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Studies Examine Effects of Vitamin D on Maternal Health, Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl on Athletic Performance

In recent studies, a unique seaweed extract showed promise for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)-related diseases and gastric cancer, while palm tocotrienol complex demonstrated gastroprotective effects.

December 8, 2015

8 Min Read
Studies Examine Effects of Vitamin D on Maternal Health, Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl on Athletic Performance

In recent studies, a unique seaweed extract showed promise for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)-related diseases and gastric cancer, while palm tocotrienol complex demonstrated gastroprotective effects. Read on for more from the world of research and data compilation.

Vitamin D and Maternal Well-Being

GrassrootsHealth announced a study published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology showed a 59-percent lower risk for premature birth by pregnant women who had blood levels of vitamin D (25(OH)D) at or over 40 ng/ml by their third trimester than women who had levels below 20 ng/ml. The study combined data from two recent vitamin D supplementation trials for pregnant women in South Carolina.

Lead author Dr. Carol Wagner and her colleague Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have been studying the relationship of vitamin D and pregnancy for nearly a decade. They previously authored papers from two randomized control trials that had women taking what were considered at the time to be high doses of vitamin D (the trials called for 400 IU/day as the control group, 2,000 IU/day and 4,000 IU/day). The trials focused on supplement amounts, but vitamin D blood levels were also recorded.

For this analysis, the authors shifted from a focus on which supplementation group the study participants were in to what blood level of 25(OH)D they reached, regardless of supplementation dose. They also compared the data on preterm birth rates in the study group to general population rates in the same area, represented by published data from the March of Dimes for Charleston County, South Carolina (CC-MOD).

Compared to CC-MOD, the researchers observed an overall 46-percent lower risk of preterm birth from study participants who had 25(OH)D concentrations of at least 40 ng/ml. The findings were more robust in Hispanic and black women.

Another key finding was a steady increase of gestation time (how long the baby stayed in the womb) correlating to the rise of vitamin D up to around 40 ng/ml where it reached a plateau.

Seaweed Extract and H. pylori Treatment

A unique seaweed extract showed promise for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)-related diseases and gastric cancer, according to new research undertaken at the University of Western Australia. Published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the research involved testing fucoidan extracts derived from the Fucus vesiculosus and Undaria pinnatifida species of brown seaweed. The certified organic, high-purity extracts were developed and produced by Australian biotechnology company, Marinova Pty Ltd.

The in vitro studies showed fucoidan extracts are extremely effective at dislodging H. pylori from infected human stomach cancer cells. This significant result positions fucoidan as a potential alternative to antibiotic treatments.

The study also showed fucoidan exhibited significant anti-cancer activity. Researchers found the fucoidan extracts were profoundly toxic to human gastric cancer cells in vitro.

Future human clinical trials will further investigate the potential for these seaweed extracts to treat gastric cancer and other H. pylori-related diseases.

Alpha-GPC and Athletic Performance

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) supported the oral consumption of AlphaSize® Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl (A-GPC), a patented, full GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient compound, is effective in increasing lower body force production after only six days of supplementation.

The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study led by David Bellar, Ph.D., University of Louisiana-Lafayette, along with co-workers, involved 13 college-aged males who were engaged in resistance exercise bouts consisting of isometric mid-thigh pulls in a squat cage on a force platform, as well as upper body isometric tests against a high frequency load cell. The goal of the study was to determine whether six days supplementation with 600 mg Alpha-GPC would provide greater change in lower and upper body baseline force production.

For the lower body test, Alpha-GPC treatment resulted in significantly greater isometric mid-thigh pull peak force change from baseline (p=0.044) compared to placebo. For the upper body test, Alpha-GPC treatment trended toward greater change from baseline force production, but failed to obtain statistical significance (p=0.127). The data demonstrated a large effect size, suggesting the variability of a subject’s upper body strength limited statistical power.

Applying magnitude-based inference suggested Alpha-GPC was 68.3 percent likely beneficial for increasing upper body isometric force, and 86.5 percent likely beneficial for increasing lower body isometric force production.

Scott Hagerman, president of Chemi Nutra, sponsor of the study, noted, “Now we have a number of university studies that demonstrate just how powerful Alpha-GPC can be for individuals engaged in various exercise regimens."

Tocotrienol and Gastroprotective Effects


A study published in PLoS One and conducted at National University of Malaysia suggested palm tocotrienol complex was more potent than omeprazole (a medication for peptic ulcer disorders) in ameliorating oxidative stress and inflammation-associated gastric damage.

In the study, 28 rats were randomly assigned to four treatment groups of seven rats each: two control groups pre-treated with vitamin-free palm oil, and another two groups pre-administered with omeprazole and tocotrienols (EVNol™, supplied by ExcelVite Sdn. Bhd.), respectively, for 28 days. After the treatment period, rats from one control group and two treated groups were subjected to WIRS (Water-Immersion Restraint Stress), an experimental model that mimics clinical acute gastric lesion formation prior to sacrificing for analysis.

Overexpression of iNOS (inducible-NOS) in gastric mucosa has been documented to deteriorate gastro health due to increased production of Interleukin (IL)-1β and Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α; and decreased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. This study showed EVNol palm tocotrienol complex demonstrated similar efficacies to omeprazole in mitigating gastric injuries by reducing iNOS gene expression, regulating pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1β and TNF -α, increasing SOD activity and decreasing incidences of lipid peroxidation.

EVNol demonstrated additional protective mechanisms which are not exhibited by omeprazole. When comparing to stressed control (control group that underwent WIRS), the EVNol supplemented group showed significant increased SOD activity, significant decreased iNOS expression and TNF-α compared to omeprazole. Based on this collective findings, the researchers suggested EVNol palm tocotrienol complex exhibited significantly more antioxidative capability and ability to manage inflammatory processes more effectively in preserving the integrity of gastro health.

Consumers and Probiotic Education

According to recently released results of an online survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of VSL#3, among 607 U.S. adults ages 18 and older diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC) or ileal pouch, virtually all (98 percent) had attempted to manage their symptoms by:

• making changes to their diet on their own (61 percent)

• speaking with their healthcare practitioner (HCP) about the best methods to ease their symptoms (58 percent) and/or

• taking a probiotic (49 percent).

The survey showed more than half of adults (55 percent) did not know what to look for when choosing a probiotic, and a similar proportion, 54 percent, said they were confused by the array of probiotics available on store shelves.

While 71 percent of IBS, UC and ileal sufferers had spoken to their HCPs about probiotics, only about one in 10 indicated their HCP educated them about which probiotic would be best for their condition, and only a reported 13 percent of HCPs told the patients some probiotics on the store shelf may not help with their specific gastro condition.

Only 10 percent reported their HCP recommended a specific brand or strain of over-the-counter probiotics for their condition, and more commonly, about one in four recommended lifestyle or diet changes (24 percent), or yogurt with live bacteria (22 percent) to help manage their symptoms. Seven out of 10 IBS, UC and ileal pouch sufferers had not spoken with a pharmacist about probiotics, and only 13 percent of IBS, UC and ileal pouch sufferers said their pharmacist recommended a specific probiotic.

Additional highlights of the survey included:

• Nearly half of IBS, UC and ileal pouch sufferers believed all probiotics were pretty much the same.

• Only 12 percent of respondents said when choosing a probiotic, they looked for the certain strain that would best help with their condition.

European Perceptions of Sugar

New quantitative consumer research commissioned by BENEO showed consumers perceived sugar as both a friend and foe in their nutrition. The results also underlined sugar and carbohydrates play a key role in consumer behavior when dealing with health concerns.

More than 5,000 consumers across five European countries—the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France and Poland—were surveyed on their perception of sugar, carbohydrates and nutrition, with regard to blood glucose response.

The results showed consumer health concerns in order of importance were weight management (43 percent), fatigue or low energy (36 percent), and stress (35 percent). Consumers were aware that the amount and type of sugars, as well as carbohydrates in general, played a major role in coping with these health issues.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents who wanted to eat less sugar said their major driver was to control their weight. The potential long-term effects of sugar consumption such as diabetes were also a concern, mentioned by nearly one out of three consumers who were trying to cut their sugar intake.

Despite a desire to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, respondents were not prepared to forego the feeling of sugar-like indulgence: 60 percent said they ate sugar because they liked the taste, and one out of three participants responded that sugar improved their overall mood.

The survey also explored consumer knowledge about carbohydrates as an energy source, with 46 percent of respondents stating the main reason they consumed carbohydrates was that they “give energy." More than half the participants made a distinction between “good" and “bad" carbohydrates.

Wholegrain, fiber, complex carbohydrates and slow-release carbohydrates were seen as good, with 51 percent of respondents regarding slow-release carbohydrates as generally better, and 60 percent linking slow-release carbohydrates with sustained energy.

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