Natural Foods Merchandiser

EGCG and lutein get a boost from science; folate takes a hit

The cause of science keeps marching on—and that can be good and bad news for the supplements world.

It seems that green tea, and green tea extracts, still can do no wrong. A study conducted by DSM Nutritional Products in Switzerland and published in The Journal of Nutrition in October found that diabetic rats responded positively to supplementation with epigallocatechin gallate, a key green tea component. Specifically, the researchers used DSM's Teavigo EGCG extract.

When food-deprived rats were fed the extract, the researchers found improved oral glucose tolerance and improved blood glucose levels. Also, "Plasma concentrations of triacylglycerol were reduced and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was enhanced," researchers found.

Triacylglycerol is a storage form of fatty acid that is the chief constituent of fats and oils. EGCG's positive effects were dose-dependent, with better results found in larger doses of EGCG.

The researchers wrote, "This study shows that EGCG beneficially modifies glucose and lipid metabolism in [liver] cells and markedly enhances glucose tolerance in diabetic rodents. Dietary supplementation with EGCG could potentially contribute to nutritional strategies for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus."

As the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise in the United States, "effective nutritional and exercise strategies for the prevention of this disease are required. Specific dietary components with antidiabetic efficacy could be one aspect of these strategies," the researchers wrote.

Folate failure?
On a less-than-stellar supplements note, a new Swedish study found that high levels of folate may, in fact, be linked to higher risk for colorectal cancer. Researchers wrote that while dietary folate has been believed to protect against the disease, few studies have looked at blood levels of the nutrient. Information was based upon the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Cohort, and when researchers tracked subjects for more than 4.2 years they found "plasma folate concentrations were strongly positively related to CRC risk."

The researchers wrote, "Our findings suggest a decreased CRC risk in subjects with low-folate status. This possibility of a detrimental component to the role of folate in carcinogenesis could have implications in the ongoing debate in Europe concerning mandatory folate fortification of foods."

Luxurious lutein
Again on the good news front, preliminary results released at the Beyond Beauty Paris conference in September show that lutein and zeaxanthin have benefits for skin. Thus far science has found that lutein and zeaxanthin protect the retina of the human eye from light-induced damage and protect laboratory animals' skin against ultraviolet light-induced damage. The new study, conducted in Italy on female subjects aged 25 to 50 over a 12-week period, "evaluated the effects of oral, topical and combined oral and topical administration of a combination of lutein and zeaxanthin upon four separate parameters associated with the skin."

Subjects were given 10 milligrams of oral lutein and zeaxanthin and/or 50 parts per million for topical formulation. Researchers, led by Pierfrancesco Morganti, Ph.D., professor of applied cosmetic dermatology at the University of Naples, found that oral supplementation alone increased skin hydration by 38 percent, skin elasticity by 8 percent and the level of superficial lipids present in the skin by 33 percent after adjustments for placebo effects. Results also showed that lutein decreased oxidation of those beneficial lipids by 55 percent after adjustment for placebo effects.

The oral and topical combination increased skin hydration by 60 percent, skin elasticity by 20 percent and the amount of superficial lipids present in the skin by 50 percent after adjustment, all while decreasing the oxidation of those beneficial lipids by 64 percent.

The research was conducted using Des Moines, Iowa-based Kemin Health's FloraGLO lutein ingredient, and according to the researchers, the paper has been accepted and will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 11/p. 12

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