Today, two studies that conducted clinical trials using food appeared on my nutrition research radar: a study by Navarro and co-workers looking at the effect of cruciferous vegetables on markers of inflammation, and another by Pereira-Caro and colleagues on the bioavailability of polyphenols from orange juice. What do these types of studies tell us about health benefits of foods and phytonutrients?
Hansen and colleagues report on how parents’ perceptions of childhood overweight have changed over 15 years. Comparing sampling periods from 1988-1994 with 2005-2010, the researchers found that the probability that parents correctly identify their child as overweight decreased by 16% between the two study periods, with more parents thinking that their overweight or obese child had a weight that was about right. What is going on here?
Antioxidants protect us. Our bodies have many interrelated systems to protect our cells and tissues. Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) is the most abundant lipid-soluble antioxidant in our bodies. It is co-located within cell membranes to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from peroxidization. Vitamin E, as well as other antioxidants such as vitamin C and selenium, help protect DNA and proteins from oxidation. Vitamin C is required to regenerate vitamin E.
Nutrient intakes are routinely used to estimate nutrient status. Because of day-to-day variability in eating patterns, the number of days of food intake data required varies tremendously by nutrient. Food intake must be recorded for 5-16 days to estimate the true average vitamin B intake for a group of individuals and greater than 19 days for vitamins A and C. Most nutrient intake studies are not this comprehensive.
Ideally, nutritional status is assessed using objective measures
Malnutrition can have long term effects on health and development, especially when it occurs during the first thousand days of a child’s life, from before conception to the age of two. From a nutrition stand-point, the best outcomes for children occur when their mothers are well-nourished from the pre-pregnancy period up until birth, and they receive appropriate and adequate nutrition that is tied to their age and development throughout infancy and childhood. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. The prevalence of children who are negatively affected by malnutrition is high in low- and middle-income, and probably limits the health and cognitive ability of populations, to the extent that overall national development is impaired. Can micronutrient supplementation be helpful?
The television commercials of tanned, active young men and women enjoying outdoors activities, especially the beach, effectively compel us to warmer climates during the winter months. When skies are cloudy, temperatures are cool, and conditions can be downright wet or cold, people yearn to feel the sun warming their bodies. It feels good. It is good because vitamin D supports bone and muscle health. Especially important for teenagers.
The link between fish-based omega-3 fatty acids and heart health has been recognized since the 1960’s. We now have recommendations from the American Heart Association (among others) for intakes of omega-3 fatty acids which aim to support heart health. But what’s a person to do if they don’t like fish? Or if you’re a vegetarian? Are there other sources of EPA and DHA?