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Multiple Sclerosis, a Review

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 by

Dr Todd Born ND, reviews the complexities of MS and explores the potential role of nutrition in prevention and management. Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS).  Multiple sclerosis is a heterogeneous disorder with variable clinical and pathologic features reflecting different pathways to tissue injury.[1]  Inflammation, demyelination, and axon degeneration are the major pathologic mechanisms that cause the clinical manifestations.[2] However, the cause of MS remains unknown. The most widely accepted theory is that MS begins as an inflammatory autoimmune disorder mediated by autoreactive lymphocytes.[3]  Later, the disease is dominated by microglial activation and chronic neurodegeneration.

There are numerous incidences of natural agents being used to reduce the consequences of increased anxiety; some of these have a better sense of position in science than others. It must be remembered that there are still many unknowns about the whys and what’s of all mental health disorders, but many people wish to explore the safer options first.

Vitamins Prime Immunity

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 by

Whilst the recognition has existed for many years that deficiency in nutrients and vitamins compromises immune function, some gaps have existed in our understanding.

Whilst I have covered the role of the lipid soluble vitamins A and D in various articles in terms of their immune modulating effects, a research paper out in the Nov 2012 Journal, Nature helps to expand some of the relationships between certain B vitamins and immune functionality.[1]

Well here’s a surprise – Higher intakes of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium could possibly cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 67%, according to a study published in Gut.[1] Pancreatic cancer kills more than 250,000 people a year worldwide and has the worst survival rate of any tumour.

 

 

If it’s Monday, it must be bad news about multivitamin day — or was that Wednesday? No, Wednesday was good news about vitamin D, not so good news about vitamin E — if you’re confused, join the club.

A recent American Medical association paper suggested that vitamins are a threat rather than an advantage to peoples lives.[1]

The Alliance for Natural Health have undertaken a quick analysis of the paper and sum up the findings:

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B Vitamins Beat Depression

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 by

This month’s (August) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition presents a longitudinal study supporting the use of B vitamins in the management of mental health.

In Nutritional Therapy practice when we are faced with patients who seem to be struggling with depression and are finding recovery hard as well as trying to prevent recurrence after resolving their current symptoms we often think – B Vitamins

But what is the evidence for this apparently normal recommendation – is there anything of substance that supports the therapeutic use of these water soluble vitamins.

To date most studies have been conducted using a cross sectional approach[1],[2] (a class of research methods that involve observation of some subset of a population of items all at the same time, in which, groups can be compared at different ages with respect of independent variables) rather than the preferred prospective style investigations (an analytic study designed to determine the relationship between a condition and a characteristic shared by some members of a group). A prospective study may involve many variables or only two; it may seek to demonstrate a relationship that is an association or one that is causal. Prospective studies produce a direct measure of risk called the relative risk.

The saying is ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, or if you are English ‘what happens in Blackpool….’ but the same cannot be said about what happens in utero, as increasing evidence supports the understanding that the maternal nutritional environment and early feeding affects the health of the foetus beyond infancy and into adulthood.[1],[2] An article in Nature’s Mucosal Immunology this month explores some of the key events in foetal and neonatal immune management.[3] It stimulated a revisit to the area of what to consider for parents to be and mums of young children when they ask ‘is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce the risk of allergy or atopy in my child’.

The first moments, weeks and months of life can determine the health outcomes of an individual over the duration of their lifetime and this knowledge represents a significant choice for prospective parents. Fortunately the remarkable adaptability of the immune and central nervous system means that there are numerous opportunities in the early years of life to positively influence health outcomes even if the early stages were less than optimal.

There seems no end to the illnesses this secasteroid is capable of influencing, although it should be of no real surprise that Vit D deficiency is linked to the respiratory condition asthma. The reason….mucosal tissues such as those found in the lung are rich with immune receptors that are intimately tied into the Vit D receptor family. Vitamin D up regulates a specific gene that produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, some of which work like a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Because of its beneficial role in respiratory tract infections and immune system modulation, it has been hypothesised that vitamin D status might affect the risks for exacerbations.[1] This paper shows show that children with initial circulating vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL or less (vitamin D insufficiency) have a 50% greater risk for severe exacerbation over the course of a 4-year clinical trial of asthma treatment than children with circulating vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL or greater (vitamin D sufficiency) at the start of the trial.

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Last year I wrote a number of posts relating to mechanisms related to mucosal immune defences, in particular the innate immune defences and how we as Nutritional Therapists may advise our patients of evidence based strategies. This paper out in the open access journal Plos One adds further validity to the vitamin D recommendations I proposed.

Declining serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D seen in the fall and winter as distance increases from the equator may be a factor in the seasonal increased prevalence of influenza and other viral infections.[1]

This paper in PLOS Biology describes how almost 200 adults had their serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels measured, without knowing what was been investigated.

One hundred ninety-eight participants, 85 men and 113 women, with an age range of 20–88, were enrolled in the study.

The researcher found that people with fair skin, lean body mass and who supplemented with vitamin D had the highest levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. People who achieved 38ng/ml or higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D level had a remarkable 50% reduction in the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infections and a significant reduction in the number of days ill (p<0.0001).

Vitamin D is increasingly understood to be an essential component of many aspects of human health and although technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid (A compound derived from a steroid in which there has been a ring cleavage) hormone that binds to over 2000 gene receptors (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body. There are 3 recognised ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D:

These are:

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