Natural Foods Merchandiser

Science Beat

Magnesium Improves Well-Being in Heart Patients
Magnesium supplements improve the quality of life and exercise tolerance in people with heart disease, according to results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted by Michael Shechter, M.D., of Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Shechter recruited 157 men and women, whose average age was 63. All patients received optimal medication for their condition before and during the study. Seventy-three were given 365 mg of magnesium daily as magnesium citrate; the others received placebo.

Sixty-six percent of those taking magnesium said the medication improved their condition compared with 47 percent taking placebo. Patients receiving the magnesium supplements could exercise 14 percent longer (from 7.8 to 8.7 minutes total), while the control group showed no improvement. Only 8 percent of those taking magnesium complained of exercise-related chest pain compared with 21 percent of those taking placebo. Quality of life also improved for the magnesium group, but not the placebo group. The supplemented group also had fewer adverse events such as heart attacks. All the improvements were statistically significant. Shechter suggests magnesium supplementation be considered a routine part of treatment for people with coronary artery disease.

Soy Benefits Women Not on HRT
Soy protein may strengthen the bones of postmenopausal women who are not taking hormone replacement therapy, according to a study conducted by Bahram H. Argmandi, M.D., of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 42 women, whose average age was 62, were given 40 g of either milk or soy protein beverage to drink daily for three months in addition to their normal diet.

Argmandi found soy protein benefited bone density biomarkers more than milk protein. When HRT was factored into the equation, soy's benefits were even more pronounced. Those consuming soy who were not taking HRT showed the greatest increase in growth factors, with levels almost doubling. Argmandi concludes, "soy protein exerts its bone-protective effects mainly by suppressing the rate of bone resorption, while ... maintaining or enhancing the rate of bone formation."

Fatty Acids in Infancy Reduce Blood Pressure
Formula-fed infants given supplemental egg yolk have lower blood pressure at age 6, according to results of a new European study.

Breast-fed babies have lower blood pressure later in life than those fed formula, so J.S. Forsyth, M.D., of the University of Dundee in Scotland surmised this might be because of beneficial long-chain fatty acids present in breast milk but deficient in regular infant formula. To test his hypothesis, he measured the blood pressure of 219 children who had participated in an infant feeding study six years earlier. Eighty-three of the children had been breastfed, 71 had been randomly assigned to drink regular formula and 65 had been given formula supplemented with long-chain fatty acids, such as choline and phosphotidylserine, derived from egg yolk. Children given formula supplemented with egg yolk had the same low blood pressure as those who had been breastfed, but those who drank regular formula had significantly higher blood pressure.

"Blood pressure is known to track from childhood into adult life, and deviations from normal blood pressure during childhood are amplified in later life ... Lowering a population's diastolic blood pressure by even a few millimeters can significantly reduce hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke. These benefits can be achieved by simple dietary measures early in life," according to the study.

Marilyn Sterling, R.D., is an industry consultant and a freelance health writer in Trinidad, Calif.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 7/p. 40

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