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Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs) have been extensively studied for their cardioprotective effects. Several studies suggest that n-3 LCPUFAs reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, and it has been suggested that they do so by reducing resting heart rate. A meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of n-3 LCPUFAs on HR was published in 2005 and included 30 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 1678 participants. Since that time, many more RCTs have been conducted on this topic.

The association between maternal folic acid and multivitamin supplementation and risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been evaluated in several epidemiologic studies. The California Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment (CHARGE) study identified a reduced risk of ASD with folic acid supplementation beginning 12 weeks prior to pregnancy and into the first 4 weeks into pregnancy. Studies in Norway have reported similar findings, but studies in Denmark have not. Results from the Stockholm Youth Cohort reported an association between multivitamin use during pregnancy and a reduced risk of ASD with intellectual disability. 

Melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, is best known for regulating sleep and the circadian rhythm. Melatonin can also exert anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and cardio-protective effects. Experimental studies show that melatonin enhances insulin sensitivity, increases activity of lipoprotein lipase, decreases lipolysis in adipose tissue, increases conversion of cholesterol to bile acids, and protects LDL from oxidation.

Mucositis is a common side effect of chemotherapeutic drugs used in the treatment of cancer. Almost all patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy and 80% of patients being treated for head and neck cancers experience mucositis. Symptoms include oral ulcers, erythema, edema, bleeding, and severe pain, which can interfere with swallowing, eating, drinking, and talking. Mucositis can also increase the risk of infection and interfere with patients’ ability to tolerate cancer treatments.

Curcumin, a polyphenolic compound derived from Curcuma longa (turmeric), is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies in animals suggest that curcumin may also offer neuroprotection by decreasing accumulation of beta-amyloid in senile plaques and tau proteins in neurofibrillary tangles. Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease but may begin to develop decades before symptoms of dementia appear. 

Depression is estimated to affect as many as 13% of women during pregnancy, most commonly during the second and third trimesters. Iron deficiency is also common during pregnancy, and, although it has been associated with depression in the general population, iron deficiency has never been evaluated in relation to antenatal depression. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario conducted a retrospective chart analysis to evaluate the association between iron deficiency and maternal depression in mid to late pregnancy.

This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, published in 2017 in the journal Phytomedicine, aimed to evaluate the anti-depressant effect of saffron (Crocus sativus) in breastfeeding mothers with postpartum depression. The study was conducted in Iran, a country where an estimated 25% of mothers experience postpartum depression and where approximately 90% of the world’s saffron originates.  

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have a mediating effect on inflammation and therefore might modulate the risk of allergic disease. Relying on data from a longitudinal birth cohort study in Sweden, researchers investigated whether omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs in plasma phospholipids at the age of 8 influenced the risk of asthma, rhinitis, and aeroallergen sensitization up to age 16.

Vitamin D influences calcium absorption, fracture risk, and muscle function. Low levels of vitamin D may increase susceptibility to injury by adversely affecting muscle contractility and causing muscle fiber atrophy. A study published in The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery in 2017 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D level and the prevalence of lower extremity muscle strains and core muscle injuries in elite level college athletes at the annual NFL Scouting Combine.

Fish are an important dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the growth and development of neuronal tissue and have demonstrated cognitive benefits across the lifespan. Omega-3 fatty acids also modulate sleep via melatonin and prostaglandin production, and fish consumption is associated with improved sleep in epidemiological studies. 

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