Roundup: Healthy People Don’t Benefit from Daily Multivitamins, NIH Says; and More News

Daily Multivitamin Supplements are Not Associated with Health Benefits, Says Major NIH Study

The largest study of the potential benefits of taking multivitamins daily found that they did not lower the risk of death from any cause, according to research from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, which was published in JAMA Network Open.

“There were also no differences in mortality from cancer, heart disease, or cerebrovascular diseases, states the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a news release. “The results were adjusted for factors such as race and ethnicity, education, and diet quality.”

Many adults in the U.S. take multivitamins with the hope of improving their health. However, the benefits and harms of regular multivitamin use remain unclear, states the NIH. Previous studies of multivitamin use have yielded mixed results and been limited by short follow-up times. 

In the largest study of its kind, NIH researchers analyzed data from three large, geographically diverse prospective studies involving 390,124 U.S. adults who were followed for more than 20 years. The participants included in this analysis were generally healthy, with no history of cancer or other chronic diseases, the NIH emphasizes.

“Because the study population was so large and included lengthy follow-up and extensive information on demographics and lifestyle factors, the researchers were able to mitigate the effects of possible biases that may have influenced the findings of other studies,” the NIH states. “For example, people who use multivitamins may have healthier lifestyles in general, and sicker patients may be more likely to increase their use of multivitamins.”

It's best to consult your doctor before taking any vitamin supplements. A health lifestyle, consisting of a mostly plant-based diet, weight management, regular exercise and regular health screenings, should be sufficient to meet a person’s vitamin needs.

The Mediterranean diet, which is highly rated by dietitians, focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes -- but makes allowances for lean proteins from fish and poultry. It strongly restricts red meat, overly processed meats and sugary drinks. The U.S. government’s dietary guidelines, also known as My Plate, focus on plant-based options.

Study: ‘Heavy Resistance Training’ at Retirement Age Preserves Vital Leg Strength Years Later

Just one year of heavy resistance training with weights or resistance bands at about retirement age preserves vital leg strength years later, according to a study that reinforces the benefits of exercise as you get older.

“Depletion of leg muscle strength is regarded as a strong predictor of death in older people, so is important to maintain,” state the researchers in a news release.

The study defines heavy resistance training, or HRT, as three sets of 6 to 12 repetitions on a weight machine at a gym at 70 percent to 85 percent of 1RM. The term 1RM, or one-repetition maximum, refers to a weight training test that measures the heaviest amount of weight an individual can lift with proper technique for a single repetition. The workout sessions were supervised by trainers.

The follow-up results of a clinical trial, published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, randomly were randomly assigned participants to either to one year of lifting heavy weights 3 times a week (149), or to moderate intensity training (154), involving circuits that incorporated body weight exercises and resistance bands three times a week, or to a comparison group (148), all of whom were encouraged to maintain their usual levels of physical activity.

At the time, participants had recently retired and were healthy.

After four years, there was no difference among the three groups in “leg extensor power—the ability to kick a pedal as hard and as fast as possible---handgrip strength (a measure of overall strength), and lean leg mass (weight minus body fat), with decreases in all 3 indicators across the board,” states a news release.

Yet, leg strength was still preserved at the same level in the heavy resistance training (HRT) group, but fell in the moderate intensity training and comparison groups.

On average, all study participants were aged 71 (range 64–75) at year 4, with 61 percent women. “They were still active based on their daily physical activity, which averaged nearly 10,000 steps, as recorded by activity tracker,” researchers stated.

Risk of Developing Parkinson’s may Double in People with Anxiety Disorders, Researchers Find

The risk of developing Parkinson’s disease may be twice as high in people with anxiety-driven symptoms compared to those without these symptoms, according to a new study by researchers at University College London (UCL

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, focused on a potential association between people over the age of 50 who had recently developed anxiety and a later diagnosis of Parkinson’s.

The team, led by Professor Anette Schrag at the UCL Institute of Neurology, used primary care data in the U. K. between 2008 and 2018. They assessed 109,435 patients who had developed anxiety after the age of 50, and compared them to 878,256 who did not have anxiety.

“They then tracked the presence of Parkinson’s features - such as sleep problems, depression, tremor and balance impairment - from the point of their anxiety diagnosis -- up until one year before the date of a Parkinson’s diagnosis -- to help them understand each group’s risk of developing Parkinson’s over time and what their risk factors might be,” states a news release from UCL.

The results: Risk of developing Parkinson’s increased two-fold in people with anxiety, compared to the control group. Additionally, they found the following risk factors for developing Parkinson’s in people with anxiety: Depression, sleep disturbance, fatigue, cognitive impairment, hypotension, tremor, rigidity, balance impairment, and constipation.

Co-lead author on the UCL study, Dr. Juan Bazo Alvarez, stated: “Anxiety is known to be a feature of the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, but prior to our study, the prospective risk of Parkinson’s in those over the age of 50 with new-onset anxiety was unknown. By understanding that anxiety and the mentioned features are linked to a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease over the age of 50, we hope that we may be able to detect the condition earlier and help patients get the treatment they need.”

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder with symptoms that generally develop slowly over years. People with Parkinson’s may experience tremors, mainly at rest; slowness and paucity of movement (called bradykinesia and hypokinesia); and limb stiffness or rigidity.

For the most part, Parkinson’s remains a mysterious disease, although scientists agree that its primary cause is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors. However, medical advances are on the rise involving early diagnoses, medications, and technology-driven surgical therapies that diminish unmanageable tremors, slowness of movement and rigidity.

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