A Review Of Nutritional Interventions For Schizophrenia Treatment

SuperfoodsSchizophrenia is a chronic condition that significantly impacts  the individual and the family. The disorder also has wider consequences for society in terms of significant costs to the economy. This highly prevalent condition affects approximately 1% of the worldwide population, yet there are few therapeutic options.

The predominant treatment strategy for schizophrenia is anti-psychotic medication (with or without additional talking therapy) even though this approach lacks efficacy in managing the negative symptoms of the condition, is not effective in one-third of the patient group and the side effects of the medication can be severe and debilitating.

In recent years, a number of pathophysiological processes have been identified in groups of people with schizophrenia including oxidative stress, one-carbon metabolism and immune-mediated responses. A number of studies have shown that these altered physiological mechanisms can be ameliorated by nutritional interventions in some individuals with schizophrenia.

This review published in Nutrition Journal by Megan Anne Arroll1*, Lorraine Wilder2 and James Neil2 briefly describes the aforementioned processes and outlines research that has investigated the utility of nutritional approaches as an adjunct to anti-psychotic medication which includes:

  • Antioxidant and vitamin B supplementation,
  • Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory nutrients and
  • Exclusion diets as an adjunct to anti-psychotic medication
  • Oxidative stress and the benefits of supplementation
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
  • Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine)
  • Vitamins C and E
  • Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)
  • L-Theanine
  • One carbon metabolism and B vitamins
  • Folate and B vitamin supplementation
  • Immune-mediated responses and the therapeutic benefits of casein- and gluten-free diets
  • Vitamin D as a risk factor for the development of schizophrenia

While none of these interventions provides a ‘one-size-fits-all’ therapeutic solution, the authors suggest that a personalized approach warrants research attention as there is growing agreement that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder that develops from the interplay between environmental and genetic factors.

Human Safety Thresholds for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals May Be Inaccurate

10 April 2014 Bioscientifica Ltd

BPA containing plastic bottlesHuman and rat testes respond differently to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA in two thirds of all cases, according to a recent review. As human safety levels are extrapolated from rodent data, the study could lead to a re-evaluation of the acceptable daily intake for many endocrine disruptors. The review is published in a special April issue of the journal Reproduction dedicated to endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors (EDs) are compounds that interfere with animal hormone (or endocrine) systems in various ways. Sometimes, this can lead to developmental problems, including those of the reproductive system. Over the past four decades, human sperm counts have been markedly decreasing and the rate of testicular cancer rates has risen. Meanwhile, the occurance of undescended testicles and abnormally developed male urethras are also thought to be increasing. Evidence suggests that these male reproductive disorders are at least partially due to the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals which are becoming increasingly concentrated and prevalent in the environment and that these EDs act on the testis during fetal development.

Suspected EDs include pesticides, flame retardants and chemicals found in plastic goods such as bisphenol A (BPA) – one of a group called phthalates.. Currently, the human health risk from exposure to a given endocrine disruptor is normally assessed using a rodent model. The observed safety threshold is then reduced by a factor of 100 to calculate safety levels for humans.

In a recent review, researchers from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and University of Paris-Diderot compared the effects of six potential EDs on the function of rat, mouse and human fetal testis at comparable stages of their development. They simulated normal testicular development in each of these species using a novel in vitro culture system called FeTA. They found that the response to these six potential EDs was similar in humans and rodents for only one third of analyses. Human testes were more than 100 times more susceptible to some compounds, including BPA, compared to in rodents. For other compounds different effects were seen between species. More recent studies have confirmed the findings using a different experimental approach.

Sleeping Man and BabyProfessor René Habert, who led the study, said: “Our work suggests that for some compounds, human and rat cells show different susceptibilities. For others, there appear to be fundamental differences in the way these compounds act in humans and rodents. We think that these differences between species are even more pronounced for reproductive functions. This means we really have to question how relevant animal data is to assessing risk in humans.”

The FeTA system is an extremely reliable system for studying testicular cell development across species. It is more efficient than in vivo methods and also avoids problems of cross-contamination. “Our work highlights the fact that we need to test the effects of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals in both rat and human cells to be able to accurately predict the risk,” said Professor Habert. “The FeTA system is a great tool for comparing effects of endocrine disruptors on testis development in different species. However, the limitation is that we cannot use it to study long-term effects, as testis development can only be maintained for up to ten days, depending on the species.”

The next stage for the research is to assess the risk of BPA substitutes, including BPS and BPF, in both human and rodents. The group is also investigating how these compounds interact with rodent and human cells at the molecular level to understand how differences between species arise. “We need to develop specific tools to study chemical toxicity in human reproductive cells; this will allow us to accurately assess safety thresholds for different compounds, and re-evaluate the acceptible daily intake levels to protect human health for some of them” said Professor Habert.

Low Fat, High Fish Oil Diet May Benefit Men With Prostate Cancer


By Nathan Gray+, 25-Nov-2013


The Seat of MasculinityA low-fat diet in combination with supplementation with omega-3 rich fish oil may be associated with lower levels of pro-inflammatory substances and reduced cell progression scores in men with prostate cancer, research has suggested.


The Decline In Male Fertility

The bottom line from experts at a major fertility conference:

A possible sperm crisis is afoot.

By Shirley Wang London

Are today’s young men less fertile than their fathers were? It’s a controversy in the fertility field, with some experts raising the alarm over what some are calling a “sperm crisis” because they believe men’s sperm counts have been decreasing for a decade or more.

Experts here for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual conference last week debated the issue for an entire day.

One recent analysis found that in France, the sperm concentration of men decreased by nearly one-third between 1989 and 2005. Most but not all studies from several European nations with large databases and the ability to track health records have found that over the past 15 years or so, the counts of healthy men ages 18 to 25 have significantly decreased. This comes after a prominent study from the 1990s suggested that sperm count has decreased by half over the last half-century.

Declining Sperm Count Causes Info GraphicMany experts questioned the validity of those findings. There are huge variations in results by country and region. Certain areas, especially in the developing world, haven’t been studied at all. In the U.S., some historical data suggest a decrease in sperm count among American men, but no published recent data exist.

Understanding if men are producing less sperm has implications beyond male fertility and couples who want children. The same environmental factors that might harm reproduction may also impact other parts of the body. Sperm count has even been linked with life expectancy, independent of cause of death.

“It’s a public health indicator,” says Joëlle Le Moal, an epidemiologist at the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance near Paris.

Proponents say that exposure to pesticides, endocrine-disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A and lifestyle habits like sitting for too long contribute to the proposed sperm crisis. And there is increasing evidence that sperm count, like other health conditions, may be influenced by what happens to people early in life, even in the womb.

“If our gametes, male or female, are not produced in the right manner, it could impact the next generation’s health,” says Dr. Le Moal.

In general, men produce upward of 60 million sperm per milliliter of semen. As long as the count is roughly greater than 40 million per ml, men are considered fertile and have the same chance of getting their partners pregnant as someone who produces a higher count.

One of the most robust links with decreased sperm count is

maternal smoking during pregnancy.

Declining Sperm Levels GraphBut below that threshold and particularly under about 20 million per ml, their ability to help conceive drops. It may take a couple longer than a year to conceive—a problem known as subfertility—or they may not succeed at all.

Not everyone in the field agrees a sperm crisis exists. Critics say that sperm concentration in a population is incredibly difficult to measure for a number of reasons, including the primary one of how to find men representative of the population. Tracking men who show up at a fertility clinic, for instance, would skew the results one way. Neither do sperm donors accurately stand for all the men in a region. Some recent studies have examined young men applying for military service, though the participation rate in the research tends to be low.

In addition, there could be errors in measurement because of any number of immediate environmental factors, including the length of abstinence, scrotal temperature and time of year.


How To Please Your WomanStefan Schlatt, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology at the University of Münster in Germany, says he doesn’t believe there is a sperm crisis world-wide. Even if sperm count decreased over time, it’s unclear how many more men fall into the category of subfertile or infertile, Dr. Schlatt says.

But coordinated studies across Northern Europe found that as many as 1 in 5 young men have sperm counts low enough to affect fertility, according to Richard Sharpe, a male reproductive health specialist at the University of Edinburgh.

The key may be Sertoli cells, which support the testes’ germ cells during their 10-week development into becoming sperm. Each Sertoli cell can only support a certain number of germ cells that produce sperm, so the number of Sertoli cells essentially caps a man’s maximum production of sperm.

Sertoli cells appear to proliferate in the six months before and after a male child’s birth. While outside factors can decrease sperm production, there don’t appear to be any that can increase the production above the limit set by the number of Sertoli cells, Dr. Sharpe says.

In Dr. Le Moal’s study, which she presented last week, she and her colleagues examined data collected by a professional organization in charge of artificial reproductive technique statistics in France, known as Fivnat. The sample consisted of over 26,000 male partners of women who were known to be infertile and going through infertility treatments at clinics around the country from 1989 to 2005. The men weren’t known to be infertile, and therefore were considered a more representative sample than studies that focused on men who were seeking treatment for infertility.

The men’s semen quality was tested two times in separate laboratories and measured for sperm number, vitality and shape. The researchers averaged the two samples to get a more reliable figure to take into account age and season. In addition, the method of measurement, especially for the sperm’s number and vitality didn’t change substantially across France during this period, which is a common criticism of such long-term studies, Dr. Le Moal says.

They found that during the 17-year study period, men’s sperm concentration decreased by nearly a third, or 1.9% a year. In 1989, the average level of sperm for a 35-year-old man was 73.6 million per ml, well above the subfertile threshold, while in 2005 it had dropped to 49.4 million per ml. The results were published in December in the journal Human Reproduction.

Accumulating evidence suggests that early life influences make a difference. Some researchers say that there is a vulnerable period, perhaps between eight and 14 weeks of gestation, in which influences are irreversible. One of the most robust links with decreased sperm count is maternal smoking during pregnancy.

In a study known as Raine of nearly 2,000 males enrolled as babies and now in their early 20s, the size of the testicles was related to total sperm count, and sperm count was more likely to be lower in boys who were born small for gestational age, who were overweight or underweight in childhood or whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.

marijuana leafThe male’s own current marijuana use was also linked to lower sperm count, according to data presented at the conference by Roger Hart, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Western Australia.

Some factors that impact sperm may be reversible. Others have found that how much belly fat men have, even those not overweight, is linked with testosterone levels in young men.

“By adopting a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle in pregnancy, you can give your developing baby the very best start in life which will minimize the risk of future diseases,” Edinburgh’s Dr. Sharpe says. “If it’s a boy, then this will also make sure that his sperm count, and thus his fertility, is not compromised in any way.”

Write to Shirley S. Wang at Shirley.Wang@wsj.com

A version of this article appeared July 16, 2013, on page D1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Decline in Male Fertility.

CoQ10 May Help Male Fertility

One Out Of Every 20 Men Suffers From Male Factor Infertility

Men with poor sperm health recently received some good news! Supplementation with the nutrient known as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for at least three months may help enhance overall sperm health, according to a new study published in Andrologia. CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is a powerful antioxidant compound, which acts specifically to protect against free radical damage to fats. Because fats are key components of sperm cell membranes, the antioxidant activity of CoQ10 helps preserve the health of sperm cells.

Current estimates indicate that one out of every 20 men suffers from male factor infertility, and this percentage is likely to increase in the years to come. Fertility experts point to poor sperm health as the primary cause of male infertility, and talk about low sperm count, low sperm motility (the ability of sperm to swim in a forward motion), and abnormal morphology (the size and shape of sperm) in discussions about suboptimal male fertility.

Unfortunately, sperm cells are often subjected to oxidative stress, a physiological condition that arises when there is an imbalance in the number of free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules) and the amount of antioxidants present. Such an imbalance can result from an excessive free radical load, a deficiency in antioxidants, or both. Smoking cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and chronic exposure to environmental pollutants cause an increase in the production of free radicals.

On the other hand, many people’s diets lack sufficient amounts of antioxidant nutrients that the body uses to battle free radicals. Consequently, oxidative stress is very common in the modern age, and has been implicated as the cause of many human diseases and medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers now believe that up to 80 percent of all cases of male infertility can be attributed to oxidative stress, due to the reduced sperm count, poor sperm motility and even DNA damage.

Further Resources: thumb_coenzyme_q10_cover

Coenzyme Q10 levels in idiopathic and varicocele-associated asthenozoospermia

Relationship between sperm cell ubiquinone and seminal parameters in subjects with and without varicocele

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