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VERIS Research: Monthly Research Update On Antioxidants, Botanicals, and Other Nutrients.

This is a monthly update of recent research on antioxidants, botanicals, and other nutrients. For more information, visit

1) Vitamin E Supplements May Reduce the Risk of Colds Among Elderly Nursing Home Residents

BACKGROUND: In the United States, some 43 percent of elderly individuals will be admitted to a nursing home, and 85 percent of them will receive long-term care. Nursing home residents are more likely to contract infections than independent-living elderly, and respiratory tract infections (e.g., the common cold) are a principal cause of illness and death. Nutritional status has a strong influence on immunity, and vitamin E supplementation has previously been found to enhance immune function.

RESEARCH: Researchers gave 451 nursing-home residents 200 IU daily of supplemental vitamin E or placebos for one year. In addition, all of the subjects received a multivitamin/multimineral supplement containing one-half of the recommended daily allowance for essential nutrients.

RESULTS: According to the researchers, “significantly fewer persons in the vitamin E group contracted one or more respiratory tract infections.” Only 65 percent of those taking vitamin E developed respiratory tract infections, compared with 74 percent of those taking placebos. Most of the benefits were related to a reduction in upper respiratory infections, specifically the common cold. A subgroup analysis by the researchers found that people taking vitamin E had a 20 percent lower risk of contracting a cold. However, among people who did contract a cold, vitamin E did not affect the duration or symptoms associated with this illness.

IMPLICATIONS: This study found that vitamin E supplementation reduced the risk of upper respiratory tract infections in elderly residents of nursing homes.

Meydani SN, Leka LS, Fine BC, et al. Vitamin E and respiratory tract infections in elderly nursing home residents. A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 2004;292:828-836.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

2) Statin Drugs Reduce Antioxidant Effect of Vitamin E

BACKGROUND: People with diabetes have a two- to four-fold increased risk of heart disease. Diabetes-related abnormalities in lipid metabolism enhance the risk associated with moderate elevations in LDL cholesterol levels. Statin drugs are a preferred therapy for aggressively lowering cholesterol levels. However, in a previous study of patients with type 1 diabetes, Atorvastin (Lipitor®) decreased vitamin E levels and increased susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidation.

RESEARCH: Researchers gave 20 mg of Atorvastin plus placebo to 11 young-to-middle aged men and women with type 1 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. A second group of 11 diabetic subjects received the same dosage of Atorvastin plus 750 IU of natural vitamin E per day. The subjects took the medication and placebo or vtamin E for six months. Researchers measured the subjects’ blood levels of cholesterol, vitamin E and the rate of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation, an early step in the development of coronary artery disease.

RESULTS: In both groups, blood levels of total- and LDL-cholesterol were significantly reduced by the same amount and HDL-cholesterol was unaffected. After six months, among the subjects taking Atorvastin and placebo (i.e., no supplemental vitamin E), blood levels of vitamin E declined by 18 percent, and the rate of LDL oxidation increased by 18 percent. Subjects taking Atorvastin and vitamin E supplements increased their vitamin E blood levels by 62 percent and LDL oxidation rates did not increase.

IMPLICATIONS: This research demonstrated that statin drugs can interfere with the antioxidant potential of vitamin E, and this can be overcome by vitamin E supplementation. The researchers noted that vitamin E supplements did not affect the cholesterol-lowering effect of statin medications.

Manuel-y-Keenoy B, Vinckx M, Vertommen, et al. Impact of vitamin E supplementation on lipoprotein peroxidation and composition in type 1 diabetic patients treated with Atorvastin. Atherosclerosis, 2004;175:369-376.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

3) Children with Cancer Are more Likely to Experience Chemotherapy Side Effects If They Do Not Consume Enough Antioxidants

BACKGROUND: Researchers and clinicians believe that children diagnosed with cancer “rarely have overt malnutrition.” However, in this study, children undergoing chemotherapy for newly-diagnosed leukemia ate only 66 percent of the dietary recommendations for vitamin E, 30 percent for total carotenoids, 59 percent for beta-carotene, and 29 percent for vitamin A.

RESEARCH: In this six-month study, researchers tracked the health status of 103 children, ranging from one to 18 years of age, who were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. During the course of the study, no more than four children took any type of antioxidant supplement.

RESULTS: The researchers reported that children with the lowest intake of antioxidants were most likely to experience adverse side effects of chemotherapy. Conversely, those with higher antioxidant intake had fewer side effects. For example, higher vitamin E intakes were associated with a lower incidence of infection. Similarly, those with higher intakes of beta-carotene were less likely to experience toxic reactions to chemotherapy. Higher intake of vitamin C was associated with less toxicity, fewer delays in chemotherapy, and fewer days in the hospital

IMPLICATIONS: This study demonstrates that a large percentage of children undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia fail to consume adequate levels of dietary antioxidants. Low intakes of antioxidants among these children are associated with increased adverse effects from chemotherapy.

Kennedy DD, Tucker KL, Ladas ED, et al. Low antioxidant vitamin intakes are associated with increases in adverse effects of chemotherapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004;79:1029-1036.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

4) High Intake of Carotenoid-Rich Vegetables May Reduce the Risk of Bladder Cancer, Especially Among Smokers

BACKGROUND: More than 56,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with bladder cancer, and 12,600 deaths are attributed to the disease annually. The risk of bladder cancer is influenced by tobacco use, consumption of nitrosamine-containing foods, and intake of antioxidant-rich vegetables.

RESEARCH: Researchers assessed dietary habits and blood antioxidant levels of 771 men and women diagnosed with bladder cancer in Los Angeles, California. They obtained similar data from 775 subjects of similar sex, weight, and lifestyle habits, but without bladder cancer. The blood samples were used in part to determine the presence of genetic predispositions to cancer.

RESULTS: The researchers found that people consuming the largest amount of vitamin C and carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits had approximately a 25 percent lower risk of developing bladder cancer. The benefits were more striking among people who smoked or who had previously smoked tobacco products. People who consumed the most vegetables and fruits had approximately one-half the risk of bladder cancer, compared with smokers who ate few of these foods. Furthermore, smokers with a genetic predisposition to cancer benefited even more from diets containing carotenoid-rich foods.

IMPLICATIONS: This study shows that diets containing carotenoid-rich foods may lower the risk of bladder cancer. This benefit also applies to people who smoke, former smokers, and those with a genetic predisposition to cancer.

Castelao JE, Yuan JM, Gago-Dominguez M, et al. Carotenoids/vitamin C and smoking-related bladder cancer. International Journal of Cancer, 2004;110:417-423.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

5) Researchers Review and Describe Mechanisms of Why Conjugated Linoleic Acid May Reduce Body Fat

BACKGROUND: Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fat found in meat and dairy products. More than 600 scientific papers have been published on the biological functions and health effects of CLA, including its role in reducing fat stores and maintaining lean muscle.3

RESEARCH: Researchers reviewed animal and human studies in which diets were supplemented with CLA to reduce fat stores and modify body composition. In compiling their review, the researchers cited 26 scientific papers on CLA.

RESULTS: The researchers discussed several potential mechanisms by which CLA may reduce fat stores, maintain lean muscle, and modify body composition. CLA supplements may decrease appetite, decrease production of fat cells, reduce the size of fat cells and increase the burning of fat. CLA may decrease the production of fat cells by altering the behavior of at least two proteins that directly affect genes responsible for creating fat cells. However, the researchers noted that animal studies on the benefits of CLA are more consistent than human studies.

IMPLICATIONS: This research review provides an excellent overview of the potential mechanisms by which CLA may reduce fat stores and maintain muscle. Since this paper was accepted for publication, it is important to note that the first long term safety and efficacy study on CLA was published demonstrating a 9 percent reduction in body fat mass in subjects taking CLA for one year. (Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoye K, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplementation for one year reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004;79:1118-1125).

Wang YW, Jones PJH. Conjugated linoleic acid and obesity control: efficacy and mechanisms. International Journal of Obesity, 2004;28:941-955.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

6) Siberian Ginseng May Have Beneficial Effects on Quality of Life in Elderly Subjects

BACKGROUND: The herb Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is regarded as an “adaptogen,” that is, a substance that can help people cope with stressful situations.

RESEARCH: Researchers asked 20 elderly patients (age 65 and over) with high blood pressure to take supplements of Siberian ginseng extract (300 mg) or placebos daily for eight weeks. The subjects took a general health status questionnaire at the beginning of the study and again after four and eight weeks.

RESULTS: After four weeks, people taking Siberian ginseng had higher scores in social functioning, mental health and other aspects of mental function. Seventy percent of those taking Siberian ginseng felt they were taking the herb instead of placebo, compared with only 20 percent of those taking placebo. However, the effect of Siberian ginseng was “attenuated” by the end of the study.

IMPLICATIONS: In this study, supplements of Siberian ginseng provided a short-term benefit in some aspects of social functioning and mental health in a group of elderly subjects.

Cicero AFG, Derosa G, Brillante R. Effects of Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) on elderly quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2004;suppl 9:69-73.

For the original scientific abstract, visit:

The worldwide VERIS Research Information Service disseminates nutritional information, emphasizing the potential health-enhancing benefits of antioxidants, botanicals and other nutrients found in nature. Cognis Nutrition and Health, a global leader in the manufacture and innovation of nature-based ingredients and application technology for health and food products, provides a grant to VERIS in support of its mission to communicate scientific news and research findings. VERIS began in 1985 as one of the first science-based resources for information on natural ingredients found in dietary supplements and foods, and continues to serve in this role as a credible communications resource.
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