“In setting public policy to control vitamin deficiency, no interventions should be necessary if normal vitamin status is sustained from a diversified diet”. Wise words from West and colleagues in their commentary on vitamin A policies. We are what we eat.
Last month, we had posted an article about the release of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on screening for vitamin D deficiency, which effectively said that they were neither for or against screening, and that more evidence was needed before making a decision. However, we were of the opinion that given the widespread prevalence of low vitamin D intake and the increasing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, screening was a good idea. What do the experts think?
Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids and are low in saturated fat. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin to the brain and nervous system. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, are nursing and their young children to avoid certain types of fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish).
Strain and colleagues investigated the relationship between maternal mercury exposure and child development in 1,265 mother-child pairs from a high fish-eating population.
Memory is a tricky thing.
Tell me, what did you eat yesterday? What about the day before? What about 3 months ago – perhaps on October 20th? (well, ok maybe that’s cheating since it was my birthday – so for me the answer is cake and a lot of it.) In nutrition, we rely on the ability of our memories to accurately recall what we ate yesterday (as in a 24 hour recall), which is problematic at best. Now imagine trying to get an accurate picture of what you’ve been eating over the last 3 to 6 months or so (as in a food frequency questionnaire)? Trusting our own recall and honesty is often problematic at best, and what can be worse is using the information we get from our own recall in an inappropriate fashion. Is there a better way?
The third week of January is marked by wavering resolve to New Year’s resolutions. If you have already regressed to former habits you are not alone! A study from the University of Scranton found that losing weight and staying fit and healthy are top resolutions for Americans. But, only 8% achieve their resolutions. The good news is it is never too late to start over. Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help adopt healthy eating habits such as increasing dietary fiber from whole grains. Dietary fiber supports heart health and new evidence suggests that whole grain consumption is also linked with mortality.
Over the last decades, the food environment has shifted in response to demographic, social and technological factors. Family structures have changed; more women work outside the home, and technology has expanded food processing capabilities and opened a wide variety of venues for consumption (a cupcake vending machine?). Have these shifts led to changes in eating behavior patterns and nutrient intake? Body weight continues to creep higher but despite excessive dietary consumption, the prevalence of inadequate intake of micronutrients is greater in obese compared to normal weight adults in the U.S. Understanding trends in eating behavior and the contribution of meals and snacks to nutrient intakes could be important for identifying opportunities to improve nutrient intake.
People in the United States are living longer than ever before; one of the great public health triumphs! However growing older also means a greater risk for many diseases, conditions and physical limitations. Since we (unfortunately) can’t change our age, what can be done to maintain health into old age? There is strong evidence that modifiable lifestyle factors such as body weight, nutrition and physical activity are linked to functional outcomes in old age. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular have been linked to healthy aging including cardiovascular function and cognition. A recent study further suggests that omega-3s may protect from impaired mobility.
More than 1/3 U.S. adults are obese; 79 million people. Almost 1 out of 5 children and adolescents (17%) is overweight. In 2008, medical costs were $1,429 higher for obese versus normal weight individuals. Many presume that adiposity is the root cause of these additional health costs. Maybe not.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for normal growth, development and function. Fat accumulation occurs