As temperatures soar in the US, we take a step back and look at the news articles that generated the most heat in 2013, including omega-3s, probiotic, and Facebook.
The most read article of 2013 to-date was our in-depth look at the science behind the various omega-3 forms. Please click here to read Battle of the omega-3 forms: Triglycerides, ethyl esters, or phospholipids?
Probiotics came in second, with was our report of a study from Danone and UCLA that indicated that daily consumption of a fermented milk product containing five different probiotic strains may affect the parts of the brain linked to emotion and sensation.
The study, published in Gastroenterology (doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043), is said to be the first to show chronic intake of a fermented milk product with probiotics can alter brain activity in humans.
Commenting independently on the new study, Prof Glenn Gibson, a world-renowned expert in pre- and probiotics at the University of Reading in the UK, told us: "There is evidence that the gut to brain axis exists, with positive and negative potential outcomes. However, modulating it like this is a big step forward."
Please click here to read: 'A big step forward': Probiotics may alter brain activity in healthy people, says Danone/UCLA data
Vit D, Pycnogenol & Facebook
Vitamin D takes the number three spot on most popular articles of 2013 to date. Our article – Are vitamin D levels linked to mental health? – reported on a study by researchers from University College London in the UK.
The study, which indicates correlation and not causation, found that people with vitamin D levels of at least 75 nmol/l had a 43% lower risk of depression, compared to people with vitamin D levels lower than 25 nmol/l.
Results published in Clinical Nutrition also indicated that the higher vitamin D levels were associated with a 67% lower risk of panic, compared to the lower levels.
Coming it at number 4 on the most read articles of the year was our article about that French Maritime Pine bark extract Pycnogenol.
Study ‘leaves little doubt’ about Pycnogenol’s benefits for menopause symptoms. Data published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine indicated that 12 weeks of supplementation with Pycnogenol were associated with significant reductions in scores of menopause symptoms, as measured by the Women’s Health Questionnaire (WHQ) and the Kupperman index.
“These findings leave little doubt about the benefit of Pycnogenol for women interested in controlling climacteric symptoms with a more natural approach. Our study is the first to provide evidence for the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol in perimenopausal women,” said Takafumi Kohama, lead researcher from Keiju Medical Center in Japan.
Please click here to read Study ‘leaves little doubt’ about Pycnogenol’s benefits for menopause symptoms
Last, but by no means least, is our coverage of two warning letters from the FDA that should serve as a reminder to supplement makers that the agency is scrutinizing their activities on Facebook and Twitter just as carefully as it is looking at their corporate websites.
In a warning letter to AMARC Enterprises, the FDA said a testamonial posted by a consumer on its Facebook page claiming that its PolyMVA dietary supplement “enabled me to keep cancer at bay without the use of chemo and radiation” - was ‘liked’ by the company.
As the posting amounted to an unauthorised drug-claim and AMARC had effectively 'endorsed' it by 'liking' it on its Facebook page, the FDA included this as one of several examples of the company promoting PolyMVA “for conditions that cause the product to be a drug” rather than a dietary supplement.
In a second warning letter sent to M.D.R. Fitness Corp (which you can read here), the FDA noted that typing diseases such as ‘cancer’ or ‘diabetes’ into the search box on its website brought up product lists of dietary supplements.
Because those products are as a result 'associated' with cancer and diabetes in consumers' minds, M.D.R. is "implying that its products are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of such diseases," argued the FDA.
To read our full coverage of these letters, please click here .