Poor Amino Acid Breakdown Increases Risk Of Heart Disease

homocysteine levels predictors of heart diseasePeople with a genetically determined, reduced breakdown of the amino acid homocysteine have an increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to healthy people. This is revealed in doctoral research carried out by Mariska Klerk at Wageningen University.

The researchers from Wageningen have demonstrated that people with a genetically determined, specific form of reduced homocysteine breakdown have a 16 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. People with the aforementioned reduced breakdown have on average a 25 percent higher homocysteine concentration in their blood from birth onwards, compared to other people.

Homocysteine has been associated with cardiovascular disease for a long time. However, until recently it was not clear whether an increased concentration of this amino acid in the blood was the cause or consequence of cardiovascular disease. This research into people with a genetic predisposition for a high homocysteine concentration in the blood supports the argument that this high concentration is a cause of cardiovascular disease.

Homocysteine is an amino acid (protein building block) which is formed in the body during the breakdown of another amino acid (methionine) obtained from food. The body regulates the homocysteine concentration in the blood with the aid of several B vitamins, including folic acid. Apart from a genetic predisposition, a shortage of these vitamins can also lead to an increased concentration of homocysteine in the blood. Folic acid supplementation is therefore an effective strategy to reduce the quantity of homocysteine in the blood.

The research has also revealed that people with genetically determined, reduced homocysteine breakdown only had an increased risk of heart disease when the folic acid concentration in the blood was low. This result suggests that reducing the homocysteine concentration in the blood by means of folic acid supplementation will reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers also investigated whether a reduction in the homocysteine concentration in the blood as a result of vitamin B supplementation had a favourable effect on blood clotting in healthy volunteers. The assumption was that homocysteine increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by overstimulating blood clotting (which could eventually result in thrombosis). Despite a considerable reduction in the homocysteine concentration in the blood of people who had received extra vitamin B, no clear effect on blood clotting could be demonstrated.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

The Cognitive Continuum: Vitamins for Vitality

Cognitive Nutrition FoodsVitamins offer significant benefits to a spectrum of brain-related functions and conditions, including reducing risk of depression, autism and stroke. And the medical community has long advocated vitamin supplementation—especially with B vitamins—for prenatal health.

Folate supports crucial mechanisms in brain health; the vitamin is responsible for DNA and RNA formation, while building neurotransmitters connected to mental health such as serotonin and dopamine. When combined with vitamins B12 and B6, folate helps metabolize methionine to avoid dangerous homocysteine buildup.

A study published in a 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association reported mothers who took prenatal folic acid supplements were less likely to give birth to autistic children.  Folic acid supplementation at time of conception reduces neural tube deficiencies in children, research has shown. The large-scale Norwegian cohort study found maternal supplementation offered a 39-percent lower risk of developing autistic spectrum disorders.

However, B vitamins’ benefits reach across the aging spectrum. Older adults with elevated psychological distress improved cognitive functioning including memory performance after two years of folic acid and B12 supplementation.2 The Australian National University randomized controlled trial (RCT) tested 400 mcg/d of folic acid plus 100 mcg of vitamin B12 versus placebo in adults aged 60 to 74 years. Supplementation increased telephone interview for Cognitive Status-Modified (TICS-M) total scores (P0 .032), immediate (P=0.046) and delayed recall (P=0.013), compared to placebo.

In a randomized, multicenter study by Harvard Medical Center, schizophrenia patients taking folate and vitamin B12 significantly reduced severe depressive symptoms of the condition, which are often difficult to treat.3

Citicoline also plays a paramount role in brain function by maintaining cell membranes and neurotransmitter synthesis. A 2012 study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences found healthy, middle-aged woman improved attention focus and inhibition after four weeks of 250 and 500 mg/d citicoline supplementation (as Cognizin from Kyowa Hakko).  While previous studies have established the brain nutrient’s success in boosting attention in those with cognitive defects, the University of Utah trial supported application in healthy subjects.

B vitamins aren’t the only ones slated for brain health. A 2011 study published in Neurology found higher intakes of omega-3s and vitamins C, D, E and B were less likely to have brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease; the nutrients were also associated with higher scores on cognitive tests.5

Long established as a safe and effective nutrient, vitamin C may help boost mood for those with deficiencies. In a double blind clinical trial, researchers from McGill University noted 500 and 1,000 mg twice daily reduced mood disturbance by 34 percent in hospitalized patients after just 10 days.6

Vitamin E , specifically d-alpha-tocotrienol, provides unique protection from brain cell toxicity and stroke-induced neurodegeneration. In an Ohio State University study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), low-concentrate alpha-tocotrienol prevented toxicity that induces brain cell death, which occurs during a stroke, while supporting the recovery of dying neurons.7

A recently completed trial from the University of Science Malaysia analyzed the effects of mixed-tocotrienols (containing Tocomin SupraBio from Carotech) on white matter lesions, brain damage associated with full-blown stroke. Subjects took 400 mg/d or placebo for two years. Results for the study—the largest on tocotrienols—will be published soon, according to said Bryan See, regional product manager, Carotech.

“The results of this clinical study are extremely encouraging,” See said. “Regression of white matter lesions in terms of numbers and size in the brain were observed after one to two years of supplementation.”

Folic Acid At Conception Reduces Autism Risk

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is reporting in a new study that folic acid use during pregnancy may reduce autism risk.

Researchers in Norway reviewed records of 85,000 children and discovered that if  mothers were taking  folic acid at the time of conception, they were 2.1 times less likely to have children with autism.

pregant women, folic acid reduces autism risk



February 13, 2013, Vol 309, No. 6 >

Original Contribution | February 13, 2013

Association Between Maternal Use of Folic Acid Supplements and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children


Pål Surén, MD, MPH; Christine Roth, MSc; Michaeline Bresnahan, PhD; Margaretha Haugen, PhD; Mady Hornig, MD; Deborah Hirtz, MD; Kari Kveim Lie, MD; W. Ian Lipkin, MD; Per Magnus, MD, PhD; Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud, MD, PhD; Synnve Schjølberg, MSc; George Davey Smith, MD, DSc; Anne-Siri Øyen, PhD; Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH; Camilla Stoltenberg, MD, PhD

JAMA. 2013;309(6):570-577. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.155925.






Importance  Prenatal folic acid supplements reduce the risk of neural tube defects in children, but it has not been determined whether they protect against other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Objective  To examine the association between maternal use of prenatal folic acid supplements and subsequent risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) (autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]) in children.

Design, Setting, and Patients  The study sample of 85 176 children was derived from the population-based, prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). The children were born in 2002-2008; by the end of follow-up on March 31, 2012, the age range was 3.3 through 10.2 years (mean, 6.4 years). The exposure of primary interest was use of folic acid from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy, defined as the first day of the last menstrual period before conception. Relative risks of ASDs were estimated by odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs in a logistic regression analysis. Analyses were adjusted for maternal education level, year of birth, and parity.

Main Outcome Measure  Specialist-confirmed diagnosis of ASDs.

Results  At the end of follow-up, 270 children in the study sample had been diagnosed with ASDs: 114 with autistic disorder, 56 with Asperger syndrome, and 100 with PDD-NOS. In children whose mothers took folic acid, 0.10% (64/61 042) had autistic disorder, compared with 0.21% (50/24 134) in those unexposed to folic acid. The adjusted OR for autistic disorder in children of folic acid users was 0.61 (95% CI, 0.41-0.90). No association was found with Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS, but power was limited. Similar analyses for prenatal fish oil supplements showed no such association with autistic disorder, even though fish oil use was associated with the same maternal characteristics as folic acid use.

Conclusions and Relevance  Use of prenatal folic acid supplements around the time of conception was associated with a lower risk of autistic disorder in the MoBa cohort. Although these findings cannot establish causality, they do support prenatal folic acid supplementation. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1570279


One of the implications of this study is the necessity that women receive adequate prenatal care and women really should have pre-pregnancy counseling and care.


United Health Foundation reports Prenatal Care (1990 – 2011): Percentage of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care, as defined by Kessner Index:


Prenatal care is a critical component of health care for pregnant women and a key step towards having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Early prenatal care is especially important because many important developments take place during the first trimester, screenings can identify babies or mothers at risk for complications and health care providers can educate and prepare mothers for pregnancy.  Women who receive prenatal care have consistently shown better outcomes than those who did not receive prenatal care[1]. Mothers who do not receive any prenatal care are three times more likely to deliver a low birth weight baby than mothers who received prenatal care, and infant mortality is five times higher[2].  Early prenatal care also allows health care providers to identify and address health conditions and behaviors that may reduce the likelihood of a healthy birth, such as smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.                                           http://www.americashealthrankings.org/All/PrenatalCare/2012


Given this recent study it is imperative that ALL women receive prenatal care particularly poor and those women at risk of difficult pregnancies.




Autism and children of color                                               



Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine study: Kids with autism more likely to be bullied                                  



Father’s age may be linked to Autism and Schizophrenia



Chelation treatment for autism might be harmful 



Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/


High Intake Of Folate May Be Protective Against Breast Cancer

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that very high folate intake may be protective against breast cancer. The trial included 35,023 women aged 50-76 years who participated in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) cohort study. It was determined that between the years 2000 to 2006 a total of 743 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. The researchers found that women who consumed 1,272 or more dietary folate equivalents (DFE)/day of total folate over an average 10-year period had a 22 percent decrease in breast cancer risk compared with women consuming 345 DFE/day or less. It was also discovered that the effect of very high folate intake was more pronounced when focusing on estrogen receptor (ER)-negative tumors alone, which is particularly important since ER-negative breast cancers generally have a poorer prognosis than their ER-positive counterparts. This research appears to indicate that high intakes of folate may actually be protective against breast cancer, especially ER-negative tumors.1

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