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Experimental studies have demonstrated biological plausibility of vitamin D as an immune-modulating and anticancer agent. Epidemiological studies examining the relationship between vitamin D status and risk of initial breast cancer occurrence have produced mixed results, but there is sound evidence that low serum vitamin D levels correlate with advanced tumor stage and triple-negative subtype at diagnosis. The relationship between vitamin D status and breast cancer prognosis was the subject of the study reviewed here.

Obesity is associated with a state of chronic and low-grade inflammation, which likely contributes to the associated risks for insulin-resistance, diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. The inflammation of obesity is mediated, in part, by cytokines and chemokines produced by adipocytes themselves, but the mechanisms are complex. A 2016 study published by Polus, et al. explored the effects of omega-3 supplementation on circulating inflammatory proteins, pro-resolving mediators, and genetic expression in women with obesity.

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the primary catechin present in green tea (Camellia sinensis). EGCG has antioxidant, antibacterial, antidiabetic, and hypocholesterolemic effects. Thermogenic effects of EGCG have also been proposed, leading to its popular use as a weight-loss supplement. In the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (2016), Kapoor and colleagues published a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate whether EGCG can indeed increase energy expenditure and promote fat oxidation in humans. 

Osteoarthritis (OA) creates joint pain and discomfort, predominantly in the knees and hips. The most common medications used to treat OA are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which increase the risk for gastrointestinal distress. Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) is a botanical medicine that has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for symptoms of joint pain

Insufficient levels of vitamin D have been associated with the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as the severity of ASD symptoms. It has been suggested that vitamin D acts as a neuroactive steroid, influencing neuronal differentiation, axon connectivity, and brain structure and function. Vitamin D also regulates gene expression, upregulates DNA repair genes, modulates immune responses, and controls inflammation.

Gestational diabetes is defined as elevated blood sugar during pregnancy in women without previous diabetes. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include maternal obesity, increasing maternal age, family history of type 2 diabetes, and previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes.

Falls can result in fractures, bruising, head injuries, and decreased quality of life in the elderly, and those who live in residential care facilities are at particular risk. Interventions to decrease falls in this population include fall-prevention training for staff, living space adjustments, exercise programs, hip protectors, patient education, and medications.

Metabolic syndrome is defined by the presence of 3 out of 5 metabolic risk factors: abdominal obesity, hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, high triglycerides, and low HDL-cholesterol. Patients with metabolic syndrome are susceptible to increased systemic inflammation and oxidative stress and are at an increased risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D, a steroid hormone that helps to regulate calcium metabolism and immune function, may also play a role in neurological and psychiatric disorders. The 1α-hydroxylase enzyme, which activates vitamin D, as well as vitamin D receptors have been identified in the neurons and glial cells of the central nervous system. Animal studies have shown vitamin D deficiency to produce anatomic changes in brain development, and human studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may benefit some psychiatric illnesses, such as major depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that affects women of reproductive age, is characterized by endocrine and metabolic abnormalities that include hormonal changes, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and ovulatory dysfunction. Hyperandrogenism, resulting from increased androgen production from the ovaries and adrenal glands, is a characteristic feature of PCOS. Anti-androgen medications and oral contraceptives are common treatments for women with PCOS. In vitro studies suggest that resveratrol may offer a natural alternative to medications to reduce androgen levels.

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