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More sunlight not only boosts Vitamin D levels, it also brings down cholesterol: Study

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Despite being a country with abundant sunshine, Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common in India. The country has also seen an increasing trend towards taking Vitamin D supplements, either as prescription medicine or as a nutritional input. A study comparing the effects of increased sunlight exposure versus Vitamin D supplementation, conducted by researchers at Jehangir Hospital in Pune and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in Manchester, found that the former not only led to an an increase in Vitamin D concentrations, it also brought down cholesterol.

Dr Vivek Patwardhan, Dr Anuradha Khadilkar and others at the research centre of Jehangir Hospital conducted the study on over 200 men and found that there was significant decline in total cholesterol concentrations in individuals who had increased sunshine exposure for at least six months. The study was published recently in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide, even in sun-rich countries such as India and those in the Middle East. Suboptimal concentrations of Vitamin D have been reported in over 50 per cent of the Indian population, possibly due to changing lifestyles, leading to reduced effective exposure to sunlight.

 

The effect of increased casual sunlight exposure on Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile has not been studied earlier, said Khadilkar. “So, we tried to assess the effect of increased sunlight exposure, in comparison with Vitamin D supplementation, on Vitamin D status and lipid profile in Indian men (aged 40-60 years) with Vitamin D deficiency. A total of 203 men were enrolled in the study that was conducted in the last two years,” she said.

“Apart from other lifestyle changes, reduced sunlight exposure in populations that migrate from areas with higher sunlight to lower sunlight seems to have an unfavourable effect on lipid metabolism. But we do not have enough data on the issue,” said Khadilkar.

A large-scale study is being planned to find prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency, she said. A significant decline in total cholesterol in individuals, who had increased sunshine exposure, was also observed during the study.

“Our study demonstrates that with increase in sunlight exposure, there is improvement in Vitamin D concentrations and lipid profile, while, in comparison, orally administered Vitamin D had an adverse effect on lipid profile though it was not significant,” said Khadilkar.

As a result of increased awareness in the medical community, and among the public, there is an increasing trend of consuming Vitamin D supplements either as prescription medicines or as a nutritional supplement. Although increased sunlight exposure may be a physiological alternative to oral supplementation in sun-rich countries, it is infrequently advised, possibly due to difficulty in implementing lifestyle modifications and the perceived risk of skin cancer, explained the researchers.


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Unable To Get Pregnant? Could Be Because Of Diabetes

The Kashmir Monitor

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Diabetes, commonly described as a “lifestyle disease”, can contribute to infertility in both women and men, warn health experts.

“Diabetes can cause infertility in both men and women. Both sexes are at equal risk of infertility,” S.K. Wangnoo, endocrinologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said.

Infertility affects up to 15 per cent of reproductive-aged couples worldwide. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), the overall prevalence of primary infertility in India is between 3.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent.

 

“Diabetes in men damages DNA of the sperm and leads to reduced number of sperms and reduced motility of sperms which leads to infertility. Although having diabetes does not necessarily make men infertile, it could make them less fertile,” added Roopak Wadhwa, Consultant at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

On the other hand, diabetes in women is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other autoimmune diseases that can lead to infertility.

“Diabetes causes a lack of glucose control in the body which, in turn, can make the implantation of the fertile egg in the uterus difficult. Therefore, the chances of miscarriage in diabetic women increase between 30-60 per cent,” Wadhwa explained.

Another WHO report had stated that India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes in 2015.

By 2030, nearly 98 million people in India may have Type-2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal last year.

While diabetic patients can always try parenthood, the risk of passing on the sugar disease to the child is approximately 50 per cent high, Wangnoo stated.

“It can also cause intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) and congenital anomalies. IUGR is a condition where an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb,” Wadhwa added.

Furthermore, he noted that diabetic mothers are at high risk of premature deliveries, abortions and perinatal (during birth) complications.

High diabetes can be risky for both mother and child. The experts suggest that maintaining a good lifestyle, an ideal body weight, keeping sugars within target range, avoiding smoking and alcohol and excessive work related stress are some of the preventive measures.

Besides infertility, diabetes can also raise the risk of cardiovascular and lung disease, arthritis, osteoporosis. An estimated 3.4 million deaths are caused due to high blood sugar, according to the WHO.

The global health body also estimates that 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries and projects that such deaths will double between 2016 and 2030.

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Here Are 5 Sources Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids You Must Include In Your Diet

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Omega 3 fatty acids are important for heart health. It is well known that fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel etc are all good sources of fatty fish. However, there are many other vegetarian food items that are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids. It is important to include omega 3 fatty acids in your diet as it can help in reducing inflammation, risk of dementia and prevent heart diseases. And while it may be slightly challenging for vegans and vegetarians to include omega 3 in diet, following is a list of few plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Sources of omega 3 fatty acids for vegetarians

1. Walnuts:

 

Walnuts are a storehouse of healthy fats including omega 3 fatty acids. Healthline informs that 65% of walnuts comprise fat by weight. Walnuts are one of the healthiest varieties of nuts and can help in weight loss, improving heart health and brain health. Studies have shown that including walnuts in your diet can improve your memory.

2. Chia seeds:

Benefits of chia seeds are many. But the best part about them is that they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and even protein. Including chia seeds in your diet can help you lose weight and improve cholesterol levels in the body. You can add chia seeds to smoothies, salads, nuts, yogurt, etc.

3. Hemp seeds:

Hemp seeds contain a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc and magnesium. Hemp seeds have been found to help in prevention of blood clot formation and also help in recovering from heart attack. You can also take a dose of hemp seed oil by pressing hemp seeds. This will provide you a more concentrated version omega 3 fatty acids.

4. Flaxseeds:

Fibre rich flaxseeds are a good source of fibre, manganese, protein, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. Including flaxseeds in your diet can help in bringing an improvement in your blood pressure levels. You can eat flaxseeds with nuts, add them to soups, salads, etc.

5. Brussels sprouts:

Yes, Brussel sprouts too are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. They are also rich in Vitamin C, fibre and Vitamin K. Cruciferous vegetables like Brussel sprouts can help in lowering risk of heart disease.

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Obesity-causing genes identified

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Researchers have identified genetic variants associated with obesity that is central to developing targeted interventions to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like hypertension, Type-2 diabetes and heart disease.

The team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found genetic sites that affect human body’s size and shape, including height and obesity. The findings will help understand how genes can predispose certain individuals to obesity.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers found 24 coding loci (or positions) — 15 common and nine rare — along chromosomes of individuals that predispose to higher waist-to-hip ratio.

 

Higher values of waist-to-hip ratio are associated with more incidence of diseases associated with obesity.

“For the first time, we were able to examine, on a large scale, how low-frequency and rare variants influence body fat distribution,” said North.

“A better understanding of the genetic underpinnings of body fat distribution may lead to better treatments for obesity and other downstream diseases obesity also impacts, for example Type-2 diabetes and heart disease,” suggested North.

Further analysis revealed pathways and gene sets that influenced not only metabolism but also regulation of body fat tissue, bone growth and adiponectin, a hormone that controls glucose levels and breaks down fat.

Performing functional studies across other organisms, the team also identified two genes that were associated with significant increase in triglyceride and body fat across species.

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