SpectraCell Blog

Study Sheds Light on the Link Between Biotin Deficiency and Inflammation

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 @ 02:59 PM

cauliflower copyPrevious research has shown that biotin deficiency increases inflammation but since there are so many causes of inflammation – physiologically speaking – the actual metabolic pathways between biotin deficiency and inflammation are unclear.  In this study, researchers subjected human immune cells to biotin deficiency and compared the result to human immune cells living in a biotin-rich environment.  Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is a key vitamin necessary for proper cellular metabolism. It is a cofactor to cellular energy production and therefore important to cellular health at a fundamental level. 

When the human immune cells were biotin deficient, expression of inflammatory proteins increased.  Specifically, CD4+T cells were used, which are also known as T-helper cells because they are a type of white blood cell that directs the function of other immune cells.  In other words, T-helper cells supervise immune cells, sending signals to attack viruses and bacteria, for example. In biotin deficiency, the number of these regulatory immune cells (CD4+T) decreased.  At the same time, biotin deficiency caused an increase in the metabolic pathway (called mTOR) that regulates cell growth.  mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) is a protein that senses the nutrient and energy status of cells and regulates their metabolism accordingly.  A decrease in mTOR is generally good and can lead to a longer lifespan.  An increase in mTOR is generally bad and can lead to tumors or cancerous growths. 

The results of this study – both in vivo and in vitro – showed that biotin deficiency increased the mTOR pathway, which then resulted in an increase in several inflammatory compounds.  This, combined with the fact that biotin deficiency decreased the number of T-helper cells, meaning fewer immune cells were around to regulate everything, ultimately induced the increase in inflammation seen in biotin deficiency.

(Journal of Immunology, April 2018

LINK to ABSTRACT Biotin Deficiency Induces Th1- and Th17-Mediated Proinflammatory Responses in Human CD4+ T Lymphocytes via Activation of the mTOR Signaling Pathway.

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Topics: biotin, Vitamin B7, Biotin Deficiency, micronutrients, B Complex Vitamins, micronutrient testing

Impact of a Zinc and Copper Imbalance on Cognitive Function

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Jun 27, 2018 @ 03:57 PM

Brain-Health-ConsultingThe prevalence of AD in our aging population is frightening, affecting 10% of those over age 60, 20% of those over age 70, and 30% of those over age 80.1 There are roughly 5 to 6 million AD patients in the US and an equal number of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), memory loss, but not enough loss of function to be called AD. In general, MCI is a precursor to AD, with 80% eventually developing AD, at the rate of 15% per year.2

Supplementation with Zinc

Because this was an animal study, researchers could precisely manipulate and consequently correlate blood and brain levels of zinc and copper and with age and cognitive function.  Specifically, they measured the effect of zinc supplementation on short-term memory, long-term memory and spatial memory. In addition, they measured zinc and copper levels in both the blood and the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain linked to memory.

The authors discovered that as the rats got older, their blood levels of copper increased while blood levels of zinc decreased with simultaneous decreases in memory.  However, supplementation with zinc reversed the elevated copper levels and improved memory in all areas.   It is well established that zinc and copper work together and that balance of the minerals is important.  In fact, excess zinc supplementation may possibly induce a copper deficiency, so although this study concludes “zinc as a plausible therapeutic intervention” for age-related cognitive decline, this study reminds us that micronutrients do not work alone but in balance so a comprehensive look at nutritional status is key.

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Sources

1.      Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. 2010:1–74. 
2.      Oscar L. Lopez, M.D. Mild Cognitive Impairment. NCBI 2013 Apr; 19(2 Dementia): 411–424

LINK to ABSTRACT Supplementation with zinc in rats enhances memory and reverses an age-dependent increase in plasma copper.

Topics: Cognitive Function, Zinc and Copper Impact on Cognitive Function, Micronutrients and Cognitive Health, Alzheimer's Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment

Micronutrients and Men's Health

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 @ 03:54 PM

battle-rope-workoutsPersonalized medicine has changed the healthcare paradigm.  It is now possible to determine your personal micronutrient needs based on your own cells’ metabolic requirements.  

SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test measures over 30 vitamins and minerals at the cellular level.  But the SpectraCell test goes even further – it measures functional, long-term status within the cell – which evaluates how well your body actually utilizes each nutrient.  Several factors affect nutrient status – age, lifestyle, genetics, medications, absorption rates, gut health, hormones and more.  SpectraCell’s Micronutrient Test embraces this biochemical individuality. 

PROSTATE HEALTH
Mineral deficiencies profoundly affect prostate health. Selenium deficiency has been linked to higher levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a common biomarker for prostate problems.  Interestingly, the epithelial cells in the prostate gland accumulate the highest levels of zinc in any soft tissue of the body and low zinc is linked to prostate inflammation.  In the case of prostate cancer, strong evidence suggests higher intake of zinc may improve prognosis.  Vitamin K show anti-carcinogenic properties in various cancer cell lines, including prostate cancer cells.  Vitamin D also exhibits anti-cancer activity in prostate cells via its role in regulating male hormones. Vitamin C downregulates an enzyme that causes abnormal tissue growth in the prostate gland, thus protecting against a condition known as BPH – benign prostate hyperplasia – which manifests with urination problems in men.  Animal studies have shown that Vitamin E may suppress prostate tumor formation.  But results on vitamin E supplementation trials and prostate health has been equivocal, suggests that blind supplementation when not deficient, may be harmful.  Targeted repletion of actual – not assumed – deficiencies is key. 

TESTICULAR CANCER
Chemotherapeutic drugs used in the treatment of testicular cancer can wreak havoc on healthy testicular tissue.  Evidence suggests antioxidants can protect against this damage.  For example, the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine has been shown to reverse the damage done by bleomycin, a common drug to treat testicular cancer.  Evidence suggests combinations of specific antioxidants (vitamin E, C, zinc, selenium) may lower the risk of testicular cancer from spreading (mestastasizing).  Since oxidative stress plays a big role in testicular toxicity, nutrients that acts free radical scavengers are particularly beneficial in the testes.  Vitamin C protects the surface of testicular cells. Glutathione protects sensitive testicular tissue from oxidative stress. Mineral cofactors (Zinc, Copper, Manganese) are need to activate powerful protective enzymes active in testes.  A single micronutrient deficiency can profoundly compromise man’s ability for healthy cellular detoxification.  

ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Contrary to popular thought, erectile dysfunction is less commonly a problem in hormone levels, and more commonly a problem with vascular health.  Several nutrients affect how well a man’s blood vessels respond to chemical cues.  Vitamin D’s role in calcium transport affects a man’s vasculature and thus erectile function.  Folate and inositol may improve erectile dysfunction by activating nitric oxide, a chemical in the blood that tells vessel to properly dilate.  Vitamin E and lipoic acid are necessary cofactors in nitric oxide production, and thus vascular and erectile health. Depending on the presence of certain genes, repletion of folate and vitamin B6 has been shown to benefit men who were non-responsive to sildenafil, a common medication used for treatment of ED. Another study shows carnitine and vitamin B3 improved sexual performance in men with ED.   Glutathione depletion will compromise a man’s ability to achieve vasodilation.  Any nutrient that benefits vascular health will also benefit erectile health. 

TESTOSTERONE
The male equivalent of female menopause is andropause, which is a gradual decline in testosterone levels as men age.  However, micronutrients profoundly affect testosterone levels.  For example, vitamin B6 stimulates the brain to increase testosterone production. Conversely, deficiency in folate reduces circulating testosterone.  The rate-limiting enzyme for testosterone synthesis is vitamin K dependent, so a deficiency will lower its production.  Magnesium is needed to make testosterone biologically active, freeing it up in the bloodstream so it can act on muscles throughout the body. Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, is the precursor molecule to testosterone and can significantly increase total and free levels of testosterone throughout the body. Carnitine is directly related to testosterone levels and may prevent testosterone decline after intense physical stress. Depending on baseline levels, zinc and selenium can increase testosterone as well.

STRESS, STRESS and more STRESS
In today’s highly competitive world, men encounter inordinate amounts of stress, particularly in the workplace.  Although the physiological effects of chronic stress are often dismissed, the effect of stress on cellular health is indisputable.  Micronutrient deficiencies can exacerbate the physiological effects of stress.  Conversely, micronutrient repletion can repair stress-induced cellular damage.  Serine has been used in the treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) as it buffers the negative effects of stress in the body.  Folate, choline and inositol directly affect brain chemicals that calm the mind and body.  B vitamins serve as cofactors in the production of anti-anxiety neurotransmitters.  Micronutrients help stave off the fatigue associated with long term stress.  Nutrients such as coenzyme Q10 and magnesium may improve energy in chronically stressed out men. Correcting micronutrient deficiencies can enable men to face daily challenges while minimizing the physiological repercussions.

Evaluate your micronutrient status today! 
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Topics: Men's Health, Prostate Health, Testicular Cancer, Erectile Dysfunction, Testosterone, Stress, Micronutrients and Men's Health