Fish oil supplements reduce incidence of cognitive decline, may improve memory function, says new research, “Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function,” published online June 20, 2014 ahead of print in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million each year in the US, but Rhode Island Hospital researchers have completed a study that found regular use of fish oil supplements (FOS) was associated with a significant reduction in cognitive decline and brain atrophy in older adults. The study examined the relationship between fish oil supplements (FOS) use during the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and indicators of cognitive decline.
“At least one person is diagnosed every minute with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and despite best efforts, we have not yet found a cure for this pervasive and debilitating disease,” said principal investigator Lori Daiello, PharmD, according to the July 15, 2014 news release, “Fish oil supplements reduce incidence of cognitive decline, may improve memory function.” Daiello is with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital. “The field is currently engaged in numerous studies to find better treatments for people suffering with AD; however, researching ways to prevent AD or slow cognitive decline in normal aging is of utmost importance.”
In this retrospective study, older adults involved in the ADNI study were assessed with neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) every six months
The group included 229 older adults who were cognitively normal; 397 who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment; and 193 with AD. Researchers found that fish oil supplement use during the study was associated with significantly lower rates of cognitive decline as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog), and the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE), but this benefit was observed only for the group of participants without dementia at the time of enrollment.
“Additionally, serial brain imaging conducted during this study showed that the participants with normal cognition who reported taking fish oil supplements demonstrated less brain shrinkage in key neurological areas, compared to those who did not use the supplements,” Daiello said, according to the news release. “Also, the positive findings on cognitive testing and brain MRI were only observed in persons who did not carry the best-studied genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), APOE-4. More research is needed, but these findings are promising and highlight the need for future studies to expand the current knowledge of the effects of FOS use on cognitive aging and AD.”
It is estimated that more than 5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common form of dementia and is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. The question now is for those with the genetic risk factor but no obvious signs yet of dementia should or shouldn’t be taking fish oil supplements, and if so, which supplements are most effective?
This research was funded by from the Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (K08 HS017735); National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (R00AA020235, P01AA019072, and R01NS080655); National Cancer Institute (R03 CA153942, R01 CA155381); National Institute of Nursing Research (R01 NR011295); National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R01HL109116, R01 CA159954, 5T32HL076134, R01 HL064342); National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (R01AT006948); National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA021729, R34 DA031057); National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disorders (R18 DK075371); National Institutes of Health (R01 HL089311, U01 CA1503878; R34 DA031057-02, P01 AA019072, R01 NS036524, R01 HL084178, R01 DA020725, R56 DK075119, and R01 MH074368); and support from Pfizer; Janssen; Baxter, Eli Lilly and Avid pharmaceutical companies.
Daiello’s principal affiliation is Rhode Island Hospital, and she also holds academic appointments in the department of neurology (research) at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Health Services, Policy & Practice in the Brown University School of Public Health. Other current and former Lifespan researchers involved in the study are Brian Ott, M.D (Rhode Island Hospital; Shira Dunsiger, Ph.D, of The Miriam Hospital, Assawin Gongvatana, Ph.D (University of California San Diego), and Ronald A. Cohen, Ph.D., (University of Florida). You also may wish to check out the website of Lifespan.
Labeling, nutrition, and fish oil
Producers have been hesitant to incorporate fish oil into foods because it tends to give off a fishy taste or smell, unless the purified fish oil has a lemon or other flavoring added to it, therefore requiring additional processing steps to eliminate these unwanted qualities. However, some brands of cod liver oil supplements or liquid in a bottle contain lemon flavoring and don’t have a fishy taste, even when a teaspoon is drizzled over a salad. One example of fish oil that doesn’t smell or taste very fishy is Carlson Labs – Cod Liver Oil Lemon Flavor. It has a distinct and pleasant lemon flavor. You also may wish to see the article, “FDA to Change the American Nutrition Labels – Natural Health Articles.”
You can view some of the FDA’s nutrition videos such as The Food Label and You, Eat for a Healthy Heart, or Read the Label. Also there are informative sites from the FDA’s nutrition videos for consumers such as Trans Fat Now Listed With Saturated Fat & Cholesterol.
Many shoppers are not familiar where hidden trans fats could show up in foods they never realized were made using trans fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils put in some ready-to-eat pie no-bake crusts you find on various supermarkets shelves where you put in your own filling and chill instead of baking the crust. Videos about the FDA’s Nutrition Label are online. Check out “Labeling & Nutrition > The Food Label and You — Video” and “FDA to revise food nutrition labels – Video on TODAY.com.”
Fish-oil fortified nutrition in oat or soy-based snack bars: Omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower triglyceride levels and may help with arthritis
In the study, four levels of fish oil were evaluated to determine consumer acceptance of fish-oil fortified nutrition bars. The results showed that oat and soy-based nutrition bars fortified with the lowest replacement level (20 percent) of fish oil did not affect consumer acceptance or purchase intent, according to the September 25, 2012 news release, “Nothing fishy about fish oil fortified nutrition bars.”
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are known to lower triglyceride levels and may help with rheumatoid arthritis. For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. The nonprofit scientific society with more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries, brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit the IFT site.
In today’s fast-paced society, consumers often reach for nutrition bars when looking for a healthy on-the-go snack on the run or at work. A new study in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFT) found that partially replacing canola oil with fish oil in nutrition bars can provide the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without affecting the taste.
Single-larger-portion-size and dual-column nutrition labeling may help consumers make healthful decisions, reports Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
In another study from Philadelphia reported in January 23, 2013, scientists looked at the Nutrition Facts label that was introduced 20 years ago. The Nutrition Facts label is only one tool that can help consumers make informed food choices. Check out the site, How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.
The FDA’s Nutrition Facts Label provides consumers with important information about what’s in the food, including: the serving size, the number of servings in the package, the number of calories per serving, and the amount of nutrients for each serving of a packaged food. However, research has shown that consumers often miscalculate the number of calories and the nutritional content of products that have two or more servings per container but are usually consumed in a single eating occasion.
Two nutrition labeling changes could have the potential to make nutritional content information easier to understand: 1) dual-column information that details single serving and total package nutrition information, and 2) declaring nutritional information for the entire container.
New study looked at consumer’s accuracy using modified versions of the Nutrition Facts label: Is it trustworthy and helpful?
Amy M. Lando, MPP, and Serena C. Lo, PhD, of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, MD, conducted an online study with more than 9,000 participants to measure consumers’ accuracy in using modified versions of the Nutrition Facts Label and to assess their perceptions of how useful, trustworthy, and helpful the label was. Check out the site, Key to Choosing Healthful Foods Using the Nutrition Facts Label.
Says Ms. Lando, according to the January 23, 2013 news release, Can changes in nutrition labeling help consumers make better food choices? “FDA commissioned this experimental study to look at whether different ways of presenting the serving size and nutrition information on the Nutrition Facts label might help consumers. In particular we were interested in studying products that have two servings per container but that are customarily consumed in a single eating occasion.”
Study participants evaluated nine modified Nutrition Facts labels and the current label format for four fictitious products (two frozen meals and two grab-and-go bags of chips). The labels were classified into three groups. The first group of labels used a single-column format to display information for products with two servings per container; the second group used versions of a dual-column format to display information for products with two servings per container; and the third group used single-column formats that listed the contents of the product as a single, large serving.
The study team also tested whether changes in formatting, such as enlarging the font size for the declaration of ‘Calories,’ removing the information on the number of calories from fat, or changing the wording for the serving size declaration, would be helpful to consumers in determining the calories and other nutrient information for a single serving and for the entire package.
More accurate assessment of the number of calories or amount of fat and other nutrients per serving and in the whole package would be great
Study investigators determined that participants could more accurately assess the number of calories or amount of fat or other nutrients per serving and in the entire package when a single, large serving per container format or a dual-column format was used. Check out the site, Nutrition Facts Label Images for Download.
“This research is just one step in understanding how some potential food label modifications might help consumers make better decisions. Ideally, we would like to see how these labels perform in a more realistic setting, such as in a grocery store, with actual packaged foods as opposed to large labels on a computer screen,” concludes Dr. Lo, in the news release.
The Nutrition Facts label is only one tool that can help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy dietary practices, but it is a valuable tool so it’s important to continue exploring ways to support effective use of the label for these purposes.” For example, if you want to know more about trans fats, check out the site, Talking About Trans Fat: What You Need to Know.
Check out the audio podcast on the labeling tested, the results, and implications of the study
In that audio podcast accompanying the study, Ms. Lando and Dr. Lo discuss their study methodology, the labeling they tested, and study results and implications. Also, regarding health and well being based on nutrition choices, you may want to read the article from the FDA at the site, Eating Healthier and Feeling Better Using the Nutrition Facts Label
Examples of some facts from the website of the FDA’s Nutrition Facts Label show that more than 75% of the sodium you eat comes from packaged and restaurant foods, according to the FDA site, Sodium: Look at the Label. The Nutrition Facts Label on food and beverage packages is a useful tool for making healthful dietary choices. FDA offers informative education materials that provide practical tips for using the label to reduce sodium in your diet as well as other nutritional health-related tips.
Check out the sites such as, Nutrition Information for Raw Fruits, Vegetables and Fish, How to Understand & Use the Nutrition Facts Label, and Using the Nutrition Facts Label: A How-To Guide for Older Adults. Older adults may benefit from using nutrition changes to help slow down certain conditions of aging in situations where nutrition can be of help in managing conditions, according to the FDA site, Using the Nutrition Facts Label: A How-To Guide for Older Adults.
For children, teenagers, and families, see the site, Kids ‘n Fiber — Video. Children and teenagers as well as teachers or parents may be interested FDA sites such as, Make Your Calories Count or Questions & Answers on Make Your Calories Count. It may inspire some students, teachers, or parents for developing a science project for school assignments.
For children, there’s the Spot the Block Campaign, an award-winning outreach campaign that challenges tweens (ages 9 to 13) to use the Nutrition Facts Label (the “block”) to make healthy food choices. With engaging content, parent information, and grassroots outreach, kids and families across the United States can Spot the Block.
Inorganic arsenic in rice-based foods poses concerns for children and infants, says a new commentary by experts
Inorganic arsenic in rice and rice-based foods poses health concerns in infants and young children, and steps should be taken to minimize exposure, according to a commentary in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, official journal of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health. Click here to read “Arsenic in Rice – A Cause for Concern. A Comment by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition.” Avoid rice drinks for infants and young children, warns the ESPGHAN – Committee on Nutrition.
Experts are voicing concerns over arsenic in rice, reports the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. A committee recommends avoiding rice drinks for infants and young children. Currently, the arsenic content of foods is not regulated in the European Union or the United States. No “safe” level of arsenic can be identified—any exposure may increase health risks.
The inorganic arsenic levels of dietary products used by children should be regulated, according to the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition. The commentary includes the recommendation that “Rice drinks should not be used in infants and young children.”
Health concerns over arsenic in rice—especially for children
“Inorganic arsenic is considered a first level carcinogen and its long-term exposure has negative effects on human health,” comments Dr Iva Hojsak, according to a July 15, 2014 news release, “Experts voice concerns over arsenic in rice, reports Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.” Hojsak is with the University Children’s Hospital Zagreb, Croatia, lead author of the Committee report.
The level of inorganic arsenic in rice depends on the type of rice and where it was grown. Rice has higher arsenic concentrations than other grains because of the unique physiology of the plant and because of the way it’s grown, in flooded rice paddies.
High inorganic arsenic concentrations have been found in rice and rice-based foods—mainly concentrated in the bran layers.
You also have people buying rice bran for health as it has been touted as a super food in many articles online, for example, and is found packaged in many health food stores. People put rice bran into numerous home-baked products thinking they’re adding healthy nutrition to baked goods such as home-made bran muffins made with rice bran, for example, instead of oat bran.
“Therefore, the risk from consumption of products made from rice bran such as rice drinks is much higher than from raw, but polished (white) rice,” the Committee on Nutrition points out, according to the news release.
There’s special concern about exposure to arsenic in rice in infants and young children. Because of its availability, nutritional, value and relatively low allergenic potential, rice is a widely used carbohydrate source during weaning. In addition, rice and rice products such as starch, flour, and syrup are commonly added to infant foods and drinks.
“That contributes to high exposure of infants and young children to inorganic arsenic which is two to three times higher than in adults,” according to the Committee report. Data are available on arsenic levels in infant foods and rice drinks, but data is limited for rice protein-based infants formulas.
Recommendations to limit exposure to arsenic in rice
Because of these concerns, the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition urges regulation of the inorganic arsenic content of dietary products used by infants and children. Their recommendations state that rice-based formulas “are an option” for infants allergic to cow’s milk, but the arsenic content of these products should be declared and considered by doctors and parents.
Otherwise, the Committee recommends avoiding rice drinks for infants and young children. The authors suggest limiting children’s exposure to arsenic rice by including a variety of grains in their diets, such as oats, barley, wheat, and maize (corn), in addition to rice.
In areas of the world where rice consumption is very high, the rice types (cultivars) with the lowest arsenic content should be identified and used for the preparation of infant foods. The Committee calls for further research on the inorganic arsenic content of rice and other foods, and its lifelong impact on health. They conclude, “These data will allow the development of evidence-based recommendations regarding the acceptable arsenic content in different foods for infants and children.”
The Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition provides a forum for original papers and reviews dealing with pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition, including normal and abnormal functions of the alimentary tract and its associated organs, including the salivary glands, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. Particular emphasis is on development and its relation to infant and childhood nutrition.
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