Daily Multi Vitamins May Improve Brain Function In Older People

A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may reduce cognitive decline in older people, according to a US study that is the first to demonstrate they may benefit ageing brain function.

The trial, involving more than 2,200 over-65s, suggests that daily supplements may slow cognitive decline by about 60%, or nearly two years, with the most substantial effects seen in older people with a history of cardiovascular disease.

But while experts in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are encouraged by the findings, they caution that larger studies are needed to confirm the effect before recommending daily multivitamins to help protect older people from cognitive decline. Previous tests of dietary supplements have had no effect on the disease.

“We provide the first evidence in a long-term, randomised controlled trial of older women and men that daily use of a safe, readily accessible, and low-cost multivitamin-mineral can improve cognition,” the researchers wrote in Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. “This finding could have important public health implications for brain health and resilience against future cognitive decline.”

With populations ageing around the world, dementia has become one of the leading global health challenges, but there are no drugs that can cure any of the common types. In the UK, about 850,000 people live with dementia, most of which is Alzheimer’s disease or “vascular dementia”. People over 65, and those with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression, are most at risk.

Researchers at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston investigated whether a daily cocoa extract or multivitamins with minerals improved memory and other mental tasks in 2,262 people aged 65 and over. The researchers rated the participants’ “global cognition” before and during the three-year trial through tests involving word lists, number problems, verbal fluency and story recall.

Cocoa extract is rich in substances called flavanols and past research has suggested that they may have some benefit for brain function. But the latest trial found daily cocoa supplements made no difference to people’s cognitive performance. Daily multivitamin-mineral supplements, however, appeared to improve cognitive scores, in particular for those with cardiovascular disease, a known risk factor for dementia. The results suggest “either greater relative improvement or more protection from cardiovascular disease-related cognitive decline”, the authors wrote.

Prof Laura Baker, co-principal investigator on the Cosmos study at Wake Forest University, said it was too early to recommend daily multivitamins to prevent cognitive decline. “While these preliminary findings are promising, additional research is needed in a larger and more diverse group of people. Also, we still have work to do to better understand why the multivitamin might benefit cognition in older adults,” she said.

Prof Tara Spires-Jones, group leader at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Edinburgh University, said the study was well conducted, but noted that most people involved were highly educated white people.

“It will be important to confirm that the results hold up in the wider population,” she said. “It is also not clear from this study whether multivitamin use will prevent diseases affecting cognition like Alzheimer’s disease. Several dietary supplements have been tested as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and so far none have been effective.”

Dr Maria Carrillo, chief scientific officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, said: “This is the first positive, large-scale, long-term study to show that multivitamin-mineral supplementation for older adults may slow cognitive ageing. While the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraged by these results, we are not ready to recommend widespread use of a multivitamin supplement to reduce risk of cognitive decline in older adults.

“Independent confirmatory studies are needed in larger, more diverse study populations,” she added. “It is critical that future treatments and preventions are effective in all populations.”

By:  

Source: Daily multi-vitamins may improve brain function in older people – US study | Health | The Guardian

Critics by Johns Hopkins Medicine

Half of all American adults—including 70 percent of those age 65 and older—take a multivitamin or another vitamin or mineral supplement regularly. The total price tag exceeds $12 billion per year—money that Johns Hopkins nutrition experts say might be better spent on nutrient-packed foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

The researchers concluded that multivitamins don’t reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline (such as memory loss and slowed-down thinking) or an early death. They also noted that in prior studies, vitamin E and beta-carotene supplements appear to be harmful, especially at high doses.

“Pills are not a shortcut to better health and the prevention of chronic diseases,” says Larry Appel, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research. “Other nutrition recommendations have much stronger evidence of benefits—eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar you eat.”

The exception is supplemental folic acid for women of child-bearing potential, Appel says. “Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in babies when women take it before and during early pregnancy. That’s why multivitamins are recommended for young women.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women of reproductive age get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. The amount of iron in a multivitamin may also be beneficial for women of child-bearing potential, Appel adds.

“I don’t recommend other supplements,” Appel says. “If you follow a healthy diet, you can get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from food.”

Whole grains: Grains such as whole wheat, brown rice and barley still have their fiber-rich outer shell, called the bran, and inner germ. It provides vitamins, minerals and good fats. Choosing whole grain side dishes, cereals, breads and more may lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer and improve digestion, too.

Saturated fat: A type of fat found in abundance in butter, whole milk, ice cream, full-fat cheese, fatty meats, poultry skin, and palm and coconut oils. Saturated fat raises levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. It can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb blood sugar easily. Limiting saturated fat can help control your risk for heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids (oh-may-ga three fah-tee a-sids): Healthy polyunsaturated fats that the body uses to build brain-cell membranes. They’re considered essential fats because our body needs them but can’t make them on its own; we must take them in through food or supplements. A diet rich in omega-3s—found in fatty fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as in walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil—and low in saturated fats may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

The amounts of each vitamin type in multivitamin formulations are generally adapted to correlate with what is believed to result in optimal health effects in large population groups. However, these standard amounts may not correlate what is optimal in certain subpopulations, such as in children, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions and medication.

The health benefit of vitamins generally follows a biphasic dose-response curve, taking the shape of a bell curve, with the area in the middle being the safe-intake range and the edges representing deficiency and toxicity.[16] For example, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults on a 2,000 calorie diet get between 60 and 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day. This is the middle of the bell curve. The upper limit is 2,000 milligrams per day for adults, which is considered potentially dangerous.

In particular, pregnant women should generally consult their doctors before taking any multivitamins: for example, either an excess or deficiency of vitamin A can cause birth defects. Long-term use of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E supplements may shorten life and increase the risk of lung cancer in people who smoke (especially those smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day), former smokers, people exposed to asbestos, and those who use alcohol.

Many common brand supplements in the United States contain levels above the DRI/RDA amounts for some vitamins or minerals. Severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies require medical treatment and can be very difficult to treat with common over-the-counter multivitamins. In such situations, special vitamin or mineral forms with much higher potencies are available, either as individual components or as specialized formulations.

Multivitamins in large quantities may pose a risk of an acute overdose due to the toxicity of some components, principally iron. However, in contrast to iron tablets, which can be lethal to children, toxicity from overdoses of multivitamins are very rare. There appears to be little risk to supplement users of experiencing acute side effects due to excessive intakes of micronutrients.There also are strict limits on the retinol content for vitamin A during pregnancies that are specifically addressed by prenatal formulas.

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Pingdemic Staff Shortages: How Business Can Cope With Isolating Employees

Despite the lifting of most legal COVID-19 restrictions on July 19, the pandemic’s effect on the health, economy and wellbeing of the English public is far from over. The latest development is in the form of the “pingdemic” –- the term referring to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been instructed to self-isolate in recent weeks via the NHS COVID-19 track and trace app.

The so-called pingdemic has had a massively disruptive effect on businesses, who are suffering from widespread staff shortages across sectors. Another casualty is the food supply chain. We are missing items on our supermarket shelves as a result of shortages of workers both because of the pingdemic and Brexit complications.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that people may be deleting or disabling the app, posing a threat to the attempts to control the spread of COVID variants. Business leaders, confused by conflicting government guidance, are now caught between the need to protect their employees’ health and safety, and to avoid the financial impact of closures after many months of lost income.

The government has attempted to combat this through an emergency plan to exempt NHS staff and some key workers, such as in the food supply industry, from isolating if they are pinged, so long as they take daily COVID tests and are fully vaccinated. But food bosses say they have not been properly briefed on what they think is a bureaucratic process to exempt workers.

Get coronavirus updates from health experts

The app, despite its various flaws, is doing what it is designed to do -– businesses cannot ignore requirements to self-isolate, but must be flexible in how they handle employees who have been pinged.

Of course, as has been highlighted throughout the pandemic, there is a vast gap between jobs that can and cannot be done remotely. While no solution will be one-size-fits-all, there are a few things that businesses affected by isolating workers can do to mitigate the disruption and ensure the safety of both their employees and their business success.

How can businesses respond?

Now that we are hopefully on the way out of the depths of the pandemic, the pingdemic calls for businesses to persevere and innovate. This means that in the short term, they may need to rotate employees into different roles, as well as change existing ways of working.

Employers should make workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of contact with others and being pinged – whether this means returning to early-COVID days of social distancing, reduced opening hours, or more people working from home.

If they have not done so already, businesses who can afford to should set up isolation funds, independent of the government’s support payments for low-income individuals, to ensure that workers experience no financial impact from being asked to isolate. If a job cannot be done from home, employers could use the opportunity to invest in remote training or development for workers who are healthy but have been asked to isolate.

For sectors like social care and construction, partnerships with employment agencies could temporarily increase their pool of workers and provide a “safety net” of employees.

Businesses in sectors like retail and hospitality may have to initially operate under reduced hours. But looking to the longer term, they could learn to cope with staff shortages in different ways. For example, a warehouse operative may rotate to an administrative position while they are in isolation, or help to train agency workers remotely, or work on their own development and training.

HGV drivers are currently in high demand due to staff shortages in their industry. This has led to a potentially dangerous situation where some are driving for too many hours. Government plans to improve working conditions and recruit more drivers have not been received well, and industry groups are calling for longer-term proposals to combat the shortage, including better pay and new recruitment techniques.

Business leaders, like all citizens, have a moral responsibility to protect others and prevent further pressure on the NHS. They should respond in a way which protects their employees, and gives them adequate financial protection and flexibility to self-isolate, as well as making workplace changes to reduce the likelihood of being pinged.

Finally, as much as the pingdemic is a concern, it may also be a distraction from wider sociopolitical issues like Brexit, an ageing population, inflation and increasingly also youth unemployment – not to mention the continuing health threat of COVID-19.

Misinformation and outlandish claims are reaching a wider audience now more than ever. The Conversation publishes research-informed journalism by academics to help you understand what’s really happening. Our only aim is to make sure people hear from experts. But without your support, we won’t be able to keep going.

Authors:

Senior Lecturer in International Human Resource Management, University of Portsmouth

Reader in Leadership & Development, Manchester Metropolitan University

Source: Pingdemic staff shortages: how business can cope with isolating employees

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More Contents:

England’s new contact tracing app fixes privacy problems – whether it will work is another matter

Paying people to self-isolate saves lives and money

How COVID has affected UK businesses – and what happens after July 19

Saving the high street: what to do with empty department stores and shopping centres

Setting goals to beat previous efforts improves educational outcomes. And the gains are bigger for disadvantaged students

How missing out on nursery due to COVID has affected children’s development – new research

Health professionals work in teams: their training should prepare them

COVID school recovery: is England’s £1.4 billion catch-up plan a good idea?

Stress management: six lessons parents can take from pandemic homeschooling

How to bond with your baby if you were separated during the pandemic

Sexism and sport: why body-baring team uniforms are bad for girls and women

Why designing an Olympic logo is so difficult

Life lessons from beekeepers – stop mowing the lawn, don’t pave the driveway and get used to bugs in your salad

How could an Italian gallery sue over use of its public domain art?

Tokyo Olympics: why the stories of elite athletes make for such great childrens’ books

Love Island: how women with ‘fake’ faces have been belittled throughout history

England football fandom’s struggle with its own image

What the Euro 2020 referees can teach the Premier League

There’s Something About Mary & Power of Positive Ageing – Warren Gamble

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In the middle of the cafe, Mary Jaksch drops to the floor and starts doing press ups.

Two middle-aged men look a bit startled over their flat whites. They would be more surprised if they knew her age or her exercise regime; they would be less surprised if they knew Mary.

She was demonstrating the military style push-ups she did when she turned 70 last November. It’s a tradition at her Nelson Seido Karate dojo to complete your age in push-ups on your birthday.

Mary, a fifth dan blackbelt, dismissed a colleague’s suggestion to take the easy way out by doing the push-ups from her knees. “I wouldn’t be seen dead doing that,” she told him.

Instead, after a two-hour black belt class she polished off the 70 with straight legs, to the cheers of her colleagues.

Pushing herself physically is practising what she preaches – youthful or positive ageing. The main idea is that you should relish getting older, that with the right attitude and effort you can have the time of your life.

After her press ups she said karate students in their 20s told her they could not have done the challenge now, let alone at 70.

“My answer to them was why not? All you have to do is keep going and rev up.

“That’s when I realised that so many people, no matter what age, have this idea of this terrible downward slope as they age. They can’t do things, their body sags, they get weaker and so on.”

In typical fashion, Mary decided to do something about spreading the message that retirement doesn’t mean a weary resignation.

A whole lot, in Mary’s case.

She came to New Zealand from Germany as a classical flautist, in the 1980s became the first female director of the Nelson School of Music, changed careers to become a counsellor and psychotherapist, and then in her 60s took up blogging about the practice of Zen meditation (she is a Zen master) and, later, launched another blog on writing.

There were triggers for those diverging paths, but they also highlight her willingness to experiment, “my question is always what if…?”.

The first switch came when she was still a classical musician and got involved as a volunteer in a halfway house for young people with drug problems.

“I thought, when I’m standing on the stage playing, whose life am I changing? Since then that question has been a guiding light for me.”

So she studied to become a counsellor and psychotherapist. She was making more of a difference, but says eventually the effort of being in a “flattened state” to receive her clients’ stories took a toll. She worried she might not be able to bounce back.

Her move to blogging came after a builder left her high and dry with an unfinished house that not only swallowed a nest egg but left her with a big debt.

“That was a low point. At the time I was 60 years old, what next?”

Her son Sebastian Grodd suggested writing a blog. “What’s a blog?” she asked him. Her first Goodlife Zen blog post had three subscribers, her son, her best friend and her cat Sweetie.

It has grown exponentially and internationally since then. Together with her other site, Write to Done, which has writing tips and blogging advice, she says her audience now numbers about three million.

It’s unsurprising that she has opened up another chapter with her books, and another physical challenge.

She wanted to see how a 70-year-old body would respond to four months of a sustained, intense workouts. To control her experiment she enlisted the help of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology sport, recreation and  and exercise diploma students, subjecting herself to the indignities of the caliper body fat test, exercises to measure her baseline fitness, balance and co-ordination.

She also did a specialised test for telomeres, the protective casings on the end of chromosomes which fray as we age. The results showed hers corresponded to that of a 45-year-old.

But at her first hour-long class at the Whakatu HQ “box” or gym when she was introduced to the mix of aerobic exercise, Olympic weightlifting and calisthenics she admits to a “kind of wide-eyed with shock” .

Those are the moments to embrace what’s been described as the “ouch factor,” Mary says, the mental and physical effort that signals rejuvenation.

She stuck at it and four months on she says her strength  and mobility have markedly increased. Along the way she “accidentally” signed up to a transTasman crossfit competition, finishing fifth in New Zealand in the 60-plus category.

NMIT exercise students Ricky 
Silva and Isaiah Stevenson put Mary through her paces to gauge her baseline fitness.

Mary Jaksch

NMIT exercise students Ricky Silva and Isaiah Stevenson put Mary through her paces to gauge her baseline fitness.

Whakatu HQ owner Lucas Bennett says Mary has been “incredible”.

“Everyone that you tell she’s 70, they say ‘nah’; fifties or 60 at a push. She is very mobile and has picked up on the weights very well.”

Lifting physical and mental weights has become a passion, for herself and to show the way to others.

At her Madhatters Toastmasters club, she recently did a speech exhorting the audience to “bust through your personal glass ceiling”. During it, she flung off her dress and an outer top to reveal her sports wear, with muscled shoulders and arms someone much younger would be proud of.

She hopes to set an example, much as her father had done, and to answer her own question about changing people’s lives for the positive.

“Once you see how somebody could be at my age, your whole world view changes,” she says. “You have to keep going. I see no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do 75 press ups at 75.  In fact I should be able to do more because I’m now much stronger than I was then.”

Mary’s positive ageing tips

* Change your mindset about retirement, from a time to do nothing, to a chance to do everything.

* Start slow, make small changes to exercise and diet.

* It’s the upward trajectory that counts, no matter how slowly you get there.

* Exercise with friends, you get more motivation and support.

* On those days when you can’t be bothered, focus on one thing, like putting your exercise gear on.

* Focus on one exercise at a time; don’t look too far ahead.

* Be mindful, get in touch with how your body is feeling; don’t block it out with music.

She says the research for her first book showed people in their 80s and 90s doing extraordinary things. “Compared to some of them, I’m just a young chick, I’ve got my whole life in front of me.”

So she signed up for “the hardest thing I could think of” – the punishing strength and conditioning programme of CrossFit-style exercise.

 

 

 

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