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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


    Age-Related Macular Degeneration Risk is Influenced by Vitamin D Status

    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of visual impairment and blindness as people age. Two large RCTs (AREDS and AREDS2) have demonstrated that increased consumption of antioxidant nutrients (vitamins C, E, zinc, copper, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin) can significantly decrease the progression of AMD by ~27%.

    The CARED study measured pigment density (MPOD) of lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula of the retina of 1,803 individuals. 

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    The Trick is Getting Nutrients, like the Book “George”, to as Many People as Possible

    To be frank, I am still perturbed by quotes in The Washington Post surrounding the secondary analysis of the AREDS2 randomized controlled trial (RCT) which was so aptly summarized by Dr Eric Ciappio yesterday.

    While it is entirely correct to say “We don’t know whether these supplements might be beneficial at an earlier age”, the AREDS2 study design and results do not support the statement “A much better bet for all-around brain and heart health is eating foods naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts.” Show me the evidence from RCTs to justify this statement. It doesn’t exist. There aren’t any placebo-controlled RCTs with salmon, flaxseed, or walnuts.

    Why recommend eating more fish? Are fish a more sustainable protein source? Or is it because of an inherent property, such as n-3 fatty acids? What about the risk of mercury contamination?

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    Square Pegs & Round Holes: Complications Of Interpreting Secondary Analyses of Nutrition RCTs

    In nutrition we depend on large clinical trials to answer important questions about the efficacy of nutrients. These studies are often designed to answer a single question – does vitamin D reduce fracture incidence? Do antioxidants prevent the progression of eye disease? When we try to answer questions other than what a study was designed to answer, it feels like we’re trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Sure, we can get it to fit, but does that mean it’s the right fit?  

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    How Does Food Insecurity Affect Nutrient Intakes?

    Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt writes about the extreme food insecurity that he experienced growing up in the United States and Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s:

    "...everything was precious. I remember a loaf of bread that was precious because it was so little. My mother would bring home what they called a Vienna loaf. I remember one particular loaf of bread when we were so hungry. I can still taste it. So poverty does make things precious. It turns everything into jewelry."

    Food insecurity changes food choices and how we think about food. This can affect micronutrient intakes, as shown in a recent study of food security in South Korea.

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    Nutritional Harmony: Keeping PUFA and Vitamin E in Balance

    As I sat down to eat lunch today with my colleagues, they had a question for me: what is healthier to eat for breakfast, a fried egg or a bowl of cereal? Humans love dichotomies almost as much as talking about why their own dietary choices are the best, and my first reaction was to tell them that what I eat for breakfast, a bowl of natural muesli, is the superior choice. But with a second’s deliberation, my answer was that it depends. Good nutrition is not about what single food we eat at one moment in the day. Just as our total diet should be balanced, so should particular nutrients that work in tandem, like vitamin E and PUFA.

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