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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'September 2010'


    The Burden of Micronutrient Inadequacy

    Two French researchers studied micronutrient adequacy of diets and food consumption behaviors (3 non-consecutive quantitative 24h recalls) of women of child-bearing age in 2 districts of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Because of the importance of nutritional status for healthy pregnancies and babies, the authors explored the existence of nutrition disparities in a city where more than 33% of the women are overweight.

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    Folic Acid Contraceptives and Healthy Babies

    Folic acid is required to make healthy cells and is essentially important for pregnant women to prevent major birth defects of the brain and spinal cord of their babies as they are developing in the womb during the first trimester of pregnancy. A primary purpose of folic acid fortification of cereals, breads, and pastas and other foods labeled 'enriched' with 140 micrograms of folic acid per 100g of grain implemented by Congress in 1998 was to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. Since fortification of grain products, the March of Dimes reports the rate of neural tube defects has decreased by one-third in the US. Since some women are not planning to get pregnant and many are uncertain when they conceive, they are often not consuming adequate amounts of folic acid during the first weeks/months of pregnancy. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women

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    Vitamin D Requirements for Children & Adolescents

    As we await the Institute of Medicine Committee report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium in November 2010, a paper published this month in the Journal of Nutriton demonstrates the difficulty in establishing dietary recommendations based on singular biological paradigms (eg bone health) when assessing optimal nutrient status across all subpopulations. In adults, vitamin D adequacy has been classically determined by finding serum 25(OH)D levels which maximally suppress serum parathyroid hormone (PTH). This is important because higher serum PTH levels are

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    Choline, Nutrigenomics and Public Health Policy

    Nutrient-gene interactions are changing the face of nutrition, and ultimately public health policy. Case in point, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that postmenopausal women have higher choline requirements because of their lower estrogen concentrations than do premenopausal women. This conclusion typifies common dietary recommendations based on age and gender. The novel insight is the fact that choline requirements are greater in women with more rs12325817 alleles. This changes everything. As scientists discover nutrient-gene interactions for choline, associate haptoglobin polymorphisms with vitamin E intake and cardiovascular risk, ability to absorb and convert beta-carotene to vitamin A with enzyme variants, and folic acid requirements with genes, it becomes more and more likely that

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    Vitamin C Status Affects Mood

    A new study in Canada found that a significant proportion of emergency patients had acutely low vitamin C and vitamin D levels in their blood upon arrival to the hospital. In a study published in Nutrition, the authors report that approximately 20% of patients had vitamin C levels low enough to be associated with scurvy. Upon admission, patients were randomized to receive different vitamin supplementation regimens. Those patients receiving vitamin C supplementation had significant improvements in mood within 7-10 days.

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    Multivitamin Supplements Support Healthy Heart

    A new American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report analyzes the relationship between multivitamin supplement use and heart attack risk (myocardial infarction, MI) in 31,671 women without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 2,261 women with a history of CVD in Sweden over an average of 10.2y. Women in the CVD-free group who used multivitamins had a 27% reduced risk vs those who did not. In those with a history of heart disease, multivitamins did not affect risk of a subsequent event. Not surprising since vitamins are nutrients not drugs. Interestingly, those who had used multivitamins for 5y or more had a 40% lower risk of a heart attack. Interestingly, those who used multivitamins for 5y or more

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    Vitamin D and Weight Management

    Participants in the 2y Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT) were studied to detemine the association of baseline serum vitamin D3 levels [25(OH)D3] levels and dairy calcium intake with weight loss. The results werepublished in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrittion. Baseline serum 25(OH)D3 levels were significantly lower with increasing obesity, measured by

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    Private Sector Helping WFP End Hunger

    UNICEF released the latest mortality rates for children under 5y. The good news is that 12,000 fewer children are dying daily compared to 1990. The under-five mortality rate dropped by a third from 89 to 60 deaths per 1,000 live births. The bad news is that 12,000 children die each day. And the improvements gained still are not projected to achieve Millenium Development Goals of a 2/3 decline between 1990 and 2015. Vitamin deficiencies and inadequate nutrition contribute to these horrifying statistics. To help end hunger, the World Food Programme

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    n-3 Fatty Acid Recommendations Are Not Fishy!

    Researchers at the American Heart Association annual scientific meeting reported that 12 month supplementation with daily doses of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC-PUFA) [850 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 882mg docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] significantly decreased hospitalization rates in patients with confirmed heart disease relative to those receiving olive oil placebo (6% vs 30%).

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    Programs to End Hidden Hunger

    There is an interesting editorial published in Lancet on equity as a shared vision for health and development. This article resonates with a BBC story by James Melik on a failed millenium promise to help the most vulnerable members of society. The World Food Programme, in partnership with SIGHT AND LIFE, helps distribute biscuits containing vitamins, minerals and high quality biscuits within

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    Vitamin D Supplementation Benefits Teenagers

    A paper published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated vitamin D3 ][25(OH)D] status and the effect of vitamin D2 supplementation in teenage boys and girls in Iran. More than 3/4 of the teenagers had 25(OH)D levels <50nmol/L. Mean 25(OH)D levels of girls were half that of boys, 20.5 vs 43.8nmol/L. Supplementation with 50,000 IU oral vitamin D2 monthly (equivalent to 1,600 IU/d) or bimonthly (equivalent to 800 IU/d) significantly increased serum levels of vitamin D, parathyroid hormone, and calcium compared to placebo.

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    Vitamins A, C, E & Folic Acid Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

    The Pooling Project of Prospective Studies of Diet and Cancer (Pooling Project) integrated 13 cohort studies from North America and Europe to summarize the associations between dietary factors and cancer risk. The analysis includes many key studies, including the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, Nurses' Health Study, Swedish Mammography Cohort, Women's Health Study, Netherlands Cohort Study, and Canadian National Breast Screening Study. Over 7-20y, almost 210,000 men and 490,000 women were followed. Among US individuals, 30-50% reported using dietary supplements compared to 3-8% of Europeans, most commonly vitamin C. Vitamins A, C and E intakes from food were

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    Using Rice to Supply Vitamin A

    The Philippine Rice Research Institute plans to conduct field tests for rice varieties which provide half of the vitamin A needed daily in a cup of beta-carotene enriched rice. The Executive Director, Ronilo Beronio, said this initiative will "help reduce incidences of vitamin A deficiency". According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, 40% of children (6mo - 5y) suffer from vitamin A deficiency, as do 1 of 5 pregnant and lactating Filipino women. Rice is also an excellent vehicle for vitamin A fortification. The 'Manila Declaration on Food Fortification' signed Dec 3-5, 1996 at the International Life Sciences Institute Regional Conference on Food Fortification urged

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    Vitamin A Supplementation Discussion

    Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness. Vitamin A supplementation, or its precursor beta carotene, are key to child survival, reducing mortality by 23% in children 6mo to 5y compared to placebo. Some randomized control trials (RCT) suggest that low-dose beta carotene or vitamin A supplementation may be important prenatal interventions to prevent pregnancy-related maternal deaths by 44%. The ObaapaVitA RCT undertaken in 7 districts in Ghana involving all women of child-bearing age, not just pregant women,

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    Beta-carotene Good Source of Vitamin A

    A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms the importance of beta-carotene as a source of vitamin A. The authors compared 1) beta-carotene-biofortified maize porridge, 2) white maize porridge fortified with beta-carotene, and 3) white maize fortified with vitamin A as retinyl palmitate. Both beta-carotene 'enriched' porridges contributed vitamin A. On a weight basis, the fortified beta-carotene maize was approximately 2.5 times more effective as a pro-vitamin A source than the 'modified' corn.

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    Multivitamin Supplements Provide Key Nutrients

    The US Congressional Dietary Supplement Caucus held a briefing on Capitol Hill emphasizing the fact that many Americans are not obtaining essential nutrients from their diet so they wisely choose multivitamin supplements. The Council for Responsible Nutrition released a press release emphasizing their commitment, and that of their member companies, to investment in science and advocacy for increased funding to the FDA and FTC for regulatory oversight. The most recent analysis of dietary intakes for Americans "What We Eat in America, NHANES 2005-2006" shows that many Americans are not consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D, calcium, or magnesium from the foods they eat. The 2001-2002 report shows similar deficits for vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6,

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    Vitamin D and Childhood Schizophrenia

    Serum vitamin D levels [25(OH)D3] measured in babies were compared between 424 individuals later diagnosed with schizophrenia and 424 controls matched for sex and date of birth. Having low serum vitamin D concentrations as an infant increased risk of developing schizophrenia two-fold. Indeed, the authors concluded that neonatal vitamin D status accounted for 44% of child-related cases of schizophrenia.

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    Resveratrol and Diabetes Risk Factors

    Forty milligrams daily of resveratrol for 6 wk suppressed several inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species which have been associated with increased diabetes risk. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism using two groups of normal-weight healthy subjects (n = 10). Earlier this month, a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases by Dr Howe and colleagues from the University of South Australia reported that 30, 90, and 270 mg resveratrol supplementation significantly increased flow-mediated dilation of the brachial artery, a marker of blood vessel function recognized as

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    Antioxidants and Human Health

    A meta-analysis of primary outcomes of 66 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to see if antioxidant supplementation, primarily with beta-carotene, vitamin A and/or vitamin E, provided a positive, null, or negative outcome in participants found that less than 5% (3/66) had a negative effect whereas the rest were positive or null. In further detailed analysis of primary prevention (risk reduction in apparently healthy individuals), positive outcomes were found in 40% (8/20) of the studies. This meta-analysis assesses the use of antioxidant supplementation in the context of risk reduction relative to their use in health promotion and therapeutic treatments in individuals with disease.

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    What is Best Source of Vitamin D?

    Vitamin D experts from the University of Surrey, University of Toronto, and Creighton University wrote a letter to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claiming that a recent publication is misleading because it implies equivalence of both vitamin D2 and D3. In their letter, the correspondents claim that the study should not be used to guide nutrition policy because Biancuzzo and colleagues did not directly compare vitamin D2 with D3 on serum 25(OH)D levels.

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    Is there Bias in Scientific Reporting

    An interesting discussion was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association following a paper on author-bias in reporting and interpeting non-significant outcomes from randomized controlled trials (RCT). The authors identified 75 RCTs using a MEDLINE search. Two of the authors evaluated each article using standardized methods. They defined 'spin' as

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