Healthy Balance for Healthy Bones
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may affect many aspects of our health, including bone health. While the ideal ratio is not known, experts agree that most people benefit from more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet and a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. People easily obtain ample omega-6 fats in their diets. Common food sources are seeds and nuts, and oils that are extracted from them. Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and soybean oils are commonly used in many packaged and snack foods.
Researchers followed more than 1,500 older men and women (ages 45 to 90) for a four year study. People with higher ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acidd had greater losses of bone-mineral density in the hip.
Fish oil supplements are an excellent source of omega-3's and supplementation lowers the ratios of omega-6 over omega 3 ratios. This trial included people using fish oil supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids may affect several processes involved in healthy bone metabolism. They promote healthy healthy levels of prostaglandins, favoring bone resorption to bone loss. They decrease synthesis of inflammatory cytokines,which may playa role in bone loss. Research also indicates that higher omega-3 intakes help release calcium absorption,decrease calcium loss and increase bone calcium.
Vitamin C helps Blood Vessels of Healthy Men
Plasma vitamin C levels were examined for 3,258 healthy men aged 60 to 79 (free of previous stroke, cardiovascular disease or diabetes). C-reactive protein, and y-PA antigen levels (a marker for blood vessel dysfunction) were measured. Elevated C-reactive protein is indicative of the inflammatory processes and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The men with a higher plasma vitamin C, fruit intake and dietary vitamin C had a lower C-reactive protein levels and t-PA antigen levels. The authors conclude that, "These findings suggest that vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects and is associated with lower endothelial dysfuntion* in men with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetis."
* Editors Note: Endothelial dysfunction can occur from diseases, such as diabeties, or from enviromental factors, such as smoking. Endothelial dysfunction can also predict future vascular events such as stroke or heart attacks. A key feature of endothelial dysfunction is the inability of arteries and arterioles to dilate fully in response to an appropriate stimulus.
Magnesium Helps Thwart Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is a group (3 or more) of the following conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetis: high fasting blood glucose, elevated blood pressure, excess waist circumference, elevated triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol. It is estimated that one in four American adults has metabolic syndrome.
In a large study involving 5,115 people ages 18 to 20 years at baseline and followed for 15 years, researchers found that high dietary magnesium was associated with reduced likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome. Compared with those in the lowest quartile of magnesium intake, participants with the highest magnesium intakes were 31 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
The researchers stated,"... Magnesium intake may have beneficial effects on individual components of the metabolic syndrome." Magnesium may help regulate glucose metabolism, and influence insulin secretion, as well as improve insulin sensitivity. Magnesium may help reduce blood pressure, lower triglycerides and help raise HDL levels.
Having just one of the components of metabloic syndrome can increase your risk cardiovascular disease. Because of its important metabolic functions, magnesium is an important component of a heart healthy diet.
Vitamin C Helps Reduce Blood Pressure and Improve Arterial Stiffness and Type 2 Diabetes
Vitamin C levels are reduced in persons with type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe that diminished tissue levels of vitamin C exacerbate blood vessel dysfunction and contribute to arteriosclerosis.
In a study, thirty people aged 45 to 70 years, with type 2 diabetes were given 500mg of vitamin C daily or a placebo. The people given the vitamin C had improved arterial and aortic stiffness. Also, their avarice blood pressure readings improved: systolic from 142.1 to 132.3 mm Hg and diastolic from 83.9 to 79.5 mm Hg.
Supplemental Vitamin C Helps Women's Hearts
A study following more that 85,000 nurses during a 16-year period found that those who used vitamin C supplement, significantly reduced the risk of heart disease. After adjusting for age, smoking and a variety of other coronary risk factors, vitamin C supplement use (with total intakes of more than 359 mg/day from diet plus supplements) were associated with a 38 percent reduction in heart disease. Vitamin C may have a protective role in preventing heart disease by and anti-oxidant nature that helps inhibit the development of plaque.
DHA Benefits Heart Healthy Cholesterol and Triglycerides Levels.
Extensive research has shown that fish oils containing both DHA and EPA are beneficial for cardiovascular health. One of the many ways DHA and EPA omega-3's support cardiovascular health is by reducing triglyceride levels.
Research now shows that DHA (about 3 grams a day) helps reduce triglyceride levels and modifies the size and amounts of other blood lipids (LDL,HDL, and VLDL) to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. DHA improved both fasting and after-eating levels, lowering triglycerides by 24 percent in both the fasting and post-meal samples. Elevated post-prandial triglycerides are also detrimental to cardiovascular health.
Researchers stated, "DHA supplementation may lower the risk of CVD* by reducing plasma tricylglycerol**: HDL (ratio); the number of small, dense LDL particles; and mean diameter of VLDL particles."
* Cardiovascular Disease
** Tricylglycerol and triglyceride are used interchangeably
Vitamin D Helps Our Immune System Fight Infections
In the past three decades, the importance of viatmin D for many functions in our bodies has become increasingly recognized. In 2006, vitamin D was shown to be invloved with the activation of or innate immune system or fighting infections. Supporting this discovery, lower levels of vitamin D has been recently associated with increased risk of respitory infection.
Young Finnish men are required to complete at least 6 months of military service. 800 of these men serving on a military base in Finland were enrolled in a study to determine whether low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with acute respitory tract infections.
The men with low blood levels of vitamin D missed almost twice the amount of duty due to respitory infections as men with sufficient levels of vitamin D. The association was statistically significant. The authors corrected for the effect of smoking. Smokers had lower vitamin D levels and a 20 percent higher rate of absence from respitory tract infections than non-smokers.
Note: Other important nutrients for immune function are vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, and zinc. Iron is also required for healthy immune functions, however with the exception of women of childbearing years, some children and endurance atheletes. Most people have sufficient levels of iron withour supplementation.