VITAMIN D IS VITAL IN PREVENTING INFECTIONS AND IMPROVING HEALTH - The Daily Guardian
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VITAMIN D IS VITAL IN PREVENTING INFECTIONS AND IMPROVING HEALTH

Vitamin D3 has many mechanisms by which it improves bone health, controls neurological problem, reduces risk of microbial infection, increases cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity

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The second wave of the COVID19 pandemic has gripped the country and many states including Maharashtra have imposed strict restrictions to discourage people from venturing out. Therefore, once again people are confined to their homes and will be deprived of the strongest and most effective source of Vitamin D – the Sun!

Now, while battling the pandemic, little is known about the protective factors of the COVID19 infection. Therefore, preventive health measures that can reduce the risk of infection, progression, and severity are needed. Very few people are aware of the benefits of Vitamin D3 in preventing infections and improving the overall health and well-being of humans.

Vitamin D3 has many mechanisms by which it improves bone health, controls neurological problems, reduces risk of microbial infection, increases cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity. Vitamin D3 supplementation has shown favorable effects in viral infections including Influenza and HIV. Moreover, the benefits of Vitamin D3 is not restricted to bone health, immunity, or infection control, it is much beyond that. However, the deficiency of it can severely impact overall health and well-being. Here is what you should know.

WHAT IS VITAMIN D AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? 

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone, activated endogenously with the effect of ultraviolet radiation received from the Sun, or from food sources and dietary supplements.  Our body must have vitamin D to absorb Calcium to be able to promote and maintain bone health. We also need vitamin D for other important body functions.

WHAT DOES VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY MEAN TO US? 

Vitamin D insufficiency is a public health problem affecting over a billion people across India. Too little Vitamin D results in soft bones in children (Rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (Osteomalacia), it can lead to serious medical conditions too. Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Heart Disease, Depression, weight gain, and other maladies. Mainly during this pandemic, lack of sunlight minimized activities and isolation has greatly impacted people. We have come across many patients who developed, bone problems, Depression, and neurological issues during this pandemic – all of these linked to the deficiency of Vitamin D.

THE SYMPTOMS OF A VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY IN ADULTS INCLUDE: 

Tiredness, aches and pains, and a general sense of not feeling well, severe bone or muscle pain, weakness that may cause difficulty climbing stairs or getting up from the floor or a low chair, stress fractures, especially in your legs, pelvis, and hips

EFFECTS OF VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENTS ON MENTAL HEALTH: 

Most people in our country have insufficient levels of Vitamin D – the normal range is above 30. Even before the pandemic, we have seen cases where people’s Vitamin D deficiency ranged between 20-30, but during the pandemic, it has fallen less than 20. This is also true for persons with depression as well as other mental disorders. We have seen acute Vitamin D deficiencies among such patients. Interestingly, research has shown that Vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.

VITAMIN D AND BRAIN HEALTH: 

Vitamin D is also said to activate and deactivate enzymes in the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid that are involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth. Some studies suggest vitamin D protects neurons and reduces inflammation.

VITAMIN D AND BONE HEALTH: 

While this is no secret, Vitamin D is a must to building and maintaining healthy bones. It keeps your bones strong by helping your body absorb Calcium, Phosphorus, and key minerals for bone health. The continuation of Calcium and Vitamin D in a patient with bone loss & Osteoporosis is critical for optimal care. Unfortunately, 90% of women and older people may not be getting enough Calcium and over 50% of women treated for bone loss have inadequate Vitamin D levels!

FOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN D3:

• Fish

• Cord-liver oil

• Egg yolk

• Shrimp

• Milk (fortified)

• Breakfast cereal (fortified)

• Yogurt (fortified)

• Orange juice (fortified)

Apart from appreciating food sources people especially, women and the elderly need to regularly screen for Vitamin D deficiency through a pathological blood test and bone density test. This is significant for overall health and wellbeing.

Dr. Harish Naik is a Consultant – Neurosurgery, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi-A Fortis Network Hospital.

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COMMON ANTIDEPRESSANT SHOULD NO LONGER BE USED TO TREAT DEMENTIA

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A drug used to treat agitation in people with dementia is no more effec-tive than a placebo, and might even increase mortality, according to a new study.

The research, led by the University of Plymouth and published in the journal The Lancet, has shown that antidepressant mirtazapine offered no improvement in agitation for people with dementia – and was possibly more likely to be associated with mortality than no intervention at all. Agi-tation is a common symptom of dementia, characterised by inappropriate verbal, vocal, or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. Non-drug patient-centered care is the first intervention that should be offered but, when this doesn’t work, clinicians may move to a drug-based alternative.

Antipsychotics have proven to increase death rates in those with demen-tia, along with other poor outcomes, and so mirtazapine has been rou-tinely prescribed. This study was designed to add to the evidence base around its effectiveness.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the study recruited 204 people with probable or possible Alzheimer’s disease from 20 sites around the UK, allocating half to mirtazapine and half to placebo. The trial was double-blind; meaning that neither the researcher nor the study participants knew what they were taking.

The results showed that there was no less agitation after 12 weeks in the mirtazapine group than in the control group. There were also more deaths in the mirtazapine group (seven) by week 16 than in the control group (only one), with analysis suggesting this was of marginal statistical significance.

Lead researcher Professor Sube Banerjee, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Professor in Dementia at the University of Plymouth, ex-plained why the results were so surprising but important.

“Dementia affects 46 million people worldwide – a figure set to double over the next 20 years. Poor life quality is driven by problems like agita-tion and we need to find ways to help those affected,” he said.

This study shows that a common way of managing symptoms is not help-ful – and could even be detrimental. It’s really important that these results are taken into account and mirtazapine is no longer used to treat agita-tion in people with dementia.

“This study has added important information to the evidence base, and we look forward to investigating further treatments that may help to im-prove people’s quality of life,” Banerjee added.

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Know these benefits of wine’s red grape pulp

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Better not to keep the mashed, leftover pulp from red grapes in the early process of making wine aside, as according to a new Cornell University-led food science study, viticultural leftovers have numerous nutritional benefits.

The group showed that two stilbenes, beneficial molecular compounds found in plants, can affect the human intestines and the stomach’s microbiome in a healthy way. While this still needs further research, the finding may play a role in reducing the risks from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to their work published in the journal Nutrients. “This byproduct of making wine has important potential. If we can use the pomace to either extract key compounds or use them as a dietary ingredient to fold into food, then grape pomace can be a very sustainable source of nutritional compounds with demonstrated health benefits,” Elad Tako, associate professor of food science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said.

Tako said the research provides an understanding of how stilbenes work at the human gut level. Additionally, in the study, the Tako research group screened red grape varieties typically found in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, where a robust winery economy exists.

The team used Vitis vinifera (wine grapes), Vitis labruscana (Concord grapes) and an interspecific hybrid, to associate the findings with practical dietary health benefits of grape and grape product consumption.

“I’ve been working with polyphenols (plant-based nutritional compounds), and I was intrigued by previous research that suggested that bioactive compounds – such as resveratrol in red wine – has cardiovascular and other health benefits. The mechanism of how these compounds work in the body was not clear, so I used my in vivo model to find the answer,” Tako added.

By using a chicken (Gallus gallus) as in vivo model, the scientists were able to determine the nutritional benefits of the stilbenes, resveratrol and pterostilbene.

The embryonic phase (the fertile egg) of Gallus gallus lasts for 21 days, which is when the embryo is surrounded by amniotic fluid (egg whites), naturally and orally consumed by the embryo prior to hatch on day 21.

In the experiment, the stilbenes extract was injected into the eggs’ amniotic fluid, consisting mostly of water and peptides, on day 17 of embryonic development. The amniotic fluid and the added nutritional solution were then consumed by the embryo by day 19 of incubation – a method developed by Tako called “intra amniotic administration.”

In this way, the group learned how resveratrol and pterostilbene affect the gastrointestinal tract, as well as other physiological systems and tissues, Tako said. The group confirmed positive, nutritional effects on the intestinal microbiome and small intestine.

This research has led to a patent, and the manuscript is part of a Nutrients special issue, “Dietary Polyphenols and Flavonoids, Mineral Bioavailability, Gut Functionality, Morphology and Microbiome.”

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EXTRA BRAIN PROCESSING DURING SLEEP ENHANCES LEARNING OF NEW MOTOR SKILLS

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WASHINGTON : Practice makes perfect, but sleep helps, too. Learning and executing a new motor skill can be enhanced if you can get additional memory pro-cessing during sleep, according to a recent study led by researchers at Northwestern University.

The study was published in the journal JNeurosci. Researchers com-pared how well participants performed a challenging motor task with and without the extra processing during sleep.

The participants played a computer game using a myoelectric computer interface, which enabled them to move a cursor by activating specific arm muscles. Each command to move the cursor in a particular direction was paired with a unique sound; after practicing, the participants played the game blindfolded and moved the cursor based on the sound cue alone.After completing a test round, the participants took a 90-minute nap.

The researchers played half of the sound cues during the nap, reactivat-ing the motor memories associated with each cue. After the nap, the participants performed the motions cued during sleep better than the uncued ones: it took less time to move the cursor, the cursor traveled a more direct route, and fewer superfluous muscles were activated. These results show we can improve the performance of new motor skills by reactivating memories during sleep.

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New depression screeners measure symptoms, track treatment progress: Study

Measurement-based care is important to track a patient’s progress in order to make adjustments to care when needed. This study found that the PROMIS scales are an accurate measure of depression to aid in diagnosis and treatment.

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Research from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine has shown that the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information Systems (PROMIS) scale for depression developed by the National Institutes of Health can accurately measure depression symptoms and its severity.

The findings of the study were published in the ‘Journal of Psychosomatic Research’.

“Depression is treatable, that’s why routine screening is strongly recommended,” said study lead author Dr Kurt Kroenke, M.D., Regenstrief research scientist and IU School of Medicine professor of medicine.

“Measurement-based care is important to track a patient’s progress in order to make adjustments to care when needed. This study found that the PROMIS scales are an accurate measure of depression to aid in diagnosis and treatment,” added Dr Kroenke.

The research team analyzed data from three randomized clinical trials involving about 650 patients. It compared the results of the PROMIS scale, which is a survey where patients report their symptoms, to the results of a structured psychiatric interview.

They also compared the diagnostic performance of the PROMIS scale and Patient Health Questionnaire nine-item depression scale (PHQ-9), which has been validated and widely adopted around the world, to benchmark the PROMIS measures. The PHQ-9 was developed by Dr Kroenke.

Data analysis showed that PROMIS and PHQ-9 depression scales have similar accuracy when diagnosing depression. “PROMIS scales are already commonly in use, and both PROMIS and PHQ scales are accessible and free in the public domain. This research supports both as viable screening options,” said Kroenke.

“The pandemic has taken a substantial toll on mental health, and there will likely be a lingering effect. Screening has become all the more important because we must be able to diagnose and treat patients who are suffering. Monitoring depression is no different than monitoring blood pressure, so these scales are important tools that are proven to work,” he added.

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TRY NATURAL REMEDIES TO TREAT MIGRAINE

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If you have a throbbing headache, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound, then you aren’t going through those regular headaches. These are actually migraines, which not only makes you completely bed-ridden but also hamper your daily activities.

It’s a common condition, with an estimated global prevalence of 14.7% (that is around 1 in 7 people). When the migraine strikes, you will almost do anything to get rid of the excruciating pain. Medication can help manage the pain, and antidepressants and beta blockers might help prevent recurring episodes. However, all these methods have potential side-effects including nausea, insomnia, hypertension, and heart attacks. Clinical studies have shown that home remedies provide more effective pain relief when compared to usual care.

The best way to deal with it is to understand the root cause behind the trigger. Some of the prevalent triggers are related to dehydration, hypertension, stiff muscles in the neck or shoulder, emotional stress, certain medications, additives or reaction to some food items. Helicobacter pylori, commonly known as H-Pylori bacteria, is found to be one of the active reasons of migraine, ulcers and other gastric issues. Therefore, shifting to natural remedies is a drug-free way to evaluate migraine symptoms. These at-home treatments may help prevent migraines, or at least help reduce their severity and duration

HYDRATION IS THE KEY

The best way to treat migraine without medication is to drink loads of water or an electrolyte beverage. It has been seen that dehydration is the leading cause of headache. Ensure that the electrolyte beverage, which you are opting for, doesn’t have added sugar or colour in it as these can aggravate the headache. Taking a vitamin C drink is also a good option. One needs to check the sugar content of the drink if the individual has diabetes.

PERFORM YOGA REGULARLY

Research has shown that yoga can be effective for controlling headaches. Yoga is an ancient discipline that promotes a holistic approach to pain management through a combination of breathing techniques and postures. These asanas and pranayamas don’t have any side-effects. Practicing them twice every day under the guidance of a certified trainer will reduce the intensity of migraine pain and help prepare for future attacks.

TRY ACUPUNCTURE

Through this alternative medicine technique, pressure points are identified on the body to provide relieve from pain and other such symptoms. Studies have also credited acupuncture as one of the trusted alternative therapy for people suffering from chronic headaches. Even patients going through throbbing migraine pain, who have tried out sessions with acupuncturists, will also advocate acupuncture being one of the safest non drug options for pain relief during migraine.

MINDFUL MEDITATION

Mindful meditation involves focusing one’s attention at the current moment with a non-judgmental set of mind. This in a way helps to reduce the stress, which is one of the most common migraine triggers. Mind-body techniques like meditation and resting for sometime may relieve headaches by alleviating underlying stress.

EXERCISE

Regular exercise helps in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraine attack. But, don’t forget the fact that vigorous exercise can be detrimental to migraine. Exercise actually helps to ward off stress, which is a common migraine trigger. When we exercise we release feel good hormones, which are also considered as the body’s natural painkillers and anti-depressants. Don’t exercise if you are in the middle of a migraine pain as it will worsen your condition.

SELF-MASSAGE

Self-massage around the temples, shoulders and back of the head can help tension headaches. Massage, either self-massage or working with a massage therapist, can resolve chronic neck and shoulder tension that can cause headaches. It’s always advisable to put pressure on pressure point LI-4, also called Hegu, which is located between the base of your thumb and index finger. It will help to relieve pain and headache.

MANAGE GUT HEALTH

There is a strong connection between the gut and the brain. It signifies that if our gut is unhappy, its consequences can be experienced in the form of migraine. This is why GI disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and migraine are often experienced together in a person. Unhealthy diet practices and excess consumption of antibiotics has caused a soaring population of H-Pylori bacteria in human body (inside human-gut) suppressing the good and vital bacterial population causing imbalance of intestinal fauna.

NATURAL MIGRAINE RELIEF KIT

After following these steps if still there is no relief, then, try out the Natural migraine relief kits. These kits are available online and provides 100% natural remedy to fight and cure migraines and headaches. These herbal probiotic kits made with indigenous herbs including black cumin, cumin, moon leaf, ginger and peppermint aims to resolve the headaches and pain by allowing intestinal flora to flourish in your gut.

The writer is a Senior Consultant at The Lifekart.in

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FASTING REQUIRED TO SEE FULL BENEFIT OF CALORIE RESTRICTION

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Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered that long-term calorie restriction provides a wealth of benefits in animals: lower weight, better blood sugar control, even longer lifespans.

Researchers have largely assumed that reduced food intake drove these benefits by reprogramming metabolism. But a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers finds that reduced calorie intake alone is not enough; fasting is essential for mice to derive full benefit. The team published their findings in the journal Nature Metabolism.

The new findings lend support to preliminary evidence that fasting can boost health in people, as trends like intermittent fasting continue to hold sway. These human and animal studies have added to the growing picture of how health is controlled by when and what we eat, not just how much.

The research further emphasizes the complexity of nutrition and metabolism and provides guidance to researchers trying to untangle the true causes of diet-induced health benefits in animals and humans.

The researchers discovered that combined with eating less, fasting reduces frailty in old age and extends the lifespan of mice. And fasting alone can improve blood sugar and liver metabolism. Surprisingly, mice that ate fewer calories but never fasted died younger than mice that ate as much as they wanted, suggesting that calorie restriction alone may be harmful.

The research was led by UW School of Medicine and Public Health metabolism researcher Dudley Lamming, his graduate student Heidi Pak and their colleagues at UW-Madison and other institutions.

Pak and Lamming were inspired to conduct the study because researchers began to realize that previous studies had unintentionally combined calorie restrictions with long fasts by providing animals with food just once a day. It was difficult, then, to distinguish the effects of one from the other.

“This overlap of treatment — both reducing calories and imposing a fast — was something that everybody saw, but it wasn’t always obvious that it had biological significance,” said Lamming, who has long studied the effect of restricted diets on metabolism. “It’s only been in the past few years that people started getting interested in this issue.”

To untangle these factors, Lamming’s group designed four different diets for mice to follow. One group ate as much as they wanted whenever they wanted. Another group ate a full amount, but in a short period of time — this gave them a long daily fast without reducing calories.

The other two groups were given about 30 per cent fewer calories either once a day or dispersed over the entire day. That meant that some mice had a long daily fast while others ate the same reduced-calorie diet but never fasted, which differed from most previous studies of calorie restriction. It turned out that many of the benefits originally ascribed to calorie restriction alone — better blood sugar control, healthier use of fat for energy, protection from frailty in old age and longer lifespans — all required fasting as well. Mice who ate fewer calories without fasting didn’t see these positive changes.

Fasting on its own, without reducing the amount of food eaten, was just as powerful as calorie restriction with fasting. Fasting alone was enough to improve insulin sensitivity and to reprogram metabolism to focus more on using fats as a source of energy. The livers of fasting mice also showed the hallmarks of a healthier metabolism. The researchers did not study the effect of fasting alone on lifespan or frailty as mice age, but other studies have suggested that fasting can provide these benefits as well.

While the mice that ate fewer calories without ever fasting did show some improved blood sugar control, they also died younger. Compared with mice who both ate less and fasted, these mice that only ate less died about 8 months earlier on average.

“That was quite surprising,” said Lamming, although other studies have also shown some negative effects from restricting calories. The team also measured frailty through metrics like grip strength and coat condition. “In addition to their shorter lifespans, these mice were worse in certain aspects of frailty, but better in others. So, on balance, their frailty didn’t change much, but they didn’t look as healthy.”

The primary studies were done in male mice, but Lamming’s lab also found similar metabolic effects of fasting in female mice. The research reveals how difficult diet studies are, even in a laboratory environment. That difficulty is magnified for human studies, which simply can’t match the level of control possible in animal models. The new study can provide direction to future work trying to answer whether fasting improves human health.

“We need to know whether this fasting is required for people to see benefits. If fasting is the main driver of health, we should be studying drugs or diet interventions that mimic fasting rather than those that mimic fewer calories.” Lamming said.

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