What’s the story with vitamin E? From 1980-2005, scientists and health professionals were obsessed with vitamin E. High doses of vitamin E were recommended to prevent the formation of carcinogenic oxidative products to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Well, it turns out that vitamin E is a nutrient, not a drug. High dose vitamin E supplements aren’t a magic bullet. Most health professionals withdrew their attention from vitamin E. Unfortunately, vitamin E is now the forgotten nutrient. Vitamin E is essential. Along with other antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamin C,
Archive for 'June 2011'
It seems like every day a new research study is released emphasizing the importance of maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Tang et al collected data on 36,000 women (50-79 years) who were taking 400IU vitamin D and 1,000mg calcium daily (or placebo). They found no effects of supplementation on the number of women diagnosed with skin cancers. But women who had been previously diagnosed with non-melanoma skin (and were at a higher risk of getting melanoma later) cancer benefited from dietary supplementation with vitamin D and calcium The study is a secondary examination of the Women’s Health Initiative which was designed to study the effects of diet and hormone therapy on disease risks
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) starts today in Chicago. The “Improving Maternal/Child Nutrition and Combating Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Action Network” will meet today from 9:30-11:30am. It is an important topic when nearly 35 million people and about 3.5 million chidren die annually from NCDs related to micronutrient inadequacies (hidden hunger). DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma recently traveled to Ethiopa with the World Food Programme. The experience reinforced his commitment to private sector involvement in addressing NCDs, especially during the first 1,000 days of life. Today, invited participants from Abundance Foundation, Acumen Fund Inc, 1000 Days, American Public Health Association, Becton Dickinson, DSM Nutritional Products, Edesia,
Thinking about choosing a kilt over trousers to improve vitamin D status? Although exposing more skin to sunlight improves vitamin D status, a Journal of Nutrition study finds 6 out 10 Scots are at risk of vitamin D deficiency [serum 25(OH)D levels < 40 nmol/L]. And the proportion at risk increased 83% during the winter months. Och. Detailed dietary, lifestyle and demographic data were collected from 2,235 healthy adults (21-82) living in Scotland. Zgaga and colleagues found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency due to insufficient exposure to sunlight and poor dietary intake. Over 1/3 of the individuals were severely vitamin D deficient [serum 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/L]. Most people were consuming < 5 ug vitamin D per day from diet alone.
Are you a skeptic? You should be because not all peer-reviewed articles deserve the same consideration. The European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism article in press (d01:10.1016/j.eclnm.2011.05.003) on lutein, zeaxanthin and age-related macular disease (AMD) is an example in point. Berrow and colleagues write that lutein and zeaxanthin deficiency is not associated with age-related macular disease (AMD). Let’s examine the basis for this conclusion. First, they studied only 81 subjects. Then these 18-83 year olds were split into 3 subgroups: healthy 18-48 year-olds (n=37), healthy 50-77 year-olds (n=28) and 16 persons with AMD (52-83 years of age). The strength of their conclusions has to be limited by the number of subjects per group. The most troubling fact is that only 46%, 64% and 81% of these 3 groups, respectively, actually returned food diary records!
It doesn’t matter whether you consume vitamin D via fortified foods or dietary supplements. Just make certain you consume some vitamin D every day. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming vitamin D in the form of fortified milk or using a dietary supplement are equally effective in raising serum 25(OH)D concentrations. Rich-Edwards and colleagues report that it is better to consume lower doses of vitamin D daily than larger doses seasonally. This study builds upon another study showing equal effects in raising blood vitamin D levels by consuming fortified orange juice vs using a dietary supplement. This is important advice because there is a global vitamin D epidemic.
Out of 600 carotenoids in foods, 50-60 are absorbed into the body, and only 2 (lutein and zeaxanthin) are concentrated in the macula and retina of the eye. The eye has 1000 times higher concentrations than other tissues. Lutein filters blue light to improve visual acuity and helps reduce glare. So, humans need lutein in their diet. Unfortunately, 75% of Americans are not consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Lutein-fortification of foods or dietary supplements can provide this key nutrient, as long as the source of lutein used can be absorbed and used. In a newly published study, Norkus and colleagues compared two different supplemental forms of lutein – unesterified free lutein and esterified lutein.
People purchase property insurance to protect themselves against catastrophic events like the Arizona Wallow Fires. This behavior is encouraged, even when families may not live in areas with high risk of brush fires or floods. Why then are consumers who use multivitamins to supplement their diet and insure adequate nutrition subjected to criticism? Melinda Beck suggests today in the Wall Street Journal that most people do not need a multivitamin. (Although she does qualify that statement with the fact it depends on age, gender, diet and health). In the article Dr Paul Coates,
Seventy of 100 low-income families have inadequate intakes of vitamins A, C, calcium, protein, and iron according to a new study published in Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal. The latest figures show that almost 45 million Americans participate in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. With food prices on the rise, societies are not sustainable, especially when people are spending 50% of their income on food. The March 2011 “Hunger and Obesity: Understanding a Food Insecurity Paradigm Workshop Summary” identified
The critically ill are at greater risk of nutritional deficiencies due to effects stemming from their serious illness. They may have a dramatically reduced food intake due to stress or the effects concomitant medication, and their illness may increase macro- and micronutrient requirements. Recently, a research group lead by Visser reported on the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis that investigated the effects of micronutrient supplementation on the critically ill.
Vitamin B12 is needed for DNA synthesis, and deficiency is characterized by neurological symptoms, some of which are irreversible. A new study by Bailey and colleagues investigates the effects of cutoffs of serum vitamin B12 levels and a circulating functional biomarker methylmalonic acid (MMA) on the identification of deficient individuals. Concern that folate fortification of grains would mask or otherwise affect people with a low vitamin B12 status, as discussed recently on this blog, lead the researchers to conduct the study using the representative data of over 12,000 people from the large survey NHANES 1999-2004 in the USA.
North American food policy has fallen out of step with Dietary Recommendations. The result is that consumers need to rely upon dietary supplements. Until food laws change so that the food industry can fortify more foods vitamin D, and increase the amount per serving, consumers need to obtain their vitamin D from dietary supplements. Whiting and colleagues write in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “current food choices are insufficient to maintain 25(OH)D concentrations of 50 nmol/L”. They report that 25% of Canadians have inadequate vitamin D levels (<50 nmol/L). It is not very different in the US.
Are you fighting a war against progress? During Sunday’s Keynote Presentation, Michael Specter author of the book “Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Lives” indicated that many people are fighting progress by dismissing evidence-based facts concerning risk-benefit comparisons among processed vs organic/natural foods. Learn the facts about sustainability at IFT sessions 124 and 142 from 8:30-noon today at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Room 395. from non-government NGO’s, food ingredient manufacturers, consumer-package companies, retailers, and quick service restaurants.
The Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo (IFT 11) begins this weekend at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. It is a busy meeting. The exhibition floor is open Sunday through Tuesday. In addition, there are many interesting scientific presentations. When planning your IFT11 program, these 4 look particularly intriguing: Monday morning (June 13) 8:30-10:00 and 10:30-noon, Room 395 has two sessions (# 124 and # 142) focused on food industry definitions/interpretations of sustainable food production. Speakers come from non-government NGO’s, food ingredient manufacturers, consumer-package companies, retailers, and quick service restaurants.
Worried about being abnormal? Don’t be. A new study confirms that high folate intakes don’t interfere with vitamin B12 metabolism in healthy people. Folate and vitamins B6 and B12 are essential vitamins needed in numerous metabolic pathways and to produce neurotransmitters in the brain. Low folate intakes have been associated with depression and increased risk of babies with spinal cord abnormalities (or neural tube defects). In 1998, the US government required grains to be fortified with folic acid which has reduced the number of babies born with neural tube defects. A concern of scientists and health professionals is that
Although the average American consumes nearly 16 pounds of fish per year, it still doesn’t meet the two servings per week recommendation by the American Heart Association to get omega-3 fatty acids, including docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Eating seafood meals at least 2x per week can be challenging. Some people tire of fish. And that isn’t considering the cost or convenience of purchasing fresh seafood. Today, the FDA reminded consumers of safety hazards associated with fish. Although the FDA may consider “Fish Hazards and Controls: More Than a Fish Story” to be a roadmap for commercial fishermen and processors, it doesn’t instill confidence as a consumer.
Measles is re-emerging globally because parents have believed fraudulent data linking vaccinations with autism. A measles outbreak is currently underway in Quebec, apparently transmitted by persons exposed in Europe. Now, scientists are reporting that vitamin A status may also affect measles infection rates. Normal-birth-weight infants born in Guinea-Bissau were randomized to placebo or 15mg (50,000 IU) of vitamin A supplementation. A measles epidemic occurred during the trial with 165 measles cases among 4,183 children followed from 28 days of age.
How do you know if you are getting enough vitamin D? Answer. You don’t, unless a qualified laboratory measures your 25(OH)D3 level in a blood sample. In Canada, the Ontario Society of Physicians for Complementary Medicine and the Ontario Medical Association are the first public health organizations to officially endorse and pledge support for large scale testing of vitamin D status. This is a momentous step to use laboratory testing rather than guesswork to assure that people have optimal serum vitamin D levels.
The icon is new. The approach isn’t. As the USDA tweeted today, “they’ve been in the nutrition guidance business for 107 years”. Today’s launch is important because obesity rates have increased dramatically since 1985 and the consumption of fruits and vegetables is low and has declined since 2000. Many Americans are not consuming the recommended amounts of vitamins, especially D, A, E, C and folic acid, and other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. Looking for healthier food options? With the launch of the new USDA food icon today, consumers will have new visuals to help remind them of the importance of food choices.
Last week, TalkingNutrition discussed new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition emphasizing the importance of folate fortification and supplementation during pregnancy to reduce the risk of having a child born with a spinal column malformation (neural tube defect, NTD). Today, Medscape reported that researchers found a two-fold increased risk of autism in individuals with a mutation in a gene involved in folate metabolism. The results were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Pediatric Research 2011 Annual meeting. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is an enzyme required for the metabolism of folate. A polymorphism in the MTHFR gene has been shown to increase the requirement for dietary folate. This study in