Welcome to the first edition of Thorne’s Research Extracts. This is our new monthly update on the latest research that might impact the health of you or your patients. Knowing that busy practitioners don’t always have time to focus on the latest research, our medical team of a dozen NDs, MDs, PhDs, RDs, and MS (Biol) have culled through recent research, extracted the essence of several of the most interesting studies, and provided bite-sized summaries of each. Enjoy.

In this issue: (1) quality of life for patients on strict gluten-free diets; (2) fertility and iodine deficiency; (3) ATA iodine recommendations for pregnancy; (4) modes of birth as they relate to the microbiome and childhood obesity; and (5) exercise and Alzheimer’s disease.

Quality of life on a gluten-free diet

It is increasingly common for clinicians to ask patients to follow gluten-free diets for celiac disease, but also for other health concerns. Eating is very connected to our emotions. Not only can emotions drive us to eat, but what we eat can have a large impact of how we feel. 

This study assessed Quality of Life (QOL) in 80 adults and teens following a strict gluten-free diet for diagnosed celiac disease. The study found that those who were most vigilant with their diet were the most knowledgeable about what they needed to do, but also had the lowest QOL, including higher levels of fatigue and anxiety. 

While clinicians might do a good job of educating patients about the connection between their diet and their health condition, they might be falling short in giving patients resources for psycho-social support.

Since all of these factors are important to compliance, clinicians should not ignore the social and emotional impact of strict dietary change. The authors of this study suggest that medical care for those requiring strict dietary change, such as with celiac disease, might need to include access to more regular nutritional counseling and mental health support for the best quality of life and success. 


Low iodine levels can impair female fertility

A recent study of 501 women found that moderate-to-severely low urinary levels of iodine (defined as iodine-creatinine ratios were below 50 mcg/g) can decrease chances of becoming pregnant by as much as 46% compared to women with adequate iodine levels.

In this study, 22.5% of the participants were either moderately or severely low in iodine, while an additional 22% were mildly deficient. Researchers concluded: “Significant delays in becoming pregnant occur at iodine concentrations that are common in women in the USA and parts of Europe.”  


  • Mills JL, Buck Louis GM, Kannan K, et al. Delayed conception in women with low-urinary iodine concentrations: a population-based prospective cohort study, Human Reproduct 2018 Jan 11; doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex379.
  • https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dex379 [Accessed 1.15.18]

New recommendations call for 150 mcg of iodine in prenatal vitamins

To ensure that an adequate amount of iodine is available for healthy fetus and infant development, in addition to eating iodine-rich foods, it is recommended that women – preconception, during pregnancy, and during lactation – take a prenatal multi-vitamin/mineral supplement that provides 150 mcg of iodine daily. This is the recommendation of both the American Thyroid Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition. 


Can exercise prevent Alzheimer’s disease? New study says it plays a part

According to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, poorer fitness levels in aging adults increase the rate of white matter deterioration and overall brain connectivity. This finding plays a vital role in understanding the risks associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and adds to a growing body of literature pointing to the benefits of exercise on improved brain health and general reduction in the rate of aging. As a follow-up, a 5-year clinical trial is underway that will more closely analyze the role that exercise – particularly aerobic exercise – plays in overall risk reduction in participants who are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.


Relationship between birth mode, gut microbiota, and childhood obesity

A study of 935 mother-infant pairs examined the relationship between mothers’ pre-pregnancy body mass index (used as a measure of obesity) and that of her offspring (adjusted for age and gender according to World Health Organization criteria) at ages one and three. Compared to normal weight mothers, children born to overweight or obese mothers were three times as likely to be overweight at ages one and three.

In addition, mode of delivery (vaginal birth versus C-section) and infant microbiota (tested at average age 3.7 months) were examined for differences in risk for childhood obesity. Children born to an overweight mother and delivered via C-section had a 5-fold increased risk of being overweight at ages one and three.

Differences in the microbial makeup of the gut were noted and considered to contribute to these differences, with higher concentrations of Firmicutes, particularly from the Lachnospiraceae family, associated with higher risks for obesity.