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Supplement Science Updates with Connie Packer

17 October 2018
Connie Packer

Supplement Science

Hi. My name is Connie Packer. I'm a registered dietitian.

My view of health started to develop when I was pulled out of my high school chemistry class by my older sister, who informed me that my dad was in heart surgery. My adolescent mind was overwhelmed with new terms like "angina," "stent," and "bypass." There was discussion of garlic and fish oil supplements. My interest in preventing such chronic diseases turned into a masters degree in nutritional science and a career as a registered dietitian.

After working in skilled nursing facilities and private practice for some time, and while raising children, my interest shifted beyond disease prevention and into maximizing health, increasing healthy years of life, and thriving. Working in memory units at long term care facilities increased my interest in maintaining mental capacity. I am particularly interested in nutrigenomics: how what we ingest influences our gene expression, and how our genes influence our body's response to what we ingest. I love that we live at a time when frank nutrient deficiency can be avoided, much is known about infectious disease, great strides have been made in understanding chronic disease, and research is venturing into improving cell function and increasing longevity.

My goal here is to keep you updated, each week, on new research related to supplements and dietary components, emphasizing the nutrients in Thrivous formulas. I'll summarize results from the very latest clinical studies on humans, and explore possibilities for improving cognition, maintaining cell function, and increasing healthy longevity. When the research involves specific gene variations, well, that’s extra intriguing! So let’s start off with a gene-related study.

B Vitamins. MTHFR 677C → T genotype modulates the effect of a 5-year supplementation with B-vitamins on homocysteine concentration: The SU.FOL.OM3 randomized controlled trial. The T variation of the MTHFR gene decreases the ability of the body to convert homocysteine to methionine. As a result, people with this variation have increased homocysteine and decreased folate status. This study analyzed data collected from the 5-year study known as the "SU.FOL.OM3" trial. Either a placebo or a supplement with folate (5-methyl-THF) and vitamins B6 and B12 was given to people with a history of cardiovascular disease. In all groups, as people aged, their homocysteine levels increased. All supplement groups had a drop in homocysteine levels the first year, then a rise each year at a similar rate to the placebo group. The rise was attributed to aging. As time passed, the supplement group with two copies of the T variation had homocysteine levels that were more and more similar to those in persons with two copies of the C variation. And although the benefits were more significant for those with two copies of the T variation, persons with all variations of the gene saw improved homocysteine levels with supplementation.

Garlic. The effect of 12‐week garlic supplementation on symptom relief in overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis. This study used 1000 mg odorless garlic (500 mg tablets twice a day, equivalent to 2500 mg of fresh garlic), containing 2.5 mg allicin (diallyl thiosulfinate). In overweight or obese women with knee osteoarthritis, 12 weeks of garlic supplementation resulted in an improvement in knee stiffness compared to placebo, though significant changes in range of motion, pain, or total score were not seen. The researchers acknowledged that the amount of improvement was “negligible and clinically irrelevant.” It was notable that measures of osteoarthritis severity improved in both groups and were not significantly different.

Zinc and Magnesium. Effects of zinc, magnesium, and chromium supplementation on cardiometabolic risk in adults with metabolic syndrome: A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial. This is a smaller study with 36 participants given a placebo or a supplement of zinc, magnesium, and chromium. After 24 weeks, there was no significant change in serum glucose, triglyceride level, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, blood pressure, and waist circumference. There was, however, a decrease in the inflammation marker c-reactive protein.

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