Monthly Archives: July 2012

CoQ10 aids male fertility

A new study involving 287 infertile men suggests that the nutrient Coenzyme Q10 improves both sperm quality and pregnancy rate.

The study, published in the International Urology and Nephrology Journal, assessed men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT), meaning that the men had unexplained reduced sperm count and reduced sperm quality.

CoEnzyme Q10
CoEnzyme Q10 may be useful in supporting male infertility and sperm motility

The trial measured the effects on pregnancy rate of supplementation with 300mg of CoQ10 twice a day for 12-months. Over the 12-month period, the overall pregnancy rate was 34.1%. In contrast, the pregnancy rate in non-supplemented infertile men during the same time is around 6.4%.

Sperm samples were also collected before and after supplementation. The results showed that supplementation with CoQ10 improved mean sperm concentration by 113.7%. It also improved motility (forward movement of the sperm) by 104.8% and raised the number of normal forms by 78.9%.

There are a number of reasons why CoQ10 may boost male fertility. In sperm cells, CoQ10 is concentrated in the midpiece of each sperm, acting as an energy promoting agent. The energy for movement and all other energy-dependent processes in the sperm cell depend on this crucial nutrient. CoQ10 is also an antioxidant, preventing lipid per oxidation thereby reducing damage to sperm membranes.

In cases where couples are having difficulty conceiving, it is very common for medical treatment to be focussed on the female partner only. This treatment pathway fails to address the health of the male partner which could be addressed with nutritional changes.  It does appear that couples are short-changed when they are referred for invasive medical treatments, when nutritional changes could in fact be a far less invasive and stress-free alternative. A recent review of male subfertility concluded that “The concept of unilateral care of the female partner, which has gained momentum in the reproductive health community, especially with the advent of in vitro fertilization and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is counterproductive, and should be discouraged.”

This trial was open-label, meaning some caution is needed in interpreting the results. However, the study will hopefully pave the way for future research in this area.

While couples may not wish to rely exclusively on nutritional supplements and dietary changes to address subfertility, this approach could be used alongside medical treatment to improve chances of success. “Medical treatment with nutraceuticals helps improve sperm parameters, and even if the response is not adequate, increases the response to assisted reproductive technology.” (2)

Coenzyme Q10 is present in beef, pork, oily fish and nuts. However, to reach therapeutic levels of this nutrient, supplementation would be necessary. The recommended dose range of CoQ10 for male subfertility is 60 mg to 200 mg daily.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. The effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on partner pregnancy rate in infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia: an open-label prospective study. MR Safarinejad. Int Urol Nephrol. Vol 44, no3 (2012) 689-700.

2. S. Kalra, B. Kalra, N. Agrawal: Nutraceutical Management Of Male Subfertility: An Update  . The Internet Journal of Family Practice. 2010 Volume 8 Number 2. DOI: 10.5580/1c4a

3. Image Courtesy of graur codrin

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Can chemical-free sunscreen help prickly heat?

Hot summer weather and beach holidays are adored by many but for around 10% of the population they can mean days of itchy misery thanks to a common condition called prickly heat. This tends to affect people year after year but could something as simple as switching to a non-waterproof, chemical-free sunscreen reduce the irritating effects of prickly heat?

What is prickly heat?

Also known as miliaria, it causes bumps or blisters to appear in a rash across areas of skin during a spate of hot weather. The rash can take several days to disappear, even if conditions are much cooler.

Avoid Prickly Heat
Avoid Prickly Heat by staying cool and keeping hydrated in the sunshine.

Prickly heat can appear almost anywhere on the body, especially confined areas such as the armpits, but tends not to affect the face. It often affects areas of the body covered by clothing as there tends to be more sweat produced where the clothing rubs against the skin. This rash is caused by sweat glands in the skin becoming blocked. This stops the sweat from escaping the body and instead leads it to leak into nearby skin, causing redness and rashes. Whilst this does not generally have any serious health consequences, the prickly heat rash can be very irritating and can really put a dampener on holidays to hot countries.

Some people are more prone to prickly heat than others. Babies and children quite commonly suffer from it as their sweat glands are not properly developed yet and can produce sweat too quickly for their skin to cope with. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of developing a prickly heat rash as this can lead to increased sweating.
5 quick tips for reducing prickly heat

The first way to reduce your prickly heat is to reduce the amount you sweat. This can be achieved by simple measures such as:

• Staying in the shade
• Wearing only loose-fitting, cool clothes
• Showering in cool water regularly
• Avoiding exercise in hot weather
• Drinking more water than usual

It may seem counterproductive to hydrate your body more when you are trying to reduce sweating but in hot climates our bodies need far more water than usual. Drinking more will also help to prevent other consequences of dehydration, such as headaches and fatigue.

Chemical-free sunscreens and prickly heat

As well as reducing the amount you sweat, you should try to prevent your sweat glands from becoming blocked. These may become blocked through dead skin cells or bacteria.

Some people find that exfoliation can help as it removes the dead skin cells blocking their pores, allowing the sweat to escape normally. However, it is advisable to exfoliate before you go on holiday as waiting until the prickly heat has started could irritate the skin further.

One further cause of blocked sweat glands is waterproof sunscreen, which can contain pore-clogging ingredients and is like wrapping your skin in cling film! It is possible that these may aggravate your prickly heat, as they reduce the amount of sweat that can escape your skin. The resulting build up of sweat inside the skin can then create prickly heat rash symptoms.

Green People has a range of natural sunscreens which do not contain the pore-clogging ingredients which can aggravate prickly heat and they are especially suitable for people with the condition. Green People sunscreens are also free from PABA, parabens and artificial colours and fragrances.

Soothing prickly heat

If you are prone to prickly heat and you are going on holiday to a hot place then it is best to take a soothing body lotion with you. If you develop prickly heat, it will help to reduce the itching which prickly heat can cause, as well as calming and hydrating sun-exposed skin.

An organic After Sun lotion which contains soothing Aloe Vera, Calendula and/or cooling Mint would be a good addition to your suitcase. Refreshing and calming, it is ideal for using after a day in the sun.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product?

Does an SPF30 sun lotion give twice the protection of an SPF15 product? No – SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures the protection against UVB provided by a sunscreen. An SPF15, when applied properly, protects you against 16 out of 17 parts or 93% of UVB. An SPF 30 protects you against 32 out of 33 parts or 97% UVB.

SPF15 93% – 16 parts out of 17 (7% UVB gets through)
SPF25 96% – 24 parts out of 25 (4% UVB gets through)
SPF30 97% – 32 parts out of 33 (3% UVB gets through)

SPF50 will block 98% of UVB rays and SPF100 99%.

Natural SuncareIn reality there is actually not much difference between SPF15 and SPF100 – at least a lot less difference than the SPF figure appears to represent. The fact is that, as long as they are properly applied, most sun lotions offer quite a high level of protection and it just isn’t necessary for most of us to use an ultra-high SPF sunscreen.

SPF ratings higher than 30 are primarily used by sun care companies as a marketing tool, and take advantage of the public’s misperception of what the protection ratings mean.

More worryingly is the fact that these higher SPF levels encourage people to spend longer periods in the sun as they are not visibly burning. However, UVA rays will still be getting through, and it is thought that these are far more damaging in the long term than UVB rays. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin where it can affect living cells in the dermis. This damage can cause symptoms of premature ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles, and can also damage the DNA that carries the genetic code of each cell. If the DNA becomes damaged, cells may mutate and this is thought to be a leading cause of skin cancers.

It is far more important to apply sun lotions in sufficient quantity, to reapply regularly, and to wear protective clothing during exposure to strong sunlight, than it is to use sun lotions with very high SPF factors. Applying half the recommended amount of sun lotion will only give protection equal to the square root of the claimed SPF level. This means that applying half the recommended amount of an SPF15 product will only give approximately SPF4 protection, whilst half the amount of SPF30 will only give approximately SPF5½. As you see from these figures, the difference in protection level between these two products is minimal.

An average adult should use about a 30ml or shot-glass-full to cover the entire body. At this level, an SPF15 sun lotion will filter out 93% of UVB rays, whilst and SPF25 will filter out 96% of UVB. You should also reapply every 2 to 3 hours and always after swimming or profuse sweating in order to maintain protection.

NICE (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) published guidance advising people to use a broad spectrum sun lotion with at least SPF15 protection.

Content kindly provided by Green People

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Could Probiotics help with Weight Management?

Some research exists to suggest that probiotics could help with weight management – but how would that work, and how sound is the research?

In 2006, a seminal study[1] published in the well-respected journal, Nature, showed a clear difference in the gut bacteria of obese people as opposed to their lean counterparts. What’s more, when obese participants later lost weight, their gut bacteria reverted back to those observed in lean participants.

Since then, smaller studies continue to support the theory that gut bacteria could influence weight. In 2009, a trial[2] found that women who took Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding were less likely to be obese 6 months following birth. 25% of the women who had received dietary advice alongside probiotic supplementation had excess abdominal fat, as opposed to in 43% of women who had received dietary advice with a placebo.

Weight Loss
Weight Loss may be supported by a higher probiotic bacteria balance in the gut

Could we be doing more to fight the obesity epidemic?

In 2010, a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial in Japan[3] found a Lactobacillus probiotic to reduce abdominal fat by 4.6% and subcutaneous fat (just below the skin) by 3.3%. The trial recruited 87 overweight participants and randomly assigned a daily dose of fermented milk either with or without the probiotics, for a period of 12 weeks. The probiotic group given milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055, showed significant decreases in body weight BMI, in waist circumference, and in the hips.

How could Probiotics encourage Weight Loss?

No one knows for certain just yet, but mechanisms could include:

  • Better breakdown of foods (a well understood benefit of probiotics).
  • Displacement of pathogenic bacteria associated with weight gain.
  • Stimulating the body’s production of natural substances associated with decreased body fat.
  • L. acidophilus was found in a small study in 2008[5] to increase the body’s production of leptin (a protein commonly accepted to decrease appetite and increase metabolism) and to result in weight loss.
  • In 2010 scientists in Ireland found another Lactobacillus probiotic to influence the fat composition of the host, via production of the fatty acid t10, c12 CLA; a molecule previously associated with decreased body fat.
  • Correlation between obesity & digestive health issues such as constipation. Fascinating ongoing research in the USA by Dr Mark Pimental suggests that those with constipation could be absorbing more calories, potentially because when the gut performs at a slower rate the body has more time to absorb calories.[6] As probiotics could help to support bowel regularity (especially well-researched strains such as Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12Ò [7],[8]), a more efficient digestive process could lead to fewer calories being absorbed.

Moving Forward

In England our rates of obesity have doubled over the last 25 years, with 60% of adults overweight or obese today[9]. Any natural support in tackling this obesity epidemic could therefore play a fundamental role in the future. Currently evidence remains too sparse for any firm conclusions, although the results certainly look promising. Of course we needn’t tell you that taking a holistic approach and also looking at diet, fitness and exercise is always to be encouraged.

For individuals looking to lose weight a high quality daily probiotic might be suggested. For daily wellbeing EXTRA Strength contains 20 billion high quality Lactobacillus & Bifidobacteria probiotics. L. acidophilus NCFM is thought to be the most researched strain of acidophilus in the world which can be found in this probiotic supplement.

 

References:

1.Bajzer, M, & Seeley, R. ‘Phsyiology: Obesity and Gut Flora.’ Nature, 2006, Vol. 444, pp.1009 -1010.

2.News release, 17th European Congress on Obesity. 17th European Congress on obesity meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6-9, 2009.

3. Y. Kadooka et al., ‘Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomised controlled trial.’ European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010, vol. 64, No. 6, pp.636-643.

4. Rosberg-Cody, E. ‘Recombinant Lactobacilli expressing linolic acid isomerise can modulate the fatty acid composition of host adipose tissue in mice’. Microbiology, Dec, 22, 2012 DOI: 10. 1099/mic.0.043406-0.

5. R. Sousa et al., ‘Effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus supernatants on body weight and leptin expression in rats’. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, 8:5 doi: 10.1186/6882-8-5.

6. BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 8th March 2011 2100-2130h ‘Programme no. 9 – gut bacteria’ Radio science unit. Presented by Mark Porter; contributors: Glenn Gibson, Christine Edwards, Thomas Broody, Alisdair Macchonnachie, Mark Pimentel & Ian Rowland.

7. Matsumoto, M. et al. (2001) Effect of yoghurt with Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 in improving fecal microflora and defecation of healthy volunteers. Journal of Intestinal Microbiology; 14(2): pp.97-102.

8. Pitkala, K, H. et al. (2007) Fermented cereal with specific Bifidobacteria normalises bowel movements in elderly nursing home residents. A randomised, controlled trial. Journal of Nutriitonal Health and Ageing; 11.(4): pp.305-311.

9. guardian.co.uk/sustainable-business/food-companies-health-wellbeing

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The importance of bone health

Bone health is an issue which is becoming increasingly more prominent in today’s society. According to the National Osteoporosis Society (1), one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will suffer with a bone fracture. This is mainly due to poor bone health which means that we all need to know how important it is to build and maintain strong bones.

In addition to weight baring exercise, nutrition is absolutely vital for establishing strong bones in childhood and adolescence as this is when the body passes through the bone growth stages to create individual peak bone mass. Within the 4 years surrounding an adolescent’s peak height, around 39% of their total body bone mineral is gained. This highlights how crucial this time is for building strong bones for the future as we go in to adulthood, as low bone mineral growth during youth is linked to the risk of developing brittle bones and osteoporosis in older age.

Fresh Orange Juice
Many Fresh Orange Juice's can be bought fortified with Calcium, Magnesium or Vitamin D.

Nutrients such as calcium, vitamins D and K and magnesium have all been specifically identified for bone health and having an influence on bone mineral density. A recent review (2) published in the journal Clinical Biochemistry focuses in particular on calcium’s effect on bone health. They reviewed numerous research papers looking into the effects of certain calcium rich foods on bone density.

For example, one study reported that women who had a lower intake of milk in childhood and adolescence had low bone density in adulthood and as a result they had a much greater risk of fractures later in life. Additionally, the authors reported on findings that with low intake of cow’s milk, even pre-pubertal children can have a higher risk of fractures which shows how important calcium intake is in early life.

As well as dietary calcium intake, calcium supplementation has also been found to be a fantastic contributor to bone mineral accretion. So be sure you add calcium to your family’s supplement regime to ensure all your bones are as strong as they can be to help prevent breakages.

Once peak bone mass is achieved around the age of 20 it needs to be maintained in the bone maintenance stage which lasts around 10-20 years. Then as we reach middle age our bone density starts to reduce by approximately 0.5–1.0% per year. However, it is important to note that female bone losses can be considerably more around the time of the menopause, at around 2–3% per year due to decreases in oestrogen levels. This represents a crucial time for maintaining bone density through our food and nutrition choices. Not surprisingly, calcium intake has been linked to the prevention of bone loss around this time.

Within the review paper, the research indicates that baseline calcium intakes of 500–1000 mg/day (meeting the recommended intake of 700mg a day) which were increased by 500–1200 mg/day prevented bone loss.

In order to be within this calcium intake, try to include the following foods into your typical day’s food intake, which combined equates to around 1578mg of calcium:

Typical servings: plain low fat yoghurt, 225g (415 mg of calcium), cheddar cheese, 40g (307mg), milk (around 300mg), pink salmon, 85g (181mg), Orange juice, calcium-fortified, 170ml (375mg). Dietary calcium is also available from sources such as other dairy products, bony fish, legumes, certain nuts (such as almonds and Brazil nuts), fortified soya milk and some fortified breakfast cereals also contain smaller amounts of calcium.

However, the report noted that most people’s calcium intake from dietary sources is often not sufficient especially for those that do not drink milk e.g. Chinese cultures. They therefore recommended calcium supplementation to meet the requirement. Vitamin D is also a great contributor to healthy bones on its own however when combined with calcium it has a much greater effect and the review noted that supplemental vitamin D combined with supplemental calcium can help to slow bone loss. This study included 1200 mg/day calcium and 1000 IU/day vitamin D supplementation and found that the two nutrients used together had a greater effect on maintaining bone density than when used individually.

It was also noted that calcium and vitamin D supplementation, at an intake of around 1000–1200mg calcium (depending on dietary calcium intake) and 800 IU vitamin D daily, is particularly important for those with osteoporosis or those at risk of its development. However, make sure that you are not exceeding the recommended upper limit of calcium which is 3,000 mg/day for children and adolescents aged 9–18 years, 2,500 mg/day for 19–50 year olds and 2,000mg/day for those aged> 50 years.

What all of this means it that it is really important to get enough calcium and vitamin D in both food and supplement forms to help keep bones healthy and strong, and also that your kids are getting enough to help build their bones for the future.

Written by Lauren Foster

(1) National Osteoporosis Society

(2) Zhu, K. & Prince, R.L. (2012) Calcium and bone. Clinical Biochemistry, p7.

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Echium Seed Oil – Beauty from Within

Composed of several types of tissue, and functioning to protect the body from the everyday environmental barrage of abuse, the skin serves as our largest organ. The outer layer, known as the epidermis, is made up of a fibrous protein called keratin and numerous types of fat, including various omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some of which are important for skin health and others not so. Though ‘biologically dead’ the epidermis remains active, with its fatty acid composition playing a key role in the health and appearance of the skin’s surface.

The skin lacks important enzymes to reconstruct omega-3 and omega-6 fats from food, so our skin’s makeup is a direct reflection of our diet. This may be good news if you eat plenty of oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados and avoid refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils. If your plate typically resembles Western diet patterns, your skin will likely contain an abundance of omega-6 fats such as linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA) – the latter being linked directly with inflammation and inflammatory-based skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Igennus Echiomega
Igennus Echiomega is made from echium seed oil and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Echium seed oil is a natural plant oil renowned for its unique profile of skin-supporting fatty acids. Especially rich in a rare form of omega-3 called stearidonic acid (SDA), as well as anti-inflammatory omega-6 GLA and omega-9, it provides the skin with an ideal balance of fats to regenerate cells and reduce inflammation.

Well known for its anti-ageing potential, echium seed oil is a popular ingredient in many skin creams and beauty products but only recently has it become available in supplement form to nourish the skin from within. Oral supplementation offers enhanced benefits over topical products (though a combination of both would offer synergistic benefits) due to more efficient absorption, enabling the beneficial fatty acids to be incorporated directly into skin cells to target inflammation beneath the skin’s surface.

Each Igennus Echiomega capsule provides 500mg echium seed oil, with just two capsules daily providing ideal levels for skincare. Offered in a capsule shell derived from seaweed, Echiomega is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Written by Dr Nina Bailey from Igennus Healthcare Nutrition

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An introduction to Igennus

Igennus – Where It All Began…

It’s not always easy to see the positive during a crisis – let alone an opportunity – but this was exactly how the seed of an idea for a specialist nutrition business was planted in the mind of Igennus Healthcare Nutrition’s Founder and CEO, Dr Jav Nazemi.

In 1998, Jav’s family experienced a health scare with their youngest daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare heart condition. This left her with a damaged and narrowed heart valve, which caused blood clots that subsequently caused blind spots in her vision.

Not wanting to rely on lifelong prescriptions of penicillin and aspirin, the family avidly researched how good diet and nutrition could help to manage their daughter’s condition. Jav spoke to Hammersmith clinician Professor Basant Puri (an eminent researcher, author and proponent of nutritional medicine) for advice. Professor Basant was doing research on Fish Oils and getting remarkable results. This was the start of a journey that led to the formation of Igennus Healthcare Nutrition – a company founded on the principles of holistic health and nutritional science.

The  Igennus Family of Products

E-EPA 90E-EPA 90 - Restore Wellbeing – Step 1

E-EPA 90 is the purest ethyl-EPA concentrate available without prescription, suitable for counteracting omega-3 deficiencies and restoring a healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Research suggests that EPA plays an important role in supporting optimum brain function, including attention, concentration and emotional wellbeing.

Vegepa E-Epa 70Vegepa E-EPA 70 - Maintain Wellbeing – Step 2

Vegepa combines the benefits of 70% ethyl-EPA concentrate extracted from marine anchovy oil with GLA and triterpene antioxidants from organic virgin evening primrose oil. This unique formulation balances and maintains healthy omega-3 and omega-6 levels, providing cells with essential nutrients to support efficient brain function and emotional wellbeing.

Vegepa ChewablesVegepa E-EPA 70 Orange Chewables - From Age 3+

Vegepa Chewables combine the benefits of 70% ethyl-EPA concentrate extracted from marine anchovy oil with GLA and triterpene antioxidants from organic virgin evening primrose oil. This unique formulation balances and maintains healthy omega-3 and omega-6 levels, providing cells with essential nutrients to support brain function, including attention and concentration. These child-friendly capsules are sugar-free, sweetened with natural xylitol and flavoured with sweet orange oil.

EchiomegaEchiomega – Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans

Echiomega Echium Seed Oil (sourced from Echium plantagineum) provides the richest natural source of the omega-3 SDA, offering support for cardiovascular health and eye function, maintaining anti-inflammatory and immune response, and promoting healthy skin.  Echium Seed Oil offers the highest rate of conversion of any plant-derived omega-rich oil to the important long-chain fatty acid EPA, making Echiomega an ideal supplement for vegetarians and vegans.

Omegaflex DuoOmegaFlex Duo - Replenish & Repair joints and bones

Omegaflex DUO is an advanced multi-action formula for the joints and bones, combining the powerful natural anti-inflammatory properties of ethyl-EPA and GLA with the tissue-restoring properties of glucosamine & bioavailable calcium, vitamins C & D3 and minerals.  These vital nutrients nourish the synovial fluid, support collagen synthesis and form the building blocks for cartilage and bone tissue renewal, as well as offering direct anti-inflammatory support. These natural and synergistic ingredients are highly bioavailable – using a special form of hypoallergenic glucosamine (non-shellfish-derived) and ‘pre-digested’ algae-derived calcium for optimum absorption and utilisation in the body.

Commitment to efficacy, quality and sustainability

Igennus has carved out a specialist expertise in the area of polyunsaturated fatty acids and its relevance to a wide range of health concerns. From the very beginning, Igennus has pioneered the use of pure EPA for preventative and restorative health. Igennus’ lead product Vegepa E-EPA 70 now has a dedicated and loyal following, with thousands of customers taking daily doses of pure EPA for inflammatory conditions and ailments ranging from CFS, psoriasis, arthritis and diabetes to depression, ADHD and schizophrenia.

Research and development are central to the innovation of Igennus’ specialist EPA supplements, which are developed in association with nutrition scientists and independent researchers and clinicians. The provision of efficacious supplements and a relentless focus on quality and safety are key – a company-wide commitment that influences choice of suppliers, raw materials, packaging facilities and even testing labs. All products are independently batch-tested to guarantee safety and are certified free from heavy metals, PCBs and dioxins. Igennus EPA is sourced from sustainable marine anchovies, with minimal impact on biodiversity.

Igennus won’t compromise on using natural ingredients, and avoid artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and sweeteners at all costs – a commitment that has its challenges, but something Igennus is committed to for the long term.

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Fish oil counters the effects of air pollution

A new trial has found evidence that omega-3 supplementation can reduce the harmful effects of air pollution (1).
The randomised, controlled trial, soon to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that fish oil supplements can counter the effects of air pollution, helping to protect city dwellers from heart disease.

It is widely accepted that the air pollution of city living increases the risk of heart disease. In fact, city centre residents are almost twice as likely to develop the first signs of heart disease than people who lived in less polluted urban and rural areas, according to recent research (2).

Air pollution is a complex mixture of noxious gases, liquids and other particles that raise blood pressure, increase coagulation (blood clots), raise levels of inflammation and promote build up of deposits in the arteries.

While air pollution is a concern all year round, the summer months can be particularly troublesome. Air becomes stagnant owing to the longer days, and the increased amount of sunlight and ultraviolet radiation. The sunlight helps to form new, harmful compounds are formed that weren’t there before.

To reflect these city pollutants, the researchers used an ‘air pollution chamber’ filled with ambient fine and ultrafine particles, as well as another ‘clean’ chamber filled with filtered air.

Fish Oil Supplement
Fish Oil Supplements can help counter the effects of Air Pollution.

Twenty-nine healthy, middle-aged participants were given 3g daily of either fish oil or olive oil for four weeks before they entered the chamber. Each participant then spent two hours in the ‘clean’ chamber and the ‘polluted’ chamber. The researchers measured cardiac response before, immediately after and 20 hours after exposure to the pollution. They also measured blood lipids of the participants.

In those who took the placebo olive oil capsules, levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides rose immediately after the exposure to pollution. Levels of LDL and triglycerides are linked with heart disease risk. There was no such response in the fish oil group.

Heart rate variability (HRV) was also measured in each group. HRV simply means the way that heart beat varies. A lower heart rate variability is linked to poorer heart health, whereas the beat of a healthy heart is constantly changing as the body finds the most efficient way to operate. Those in the placebo group showed reduced HRV after pollution exposure, reflecting the harmful effects of their exposure to the pollution chamber. Those in the fish oil group showed no reduction in HRV.

The findings of the study suggest that fish oil supplements may help protect against both the cardiac and lipid effects of air pollution. Although a small study, it does appear to add to the vast weight of evidence for the benefits of omega-3 supplementation. Those of us who live in town and cities might do well to take a regular fish oil supplement for daily protection.

Written by Nadia Mason, BSc MBANT NTCC CNHC

References

1. J. Lambrechtsen, O. Gerke, K. Egstrup, N. P. Sand, B. L. Nørgaard, H. Petersen, H. Mickley, A. C. P. Diederichsen.The relation between coronary artery calcification in asymptomatic subjects and both traditional risk factors and living in the city centre: a DanRisk substudy.Journal of Internal Medicine, 2012; 271 (5): 444

2. Tong H, Rappold AG, Diaz-Sanchez D, Steck SE, Berntsen J, Cascio WE, Devlin RD, Samet JM. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Appears to Attenuate Particulate Air Pollution Induced Effects and Lipid Changes in Healthy Middle-Aged Adults. Environ Health Perspec. 2012 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print]

3. Image courtesy of Tungphoto

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