The Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have announced the creation of a certification process for nutritional supplements containing carotenoids. The team behind Supplement Certified work at the Howard Laboratory in the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) at WIT.
The laboratory is named after Dr Alan Howard who supported much of the early research at NRCI into the use of dietary supplements containing carotenoids to enhance eye and brain health. The idea for testing the actual carotenoid content of nutritional supplements against their label claims came from Dr Howard during the work on the Meso-zeozanthin Ocular Supplementation Trials (MOST) which began in 2010. The trials were showing some surprising results and Dr Howard suggested testing the supplements that were being used. This showed that supplements may not actually contain what the label says and this amount may also decline over time.
The team, led by Professor John Nolan and Dr Alfonso Prado-Cabrero, have been involved in research into nutritional supplements for over 20 years. In the last few months they have analysed some 47 nutritional supplements containing carotenoids and found that 64% do not meet the content described on their labels. The team have also worked with supplement producers to help them improve their products so that they do indeed contain what the label states and what the consumer expects.
For over a decade, the Howard Foundation has supported research into the health benefits of the three macular carotenoids: Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Meso-zeaxanthin. This has led to a number of research trials and scientific papers published in many journals.
The most significant of these papers have now been gathered together on the Publications page of this website. This shows the story of the development of the research, first into eye health and latterly into eye and brain health. It highlights the major trials, sponsored either fully by the Foundation or in conjunction with others: MOST, CREST (the gold-standard trial funded by the European Research Council), CARDS and CARES.
The latest study, the Re-MIND trial, is due to report later in 2021.
Click here to see the Publications page and click here for the personal recollections from the late Dr Alan Howard on how this research developed.
Dr Rebecca Power, a Howard Research Fellow at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), in the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), has been awarded a European fellowship to allow her to continue her research training and career development. She will spend one year at the University of Illinois with Professor Aron Barbey before returning to Waterford to continue her work with Professor John Nolan.
For over five years, the Foundation has funded Rebecca’s research on the role of nutrition in cognitive health. She is the first beneficiary of the MSCA fellowship award from WIT.
Dr Power stated: “The work that I will undertake during the MSCA fellowship will further improve our understanding of the parts of the brain and neural networks that are strengthened by specific foods.“
For over ten years, the Howard Foundation has been supporting research at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) into the important of dietary supplements containing carotenoids towards eye and brain health.
A new paper published this month in the journal Antioxidants surveyed some 435 papers that addressed the effect of carotenoid intervention on cognitive function and selected nine for a meta-analysis. The meta-analysis included only randomized controlled trials which are considered the ‘gold standard’ of clinical studies. The 2018 paper from Rebecca Power at WIT is one of the nine that were selected.
The new paper, Carotenoids and Cognitive Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Intervention Trials, focussed on nine studies of healthy adults aged from 45 to 78 years. It states that “Although further studies are needed, our results suggest that carotenoid interventions are associated with better cognitive performance. Thus, these dietary compounds may help to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.” It concludes: “these results highlight the potential role of carotenoids in the protection of mental functions even in subjects without cognitive impairment. This is particularly important because the population is aging, and preservation of cognitive function is crucial for individual autonomy and quality of life“.
Rebecca Power has received direct support from the Howard Foundation. Click here to read her paper, Supplemental Retinal Carotenoids Enhance Memory in Healthy Individuals with Low Levels of Macular Pigment in A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial, that was co-authored by Dr Alan Howard and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The late Dr Alan Howard, PhD, began studying the effects of carotenoids on eye health over ten years ago. He joined with Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre in Waterford Ireland to conduct scientific research. Having established significant benefits to eye health, Dr Howard instigated further research on the potential effects of carotenoids plus fish oils on the brain. Clinical trials, conducted by Professor Nolan and Professor Riona Mulcahy, have had positive results from patients with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease.
As a result of this research, a patent for the discovery was granted in the UK in 2018 and, on 17th November 2020, the United States Patent Office have granted the application for the “Prevention and/or treatment of neurodegenerative disease”.
The title page of the US patent grant is show below. For further information on the commercial development resulting from this research, please see www.memoryhealth.com
The November 2020 edition of Ophthalmology Times Europe includes an overview of the work of Profession John Nolan, the Howard Foundation Chair in Human Nutrition Research at the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Professor Nolan has been conducting research into macular pigments for 20 years and has been the Howard Chair since 2016. He began collaboration with Dr Alan Howard in 2009. Alongside his research, he has guided a number of clinical trials to show the benefit of oral supplements to contrast sensitivity and to reducing age-related macular degeneration. His current research is directed towards the treatment and prevention of dementia and cognitive function, particularly for people with Alzheimers disease.
A study by the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI), sponsored by the Howard Foundation together with IOSA and WIT, has identified a new formulation that can greatly increase the efficacy of nutritional supplements that are increasingly recognised for their value to eye health.
The study was led by Dr Marina Green-Gomez and supervised by Professor John Nolan, the Howard Chair in Human Nutrition at WIT.
Titled COAST (Carotenoid-Omega Availability STudy), the research compared bioavailability of key carotenoids when they were taken as microcrystals suspended in sunflower or omega-3 oil with a new method of delivery. In the innovative Micro-Micelle formulation, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin travelled more efficiently into the bloodstream, increasing the bioavailability and impact of these carotenoids.
There has been £1,500 raised towards the provision of domestic facilities at the Parish Church of St Mary and St Michael in Trumpington, Cambridge where Dr Howard is buried.
The BBC Radio 4 programme Last Word included a segment on Dr Howard in their broadcasts on 24th and 26th July. Click here to listen. The segment on Dr Howard begins at 21 minutes 45 seconds.
Professor John Nolan and his team at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland have put together a visual tribute including people associated with Dr Howard in the last decade of his life. The song is The Parting Glass sung by the Irish musician Hozier.
The funeral of Dr Howard is on the 16th July 2020 starting at 1pm BST. The service will be live streamed and can be viewed through the area below. After the funeral, the video of the service will be available through the same area. The restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic mean that the congregation is limited to only 30 invited people and it is not possible for them to sing. Alan wanted the format of the service to follow that of his wife Grace Howard who died in 2008. Alan is to be buried in the same grave. Recordings of the four hymns will be played and during the Ave Verum, the live stream and video will show pictures from Alan’s life.