooled analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of clinical CHD events
and intermediate risk factors
and pooled analyses of nonrandomized prospective observational trials of clinical CHD events
are often cited as providing strong concordant evidence
that LA is cardioprotective. These pooled analyses
form the primary basis for recent population-wide advice to maintain or increase n–6 PUFA
. However, total PUFA rather than n–6 LA, was defined as the independent variable for statistical calculations in all three pooled analyses
(table 1), then interpreted as attributable to LA
. In this paper we: (1) establish that a clear distinction was not made between n–3 and n–6 PUFAs in pooled analyses of randomized and nonrandomized trials (tables 2, ?,3),3), (2) report whether a clear distinction was made between n–3 and n–6 PUFAs in each individual trial before pooling, (3) assess strengths and limitations of randomized and nonrandomized study designs for disentangling respective intakes of n–6 and n–3 PUFA species, and (4) highlight the necessity of making a clear distinction between PUFA species for interpreting the results of clinical trials and formulating dietary guidelines.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21865817Available as a free PMC Article - access from PubMed here
2074Gomez-Pinilla F 2011 - Collaborative effects of diet and exercise on cognitive enhancementCollaborative effects of diet and exercise on cognitive enhancement.Collaborative effects of diet and exercise on cognitive enhancement.Gomez-Pinilla F31/07/2011Nutr Health. 2011;20(3-4):165-9.
Certain dietary factors, such as omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin, are reviewed in their context of stimulating molecular systems that serve synaptic function, while diets rich in saturated fats do the opposite. In turn, exercise, using similar mechanisms as healthy diets, displays healing effects on the brain such as counteracting the mental decline associated with age and facilitating functional recovery resulting from brain injury and disease. Diet and exercise are two noninvasive approaches that used together may enhance neural repair. Omega 3 fatty acids and curcumin elevate levels of molecules important for synaptic plasticity such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), thus benefiting normal brain function and recovery events following brain insults.
fatty acids; curcuminhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22141190View this and related abstracts on PubMed here. Free full text available online
2122Roseboom et al 2011 - Hungry in the womb: what are the consequences?Hungry in the womb: what are the consequences? Lessons from the Dutch famineHungry in the womb: what are the consequences? Lessons from the Dutch famineRoseboom TJ, Painter RC, van Abeelen AF, Veenendaal MV, de Rooij SR.28/07/2011Maturitas. 70(2)141-5. Epub 2011 Jul 28.
An increasing body of evidence suggests that poor nutrition at the very beginning of life - even before birth - leads to large and long term negative consequences for both mental and physical health.
This paper reviews the evidence from studies on the Dutch famine, which investigated the effects of prenatal undernutrition on later health. The effects of famine appeared to depend on its timing during gestation, and the organs and tissues undergoing critical periods of development at that time.
Early gestation appeared to be the most vulnerable period. People who were conceived during the famine were at increased risk of schizophrenia and depression, they had a more atherogenic plasma lipid profile, were more responsive to stress and had a doubled rate of coronary heart disease. Also, they performed worse on cognitive tasks which may be a sign of accelerated ageing. People exposed during any period of gestation had more type 2 diabetes.
Future investigation will expand on the finding that the effects of prenatal famine exposure may reach down across generations, possibly through epigenetic mechanisms.
Recent evidence suggests that similar effects of prenatal undernutrition are found in Africa, where many are undernourished. Hunger is a major problem worldwide with one in seven inhabitants of this planet suffering from lack of food. Adequately feeding women before and during pregnancy may be a promising strategy in preventing chronic diseases worldwide.
Nutritional programming, Dutch Famine, reviewhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802226View this and related abstracts via PubMed here
193922 July 2011 - Medscape - Omega-3 Supplements May Lower AnxietyOmega-3 and anxiety, immune system functioning22/07/2011by Deborah Brauser
Increasing omega-3 intake may lower both anxiety symptoms and proinflammatory cytokines in healthy young adults, new research suggests.
In a small randomized controlled trial of medical students, those who received omega-3 supplements for 3 months showed a 20% reduction in anxiety scores and a 14% reduction in stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) production.
According to the investigators, the study "provides the first evidence that omega-3 may have potential anxiolytic benefits for individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis."
"We were impressed by the magnitude of the anxiety effect and the evidence for its anti-inflammatory effects, suggesting that it might have broader benefits," lead study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology and S. Robert David Chair of Medicine at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUMC) in Columbus, told Medscape Medical News.
She noted that the significant reduction in IL-6 is especially important because the young study population had low rates to begin with.
"So our findings could possibly be much more significant in a group that was older and had more health problems."
The study was published online July 19 in Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
Fish Oil Benefits the Body
"Chronic inflammation has been linked to a broad spectrum of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis," write the researchers.
"Large population studies suggest that greater fish consumption may help control or protect against the onset of these and other inflammatory conditions," they add.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are 2 key omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in fish oil, which may also benefit mood.
In fact, previous research, including a study reported on last year by Medscape Medical News, has suggested that omega-3 can lower depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed as having clinical depression.
Because both depression and anxiety have been found to increase the production of proinflammatory cytokines, the current investigators hypothesized that giving omega-3 PUFA supplementation to healthy subjects would lead to a decrease in this production.
Secondary outcome measures were lowered anxiety and depressive symptoms, as well as lowered negative mood symptoms associated with taking stressful exams.
A total of 68 first- and second-year medical students (56% male; mean age, 23.65 years) were enrolled and randomized to receive 3 times daily either omega-3 supplement capsules (consisting of 2085 mg of EPA and 348 mg of DHA, n = 34) or fish-flavored placebo capsules (n = 34) for 12 weeks.
"We chose the 7:1 EPA/DHA balance because of evidence that EPA has relatively stronger anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects than DHA," explain the investigators.
"The supplement was probably about 4 or 5 times the amount of fish oil you'd get from a daily serving of salmon," added coauthor Martha Belury, PhD, RD, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, in a release.
All participants were interviewed 6 times, and serial blood samples were scheduled to be taken during lower-stress days and on the days before major exams.
In addition, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and Beck Anxiety Inventory were administered at all visits.
Reduced Anxiety, Cytokines
Results showed no significant differences between stress and nonstress days across all outcomes for either group.
"Thus, the ability of omega-3 supplementation to dampen stress response could not be tested," write the researchers.
They note that this was probably due to a sudden change in the medical school's curriculum. Instead of distributing the major tests during a 3-day period, as done in the past, the exams were given throughout the year.
"This group was notably unstressed, which was a severe disappointment and a study limitation. We just didn't get the stress effect we had expected," said Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.
Still, the treatment group showed a significantly greater reduction in anxiety symptoms at 20% than did the placebo group (P = .04). They also had a greater decrease in their amounts of stimulated IL-6 production (0.15 units lower, P = .04).
"Anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases," said coauthor Ron Glaser, PhD, professor of molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics at OSUMC.
There were no significant changes in depressive symptoms for either group."Again, this was not a depressed group, and without more severe depression, you may not see an effect," said Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser.
"Overall, that both anxiety and inflammation were altered is notable, especially in a group that was not clinically anxious," she added.
Even so, the investigators are not yet ready to suggest that everybody should start taking fish oil pills. "It may be too early to recommend a broad use of omega-3 supplements throughout the public, especially considering the cost and the limited supplies of fish needed to supply the oil. Instead, people should just consider increasing their omega-3 through their diet," said Dr. Belury.
Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser reported that the investigators have just finished another trial that examined the effects of increasing omega-3 in a population between the ages of 40 and 85 years who have an average body mass index of 30.
Omega-3 for All Psychiatric Disorders?
"This study reveals 2 remarkable, clinically solid findings," Capt. Joseph R. Hibbeln, MD, acting chief, Section on Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News.
The first, "which cannot be understated," is the reduction of anxiety scores in a normative population, said Dr. Hibbeln, who was not involved with this study.
"Many trials of omega-3 fatty acids in depression have confused the field because it's very difficult to reduce depression in people who don't have the disorder. And it's also very difficult to reduce anxiety in those who don't have clinically manifest anxiety," he explained.
"The second was that they probed the question of whether or not omega-3 fatty acids at least work in part through changes in the immune system and neural-immune interactions by measuring the effects of cytokine release in the patients' white blood cells ex vivo."
He noted that the "very marked decrease" in cytokine production in the treatment group was impressive.
"This is absolutely consistent with the hypothesis that one of the mechanisms of action for omega-3 fatty acids is not necessarily central but is through down-regulating the immune system. The study begs the question: is increased anxiety a manifest symptom of omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies? And their answer is yes."
Dr. Hibbeln said that the current 2010 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines recommend omega-3 PUFAs for the protection of heart disease and for pregnant mothers to prevent deficiencies in their offspring.
In 2006, the treatment committee for the American Psychiatric Association (APA), of which he was a member, issued recommendations that all patients with a psychiatric disorder should take at least 1 gram a day of omega-3 PUFAs to prevent the medical complications that often co-occur for them, such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic problems.
"This paper should be another signal that the practicing psychiatrist should follow the 2006 APA recommendations," concluded Dr. Hibbeln.
The study was funded in part by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is part of the NIH. The study authors and Dr. Hibbeln have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Brain Behav Immun. Published online July 19, 2011. Abstract
This study is important for two reasons.
First - it shows that anxiety can be reduced in healthy young adults by supplementing their diets with the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood. These students did not have particularly high levels of anxiety to begin with, so to show a symptom reduction in this group is all the more impressive.
Second - it shows a clear link between the observed reductions in anxiety and down-regulation of the immune system. This is consistent with previous work suggesting that the well-known anti-inflammatory effects of long-chain omega-3 may help to explain their benefits for stress, anxiety and depression.
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