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News: May 2024

Vitamin D supplementation may boost lung health in COPD patients.

Vitamin D and a sunshine written into the sand on beach

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death globally. It’s a progressive disease which gradually impairs lung function.  Whilst research has suggested that increasing intake of antioxidants and especially nutrients such as vitamins A, C and E, can help protect the lungs against oxidative damage, a recent meta-analysis[1] showed vitamin D to have a beneficial effect on lung function.

Looking at previous published articles, researchers reviewed 4,094 participants and discovered that vitamin D supplementation by itself had a positive effect on both lung and immune function.  Previous studies using either vitamins C and E, or magnesium alone, had not produced the same benefits. The researchers noted that protecting immune function in COPD patients is of critical important as they are prone to bacterial and viral infections which worsens their symptoms, hence the reason vitamin D could be helpful.

Increased flavonoid intake, especially quercetin, may have heart health benefits

Woman holding a red heart

With heart disease being one of the major diseases suffered worldwide, research is constantly evolving to find foods that can help protect our most precious organ.  Researchers in China[2] have recently studied follow-up data on 11,670 adults in the US and found that intake of flavonoids had a greater protective effect on all-cause mortality in people over 40 years of age.  They cited specific flavanols, including quercetin, as having the most protective effect against cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Flavonoids are plant compounds that exert many health benefits, with flavanols being closely related but with a slightly different chemical structure. Both groups have been widely studied and researchers found that people with diets rich in both have reduced risk of heart disease, specifically stroke and type 2 diabetes. Both flavonoids and flavanols are found in tea, apples, onions, berries, tomatoes, red wine, and kale, with quercetin being especially rich in onions and apples.

Widespread research suggests that flavonoids and flavanols positively influence fat and glucose metabolism, both being protective against diabetes and CVD. They also help reduce blood stickiness and blood pressure, and protect arteries from oxidative damage.

Whilst the researchers acknowledge that more studies are needed, they also note that the typical western diet is low in these compounds, so it was not always easy to follow intake.  However, it’s worth including more of these foods in the diet due to their positive effects on health.

Melatonin may improve sporting performance

close up of runners in the marathon

It goes without saying that high level athletes will always be looking for ways to improve performance, even marginally, which will positively impact achievements.  A new scientific review[3] suggests that melatonin, our sleep hormone, may indirectly improve sporting performance by counteracting negative effects that can arise after high-intensity exercise.

Melatonin is not just used by the body to induce sleep: it is one of the main antioxidants in the body and is therefore hugely protective against oxidative damage. In this way, it is both neuro and cardio protective, exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, modulates the immune system, and helps hold back the ageing process.  Melatonin certainly provides many health benefits throughout the body.

The studies looked at dosages given of between 5 and 100 mg before and after exercise. The body naturally produces much less than this at around 0.3 mg daily, therefore one would only be recommending this level of supplementation for short periods at a time.  However, whilst performance wasn’t directly impacted, important health biomarkers were, especially markers of inflammation, a key driver of disease and injury. The researchers also noted improvements in levels of other key antioxidants throughout the body after supplementation with melatonin, all beneficial to competing athletes.


[1] Mingxin Li et al. Improvement of lung function by micronutrient supplementation in patients with COPD: A systematic review and meta-analysis.  Nutrients 2024, 16(7), 1028

[2] Zhiqiang Zong et al. Association between dietary flavonol intake and mortality risk in the US adults from NHANES database.  Scientific Reports Article number 4572 (2024)

[3] Ana M Celarrio San Miguel et al. Impact of melatonin supplementation on sports performance and circulating biomarkers in highly trained athletes: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Nutrients 2024 16(7), 1011

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