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Category: metabolic syndrome

Fat Soluble Vitamins

April 26, 2020 10:20 am

Written By: Maria Vardapetyan, Eric Baghdasaryan, Osheen Abnous

Vitamins are chemicals that facilitate many processes in the human body such as blood clot formation, good vision, fight infections etc. There are two classes of vitamins. Water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins dissolve in water. This makes it possible for them to be absorbed through all mucous membranes. Fat soluble vitamins on the other hand do not dissolve or pass through mucous membranes. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the intestine along with fats in the diet. These vitamins have the ability to be stored in the fat tissues of the human body. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and have to be taken in daily with the food and dietary supplements. Solubility of a vitamin is not a function of its physical state. There are fat soluble vitamins that have a liquid form and almost all of the water soluble vitamins come in form of pills or powders.

In this article, we are going to focus on fat soluble vitamins. They are all complex molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in different arrangements (see figures 1, 2, 3 and 4). These fat soluble vitamins are vitamin A, D, E and K.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A has a major role in vision, immune function, cell growth, and maintenance of organs such as heart, kidneys, lungs, etc. It plays a pivotal role in the health of our eyes, specifically the retina1. Rhodopsin protein, a major protein that has the leading role in the process of vision, is found in the retina where it allows us to perceive light. This protein requires vitamin A to function properly. Without vitamin A, rhodopsin cannot sense light and thus cannot initiate the process by which vision occurs.

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Figure 1: Chemical structure of Vitamin A molecule

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D regulates different chemical reactions that are associated with bones, muscles, and the immune system. The simplified way it does this regulation is it helps absorb calcium from dietary nutrients which in turn strengthens the bones, helps neurons exchange signals to move muscles and helps the immune system to fight against viruses and bacteria2. 

pastedGraphic_1.pngFigure 2: Chemical structure of Vitamin D molecule

Vitamin E

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals that neutralize toxic byproducts of many chemical reactions in the human body. When food is consumed and digested, the human body converts it into energy. As a result of metabolism free radicals (toxic byproducts) are formed and are neutralized with the help of vitamin E. In addition, free radicals are also in the environment. Furthermore, vitamin E stimulates the immune system to fight against bacteria and viruses3.

pastedGraphic_2.pngFigure 3: Chemical structure of Vitamin E molecule

Vitamin K

Vitamin K can be obtained from food and dietary supplements. There are two forms of vitamin K: phylloquinone (Vitamin K1), which is found in spinach, kale and other greens and menaquinone-4 (Vitamin K2), which is found in animal products. Vitamin K1 is involved in blood clotting, and Vitamin K2 is involved in bone tissue building. Vitamin K1 is the main Vitamin K in human diet (75-90% of all vitamin K consumed), however, it is poorly absorbed in the body4,5. 

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Figure 4: Chemical structures of Vitamin K1 and K2 molecules

Absorption of fat soluble vitamins

Polarity describes the inherent charge(positive or negative) or lack of charge for any given substance or molecule.  Molecules that are charged are referred to as “polar”, while those that lack charge are “nonpolar”. When discussing solubility, it is important to remember the phrase “like dissolves like”. That means polar (charged) substances like to interact with a polar environment like water, since water contains a slight negative charge. Hence, charged substances are water-soluble. Nonpolar substances on the other hand readily interact with nonpolar environments such as fat, which contains no charge. Therefore, molecules that lack a charge such as vitamins A, D, E, and K are referred to as fat soluble. 

 

Due to their water fearing nature, these fat soluble vitamins cannot simply be absorbed directly into the bloodstream (which is mostly water) like the sugars and amino acids in our diet. As their name suggests, these fat soluble vitamins like to be embedded in fatty droplets, which facilitate their absorption in the following way. Fat soluble vitamins group together with other fat molecules to form fatty droplets, effectively reducing the amount of interaction with the watery environment of the intestines. Therefore, without an adequate amount of fat in your diet, your body is unable to effectively absorb these fat-soluble vitamins. This may be true in an intact anatomy, however, post weight loss surgical patients can not increase their fat soluble vitamin levels by increasing their fat intake. This is due to the fact that a high fat diet causes excessive bowel movement which in turn washes away any vitamins taken by mouth. DS limits fat absorption (thus the great weight loss) which can cause vitamin A and D deficiency that can not be easily corrected with oral supplementation.

As mentioned before, fat soluble vitamins are hydrophobic and nonpolar, which means they are also fat loving or lipophilic. Excess fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the liver and fat tissue. Therefore, these vitamins do not need to be eaten every single day since stores of these vitamins can sustain a person for some time. It may take several weeks or months for our body to deplete these stores of fat soluble vitamins which is why it generally takes a longer amount of time for fat soluble vitamin deficiencies to manifest themselves. The ability to store these fat soluble vitamins in tissues can also lead to vitamin toxicity – marked by an excess of vitamin stores in our body. 

Clinical manifestations of A, D, E, K deficiency

Vitamin Clinical Deficiency manifestations
Vitamin A Vision Problems

Night blindness 

Dryness of the eye

Vitamin D Softening and weakening of the bones

Decreased bone formation 

Bone shape distortion

Bowed legs (generally in children)

Hypocalcemia 

Vitamin E Damage to red blood cells 

Tissue/organ damage due to inability to supply enough blood

Vision problems

Nervous tissue malfunction

Vitamin K1  Excessive bruising

Increased bleeding time

Small blood clots under nails

Increased bleeding in mucous membrane

Vitamin K2  Weak bones

Increased plaque deposits along gumline

Arterial calcification

 

 

References

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin A. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/#. Accessed April 26, 2020.
  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/. Accessed April 26, 2020.
  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/. Accessed April 26, 2020.
  1. Vitamin K. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-k/. Published July 2, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2020.
  1. Beulens JWJ, Booth SL, van den Heuvel EGHM, Stoecklin E, Baka A, Vermeer C. The role of menaquinones (vitamin K₂) in human health. The British journal of nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23590754. Published October 2013. Accessed April 26, 2020.

Biofilm

April 26, 2020 9:44 am

Written By: Eric Baghdasaryan, Maria Vardapetyan, Osheen Abnous

Biofilm are tiny microorganism-filled communities found throughout the human gastrointestinal tract and oral cavity. These communities adhere to both biological and non-biological surfaces within the human body. They provide their inhabitants with many competitive advantages that help these bacterial communities withstand biological, chemical, and physical stresses1. Within these communities, microorganisms collaborate with one another to increase the likelihood of growth and multiplication despite the harsh conditions of the human gut. Not all bacteria within these biofilms are harmful, but those that are go on to cause infections and other severe health problems for the host. 

Biofilm formation

Studies have shown that approximately 60-80% of bacterial infections in the human body are associated with biofilm formation. Such findings have compelled researchers to investigate the complex factors responsible for biofilm formation.

Biofilm formation

Figure 1: Biofilm adhesion, formation, and maturation. whiteley.com.au/biofilms

It was shown that bacteria anchor themselves to the mocosa surface. They collectively form a protective layer made of polysaccharides, proteins, and extracellular DNA. This forms the biofilm matrix. This biofilm matrix acts as a shield against antimicrobials, toxins, and antibodies. From here, biofilm associated bacteria go on to cause chronic infections characterized by persistent inflammation and tissue damage, initiating in the gut and adjacent regions of the gastrointestinal tract. Furthermore, some biofilm associated bacteria have shown the ability to disperse from this mature biofilm to colonize new niches, underscoring the association between local infections and systemic diseases such as atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis2 caused by the buildup of biofilm dispersed bacteria and subsequent inflammation in the coronary vasculature and joint capsules, respectively. In fact, BADAS syndrome (bowel associated dermatosis-arthritis syndrome) is a condition where patients present themselves with small bumps on their inner skin (mainly along the vasculature) caused by the buildup of circulating microtoxins (very small clusters of bacteria). This may lead to chronic bacteremia in the bloodstream. Also, the over circulation of host immune complexes presents many problems for the patients, such as the development of arthritis and the accompanying joint pain, caused by the build up of white blood cells in host joint capsules. Patients often link the lumps to a dermatological condition, when in reality the condition is caused by a bacterial overgrowth originating in the gut and bowel. Clinicians now believe it is very likely these bacteria are biofilm-associated and a proper early diagnosis of the biofilm origin is critical to the prevention of BADAS and similar pathologies3. 

The formation of biofilms has been studied on foreign substances such as intravenous catheters, orthopedic implants, and other biomaterials that have shown device-associated infections. However, it is commonly accepted that the majority of chronic bacterial infections involve biofilm formation on natural surfaces. The pathogenic bacterial overgrowth, forming the biofilms, have been linked to major diseases of the gastrointestinal tract including Inflammatory bowel disease and colo-rectal cancer4.

In addition to the gastrointestinal tract, biofilms can also be formed in the oral cavity. Over 700 bacterial species reside in the oral cavity. These contribute to the outgrowth of oral biofilms (otherwise known as dental plaque, see figure 2). These oral biofilms are responsible for major oral diseases such as tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis. Moreover, those with periodontal infections have significantly increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke2. The inflammation caused by oral biofilm may also be a contributing cause of conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis1. Therefore, the control of oral biofilm growth before the development of oral infections is critical for the prevention of these system conditions.  

Dental biofilm

Figure 2: Oral Biofilm Formation.

https://phys.org/news/2018-10-scientists-infection-causing-biofilms.html

This symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship between gut microbiota (bacteria living in our gut) and the host begins at birth and is crucial to our overall fitness and health. However, certain external and internal factors modify the gut microbiota. This causes the formation of a pathogenic biofilm, which leads to detrimental health conditions. The same bacteria that was once helping us by maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract, is now triggering disease conditions4. 

Due to bacteria’s ability to translocate, migrate, and colonize new surfaces or niches, biofilm associated infections in the gut have been linked to systemic infections in other organs, including the joints, the skin, the eyes, the vasculature, the lungs, and even the central nervous system. It is assumed that the formation of a thick mucosal biofilm might be used as a diagnostic biomarker for the onset of systemic diseases. The outgrowth of a biofilm is widely viewed as the tipping point between two alternative states: a healthy and diseased gut1. 

Biofilm formation

Figure 3. Biofilm matrix – a protective layer.  Trends in Microbiology.

The biggest clinical challenge with biofilm-associated infections is their high resistance to antibiotic therapy. The effective therapeutic concentration of certain antibiotics to fight off bacteria within a biofilm (amount of the antibiotics needed in order to have positive therapeutic effects) is about 100-1000-fold higher than if the same bacteria were not associated with a biofilm2. The extracellular matrix, scaffold that keeps the bacteria anchored in place, prevents the penetration of host immune cells into the biofilm, thus contributing to the increased survival of the bacterial species living within the biofilm. Bacteria living within a biofilm also undergo an increased number of mutations, leading to the generation of more antibiotic-resistant phenotypes of bacteria. Finally, studies have shown that minimal concentrations of antibiotics may actually facilitate and stimulate biofilm formation, which can be extremely problematic in clinical treatment2. Therefore, to decrease the risk of biofilm induction, physicians should begin with very high doses of chemotherapeutics (antibiotics) from the very beginning of diagnosed infection. Looking ahead, there is clearly a need for novel biofilm-targeted therapies that are specifically made to prevent biofilm formation as well as eliminate the biofilm completely once it has already matured. Researchers have identified several drug candidates – DNase, lactoferrin, chlorhexidine, and taurolidine2 – that they believe have the potential to effectively penetrate and destroy components of the biofilm matrix. Further research is needed to determine their efficacy. 

 

References

  1. Tytgat HLP, Nobrega FL, van der Oost J, de Vos WM. Bowel Biofilms: Tipping Points between a Healthy and Compromised Gut? Trends in Microbiology. January 2019;27(1): 17-25. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2018.08.009.
  1. Marcinkiewicz J, Strus M, Pasich E. Antibiotic Resistance: a “dark side” of biofilm-associated chronic infections. Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnetrznej (Polish Archive of Internal Medicine). 2013;123(6):309-312. 
  1. Dicken CH. Bowel Associated Dermatosis-Arthritis Syndrome: Bowel Bypass Syndrome Without Bowel Bypass. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. January 1984;59(1):43-46. doi:10.1016/S0025-6196(12)60341-3
  1. Buret AG, Motta JP, Allain T, Ferraz J, Wallace JL. Pathobiont release from dysbiotic gut microbiota biofilms in intestinal inflammatory diseases: a role for iron? Journal of Biomedical Science. January 2019;26(1) doi:10.1186/s12929-018-0495-4

100% Fruit Juices and Risk of Cancer

April 16, 2020 8:54 pm

We have talked about the excess free calorie that is present with fruit juices. Now there is proven research article demonstrating the connection between surgary drinks and the increased risk of cancer. This study

This study is significant for a number of reasons: It is a very large study with over a 100,000 subjects studied. Furthermore, it was specifically looking for association between nutrition and health.

The conclusion of this research article is self explanatory. Eliminating or cutting down high sugary drinks is an easy way of reducing cancer risk factors. The study also states that there were no identifiable association between the artificial sweeteners and cancer risks. However, this conclusion was not statistically significant. The relationship between sweeteners and cancer have been studied extensively in the past and we’ve shared several of them.

Bariatric Surgery effects on PCOS

May 17, 2017 11:02 am

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) often feel hopeless and depressed with their diagnosis. Bariatric Surgery improves metabolic syndrome, diabetes resolution, cardiac improvement, quality of life, and increased life expectancy. Bariatric Surgery effects on PCOS are positive in many aspects. However, there isn’t a consensus regarding recommendation for bariatric surgery for PCOS other than morbidly obesity with co-morbities.

PCOS has been shown to effect approximately 10% of women of childbearing age with symptoms of menstrual abnormalities, poly cystic ovaries, and excess androgen (male sex hormone). PCOS should be diagnosed by ensuring there are no other underlying endocrine issues. There are several associated disease processes that seem to be related to PCOS, such as Type 2 Diabetes, higher depression and anxiety, increased cardiovascular risks, stroke, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, overall inflammation, and endometrial cancer.

Bariatric surgery can improve several issues related to PCOS such are Type 2 Diabetes, lower weight, sleep apnea, infertility, and hyperlipidemia. Duodenal Switch has the highest rate of Type 2 Diabetes resolution of all weight loss surgeries available at this time.  Duodenal Switch also significantly improves hyperlipidemia.Weight loss surgery has been shown to improve and in some cases resolved PCOS in general. A recent meta-analysis of the effects of bariatric surgery in more than 22,000 procedures found an average weight loss of 61%, associated with the complete resolution or improvement of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea in more than 60% of the patients. Another study looked just at PCOS patients and their metabolic improvement from 47% of the PCOS population to only 21% post Bariatric Surgery. 

Several recent article have described how Bariatric Surgery effects PCOS with positive aspects related to fertility. The range of improved fertility in post Bariatric PCOS patients is a wide range of 33-100% with in the literature. It is thought that the loss of fat mass improves hormone levels and insulin resistance in PCOS and has a positive effect on fertility. One study of only 6 omen had a 100% improvement of infertility. American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as well as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist have a statement that bariatric surgery is should not be considered a treatment for infertility. The graphic below demonstrates the overlap of some of the symptomatology between PCOS, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

There are several documented positive effects and improvement in co-morbidilties related to PCOS post Bariatric Surgery. These include lipid profile, lower weight, cardiovascular risk, hypertension, and fertility. It is important to note that certain bariatric surgeries have better resolution of these co-morbidities or symptoms of PCOS. Always discuss with your physicians and surgeon what your options are and which treatments may work best for you.

In Summary, PCOS is a metabolic disease condition affecting different organ systems.  Weight loss surgery should be considered as a viable treatment option and should be discussed with your OB/GYN and Infertility specialist.

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