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Ronald Rothenberg, MD

Vitamin D & Melatonin

2009 A4M Conference.

vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids, enzymes & hormones

Algae Boosts Immune Markers

Chlorella is a single-cell green algae that has been cultivated since the 1940s for its bioactive substances, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, amino acids, and more. Korean researchers enrolled 51 adults, who were randomly assigned to receive either tablets containing 5 g per day of chlorella, or placebo, for eight weeks. Results showed that the activity of Natural Killer (NK) cells increased by about 10% in the chlorella group, with a slight decrease in the placebo group. In addition, levels of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), necessary for innate and adaptive immunity against rival and bacterial infections, and interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta), key to the inflammatory response, were significantly increased in the chlorella group. The study authors conclude that: "These results may suggest a beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation which enhances the [Natural Killer] cell activity and produces interferon-gamma and interleukin-12 as well as interleukin-1beta, the Th-1 cell-induced cytokines in healthy people.”


Jung Hyun Kwak, Seung Han Baek, Yongje Woo, Jae Kab Han, Byung Gon Kim, Oh Yoen Kim, Jong Ho Lee.  “Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of Natural Killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial).”  Nutrition Journal, 11:53, 31 July 2012.

Omega-3s Help to Lower Heart Failure Risk

Previously, a number of studies suggested a broad range of health effects for omega-3 fatty acids. A large-scale meta-analysis, involving seven prospective studies which provided data on 176,441 participants and 5480 incident cases of heart failure, reports that for every 15 g per day increase in fish consumption, the risk of heart failure reduced by 5%. Further, study participants with the highest intakes of fish were at a 15% reduction in heart failure risk.  In addition, for every 125 mg per day increase in EPA and DHA, the associated risk of heart failure was decreased by 3%.  Subjects with the highest circulating levels of EPA and DHA were at a 14% lower risk of heart failure, as compared to those with the lowest levels.


Luc Djousse, Akintunde O. Akinkuolie, Jason H.Y. Wu, Eric L. Ding, J. Michael Gaziano. “Fish consumption, omega-3 fatty acids and risk of heart failure: A meta-analysis.”  Clinical Nutrition, 6 June 2012.

Vitamin E Protects Against Many Cancers

While a number of studies have suggested a cancer preventative activity of Vitamin E, several recent large-scale human trials with alpha-tocopherol, the most commonly recognized and used form of vitamin E, have failed to show such an effect. Chung S. Yang, from, Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA), and colleagues completed animal studies for colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer, finding gamma and delta-tocopherols – the forms of Vitamin E found in soybean, canola and corn oils as well as nuts, prevented cancer formation and growth.  Reporting that: “When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these tocopherols in their diet had fewer and smaller tumors,” the study authors observed that:  “When cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors,” lending them to conclude that: “we suggest that vitamin E, as ingested in the diet or in supplements that are rich in [gamma and delta-tocopherols], is cancer preventive.”


Chung S. Yang, Nanjoo Suh, Ah-Ng Tony Kong.  “Does Vitamin E Prevent or Promote Cancer?,” Cancer Prev Res., April 3, 2012.

John Grasella, RPh, owner of University Compounding, talks about Phytoestrogens as a weak substitute to bioidentical hormone replacement.

Cardiovascular Benefits of Taurine Explored

A naturally-occurring nutrient found in the dark meat of turkey and chicken, as well as in some fish and shellfish, taurine is the most prevalent of all the amino acids in the tissues comprising the skeletal and cardiac muscles and the brain.   Yu Chen, from New York University Langone Medical Center (New York, USA), and colleagues conducted analyzed data collected from participants enrolled in the NYU Women's Health Study, originally involving 14,000 women, ages 34 to 65 years, between 1985 and 1991.  From these subjects, the researchers measured taurine levels in serum samples collected in 1985 – before disease occurrence – for those subjects who developed or died from coronary heart disease during the study follow up period between 1986 and 2006. The researchers then compared those samples to the taurine levels in serum samples collected at the same time for 223 participants who had no history of cardiovascular disease.  While the comparison revealed serum taurine was not protective of coronary heart disease overall. among women with high cholesterol, those with high levels of serum taurine were 60% less likely to develop or die from coronary heart disease, as compared to women with lower serum taurine levels.  The study authors conclude that: “The findings suggest that high levels of taurine may be protective against [coronary heart disease] among individuals with high serum cholesterol levels.”


Wojcik OP, Koenig KL, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Pearte C, Costa M, Chen Y. “Serum taurine and risk of coronary heart disease: a prospective, nested case-control study.”  Eur J Nutr., Feb 10, 2012.

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Raising Vitamin C RDA May Reduce Aging-Related Diseases

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C has traditionally been based on the prevention of the vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy. A number of previously published studies have suggested that higher intakes of vitamin C may exert additional health benefits. Balz Frei, from Oregon State University (Oregon, USA), and colleagues urge that compelling evidence exists the RDA of vitamin C should be raised to 200 milligrams per day for adults, up from its current levels in the United States of 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men. The researchers submit that it is appropriate to seek optimum levels that will saturate cells and tissues, pose no risk, and may have significant effects on public health at almost no expense – about a penny a day if taken as a dietary supplement.  Writing that: "vitamin C acts as a biological antioxidant that can lower elevated levels of oxidative stress, which also may contribute to chronic disease prevention,” the study authors submit that: "[an] optimum dietary intake of vitamin C [yields]  potential health benefits with the least risk of inadequacy or adverse health effects.”


Balz Frei, Ines Birlouez-Aragon, Jens Lykkesfeldt.  “Authors' Perspective: What is the Optimum Intake of Vitamin C in Humans?”  Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Volume 52, Issue 9, September 2012, pages 815-829.

DHEA Helps to Improve Symptoms of Menopause

Dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is the most abundant steroid in the human body involved and is involved in the manufacture of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone.  DHEA levels continue to rise up to about age twenty-five, when production drops off sharply: by age 65, the human body makes only 10 to 20% of what it did at age 20. Andrea Genazzani, from the University of Pisa (Italy), and colleagues followed a group of 48 post-menopausal women troubled by symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of sex drive and mood swings.  Over a one-year period, 12 women took vitamin D and calcium, 12 took DHEA, 12 took standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and 12 took a synthetic steroid called tibolone (used to alleviate menopausal symptoms).   The women's menopausal symptoms, sexual interest and activity were measured using a standard questionnaire. After 12 months, all the women on both DHEA and HRT had improvements in menopausal symptoms, but those taking vitamin D and calcium did not show any significant improvement. At the start of the trial, all groups had similar sexual activity, but after the year, those taking calcium and vitamin D scored an average of 34.9 on the questionnaire scale, while those taking DHEA had a score of 48.6, showing that those on DHEA had more sexual interest and activity. The study authors report that: “Daily oral DHEA therapy … provided a significant improvement in comparison with vitamin D in sexual function and in frequency of sexual intercourse in early postmenopausal women.”

Dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is the most abundant steroid in the human body involved and is involved in the manufacture of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone.  DHEA levels continue to rise up to about age twenty-five, when production drops off sharply: by age 65, the human body makes only 10 to 20% of what it did at age 20. Andrea Genazzani, from the University of Pisa (Italy), and colleagues followed a group of 48 post-menopausal women troubled by symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of sex drive and mood swings.  Over a one-year period, 12 women took vitamin D and calcium, 12 took DHEA, 12 took standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and 12 took a synthetic steroid called tibolone (used to alleviate menopausal symptoms).   The women's menopausal symptoms, sexual interest and activity were measured using a standard questionnaire. After 12 months, all the women on both DHEA and HRT had improvements in menopausal symptoms, but those taking vitamin D and calcium did not show any significant improvement. At the start of the trial, all groups had similar sexual activity, but after the year, those taking calcium and vitamin D scored an average of 34.9 on the questionnaire scale, while those taking DHEA had a score of 48.6, showing that those on DHEA had more sexual interest and activity. The study authors report that: “Daily oral DHEA therapy … provided a significant improvement in comparison with vitamin D in sexual function and in frequency of sexual intercourse in early postmenopausal women.”


A. R. Genazzani, M. Stomati, V. Valentino, N. Pluchino, E. Potì, E. Casarosa, S. Merlini, A. Giannini, M. Luisi.  “Effect of 1-year, low-dose DHEA therapy on climacteric symptoms and female sexuality.”  Climacteric, Dec 2011, Vol. 14, No. 6, Pages 661-668.

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Vitamins & Minerals May Prevent Age-Related Diseases

modest deficiency is very common among residents of the United States and Europe. Joyce C. McCann and Bruce N. Ames, from the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (California, USA), examined moderate selenium and vitamin K deficiency to show how damage accumulates over time as a result of vitamin and mineral loss, leading to age-related diseases.  Compiling and assessing several general types of scientific evidence, the team tested whether selenium-dependent proteins that are essential from an evolutionary perspective are more resistant to selenium deficiency than those that are less essential. They discovered a highly sophisticated array of mechanisms at cellular and tissue levels that, when selenium is limited, protect essential selenium-dependent proteins at the expense of those that are nonessential. They also found that mutations in selenium-dependent proteins that are lost on modest selenium deficiency result in characteristics shared by age-related diseases including cancer, heart disease, and loss of immune or brain function. Explaining that their results should inform attempts to locate mechanistic linkages between vitamin or mineral deficiencies and age-related diseases by focusing attention on the vitamin and mineral-dependent proteins that are nonessential from an evolutionary perspective, the researchers conclude that: “Modest [selenium] deficiency is common in many parts of the world; optimal intake could prevent future disease.”


Joyce C. McCann and Bruce N. Ames.  “Adaptive dysfunction of selenoproteins from the perspective of the triage theory: why modest selenium deficiency may increase risk of diseases of aging.” FASEB J. 2011 25:1793-1814

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