Does EPA Reduce Migraine Frequency?

What Causes Migraines And The Role Of Omega-3s In Prevention

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

MigraineMigraines can be debilitating. And they affect millions of Americans. According to a recent survey 17.1% of women and 5.6% of men in the United States suffer migraine symptoms.

Symptoms range from frequent headaches to visual disturbances, nausea and vomiting, extreme light and sound sensitivity, brain fog, and debilitating pain. Sometimes all a migraine sufferer can do is retreat to a dark, quiet room and wait out the symptoms. This makes it virtually impossible to work, socialize, and interact with family.

For example, work absenteeism due to migraines is thought to cost US businesses up to $13 billion dollars annually. And, of course, there is no way to estimate the psychological cost of lost interactions with family and friends. And people who experience frequent migraines are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Medications can provide some relief from migraine symptoms, but they all have side effects. Various natural approaches for migraine relief have been proposed, but none of them are proven.

What Causes Migraines And The Role Of Omega-3s In Prevention

MigrainesOur understanding of migraines is complicated by the fact there appear to be multiple causes of migraines. It’s almost as if what we call “migraines” are really a variety of diseases with different causes but similar symptoms.

Migraines can be triggered by:

  • Hormonal fluctuations.
  • Weather changes.
  • Foods
    • The top 3 food triggers of migraines are caffeine, red wine, and chocolate.
    • Other common food triggers are artificial sweeteners, foods containing MSG, cured meats, aged cheeses, pickled and fermented foods, frozen foods, and salty foods.
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Certain drugs.
  • Missed meals.

Migraine triggers vary from person to person. And multiple neurophysiological pathways have been proposed to explain how each of these triggers progresses to a full-blown migraine.

To simplify a very complex subject, there are three main factors that influence each of these proposed pathways:

  • Susceptibility to migraines clearly runs in families.
  • 75% of migraine sufferers are women.
  • Inflammation.

Because inflammation plays a strong role in progression and severity of migraines, there has been a strong interest in the use of long-chain omega-3s like EPA and DHA as nutraceuticals to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

However, previous studies have had mixed results. Some have suggested that omega-3s reduce the risk of migraines while others have come up empty.

The authors of the current study (H-F Wang, et al, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 118, 459-467, 2024) postulated that some previous studies failed to find a benefit of omega-3 supplementation because they were too short in duration, used a mixture of omega-3s, or were poorly designed.

They noted that high dose EPA alone had proven to be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease and depression. So, they performed a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with migraine sufferers using 1.8 grams of EPA per day.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis was a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the gold standard for clinical studies. The investigators recruited 70 patients (15 men and 55 women) with episodic migraines (defined as migraines with or without aura occurring fewer than 15 days per month) from the neurology clinic of Kuang Tien General Hospital in Taiwan. The average age of the patients was 39 years old.

The subjects were randomly assigned to use either 1.8 gm/day of EPA or a soybean oil placebo for 12 weeks. Both were formulated with an orange flavoring to hide the taste difference. Neither the patients nor the physicians conducting the study knew who got the EPA and who got the placebo.

The patients filled out an extensive questionnaire about their migraines and related issues at entry into the study and at the end of 12 weeks. They were also asked to maintain headache diaries for at least 4 weeks prior to the study and for every 4 weeks of the 12-week study. They received training from the study coordinator on how to fill out the diaries and were encouraged to contact the coordinator if they had any questions about how to accurately fill out the diary.

The primary outcome of the study was the decrease in migraine frequency from baseline to 12 weeks. The study also assessed changes in:

  • Headache severity.
  • The need to use headache medicines.
  • Migraine-specific disability (The extent to which migraines resulted in disability).
  • Migraine-specific quality of life index (The extent to which migraines affected the quality of life).
  • Anxiety and depression (These are often side effects of chronic migraines).

While some of those outcomes appear to be overlapping, they are all well-established assessments used in migraine research. The questionnaire the doctors used was designed to provide a numerical rating for each of these outcomes.

Does EPA Reduce Migraine Frequency?

omega-3 fish oil supplementAs expected, there were no significant changes in the placebo group. But in the group taking 1.8 gm/day of EPA:

  • Migraine frequency decreased by 60%.
  • Frequency that headache medication was needed decreased by 45%.
  • Headache severity decreased by 14%.
  • Sleep quality increased by 17%, but that increase was not statistically significant.
  • Migraine-related disability decreased by 73%.
  • Migraine-related quality of life improved by 31%.
  • Anxiety and depression decreased by 53%.

These differences were statistically significant for the women in the study, but not for men – probably because of the small number of men in the study.

The study also assessed side effects from EPA supplementation in this group. Side effects were minimal and were not different from the placebo group.

The authors concluded, “High-dose EPA significantly reduced migraine frequency and severity. Improved psychological symptoms and quality of life in migraine patients, and showed no adverse events [effects], suggesting its potential for prophylactic use for migraine patients.”

They went on to say, “The results of this study may not only serve as a valuable reference for future large-scale randomized clinical trials to investigate the optimal dosing and components of omega-3 fatty acids for migraine prevention but also underscore the need for replication of these findings in adequately powered and controlled studies.”

In other words, this study needs to be confirmed by additional studies. And future studies need to determine the optimal dose of EPA and the optimal ratio of EPA to DHA.

What This Study Means For Us And For You

Question MarkThe topic of omega-3s and migraines is of special significance for us. About 40 years ago my wife and I started taking a high purity omega-3 supplement containing both EPA and DHA to control inflammation. We didn’t have noticeable inflammation at the time, but we both had parents who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and wished to avoid their suffering later in life.

In just a few weeks the migraines my wife had been experiencing for years disappeared. That piqued my interest, so I searched the literature and found several studies showing that omega-3 fatty acids reduce migraine symptoms. I have followed the twists and turns of omega-3 – migraine research ever since, which is how I came across this study.

As for our original purpose in taking an omega-3 supplement, all I can say is that we are now in our 80s, and neither of us suffer from the rheumatoid arthritis that plagued our parents.

And for my wife the disappearance of her migraines was an unexpected side benefit.

This study is a strong validation of the effect of omega-3s on reducing migraine symptoms. However, it is not the end of the story. As the authors said:

  • It needs to be confirmed by larger, well controlled studies.
  • The optimal dose of omega-3s needs to be determined.
  • The optimal ratio of EPA to DHA and possibly other long chain omega-3s needs to be determined.

This study used 1.8 grams/day of pure EPA. My wife takes 3 grams of EPA and 2 grams of DHA each day. But we don’t know whether she would experience the same benefit from a lower dose or whether that is the optimal ratio of EPA to DHA. We do know that EPA and DHA have different health benefits, so we plan to continue taking a supplement that contains both.

And finally, as I said above, it is almost as if what we call migraines are really a cluster of diseases with similar symptoms. There are multiple migraine triggers and multiple proposed explanations of how these triggers lead to full-blown migraines.

So, we shouldn’t think of omega-3s as a magic bullet. Rather, we should think of them as one of many approaches that may provide you with some migraine relief.

The Bottom Line

A recent double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study with migraine sufferers reported that when they were given 1.8 gm/day of EPA for 12 weeks:

  • Migraine frequency decreased by 60%.
  • Frequency that headache medication was needed decreased by 45%.
  • Headache severity decreased by 14%.
  • Migraine-related disability decreased by 73%.
  • Migraine-related quality of life improved by 31%.
  • Anxiety and depression decreased by 53%.

The authors concluded, “High-dose EPA significantly reduced migraine frequency and severity. Improved psychological symptoms and quality of life in migraine patients, and showed no adverse events [effects], suggesting its potential for prophylactic use for migraine patients.”

They went on to say, “The results of this study may not only serve as a valuable reference for future large-scale randomized clinical trials to investigate the optimal dosing and components of omega-3 fatty acids for migraine prevention but also underscore the need for replication of these findings in adequately powered and controlled studies.”

In other words, this study needs to be confirmed by additional studies. And future studies need to determine the optimal dose of EPA and the optimal ratio of EPA to DHA.

For more details about this study and what it means for you read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 ______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance 

____________________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

How Much Leucine Do Seniors Need?

Where Can Seniors Find The Protein And Leucine They Need?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

Frail ElderlyMost Americans lose lean muscle mass as they age, a physiological process called sarcopenia. There are three factors that influence the rate at which we lose muscle mass as we age:

  • Our physiology changes. Our bodies break down our protein stores more rapidly and we have a harder time utilizing the protein in our diet to replenish those protein stores.
  • We become less active. In some cases, this reflects physical disabilities, but all too often it is because we are not giving weight-bearing exercises the proper priority in our busy lives.
  • Our diets have become inadequate. A major driver of this phenomenon is loss of appetite which results in decreased caloric intake. However, physical disability, isolation, and insufficient income also contribute.

Some of you may be saying “So what? I wasn’t planning on being a champion weightlifter in my golden years.” The “So what” is that loss of muscle mass leads to reduced mobility, a tendency to fall (which often leads to debilitating bone fractures) and a lower metabolic rate – which leads to obesity and all the illnesses that go along with obesity.

Fortunately, sarcopenia is not an inevitable consequence of aging. There are things that we can do to prevent it. The most important thing that we can do to prevent muscle loss as we age is to exercise – and I’m talking about resistance (weight) training, not just aerobic exercise.

But we also need to optimize our protein intake and our leucine intake. Protein is important because our muscle fibers are made of protein.

Leucine is an essential amino acid. It is important because it stimulates the muscle’s ability to make new protein. Leucine and insulin act synergistically to stimulate muscle protein synthesis after exercise.

In a previous issue of “Health Tips From the Professor” I shared studies showing that the amount of protein and leucine we need to prevent muscle loss increases as we get older. The study (ME Lixandrao et al, Nutrients, Volume 13, Issue 10, 10.3390/nu13103536) I am reviewing today is an update on the leucine needs for seniors.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThe investigators recruited 67 healthy, elderly, overweight adults (34 men and 33 women; average age = 69.7; average BMI = 26.4) in Basel, Switzerland for the study. The participants selected for the study were not engaged in any kind of regular resistance or aerobic training in the previous 6 months.

Participants were asked to fill in three 24-hour dietary recalls (2 on non-consecutive weekdays and one on a weekend day). A trained nutritionist gave instructions on how to perform the dietary recalls. After the dietary recalls were completed, the nutritionists used pictures of foods included in each participant’s diet recall to confirm the accuracy of their portion size estimates. This diet information was used to calculate habitual daily protein and leucine intake.

The investigators used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure quadriceps cross-sectional area – a measure of muscle mass. They also used performance on a leg extension machine to measure unilateral maximum dynamic muscle strength – a measure of muscle strength.

The study correlated leucine intake with both muscle mass and muscle strength. The data were corrected for sex, age, and total protein intake normalized to body weight.

How Much Leucine Do Seniors Need? 

leucineThere was a biphasic correlation between leucine intake and both muscle mass and muscle strength in this population.

  • There was a positive association between leucine intake and muscle mass up to 7.6 gm/day. After that a plateau was reached. Additional leucine had no effect on muscle mass.
  • There was a positive association between leucine intake and muscle strength up to 8.0 gm/day. After that a plateau was reached. Additional leucine had no effect on muscle strength.
  • These associations held true even after correcting for total protein intake. This is an important control because none of these participants were taking a leucine supplement, so those consuming more leucine were also consuming more protein.

The authors concluded, “We demonstrated that total daily leucine intake is associated with muscle mass and strength in healthy older individuals, and this association remains after correcting for multiple factors, including overall protein intake. Furthermore, our…analysis revealed…a potential threshold for habitual leucine intake, which may guide future research on the effect of chronic leucine intake in age-related muscle loss [sarcopenia].

Randomized control trials should test the utility of additional leucine to counteract frailty in the elderly.”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

ConfusionLet me start by saying that leucine is not a “magic bullet” that will prevent sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass) by itself. Three things are essential for preventing sarcopenia:

  • Resistance (weight bearing) exercise. You should aim for at least 3 days/week of moderate intensity weight bearing exercise a week.

If you have physical limitations, consult with your health professional before beginning an exercise program. And if you have not done weight bearing exercise before, it is best to start with instruction from a personal trainer to be sure you are using appropriate weights and appropriate form.

[Note: The participants in this study had not done weight bearing exercise for 6 months prior to the study and did not exercise during the study.]

  • Adequate protein. I have discussed this in a previous issue of “Health Tips From the Professor”. If you are in your 30’s, 15-20 grams of protein per meal will do. But if you are in your 60’s and above, it’s better to aim for 25-30 grams of protein per meal.

[Note: On average the men in this study were consuming 87 grams of protein per day. That’s 29 grams per meal. The women in this study averaged 67 grams of protein per day or 22 grams per meal. So, most of the participants in this study were consuming adequate protein.]

  • Adequate leucine. This study showed that the benefits of leucine plateaued at around 7.6-8.0 grams per day or 2.5 to 2.7 grams per meal for non-exercising adults in their 60’s and 70’s.

This is in close agreement with studies showing that 25-30 grams of protein and 2.7 grams of leucine were optimal for seniors in this age range following weight bearing exercise.

[Note: This study only determined the optimal intake of leucine. Remember for maximal effectiveness at reducing age-related muscle mass (sarcopenia) you need optimal protein, optimal leucine, and an optimal resistance (weight bearing) exercise program.]

Where Can Seniors Find The Protein And Leucine They Need?

For most Americans this is not too difficult as the table above shows. If you look at single foods, chicken and soybeans are the best sources of both protein and leucine. Other meats and other beans & legumes are also good choices.

I included things like eggs, dairy foods, broccoli, and spinach as a reminder that you don’t need to get all your protein and leucine from a single food source. Other whole foods included in your meal can contribute to your protein and leucine totals.

This table also shows that you don’t need to be a carnivore to get the protein and leucine you need. However, if you avoid most meats or are a pure vegan, you will need to plan your diet a bit more carefully.

Finally, if you are looking to optimize your workouts with an after-workout plant-based protein shake, soy protein would be your best choice. If you chose plant protein, you should look for high-quality protein shakes with added leucine to make sure you meet both your protein and leucine goals.

The Bottom Line

Most Americans lose lean muscle mass as we age, a physiological process called sarcopenia. This loss of muscle mass leads to reduced mobility, a tendency to fall (which often leads to debilitating bone fractures) and a lower metabolic rate – which leads to obesity and all the illnesses that go along with obesity.

Fortunately, sarcopenia is not an inevitable consequence of aging. There are 3 things we can do to prevent it.

  • Exercise – and I’m talking about resistance (weight) training, not just aerobic exercise. This is the most important thing that we can do to prevent muscle loss as we age.
  • Optimize our protein intake.
  • Optimize our leucine intake.

Previous studies have determined the optimal protein intake for preventing sarcopenia. The study I describe above determined the optimal leucine intake.

For more details about the study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

 ______________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

Is The Mediterranean Diet Healthy For Women?

What Does This Study Mean For You? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

There is a well-known health disparity in clinical studies related to health. For years most of the studies have been done by men for men. Women have been assumed to experience the same benefits and risks from diet choices as men. But that hasn’t always proven to be true.

The Mediterranean diet is no exception. For example, it has garnered a reputation of reducing heart disease risk for both men and women.

However, most studies on the Mediterranean diet have included primarily male participants or did not report sex specific differences in outcomes.

And the few studies that reported sex specific outcomes have been inconsistent.

  • Some studies have found that men and women benefitted equally from the Mediterranean diet.
  • Other studies have reported that men benefitted more than women.

However, these were all small studies. No meta-analyses have been reported that focused on the heart benefits of the Mediterranean diet for women.

The study (A Pant et al., Heart; 109: 1208-1215, 2023) I will describe today was designed to fill that gap.

How Was The Study Done?

clinical studyThe investigators started by screening the literature to find studies that:

  • Measured adherence to the Mediterranean diet using the original MDS (Mediterranean Diet Score) or more recent modifications of the MDS.
  • Included women ≥18 years without previous diagnosis of clinical or subclinical heart disease.
  • Performed the study with only women participants or organized their data so that the data pertaining to women could be extracted from the study.

The investigators then performed a meta-analysis on data from 722,495 women in 16 studies published between 2006 and 2021 that met these criteria. These studies followed the women for an average of 12.5 years. The studies were primarily conducted in the United States and Europe.

The individual studies divided participants into either quintiles or quartiles and compared participants with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet to those with the lowest adherence.

  • The primary outcomes measured were total mortality and the incidence of CVD, cardiovascular disease (defined as including CHD (coronary heart disease), myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, heart failure, and cardiovascular death).
  • The secondary outcomes measured were stroke and CHD, coronary heart disease (heart disease caused by atherosclerotic plaque build up in the coronary arteries).

Is The Mediterranean Diet Healthy For Women?

Mediterranean Diet FoodsWhen comparing the highest to the lowest adherence to the Mediterranean diet:

  • The incidence of CVD (cardiovascular disease) was reduced by 24%.
  • Total mortality during the ~12.5-year follow-up was reduced by 23%.
  • The incidence of CHD (coronary heart disease) was reduced by 25%.
  • The risk of stroke was reduced by 13%, but that risk reduction was not statistically significant.
    • The risk reduction for both CVD and total mortality was similar to that previously reported for men.
    • Risk reduction for CVD was slightly higher for women of European descent (24%) than for women of non-European descent (21%). The later category included women of Asian, Native-Hawaiian, and African – American descent.

The authors concluded, “This study supports a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of CVD and death in women and is an important step in enabling sex-specific guidelines.”

I would add that the data from women of non-European decent suggests that genetic background and/or ethnicity may influence the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet at reducing heart disease risk, but this effect appears to be small.

What Does This Mean For You?

The results of this study are not unexpected. But that doesn’t mean that studies with women are not valuable. There have been several examples in recent years where health or medical advice based on studies with men needed to be modified for females once the studies were repeated with women.

Before covering what this study means for you, I should point out that while women often fear breast cancer most, heart disease is their number one killer, as the graph on the left shows. In fact, a woman’s risk of dying from coronary heart disease is 6 times greater than her risk of dying from breast cancer.

This study shows that following a Mediterranean–style diet lowers their risk of developing and dying from heart disease. But the Mediterranean diet is not alone in providing these health benefits. It is simply a whole food, primarily plant-based diet that reflects the food preferences of the Mediterranean region.

The DASH diet, which reflects the food preferences of Americans, and the Nordic diet, which reflects the food preferences of the Scandinavian countries, are equally heart healthy. In fact, any whole food, primarily plant-based diet will reduce the risk of heart disease. You should choose the one that best fits your food preferences and lifestyle.

Of course, diet is just part of a holistic approach for reducing heart disease risk. Other important risk reduction strategies include:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.
  • Know your numbers (cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, for example).
  • Manage other health conditions that increase the risk of heart disease (high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, for example).

The Bottom Line

Most studies on the heart health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been done with men or have not analyzed the data from men and women separately. A recent meta-analysis combining data from 16 studies with 722,495 women showed that the Mediterranean diet was just as heart healthy for women as it was for men.

The authors concluded, “This study supports a beneficial effect of the Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of CVD and death in women and is an important step in enabling sex-specific guidelines.”

For more details on this study and information on other diets that are heart healthy, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

_____________________________________________________________________________My My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

 _____________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.

Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

Is It TMJ Or Simply Your Digastric Muscle?

Treating Your Digastric Muscle

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

How wonderful, it’s May!  I especially love May when I’m up north and the flowers are all blooming, the air feels fresh, and people come out to enjoy the lovely weather.

Here in Florida, it’s just starting to get hot.  Most of our “snowbird” friends have left, although the traffic still seems heavy.  I think a lot of people have moved here, or they are just staying longer than normal.  So far, the humidity isn’t too bad.  I’m pretending that it will stay that way.  LOL

I’m Changing My Newsletter

I’ve been writing this newsletter for around 10 years. It’s time for a change.

Filming WorkoutOn Friday, April 30th, my dear friend Sherri, a fantastic photographer and videographer, came over to the office, and along with four models (Frankie, Barbara, Rachel, and Thomas) we filmed 50 short self-treatment videos for my YouTube channel.  Pat, my webmaster, will format them and put them up on YouTube, and then one by one I will add the videos to my future newsletters.

My plan is to still write the explanation of the muscle and why it causes pain, so you’ll have all the background info you want. Then there will be a link to the video so you can do the self-treatment along with the model.

You’ll also be able to subscribe to my YouTube channel and see other self-treatments, so you won’t have to wait for a newsletter on the topic if you have an ache or pain that you want to resolve.

This month is the first newsletter to be done this way.  I hope you like it.

A Muscle That Mimics TMJ Pain

We’ve discussed TMJ in previous newsletters, and now that I’m switching the pictures for videos, we’ll be talking about it again in the near future.  The muscle we’re looking at this month causes pain in the same area of your jaw, but it doesn’t really affect the jaw at all.

The name of the muscle is Digastric Muscle.

The posterior digastric muscle is right under your ear, as shown in this graphic to the left.

It originates from the mastoid bone which is the bone behind your ear.  And it inserts into the bottom of your chin.

When the digastric muscle contracts you open your mouth to chew, speak, sing, or yawn. Obviously, this is an important muscle.

Treating Your Digastric Muscle

The self-treatment is simple.  Click Here to watch how to easily eliminate this ache.

You Can Also Find All The Solutions In One Easy-To-Read Book

pain free living bookTreat Yourself to Pain-Free Living The Comprehensive Guide to Relieving Chronic Pain

This book provides a complete introduction to the Julstro Method, along with easy-to-follow self-treatment techniques to help you live a pain-free life.

Key highlights include:

  • It reveals the root causes of chronic muscle and joint pain, including trigger points.
  • It teaches the Julstro Method, a proven approach for self-treating a wide range of pain conditions.
  • It is fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions to relieve pain in different areas of the body.
  • It offers a drug-free, cost-effective solution for pain stemming from sports, work, or other repetitive activities Whether you struggle with persistent aches, numbness, or mobility issues, this book empowers you to take control of your health and find lasting relief. Discover how to revitalize your body and reclaim your active, pain-free lifestyle.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About The Author

Julie DonnellyJulie Donnelly has been a licensed massage therapist since 1989, specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries. The author of several books including Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, and The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution.

Julie has also developed a proven self-treatment program for the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

She has a therapy practice in Sarasota, Florida, and she travels around the USA to teach massage and physical therapists how to do the Julstro Method, and she also teaches self-treatment clinics to anyone interested in taking charge of their own health and flexibility.

She may be reached at her office: 919-886-1861, or through her website: www.FlexibleAthlete.com

About The Editor

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.

Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

 

Which Nutrients Prevent Prenatal Depression?

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

Yes, you read the headline correctly. Everyone talks about postnatal depression. But prenatal depression is also a “thing”, especially during the third trimester.

  • Worldwide, 4-20% of women experience some degree of depression during the third trimester – with pregnant women in high-income countries at the lower end (4-10%) of depression risk.
  • In contrast, the incidence of postnatal depression is 10-15%.

It is probably no coincidence that the incidence of depression is greatest during the third trimester and during the postnatal period.

  • The third trimester is the most difficult part of pregnancy for many women.
  • When a woman brings her baby home from the hospital her orderly life becomes chaotic.

But what role does nutrition play?

  • While not definitive, many studies suggest that supplementation with B vitamins, especially folic acid, B6, and B12; omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin D; and iron reduce the risk of postnatal depression.
  • However, there is much less information on which nutrients reduce the risk of prenatal depression.

Based on studies suggesting both iron and vitamin D deficiencies may negatively impact mental health, the authors of this study (JL Evanchuk et al, The Journal Of Nutrition. 154, 174-184, 2024) set out to determine whether iron and/or vitamin D deficiencies increase the risk of prenatal depression during the first trimester.

How Was This Study Done?

Clinical StudyThe authors recruited 2189 newly pregnant mothers from Calgary and Edmonton in Ontario Canada between 2009 and 2012. Participants in the study visited clinics in the area upon entry into the study; midway through the first, second, and third trimesters; and at multiple timepoints up to 3 months during the postpartum period.

In addition to the usual pregnancy wellness tests, participants filled out a 24-hour dietary recall and a Supplemental Intake Questionnaire to determine intakes of iron and vitamin D.

Note: The participants were all advised to take some form of prenatal supplement during the study. That’s because prenatal supplements are considered “the standard of care” for pregnant woman, so it would be considered unethical not to include a prenatal supplement in this study.

At the mid-point of the second trimester blood samples were drawn and analyzed for biomarkers of iron and vitamin D insufficiency. For iron the biomarkers were serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, and hepcidin. For vitamin D, the biomarkers were 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and 3-epi-25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Iron deficiency was defined as serum ferritin levels <15 µg/L. Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels < 75nmol/L. The other biomarkers were used to confirm these diagnoses.

Maternal depression was measured midway through the third trimester and ~3 months postpartum using 10-item questionnaire called the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). The EPDS ranks depression on a scale of 0 to 30, with a score of ≥13 considered an indication of likely depression.

The characteristics of the women enrolled in this study were:

  • Average age = 31.5
  • Average prepregnancy BMI = 23 (healthy weight).
  • Married or cohabitating with a partner = 97%.
  • Highly educated (college or postgraduate degree) = 68%.
  • Income above $70,000/year = 78%.
  • First child = 54%.
  • White = 80%.

Based on the Edinburg Depression Scale, probably depression for the 1822 women who completed the study was 5.6% during the third trimester and 4.4% 3 months postpartum.

Note: The low incidence of depression seen in this study was probably due to:

  • The women in this study were of high socioeconomic status and were receiving excellent healthcare.
  • The women in this study were taking prenatal supplements that provided both iron and vitamin D.

Which Nutrients Prevent Prenatal Depression? 

pregnant women taking vitaminsAs I mentioned when describing how the study was designed, all participants in this study were advised to take a prenatal supplement. Consequently:

  • 94% of the women in this study were taking a supplement containing iron with an average supplemental iron intake of 26 mg/day.
    • Note: The RDA for iron during pregnancy is 30 mg/day and most prenatal supplements provide 27 mg/day.
  • 68% of the women in this study were taking a supplement containing vitamin D, with an average supplemental vitamin D intake of 330 IU/day.
    • Note: The RDA for vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU/day, but most prenatal supplements provide far less than that.

When the investigators looked at iron and vitamin D status during the second trimester:

  • 63.3% of the women had adequate levels of both iron and vitamin D.
  • 14.8% of the women were low in vitamin D but had adequate iron levels.
  • 18.4% of the women were low in iron but had adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • 3.5% of the women were low in both iron and vitamin D.

RDAs are supposed to be enough to meet the nutrient requirements of 97-98% of healthy individuals, so it is perhaps surprising to see so many women with insufficient levels of iron (21.9%) and/or vitamin D (18.3%) in this study. This could be due to:

  • Insufficient intake.
    • This is a likely explanation for vitamin D because the supplements women were using in this study provided around half the recommended RDA for vitamin D and the women lived at a northern latitude where sun exposure makes a small contribution to vitamin D levels.
    • However, this is a less likely explanation for insufficient iron levels because the supplements provided 87% of the RDA for iron.
  • Inadequate RDAs. Studies like this one provide a rigorous test for the adequacy of existing RDAs. This study suggests the existing RDA for iron is adequate to meet the needs of ~80% of pregnant women, which is reassuring. However, it may need to be increased to reach the goal of meeting the iron requirements for 97-98% of pregnant women.

But the important question is whether the iron and vitamin D insufficiencies seen in this study mattered. The data suggested that they did.

  • For pregnant women with low iron, but adequate vitamin D levels in the second trimester, there was a small, but significant, increased risk of experiencing depression symptoms in the third trimester.
  • For pregnant women with low iron and vitamin D levels in the second trimester, the risk of experiencing depression symptoms in the third trimester increased by 2.2 points in the 30-point Edinburg Depression Scale.
    • This is equivalent to a 7.4% increased risk of depression from deficiencies of iron and vitamin D alone – and these are only 2 of at least 8 nutrients thought to be associated with maternal depression.

The authors concluded, “Maternal iron and vitamin D biomarkers, measured during midpregnancy, were independently associated with third trimester maternal depression symptoms…This investigation is one of the first to report on the combined adequacy of maternal iron and vitamin D status during pregnancy and its impact on maternal depression.

The novelty of this work reinforces the need to ask similar questions [with other nutrients and] in other pregnant populations. Future investigations should report on the status of multiple nutrients and explore their independent and combined impact on health outcomes of pregnant individuals and their children.”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Questioning WomanDepression during pregnancy is bad for you. And because your fetus can sense your mood, it is bad for your baby. So, what should you do?

You can consult with your doctor about which antidepressants are safe to take during pregnancy. But the truth is there are no good choices. There are some antidepressants that are off limits. There are other antidepressants that appear to have little short-term risks, but we have no idea if there are long-term risks for your child.

So, what about natural approaches? Let’s start with nutrition.

The biggest takeaway from this study is that prenatal supplements may not be sufficient to prevent nutritional deficiencies that may cause prenatal depression for pregnant women.

  • This does not mean that every pregnant woman suffering prenatal depression should increase their iron and vitamin D levels.
  • However, if you are experiencing prenatal depression, you might want to ask your doctor about checking your iron and vitamin D status to determine if extra iron and/or vitamin D would be beneficial.

And to put this study into its proper perspective we need to remember that iron and vitamin D deficiencies are only two of many nutrients that may increase the risk of prenatal depression.

For example, in addition to iron and vitamin D, prenatal depression is associated with deficiencies of:

  • B vitamins, especially folate, B6 and B12. Most prenatal supplements provide the recommended RDA of folate for pregnant women, but not all contain RDA amounts of B6 and B12.
  • Calcium and magnesium. Very few prenatal supplements provide the recommended RDA for calcium and magnesium.
  • Omega-3s, especially DHA. Very few prenatal supplements provide DHA, and the few that do usually provide inadequate amounts of DHA.

So, when you are having your nutrition conversation with your doctor, you might not want to limit your conversation to iron and vitamin D.

Alternately, as I suggested last week’s issue of “Health Tips From the Professor”, you might wish to add a multivitamin supplement and an omega-3 supplement providing at least 300 mg of DHA plus EPA. This simple step would be sufficient to assure you have adequate levels of nutrients thought to be important for reducing the risk of prenatal depression.

And, of course, there are other lifestyle factors, as well. For example:

  • Diets high in highly processed foods are known to increase the risk of depression. And whole food, primarily plant-based diets decrease the risk of depression.
  • Overweight and obesity increase the risk of depression.
  • Regular exercise decreases the risk of depression.

The Bottom Line

A recent study looked at whether taking a prenatal supplement was sufficient to eliminate deficiencies of iron and vitamin D during pregnancy and whether deficiencies of these two nutrients during the second trimester of pregnancy increased the risk of depression during the third trimester.

When the investigators looked at iron and vitamin D status during the second trimester:

  • 14.8% of the women were low in vitamin D but had adequate iron levels.
  • 18.4% of the women were low in iron but had adequate levels of vitamin D.
  • 3.5% of the women were low in both iron and vitamin D.

But the important question is whether the iron and vitamin D insufficiencies seen in this study mattered. The data suggested that they did.

  • For pregnant women with low iron, but adequate vitamin D levels in the second trimester, there was a small, but significant, increased risk of experiencing depression symptoms in the third trimester.
  • For pregnant women with low iron and vitamin D levels in the second trimester, the risk of experiencing depression symptoms in the third trimester increased by 2.2 points in the 30-point Edinburg Depression Scale.
  • This is equivalent to a 7.4% increased risk of depression from deficiencies of iron and vitamin D alone.

When you consider that iron and vitamin D are just two of 8 or more nutrients thought to be important for preventing depression during pregnancy, the question becomes what you can do to decrease your risk of developing depression during pregnancy and after the birth of your child.

For more details about the study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 ____________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

___________________________________________________________________________

About The Author

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

What Nutrients Are Missing In Prenatal Supplements?

Do These Deficiencies Matter?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

healthy pregnancyIf you are a pregnant mom, nothing is more important than the health of your baby. And if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, your doctor has probably recommended a prenatal supplement. But does the prenatal supplement he or she recommended provide you with all the nutrients you need?

In a previous issue of “Health Tips From the Professor” I shared two studies that suggested the answer is, “No”. Those studies concluded that most prenatal supplements had little or no vitamin K, choline, DHA, and iodine – all of which are essential for the health of your newborn baby. And while most prenatal supplements contained calcium, the amount they provided was far below recommended levels.

The authors of the first study also made the point that most women going on a prenatal supplement will probably discontinue taking their multivitamin supplement, so a good prenatal supplement should provide all the essential nutrients.

But they don’t. Folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D have long been recognized as essential for a healthy pregnancy. So, virtually every prenatal supplement contained these four nutrients, although calcium is often present in suboptimal amounts. Beyond those four nutrients, the design of prenatal supplements is haphazard. Some contain vitamin K, choline, iodine, or DHA (often in suboptimal amounts). But almost none contain all four nutrients.

And when you consider the other essential nutrients you find in most multivitamins, prenatal supplements often come up empty. Is that a problem? That’s what this study (KM Godfrey et al, PLOS Medicine, 1-27, December 5, 2023) was designed to find out.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis was a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the gold standard for clinical studies. The investigators recruited 1,729 women who were planning to get pregnant from England, Singapore, and New Zealand between 2015 and 2017.

The women were randomly split into two groups:

  • The control group received a supplement containing nutrients that were most frequently included in prenatal supplements in those countries (folic acid, iron, calcium, iodine, and beta-carotene).
  • The intervention group received a supplement containing those nutrients plus riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, inositol, and probiotics).
  • Riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc were included because they are included in most multivitamins but are often missing in prenatal supplements.
  • Inositol was included because some studies have suggested that inositol may reduce the risk of maternal hyperglycemia and gestational diabetes.

Blood samples to assess nutritional status were obtained from all women in the study before the trial started (baseline) and after 1 month of supplementation with either the control or intervention formulation.

Of the women entering the study, 512 went on to have a singleton (one child) pregnancy. For these women supplementation was continued until childbirth. Additional blood samples were obtained in early and late pregnancy and at 6 months postdelivery. [Note: no supplementation was provided to either group postdelivery. And this is also a period of time when most women would be breastfeeding.]

The blood samples were tested for:

  • Blood levels of folic acid, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
  • Functional biomarkers of deficiencies of each of these vitamins.

What Nutrients Are Missing In Prenatal Supplements?

Question MarkThere was no difference in maternal hyperglycemia or gestational diabetes between the control group and the intervention group supplemented with inositol, so I will focus on the other nutrients present in the intervention group.

At baseline when subjects were first entered into the study.

  • 29.2% of the subjects had low or marginal status for folic acid.
  • 82.0% of the subjects had low or marginal status for riboflavin.
  • 1.3% of the subjects had low or marginal status for vitamin B6.
  • 9.1% of the subjects had low or marginal status for vitamin B12.
  • 48.7% of the subjects had low or marginal status for vitamin D.
  • 91.0% of the subjects had low or marginal status for one or more of these vitamins.

In the control group receiving folic acid but no riboflavin, vitaminB6, vitamin B12, and vitamin D:

  • Folic acid deficiency fell to 4.1% after 1 month of supplementation (the supplement used by the control group contained folic acid), 1% in early pregnancy, 6.1% in late pregnancy, and rose to 31.8% 6 months after supplementation was discontinued. The intervention group got the same amount of folic acid, and their results were similar.
  • Riboflavin deficiency ranged from 82-92% during pregnancy and returned to 82% 6 months postdelivery.
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency increased to 54% in late pregnancy and returned to 1.2% 6 months postdelivery.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency increased to 55% in late pregnancy and returned to 12.4% 6 months postdelivery.
  • Vitamin D deficiency ranged from 35-43% during pregnancy and returned to 31% 6 months postdelivery.
  • Functional markers of vitamin B6 deficiency were evident by late pregnancy.

In short, data from the control group fell into 3 categories:

  • The data with folic acid confirm previous studies showing that folic acid in the amount present in most prenatal supplements is effective at preventing folic acid deficiency before and during pregnancy. It also strengthens the argument for continuing folic acid supplementation during breastfeeding.
  • Deficiencies of riboflavin and vitamin D are prevalent in women of childbearing age, but pregnancy does not appear to significantly impact the percentage of women who are deficient in these nutrients.
  • Deficiencies of vitamins B6 and B12 are rare in women of childbearing age, but pregnancy significantly depletes both nutrients.
    • This was particularly evident for vitamin B6. Blood levels of vitamin B6 markers decreased to a level that could impact the functioning of vitamin B6-depended metabolic pathways.

pregnant women taking vitaminsFor the intervention group receiving additional riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin D:

  • Deficiencies of these vitamins were eliminated by one month of supplementation.
  • Vitamin levels remained adequate during pregnancy.
  • Except for vitamin B12, deficiencies of these vitamins reappeared when supplementation was discontinued for 6 months. The maintenance of adequate B12 levels 6 months after supplementation stopped was expected because the body holds on to its B12 stores very tightly.

In short deficiencies of these nutrients before and during pregnancy could be eliminated by supplementation with levels of these nutrients found in many multivitamins.

The authors concluded, “Over 90% of the trial participants had low concentrations of one or more of folate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, or vitamin D during preconception, and many developed markers of vitamin B6 deficiency in late pregnancy. Preconception/pregnancy supplementation in amounts available in over-the-counter supplements substantially reduces the prevalence of vitamin deficiency and depletion markers before and during pregnancy, with higher maternal plasma vitamin B12 maintained during the recommended lactation period.”

Do These Deficiencies Matter?

New ParentsIt is well established that deficiencies of folic acid and vitamin D cause health risks for the mother and developmental risks for the fetus, so I won’t discuss these nutrients here.

However, the effect of riboflavin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 deficiencies on pregnancy is less well known, which is probably why these nutrients are often not added to prenatal supplements.

The authors of the study said small studies have suggested that:

  • Low or deficient riboflavin status may be associated with a higher risk of anemia during pregnancy.
  • Low vitamin B6 status may be associated with an increased risk of preterm birth and development of metabolic health risks in the child.
  • Low vitamin B12 status may be associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia in the mother, and increased risk of neural tube defects, preterm birth, low birth weight, and neurocognitive delays in the baby – with the strongest evidence being an effect on neurocognitive development.

While none of these risks have been definitively proven, the authors point out that deficiencies of these nutrients can easily be eliminated with inexpensive, over-the-counter multivitamin supplements.

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Questioning WomanPerhaps I should start this section by asking why these deficiencies are so common in women of child-bearing age.

The authors speculate that part of the reason is that many women are giving up meat (B12 and iron) and dairy (calcium and riboflavin) for health or environmental reasons.

However, they also point out that a more likely cause is that more than 60% of calories consumed in countries like England, New Zealand, and the United States comes from ultra-processed foods – otherwise known as “empty calories”.

Whatever the cause, the authors conclude, “…the findings suggest a need to reappraise dietary recommendations for preconception and pregnancy to consider further the role of multiple micronutrient supplements for women living in higher-income countries.” I agree.

In a previous “Health Tips From the Professor” article, I reported a recent study showing that most prenatal supplements have either no or inadequate amounts of vitamin K, choline, DHA, iodine, and calcium, nutrients that are absolutely essential for a healthy pregnancy. And I gave recommendations for choosing the best prenatal supplement for you and your child.

That study also noted that many women discontinue their multivitamin supplement when they start taking a prenatal supplement. The current study indicates that practice may be unwise. It shows that:

  • Many women of childbearing age are deficient in one or more of these essential nutrients, and…
  • Essential nutrients not found in most prenatal supplements may also be important for a healthy pregnancy.

So, if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, follow this article’s recommendation to start with a well-designed prenatal supplement that provides adequate amounts of folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, choline, DHA, and iodine and add a multivitamin supplement that provides the other essential nutrients. Alternatively, a simpler approach would be to choose a well-designed prenatal supplement that includes all the essential nutrients. That would be my recommendation.

I would also note this study showed that deficiencies of most of these nutrients reappeared as soon as supplementation was discontinued. Although the authors of this study did not mention it, this reinforces the importance of continuing supplementation during breastfeeding.

The Bottom Line

I have previously reported on a study that concluded many prenatal supplements lack one or more nutrients shown to be important for a healthy pregnancy. But let’s say you have found a prenatal supplement that provides all those nutrients. Is that enough?

Studies show that most women stop taking their multivitamin supplement when they start on a prenatal supplement. But is that a good idea? Are there essential nutrients found in multivitamins, but not in many prenatal supplements that are also important for a healthy pregnancy?

A recent study asked that question in women who were trying to become pregnant. The study found that:

  • Many women of childbearing age are deficient in one or more essential nutrients found in multivitamin supplements but often missing in prenatal supplements, and…
  • Essential nutrients not found in most prenatal supplements may also be important for a healthy pregnancy.

For more details about this study and what it means for you read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 ______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

 ______________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

Can Personalized Diets Help Control Blood Sugar?

What Does This Study Mean For You? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

Personalized diets are highly advertised. We are told to forget the old “one size fits all” diets of the past. We are told we are all different, so diets should be individualized to us.

We are promised that by collecting DNA samples from our tissue or bacteria in our gut, blood samples, and personal medical history, a personalized diet can be created that “fits us like a glove”.

But are those promises true, or are they hype? Diets to control blood sugar spikes should be a perfect topic for testing those claims. Millions of Americans have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. Specifically:

  • 1 million adults (14.7% of US adults) have diabetes, mostly type 2 diabetes.
  • 6 million adults (38.0% of US adults) have prediabetes.
    • That amounts to 52% of the US population who have trouble controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Previous studies have shown that prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are largely reversible with diet and lifestyle change.
  • Recent studies have shown tremendous inter-person variability in the blood sugar response to any given food.
  • Previous studies have shown that our gut bacteria influence our blood sugar response to foods.

In theory, blood sugar control should be the perfect candidate for personalized diets. With that in mind, the authors of this study have created an algorithm called PNP (Personal Nutrition Program) that combines continuous blood glucose monitoring, HbA1c measurement (a measure of blood sugar control), personal characteristics (physical activities, sleep times, stress, and hunger), and a DNA analysis of stool samples to identify the species of gut bacteria. They also created a PNP app to allow participants to monitor and modify the foods they ate on a continuous basis.

In this study (AY Kharmats et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 118: 443-451, 2023) the authors compared the effectiveness of their Personalized Nutrition Program algorithm with a standard, one-size-fits-all, low fat diet for improving blood sugar control in patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Note: They used a low fat diet because, despite what you may have heard, low fat diets are better than low carb diets for diabetics. Of course, the low fat diet they used was created by dietitians. The carbohydrates came from whole foods rather than added sugars.

How Was The Study Done? 

Clinical StudyThe investigators recruited 156 participants from the NYU Langone Health Center between January 2018 and March 2021. The participants selected were overweight with prediabetes or moderately controlled type 2 diabetes. For participants with type 2 diabetes, it was managed with lifestyle alone or lifestyle plus metformin. Other characteristic of the study participants were:

  • Gender: 33.5% male, 66.5% female.
  • Race & Ethnicity: 55.7% white, 24.1% black, 16.5% Hispanic.
  • Education: 69.5% with a college degree.
  • Baseline BMI: 33 (Obese).
  • Baseline HbA1c: 5.8% (prediabetic range) with 12% of participants ≥6.5% (diabetic range).

The participants were randomly divided into two groups that were matched with respect to weight and blood sugar control. One group was put on a diet based on the investigator’s PNP algorithm. The other group was put on a standardized low fat (< 25% of calories from fat) diet that is often used with diabetic patients.

Upon admission to the study, blood samples were drawn for HbA1c, a detailed questionnaire was filled out, and stool samples were obtained for DNA analysis to identify the species of bacteria in their gut.

Each participant was given a continuous glucose monitoring device to wear during the study. This allowed the investigators to monitor the participants blood sugar control throughout the study.

All this information was used to provide individual diet recommendations for the personalized diet group using the PNP algorithm developed by the investigators.

The study lasted 6 months and measured improvements in blood sugar control as assessed by a decrease in blood sugar spikes and a reduction in HbA1c.

Both Groups were put on a registered dietitian-led behavioral intervention program targeting 7% weight loss and a calorie deficit goal of 500 calories per day. The 1-hour sessions were conducted by Webex weekly for 4 weeks and then every other week for the remaining 5 months. The sessions included:

  • Education (e.g., obesity risks, benefits of weight loss, strategies for restricting calories, protocols for aerobic exercise and strength training, and dealing with weight loss plateaus)
  • Behavioral change (e.g., importance of behavioral change, goal setting, self-reward, and problem-solving around common barriers to weight loss success)

The participants were advised to gradually build up to 150 min/week of moderate intensity exercise.

Each participant was given access to the PNP mobile app designed by the investigators. The app provided real-time feedback regarding their dietary intake relative to the target specific to their group (low fat diet or personalized diet). Participants were asked to use the app to:

  • Enter their dietary intake and self-monitor their meals (If the meal did not match the target specific to their group, the participants were trained how to substitute other foods, so their meal better matched their target.)
  • For the Standardized Low Fat Group, the PNP app provided real-time feedback regarding calorie intake and macronutrient distribution for meals and snacks logged in by the participants.
  • For the Personalized Group the PNP app scored meals as excellent, very good, good, bad, or very bad based on the PNP algorithm developed by the investigators.

Can Personalized Diets Help Control Blood Sugar? 

The results were clear-cut:

  • Weight loss was identical on both diets. This is no surprise. The study design included an exceptionally well-designed weight loss protocol for both groups.
  • The decrease in HbA1c was identical on both diets.
  • The improvement in blood sugar control was identical on both diets.

The investigators concluded, “[The] personalized diet did not result in an increased reduction in GV [blood sugar control] or HbA1c in patients with prediabetes or moderately controlled type 2 diabetes compared to a standardized diet.”

Since the investigators had designed the algorithm used to create personalized diets for this study, this was probably not the result they wanted.

So, they added, “Additional subgroup analyses may help to identify patients who are more likely to benefit from this personalized intervention.”

What Does This Study Mean For You? 

QuestionsThis first takeaway from this study was obvious:

  • The personally designed diet did not perform any better than a standard, one size fits all, diet at improving blood sugar control.

Of course, this was not any standard diet. It was a diet that has been used successfully with diabetics for years. However, a lot of research had gone into developing the personalized diet. One might have expected it to perform better.

This is not the first study in which a personalized diet has performed no better than a standard diet. It doesn’t mean that the concept behind personalized diets is faulty. It just means we don’t yet know enough to design a personalized diet that really works.

The second takeaway from this study might be less obvious:

  • Weight loss is the most important factor for improving blood sugar control. Any diet that reduces weight will improve blood sugar control. This is also true for many other health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and osteoarthritis.
  • However, this should not come as a surprise either.
    • Vegan and keto diets are polar opposites. Yet both give similar short-term weight loss and provide similar short-term health benefits.
    • Studies have shown that intermittent fasting gives no better weight loss and health benefits than any diet that cuts calories to a similar extent.
    • In other words, the diet you choose or the way you choose to restrict calories doesn’t matter. It is weight loss that provides the health benefits.
  • However, diet does appear to matter in the long term. If you look at studies ranging from 10 to 30 years, primarily plant-based diets provide better health benefits than primarily meat-based diets. And diets consisting primarily of whole, unprocessed foods provide better health benefits than diets high in processed foods.

Finally, there is an important corollary to this study showing that a personalized diet performed no better than a standardized diet at controlling blood sugar.

  • Some companies are trying to sell you expensive personalized diets with extravagant claims about the health benefits of their diet. Be wary of those diets. The science supporting their diets is premature. Their claims may be misleading.
  • And if the companies claim their diet is supported by published clinical studies, you should evaluate those studies carefully. The study I reviewed in this article was an exceptionally well-designed study. Any study that does not control for weight loss is likely to provide misleading results.

The Bottom Line 

A recent study compared the effectiveness of a personalized diet and a standardized diet in improving blood sugar control for patients with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. The results were clear-cut:

  • Weight loss was identical on both diets. This is no surprise. The study design included an exceptionally well-designed weight loss protocol for both groups.
  • The decrease in HbA1c was identical on both diets.
  • The improvement in blood sugar control was identical on both diets.

This doesn’t mean that the concept behind personalized diets is faulty. It just means we don’t yet know enough to design a personalized diet that really works.

For more information on this study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

_____________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

 

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

Eat Green

Can Diet Affect The Health Of Our Planet? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

Earth DayEarth Day was yesterday. So, it is time for my annual reminder that what you eat affects a lot more than just your health. It affects the health of our planet. Once again, it’s time to ask yourself, “Is my diet destroying the planet?

This is not a new question, but a recent commission of international scientists has conducted a comprehensive study into our diet and its effect on our health and our environment. Their report (W. Willet et al, The Lancet, 393, issue 10170, 447-492, 2019) serves as a dire warning of what will happen if we don’t change our ways.

The commission carefully evaluated diet and food production methods and asked three questions:

  • Are they good for us?
  • Are they good for the planet?
  • Are they sustainable? Will they be able to meet the needs of the projected population of 10 billion people in 2050 without degrading our environment.

The commission described the typical American diet as a “lose-lose-lose diet”. It is bad for our health. It is bad for the planet. And it is not sustainable.

In its place they carefully designed their version of a primarily plant-based diet they called a “win-win-win diet”. It is good for our health. It is good for the planet. And it is sustainable.

In their publication they refer to their diet as the “universal healthy reference diet” (What else would you expect from a committee?). However, it has become popularly known as the “Planetary Diet”.

I have spoken before about the importance of a primarily plant-based diet for our health. In that context it is a personal choice. It is optional.

However, this report is a wake-up call. It puts a primarily plant-based diet in an entirely different context. It is essential for the survival of our planet. It is no longer optional.

If you care about our environment…If you care about saving our planet, there is no other choice.

How Was The Study Done?

The publication (W. Willet et al, The Lancet, 393, issue 10170, 447-492, 2019) was the report of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. This Commission convened 30 of the top experts from across the globe to prepare a science-based evaluation of the effect of diet on both health and sustainable food production through the year 2050. The Commission included world class experts on healthy diets, agricultural methods, climate change, and earth sciences. The Commission reviewed 356 published studies in preparing their report.

Can Diet Affect The Health Of Our Planet?

Factory FarmWhen they looked at the effect of food production on the environment, the Commission concluded:

  • “Strong evidence indicates that food production is among the largest drivers of global environmental change.” Specifically, the commission reported:
    • Agriculture occupies 40% of global land (58% of that is for pasture use).
    • Food production is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of freshwater use.
    • Conversion of natural ecosystems to croplands and pastures is the largest factor causing species to be threatened with extinction. Specifically, 80% of extinction threats to mammals and bird species are due to agricultural practices.
    • Overuse and misuse of nitrogen and phosphorous in fertilizers causes eutrophication. In case you are wondering, eutrophication is defined as the process by which a body of water becomes enriched in dissolved nutrients (such as phosphates from commercial fertilizer) that stimulate the growth of algae and other aquatic plant life, usually resulting in the depletion of dissolved oxygen. This creates dead zones in lakes and coastal regions where fish and other marine organisms cannot survive.
  • About 60% of world fish stocks are fully fished and more than 30% are overfished. Because of this, catch by global marine fisheries has been declining since 1996.
  • “Reaching the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming…is not possible by only decarbonizing the global energy systems. Transformation to healthy diets from sustainable food systems is essential to achieving the Paris Agreement.
  • The world’s population is expected to increase to 10 billion by 2050. The current system of food production is unsustainable.

Food ChoicesWhen they looked at the effect of the foods we eat on the environment, the Commission concluded:

  • Beef and lamb are the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and land use.
    • The concern about land use is obvious because of the large amount of pastureland required to raise cattle and sheep.
    • The concern about greenhouse gas emissions is because cattle and sheep are ruminants. They not only breathe out CO2, but they also release methane into the atmosphere from fermentation in their rumens of the food they eat. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and it persists in the atmosphere 25 times longer than CO2.

The single most important thing we can do as individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to eat less beef and lamb. [Note: grass fed cattle produce more greenhouse gas emissions than cattle raised on corn because they require 3 years to bring to market rather than 2 years.] 

    • In contrast, plant crops reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • In terms of energy use beef, lamb, pork, chicken, dairy, and eggs all require much more energy to produce than any of the plant foods.
  • In terms of eutrophication of our lakes and oceans, beef, lamb, and pork all cause much more eutrophication than any plant food. Dairy and eggs cause more eutrophication than any plant food except fruits.

Eat Green

Planetary DietIn the words of the Commission: “[The Planetary Diet] largely consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and unsaturated oils. It includes a low to moderate amount of seafood, poultry, and eggs. It includes no or a very low amount of red meat, processed meat, sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables.”

When described in that fashion it sounds very much like other healthy diets such as semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, DASH, and Flexitarian. However, what truly distinguishes it from the other diets is the restrictions placed on the non-plant portion of the diet to make it both environmentally friendly and sustainable. Here is a more detailed description of the diet:

  • It starts with a vegetarian diet. Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, soy foods, and whole grains are the foundation of the diet.
  • It allows the option of adding one serving of dairy a day (It turns out that cows produce much less greenhouse emissions per serving of dairy than per serving of beef. That’s because cows take several years to mature before they can be converted to meat, and they are emitting greenhouse gases the entire time).
  • It allows the option of adding one 3 oz serving of fish or poultry or one egg per day.
  • It allows the option of swapping seafood, poultry, or egg for a 3 oz serving of red meat no more than once a week. If you want a 12 oz steak, that would be no more than once a month.

This is obviously very different from the way most Americans currently eat. According to the Commission:

  • “This would require greater than 50% reduction in consumption of unhealthy foods, such as red meat and sugar, and greater than 100% increase in the consumption of healthy foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes”.
  • “In addition to the benefits for the environment, “dietary changes from current diets to healthy diets are likely to substantially benefit human health, averting about 10.8-11.6 million deaths per year globally.”

What Else Did The Commission Recommend?

In addition to changes in our diets, the Commission also recommended several changes in the way food is produced. Here are a few of them.

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel used to transport food to market.

2) Reduce food losses and waste by at least 50%.

3) Make radical improvements in the efficiency of fertilizer and water use. In terms of fertilizer, the change would be two-fold:

    • In developed countries, reduce fertilizer use and put in place systems to capture runoff and recycle the phosphorous.
    • In third world countries, make fertilizer more available so that crop yields can be increased, something the Commission refer to as eliminating the “yield gap” between third world and developed countries.

4) Stop the expansion of new agricultural land use into natural ecosystems and put in place policies aimed at restoring and re-foresting degraded land.

5) Manage the world’s oceans effectively to ensure that fish stocks are used responsibly and global aquaculture (fish farm) production is expanded sustainability.

What we can do: While most of these are government level policies, we can contribute to the first three by reducing personal food waste and purchasing organic produce locally whenever possible.

What Does This Mean For You?

QuestionsIf you are a vegan, you are probably asking why the Commission did not recommend a completely plant-based diet. The answer is that a vegan diet is perfect for the health of our planet. However, the Commission wanted to make a diet that was as consumer friendly as possible and still meet their goals of a healthy, environmentally friendly, and sustainable diet.

If you are eating a typical American diet or one of the fad diets that encourage meat consumption, you are probably wondering how you can ever make such drastic changes to your diet. The answer is “one step at a time”. If you have read the Forward to my books “Slaying The Food Myths” or “Slaying the Supplement Myths”, you know that my wife and I did not change our diet overnight. Our diet evolved to something very close to the Planetary Diet over a period of years.

The Commission also purposely designed the Planetary Diet so that you “never have to say never” to your favorite foods. Three ounces of red meat a week does not sound like much, but it allows you a juicy steak once a month.

Sometimes you just need to develop a new mindset. As I shared in my books, my father prided himself on grilling the perfect steak. I love steaks, but I decided to set a few parameters. I don’t waste my red meat calories on anything besides filet mignon at a fine restaurant. It must be a special occasion, and someone else must be buying. That limits it to 2-3 times a year. I still get to enjoy good steak, and I stay well within the parameters of the Planetary diet.

Develop your strategy for enjoying some of your favorite foods within the parameters of the Planetary Diet and have fun with it.

The Bottom Line

Is your diet destroying the planet? This is not a new question, but a recent commission of international scientists has conducted a comprehensive study into our diet and its effect on our health and our environment. Their report serves as a dire warning of what will happen to us and our planet if we don’t change our ways.

The Commission carefully evaluated diet and food production methods and asked three questions:

  • Are they good for us?
  • Are they good for the planet?
  • Are they sustainable? Will they be able to meet the needs of the projected population of 10 billion people in 2050 without degrading our environment.

The Commission described the typical American diet as a “lose-lose-lose diet”. It is bad for our health. It is bad for the planet. And it is not sustainable.

In its place they carefully designed their version of a primarily plant-based diet they called a “win-win-win diet”. It is good for our health. It is good for the planet. And, it is sustainable.

In their publication they refer to their diet as the “universal healthy reference diet” (What else would you expect from a committee?). However, it has become popularly known as the “Planetary Diet”.

The Planetary Diet is similar to other healthy diets such as semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, DASH, and Flexitarian. However, what truly distinguishes it from the other diets is the restrictions placed on the non-plant portion of the diet to make it both environmentally friendly and sustainable (for details, read the article above).

I have spoken before about the importance of a primarily plant-based diet for our health. In that context it is a personal choice. It is optional.

However, this report is a wake-up call. It puts a primarily plant-based diet in an entirely different context. It is essential for the survival of our planet. It is no longer optional.

If you care about global warming…If you care about saving our planet, there is no other choice.

For more details read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

______________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”.

Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

Do Omega-3s Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain?

How Do Rheumatoid And Osteoarthritis Differ?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

knee painThis week I am concluding my series on recent omega-3 advances by reviewing a meta-analysis that asks whether omega-3s are beneficial for people with osteoarthritis.

This is an important question because osteoarthritis affects around 32.5 million adults in the United States, and that number is increasing each year as our population ages. Osteoarthritis causes pain and disabilities that can significantly affect quality of life.

And the costs are high. Health care costs due to osteoporosis are around $140 billion/year. And when you include lost workdays, the annual cost is around $468 billion.

There are several medications for reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis. But they each have side effects and some patients cannot tolerate them. Joint replacement surgery is the final resort. But the recovery period is long, and the surgery isn’t always effective. For both reasons many patients with osteoarthritis are looking for natural solutions.

Most of the research on omega-3s and arthritis has been done with patients who have rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to reduce the pain, swelling of the joints, and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis for many people with the disease.

Based on several dose-response studies, the NIH says the optimal dose is around 2.7 gm/day of EPA + DHA but cautions not to go above 3 gm/day without your doctor’s OK.

The evidence is less clear for omega-3s and osteoarthritis. Some studies suggest that EPA + DHA reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. But other studies have come up empty. There is no consensus as to whether omega-3s are beneficial for people with osteoarthritis.

When there is disagreement between individual studies, a meta-analysis of the studies is often helpful. By pooling the data from multiple studies, a meta-analysis can smooth out some of the differences between the studies and accumulate enough data points to discover effects that would not have been statistically significant with the smaller data sets from individual studies.

With that in mind, the authors of this manuscript (W Den et al, Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 18: 381, 3023) performed a meta-analysis on the data obtained from 9 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies looking at the effect of omega-3s versus a placebo on both pain and joint mobility in osteoarthritis patients.

How Do Rheumatoid And Osteoarthritis Differ?

While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are very different, there are some underlying similarities between the two diseases that suggest both might benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be an autoimmune disease, which means that our immune system attacks our cells rather than foreign invaders. It results in chronic inflammation that attacks our joints and can affect other tissues in our body.

It initially affects the lining of our joints which can result in painful, swollen joints. As the disease progresses it can also lead to bone erosion and joint deformity.

Osteoarthritis:Osteoarthritis is generally thought of as a “wear and tear” disease. It is associated with sports injuries and accidents. It is also associated with stress to particular joints due to repeated motions associated with either sports or a job. Obesity also increases wear and tear of the joints because it increases the load on the joints.

The wear and tear causes the cartilage that cushions the junction between bones to deteriorate. Eventually, the cartilage deteriorates to the extent that bone is grinding against bone, which can lead to bone loss and deformities.

Eventually, this results in an inflammation of the joint lining which causes pain and accelerates bone loss. It also causes deterioration of the connective tissue which holds bones together and connects them to muscle.

What Do These Diseases Have In Common? Inflammation is the common factor associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and many studies suggest that omega-3s reduce inflammation. In the simplistic description of the two diseases I shared above, it sounds like inflammation occurs much earlier in the disease process for rheumatoid arthritis than for osteoarthritis. This might suggest that omega-3s could be more effective at reducing the symptoms and progression of rheumatoid arthritis than of osteoarthritis.

However, we know that the risk of developing osteoarthritis is increased by chronic inflammation caused by obesity, diseases like diabetes, and/or an inflammatory diet.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis study was a meta-analysis of 9 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies looking at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the pain and loss of joint mobility associated with osteoarthritis. These studies were performed in countries from around the world and included a total of 2,070 participants.

The criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis were:

1) The articles were written in English.

2) The studies had to be double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (The gold standard for clinical studies).

3) Patients with osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to an intervention group receiving omega-3 supplementation or a placebo group receiving olive oil or another plant oil.

4) The studies measured efficacy and safety outcomes including joint pain (efficacy), joint mobility (efficacy), and treatment-related adverse events (safety).

5) Patients in both the omega-3 and placebo groups were using medications to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms when they were enrolled in the study and were advised to continue with their prescribed medicines for the duration of the study.

The characteristics of the clinical studies included in this meta-analysis were:

  • Sample size (47-1221), Average = 230.
  • Mean age (55.9-68), Average = 63.
  • % men (13.8-45.1%), Average = 31%.
  • Omega-3 (EPA + DHA) dose (350 mg/day – 2,400 mg/day), Average = 1,085 mg/day.

Do Omega-3s Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain?

Question MarkWhen the data from all 9 studies were combined in a single meta-analysis, omega-3 (EPA + DHA) supplementation:

  • Reduced joint pain by 29% compared to the placebo.
  • Increased joint mobility by 21% compared to the placebo.
  • Was not associated with any adverse effects.

The authors concluded, “The results of the meta-analysis indicate that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is effective to relieve pain and improve joint function in patients with osteoarthritis, without increasing the risk of treatment-related adverse events. These findings support the use on omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis.”

What Are The Strengths and Limitations Of This Study?

strengths and weaknessesStrengths:

  • All the studies included in this meta-analysis were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies (the gold standard for clinical trials).
  • All the individual studies that qualified for this meta-analysis found that omega-3 supplementation reduced joint pain and improved joint mobility. This improves confidence that the conclusions of the meta-analysis are correct. The meta-analysis simply improved the statistical significance of this conclusion by combining the data from the individual studies.

Limitations:

  • The biggest limitation was that the individual studies included in this meta-analysis were not performed under the guidelines of the “Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium” that I discussed in last week’s issue of “Health Tips From the Professor”.
    • The “Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium” guidelines harmonize the designs of individual studies, which strengthens the meta-analysis.
      • In contrast, the design of the individual studies within this meta-analysis was very different, which prevented the meta-analysis from being able to determine the optimal dose of omega-3 supplements and the minimum time required for omega-3 supplementation to significantly reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
    • The “Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium” guidelines would have also required these studies to measure tissue levels of omega-3s (something called Omega-3 Index) at the beginning and end of each study. This was not done in any of these studies.
      • This is important because if a patient’s tissue levels of omega-3s at the beginning of the study were already in the optimal range, you would expect little additional benefit from supplementation for that patient.
  • All the individual studies were very small. This limits the ability of these studies to provide definitive conclusions. Unfortunately, this is probably unavoidable.
    • Double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies are expensive. Only major pharmaceutical companies have the multi-million-dollar budgets required to conduct large double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies that would provide more definitive evidence that omega-3 supplementation reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis – and the follow-up studies that would determine the optimal dose of omega-3 supplements and the minimum time required to show an effect of omega-3 supplementation.
  • The patients in these studies were already taking medications to reduce their osteoarthritis symptoms prior to entering the study and were instructed to continue taking those medications during the study. This means that the studies were not asking whether omega-3s alone were effective at reducing osteoarthritis symptoms. They were asking whether omega-3 supplementation provided any additional benefits for people who were already taking medications to reduce symptoms.
    • Unfortunately, this is also probably unavoidable. Current guidelines consider it unethical to withhold the medical “standard of care” from any patient in a clinical trial.

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Questioning WomanThis study, while not definitive, strengthens the evidence that omega-3 supplements containing EPA + DHA may reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility for people with osteoarthritis. It also shows that the doses required to achieve these benefits are not associated with any significant side effects.

While large scale double blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies to confirm these conclusions would be nice, they are unlikely to occur for the reasons discussed above.

The investigators said, “[This study shows that] supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids is effective to relieve pain and improve joint function in patients with osteoarthritis…These findings support the use of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation as an alternative treatment for osteoarthritis.”

This might lead you to believe that omega-3 fatty acids can potentially replace medications for reducing osteoarthritis pain and loss of joint mobility. That may be true, but that is not what the study showed.

Patients in both the omega-3 and placebo group continued their prescribed medicines for osteoarthritis. In reality, the study only shows that omega-3s provide additional benefit for people already taking osteoarthritis medications. The effect of omega-3 supplements by themselves has not been tested and, as I discussed above, is not likely to be tested in the foreseeable future.

However, the use of omega-3 supplements may allow you to reduce or eliminate the medications you are on for osteoarthritis and may delay the need for joint replacement surgery. Of course, if you wish to reduce/eliminate your medications and/or delay joint replacement surgery, I recommend consulting with your doctor first.

Finally, this study provides no information on the optimal dose of omega-3s. Some studies suggest the dose of omega-3s needed to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms may be less than that required to reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, but that evidence is weak.

In the absence of good dose response data, I recommend you aim for an omega-3 index of 8%. You will find a more detailed discussion of the Omega-3 Index and how to use it in last week’s “Health Tips From the Professor” article .

The Bottom Line

A recent meta-analysis looked at the effect of omega-3 supplementation on the pain and lack of joint mobility associated with osteoarthritis.

The study showed that omega-3 (EPA + DHA) supplementation:

  • Reduced joint pain by 29% compared to the placebo.
  • Increased joint mobility by 21% compared to the placebo.
  • Was not associated with any adverse effects.

The authors concluded, “The results of the meta-analysis indicate that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids is effective to relieve pain and improve joint function in patients with osteoarthritis, without increasing the risk of treatment-related adverse events.”

For more details about the study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

_____________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance

_______________________________________________________________________

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

The Good News About Omega-3s And Stroke

How Do Omega-3s Affect The Two Types Of Stroke?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

strokeI am continuing my series on recent omega-3 breakthroughs. Last week I reviewed a study showing that the omega-3s EPA and DHA lowered blood pressure. Since high blood pressure is a major contributing factor to stroke risk, it only makes sense that EPA and DHA would also decrease the risk of strokes.

In last week’s article I mentioned that high blood pressure is called a silent killer. That is because the symptoms of high blood pressure are easy to ignore and often confused with other illnesses.

For many people the first indication they have a problem is when they have a stroke, which either kills them or forever impacts their quality of life. Let me share some statistics with you.

  • Every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. One in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.
  • Every 4 minutes someone in the United States dies from a stroke. For many of them sudden death is the first indication they had a health problem.
  • The overall incidence of strokes has increased 60% in the last 20 years with most of that increase (65%) coming from younger adults (ages 20 to 45)
  • The cost of treatment, rehabilitation, and lost wages from stroke was $891 billion in 2020 and is projected to increase to $2.3 trillion in 2050.

Any way you look at it, the personal and financial costs of strokes are immense.

How Do Omega-3s Affect The Two Types Of Stroke?

There are two major kinds of stroke – ischemic stroke, which is caused by a thrombus (blood clot) in the carotid arteries leading to the brain, and hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding from small blood vessels in the brain. Ischemic stroke accounts for around 85% of all strokes.

Ischemic strokes are caused by atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaques in the walls of the carotid arteries, followed by the formation of a blood clot which lodges in the narrowed arteries. As you might expect, the prevention and treatment of ischemic strokes are similar to the prevention and treatment of heart attacks.

EPA and DHA have been shown to:

  • Reduce inflammation, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Reduce blood pressure. High blood pressure damages the endothelial lining of blood vessels, which can lead to either build up of atherosclerotic plaque or rupturing of the blood vessels.
  • Reduce platelet aggregation and blood viscosity, which reduces the potential for inappropriate blood clots forming in the carotid arteries.

[When you cut yourself, you want a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding. That is an example of appropriate blood clot formation. However, when a blood clot forms within your arteries, it can prevent blood from reaching surrounding tissues. This is an example of inappropriate blood clot formation.]

  • Reduce the risk of atherosclerotic plaques rupturing. Rupturing of atherosclerotic plaques triggers blood clot formation, so this also decreases the risk of inappropriate blood clots forming in the carotid arteries.

Based on the known effects of EPA and DHA, it is not surprising that they would decrease the risk of ischemic strokes. But what about hemorrhagic strokes? Here the answer is not as clear cut.

  • In a previous clinical study 4 gm/day of purified EPA without DHA was associated with a slightly increased risk of bleeding events but did not increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
  • High doses of pharmaceutical grade EPA have also been associated with a slightly increased risk of atrial fibrillation (Afib). In contrast, previous studies have shown that higher dietary intake of EPA + DHA are associated with a lower risk of Afib.

At present, we don’t know whether the increased risk of bleeding events and Afib are only seen at very high doses of omega-3s or are due to the use of pharmaceutical grade EPA without DHA and any of the other naturally occurring omega-3s.

However, this uncertainty has led some experts to warn that omega-3s may be a two-edge sword. They might increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke while decreasing the risk of ischemic stroke. This uncertainty was part of the rationale for the study (JH O’Keefe et al, Stroke, 55: 50-58, 2024) I am describing today.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis study was a meta-analysis of 29 clinical studies looking at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. These studies were performed in 15 countries from around the world and included a total of 183,291 participants.

One major drawback of many meta-analyses is that each study in the meta-analysis is independently designed. Sometimes the studies are so different that it is difficult to fit them together in a coherent pattern.

A major strength of this meta-analysis is that all the studies were conducted within the “Fatty Acid and Outcome Research Consortium” which specifies a general protocol for the design of each study within that consortium.

For example, estimates of dietary omega-3 intake can be inaccurate and the uptake and utilization of both dietary and supplemental omega-3s vary from person to person. Because of that the Fatty Acid and Outcomes Research Consortium guideline specifies that studies rely on biomarkers of omega-3 levels in the body rather than the amount of omega-3s consumed.

The most frequently used biomarker was the percentage of omega-3s incorporated into the fatty portion of red blood cell membranes. Some studies used other biomarkers, such as the percentage of omega-3s incorporated into the fatty portion of plasma phospholipids or cholesterol-containing phospholipid particles (LDL and HDL for example).

In each case, the percentage of omega-3s is used to calculate something called an “Omega-3 Index”. Previous studies have shown that an Omega-3 Index of 4% or less correlates with a high risk of heart disease, and an Omega-3 Index of 8% or more correlates with a low risk of heart disease. In essence, this study correlated Omega-3 Index with the risk of stroke.

The Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium harmonized the studies included in this meta-analysis in several other ways, but the use of Omega-3 Index rather than omega-3 consumption was the most important.

Other key characteristics of the studies included in this meta-anaysis were:

  • The average age of participants was 65 years.
  • 82% of the participants were white and 53% were women.
  • The average length of follow-up was 14 years (range = 5-30 years).
  • 10,561 participants (5.8%) suffered a stroke during follow-up (78% ischemic, 11% hemorrhagic, and 11% unspecified).

The Good News About Omega-3s and Stroke 

good newsThe participants in these studies were divided into quintiles based on their Omega-3 Index. When those in the highest quintile (≥ 8%) were compared with those in the lowest quintile (≤ 4%):

  • Risk was reduced by 17% for total stroke and 18% for ischemic stroke. There was no effect on hemorrhagic stroke.

When the effect of individual components of the Omega-3 Index were analyzed:

  • For EPA + DHA risk was reduced by 17% for total stroke and 18% for ischemic stroke. There was no effect on hemorrhagic stroke.
  • For EPA risk was reduced by 17% for total stroke and 18% for ischemic stroke. There was no effect on hemorrhagic stroke. (You are probably starting to detect a pattern).
  • For DHA the results were only slightly different. Risk reduction was 12% for total stroke and 16% for ischemic stroke. There was no effect on hemorrhagic stroke.
  • For DPA, a minor component of the Omega-3 Index, there was no significant effect on total, ischemic, or hemorrhagic stroke.
  • There was a linear dose-response for the effect of EPA, DHA, and the two combined on the reduction in risk for both total and ischemic stroke.

When they looked at subgroups within the analysis, the results were the same for:

  • Age (<65 compared to >65).
  • Gender.
  • Studies that lasted less than 10 years and studies that lasted more than 10 years.
  • The presence of preexisting Afib.
  • The presence of preexisting cardiovascular disease.

The authors concluded, “In summary, this harmonized and pooled analysis of prospective studies showed that long-chain omega-3 levels were inversely associated with risk of total and ischemic stroke but were unrelated to risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Thus, higher dietary intake of DHA and EPA would be expected to lower risk of stroke.”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Key Takeaways From This Study: The most important takeaway from this study is that reasonable amounts of EPA and DHA from either diet or supplementation are unlikely to increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke (I will define reasonable below).

That is important to know because this and several other studies show that EPA and DHA decrease the risk of ischemic stroke, which accounts for around 85% of total strokes. This study shows you can reduce your risk of ischemic stroke without fearing that you will increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

This study also reaffirms the importance of relying on Omega-3 Index rather than the dosage of omega-3s in a supplementation. Previous studies have shown there is significant individual variability in the uptake and utilization of dietary omega-3s.

Finally, this study shows you don’t need huge amounts of EPA and DHA to significantly decrease your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease in general. An Omega-3 Index of ≥ 8% is sufficient to accomplish both.

How Much Omega-3s Do You Need? The authors of this manuscript are experts on the Omega-3 Index, and they estimated that:

  • To raise your Omega-3 Index from 5.4% (the median Omega-3 Index in these studies) to 8% would require about 1,000 mg/d of EPA + DHA.
  • To raise your Omega-3 Index from 3.5% (the lowest Omega-3 Index quintile in these studies) to 8% would require about 1,600 mg/d of EPA + DHA.

These intakes are well within the American Heart Association recommendations for reducing the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease and are easily achievable from diet and supplementation.

But these estimates are based on averages, and, as I noted above, none of us are average. We differ in our ability to absorb and utilize omega-3s. So, I recommend relying on your Omega-3 Index rather than a dose of omega-3s that’s right for the average person but may not be right for you.

My recommendation would be to start with an Omega-3 test. If you are below 8%, start with the dosage of EPA + DHA the authors of today’s study recommended. Then retest in 6 months and adjust your dose based on the results of that test.

Question MarkHow Much Is Too Much? As I mentioned above, the dose response was linear for Omega-3 Index versus reduction in risk of total and ischemic strokes. So, the question becomes whether you might wish to increase your Omega-3 Index above 8% to achieve an even better reduction in stroke risk.

That is a very personal decision that only you can make but let me share some facts to help you make that decision.

  • As I mentioned above, a previous clinical trial showed an increased risk of bleeding events and Afib at a dosage of 4 gm/day of pure EPA. We don’t know whether that was because of the dose or the use of a formulation that contained only EPA without DHA and other naturally occurring long-chain omega-3s.
  • In that study the increase in bleeding events and Afib was observed in <5% of participants, which suggests that those side effects may be limited to certain high-risk individuals.
    • In this context, high risk might include individuals with preexisting Afib, individuals with a tendency towards excess bleeding, and patients on blood thinning medications.
    • However, only your physician knows all your risk factors. If you have health issues or are on medications, it is always a good idea to check with your physician before changing your omega-3 intake. And if you are considering high-dose omega-3 supplementation or exceeding an 8% Omega-3 Index, I strongly recommend that you consult with your physician first.

The Bottom Line

A recent study looked at the effect of omega-3 levels in red blood cells and other tissues (something called Omega-3 Index) on the risk of various types of stroke.

When individuals with an Omega-3 Index ≥ 8% were compared with those with an Omega-3 Index of ≤ 4%:

  • Risk was reduced by 17% for total stroke and 18% for ischemic stroke (stroke caused by blood clots in the carotid arteries). There was no effect on hemorrhagic stroke (stroke caused by bleeding from small blood vessels in the brain).

The authors concluded, “In summary, this harmonized and pooled analysis of prospective studies showed that long-chain omega-3 levels were inversely associated with risk of total and ischemic stroke but were unrelated to risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Thus, higher dietary intake of DHA and EPA would be expected to lower risk of stroke.”

This study represents an important breakthrough. There is good evidence that increased EPA + DHA from food and/or supplements reduces the risk of ischemic stroke. But some experts have cautioned it might also increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. This study puts that fear to rest.

For more details about the study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

_______________________________________________________________________________

My posts and “Health Tips From the Professor” articles carefully avoid claims about any brand of supplement or manufacturer of supplements. However, I am often asked by representatives of supplement companies if they can share them with their customers.

My answer is, “Yes, as long as you share only the article without any additions or alterations. In particular, you should avoid adding any mention of your company or your company’s products. If you were to do that, you could be making what the FTC and FDA consider a “misleading health claim” that could result in legal action against you and the company you represent.

For more detail about FTC regulations for health claims, see this link.

https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/health-products-compliance-guidance 

About The Author 

Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He is Professor Emeritus from the University of North Carolina where he taught biochemistry and nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years.  Dr. Chaney won numerous teaching awards at UNC, including the Academy of Educators “Excellence in Teaching Lifetime Achievement Award”. Dr Chaney also ran an active cancer research program at UNC and published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In addition, he authored two chapters on nutrition in one of the leading biochemistry text books for medical students.

Since retiring from the University of North Carolina, he has been writing a weekly health blog called “Health Tips From the Professor”. He has also written two best-selling books, “Slaying the Food Myths” and “Slaying the Supplement Myths”. And most recently he has created an online lifestyle change course, “Create Your Personal Health Zone”. For more information visit https://chaneyhealth.com.

For the past 45 years Dr. Chaney and his wife Suzanne have been helping people improve their health holistically through a combination of good diet, exercise, weight control and appropriate supplementation.

 

Health Tips From The Professor