Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

    Serum Carotenoids and Perspective on the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene (ATBC) Study

    Carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments found in plants. Out of over 600 carotenoids found in nature, only six, i.e. β-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, α-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, are absorbed in quantity into the body. Only three (β-carotene, α-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin) can be converted to vitamin A in the body. Lutein and zeaxanthin are highly concentrated in the macular pigment of the retina, playing an important role in vision. Lutein supplementation increases visual function in adults.  Emerging science links lutein status with cognitive function.

    Because serum carotenoids have been inversely associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, Wang and colleagues assessed carotenoid intakes (2-24h recalls) and serum carotenoid concentrations  

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    Immigration, Unhealthy Dietary Habits, and Nutritional Status

    Moving from one place to another takes effort and is fraught with unknowns. Different cultures, languages, laws, and more. People do this because they are seeking opportunity, to improve their circumstances.

    Contrary to this notion, Eldeirawi and colleagues report a negative effect of immigration/acculturation on nutritional status using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994). The data is not recent but the results are insightful, based on 1,559 Mexican American (MA) children 4-16y of age. 

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    Headlines can Drive you Crazy! Today’s Rant is Vitamin E

    Headlines. They are seductive. They are memorable. Unfortunately, the details beneath the headline may be different.  In an insightful article (The media wails about money wasted on Tamiflu – but we were the ones who demanded it), Oliver Wright tracks headlines last week in Great Britain condemning their government for wasting taxes to stockpile the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Then he cites 2005 headlines when the media criticized government for failing to protect its citizens, leaving 500,000 defenseless. Mr Wright makes the argument that media pressure led to the British government decision to buy and stockpile the drug Tamiflu in 2005. The case being made: policy decisions by controversial headlines are not synonymous with good governance.

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    Nutrient Status is More Important than Nutrient Intake

    For the most part, our bodies can interconvert macronutrients but vitamins and minerals must be consumed. Our bodies use carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and alcohol as energy sources. While some amino acids and fatty acids are essential (must be ingested), excess protein, carbohydrates, and fats are metabolized and stored in adipose tissue (as fat). Because of inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals, people (and animals) can be overweight, even obese, and still malnourished.

    While low dietary intakes of vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, and vitamin C are correlated with mortality,  estimates of nutrient intake are crude estimates of nutrient status. 

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    Multivitamin-Mineral Supplements: Safe Insurance for Micronutrient Gaps

    The most commonly used dietary supplement is a multivitamin-mineral (MVMM) supplement. In 2011 survey,  the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN) reports the most commonly used dietary supplement is a multivitamin-mineral supplement (Dickinson et al, 2014). Consumers use MVMM supplements primarily:  1) for overall health and wellness and 2) to fill nutrient gaps.

    Multivitamin-mineral supplements are an important source of nutrients for many. While we may dream of eating garden-fresh fruit and vegetables with eggs, meat and fresh, unprocessed milk from a local farmer, i.e. foods that are not enriched or fortified, it is difficult to make (or afford) wise choices to meet essential micronutrient requirements

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    Iron Supplementation is Beneficial for Female Athletes

    Iron is an essential nutrient, especially for athletes. Iron’s most important role is to transport oxygen through the body via the blood protein hemoglobin. When iron intakes and absorption are inadequate to meet needs, the hemoglobin molecule that contains iron at its core cannot be produced. Symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and dizziness relate to the reduced ability of the body to transport oxygen. Iron deficiency in athletes reduces oxygen uptake and the output of muscles, impairing performance. Female athletes are at additional risk of iron deficiency. Can iron supplements help?

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    Nutrition Choices for Pregnant Women Fail to Meet Recommendations

    One of the keys to a healthy pregnancy is good nutrition. What pregnant women eat during pregnancy can affect not only their own health, but also the risk of undesirable birth outcomes and the health of the fetus. In general, nutrition guidelines include specific recommendations for pregnant women to ensure that they receive adequate energy, protein, fat and micronutrients during pregnancy to support both themselves and their offspring, and also to avoid foods that carry specific health risks. How well do women meet these recommendations?

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    Mobile Telecommunication Technologies for Nutrition and Health

    In the not so distant past, the thought of having a portable device capable of sending/receiving messages and phone calls at any time and place was science fiction.  Today the number of active cell phones is estimated at 7.3 billion. More cell phones than people on this planet.

    We are on the precipice of adopting mobile telecommunication technologies (mHealth) to manage our health and wellness. According to Steinhubl and colleagues, three factors are driving mHealth acceptance

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