Clinical trial findings: The top 10 most-read nutrition research studies in 2021
1. First-of-a-kind study found ratio of EPA to DHA in omega-3 supplements affect heart disease risk factors differently – Meta-analysis
Omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are commonly associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but new research highlighted how the ratio of EPA to DHA mattered in influencing different risk factors.
The risk factors of heart disease typically include higher blood pressure, inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein levels (CRP), lipid profile (total cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol) and heart rate.
In this meta-analysis, researchers from Jordan, UAE and Canada showed that the EPA to DHA ratio in omega-3 affected blood pressure and CRP, but not lipid profile and heart rate.
There are many studies on the intake of EPA and DHA combination in reducing the risk of CHD, however, they use a varied range of ratio and dose of EPA and DHA.
2. Berberine supplementation lowered total cholesterol but increased testosterone in men – 12-week RCT
The supplementation of berberine for 12 weeks reduced total cholesterol and raised testosterone levels in men, based on the result of a RCT.
There was also a reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from the trial.
Berberine is used widely in TCM and ayurvedic medicine and is thought to benefit the cardiovascular system through its anti-lipidemic, anti-inflammatory properties.
It is highly concentrated in the roots, rhizomes, and stem bark of several plants such as coptis chinensis (known as huanglian in TCM) and goldenseal.
3. Probiotics and intermittent fasting improved mental wellbeing but not diabetes prevention – 12-week trial
A combination of probiotics supplementation and intermittent fasting improved the mental wellbeing of prediabetics but played no significant effect in diabetes prevention or weight loss, a 12-week trial reported.
Findings of the clinical trial was published in Nutrients. The randomised human clinical trial was conducted by the University of Auckland and funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.
The researchers embarked on the study as probiotics intake, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, and intermittent fasting could separately improve glucose control.
It was believed to be the first study that assessed the impact of both probiotics supplementation and intermittent fasting on prediabetes control.
4. Make it snappy: Thai company expand crocodile blood supplement for sports after trial findings
A company specialising in crocodile products attempted to expand into the sports nutrition market for its supplement product – a capsule containing pure crocodile blood – after a recent human clinical research yielded favourable results.
Sold under the brand ModaPlas, the crocodile blood capsule is a dietary supplement developed and manufactured by Thai firm Sriracha Moda Co. Ltd.
The product, registered as an iron supplement with the Thai FDA in 2009, has been sold in the Thai market for over a decade.
Recently, researchers at the Mahidol University conducted an 18-day human clinical trial on the effects of crocodile blood supplementation on delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
5. Vitamin D and falls: High-dose intake increased risk in elderly with normal BMI – major study
High-dose vitamin D supplementation was found to increase the risk of falls among the elderly with a normal body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 kg/m2, according to a five-year long research project conducted in Australia.
Long-term high-dose vitamin D supplementation showed no effect in reducing the risk of falls in seniors.
This was based on the findings of the D-Health Trial – a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Australia.
Involving over 21,000 seniors aged 60 to 84, the trial randomised them to monthly doses of either 60,000 IU of vitamin D or placebo for an average of 4.3 years to a maximum of five years.
6. Special seven: Ajinomoto study shows amino acid supplementation improves cognitive function in older people
Ingestion of seven essential amino acids improves cognitive and psychosocial functions in healthy older persons, according to a study by Ajinomoto.
The seven essential amino acids were leucine, phenylalanine, lysine, isoleucine, histidine, valine, and tryptophan.
The double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial showed that participants who consumed 6g of these amino acids significantly improved their cognitive function and social interaction than the placebo group, which is expected in preventing cognitive decline.
For a rapidly ageing country like Japan, decline in cognitive function has become a major social issue
7. Goji’s looking good: Review supported wolfberry’s benefits in preventing or delaying eye diseases
Wolfberry, also known as Goji Berry or Fructus lycii, was touted as a credible dietary supplement for maintaining eye health, particularly in preventing or delaying common retinal diseases among the ageing population.
Wolfberry is traditionally used in Chinese cuisine, in tea, soup, porridge for enhancing vision, longevity as well as a remedy for diabetes.
Its bioactive components such as carotenoids, polysaccharides, and flavonoids exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties which are said to confer retinal benefits.
In this review, researchers from Singapore evaluated existing studies of wolfberry and three retinal conditions, namely age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), and retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
8. Infant formula for Chinese babies: H&H studied link between breast milk and infant gut microbiome
H&H is studying the link between human breast milk and infants’ growth outcomes in China as part of its R&D efforts.
One of its latest findings showed that key nutrients in mothers’ breast milk would decrease significantly in the first three months of lactation, and that the mothers’ BMIs could affect the composition of nutrients.
For instance, mothers with a higher BMI have a higher concentration of osteopontin (OPN), energy, fat, protein, and n-6 PUFA in their breast milk as compared to those with a lower BMI.
Generally, as compared to other populations, Chinese mothers have a higher level of OPN in their breast milk as compared to Korean, Japanese, and Danish mothers. For example, the level of OPN is twice as much as in Chinese than in Danish mothers.
9. Cholesterol lowering aid? Swisse to run human clinical trial on practitioner-only formula
Swisse started a trial to study the efficacy of its multi-ingredient, practitioner-only formula in reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol level.
The trial would also assess the formula in changing serum lipid concentrations, blood pressure, fat mass, and safety.
It was the first human clinical trial conducted using the product, with subject recruitment underway since end-March.
The product trialled is Swisse Nutra+ Cholesterol Balance – a brown soft gel capsule. It is not yet launched in the market but will be made available in China, followed by Australia.
10. Muscle mass: Animal protein more beneficial than plant sources in increasing lean mass in adults below 50
Adults below 50 could gain more absolute lean mass by consuming animal protein such as whey instead of plant protein, a meta-analysis revealed.
Percent lean muscle mass also increased significantly in adults below 50 when they consumed animal protein.
However, the increase in absolute and percent lean muscle mass did not lead to improvements in muscle and grip strength.
Writing in Nutrients, the researchers from the National University of Singapore conducted a meta-analysis based on 16 randomised controlled human clinical studies published online as of mid-June last year.