HEALTH

Study: Vitamin D supplementation ‘may contribute to better outcomes for many MS patients’

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — For patients in the early stages of multiple sclerosis, low levels of vitamin D were found to strongly predict disease severity and hasten its progression, according to a new study led by the Harvard School of Public Health investigators in collaboration with Bayer HealthCare. The findings suggest that patients in the early stages of MS could stave off disease symptoms by increasing their vitamin D intake.

"Because low vitamin D levels are common and can be easily and safely increased by oral supplementation, these findings may contribute to better outcomes for many MS patients," said lead author Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH.

The study appeared online January 20, 2014 in JAMA Neurology.

Previous research indicated a connection between low levels of vitamin D and risk of developing MS or having MS symptoms worsen, but those studies included patients with longstanding MS whose vitamin D levels could partly be a consequence, not a predictor, of disease severity. The new study looked at vitamin D levels among patients at the time of their first symptoms of the disease.

Researchers found that early-stage MS patients who had adequate levels of vitamin D had a 57% lower rate of new brain lesions, a 57% lower relapse rate and a 25% lower yearly increase in lesion volume than those with lower levels of vitamin D. Loss in brain volume, which is an important predictor of disability, also was lower among patients with adequate vitamin D levels. The results suggest that vitamin D has a strong protective effect on the disease process underlying MS, and underscore the importance of correcting vitamin D insufficiency, which is widespread in Europe and the United States, the researchers said.

"The benefits of vitamin D appeared to be additive to those of interferon beta-1b, a drug that is very effective in reducing MS activity. The findings of our study indicate that identifying and correcting vitamin D insufficiency should become part of the standard of care for newly diagnosed MS patients," Ascherio said.

 

 

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Study: Pharmavite’s CholestOff found to lower LDL

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. —  A research study published this month in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics demonstrated the effectiveness of a sterol/stanol ester softgel capsule for lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in individuals with high cholesterol levels. 

"This is a significant contribution to our understanding of an esterified plant sterol and stanol based dietary supplements’ role in the reduction of cholesterol levels," stated Kevin Maki of Biofortis, the clinical research arm of Merieux NutriSciences in Chicago.  "Our results show that a softgel capsule can be an effective and convenient way to provide plant sterol/stanol esters in a non-food matrix."

Throughout this study, all subjects followed a heart healthy (National Cholesterol Education Program) diet. In a crossover fashion, all subjects received a sterol/stanol softgel for six weeks and a placebo for six weeks, with the order of treatments randomly assigned. After taking the sterol/stanol softgels for six weeks, reductions were significant versus the placebo period for LDL cholesterol (down 4.3%), non-HDL cholesterol (down 4.1%) and total cholesterol (down 3.5%).

Pharmavite, makers of Nature Made brand dietary supplements, provided the sterol/stanol esters used in this study in the form of its CholestOff softgel dietary supplement. These study results reinforce the findings of earlier similar research and provide reproducible clinical data that healthcare professionals may find useful in making lifestyle recommendations for their patients, the company stated. 

The softgel supplement in this study provided 1.8 g of esterified plant sterols and stanols in two softgels taken twice daily with meals. This dosage is within the range for which positive changes in cholesterol levels in individuals with high cholesterol have been observed in previous studies. Many individuals consuming a typical Western Diet consume as little as 200 mg of plant sterols and stanols each day, a level unlikely to change blood cholesterol levels.

"When Nature Made developed the CholestOff dietary supplement we worked to ensure that the dose provided was consistent with the scientific literature that showed a reducing effect on cholesterol levels," said James Brooks, VP science and technology, Pharmavite. "Previously, a study was published showing that the tablet form of CholestOff lowered cholesterol levels significantly. This new study of our softgels adds to the assurance consumers can have using this product."

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Medline launches Curad Antiviral Face Mask

BY Michael Johnsen

MUNDELEIN, Ill. — Medline on Tuesday introduced the Curad Antiviral Face Mask, a face mask that inactivates flu viruses within five minutes of contact, according to the company.

The Curad Antiviral Face Mask was found to inactivate 99.99% of laboratory-tested flu viruses, including imminent pandemic and seasonal strains of influenza viruses, such as H1N1, this year’s dominant flu strain in the United States. Traditional face masks act only as a simple barrier or filter and do nothing to neutralize the harmful germs that remain active on the mask itself.

"Now, more than ever, people need to break their cold and flu routine and be even more vigilant against flu viruses," stated Martie Moore, Medline chief nursing officer. "The Curad Antiviral Face Mask is an easy, accessible and direct way to break the cycle and help stop the spread of germs." 

One of the main benefits of the Curad Antiviral Face Mask is that it can provide protection from cross-contamination. With conventional masks, the outer facing of the mask is frequently touched by the user, who then touches other things or people passing on the flu germs. Since the CURAD Antiviral Face Mask inactivates 99.99% of the tested flu viruses on five minutes’ contact, the risk of spreading the flu virus is greatly reduced.

The Curad Antiviral Face Mask works by incorporating proprietary technology that uses a combination of three natural and safe ingredients — citric acid, zinc and copper. The outer white active layer absorbs infectious droplets and locks them inside, where they are inactivated by exposure to citric acid. The inner blue active layer contains copper and zinc ions that are toxic to pathogens. The face mask can help protect against flu viruses and has been recognized as a major breakthrough in flu protection, winning the 2012 Chicago Innovation Awards.

"The Curad Antiviral Face Mask should be one of the most important items in any home’s medicine cabinet or traveling first aid kit right alongside hand antiseptics, adhesive bandages, alcohol pads, tape and exam gloves," Moore suggested.

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